SHEMINI ATZERET-TRADITIONAL COLUMBUS DAY
Psalm 119, Verse 63
I am the friend of all who fear you, of all who observe your precepts.
Those that love the Lord's service, naturally associate with kindred spirits—with those that fear him, and keep his precepts.
· These two features identify the same character: as cheerful obedience is always the fruit of filial fear. These then are the Lord's people; and union with Him is in fact union with them.
· Sometimes the society of the refined and the intelligent (Elitists) of this world may be more agreeable to our natural taste.
o But ought there not to be a restraint here?
o Ought not the Christian to say —"Surely the fear of God is not in this place"?
o "Should I love them that hate the Lord?"
· Let those of us, who must live in close, and to a certain degree necessary, contact with the world, subject their hearts to an evening scrutiny on this subject.
o Has the society of this day refreshed my soul, or raised my heart to spiritual things?
o Has it promoted a watchful temper?
o Or has it not rather "quenched the spirit" of prayer, and restrained my intercourse with God?
· To meet the Christian in ordinary courtesy, not in unity of heart, is a sign of an unspiritual walk with God. Fellowship with God is "walking in the light." "Fellowship one with another" is the natural flow. "The communion of saints" is the fruit and effect of communion with God.
· The calls of duty, or the leadings of Providence, may indeed unavoidably connect us with those, who "have no fear of God before their eyes."
· Nor should we repel them, by religiously affecting a sullen or uncourteous habit. But such men, whatever be their attractions, will not be the companions of our choice.
· Fellowship with them is to "remove the ancient landmark"; to forget the broad line of separation between us and them; and to venture into the most hazardous atmosphere. If indeed our hearts were ascending, like a flame of fire, with a natural motion heavenwards, and carrying with them all in their way, the choice of the companions of our pilgrimage would be a matter of little importance.
· But so deadening to our spirit is the conversation of the men of this world (however commanding their talents, or interesting their topics), that even if we have been just before enlivened by the high privilege of communion with God, the free and self-indulgent interchange of their society will benumb our spiritual powers, and quickly freeze them again. To underrate therefore the privileged association with them that fear God, is to incur—not only a most awful responsibility in the sight of God; but also a most serious hazard to our own souls.
· If then we are not ashamed to confess ourselves Christ-fans, let us not shrink from walking in fellowship with Christians.
· Even if they should exhibit some repulsive features of character, they bear the image of him, whom we profess to love inexpressibly and incomparably above all.
· They will be our companions in our eternal home; they ought therefore to be our brothers now. How sweet, and holy, and heavenly, is this near relation with them in our common Lord!
· Shall we not readily consent to his judgment, who pronounced "the righteous to be more excellent than his neighbour?" "Iron sharpeneth iron." If then "the iron be blunt," this will be one of the best means of "whetting the edge." The most established servants of God gladly acknowledge the sensible refreshment of this union of heart.
· It is marked in the word of God as the channel of the communication of heavenly wisdom—as a feature in the character of the citizens of Zion, and especially as that disposition, which is distinguished with manifest tokens of the Saviour's presence; and which the great day will crown with the special seal of his remembrance. "They that feared the Lord spake often one to another; and the Lord hearkened, and heard it"and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels."
Coming of the Lord and the Last Judgment
As Catholics, we are mindful and profess in our Creed that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. The Second Vatican Council's "Dogmatic Constitution on the Church" states, "Already the final age of the world is with us and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way; it is even now anticipated in a certain real way, for the Church on earth is endowed already with a sanctity that is real though imperfect" (No. 48). To try to grasp the when, what and how of this Second Coming and last judgment, we really need to glean the various passages in Sacred Scripture to see how our Church has interpreted them. They are united in one drama. Our Lord in the Gospel spoke of His second coming. He indicated that various signs would mark the event.
1. Mankind would suffer from famine, pestilence and natural disasters.
2. False prophets who claim to be the Messiah will deceive and mislead people.
3. Nations will wage war against each other.
4. The Church will endure persecution.
5. Worse yet, the faith of many will grow cold and they will abandon the faith, even betraying and hating one another.
6. St. Paul describes a "mass apostasy" before the Second Coming, which will be led by the "son of perdition," the "Man of Lawlessness," the "adversary who exalts himself above every so-called god proposed for worship." This "lawless one" is part of the work of Satan, and with power, signs, wonders and seductions will bring to ruin those who have turned from the truth.
7. However, "the Lord Jesus will destroy him with the breath of His mouth and annihilate him by manifesting His own presence." The Catechism affirms, "God's triumph over the revolt of evil will take the form of the last judgment after the final cosmic upheaval of this passing world" (No. 667).
8. Our Lord will come suddenly. "The Son of Man in His day will be like the lightening that flashes from one end of the sky to the other" St. Peter predicts, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief and on that day the heavens will vanish with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire and the earth and all its deeds will be made manifest" (2 Pt 3:10).
9. Death will be no more. The dead shall rise and those souls who have died will be united again to their bodies. All will have a glorious, transformed, spiritualized body as St. Paul said, "He will give a new form to this lowly body of ours and remake it according to the pattern of His glorified body...".
10. At this time, the final, or general judgment will occur. Jesus said, "Those who have done right shall rise to life; the evildoers shall rise to be damned". Our Lord described this judgment as follows: "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, escorted by all the angels of heaven, He will sit upon His royal throne and all the nations will be assembled before Him. Then He will separate them into two groups, as a shepherd separated sheep from goats" Here each person will have to account for his conduct and the deepest secrets of his soul will come to light. How well each person has responded to the prompting of God's grace will be made clear. Our attitude and actions toward our neighbor will reflect how well we have loved our Lord. "As often as you did it for one of My least brothers, you did it for Me". Our Lord will judge us accordingly. For those who have died and already have faced the particular judgment, their judgment will stand. Those living at the time of the Second Coming will receive judgment.
a. Those who have rejected the Lord in this life, who have sinned mortally, who have no remorse for sin and do not seek forgiveness, will have condemned themselves to hell for all eternity.
b. "By rejecting grace in this life, one already judges oneself, receives according to one's works and can even condemn oneself for all eternity by rejecting the Spirit of love (Catechism, No. 678).
c. The souls of the righteous will enter heavenly glory and enjoy the beatific vision and those who need purification will undergo it.
Shemini Atzeret (Hebrew: שמיני עצרת), means 'The eighth day break' or 'the eighth day of assembly'. It is celebrated preceding Simchat Torah and in some regions celebrated together with it. Services for this holiday often include a Geshem, prayer for rain.
Shemini Atzeret Facts
Shemini Atzeret Top Events and Things to Do
· Pray for Rain. Shemini Azeret and Simchat Torah is often accompanied by prayers for the rain. The holidays are in the autumn, which is a critical period in Israel for harvests.
· On Shmini Atzeret, it is customary for Orthodox Jews to spend an 'extra day with God' and postpone their return to work and to mundane tasks.