The Will, the Savior, the Salvation

The sacraments of the New Testament give salvation,
the sacraments of the Old Testament promise a savior.

St. Augustine
from The Bible and The Sacraments


(Tiger swallowtail / Julie Cook / 2019)

“Finally—-and this is perhaps the most difficult aspect of what concerns the practice of
conformity to the will of God—-we should desire virtue itself and the degrees of grace only
insofar as God wishes to give them, and not desire more.

Our whole ambition should be to attain the degree of perfection that has been appointed for us,
since it has not been given to everybody to reach the same height.
It is obvious that however well we may correspond with the graces given us,
we can never equal the humility, charity and other virtues of the Blessed Virgin.
And who can even presume to imagine that he can reach the same heights as the Apostles?
Who can equal St. John the Baptist whom Christ called the greatest of the children of men?
Or St. Joseph to whom God entrusted His Son?

In this we must as in all else submit to the will of God.
He must be able to say of us, My will is in them; it rules and governs everything.

So when we hear or read that God in a short time has brought some souls to a very high degree of
perfection and shown them signal favors, enlightened their understanding and imbued their hearts
with His love, we should repress any desire to be treated likewise so as not to fall short in pure love of conformity to His Will. We should even unite ourselves still more closely to His Will by saying,
‘I praise Thee, O Lord, and bless Thee for deigning to show Thyself with so great love and
familiarity to the souls Thou has chosen …'”

Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure,
p. 75-76
An Excerpt From
Trustful Surrender to Divine Providence

the light, courage and one’s will

“When you pray, you only have to ask for two things:
You should ask for the light to see the will of God,
and you have to ask for the courage to be able to do the will of God.”

Venerable Msgr. Aloysius Schwartz


(my own peter cottontail / Julie Cook / 2018)

This is the question that arises over and over again,
particularly in our hour of a new paganism and also of a new longing for God:
Is the light of God, the light of Jesus Christ, hidden under the bushel of our habits,
our indifference, under the flood of our words,
so that beneath them the word can no longer shine forth?
Or can it emerge and once again become light for all who live in God’s house,
in his creation?

Joseph Ratzinger
from Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today

Getting ready for being actively receptive..

“Nothing, how little so ever it be,
if it is suffered for God’s sake,
can pass without merit in the sight of God.”

Thomas a Kempis


(Arizona)

There are resolutions made fresh and anew at the beginning of each new year…
those things we decide to give up or take on in hope of becoming better at simply being us.

Some are kept, most are not.

Then comes Lent…a time when there are also things to be given up and or taken on
all in order to recall one man’s journey in a desert for a period of 40 days, in hopes
of bettering our souls.

Some are kept, others are not.

Yet it is during Lent that the keeping and or the letting go seems to be more important,
sharper and keener…
The burden is better understood, the giving in and letting go pricks more sharply.

It matters not whether your church, your avenue of faith, carries you along the road
of participating in Lent or not.
It matters little whether or not you “practice” Lent.
All Christians can, however, come together in the reflection of this time of Jesus’
earthly journey while on His spiritual path.

The entire idea is simply to be present with Christ on this journey.

How you decide to do that, is well, how you decide to do that.
Simply being present to Him…as in just you and Him…on a journey, together,
in a barren wasteland with everything and anything that is a distraction
being stripped away…while there is one who does his darndest to thwart your efforts
of being focused and present with and for your companion.

If it’s giving up chocolate because you always give up chocolate,
and later finding yourself fudging here and there, then that’s not
really taking a part of the journey now, is it…
Thinking that chocolate or the lack thereof helps you to focus
more keenly on the journey and on your companion…well, I don’t know.

This journey is bigger than chocolate…just saying.

For this journey is not a surface sort of trek…
but rather it is a time of real darkness and trial.
It is an arduous journey taken not by the faint of heart.
For it is a journey to the recesses of your being.

And it is a journey we are afforded, or better yet offered, to take yearly…
As each year we are reminded and allowed to recall that first foray of determined boldness
into the desert so long ago.

Deserts are formidable places.
Desolate, dry, lonely, empty, hot places.
Places we don’t much wish to find ourselves.
As our shadowed nemesis delights in tempting us out and away from this
place of deep introspection.
And yet Jesus goes…willingly.

