WEB ADDRESS CHANGING AS OF AUGUST 11, 2016 FOR RECLAIMING THE SACRED: MAKE A NOTE & DON’T GET LEFT BEHIND!

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Either on, or after, August 11, 2016, Reclaiming the Sacred may no longer be hosted at the current web domain of ReclaimingtheSacred.com.

Reclaiming the Sacred will still exist, but it is highly likely that the domain address will revert to a free WordPress account.

ReclaimingtheSacred.com will not automatically re-route visitors to this new address, so if you pop up one day and see some sort of strange “this site no longer exists” message….don’t believe it!

Just head here instead:

ReclaimingtheSacred.wordpress.com

Same address, with the only difference being that the phrase “wordpress” is between the site title and the “.com” ending.

You know, the whole “free WordPress account” thing.

So… heads up!:-)

~*~

© 2016 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

Obama Demands Transgender Restrooms in All Schools: An Unexpected Twist of Divine Fate

Today, May 13th, 2016, the Obama administration will send an unprecedented letter to every public school in America, and an unparalleled message to every young child as well. 

It is a letter that every principal will read, every teacher will learn of, and every boy and girl from the tenderest ages of innocence to the blossoming maturity of youth will be forced – many against their will – to face. 

For better or for worse. 

Come what may.

 

In it, Obama, the officials of the Justice Department and the Department of Education, will present their demand that all school bathrooms across the nation are to grant unrestricted access to both biological sexes; and in doing so, they will pave the way for a further public loss of boundaries, modesty, purity and innocence amongst our children that may turn out to have long-term results unlike any we have ever seen before.

 

And he will do all of this today.

May 13th.

2016. 

A Letter, a Celebration, and a Future Unfold

Perhaps you are wondering why I have stressed that date.

Why May 13th is so important, and why I have placed such emphasis upon it.

You see, as a result of Obama’s letter, many in the liberal party will most likely spill out in droves upon the public square today, donning their online comments of triumph and their celebrations of misguided “support.” 

For them, May 13th may be perceived as a day of “celebration,” and they will perhaps assume that through the words of Obama and his political heirs, victory is almost theirs.

And defeat is almost ours. 

But while they are dancing in the proverbial streets of their minds, waving their symbolic banners and flying their allegorical flags, they will probably miss that May 13th is also a day of quiet celebration for many others.

 

The vast majority of liberal followers will most likely fail to note that today is also the day when the Mother of God appeared to three poor young peasant children for the very first time – and began to ask them (and us through them) to heed HER words.

 

Today, May 13th, is the Roman Catholic feast of Our Lady of Fatima.

Perhaps the greatest Marian apparition in the entire almost 2,000 year history of the Church. 

It is a remembrance of the period when Mary requested that Russia be consecrated to her Immaculate Heart, and wherein she sent us what many have called a “peace plan from Heaven.”

And it is on this very same day, when Catholics celebrate that exact remembrance, that Obama has decided to give his message; a “discord plan from the ‘other’ place,” a message profoundly opposed to Fatima, and also directly shared with children. 

And just as at Fatima, it is shared with us, through children.

Uncanny?

Hold onto your computer screens.

It gets even more unexpected, and even more…well, more.

You see, in a striking twist of events that sets Obama’s attempts at corruption directly against the divinely inspired force of the Mother of God, today also marks ninety-nine years since the prolonged apparitions at Fatima began.

“But what does ninety-nine years have to do with anything?” you may ask.

Keep reading.

Heaven has a plan. 

A One Hundred Year Warning

Those who are familiar with the Fatima message may also be aware of a 19th century warning by Pope Leo XIII, wherein he reportedly saw that the devil was given one hundred years to attempt to bring down the Church.

Interestingly, Sr. Lucia – the eldest of the three Fatima visionaries – warned that the Church would only be provided with one hundred years to respond to Mary’s request.

One hundred years from 1917. 

Considering the prophecy of Pope Leo XIII, and that of Sr. Lucia herself, there are those who believe that the Pope was foreshadowing the message of Fatima, and that both were referring to the same period in time.

A one hundred year period that will end in 2017. 

To make things even more concerning, Sr. Lucia herself stated that: 

 

“She (the Blessed Virgin Mary) told me that the devil is in the mood for engaging in a decisive battle against the Virgin. And a decisive battle is the final battle where one side will be victorious and the other side will suffer defeat. Also from now on we must choose sides. Either we are for God or we are for the devil. There is no other possibility.” – Sister Lucy of Fatima speaking to Father Fuentes, December 26, 1957

 

And today, on May 13th – on the feast of that very same Lady Herself whom the devil seeks to decisively engage – Obama has profoundly and radically chosen his side…with only one year left to go.

As time grows short, he and the liberals have chosen together.

They have chosen to do battle through the innocent, and the most vulnerable amongst it.

 

They have chosen children to deliver their message of immodesty and degradation to (and us, through them), on the very anniversary of the day when Mary herself began to deliver her own messages of purity and salvation, to children (and also us, through them).

 

In the “decisive battle” that Sr. Lucia spoke of, could anything be more uncanny than that?

John Paul II, a controversial figure himself, once quite accurately said, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.”

How easily could he have slightly altered such a statement, so that it could also quite accurately have read, “A nation that demands immodesty between its own children – its own boys and girls – is a nation without hope.”

A History of Divine Warnings

But there is hope.

For those who choose to fight, there always is.

You see, in one years time, Catholics around the world will celebrate the one hundredth anniversary of Fatima.

As that fateful moment in history arrives – a moment that will reach across a six month period, from the beginning of the apparitions in May until the final grand finale in October – they will also find themselves faced with a definitive end to the time frame that Sr. Lucia provided to the Church.

What will happen, as this one last year progresses, and the end of the one hundred years period reaches its final date?

Do we have to look far to guess?

After all, history often tends to repeat itself, and its frequently erroneous ways.

Humanity seems to never learn.

 

In 1689, Saint Margaret Mary, the visionary of the Sacred Heart Devotion (coincidentally, the parallel devotion of the Immaculate Heart, which was apart of the Fatima message) received a message from Christ Himself wherein the King of France was requested to consecrate his own country to the Sacred Heart.

 

Much like the Fatima message, the King, and his heirs, were given one hundred years to comply, and a definitive deadline was set. 

As destiny, and selfish humanity would have it, neither the King, nor any of his successors took heed, and exactly one hundred years later – in 1789 – the bloody and disastrous French Revolution exploded upon the streets of the royal fleur-de-lis. 

It was a revolution wherein death, suffering, religious persecution, as well as social and political upheaval seemed to almost overcome. 

Even the reigning King himself was to eventually meet a gruesome, devastating death, and the Church suffered an excruciating martyrdom in many a countless, untold soul.

Time had run out, and the divine warning of the Sacred Heart had never been obeyed. 

Is this what awaits us if the Church does not comply?

Perhaps.

I am not a prophet, and so I cannot say, but perhaps for at least a time persecution and suffering awaits.

For a time. 

But there is one important difference between the one hundred years deadline of the Sacred Heart, and that of the Immaculate Heart.

We must always remember that at Fatima, Mary also said: 

 

“In the end, My Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to Me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

 

She has promised victory.

Not only victory, but a period of peace – to the entire world, and thus also to the Church.

She has left us with hope, and in a situation like the one we are faced with today – as Obama sends out his message of corruption to the children of the nation on the very anniversary of the beginning of Mary’s own message of salvation – what could be better than that?

An Important Day

So you see, May 13th, 2016 is a very important day, with an unexpected twist of fate. 

It might be the day wherein Obama has chosen to unleash a historic attack against the children of our time, in every public school – from sea to shining sea.

But it is also the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, and ninety-nine years to the day since the Fatima message began to be shared with the three children from the Mother of God.

With only one year left, as the foretold and prophesied clock ticks away, Obama has literally chosen (albeit without his knowledge most likely) to run his own widespread message of destruction counter and parallel to that of one of the greatest messages ever given by the Mother of God.

Suffering may be ahead, but is it not possible that in the coinciding of Obama’s message to the children of our nation (and thus us through them) with that of the message of Our Lady of Fatima to the three children (and thus also us through them), we are that much closer to the promise that the Immaculate Heart will win?

 

Is Heaven perhaps sending us a secret nudge in the midst of Obama’s horrific decision – a quiet one, but with a foretold promise of victory subtly attached?

 

So turn to Fatima.

Learn the message.

Then pray, speak up, and have hope.

Remember, there is always hope for those who refuse to give up the fight.

We read the book.

We know who wins.

~*~

In my last post, I initiated a new comment policy. In order to be fair to all of my readers, I will, from here on out, end each post with the words: “I have sinned, forgive me.” In this way, I will strive to initiate the policy I have created, and hopefully make my readers feel more comfortable with it as well.

+ I have sinned, forgive me. +

~*~

© 2016 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

I Have Sinned, Forgive Me: Transgenders, Boycott Target & Reclaiming the Sacred’s New Comment Policy

I never quite realized how thoroughly abusive Transgender individuals – and their supporters – can be to those who disagree with them. 

Not, until, I recently decided to participate in the “Boycott Target” phenomenon that is currently underway across varying social media sites online. (Click here to learn more.)

Perhaps it was naive of me, but I entered into it with the expectation that I would only meet with a certain basic level of crass insults (much akin to what I often see online), but I definitely was not planning on witnessing what could amount to full-on abuse clearly intended to degrade, shame, and break the human spirit, as well as suppress all diversity of thought.  

 

Certainly, I assumed, Transgender individuals and their supporters would be more mature than that.

 

After all, aren’t they the ones who have so loudly proclaimed to the world – for a very long time – that if people do not treat them with respect, they could be seriously damaged for life?

Depressed? Suicidal?

Would they not want to give to others that same “respect” they have so often, and so passionately, craved?

Yes, in case you have not guessed by now, I must have been living under a rock.

Double Standards

As I entered into the rather tumultuous fray, armed with quotes and tweets and Facebook defenses, I was to discover that it does not take long for Transgenders and their supporters to “let the abusive games” begin.

 

Despite my efforts at attempting to debate while hoping to keep the peace, they quickly launched into me as if I was threatening to chop innocent babies into little pieces and mercilessly throw them into rotten, maggot-filled, rusting garbage dumpsters (something about that sounds familiar…liberals, do you have any ideas?)

