SAINT AGNES-MLK DAY-Tu Bishvat-FULL WOLF MOON
Numbers, Chapter 21, Verse 34
The LORD, however, said to Moses: Do not fear him; for into your hand I deliver him with all his forces and his land. You will do to him as you did to Sihon, king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.
This verse is referring to Og a great and terrible giant King.
OG (Heb. עֹג ,עוֹג), ruler of Bashan, one of the Amorite kings in the Transjordan area during the time of Moses. The Bible remembers Og as belonging to the race of giants "who was left of the remaining Rephaim," and special attention is paid to the description of his huge iron bedstead (Deut. 3:11). The kingdom of Og comprised Bashan and the Hermon region, and extended to the Jordan river to the west (Josh. 12:4–5). Three or four of the cities of his kingdom are mentioned in the Bible – Ashtaroth, which was apparently his capital and known as the capital of the realm from this it would appear that his kingdom was one of the remaining Hyksos kingdoms whose cities at that time were scattered in Palestine. It is also possible that this kingdom was established by Amorites who invaded the area in the time of the Egyptian-Hittite struggle during the reign of Ramses II (13th century). Og was defeated by the Israelites when the eastern side of the Jordan was conquered by those who left Egypt (Num. 21:33, 35; Deut. 3:1ff.). Half of the tribe of Manasseh took Og's land as their inheritance (Josh. 13:31). This victory greatly strengthened the spirit of the people. "Sixty towns … fortified with high walls, gates, and bars" were then conquered (Deut. 3:4–5). Echoes of this victory, which was of exceptional importance, are also encountered in later passages
Today we honor the martyrdom of Saint Agnes, a God-fearing child of 12, when she faced her death. Here is St. Ambrose’s account of her demise.
This treatise has a favorable beginning, since it is the birthday of the holy Virgin Agnes, of whose name, modesty, and martyrdom St. Ambrose speaks in commendation, but more especially of her age, seeing that she, being but twelve years old, was superior to terrors, promises, tortures, and death itself, with a courage wholly worthy of a man.
And my task begins favorably, that since today is the birthday of a virgin, I have to speak of virgins, and the treatise has its beginning from this discourse. It is the birthday of a martyr, let us offer the victim. It is the birthday of St. Agnes, let men admire, let children take courage, let the married be astounded, let the unmarried take an example. But what can I say worthy of her whose very name was not devoid of bright praise? In devotion beyond her age, in virtue above nature, she seems to me to have borne not so much a human name, as a token of martyrdom, whereby she showed what she was to be.
But I have that which may assist me. The name of virgin is a title of modesty. I will call upon the martyr, I will proclaim the virgin. That panegyric is long enough which needs no elaboration but is within our grasp. Let then labor cease, eloquence be silent. One word is praise enough. This word old men and young and boys chant. No one is more praiseworthy than he who can be praised by all. There are as many heralds as there are men, who when they speak proclaim the martyr.
She is said to have suffered martyrdom when twelve years old. The more hateful was the cruelty, which spared not so tender an age, the greater in truth was the power of faith which found evidence even in that age. Was there room for a wound in that small body? And she who had no room for the blow of the steel had that wherewith to conquer the steel. But maidens of that age are unable to bear even the angry looks of parents and are wont to cry at the pricks of a needle as though they were wounds. She was fearless under the cruel hands of the executioners, she was unmoved by the heavy weight of the creaking chains, offering her whole body to the sword of the raging soldier, as yet ignorant of death, but ready for it. Or if she were unwillingly hurried to the altars, she was ready to stretch forth her hands to Christ at the sacrificial fires, and at the sacrilegious altars themselves, to make the sign of the Lord the Conqueror, or again to place her neck and both her hands in the iron bands, but no band could enclose such slender limbs.
