Sunday, June 4, 2017

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the doors were locked, where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, "Peace be with you."

Nehemiah, Chapter 6, Verse 12-13
12 For on consideration, it was plain to me that God had not sent him; rather, because Tobiah and Sanballat had bribed him, he voiced this prophecy concerning me, 13 that I might act on it out of fear and commit this sin. Then they would have had a shameful story with which to discredit me.

Whenever you rebuild you will meet opposition. Here much like today those in opposition will conspire against you. Nothing seems to change with human nature. Just look at the current events with our own country being rebuilt. According to John Maxwell Commitment is needed before anything else in a leader’s life.

Summary of Nehemiah’s Action[1]
·         When Israel's enemies—Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem again—hear that the wall's been completed, they ask to meet with Nehemiah.
·         Nehemiah sees that they plan to do him harm. No fool, this guy.
·         He refuses, asking why he should take time off from his work to do this.
·         They ask him four times, and he answers in the same way. No dice.
·         The fifth time, they up the ante.
·         The enemies' servant brings a letter saying that they've heard that the Jews intend to rebel against the Empire and that Nehemiah wants to be their king, with the prophets supporting him.
·         Nehemiah knows they're just trying to intimidate him.
·         He tells them that they're making all this stuff up just to scare them away from rebuilding.
·         He still won't meet with them. Talk to the hand.
·         Nehemiah goes to visit a guy named Shemaiah who says (actually, falsely prophesies) that they should go hide in the temple, since men are coming to kill Nehemiah.
·         Nehemiah cleverly sees that Shemaiah's been hired by Sanballat and Tobiah to trick him and make him an object of ridicule.
·         Only priests are allowed in the temple, so obviously he's trying to get our man to break the law.
·         He asks God not to forget what Shemaiah and the wicked prophetess Noadiah and other prophets did to try to trick him.
·         The wall's finished on the twenty-fifth day of the month of Elul, impossibly fast.
·         The surrounding nations are all disheartened and scared by this.
·         They understand that God supports the Jews, since they haven't even been able to get their contractor to return their phone calls.
·         Nehemiah also mentions that some of the nobles were friends with Tobiah, due to his family's intermarrying with Jews.
·         The nobles try to make Tobiah sound good in Nehemiah's presence, while Tobiah sends Nehemiah letters designed to intimidate him.
Four Characteristics of Those Who Complete a Task[2]

Nehemiah drew out others and inspired them to complete the wall in 52 days: despite his adversities. When we complete a good work we can say with Nehemiah, “All our enemies heard of it, and all the nations around us saw these things…they were very disheartened in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was done by our God”. Leaders who complete tasks have:

1.      A compelling purpose: They make a great commitment to a great cause.
2.      A clear perspective: They don’t let fear cloud their view of the future.
3.      A continual prayer: They pray about everything and gain God’s favor.
4.      A courageous persistence: They move ahead despite the odds.

Pentecost[3]

Fifty days after Easter, the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles is one of the three great feasts of the liturgical year.

What is Pentecost? The solemn anniversary of the day on which the Holy Ghost came down, under the appearance of fiery tongues, upon Mary the Mother of Jesus, and His apostles and disciples, who were assembled in prayer at Jerusalem. To express her joy at the descent of the Holy Ghost, the Church sings, at the Introit of the Mass, The Spirit of the Lord hath filled the whole earth, alleluia, and that which containeth all things, hath knowledge of the voice, alleluia, alleluia. Let God arise, and His enemies be scattered; and let them that hate Him fly before His face.

Why does the Church celebrate this day so solemnly? To praise and thank God for sending the Holy Ghost, Who gave so many spiritual graces and fruits to men.

Why did the Holy Ghost appear under visible signs? It was done to attract attention, and to indicate outwardly what took place inwardly. The roar of the mighty wind, according to the language of the prophets, pointed to the approaching Godhead, and was intended to announce something extraordinary. The appearance of tongues signified the gift of languages, and the division of them the difference of gifts imparted by the Holy Ghost. The fire which lightens, warms, and quickly spreads, denoted the love of God, the power and joy with which the apostles, and mankind through them, should be filled, and indicated the rapid extension of Christianity.

What were the effects of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the apostles? Being enlightened and made acquainted with all truth, freed from all fear and faint-heartedness, and undaunted, the apostles preached everywhere Christ crucified, and for love of Him endured with joy all sufferings. Their discourses were understood by all present, as if they had carefully learned each particular language. From that time Christianity spread with wonderful rapidity throughout the whole world. Pray the Holy Ghost to-day to enlighten you also, to inflame you with holy love, and to give you strength daily to increase in all goodness.