 

As if repeating ad-nauseum from some universal manual of supremest dictators, or like rote subjects of a skilled hypnotist, they repeatedly bombarded, judged, and insulted me with the quite popular labels of “bigot” and “hater.”

Over, and over, and over again.

(Don’t they ever… you know, get over it?)

It was rather like being pummeled non-stop on a children’s playground, by a gang of pre-teen hoodlums intent on beating and kicking you to the ground, in the twisted, demented hope of preventing you from ever getting up (or getting your point across, as the case might be).

There were literally times when it seemed as though a sinister strategy was at work, fully pre-meditated so as to obstruct, repress and obliterate any expression or debate of Christian ideals.

 

I was laughed at, told that I was “mentally ill,” that I needed to check into a pysch ward, that my ability to think rationally had been affected by “deep issues,” and informed that I was a very sick individual for loving Transgender people as humans, wanting them to heal, and forgiving them for the problems that they have caused in our society, which inevitably affect me as well.

 

I was cursed at, called a b*tch, maladjusted, afraid of everything, as well as a selection of other names. When I pointed out that I was being abused, and refused to continue any further discussion, I was assaulted for not answering the questions that had been proposed to me in the midst of such vitriolic spew (never mind that I was being, you know…abused) and mocked for thinking that the behavior I was receiving was indeed abusive.

I was told that I was shameful, judgmental, unintelligent, racist, part of a “hate group,” ignorant, and that I should go do disgusting, extremely offensive things that I will not even begin to name here.

Suffice it to say, with all of that coming at me almost non-stop – as if purposely trying to block and prevent me from having any say – there were times when it was rather difficult to get much in.

Yet all along, as I tried to encourage mature debate, these self-appointed judges of souls slammed their mighty gavels upon the comment boxes of the world and pronounced my sentence before I could barely even begin to speak:

Guilty! 

Guilty!

Guilty!

Being the believer in humanity that I am (ahem…well, at least I try), I made different attempts to rationalize with my attackers and explain that having a different opinion does not define ones heart as being filled with bigotry or hatred, and that it was unfair to make such final-sounding statements when I had never taken to treating them in the same bullying way that they had almost instantly taken to treating me.

In a nutshell, I tried to simply explain that other opinions exist, and that those opinions were just trying to be heard through all of the cruel mind-games that so many seemed so eager to play.

That is all.

But alas, this defense – which one would assume should make sense to a rational individual – turned out to be no defense.

At least, not in their eyes.

The base, vile strategy of “block, shame, silence and conquer” seemed to be all too real, and all too reminiscent of some distant, historical truth (or some not too far away, modern Islamic nightmare). 

 

Like the legendary days of old, when martyrs and gladiators stood in the Coliseum awaiting their fate, thumbs went down without even knowing more than a name, and the bare-bones gist of a belief.

 

They waited with cruel words for me to bow to their ideologies by way of emotional, abusive tactics – or suffer at their hands, as their fingertips met their keyboards and threatened to mercilessly “hack” away.

Yes, for a few rare souls, kindness won out, and they approached me maturely, politely, and with the dignity of a human being that still has something of a compassionate heart left.

For those individuals, the roar of the maddening crowd faded to a forgotten sigh, and I was no longer a ragged criminal on trial before biased, blood-thirsty eyes, but a human being worthy of listening to, and sharing ideas – heart to heart.

I even enjoyed some of those conversations to varying degrees, and felt blessed to be able to walk away not only with my symbolic “life” in tact, but also with a sense of fraternal charity between us, despite the fact that our disagreements remained – and most likely always would.

I had the sense that I had met a unique individual, made in the image of God, and it was a beautiful thing to feel.

Yet for the vast majority, my desire to hold onto the image of God in them was highly challenged, and I have to admit – there where many times that I did not live up to the charity that I would have liked to, although I was not (at least I hope) verbally lowering myself to their degree.

After a few days, realizing that my patience was wearing a little thin, and not quite liking the direction my own written tone was heading in (hearing that they blasted Twitter’s #BoycottTarget hashtag with porno images [now removed I believe] of their perversions was quite the downer, I must say), I decided to step back from the entire “bloody” affair, and gain a little perspective.

I wanted to just be alone, and ask myself silently, “what makes humanity so cruel?”

 

  • What could take a group of people who once claimed that they just wanted to be accepted, and turn them into a tribe of verbal attackers, intent on “ganging up” so as to seriously harm another human being?
  • What has reduced our world to a place where loving someone according to a Christian code means you have a mental illness, and exposing pictures of Trans sex on Twitter feeds means that you do not?
  • What has happened so that verbal abuse is no longer hate, and maturely sharing ones opinion without such caustic abuse is?
  • What has led to a civilization where a man cannot protect his daughter from other men entering into the stall next to her – or potentially gaining a “peep show” through the openings at the sides of many a stall door as he waits?

 

But most of all, what has created a mentality wherein the vast majority of people can no longer see that a man in a ladies room could possibly confuse young girls, and perhaps leave them feeling that something is not “quite right?”

There was a time when we would have told that same little girl to listen to that feeling.

That such a feeling meant something was not right.

 

We would have protected her by warning her that some form of abuse was likely happening to her in a deviant, covert way, for we would have realized that a man was viewing her in a place and a situation where he simply should not be.

 

Not a soul in their right mind would have ever stooped to tell her that if she does not like it, she is the one with the mental problem, and should possibly seek counseling to overcome her “deep seated fears.”

A peeping man is an abusing man, regardless of if he intended it or not.

And feeling uncomfortable with that is never her own “fault.”

What makes a world where abuse is ok, and questioning it is shamed?

Where the manipulative lingo of abusers has become the lingo of “truth?”

What?

Could it be that diabolical, dictatorial strategy of “block, shame, silence and conquer” that I mentioned above?

If so, besides continuing to speak when many would shut us down, what can we do?

I Have Sinned, Forgive Me

Thinking on all of this, I can see that much has been done to destroy truth by a simple lack of genuine charity throughout the verbal/written communication of souls. 

And not just in the fanatical forums that I recently encountered, but in many – Christian and non-Christian alike.

After all, if people could still listen to each other, without all the name-calling, hate mongering, swearing, judgmental accusations, guilt-tripping, bullying, and shaming, then perhaps the truth of genuine Love could finally reveal HIS beautiful face, to believers and non-believers both.

Perhaps.

But then again, maybe that is why there is so much verbal garbage spewing forth from so many in the Transgender, “Support Target” camp.

Maybe that is how evil is hiding itself – behind the classic tactics of a loud-mouthed, schoolyard thug. 

Regardless of what it is, I can see that amongst many Transgenders and their followers, true charity appears to perhaps be mostly dead.

They like who they like, and they hate who they hate – and “death” to any human being of a differing opinion who dares to enter therein.

Heaven forbid that happens here. 

 

So it may come as a little strange, and certainly unusual – for I have never seen the likes of it on any other public space – but from now on, there is a new comment policy in place.

 

A new comment policy, you may ask?

What does that have to do with sharing the traditional Catholic faith?

A lot.

For each new “thread” of comments that is started, readers of Reclaiming the Sacred (and myself included) are asked to preface their thoughts with these words:

“I have sinned, forgive me.”

That is it, and that is all.

You are not asked to start every comment that you leave on this site with those words – only the first comment that you make in any new thread. Subsequent comments on the same thread need not contain those words.

But even if you find it tiresome – even if you have to do it over and over and over again – I ask that you do.

 

By these words, we can strive to bind the hands of hate and cruelty that seem to exist in so many other forums on the internet, including “Christian” ones as well.

 

Certainly, we may only be contributing something small – and seemingly meaningless to the hardened eye – but at least we can try.

At least we can hope to create a space where hearts are met with something that many may have never even known before. 

A place where soul meets soul at the broken core, and is faced with humility before any other word.

But most of all, let us use what we can to remember, before we open our mouths, that we have all sinned, we are all guilty, and so we should at least make an attempt to be merciful to one another.

Then, let us forgive, and in charity, let us discuss.

 

The only solution that I know is the tried-and-true; that we all strive to become like the One who gave us this faith, and showed us the Way to pass it on.

 

But may no “blood” be ever shed on this site.

Heaven forbid. 

As we seek to share our faith – and share we must – I simply ask, above all:

God, let us love.

~*~

Please note: If you choose not to follow this new comment policy, I will either not approve your comment, or I will edit it appropriately myself in the hope that you will catch on. However, if you do not, all further comments will be sent to spam, and not read by me or anyone else.

~*~

© 2016 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

LOOK HOW LITTLE THEY LOVE ONE ANOTHER: THE ONLINE WORLD OF FAITH

In my last post, I touched briefly upon some of the personal struggles that I encountered when faced with the covert objectification of women for the sake of “promoting” the traditional Catholic faith.

A covert objectification that eventually led to a clearly overt one, and which throughly demoralized my desire to continue interacting with the online Catholic world (or any virtual faith community) for quite sometime.

(You may click here to view that post if you have not read it as of yet. Doing so will ensure that the rest of this post makes much clearer sense.)

And truth be told, I am still not sure that I am ready to return.

It is not that my brain is forever stuck on that one exact situation twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, like a broken record that plays the same dull tune over and over again until you become so sick of it that you either turn it off or simply leave.

If it was, I would be a bit concerned for my own well being at this point.

What truly bothers me is that the incident in itself marks the culmination of an online “faith culture” (of any “Christian” orientation) that has grown to often say one thing, and one thing alone to me.

And that one thing is: “look how little they love one another.”

Love in the Early Church

According to differing sources, Tertullian – an early Church father in Northern Africa – often imagined (or actually heard) that the pagans would look at the devout Christians of their day and say amongst themselves, “look how they love one another.”

And this love that the early Christians so often clearly displayed was perhaps unprecedented in the history of the world.

Not only did they turn their backs on the personal acquisition of material wealth and prosperity, sharing what they had one with the other as they engaged in meaningful lives of prayer, but they kept an eye upon the needs of their fellow followers in Christ – ministering to the poor, the suffering, the homeless, the widows, and the sick amongst them.

 

Poor2

 

From what I understand, the women dressed modestly and simply. Jewelry was regularly disdained, hair was kept covered, modesty meant modesty, and feminine beauty was a gift that was not to be thrown at the ogling eyes of just anyone with a penchant for enjoying the view.

