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Friday, February 12, 2016 Friday after Ash Wednesday/Abraham Lincoln's Birthday

Isaiah, Chapter 7, Verse 3-6
3 Then the LORD said to Isaiah: Go out to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on the highway to the fuller’s field, 4 and say to him: Take care you remain calm and do not fear; do not let your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands, the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans and of the son of Remaliah— 5 because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil against you. They say, 6 “Let us go up against Judah, tear it apart, make it our own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel king there.

Today we celebrate the birth of Abraham Lincoln which was the President that during the Civil War did take care to remain calm; he did not let his courage fail; He did not fear, remaining faithful to the end.

John McCain in his book Character is Destiny[1] describes the 16th President of the United States as an example of a man who demonstrates for us the characteristic of RESILIENCE. Resilience is the ability to become strong, healthy, or successful again after something bad happens.

Abraham Lincoln had known loss and grief all his life yet rather that than succumb to defeat; he somehow, always found a way to rise back up. He was inarguably a man of action. Although he was known to have chronic depression he never yielded and in some way resurrected from his melancholic states thinking, “To remain as I am is impossible; I must die or be better.”

Lincoln rose to the highest office in the land after surviving a hard and poor childhood in the Indiana wilderness, a harsh father, little education, and deep loneliness. He survived the death of his brother, a sister, his mother, his first sweetheart, and his own children and his marriage to Mary Todd was troubled. As president he was considered dismal by most.

How did Lincoln persist? He willed it. He was neither swift nor brilliant at work but he was exhaustive; he continued. His resilience sprang from his deep conviction that America was, “the last, best hope of earth.”

In the end he paid for his devotion with his life; so that the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth.

Seek good and not evil so that you may live, and the Lord will be with you. (Am. 5:14)

Other Forms of Asceticism[2]

Since Lent recapitulates time spent in the desert, other forms of asceticism have accrued to its observance. Unessential travel and diversion are discouraged. In former times, certain forms of entertainment, such as live theatre and secular music, were banned, as was the holding of court. Weddings were also forbidden in the early Church; even after this changed, the Solemn Nuptial Blessing could not be given during a Lenten wedding. Finally, married couples were once admonished to abstain from conjugal relations during this time (as they were admonished to do during all solemn fasts and feasts). Again, the principle is the same: withdrawal from the preoccupations of the flesh in order to focus on the spirit. 

Today, plan to do at least one Novena for the calendar year for yourself and for your Family. I always plan to do the Divine Mercy Novena by hiking for nine Saturdays starting on the Saturday before Divine Mercy Sunday.


Novenas are prayers that involve nine steps. It may involve nine prayers or it may require the same prayer to be repeated nine times either daily or weekly. Devotion to this type of prayer is linked back to the day of ascension when Jesus stated to the apostles to initiate nine days of prayer. “While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the holy Spirit.” (Acts 1:4-5) After Nine days of prayer the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles at Pentecost. Why the number nine? Some commentators have suggested that it is one short of ten, a round number that represents fullness and perfection, so it is a sign of our human neediness, our imperfection. Pope Leo XIII decreed that every Catholic parish should observe an annual novena to the Holy Spirit on the days between Ascension and Pentecost following the model of the Apostles. As we pray novenas, it is good for us to remember to raise our minds and hearts to Him; we should during our prayer ask Him for good things but also for our needs. God sometimes gives us what we want so that we will grow in our trust and learn to ask him for what we need remembering that prayers are not incantations to get what we want but submission of our will to His.

[1] McCain, John and Salter, Mark. (2005) Character is destiny. Random House, New York
[3] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 9. Novenas.