Sirach, Chapter 43, Verse 33
It is the LORD who has made all things; to those who fear him he gives wisdom.
The greatest wisdom is to do the will of God. The Shema Yisrael which is the same prayer the Christ most likely prayed every morning Himself is still prayed by pious Jews today.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your Heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind, and with all your strength.
To be wise is to not take ourselves too seriously and to have the ability to laugh at ourselves and to see the humor in our foibles. Humor is a gift from God. I know our Lord does have a sense of humor which at times He has revealed to me. Life at times can be challenging and as every married man knows life with your spouse is even on good days challenging. One day was particularly perplexing and in a prayer to Our Lord I said, “Lord why is it that you have strapped me to the meanest, most cantankerous, nasty person on earth.” To which He responded, “Funny that’s the same thing she says about you.”
Humor is God’s gift to us so that we do not take ourselves too seriously and it often helps us to make good judgments.
John McCain in his book “Character is Destiny” expresses the value humor in leaders and portrays for us the life of Mark Twain as the person who used humor most effectively to change the world.
John says of Mark Twain:
He became the most famous person in the world, and he helped Americans live up to their promise by making us laugh at ourselves. One of the greatest American novels was published in 1885, by Mark Twain, after seven years of intermittent writing. Its title is The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. There had never been one as good before, and there has never been another as good since, or more American. Until he was twenty-seven years old, the man who wrote it had been known as Samuel Langhorne Clemens. Thereafter, he was Mark Twain. Rebellion was Twain’s salvation. His writings rebelled against social injustice, against the weaknesses of human nature, against life’s cruelest misfortune; against the heart’s own crimes. When confronted with the choice between what others thought was wrong but conscience insisted was right, “All right, then, I’ll go to hell,” was the rebel’s answer. Twain led no great protest movement, enlisted in no underground army, ran for no office, and joined no political party. He was, as has often been remarked, a “great noticer” of people, places, and things, and he told their stories, or variations of them. He told them with as much humor as he was capable of conceiving—humor that was, as it turned out, more entertaining and more meaningful than that of anyone before or since. He was the funniest man alive, and he made good use of the talent. “The human race has only one effective weapon,” he argued, “and that is laughter.” He was an American, a fact he was grateful for and proud of, but never conceited about. Human nature is flawed, wherever it resides, and he felt its flaws keenly in others and in himself. He knew his country was building a civilization better than the celebrated civilizations of the past, but that some aspects of human nature could never be changed. Human beings are apt to do as much bad as good. But Twain knew something else. They were apt to be funny as well, awfully funny. I think it could be fairly said of Sam Clemens, and the alter ego that was his great achievement, that he didn’t like people generally, but loved them well enough individually. And they loved him back. “An American loves his family,” Thomas Edison once observed. “If he has any love left over for some other person he generally selects Mark Twain.” Whether he even knew it or not, he was as a speaker and writer as instructive as he was entertaining. He helped Americans see the strengths and the foibles of our own peculiar, promising, but imperfect nature. He helped us see it because he recognized in himself those very same flaws and strengths. He helped encourage in us an honesty about the injustices we had committed or allowed to exist, and a desire to repair them. He made being human seem both a trial and a privilege, and a very funny joke. “God created man,” he said, “because he was disappointed in the monkey.” His admittedly dark view of human nature would have caused many others to shout denunciations at the world. Twain laughed at it, and made the world laugh back. “I have had a ‘call’ to literature, of a low order—i.e. humorous,” he wrote his brother Orion. “It is nothing to be proud, but it is my strongest suit.” As he often treated any personal fact, Twain exaggerated his own modesty. He knew humor to be life’s most necessary tonic, and employed to take the sting out of human folly and misfortune, “to blur the craggy outlines, and make the thorns less sharp and the cruelties less malignant.” He encouraged us to rebel against injustice and cruelty and falsehood, even when they were our own creations. “I have no color prejudices nor caste prejudices nor creed prejudices,” he once assured an audience. “All I need to know is that a man is a human being, and that is enough for me; he can’t be any worse.”
Feast of St. Blaise
Blessing of throats
Things to Do
· Take your children to Mass to receive the blessing of throats today.