It is here where we first see the earthly glimpse of His willingness to go…
just as we will shortly see, His willingness to descend into hell
for three days in order to do battle for our souls.

Yet each year, we make the conscious decision to choose to go along.
We decide to accompany Jesus into this desert…both His and our own.

Some of us will try to muster on while others of us turn relatively quickly for a fast
retreat.

And yet year after year, we make a choice as to whether or not we want to take this
journey alongside Jesus, knowing we may or may not make it…
But the real fact of the matter is that Jesus always makes the same choice…
the choice to always go…

As Jesus becomes our lynchpin.
He is our support in and out of the desert.

Our friend over on the blog Thoughts from the Side of the House
reminds us of this notion…he explains that our choice boils down alone to the single
matter of desire…as well as our being open to that desire…receptive to that choice.

Receptive to the choice of wanting to actually go hand in hand with Jesus on his arduous
journey into the desert.

As his friend Monsignor Heintz reminds us that whatever we attach our attention to,
becomes us.
If our desires are worldly, then the desert is not to be our foray.

Therefore as we now stand in the shadow of Lent, standing before the Desert…
we each much ask, are we will willing to travel with Jesus with the focus and intent
such a journey requires.

It is not for the faint of heart.

When I was in grad school a couple of my professors introduced me to the concept
of “active receptivity,” an influential concept in the thought of a
Polish philosopher named Karol Wojtyla.
Roughly, it means willingly desiring to receive certain gifts and,
if necessary, actively doing things to make such reception possible.
For instance, when I was a student, if I truly wanted to learn, I had to desire to
learn, to actively listen, engage and study concepts to truly understand them.
This idea is key for me in my spiritual life.

“In the early Christian tradition of mystical theology,
there was an aphorism of anonymous origin and goes like this:
“you become the object of your contemplation.”
That is, whatever we fix our attention upon,
whatever becomes the focus of our energies and our imagination,
whatever it is that consumes our thoughts and desires,
has an imperceptible but genuine impact upon us, shaping our sensibilities,
molding our personality, and making us – far more than we often realize – who we are.
The standard objects of fallen human desire: power, pleasure, wealth, can subtly take
hold of us, and our desire for them changes who we are;
we stray farther and farther from God and find ourselves in a land of unlikeness.

Monsignor Mike Heintz

You Become What You Think About

root of the matter

In this Biblical sense, repentance and true obedience go hand in hand. We must “listen” in order to hear the word of repentance.

In this Biblical sense, repentance and true obedience go hand in hand. We must “listen” in order to hear the word of repentance.
C.H. Spurgeon


(root vegetables / beets/ courtesy HGTV )

“I believe that we begin by learning literally to repent and to obey.
The English word “repent” in Scripture translates the Greek word metanoia,
or “change one’s mind (or heart).”
According to our faith, to grow into the fullness of being means an eternity
of such change and growth from the fallen human nature we inherit into
participation in the fullness of God’s own nature.
This was the first call of Christ when He began to preach:
“Repent and believe the Gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

In this Biblical sense, repentance and true obedience go hand in hand.
We must “listen” in order to hear the word of repentance.

(excerpt from an essay Holy Myrrhbearers Monastery)

Down through the ages a great deal has been written about the will of man—-
along with the concept of obedience and it’s evil twin, disobedience…

It is the age old tug of war…with obedience tugging while disobedience is pulling.

If you have ever dealt with or have lived through a child navigating the waters of the
“terrible twos” then you have a small snapshot into what the will of man is all
about.

There is a constant state of flux between the act of defiance as well as the exertion
of authority— as said little one attempts to chart his or her’s own path.

The problem lies in the lack of acquired experience and hindsight…
both of which the wee one has none of.
Add to that a developing sense of the greater world at large and the
the parent must therefore act as guide helping the small one along the fine line of balancing the tight rope of safety, wisdom and proper choice.

It is not an easy task.

Patience is often exasperated as the wee one hears none of rational thought or
common sense. With experience often stepping in as the better, yet,
harrowing teacher.

And even though we all eventually outgrow this trying and most difficult time of
defiance and growth…we never ever really lose that assertion of the will.

And then slides in the notion of obedience…or it that disobedience.

Obedience and disobedience are each a willed act of choice.

We either choose to obey or we choose to disobey….

And despite the popular thought, there is no in between.

