Friday, October 20, 2017

Proverbs Introduction[1]



Like the teachings of an ancient Israelite Yoda, The Book of Proverbs is all about wisdom. The book's editors and compilers took wisdom wherever they could find it: the oracles of Agur and Lemuel at the end of Proverbs may very well be non-Israelite in origin, and the "thirty sayings" in the middle part of Proverbs are related to an Egyptian wisdom collection ("The Instructions of Amenemopet"). Combine that with proverbs classically attributed to King Solomon, and you have a delicious Near-Eastern fusion meal, slathered in wisdom gravy. Proverbs is a little like Confucius's Analects, which had a profound influence on the ethical, social, and moral teachings of China. Confucius doesn't spend much time getting deep into metaphysics and theological disputes—he just wants to know how to live in accordance with "the Will of Heaven," how to be a good person, while also managing to live a productive life in the world. Proverbs has the same set of concerns. It takes the existence of God for granted and has interesting poetic statements to make about the role of Wisdom in the world. Yet overwhelmingly, the advice it offers is extremely practical: it's concerned with the details of everyday life, with work and family. Like the writer Jack Miles observed, Proverbs deals with the struggles of character formation and prudence—in a way that the Torah doesn't, exactly. It's really hard to determine when the book was actually written or compiled because it takes so much material from so many sources from different time periods. One section claims to have been compiled by officials in King Hezekiah's court—so if they truly date from his reign, that would put that section at roughly the 8th century CE… though its sayings could've come down from earlier centuries. Then the final compilation of the book would've likely been a few centuries after Hezekiah's reign, give or take a century or two. As with all things Bible, you never can tell.

Why Should I Care?

If you've ever wondered if it's okay to gorge yourself on honey until you throw up, Proverbs is the book for you. (Psst—Proverbs says the answer is: "It is not.") But, um, even if you haven't wondered about that particular quandary, Proverbs still probably has something to say to you. It answers the same questions that people ask when they consult self-help books or when they (used to) write in to "Dear Abby": "How should I live?" Proverbs is basically an ancient self-help manual—yet it has plenty of advice that still holds up today. For example: "Soft words calm another's anger" and again, "Don't eat honey until you puke" (to paraphrase). To quote the RZA, explaining the name of The Wu Tang Clan: "'Wu' stands for 'Wisdom of the Universe' […] but there's a little 'tang' thrown in." That's actually a pretty good definition of The Book of Proverbs—though, we suppose it's debatable exactly how much 'tang' it has. (Well, we think it has 'tang'—more than you would probably expect, anyway. Also, we're painfully aware that quoting the RZA in this "Why Should I Care?" could make us seem like Jason Schwartzman in "Yo Teach!" from Funny People. But we reject that contention. Vigorously.)


Wise Elders

Proverbs isn't just a collection of crotchety sayings, like "Be sure to get your daily recommended amount of fiber" (though there's, admittedly, a small element of that kind of advice). To some degree, it does represent the advice of senior citizens to young people (there's an ancient Egyptian story about an elderly man who got revenge on his nephew for trying to assassinate him by reciting proverbs to the nephew until the nephew exploded and died—presumably out of boredom). More than that, though, Proverbs aims to free you, by giving you the tools and craft you need to navigate life in the world. "Free your mind, the rest will follow"—that's a proverb (just, er, not one from Proverbs). Despite the stodgy reputation of some Biblical Wisdom Literature, its goal is to teach people the rules so that they can eventually thoroughly embody and forget them. Proverbs imagines Wisdom (or any wise person) as "rejoicing in the habitable part of the earth" or "playing all over the earth." Although it seems like a lot of advice and precepts at first, on a deeper level it's about giving people a method of targeting their energy to work in a way that helps them enjoy life. Like it says: "Hope deferred makes the heart sick / But a fulfilled desire is a tree of life." That's some "Wu" for you, but we hope you'll agree that it's also got quite a bit of "Tang," too.

FRIDAY October 20
SAINT IRENE BRIDE OF CHRIST

I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body but after that can do no more. I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna; yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.

Proverbs, Chapter 1, Verse 7
Fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and discipline.