 

Everything was done to help aid in the creation of a unique, yet burgeoning cultural phenomenon that was dedicated to producing one thing and one thing alone: hearts on fire with Christ-like love.

 

I admire those early men and women immensely.

They had a rigor which most of us in our modern world entirely lack, and as a result, they produced some staggering results.

Just take a brief look at the history of the martyrs, and one perhaps cannot help but wonder how most of us today – content in our rather comfortable lives – would fare. 

Flayings, slayings, beatings, whippings, lions, tigers, swords, fires, flames, chains, threats, intimidations, amputations…and who knows what else the entire horrific gamut could truly have entailed.

I think we can all admit that when it comes to our ancestors in the faith, the vast majority of us have fallen very, very short.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.

 

Yet the inspiration of the martyrs aside, I cannot help but surmise that the way the early Christians viewed one another – and the mode in which they concretely treated each another – perhaps evangelized just as many (if not more) souls as those who were privileged to be converted by the witnessing of a dramatic shedding of blood.

 

As Tertullian suggested, those humble folk most likely left the proud pagans in awe, scratching their human heads at the unexpected sight of so much divine, Christian love.

And such a sight was perhaps one of the most important and genuine ways that the early Church not only saved its own, but also successfully fished for new souls.

A Skewed Approach

But think, for a moment, what their world would have been like if they had willfully engaged in pre-modern variations of what we today call beauty pageants, or the selection of Catholic “pin-up” girls as mentioned in my previous post. 

Imagine if every month those early Christians had stepped aside from their prayers and charitable works for the sole purpose of selecting an attractive young woman from out of their midst, and placing her on public display with a sign that read something along the lines of: Miss Traditional Catholic of the Month,as was done at the now defunct website that I spoke of in my last post.

Are there any history buffs out there who can guess how such a pre-modern variation would have occurred, and what this would have meant for the women involved (besides a quick martyrdom for the rather tactless lack of discretion in revealing their forbidden faith)?

Think for a moment.

In those days, there were no printed pages, nor photographs, TVs or virtual screens to “promote” feminine beauty for all the world to see, as was done in the instance of the “Miss Traditional Catholic” thing.

Instead, to display one such woman to a consistently wide selection of eyes, she most probably would have had to sit in an open window, along a prominent, busy street, smiling charmingly as the myriad varieties of men and women passed their way in front of her lingering eyes.

Besides personal choices in dress and daily behavior, this was how women who wanted to “display” their beauty often acted.

 

This was their “billboard” of their day, or their “sexed-up Instagram” of their time.

 

This was how they most likely would have “advertised beauty.” 

And for those ladies who engaged in such an activity, their moral status was most likely almost always at risk.

This was because, much like the immodest modeling magazines of our day, or the pin-up girls of the past, window-sitting left them with the risk of being objectified – and objectification can inevitably lead a young girl to a loose, licentious life.

But to more deeply understand the profound divide between one such activity and the genuine, authentic lives of the early Christians, can you think of any woman who actually did this, and can you recall what her name was?

Of course you can.

According to Anne Catherine Emmerich, our dearly beloved Mary Magdalene started out her non-Christian days in one such ostentatious, culturally frowned-upon way.

And not only did it place her moral reputation in a very loose, very questionable light, but according to Miss Emmerich (if I remember correctly) it also affected the once innocent state, and well-being, of her passionate yet misguided soul – eventually contributing to her near demise.

Clarity In Absurdity

But Mary Magdalene was blessed.

She met Christ, and he liberated her from the cause of all of her troubles – seven demons, to be exact – and ever thereafter, she put aside her former ways which had once included the vain objectification of her personal beauty and physical charms.

In a nutshell, she renounced the pre-modern variations of the “pin-up” girl, the “beauty queen,” or the “Miss Traditional Catholic.”

She stayed out of the windows, covered her hair, and in both her dress and her personal choices she no longer displayed her unusually appealing features for all the world to see. Turning to prayer and good works, she was never to grace the “cover” of any public space ever again.

 

Poor1

 

From vanity she turned to love – and what a love that was.

Given all of this, could you even begin to imagine her, after the healing that Christ graced her with, participating in a historic version of the entire “Miss Traditional Catholic” nightmare that I mentioned in my last post?

Could you see her standing by as other young girls were chosen too, and “propped up” in a window in one such similar way – albeit more “modestly,” but still in a situation that only “questionable” women were known to be found?

But most of all, could you see her doing it – or supporting it – for the sake of promoting her Christian faith?

 

For the sake of silently but symbolically saying, “despite our modesty, look how beautiful us early Christians are. Don’t you all want to be one of us too?”

 

It sounds absurd, does it not?

Not only absurd, but a risk to the love that the early Christians so carefully cultivated through their clear moral boundaries and distinctly charitable lives.

Yet sometimes, we all need a little absurdity to help make things clear.

Nonetheless, I want it to be known that I am not here to condemn anyone.

I understand, from what I read, that many of those girls who found themselves involved, probably found themselves involved most innocently, thinking it was all for a “good” cause.

I feel for them, and if any of them do ever read this, I want them to know that I send no judgement their way, and no one else should as well. That is not the purpose of this post. 

If anything, I offer my empathy that those around them did not protect them better, and that our world has become so convoluted that what once would have seemed demoralizing can, in our times, often seem quite ok.

They are not the ones to blame here.

Nor am I here to judge why they were not better protected, or to condemn anyone involved.

We all make mistakes.

Enough said. 

 

But what I am here to do is to at least attempt to shine light into how we as a collective whole – as traditional Catholics (or any other group of faith) – think when attempting to evangelize online.

 

I am here to question our collective modus operandi, and much of what so many of us often do overall, as a group of people attempting to share our faith. 

Unravelling the Online World of Faith

You see, it is my fear that all of the terrible things which came out of that strange “Miss Traditional Catholic” site may perhaps speak of a silent problem within online traditionalism (and online “Christianity” as a whole) that reaches much deeper than one such rather scandalous event alone. 

 

After all, how could a website like that have ever lasted as long as it did, unless something was fundamentally skewed amongst the collective “cultural mentality” of those who both saw it, supported it, liked it, and followed it?

 

Unless the ability to recognize objectification was somehow…turned off? 

It is my fear that the crass unravelling so many witnessed was just the tip of the iceberg, revealing a cumulative, mass way of speaking / thinking / sharing the faith that can all too easily appear to forget the essence of religion for the sake of not just the rubrics and the rules, but also for the delight that one can take in admiring the overall “appearance” of how things look.

And the older I get, the more that frightens me.

It frightens me, because it can possibly lead to things like the “Miss Traditional Catholic” nonsense…and all that eventually occurred.

It has the potential to turn religion into something shallow, faith into something vain, and it can eventually inhibit the charity that should hopefully be growing in everyones heart.

That is why Mary Magdalene stayed out of windows after her conversion, and why the early Christians did not run beauty pageants to promote their faith.

As long as their “cultural mentality” was in place, to do so just made no sense. 

What If?

So I would like to be a bit bold here, and ask you to imagine for a moment if you will, what it would be like if the world of online Christianity was a different place.

What would it be like if the online Catholic culture actually protected against such a tragedy as the one mentioned throughout this post, and behaved a bit more like the world of the early followers of Christ? 

Perhaps in such a virtual realm, comment boxes would be filled with genuine concern for the other person, rather than rife with personal attacks, sarcastic wit, name calling, complaining, verbal abuse and bitter tirades.

Maybe there, websites would focus less on the radical swing between images of vestments and photos of lunch (“What will we eat? What will we wear?” Sound familiar?), and more on what we could actually do for each other.

Possibly dogma and rules would be clearly defined, but charity and the spiritual life would be found to share an equally important space.

Perhaps traditionalists would take all their beautiful tools, stopped obsessing over them, and just get down to the business of actually using them for the sake of the powerfully influential principal of “show, don’t tell.”

Rack your brain if you must, but try to glimpse into an online world where everyone – believer and non-believer alike – could honestly say, “look how much they love one another.”

What would that online presence look like?

How would you experience it?

But most of all, what do you think it would it do for the soul, and the increase of genuine Christ-like love?

Now don’t get me wrong.

I get that there is a lot of “intelligentsia” in the world of traditionalism, for the Catholic faith is a very deep faith, and it has fascinated brilliant scholars almost since its earliest days.

I begrudge no one the opportunity to seek such learning therein, and certainly Catholics need to both know and be aware of many important things.

 

But what if – what if – for a moment we all stepped outside of the dusty libraries, stopped obsessing over albs, musical notes, chalices, rubrics, and all sorts of other foundations that are beautiful, but not the goal – and remembered that some souls are honestly simple, and just want to know that the traditional Catholic faith exists to lead them to an understanding of how much they are lovedand can love / serve in return. 

 

If that makes traditionalists cringe, then perhaps it explains why the online traddy world ended up with the “Miss Traditional Catholic” thing to begin with – and all the results that grew from there. 

For if love makes us feel repulsed and cruelty makes us cheer

If we are obsessed with the way things look more than how they are

If we care more about the rubrics than we do the heart

If we are determined to stay in our theological ivory towers, and never come down to meet the most needy and vulnerable amongst us as the early Christians so eagerly did….

Then perhaps it will be inevitable that the next time, things will be worse.

 

Next time, there just might be a scandal that will shake us all to the core.

 

Like I said, I am only questioning our modus operandi as an overall group – not individuals.

But perhaps as a collective group, it is time for traditionalists to step up to the plate, get out of their “windows,” and show the world what all of these great tools can actually do.

We have all failed.

No one is innocent.

We all need to learn from each other, me just as much as you.

But isn’t it time to at least try to make it clear to the “pagans” of our own day and age….

“Look how much they love one another?”

Just look.

~*~

© 2016 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

~*~

Featured image credit: philippe leroyerStudent Demonstration (46), License. 

A LITTLE SITE OF VEILED HORRORS & THE REMNANT OF THE CHURCH

This may very well be one of the most difficult posts that I have ever attempted, or will ever attempt, to write.

Truth be told, I have no idea where to begin.

Those of you who have followed me over time may recall that on January 4th of this year, I published the second post in a creative installment that was intended to be focused around the topic of discernment.

Particularly, vocational discernment with the Mother of God.

