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Sunday, February 21, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016 Traditional Washington's Birthday

Isaiah, Chapter 40, verse 9:
9 Go up onto a high mountain, Zion, herald of good news! Cry out at the top of your voice, Jerusalem, herald of good news!  Cry out, do not fear!  Say to the cities of Judah: Here is your God!

One of my favorite representations of the Lords delight with us is a statue of Joseph and the baby Jesus.  Jesus and Joseph are playing.  Joseph is slightly bent with the baby Jesus giggling crawling over the back of Joseph and peeking over his shoulder looking at his face in peek a boo fashion and delight is all over both of their faces.  How can we fear when we have a God who loves us so! 

In times of tribulation when we feel courage being drained from our souls let us remember the courage of blessed Saint Joseph reflecting on his courage, strength and of course gentleness with our Lord Jesus.  In times of trouble let us call on the aid of St. Joseph reflecting on this portion of the litany of Saint Joseph[1]

”St. Joseph, Renowned offspring of David, Light of Patriarchs, Spouse of the Mother of God, Chaste guardian of the Virgin, Foster father of the Son of God, Diligent protector of Christ, Head of the Holy Family, Joseph most just, Joseph most chaste, Joseph most prudent, Joseph most strong, Joseph most obedient, Joseph most faithful, Mirror of patience, Lover of poverty, Model of artisans, Glory of home life, Guardian of virgins, Pillar of families, Solace of the wretched, Hope of the sick, Patron of the dying, Terror of demons, Protector of Holy Church.  Pray for Us!”

Today reflect on how our labor can be slavery or it can be a joy. In the end you are responsible for your own happiness. The fire on the mountain was not an impediment to the Israel people coming to God; it was their excuse. The secret of success is finding out our vocation from God and following it. When we follow God’s guidance to the do the work he has intended for us, we are like the tree that Moses saw that brought him into the service of the Lord. We will burn but not be consumed! Then, when others see our work and wonder at our joy in slavery to the Lord they too will come to know that “His burden is light.”  (Mt. 11-30)

Many years ago, I also, like the people of Israel was afraid of the fire; and refused to go up on the mountain. Yes, I was called to the priesthood. I was afraid of the fire. I made all the excuses: I am not worthy, I want a wife; I want children. I turned away and the life I thought would be a joy was unsatisfying. Yet, the Lord did not abandon me; He has never chided me; no only I have chided myself. He has made good out of all I have shattered with my selfishness. This is the challenge of the cross that when we fall, and we will fall; that we pick the cross up again and drink the cup the Lord has given us to the dregs. How committed are you to discovering and following Jesus?

My sheep hear my voice, says the Lord; I know them, and they follow me. (Jn: 10:27)

Washington’s Birthday

In John McCain’s book Character is Destiny[2] the 1st President of the United States is McCain’s example of a man who demonstrates for us the characteristic of SELF CONTROL. Self-control is the ability to control one's emotions, behavior, and desires in the face of external demands in order to function in society. (Matt DeLisi)

George Washington like Cornelius was a warrior and a mensch. George Washington was a self-made man who learned to govern himself before he governed our great country. Washington was a passionate man by nature yet he was famous for his reserve and graciousness to others. Washington worked on himself very hard to control his temper and to not be sensitive to criticism.

It was a lifelong struggle and at times he was given to fits of anger.  So much so the Indian name for Washington was “boiling water”.  His passion was a two edged sword that either cut for him or against him. 

His passion was also the source of his great courage. History records his fury in battle where he wore out two horses and stood in defiance of withering fire and having his coat tore by four musket balls. Washington did not just tell his men to stand fast and face the enemy but set the example; leaping headlong into battle and the men followed.

Washington disciplined his passionate nature with iron will and self-control. Washington wrote, “Every action done in company ought to be with some sign of respect, to those that are present” and, “Labor to keep alive in your breast the little spark of celestial fire called conscience.”

He strove to be a man of unquestionable dignity and manners. He was modest and wore clothes that were fine and neat but never showy. He was consciously groomed and was seldom discourteous anyone, of higher or lower station in life. He knew his strengths as well as his weaknesses; there was no hubris in him.

He understood the nature of his countrymen as well as he understood his own. He knew we are all flawed, that we must always be alert to the danger of ungoverned appetites, and must strive to control and improve our nature. He understood his country at its birth needed a leader of towering honor, wisdom, and selflessness, whose appearance must fit the role as well as his character, did. And through the constant application of his self-control, he inhabited that role as no one has again, and became, in fact, the father of our country. He imprinted his character on his nation, and in that sense we are all his descendants, a people famous for our constant struggle to improve. We are never so removed from the failings of our nature that we cannot stand more improvement, but neither are we so removed from Washington’s magnificent example that we dare not dream we can achieve it.



[1] https://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/litanies/joseph.htm
[2] McCain, John and Salter, Mark. (2005) Character is destiny. Random House, New York

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