Why is the Holy Ghost called a spirit, and the Holy Spirit? Because He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and is as it were, the Spirit of the Father and the Son.

What does the Holy Ghost effect in men? He renews their hearts, by cleansing them from sin, by imparting to them the sanctification and likeness to God gained through Christ, together with all these supernatural gifts and graces by which they can become holy and happy, and brings forth in them wonderful fruits of sanctity.

Which are these gifts of the Holy Ghost? The seven following: 1. The gift of wisdom, which teaches us to value the heavenly more than the earthly, infuses into us a longing for the same, and points out to us the right means to salvation. 2. The gift of understanding, which enlightens us to rightly understand the mysteries and doctrines of our holy religion. 3. The gift of counsel in doubtful cases, which enables us to know what to do or omit, and what to advise others. This gift is particularly necessary for superiors, for those who are changing their state of life, and for those who are entangled in perplexing and unfortunate marriage relations. 4. The gift of fortitude, which banishes all timidity and human respect, strengthens a man to hate sin, and steadfastly to practice virtue; preferring contempt, temporal loss, persecution, and even death, to denying Christ by word or deed. 5. The gift of knowledge, by which the Holy Ghost enlightens us with an inner light, that we may know ourselves, the snares of self-love, of our passions, of the devil, and of the world, and may choose the fittest means to overcome them. 6. The gift of piety and devotion, which infuses into us veneration for God and divine things, and joy in conversing with Him. 7. The gift of the fear of God, that childlike fear, which dreads no other misfortune than that of displeasing God, and which accordingly, flees sin as the greatest evil.

Which are the fruits of the Holy Ghost? They are the twelve following: 1. Charity. 2. Joy. 3. Peace. 4. Patience. 5. Benignity. 6. Goodness. 7. Longsuffering. 8. Mildness. 9. Faith. 10. Modesty. 11. Continency. 12. Chastity.

These fruits should be visible in the Christian, for thereby men shall know that the Holy Ghost dwells in him, as the tree is known by its fruit.

Whit Sunday[4]

Whitsunday or White Sunday? The liturgical color of this Sunday is red in order to recall the tongues of flame that descended on the Apostles. The old English name for Pentecost, Whitsunday, originated from the custom of the newly baptized redonning their white robes for the services of the day. By extension this could also apply to the new Easter clothes worn by the faithful fifty days earlier.

The Dove

 Like Ascension Thursday, Whitsunday was once the occasion for several liturgical eccentricities. Many medieval churches, for example, had a Holy Ghost Hole in the ceiling of the church from which a large blue disk bearing the figure of a white dove would swing slowly down to the congregation during the Mass sequence, Veni Sancte Spiritus. Midway through the sequence, the disk would stop and from the Holy Ghost hole would rain symbols of the Spirit: flowers, water, even burning pieces of straw. A practice far less susceptible to excess, on the other hand, is the use of beautifully carved and painted wooden doves in the home. These figures would usually be suspended over the dinner table, and would sometimes be encased in glass, having been assembled entirely from within (much like the wooden ships assembled in bottles). The painstaking effort that went into making these doves serves as a reminder to cherish the adoration of the Holy Spirit.

The Blessed Dew
Though the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is often described in dramatic terms (a mighty wind, tongues of fire, etc.), it is also portrayed in soothing, comforting ways. The Whitsunday sequence Veni Sancte Spiritus, for example, calls the Spirit our "sweet refreshment" (dulcis refrigerium), while the postcommunion prayer, in an allusion to Isaiah 45.8, refers to the "inward sprinkling of His heavenly dew." Hence there arose the charming superstition that the morning dew of Whitsunday is especially good luck. To obtain a blessing, people would walk barefoot through the meadows before Mass and would even feed their animals with bread wiped by the dew.


Age of the Holy Spirit[5]

Where we are is the age of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost is often called the birthday of the Church because even though the Apostles were transformed by earlier events such as the institution of the Eucharist and priesthood on Maundy Thursday or their acquiring the power to forgive sins on Easter afternoon, they - and by extension, the Church - did not really come into their own until the Paraclete inspired them to burst out of their closed quarters and spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. And just as Pentecost marks the birthday of the Church in the Holy Spirit, so too does the Time after Pentecost mark the life of the Church moving through the vicissitudes of history under the protection and guidance of that same Spirit. It is for this reason that the epistle readings from this season emphasize the Apostles' advice to the burgeoning churches of the day while its Gospel readings focus on the kingdom of heaven and its justice. It is also the reason why the corresponding lessons from the breviary draw heavily from the history of the Israelite monarchy in the Old Testament. All are somehow meant to teach us how to comport ourselves as citizens of the city of God as we pass through the kingdoms of this world.

Daily Devotions/Prayers

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood



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