The other day I was in the bank.
I was seated at the desk talking with a banker about a safety deposit box when all
of a sudden a young man bounds into the chair right next to me,
across from the now surprised banker, and loudly proclaims for all to hear–
“you don’t remember me do you?”

When you live in a town the size of mine that has two very large high schools within
a mile radius of one another, with one being a county school while the other being
a city school and you are a retired teacher, the odds are that you, at some point or another, taught half the town….are very good odds.
And I did just so happen to have taught this precocious young man.

Never mind that I was obviously in the midst of a conversation
with a banker, this young man saw me and proceeded to remind me as to why I’m so
happy to be a retired educator….

With the poor banker woman now exasperatingly staring in bewilderment, this young man proceeds to tell me that he is now “living the dream.”

“So you graduated college?” I ask.
He never answered that but said that he now had two kids and a house with some land out
in the country. “The bucolic dream” he continues…

“Oh you got married, who did you marry” I ask.
“Oh we’re not married—but we’ve been together a couple of years….we’re planning
on getting married however…..

He then proceeds to tell me his younger brother is now expecting his first child but
is also not married….but does hope to eventually marry…

Finally just as abruptly as he popped in, this young man pops up out of the chair
and bids me farewell as he makes for the teller since the line is now non existent, allowing me and the now aggravated banker to resume our conversation…

So the standard worldly thought would be “oh isn’t that all nice”
with the rationale being that this couple, all be they not married, they are
somewhat together, while living this “dream” out in the countryside with two kids,
and I’m even assuming a dog…which all sounds great, right?
The proverbial American dream….

Well if you’re of the world, then yeah, this all just sounds really nice…
warm and fuzzy.
Because there’s a rationalizing going on that since these two “kids” love one another
and now have two kids of their own, that all that matters…

But if you are one who lives under the conviction of man’s will while
opting to live a life under God’s will, then this “dream” is just that,
a dream, a facade.

The world would say that I am being judgmental in this assessment.
Old fashioned, right winged, and given long enough, someone would come
up with some sort of idea of racism or that I was just being a Nazi…
hence the lunacy of our times….

But what I see is a falsehood lost in an assumed obedience.
Which in actuality smacks of disobedience.

To live one’s life as one so chooses, going about it as one so chooses
is but to live with one’s own will—living in willfulness.

Many of us have learned, most often the hard way, that to live in
one’s own willfulness is simply waiting for havoc to ensue while
living with the repercussions and fallout.

Our willful choices will always effect many others than ourselves…
Yet we are too caught up in our own little worlds of willfulness to actually realize
that anyone else would or could be effected.

And so to live in obedience, there must be repentance.
For there to be repentance there must be a bending of the will.
For a bending of the will there must be a desire to obey…
and so it goes…

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions
of your former ignorance,

1 Peter 1:14

whose will?

“It seems to me that the spiritual answer is to be found in neither optimism nor
pessimism about the future, but in complete trust in God.

Fr Benedict Groeschel


(Percy sporting a “mimi” hat / Julie Cook / 2017)

And just incase you’re confused…the question is not who’s Will…?
As in who is Will…?
But rather…whose will…?
As in mine yours, ours or His…..

The past couple of days, weeks and even months I feel as if most of my posts
have had one central theme in common…the simple matter of will.

As in the constant tug of war we play with both ourselves as well as everyone else…
with the ultimate tug and pull and war being with God himself.

When I was a little girl my grandmother Mimi would crochet and knit up a storm.
Sewing, knitting, needlepoint…you name it, she did it.
Yet none of that ever appealed to me…it was not ever to be my forte.
I just didn’t enjoy it and I especially loathed trying to learn it.

I don’t know if it was a patience thing or rather that I just opted for
other creative outlets.
Today a reattached button is about the extent of my sewing endeavors.

My grandmother however was profuse with Mother following in hot pursuit.
Afghans, throws, bell pulls, pillows, samplers, seat cushions, stool covers…
all of which now oddly adorn my home.
But the specialty, or rather the pièce de résistance being always, the “mimi hat.
A crocheted toboggan like thing looking oddly like a flapper’s cap.

Everyone got a mimi hat.

Colors were limited to brown, beige, rust, cream, antique gold….
You’d put the hat on your head and immediately your hair was now a flat static
fly away mess. Wildly and weirdly standing on ends atop your head so you
had no other choice but to keep the hat pulled down tight on your head…
while looking a bit odd wearing the thing in the house especially in the summer.