The writing process was moving along smoothly, and I was quite enjoying the unusual experience of entering into what it would be like to meet the mother of Christ Himself, while she was still alive, and receive her guidance.

And then, out of nowhere – it ended. 

Not another post appeared, and my blog went into something of a stalemate, as it often has over the course of many years.

I wanted to write, to continue what I had begun.

But something had effected me to the core.

Something had jarred me, shaken my spirit…and as the weeks progressed, I had no desire to return.

Now I shall tell you what, and why.

(Alert: This post is not for minors. If you are under 18 years of age, please click off this post and do not read any further.)

 

The Internet and Tradition

 

For a long time, years to be exact, I have experienced something of a love / hate relationship with the internet. 

Especially when it comes to promoting / sharing the Catholic faith.

 

From random comments to popular websites, from informative YouTube videos to flashy Facebook pages, the internet can often be a wonderful platform for sharing the truth – and a devastating one for corrupting it as well.

 

In a single hours time, I can go from feeling inspired by an extraordinary video that uplifts the soul and stirs the heart, to experiencing a total repulsion by the lack of charity evinced in Catholic com boxes (or com boxes of any denomination) – even by the moderators of the sites themselves.

I can watch while popular Catholic figures cause the faith to appear mundane and trivial through their trite photos and banal interests, and I can browse through blog after blog wherein I find rancid, prejudiced attacks that agitate the spirit without settling the soul.

No doubt, the internet can be a monstrous enough place on its own, when one is faced with the purely “secular” side.

Yet somehow, combine it with faith, and it can become anything from uncannily uplifting to thoroughly discouraging and downright disheartening – and that is partly why I have often disappeared from time to time.

To question if I really want to be apart of such a place. 

Yet throughout all of my experiences with the Catholic culture of the online realm, there was to be one experience that was destined to challenge all that I hold dear in a way that no other had, and may ever do, again.

I found that “experience,” or that website to be more exact, last spring.

 

Little Site of Veiled Horrors

 

I have no idea how I came across it; that little site of thinly veiled horrors.

Yet somehow, as the dot.com address emerged out of the ether of the internet and onto my unexpecting screen, there I was …. face to face and inescapably confronted with the subtle objectification of traditional Catholic women. 

At first, I think I was probably a little bewildered, perplexed, and confused.

After all, there was nothing immediately scandalous about the site.

There was nothing to instantly scream, at first glance: “Warning! Clear and undeniable objectification happening here! “

Yet I had never seen anything quite like it before; at least, not in the traditional Catholic realm.

You know, the realm of….modesty? 

Modesty and mantillas?

I may have found myself mentally scratching my head as I scrolled through the colorful, almost professional-quality images, wherein beautiful young women in skirts and mantillas struck affected, “look-how-holy-I-am” poses in a stunning, dynamic church setting.

Perhaps it should have ultimately struck me as innocent. or something original and creative that a photographer had attempted to do for the sake of promoting the traditional faith.

But the clock of first impressions was ticking, and as the movement of my mouse brought more and more images to my eyes, it did not take long for me to have the distinct, foreboding sense that something was wrong.

Something was wrong with that site. 

Something seemed too “posed,” too richly “affected,” too consistently focused on beautiful, young, well-groomed, society-looking women … and all of my experiences with interpreting artistic symbolism were starting to send subtle early warning alarm bells my way.

And then, I saw it.

The defining thing that set the proverbial alarm bells screeching at full blast, wailing like sharply flashing red sirens that filled my mind with an unexpected, nuanced pain.

Labels. 

My eyes fell upon labels – terms of objectification that have been traditionally used to label sexualized pin-up girls, or women willing to take off their clothing and parade in a bikini for the sake of a tinsel crown.

Yet here, there was no shallowly earned crown, or half-naked calendar designed to be pinned on a wall.

There was only the covert objectification of women in the name of (for the sake of?) promoting religion, right in front of my face.

I cannot remember the exact wording, for it has been sometime and life has intervened, but the labels went something like this:

 

“Meet Miss Traditionalist Catholic of the Month! Every month, we take a new girl, and choose her to be the Miss Traditionalist Catholic! This is (name here), and here is a little about her, and why she is our Miss Traditional Catholic of the month!”

 

Stunned, I continued to scroll through, and felt my heart sinking as the images went from fakely glamorized piety to what could easily be called clearly modeling poses. 

Despite their “modest” clothing, the young girls were now striking stances that could have almost found their way into any current, de-moralizing fashion magazine – if the fashions had been a little more revealing, that is.

There was an edge to them, and it was an edge that screamed slightly sexy, slightly glamorous, but definitely well-to-do, beautiful, and on a seeming mission to prove that to the world.

As someone with a background in interpreting artistic symbols, I was picking up a wordless message that was frighteningly easy to read.

 

“We are the beautiful people,” the message covertly whispered, slithering amidst the professional quality and the apparently respectable design. “We are the traditionalists, and we are young, beautiful, elite, and special. Can you not see? You must! For though we are modest, we are well-dressed, well-groomed, attractive and chic, yet slightly sexy in how we may appear. We belong on the cover of Catholic Vogue. Only the beautiful elite need apply.”

 

It may not have been what everyone involved was thinking, but the message was there, and it disturbed me to the core.

Was this the direction that traditionalism was headed in?

I clicked off the site, repulsed in the extreme.

My faith that I loved… I had come to it not because of beautiful people who looked like they were posing on the cover of a prestigious fashion magazine, cozying up to the elitist tendencies in their fellow-man, but because of men who slept in pig sties and women who gave up their hair. 

Saint Francis of Assisi and Saint Teresa of Avila had been two of my most formative influences, and this was surely NOT what their religion had EVER been about.

It was certainly not the traditional Catholic faith that I had fallen in love with, and yearned to be apart of.

It was the touch of the shekel, and anyone who knows me, knows that it is a touch that I often have most thoroughly disdained.

 

A Return and a Loss

 

Suffice it to say, I refrained from posting new articles on the internet for much of that summer, and fall.

I avoided most social media, blogs, and traditional sites, only checking in to a few from time to time – and even then I wanted off as fast as I could.

I was afraid that the ugly truth of what traditionalism (and faith online in general) was becoming would rear its misshapen, noxious head yet again, even amidst the sites that I had come to appreciate and find some worth in.

All the bickering, the fighting, the attacking, the insults – the sheer banality that reduced all that I loved to a mere meme, or a rude com box, or a like button on a Facebook page, or a photo of someones lunch…. I did not want to run into it, wherever it might be unexpectedly found.

 

But worst of all, I was still confused and discouraged by the fact that so many traditionalists were in support of the subtle objectification of women for the sake of promoting their very own faith from a clearly elitist-seeming angle.

 

What about the pig sties?

Seriously… what about the ideals of Francis and Clare?

Saint Teresa and Saint John?

Saint Dominic and Saint Catherine?

What about…that?

Or was it all doomed to be nothing more than dogma with a fancy tie?

Despite my concerns, in December I began posting once again, hoping to create an online space that offered an alternative to such a displeasing angle, while maintaining the truth all the same.

Things were moving along quite well, when in early January all of my years of growing to loathe the internet culminated when an individual on a social networking site happened to point out a few articles to me.

Articles that were several months old, but which, as a result of my absence, were new to me.

 

Thanks to this individual, I was soon to learn that the bizarre, creepy, covertly objectifying “Miss Traditionalist” thing had gone from its “subtle” nuances of “sexy modesty” to full-on, clearly overt, purely sexualized images.

Involving. Naked. Women.

In mantillas.

With bizarre pagan knives at their sides.

And almost no one had been troubled, until it was too late. 

Almost no one. 

In fact, many in the traditionalist world had literally encouraged it.

While I was having a crisis over it, feeling discouraged and dismayed, many others had participated in it, liked it (by the thousands!), supported it, and been behind it every step of the way throughout its early stages (or so it seemed).

There had been those who had sounded the alarm, which I admire, but as I read their accounts, I learned how they were treated.

They were scoffed at, told that they were “overreacting” (really?), ignored, and taken for fools that could never be handled seriously.

As someone who has had experiences with being objectified, I really should not have been surprised.

The things that can go on – well, when dealing with fallen humanity, it is inevitable.

No one is innocent in the end. We all have our mistakes we have made.

But this was enough to really set me back for a long time in terms of how eager I was to have anything to do with the Catholic culture of the internet.

It is like dealing with an abusive individual – eventually, their very presence makes you just want to step away, flee, and run.

 

Missing Signs

 

To this day, I do not understand it.

I cannot comprehend how all the signs were missed.

Certainly, no one can tell the future, but even so – why was what I saw in its earliest of stages even remotely acceptable?

 

Why were traditionalists not in an uproar, and why were traditionalist men not stepping forth to say, “you will not turn our women into beauty queens, or modestly adorned versions of pin-up girls. That is objectification, and that is not what our faith is all about!”

 

Aren’t men supposed to protect women?

Well, aren’t they?

But most of all, I am tired.

I am tired of staying quiet.

I am tired of seeing things go wrong, and not saying anything, for fear that some cranky traditionalist (or member of any faith) will jump all over me, and tell me how terrible I am for pointing out the truth.

Sure, if I had said something a year ago, I doubt it would have mattered.

Others tried, and clearly failed.

In the end, it was up to those directly involved to see the signs, and take the actions that could have prevented it.

For whatever reason, of which I do not know and am not here to judge, that did not happen.

After all, the Church Militant is not perfect, just like how humans are not perfect.

It makes mistakes, like we all do.

No one is innocent. We all have our omissions, our failings, and our sins.

But if we are to wash it clean – if we are to reveal its beautiful face once again – maybe we need to stop staying silent when negative things occur.

Maybe we need to first see the spots – and claim them – so that we can then scrub them clean.

Maybe only then can we “reclaim the sacred” from all the levels of filth and grime that time and human history has mired it in.

Perhaps then – and only then – can we find the Church of Saint Francis, Saint Teresa, and all our noble heroes of the past.

But not this remnant.

Please, dear God, do not let this remnant be it. 

The Church is so much more beautiful than that. 

~*~

FOR PART TWO OF THIS POST, CLICK HERE.

~*~

© 2016 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

The Visit of a Lifetime: Discerning with the Mother of God

“You and I, we are so different.”