A new kind of martyrdom! Not yet of fit age for punishment but already ripe for victory, difficult to contend with but easy to be crowned, she filled the office of teaching valour while having the disadvantage of youth. She would not as a bride so hasten to the couch, as being a virgin, she joyfully went to the place of punishment with hurrying step, her head not adorned with plaited hair, but with Christ. All wept, she alone was without a tear. All wondered that she was so readily prodigal of her life, which she had not yet enjoyed, and now gave up as though she had gone through it. Everyone was astounded that there was now one to bear witness to the Godhead, who as yet could not, because of her age, dispose of herself. And she brought it to pass that she should be believed concerning God, whose evidence concerning man would not be accepted. For that which is beyond nature is from the Author of nature.
What threats the executioner used to make her fear him, what allurements to persuade her, how many desired that she would come to them in marriage! But she answered: It would be an injury to my spouse to look on any one as likely to please me. He who chose me first for Himself shall receive me. Why are you delaying, executioner? Let this body perish which can be loved by eyes which I would not. She stood, she prayed, she bent down her neck. You could see the executioner tremble, as though he himself had been condemned, and his right-hand shake, his face grow pale, as he feared the peril of another, while the maiden feared not for her own. You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of modesty and of religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom.
Pray that we may emulate Agnes who was martyred rather than forsake her betrothal to Christ and exhibited the traits of a true marriage.
Character is Destiny
According to John McCain a person or nations character determines its destiny. McCain points out in his book Character is Destiny the person who most exemplifies the characteristic of fairness is that of Martin Luther King, Jr.
John said of King:
From a jail cell he wrote a letter that is one of the most celebrated documents in American history and summoned his country to the cause of justice. “My Dear Fellow Clergymen,” it began. Recognizing that his correspondents were “men of genuine good will and your criticisms sincerely set forth,” he promised to respond in patient and reasonable terms. They were reasonable terms, and undeniably fair, but patient they were not.
We have waited for more than 340 years for our constitutional and God-given rights. . . . Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging dark of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just been advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see ominous clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing unconscious bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son who is asking: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “nigger,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness” then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait. There comes a time when the cup of endurance runs over, and men are no longer willing to be plunged into the abyss of despair.
America still struggles internally and externally to arrive at the place Dr. King had summoned us to, that exalted place that had been the highest ambition of our Founding Fathers and the highest value we recommend to the rest of the world; the place where all people are recognized as equal and endowed by their Creator with inalienable rights. African Americans recognize the debt they owe Dr. King’s courage, wisdom, and unshakable sense of fairness. But Americans of European descent owe him a greater one. At the cost of his life, he helped save us from a terrible disgrace, the betrayal of our country, and the principles that have ennobled our history. And that is a debt we must happily bear forever.
Martin Luther King Facts & Quotes
· Martin Luther King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. He was 35 years old, which made him the youngest Peace Prize winner at that time.
· I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963.
· Life's most persistent and urgent question is: 'What are you doing for others?' - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
· Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
· Hate is too great a burden to bear. - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Martin Luther King Top Events and Things to Do
· Visit thekingcenter.org to find out about local events and ways you can help promote unity, justice, and fight racism.
· Become a mentor to an underprivileged person in your community through Big Brothers, or another similar organization.
· Visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. For more info see the Official memorial website.
· Donate to the United Negro College Fund or other charities that promote college degree attainment by minorities.
· Watch a movie about MLK. Some popular films include: Our Friend Martin (1999), Selma (2014) and The Witness (2008)
Today is also the Hebrew New Year for trees-One wonders if our Lady celebrated this with Christ in happier times.
Tu Bishvat (Hebrew: ט״ו בשבט, literally: the 15th of the Lunar Month of Shevat) is the New Year for trees (similar to Arbor Day). It falls in January or February each year, typically when almond blossom is seen in Israel. It is one of the four New Years in the Jewish Calendar. According to the Jewish Law (Halachah), the 'New Year for trees' defines the beginning of the year for separating tithes for the poor and Levite. Tithes are 10% portions of a product, which are allocated as to either the Levites or the poor. Torah Law requires, that when the Holy Temple was standing, these tithes would be removed from the produce, before it was 'fit for consumption'. There was a seven-year cycle, culminating in the Shimittah year, when fields lay fallow. After every seven seven-year cycles, a Jubilee, 50th year was celebrated.