Mother would make us put on and wear the blasted things when we went to visit
or if Mimi would come to visit us.
Not that Mimi would expect it, but Mother knew it would make my grandmother happy
seeing us “enjoying” her handiwork.

I hated them.

My choice in wearing the hat was that I could either fight and refuse or
I could suck it up, acquiesce and please…
I opted for the later because I did not want to make my life miserable while
making everyone else’s lives miserable.
Nothing like a 7 year old demanding no to a parent demanding yes.

The same held true when I was made to wear a dress every time we visited our other grandmother, Nany. Since Nany bought the bulk of our clothes, Mother knew that
if she wanted to keep her mother-n-law happy, she’d better be putting her kids
in those nice new clothes. Never mind that I was happiest in jeans or shorts.

Which goes back to mother having a choice…
She could either give-in to our whining and let us look like sloppy bumpkins
while drawing the ire of the woman who had bought us all sorts of nice clothes
or she could get us gussied up and uncomfortable while drawing the praise of this
matriarch.
She too chose the latter.

I learned early on that sometimes its best to give a little while giving in a little
rather then reveling in being self centered with a life short lived
in a sea of selfishness.

Yet our society appears to have forgotten about biting the proverbial bullet…
Living in a nation that is now in a constant state of in-fighting over the notion
of our own individuals wills, is proving both counter productive and most
oppressively destructive.

It says a lot about us as a society that we are constantly demanding our own
will to be done.
As we’ve moved from the consideration of others to simply damning others.

Fr Benedict reminds us of the importance of a will other than our own…
“‘Your will be done.’
This conviction should be the ultimate intention of all your prayers–
along with finding our peace in the acceptance of that will.
Certainly, to pray like this is a gift of the Holy Spirit.”

“It is out of two things, acceptance and obedience to God,
that we receive the great gift of peace.”

If we persist in this hellbent quest of ours, demanding our own will rather than
seeking out and yielding to His will,
we will be damning not only others but ourselves in the process….

When we went down last month to West Palm Beach for my aunt’s funeral,
As we sorted through my aunt’s belonging determining what should stay
or be tossed, I found a box full of mimi hats.
Funny how these some odd 50 years later, seeing those hats brought a warm smile
to my face and a most warming sensation to my heart.
I was immediately transported to a happier time.

How different that could have all been had I refused so long ago to have ever
worn one of those hats preferring to be self-centered and selfish.

Seeing them all these many years later may have actually brought back some very
difficult memories rather than the happy ones I felt suddenly seeing them again
all these many years later.

I opted to bring two of them home.
I won’t be wearing them, but I’ll be happy knowing that I now have them…
I just think the cats are probably now thinking what I use to think….
that these are really stupid looking hats….


(oooo lala)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

you just might get what you want

“The lost enjoy forever the horrible freedom they have demanded
and are therefore self-enslaved.”

C.S. Lewis The Problem of Pain


(pretty little dahlia, not mine however—Julie Cook / 2017)

There it is again…
another quote from C.S. Lewis, each from the same book I referenced the other day—
Two random quotes that just so happened my way…???
Each from the same source???!!!…
Coincidence?????
I should think not….

So yes, I’ve ordered the book.

This morning I actually did something I would not have normally done.
I carved out time to sit and listen…
For you see I am a hit the ground running sort of individual—
a morning person who does her best work, thinking, cleaning, sorting, writing…
in the morning….
So for me to stop, sit and listen is a pretty big deal…
this as I often equate my sitting with wasting time…
as in I need to be about the task of doing whatever it is I need to be doing….

40 precious minutes afforded to listening to a sermon that was delivered Sunday at a
church in Scotland.
Now granted I would have much rather been in Scotland at the Church in person,
but an audio link in a blog post was as close as I was going to be getting any time soon.

It was a sermon delivered by Pastor David Robertson,
pastor of St Peter’s Free Church in Dundee, Scotland
and author of the Wee Flea Blog—a blog I’ve referenced before.

Pastor Robertson delivered a sermon on Romans 1:24-27.
A passage that just so happens to encapsulate Paul’s relaying of God’s thoughts of
human sexuality.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual
impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the
truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather
than the Creator—who is forever praised.
Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts.
Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.
In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were
inflamed with lust for one another.
Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the
due penalty for their error.