He gazed up at the simple, yet beautiful woman sitting across the table from him, whose aging but still tender, kind face shone with a brilliance like the most magnificent of gems, hidden within a strikingly innocent yet unimposing setting.

“You always knew your call. God blessed you like that. I always thought I knew mine too, until…”

He paused, his thoughts interrupted by the soft, tinkling laughter that had suddenly filled the air of her small, humble country home, like tiny enchanted bells calling him back to reality.

“Elijah,” she smiled with all the warmth of her heart, as she politely reigned in her gentle humor at his naive but well-intentioned words. “I never knew my call. Not from the start. If anything, I spent my childhood praying that I could one day meet, and perhaps serve, the mother of our God. But I never dreamed…”

“That you would be her?”

Elijah finished her unspoken thoughts, as she calmly nodded in honest agreement.

“God’s Will… It is often a mystery, even to me.”

Mary sighed, but it was an exhalation full of faith, like that of a hopeful but dependent child waiting on the promise of a Father who had yet to return to collect His beloved, precious kin.

(Confused? Just joining the story? Click here to begin from the first post.)

The sound of water boiling broke their reverie, and with one of her many smiles that could light up any doubting soul, Mary excused herself to pour one of her original, homemade anecdotes.

It was a secret concoction that almost always lifted the spirits of many a heavy heart who had made the long journey to visit her over the passing years, but truth be told (and she was not telling) the mystery lay only in her prayers.

“Elijah, you have such a delightful name,” she spoke in all sincerity, as she returned to pour him a steaming cup, and placed a loaf of homemade bread on the center of the un-embellished, wooden table in their midst.

A few knives too, and an earthen jar of golden olive oil, freshly pressed from a benevolent neighbors farm…and all was almost set.

Only the grace of God, and the right selection of well-discerned words remained, to nourish and renew Elijah’s searching heart.

“Thank you,” he replied, both to her compliment and the modest gifts that she had so generously supplied.

“Like Elijah on Mount Carmel,” Mary charmingly pointed out, as she unassumingly smoothed her long, plain robe and took her seat across from him once again. “Quite the prophet. Some used to say that John – the forerunner of my Son – was he, come to life again.

“You know, your name means ‘Strength of the Lord’ in some books.”

“Yes, but I don’t feel very strong right now,” Elijah admitted, almost cringing at the spiritual weight that the thought of his name could often carry. “Elijah was the name of my grandfather.”

“A good man?” Mary asked, as she agilely cut a few slices of bread from the dark brown loaf, covering them in protective liquid blankets of olive gold.

“Very, thank you,” Elijah nodded, as he accepted the generous portion that she placed upon his plate. “Yes, he was very good. He was the one who taught me to always pray to the Lord for knowledge of my vocation, and a good wife if God should be so kind as to grant my wish.”

“Very good advice,” Mary admitted. “And you want to be married?”

Pulling the small, steaming terra-cotta cup towards her, she lingered between a question and the certain knowledge of what her young, but sincere visitor was preparing to say.

~*~

“Yes,” he did not hesitate to admit, somehow recognizing her knowledge of his soul in her clear, limpid blue-brown eyes.

“It is really all I have ever dreamed of. A small home to call my own, a good wife, reliable work, and children – so many innocent, pattering feet of my line, and joyful voices at the end of the day, within those well-earned walls…. Is that so wrong?”

“No, of course not. Why would you think it is?”

Elijah hesitated, well aware that he had finally reached the core of his visit, and the hinge that the direction of his future life hung so precariously upon.

Taking a moment, as if he could take ahold of all of eternity, his eyes glanced across the small vista of her retiring home.

The unusually cool, fall breezes welcomed themselves through her open windows like old friends, submissively leaving their harmony across her bare stone floors and her hand-woven, colorful blankets that hung like splashes of a cheerful dream nearby.

~*~

VocationDiscernmentPrayer
Photo Credit: Alex ProimosGolden Vines and the Cottage (Original photo edited to black and white. License.)

~*~

Was she lonely? Left to herself in the final years of her life, like this?

Most of all, would he be lonely, if God called him to live without a loving, compassionate wife?

“Elijah,” Mary almost sternly called his name, all too aware that his thoughts were carrying his faith away.

“Let me show you something.”

In an attempt to change the course of his mood, she chose to alter the direction of their discussion for a brief time, hoping to perhaps share with him a lesson that life had taught her so long ago.

Reaching into the folds of her many textured robes, Mary brought forth a small, wooden cross, tiny enough to fit snugly in the palm of her hand, and worn enough to have survived many decades of a long, joyful, yet difficult life.

“When I was a little girl, very young, my parents took me to the temple to live.”

“The temple in Jerusalem?”

“Yes,” Mary nodded, passing the tiny item across the table to her new friend.

He took it in his hand, amazed not only at how small it was, but also by the sense of profound holiness that seemed instinctively embedded around its lowly form.

“I was very happy to go,” she continued, “because I knew it was what God wanted, and my parents had always instilled within me the desire to do His Will.”

Her soft-spoken words flowed with the ease of a pleasant memory, but also the shadow of a struggle yet to be overcome.

“You were sad to go?” Elijah instinctively guessed.

“To leave my parents…at first, yes,” Mary admitted, her very human nature suddenly coming to the fore. “The temple was not the same as home, and some of the other girls were not always kind to me. I made my share of mistakes, and at times, in those earliest days, I wanted very much to cry out of fear that I would never be worthy enough to serve God in such a holy place.”

“Not worthy enough!?!” Elijah almost forcefully, and dumbfoundedly interjected. “But you – ”

Knowing exactly where he was headed, Mary reticently held up her petite, dove-like hand, and Elijah felt the words falling like unwanted scales from his stunned, outspoken lips.

“Who is ever worthy of God, Elijah?” She spoke so gently, yet confidently, and full of divine certainty, that for a moment, Elijah feared to even move.

Instead, he wrapped his left hand tightly around the sacred cross, almost a relic to his mind, and prayed to God that he had not sounded presumptuous, or anything close to a young man clearly out of his place.

~*~

Yet Mary was not troubled, and he could see this in her warm eyes as she glanced at his cup, the steam now subsided in the cool of the afternoon air.

“Drink,” she suggested, with a motherly tone, carefully bringing her own steeped portion towards her. “It will do you some good, my anxious friend.”

Elijah almost chuckled, well aware that she was right, as he brought the warm liquid to his lips and felt the comforts of home flow through his being.

“I am sorry…” he began, feeling more at ease, but she only shook her gracious head in understanding as her well-worn cup returned to its unpretentious spot.

“You are not the only one,” came her straightforward reply. “But back then, it seemed to me as though so few thought well of my efforts. I began to even wonder myself, and then one night, I made that cross.”

She gestured openly towards the one referenced in his hand, as his fingers relaxed and revealed its unadorned surface once again.

“I did not know why at the time. It seemed an odd thing to make, even to my own mind. Yet somehow, it also seemed a sign of promise; that through suffering could come something good.”

Mary took a deep breath, clasping her hands together on the table’s edge, and then she said the words.

She spoke of her own call.

“I was finally starting to feel at home, and I was so happy serving Him there…when they came to me, and told me that I would have to leave.

“That I was to be betrothed, to a man named Joseph, and married…all against my greatest wish.”

The mother of Jesus hesitated, a sweet yet challenging memory clearly lingering upon her mind.

Then, she spoke with a zealous intensity that he had not yet heard from her self-effacing heart.

“Elijah, there is no greater joy in this life than to be called to serve God in the religious state, particularly that of contemplative prayer which I had embraced.

None.

“The world may not understand this truth, but it is one that I would gladly profess from the rooftops of the greatest palaces of the wealthiest, wedded kings. To have a heart unbroken by worldly cares, free to fly heavenward in such a direct, simple course!

“It is nothing more than love, unconfined and unconditionally free to seek its highest measure, and it places you with one foot half in this world, and the other half in the paradise of the next.

“My soul, it was soaring so high in that temple, the center of God’s chosen race.

“My every thought was free to rest upon Him, my every heart beat undistracted by the vain muses of this fragile, deceptive earth.

“Elijah, it truly was a celestial life, a heaven in an almost spiritually deserted land, and if I could have chose, I would have stayed forever. I would have never left…”

“But your parents…”

Caught up in her joy, Elijah could not help but also recall her fate; a predestination that would forever change the destiny of a troubled, fallen world.

“Yes,” she nodded. “Eventually, they did come, and I had to leave.”

A silence ensued, as both took a moment to sip from their comforting cups; one remembering her past and praying for discernment to guide her guest; the other comparing it to, and questioning, his own future life.

He admired her love of the religious state, and was genuinely fascinated to learn so much personal history that his Christian upbringing in a distant land had never blessed him to know.

Yet as he gazed at her small, childhood cross laying so prophetically in his large, sturdy hand, he could not help but feel a twinge of fear.

Was God about to call him to a life that His own immaculate mother had so clearly adored?

A life that he knew had to be beautiful, like she said, but which nonetheless frightened his weak, human nature to its core?

A human nature that longed for comfort, and all that a woman could provide?

“Who is ever worthy of God?” Her words from earlier rang like a chanting chorus of divine warriors in his ears, threatening to topple his confidence at any moment, and he knew without a doubt that he was not worthy.

Surely God would not call him.

Surely…

Yet somehow, in the midst of that silent moment, sitting across from the saint of all saints, there still remained that heavy, nagging, unspoken fear.

What if?

To be continued…

~*~

The above post is FICTION, and is a continuation of the following previous post:

The Long Journey Home: Discerning the Vocational Call

Both posts are based entirely on artistic license.

In other words, they never happened, but perhaps could have – or at the very least, something like them.

However, the reference to Mary living in the temple as a young girl was taken from the writings of Ann Catherine Emmerich, a German mystic, who lived between 1774 – 1824.

If I recall correct, the reference to Mary stating that there is no greater happiness in life than being called to the religious state was also taken from this same mystic.

Same with the reference to her stating that she prayed as a young girl to one day meet, and serve, the mother of God.

Feel free to confirm or correct, if you know with certainty.

These posts are my attempt to address the issue of vocational discernment in our modern world through the use of historical fiction.

There is more to come, as the young Elijah turns to the Mother of God for assistance in solving a question that can easily relate to our own period in time, so check back soon!