· Establish a home altar with the blessed candles (symbols of Saint Blaise) from the feast of the Presentation, February 2.
John McCain in his book “Character is Destiny” portrays the life of “The Four Chaplains” as a model of great religious tolerance that allowed them to risk all to protect others of a different faith or race.
It was the evening of Feb. 2, 1943, and the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was crowded to capacity, carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen and civilian workers. Once a luxury coastal liner, the 5,649-ton vessel had been converted into an Army transport ship. The Dorchester was one of three ships steadily moving across the icy waters from Newfoundland toward an American base in Greenland. Hans J. Danielsen, the ship’s captain, was concerned and cautious because he knew he was in dangerous waters. German U-boats were constantly prowling these vital sea lanes, and several ships had already been blasted and sunk. The Dorchester was now only 150 miles from its destination, but the captain ordered the men to sleep in their clothing and keep life jackets on. Many soldiers sleeping deep in the ship’s hold disregarded the order because of the engine’s heat. Others ignored it because the life jackets were uncomfortable. On Feb. 3, at 12:55 a.m., a periscope broke the chilly Atlantic waters. Through the cross hairs, an officer aboard the German submarine U-223 spotted the Dorchester. The U-223 approached the convoy on the surface, and after identifying and targeting the ship, he gave orders to fire the torpedoes, a fan of three were fired. The one that hit was decisive–and deadly–striking the starboard side, amid ship, far below the water line. Captain Danielsen, alerted that the Dorchester was taking water rapidly and sinking, gave the order to abandon ship. In less than 20 minutes, the Dorchester would slip beneath the Atlantic’s icy waters. Aboard the Dorchester, panic and chaos had set in. The blast had killed scores of men, and many more were seriously wounded. Others, stunned by the explosion were groping in the darkness. Those sleeping without clothing rushed topside where they were confronted first by a blast of icy Arctic air and then by the knowledge that death awaited. Men jumped from the ship into lifeboats, over-crowding them to the point of capsizing, according to eyewitnesses. Other rafts, tossed into the Atlantic, drifted away before soldiers could get in them. Through the pandemonium, according to those present, four Army chaplains brought hope in despair and light in darkness. Those chaplains were Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish; Lt. John P. Washington, Roman Catholic; and Lt. Clark V. Poling, Dutch Reformed. Quickly and quietly, the four chaplains spread out among the soldiers. There they tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety. “Witnesses of that terrible night remember hearing the four men offer prayers for the dying and encouragement for those who would live,” says Wyatt R. Fox, son of Reverend Fox. One witness, Private William B. Bednar, found himself floating in oil-smeared water surrounded by dead bodies and debris. “I could hear men crying, pleading, praying,” Bednar recalls. “I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going.” Another sailor, Petty Officer John J. Mahoney, tried to reenter his cabin but Rabbi Goode stopped him. Mahoney, concerned about the cold Arctic air, explained he had forgotten his gloves. “Never mind,” Goode responded. “I have two pairs.” The rabbi then gave the petty officer his own gloves. In retrospect, Mahoney realized that Rabbi Goode was not conveniently carrying two pairs of gloves, and that the rabbi had decided not to leave the Dorchester. By this time, most of the men were topside, and the chaplains opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets. It was then that Engineer Grady Clark witnessed an astonishing sight. When there were no more lifejackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four frightened young men. “It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven,” said John Ladd, another survivor who saw the chaplains’ selfless act. Ladd’s response is understandable. The altruistic action of the four chaplains constitutes one of the purest spiritual and ethical acts a person can make. When giving their life jackets, Rabbi Goode did not call out for a Jew; Father Washington did not call out for a Catholic; nor did the Reverends Fox and Poling call out for a Protestant. They simply gave their life jackets to the next man in line. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains–arms linked and braced against the slanting deck. Their voices could also be heard offering prayers. Of the 902 men aboard the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, 672 died, leaving 230 survivors. When the news reached American shores, the nation was stunned by the magnitude of the tragedy and heroic conduct of the four chaplains.
· Please pray for me and this ministry
 McCain, John and Salter, Mark. (2005) Character is destiny. Random House, New York
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