At his audience on June 11, Pope Francis reflected on fear of the Lord: “This is the fear of God: abandonment into the goodness of Our Father who loves us so. … This is what the Holy Spirit does in our hearts: He makes us feel like children in the arms of our Daddy … with the wonder and joy of a child who sees himself served and loved by his Father.” Therefore, this great gift of fear of the Lord allows us to have an intimate relationship with the Holy Trinity which compels us to have regular and careful examinations of conscience and the use of the sacrament of penance. A good way to cultivate our relationship with the Trinity is through daily prayer and worship at Mass. The gift of fear also prevents us from being too familiar with God. We are the victims of original sin and suffer from concupiscence; therefore, each of us struggles with a rebellious heart. A person could easily take God’s love for granted and presume forgiveness without real contrition; or forget God’s majesty by taking His holy name in vain; or make demands of God and then be angry when He does not meet them; or forget that every gift is from God and be selfish; or neglect prayer and worship because there is not enough time for Him; or disregard God’s commandments and the teachings of His church. And without fear of the Lord, such a person might say, “God loves me just the way I am, and I am going to heaven.” One has to ask, “Does such a person really love God?” While the Lord will never spurn a humble and contrite heart, He will humble the haughty. The gift of fear brings to perfection the virtue of hope. A person respects God as God, trusts in His will, and anchors his life in Him. He approaches the Lord with humility, docility and obedience. He believes in His promises of forgiveness of sin and eternal life in heaven. Also, this gift is the launchpad for the other gifts. As sacred Scripture attests, “Happy the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands” (Ps 112:1), and “the beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord” (Sir 1:12).[2]



Make ready your soul for the Eternal Wedding Feast!

Saint Irene[3]

Irene, a beautiful and chaste Portuguese girl, was murdered before she reached the age of 20. "An assiduous pupil and a devout believer, the only times she ever left her house was to attend mass or to pray in the sanctuary dedicated to Saint Peter on his feast-day. A young nobleman named Britald happened to see her on one of these rare outings and fell desperately in love with her. Every time that she went out he waited to catch a glimpse of her, followed her to church, and eventually made his suit known to her; however, Irene gave him to understand that she would never marry him. "Thus rejected, Britald fell into a deep depression and became so ill that the doctors who were called in to tend him gave him up for lost. Hearing of this, Irene visited him and told him that she had refused him because she was no longer free, having already taken a vow of virginity. "Britald at once accepted her decision and gradually recovered his health. Before Irene left him he had sworn that he would respect, and make others respect, her vocation as a holy virgin, and the two had parted like brother and sister, promising each other that they would meet again in Paradise. “Irene returned home and resumed the life of seclusion and study, intending to make her entrance into a convent before long. But the monk who was giving her private lessons proved to be a lecherous scoundrel, and behaved towards her in a manner as dishonorable as Britald's was honorable. “Irene repulsed him and had him dismissed at once; but his lust turning to a desire for revenge, the monk then began to spread slanderous rumors about her. To those who asked him why he was no longer giving the girl her private lessons, he replied that he had left on learning that she was about to become a mother. “This rumor quickly circulated throughout the town and at length reached Britald who, being frank and trusting and unused to lies, believed what he was told. In a passion of rage and jealousy, he hired a mercenary soldier to kill her. Soon afterwards, as she was returning home from visiting an old man who was crippled, the assassin approached her from behind and killed her with a single stroke of his sword. “Her body, which was thrown into the river, was later retrieved by some Benedictines on the banks of the Tagus, near the town of Scalabris. They gave her a proper burial, made known her story, and not long afterwards, so great was the veneration in which she was held, the name of the town of Scalabis was changed to Santarem (Saint Irene)" (verbatim from Encyclopedia).

Fitness Friday-Cardio[4]

Recognizing that God the Father created man on Friday the 6th day I propose in this blog to have an entry that shares on how to recreate and renew yourself in strength; mind, soul and heart.

Is interval training more effective than steady-state cardio training for fat loss?

·         Exercise combined with diet modifications has been shown to be more effective than either alone for promoting weight loss.
·         Establishing exercise habits during the weight loss phase can help prevent weight regain and yo-yo dieting down the road. One of the most common excuses for lack of exercise is a lack of time.
·         These results show that the type of cardio performed for fat loss (intervals vs. steady-state) probably doesn’t matter as much as the number of calories burned in the exercise session. Moreover, the overall amount of fat loss is small.
·         Focus should be placed on how the exercise session impacts other areas of life, such as appetite, food intake, and leisure-time physical activity.
·         Focus should also be placed on whether you can see yourself sticking with your chosen exercise modality for the long-term.
·         Exercise may not be all that for fat loss, but it certainly impacts fitness and health improvement. As such, all forms of exercise should be encouraged despite their relatively minimal contribution to fat loss.
·         Strength training is especially important for developing lean body mass.
·         High-intensity training such as interval endurance training appears to be more effective at reducing inflammation and increasing insulin sensitivity than lower-intensity training such as steady-state cardio.

Evidence has shown that exercise has additional benefits on health that warrant its inclusion in daily life, such as reducing inflammation and increasing insulin sensitivity. Moreover, high-intensity exercise appears to be more effective than lower intensity exercise at inducing these beneficial changes, which might be one reason to prefer interval training over steady-state even if fat loss would be similar. Ultimately, though, adherence is key. Thus, enjoyment and personal preferences when it comes to exercise are what’s most important.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         St. Jude Novena Day 2

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