~*~

© 2016 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

The Long Journey Home: Discerning the Vocational Call

The day that he came to her was fated to be unlike any other that he had ever known.

He was a good soul, that young man who crossed the windswept fields, carrying the weight of his impending decision upon his unusually wizened heart.

His hard-working father, a model of such grace, had often said that any young woman would be blessed to find herself betrothed to him, and in the deepest corners of his truly human hopes, he prayed that God should one day soon grant him this holy, blessed path.

Yet it was in the very moments of those hidden, private prayers that he found himself most unexpectedly doubting all that he had ever dreamed.

The sadness that followed in the trail of such an unwanted fear seemed more like a dark, thick veil, slowly dragging an impending doom across the future of his devout life, than a truth that whispers silently in the beauty of the restful night.

“Joseph, be not afraid to take Mary as they wife.”

He had heard those words, the comfort of an angel to a man somewhat like him, throughout the many years of his tender, well-taught, Christian childhood.

He was aware that through them, God had strove to make clear the path of courage that a man must always take – even when faced with doubt – but no angel had ever appeared to enlighten his way as one did for Joseph, all those sublime, now forever-remembered years ago.

Yet perhaps, he had thought, if he made the difficult journey across many a rocky, barren land, as well as many a warm, tropical promise, perhaps she could be his angel; his earthly guide to the future that God had willed for him.

Shivering in his restless concerns, he leaned against his heavy wooden staff, gnarled like the worries that crossed his mind, as he gazed in awe up that almost nostalgic hill, to the holy house.

The untamed winds from the wild, spiritual plains swirled around his tall, sturdy being, lifting his long, worn earthy garment and then wrapping it around him with careless abandon once again.

As if God could send an embrace of reassurance through the strong, primitive breeze.

The trees rustled, as the sun hid behind the clouds, and all seemed a veil of eternity that he longed to knowingly lift.

~*~

She saw him first, the humble woman whom he had traveled so far to meet.

From her small, simple window, where she had carefully been drying the last of her well-used, poor earthen plates – she saw him.

Without a word, she watched in the understanding silence that only a woman can know, as he regained his weary yet uncannily noble steps, moving steadily closer to her rustic, contemplative home.

A prayer flashed through her mind, brief but containing all the intensity of her sincere heart, as she turned to Peter, John and Mary, who had made an unusual visit through the course of the noon luncheon hour.

Wiping her pure hands upon her modest, well-worn, undyed apron, she spoke the words that God had placed within her ever-discerning mind; “There is someone here whom I must go to meet. Will you do me the favor of kindly excusing me from your presence for a time?”

Peter was the first to rise, followed by John.

“Of course,” he replied, never failing to trust in Mary’s wisdom. “I must return to the road this afternoon anyways. My stop in this part of the world is only to be brief, for I have heard God calling me on once again, and I should not hesitate any longer. John, will you take a walk with me, to discuss some final decisions that must be made?”

Ever a loyal friend, John nodded in simple acquiescence, as the other Mary excused herself to partake of her devout afternoon prayers.

Making their way into the slightly cool, crisp air, the two great men fell in step – side by sandaled side – wrapt in discussions that only a chosen few should ever attempt to make.

As they neared the young traveler, still making his way steadily up the hill, he almost froze.

The dignity in their step, the gravity there…

He had heard descriptions before, but could it possibly be?

Like two noble legends surrounded by the vast landscape of an almost promised land, their simple, tattered robes tossing against them like the majesty of greatness hidden in the quaint; they passed, nodding their aged heads in a polite, but deeply absorbed, welcome.

Then, they were gone.

For a moment, he could not move, as time seemed to stand still, and he listened to their voices slowly fading away.

“But Peter, the Church at Ephesus, it must be…”

What futures they would form, he would never know, but for a moment, he had almost touched the edge of history in the making of its ever continuing course.

~*~

It was the sound of a voice – her voice – that called him back to the moment, and to the intensely personal mission at hand.

“Elijah…”

He looked up, startled that she knew his name, and amazed at how quickly she had made her way towards him, while his distracted attention had been focused elsewhere.

With the patience of a saint – for that she was – Mary stood halfway between him and her unassuming, windswept home, her arms extended in a sweetly loving welcome that was only embellished by the smile on her radiant, joyful face.

“Welcome, Elijah,” her voice was like the poetry of a child, breathing its unfiltered truth through the wizened heart that had seen many an important, but difficult year.

“Do not be afraid. God has told me your name, and that you have come a great way to speak with me. Come, would you like something to drink?”

As if he was floating in a dream, Elijah allowed himself to be carried along by the endearing warmth that emanated from her words, and shone from her clear, attentive eyes.

Before time had even given him the chance to process all that God had suddenly placed in his youthful life, he found himself calmly making his way up the rest of the hill, uncomplicatedly comfortable at her gracious side.

She welcomed him into her home as if she were any modest lady, seeking to make a weary traveler feel contented and cared for; yet he could not deny the sense of poised distinction that danced subtly but gracefully around the edges of all she said and did.

With the courtliness of a hidden, forgotten queen, she offered him a seat, arranged a few dishes and cups across the wooden table before his unspeaking eyes, and reached for some water that she placed over a humble fire which lent the room a slight warmth from the early autumn air.

Then, breaking his almost mystic reverie, she sat down across from him as if she had known him all her life, and lowered her head in a momentary, wise prayer.

“Now,” she said, as her beautiful, sparkling eyes raised to once more meet his. “Tell me, what has God placed on your heart to bring you all this way?”

If words were to fail him, now was not the time, but somehow all he could think was that he was literally sitting at table with the beloved mother of his immortal God.

“Elijah,” she reached across the almost antique surface, placing her small, yet aging white hands on his. “I am just human, like you. I know your heart is heavy, and that you have a great decision to make. You seek to follow your Father’s Will – our Father, Who art in Heaven – and He loves you for that, very much. Do you know this?”

~*~

He could not comprehend why, but her words, mixed with her incredible, yet-unsung goodness, brought tears to his tired, searching eyes.

“He does, Elijah,” she continued, intelligently easing him into a familiarity with her that would help his heart to finally speak.

“And,” she added, a bit of a mischievous, lighthearted twinkle suddenly appearing in her eye, “I think He would want you to tell me everything, as plainly and honestly as you can.”

Like a schoolboy suddenly brought back to himself, Elijah laughed good-naturedly at his unease, and found all of his worries rapidly melting away.

“Will you tell me now?” She smiled, as if she already knew what he was going to say, but looked forward to hearing it from him personally anyways.

“Ave, Maryam…”

The unusual thought of Latin mixed with Aramaic crossed his mind, and then, in the much-waited for instant, he began to pour himself into his every word as freely and as openly as if he were truly a beloved, searching child of her incomprehensibly glorious heart.

To be continued…

~*~

The above post is FICTION, and is made up of sheer artistic license. 

In other words, it never happened, but it perhaps could have – or at the very least, something like it.

It is my attempt to address the issue of vocational discernment in our modern world through the use of historical fiction.

There is more to come, as the young Elijah turns to the Mother of God for assistance in solving a question that can easily relate to our own period in time, so check back soon!

Photo Credit: Will Foster "Lay It All Down For the Lord" (Original color photo altered to black and white. License.)
Photo Credit: Will Foster “Lay It All Down For the Lord” (Original color photo altered to black and white. License.)

~*~

© 2016 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

The Secret Christmas Miracle: Through a Forgotten Door

Noah had to admit, at least to himself, that he could not wait for Adeline to walk through that ancient, time-worn door. 

If in their shared moment he had seemed so calm and confident to her, it was only because his right hand was white-knuckling that cold, bronze knob with every ounce of raw nerves that he possessed.

Thankfully, this veiled sight was hidden in the narrow, dark space between the back of the wooden door and the heavy church wall, far from his friends admiring eyes.

As for Adeline, she was transfixed.

The light from beyond had poured freely into that dimly lit, small medieval portal, which arched over Noah as though he were a black-tie gentleman from another age, opening her world to the perfect dream.

She glanced expectantly at him, and he smiled so tenderly towards her that she knew she no longer had any reason to hesitate.

(Confused? Just joining the story? Click here: Part One)

Returning his kind gesture with her delighted eyes, she lifted the pools of golden fabric that had settled around her elegantly covered feet, and with the grace of a burgeoning lady she crossed the narrow threshold into the sparkling evening sky.

For some reason, in that moment Noah could not help but feel a strange, unheard of comparison to Adam finally bringing the lost Eve home.

~*~

Like the historic biblical figure from Genesis that never was, but could have been, Noah gently moved to join her, closing the heavy, tired door as quietly as his trembling hands would allow.

Once firmly outside, he almost instantly dove them deep into his coat pockets, where their slight tremors could forever remain unseen.

To Adeline, he was the ideal guide, his face as calm and reassuring as the Noah that she had always known.

“Come,” he offered her the top of his arm as they stood there shivering together, gazing out across the magical, hidden world from the highest step of the virtually secret door.

Almost without thinking, she placed her arm in his, and practically leaning upon him for interior strength, she let herself be gradually led down the worn stone steps and into the brilliantly glowing courtyard ahead.

The setting could have easily been referred to as a work of art- a masterpiece from some unfathomable, romantic mind.

Yet it was so much more, as Adeline was soon to learn.

So much more.

The trees had long lost their protective fall leaves, and in the darkness of that winter’s night, less than two days shy of Christmas morning, their barren, snow-covered stems reached with gnarled abandonment towards the infinite Vienna sky.

A thin blanket of snow had already formed across the frozen, sacred ground, and in the distance medieval arches lit by warm, dangling red lamps curved with an unsung grace as they formed the almost cloister-like walls.

But what really gave the scene its heart-stopping, unlikely beauty was the rare white blossoms that covered the trees almost as thickly as the clear, glistening lights and the glitter-like snow.

White on white upon radiant white, the sheer luminescence that resulted was almost unprecedented, and for a moment Adeline felt her breathe hold itself in her heart. 

“How is this possible?” Adeline finally found the words to ask, as they walked beneath the now arching trees. The Austrian sky had become almost completely hidden from their frail human sight as a beautiful tangle of lights, branches, snow and fragile petals replaced the distant heavens above.

It was like the vault of a small, Gothic cathedral come to life. 