Romans 1:24-27

Now I won’t rehash the sermon as I’ve provided a link if you’d like to either read
Pastor Robertson’s overview or actually listen to his sermon…
What the Bible Really Says About Sex and Sexuality

And it certainly was not my intent today to write a post on human sexuality but rather the
hand of God in our oh so screwed up world.
Of which I will do shortly, sexuality aside.

Yet I was struck by several quotes and remarks made by the good pastor as he actually
delivered this sermon before the world experienced Manchester’s horror.

His delivering of a sermon on such a topic was just happenstance as the passage was
just what came next in the study he had been presenting to his parish.
But it also came on the forefront of an important vote this week by the Church of
Scotland regarding its stance on same sex unions /marriages….
as in it, the Church, wishes to “keep” up with Scottish Law on the issue…
…oh if our Churches didn’t feel such a need….

(http://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/news_and_events/news/archive/articles/general_assembly_allows_ministers_and_deacons_in_same-sex_marriages)

Yet I think a key statement in all of the sermon was, for me, that
“God is handing us over to what we want and what we have chosen”

Not that He is abandoning us or inflicting upon us but rather He is giving us over, freely,
to what it is we have wanted and chosen….
With that being a life of blatant disregard for His word.
For “we have exchanged God’s word for a lie.”

Yep, a lie.

As in now we’ve turned everything into something other than His word,
as is no longer His word but rather our restructuring, rewriting, redirecting.
Our word in order to make things fit all nice and neat for ourselves.
Fitting the rules for living into what we feel are these changing times…

And Heaven forbid that The Word of God should stand the test of time because obviously
anyone can see that He meant for us to switch things up as we culturally saw fit…
Meaning… as our culture changes and our desires and acceptance all change, then surely
God meant to be fluid…moving with said times.
As surely He would need to modernize that Word of His in order to accommodate our new
acceptances and beliefs in what is now right but once was oh so wrong….
so yeah, we best come up with a new translation, a refutation or a new interpretation to that
tired old Word of His.

Yeah, right…..
as I think we call that progressivism….
and God calls that disobedience….

One thing Pastor Robertson noted was that Jesus did not come to earth in order to confuse us.
He didn’t come to rewrite scripture.. to make it more applicable to the times—
quite the contrary—He came to fulfill the scripture.

So on this little thought, I will leave us today…
Leaving us all to ponder the notion of what it is that we have wanted and
what it is we have chosen…
And just so we can be clear as to what it is we’ve been handed over to…
as somehow I think it just might be related to living a life of being
freely left to our own devices…

But they say,
“It is no use! We will follow our own plans,
and each of us will act according to the stubbornness of our evil will.”

Jeremiah 18:12

Backwards and forwards

Nobody gets to live life backward.
Look ahead, that is where your future lies.

Ann Landers

DSCN0329
(St Kevin’s Monastery / Gleandalough National Park / County Wicklow / Julie Cook / 2015)

Peering over the top of the rock wall, we stare out over an unfamiliar site.
The who’s, the what’s and the why’s of another day and time.
Names forgotten.
Beginning and ending dates, once so important to those whom the comings and the goings of these particular lives truly mattered, are now nothing more than mere worn numbers.

We live,
we perish,
we mourn,
as the living move forward.

Are we different because of those who now are on the other side of the wall?
Are we better?
Are we worse?
Have we been affected at all?

Their voices may now be silent, yet we hear them whisper…
There are warnings, advice, encouragement and guidance
But only if we stop long enough to listen.

Their’s are regrets, sorrows, as well as lives well lived and loved.
Many, such as those across the wall, are all but long forgotten.
A weathered worn marker, ravaged by time and the elements, once a place
for melancholy recollections, stands now as a lonely sage to an unsuspecting future.

We can look and wonder…
We can imagine what may have been,
as we wonder what might yet be…

The way was paved.
For good or for bad.
There were mistakes…grave and regrettable.
Yet there were also moments of greatness and wonder.

Are we better?
Would they be amazed or would they knowingly shake their heads in disbelief?
Do they know what we don’t…
that we too have a date with destiny…
Yet with but two choices remaining…?

We must choose to yield a stone cold will
or
Either we choose to set that will to stone…
just like many of those on the other side of the rock wall…

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.
Romans 6:13