The sudden desire to linger overcame her, and she brought their steps to a halt. Gazing up towards the ceiling of wild nature and man-made dreams, she had the uncanny sense of Viennese royalty, merging through the ages and across the span of time.

Noah, somewhat taller than she, reached steadily above their heads and carefully removed one of the small flowers from its feeble perch.

“It is not,” he softly replied, as he held out his palm with the white petals nestled so naively within.

Adeline leaned closer, her own hand gently raised to touch its seemingly delicate edge.

“You’re right,” her surprise was evident as her finger met ridges of man-made fabric where she had assumed to be a smooth, living thing. “But why?”

Her eyes met Noah’s, and he could read the almost curious disappointment settling therein.

But he was not troubled by this.

He knew that what he had to say would soon be more than enough to bring the wonder back to her mind – and then some, if all went according to his long-cherished plan.

~*~

As he maneuvered her back to their unwavering course, turning left onto another path that would lead them straight to the heart of his secret world, he began to explain.

“A miracle happened here, hundreds of years ago.”

Catching her breath, Adeline both listened to what she heard, and silently contemplated what lay before her eyes.

“It was the night of Christmas Eve, and the Emperor had heard of a fatal attack that had been planned on Vienna for the following day. He was aware that he had little time to prepare, but that did not stop him from coming here.”

“The Holy Roman Emperor?” Adeline almost breathed the words from her lips, memories of well-studied, admired history flooding her sensitive heart. “He came here?” 

“Yes,” Noah nodded, as his eyes glanced familiarly around.

He knew without a doubt that her sense of wonder was beginning to return.

“The Emperor had many people whom he could trust, but only one person who he knew could make things right, and that person lived here.”

A silence fell over them as their gently crunching footsteps carried them into a small, open square, inevitably pausing Noah’s story in its tracks.

Like a timeless surprise waiting to capture even the most doubting of souls, their eyes met with an elegant, life-sized nativity scene.

It was simply spectacular.

The thatched stable roof was tall enough to provide any breathing being with adequate shelter from the winters snow, and solid enough to support the smiling angels that perched so prayerfully upon its humble roof.

Grand, well-lit, dense green pines completed the final effect, nestling the temporary home of Joseph and Mary so realistically into this tiny part of the Austrian world that its first glimpse was almost like a vision that had freely chosen to unfold.

Standing before such a display, Adeline’s enchantment had returned full force, and before she knew what she was doing, she had drawn both of them to their knees by the sheer force of her joy.

“It is all so real!”

And it was.

The animals gazed out with an almost lifelike, obedient creaturely warmth, while the poor, honest shepherds stood in tender awe, the small leather packets that dangled from their shoulders gently moving in the soft evening breeze.

Mary knelt at eyes-length just a few short feet away, her sweet, motherly gaze almost searching straight into their own, while Joseph stood ever protectively above.

Even the ground was covered with real, earth-toned hay, and the simple wooden manger, with splinters still sticking out from its roughly hewn sides, seemed to await the holy birth with a trembling knowledge of its own unworthy form.

“We should say a prayer,” Adeline solemnly whispered, but caught herself when she realized that Noah had not replied.

~*~

She turned towards him, his name upon her lips, when her eyes caught sight of a glistening tear that had unwillingly escaped from the corner of his deep brown, fervent eyes.

“Noah?” Adeline had rarely seen her friend cry, and the sight had startled her to the core.

But while he was still young, Noah was also every inch a man, and he knew that he had to regain his composure if he was to effectively obtain his long thought-out goal.

He silently shook his head in wordless reply, disentangling his arm from hers, as his hands reached up to shield his travel-tanned face.

He rose quickly to his feet, turned, and took a few long, determined steps away.

Adeline hesitated, uncertain if she should go to him.

Instead, she watched almost helplessly from her position on the ground as his back alone faced her, his long black coat that covered his broad shoulders providing a stark contrast to the tender, meek family scene.

Barely a few moments passed before he regained himself, wiping the last uncontrollable tear from his eyes, and he turned back towards Adeline like a wounded but determined soldier on unwavering, loyal heels.

This time, she did not wait.

She lept to her feet and crossed the short distance between them as if her entire world depended upon him, and she reached out with that understanding compassion that only a woman could know.

“Noah…”

She saw the appreciation reflected in his now slightly red, pained eyes, and an almost sad sort of thankful smile spread across his gentle, kind face.

He was truly handsome, if more for his goodness than any other natural, physical gift.

Adeline did not say another word, for fear of crossing that fine masculine line that she knew men never openly delighted in having revealed.

Even those about to become holy monks.

An uncertain moment passed, and then in an instant, Noah grasped her hand firmly in his, and led her with sudden fortitude towards a small stone bench that directly faced the hallowed Christmas scene.

Wiping the snow from its seat, he gestured for Adeline to rest, and he joined her close beside.

Fixing his eyes half on her, and half on some distant, unseen time, he began to speak in that deep, certain voice that was always his.

“Now, I will tell you everything.”

Adeline shivered as the snow began to more steadily fall, but she waited in attentive patience as she searched his suddenly haunted eyes.

“I will tell you everything. At least, everything that I can.”

~*~

To be continued…

~*~

The above post is a continuation of the following previous posts:

3) The Austrian Secret: A Christmas Night in Vienna

2) The Last Christmas: Europe, a Monk, and Adeline

1) A Fragile Girl Attacked for the Faith: Adeline and the Beloved Monk

~*~

© 2015 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

The Austrian Secret: A Christmas Night in Vienna

Noah had never done anything like this in his entire life.

Even his hands had begun to shake, deep inside his coat pockets, where no one else could see the raw nerves that were poised to threaten his normally confident psyche.

If he had brought Adeline to Europe for any reason, tonight was to be the most important of all.

In fact, tonight was to be the most significant night of their entire friendship, reaching all the way back to the first day that they had met all those years ago.

So much was resting on this, that at times he was not sure if he could even make it through.

~*~

Noah was blessed in that he was tall, naturally well-built, and had to do little more than just stand there in order to cut an imposing, self-assured figure.

As the snow lightly fell across the darkened Vienna night sky, dancing in the glow of thousands upon thousands of brilliant Austrian Christmas lights, Noah took full advantage of his natural refuge.

With the perfectly poised bow tie of his evening tuxedo peeking out from above the collar of his long, elegant black coat, Noah just stood there, and watched.

Yet his eyes never moved from Adeline, as she wondered the busy stalls of the famous Viennese holiday market, her eyes wide with curious, enchanted awe.

(Confused? Just joining the story? Click here: Part One)

Market

A tradition that dated back to as early as 1772, it was a shining, glowing fairytale land, overflowing with a rich abundance of Christmas decorations, ornaments, traditional cribs, handicrafts, and the sweetly wafting aromas of many a different tasty, holiday delight.

Stall“Noah, look!” Adeline turned with a smile through the busy crowds, a sparkling golden star dangling from her hands, with the precious nativity nestled like a rare diamond deep within.

Noah returned her warmth with a smile of his own, and a calm, approving nod of his head – all the while his hands clinging to the inside lining of his coat pockets like a young boy who had suddenly discovered that he was a man.

In the distance, a bell tower echoed its ancient chimes, like destiny calling from another world that only he alone could still hear.

Glancing tentatively at his watch, he knew that they could linger no more.

Market2The hour was nearly upon them.

Whatever was to be done, could no longer be undone.

Not unless he wanted to defy all of heaven, and even God Himself.

“Adeline!” he called to her, as the pedestrians strolled casually by. “Adeline, we have to go.”

Tearing herself away from the rows of warmly lit treasures, Adeline thanked the older man who had been helping her, and rejoined her friend at his side.

Market1“Noah, it is like a dream come to life! How did you ever know that something like this exists?!”

Noah simply lifted the edges of his mouth into a gentle, kind smile, and placed his now steady hand upon the back of her bundled-up, slightly shivering shoulder.

“It is a long story. Come, there is one more place that we have to go before the concert tonight.”

Adeline remained close to Noah’s side as he quietly led her away from the magical world of lights and endless winter novelties, and back to the busy, modern streets of the legendary town.

With a wave of his arm, he effortlessly hailed a cab, and it was not long before the sidewalks of Vienna were quickly passing by.

~*~

Adeline did not ask where they were going.

She trusted Noah completely, and had learned long ago that in many ways he was a mystery which best unfolded when left to his own enigmatic device.

The streets had grown smaller and dimmer as the car moved along, the holiday lights becoming more of the occasional sight than the grand wonder that they had found so common just a few short minutes ago.

In the silence, Adeline took an insecure moment to straighten her long, naturally blonde-streaked hair, and tugged at the floor-length, golden evening gown that she wore beneath her old-fashioned, black cape-like coat.

Something of a conservative flower child from a casual beach town, she was not used to dressing in such an elegant manner, but Noah had been insistent that she bring at least one formal ensemble on this trip.

It was all a surprise, he had said.

He seemed to be full of surprises these days. 

In her youthful naivety, she did not notice that her movements had drawn the attention of their middle-aged driver, who glanced rather extensively at her through his rear view mirror as they passed along the now silent streets.

Instinctively, Noah reached over and placed his undaunted hand upon her nervously fiddling one, gently lowering it to the seat, all the while staring with silent, calculated intensity at those unwelcome, inappropriate eyes.

Adeline turned to Noah, with a questioning look, while at the same moment their driver realized that he was being mutually scrutinized. 

With a nervous cough, and a twitch of his aging, hunched shoulders, he returned his stray gaze to the road ahead.

“Turn here, please,” Noah calmly commanded, taking full advantage of the fact that he often seemed twice his age.

“It’s a dead-end, sir,” the driver meekly pointed out, as he rounded the requested corner.

“That is fine. You can let us out here.”

Noah handed the driver his exact fare, including a reasonable tip, and then, like a perfect gentleman, escorted Adeline from the car.

As the driver struggled to turn his taxi around in the confines of the narrow cobbled street, his red brake lights shone upon the unlikely pair, standing in silence practically in the middle of nowhere.

Noah waited until he was certain that they were alone – but by then, Adeline had already seen.

~*~

“Noah…” her voice almost trembled, as her eyes fell upon the unexpected sight. “It is beautiful!”

Together, Noah and Adeline stared wordlessly at the ancient church, standing persistently against time, in this quiet corner of a once Christian world.

Neither of them had to share what they thought, for they both loved the past, with an intensity that rivaled their own hearts, and only failed when in competition with the Light.

Although the cornerstone read 1597, the parish dated back further than anyone could count, and since its last revision in the age of the Baroque, no one had dared to change its quiet, public facade.

Beyond the open gates that clung precariously to the edge of the abandoned street, aged steps pointed with divine precision towards heavy, carved wooden doors.

And beyond that – lights. 

“Come,” said Noah, as he firmly took ahold of Adeline’s hand. “I have so much to tell you.”

Like a child following her beloved older brother, Adeline allowed herself to be led through the black iron gate, up the steps, and as Noah opened the door with every politeness that a man could possibly show a woman – into the church.

Like night owls scanning the world from their sacred perch, Adeline and Noah stood before the sight that presented itself so warmly before them.

Without flinching, the church unfolded its every nuance, and like a tender mother of the most devout kind, it welcomed the pair like children that it longed to instruct in the holiest of ways.

Angels smiled down upon them from architectural angles on high, while cherubim in their innocence attempted to scatter frozen floral decor at their unmoving feet.

Madonnas laughed lovingly, while saints cried, and the altar drew them like moths to an unseen flame.

Together, they passed down the aisle, glancing with a smile at the little old Austrian woman who knelt in aged prayer, oblivious to their youthful dreams.

Besides her, they were alone.

Kneeling before the timeless rail that had never been removed with the passing of Vatican II, they each made their silent prayers, and offered their ablutions of their lives.

Noah waited, until he felt sure that the time was right, and then he turned with a whisper to his closest friend.

“This is my church.”

From her secret conversation with God, Adeline’s eyes fluttered open, and turned in surprise to his.

“I never told you this, but I was born here. In Austria.”

Still wordless, she gazed deeper, questioning everything, but hesitant to say a single word.

“Come,” Noah gently spoke, as he helped her to her feet. “Over here.”

Crossing the candle-lit nave, they quietly approached what appeared to be an ancient, medieval baptismal font.

Covered with simple, charming white marble carvings, it presented itself as a work of art worthy of any art historians interest, and Adeline watched as Noah placed his hands reverently upon it.

“I was baptized here, 20 years ago to this day.”

Leaning against the font, Noah gazed up to the ceiling, his clear eyes suddenly overcast with unexpected, deep emotion, and Adeline felt something inside of her speak words of wisdom that she had never known.

Whatever he was searching for the words to say, she knew that she had to listen.

With all her heart. 

~*~

“Adeline,” his gaze returned to earth, and straight to her.

“You know that I love you, and have since the day that we first met.”

Adeline nodded, almost too afraid to speak, but still the words came. “I know. I love you too Noah, just the same. You’re the only one I will ever love, even long after you are gone.”

For some reason that she could not explain, Adeline sensed that Noah slightly flinched in a strange agony as the last sentence passed from her lips.

Although he was not looking directly at her, his gaze seemed to suddenly tear through the still, dimly lit air, and his eyes narrowed as he stared into space with an intensity that almost frightened her.

“Noah?”

He turned to her, like a man she had never known.

“It’s time.”

“Time for what, Noah?”

“Come with me.”

Together, they passed back through the church, but this time he led her to a side door that she had not noticed upon their initial entrance.

Pausing at the holy water font, he carefully blessed himself, and then in a gesture of kindness, he took his thumb and protectively drew a sign of the cross upon her innocent forehead.

“Whatever you see, Adeline, don’t be afraid. Trust me, you have no reason to be.”

She nodded, more confused than she had ever been, but still trusting him more than anyone she had ever trusted in her life.

For an instant he studied her, and then he turned, and opened the door.

In that moment, as Adeline’s eyes gazed past him to the sight that he had long-planned for her to see, she felt her heart begin to do something that she had never felt before – it began to fall, and for a brief second, she almost felt like someone passing into another world.

Only Noah could think of this.

Only Noah could change her life.

~*~

To be continued….

~*~

The above post is a continuation of the following previous posts:

2) The Last Christmas: Europe, a Monk, and Adeline

1) A Fragile Girl Attacked for the Faith: Adeline and the Beloved Monk

~*~

Behind the scenes:

The following is one of the songs that I utilized for creative inspiration in the process of writing this post.

I hope that you enjoy!

~*~

© 2015 ReclaimingtheSacred.com. All rights reserved.

The Last Christmas: Europe, a Monk, and Adeline

“If you ever hurt Adeline again, I will personally make you wish that you had never seen my face. You understand? Look at me! Do you understand?!”

The day that Noah had threatened him had been a defining moment in Adeline’s life.

All these years later, she could still remember that look on his face as he practically parted the swarming sea of high school youths in his determined rage, bulldozing a military path of one straight through the hall until his hands clenched with fury around the collar of that arrogant punk.

With one swift move that she had always sworn could only have come from a will of seething steel, Noah had flung Jake across the paths of stunned, gasping students and straight into a wall of cold, towering locker doors.

They rattled in an almost wordless approval with the violence of the impact, and shook like a small earthquake as Jake gasped for breath, his bulging eyes clearly reflecting what his mind was struggling to comprehend.

But he had deserved it, and that he had to know.

(Confused? Just joining the story? Click here: Part One)

He had made her cry with his leering, lewd innuendos that he had so laughingly sprinkled with cruel, merciless jokes.

In fact, behavior like his had become so common in her maturing world that Adeline had begun to wonder if this was what her high school years would be – nothing more than unwanted, sly catcalls mixed with teenage mockery towards her awkward, human faults.

Either way, she had feared that no one would ever take her seriously, or worst of all, respect her amidst the strange manifestations of her convoluted being.

But that day, she was sure that she had found a friend.

In his goodness, which she would come to admire throughout her entire life, Noah had taken the shy, 14-year-old Adeline under his wing, and set out to make certain that she had what at least resembled four normal high school years.

Together, the two of them had spent countless long hours on the sands of some forgotten beach, sharing their thoughts and dreams while they constructed a spiritual fortress against all those who would strive to tear their unlikely friendship apart.

Hidden away with just Noah and the sea, Adeline would forget her awkward ways and he alone would become the sole witness to her latest artistic endeavors, her deep pondering ideas, her current literary reads, or most of all – the hidden corners of her often tattered heart.

In return, Adeline would hang for hours upon his childhood stories – stories unlike any she had ever heard before.

Raised by wealthy parents who had hidden their abundant means to live in virtual poverty on a rickety old sailboat, traveling from tropical land to land, Noah was something of a Saint Francis and a Huckleberry Finn come to life.

The “sea brat,” as his older brothers had often good-naturedly called him, had learned from an early age that life was a mixture of fragile beauty, vivid culture, poetic inspiration, and plain old scrappy “sailor smarts.”

Filled with youthful indignation, he had often watched the way many a local native had been trampled upon by the self-entitled “yachties” – men and women of more ostentatious temporal power, whose gas-guzzling monstrosities had moved across the virginal harbors as though the abuses of the pre-civil war era threatened, at any moment, to reappear.

It was in his blood to look out for those that the world saw so little value in, and in his own deeply sensitive nature, he knew that there was ultimately very little difference between Adeline and him.

She was his heart, only without his confident “sailor smarts.”

~*~

It was for this reason that their last Christmas together had been so difficult to share.

It was December of 1999, and a new millennium had been about to dawn upon the world.

Just barely 19, Adeline had awaited this event with a mix of both foreboding, and acutely sensitive dread.

Not because she was afraid that the world might end – she was actually rather certain that it would not – but because Noah had finally told her that he was going to become a monk.

And then, he had handed her tickets to Europe. 

“What?!” In her shock, she had almost wanted to add, “who does that?!”

But she knew him too well.

He was just the type of person to do exactly that.

“Noah, I can’t go with you to Europe if you are leaving to become a monk. That makes no sense.”

But Noah insisted, and somehow he always had a way that made his choices clear.

“It is a gift from my parents,” he explained. “They told me that they wanted to give me something from them as a very special gift before I leave the world. They said it could be anything, cost was not an issue. I almost refused but then…”He glanced at Adeline, an almost nervous look suddenly passing across his normally tranquil face.

“Adeline, I know that you don’t understand, but this trip is really for you in a way that I cannot explain. Not now, anyways. Please, just trust me. Have I ever let you down before?”

If she knew him, he also knew her, and he was prepared for the debate that immediately ensued.

Yet he also knew that Adeline did trust him, and that she knew he would not have gone to such a length if he did not have a profound reason that made great sense.

At last, persuaded by all of the above, she gave in, and before she knew what had passed, she had taken her very first flight across the sea.

~*~

True to his word, Noah had a reason.

In that great goodness that Adeline had so often admired, he had planned the entire trip as a sort of “spiritual strength” that she could cling to in the days, and years to come.

France (1)Together, they prayed at the shrines of saints, wept at the tombs of martyrs, saluted Saint Michael at Mont San Michele, left their hopes in the hands of Mary at Lourdes and Loretto, and from country to country they devoutly passed, two pilgrims on one last journey together in life.

Alone on the train at night, Noah would force himself to stay awake until he saw that Adeline had finally dozed off to sleep, her mind carefully filled with his readings of saints, or his passionate instructions on the faith.

Once certain that she had reached the realm of dreams, he would turn off the lights in the cabin, and gaze contemplatively out the window towards the stars, praying that it would somehow all sink in.

Truth be told, he was deeply worried about her, and what the world might do if he was not there to protect her from it.

That is why, on the night of December 23, he could no longer wait to present her with his most important Christmas gift.

It was to be the most significant gift that he had ever given to her, and he hoped and prayed that it would be enough to help carry her through life without him at her side. 

“Girls like that – you don’t want to know what life can do to them,” his eldest brother, whom he lived with on land as something of a father figure, used to say.

But Noah was not stupid, and he knew all too well.

Whatever he left behind for Adeline to cling to, it had to be enough to withstand the test of time, and all the people that she would ever meet.

Especially the men. 

As their train pulled into the station in Vienna, Austria, Noah said one last prayer that this night would go as planned, before he leaned across the way and gently awoke Adeline from her peaceful, child-like sleep.

And for a moment, he had to silently admit that he had almost broken down and cried. 

~*~

The above post is a continuation of:

A Fragile Girl Attacked for the Faith: Adeline and the Beloved Monk

~*~

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