Tu Bishvat Facts & Quotes
· It is customary on Tu Bishvat to eat fruits of the Land of Israel, particularly those of the Biblical verse A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey (Deuteronomy 8:8). The honey in this verse refers to date honey, according to tradition. Another custom is to plant trees in Israel.
· On Tu Bishvat, we remember that Man is a Tree of the Field (Deuteronomy 20:19). It explains that we may not cut down trees during the siege of a city. The tree of the field is man's life to be used in and after the siege.
· The Code of Jewish Law states that on Tu B'Shevat fasting and eulogies are forbidden, and all penitential prayers are omitted. One of the most important authorities, the Magen Avraham, adds (131:16): It is the custom to eat many different kinds of fruit. The Arizal suggested the eating of fifteen kinds of fruit (on the fifteenth of the month).
· It should be noted that all Jewish holidays begin at sundown one the eve before the Gregorian date specified for the holiday.
Tu Bishvat Top Events and Things to Do
· Make a Tu Bishvat Fruit Plate. Magen Avraham, a leading Jewish authority suggested the eating of fifteen kinds of fruit (on the fifteenth of the month).
· Say Blessings for new Fruit. Two blessings are said for new fruits (which have not yet been eaten that year), namely the standard blessing for fruits ..Who created the fruits of the tree and ..Who kept us alive, and sustained us and allowed us to reach this day.
· Attend a Tu Bishvat tisch which is popular in Hasidic communities. A Tisch is the Yiddish word for table. It refers to a festive meal with Holy Land fruits, wine, bread, fish and other foods.
· Sing a Tu Bishvat Song. There are many in both Hebrew and English.
Full Wolf Moon
According to the almanac today we are having a Full Wolf Moon; plan to get with your children or grandchildren around a fire and howl a little at the moon having fun together. Also, you could sit down together and listen to the music from Peter and the Wolf. As a child this was one of my favorite record albums that I would make my mother play over and over again much to her distress.
Life First 9 Days for Life
9 Days for Life is a "digital pilgrimage" of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every person's life. A multi-faceted novena highlighting a different intention each day provides reflections, bonus information, and suggested actions. Join to receive the novena through the 9 Days for Life app, daily emails, or daily texts. See below for information on how else you can get involved! #9DaysforLife #OurPrayersMatter
Intercession: May those nearing life’s end receive medical care that respects their dignity and protects their lives.
Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Marys, Glory Be
Reflection: The dying process is a sacred time—a final season to seek closure in this life and prepare for the next. We know earthly death is not the end, but rather the door through which we must pass to gain eternal life. The deadly practice of assisted suicide—now legal in several states—shortens or even eliminates this sacred season, carelessly cutting short the life of the patient. To support the “false compassion” of assisted suicide is to see people as a problem to be eliminated. End-of-life care should instead help eliminate or alleviate the patient’s problems, whether they are physical, spiritual, or emotional. Those who die in God’s grace and friendship live forever with Christ. Because of our belief and hope in the Resurrection, we can face death not with fear, but with trust. We pray that society might recognize that every day of our lives is a gift and is always worth living, especially our final days. We need not fear. Christ is with us.
Acts of Reparation (Choose one.)
· Sacrifice some of your free time to do a small act of service, such as making breakfast for a family member, writing a note of encouragement for a coworker, or praying for the intentions of a friend.
· Pray a decade of the rosary (www.usccb.org/rosary) for your friends and family who have passed away, as well as the departed who have no one to pray for them.
· Offer some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for today’s intention
Complete My Joy
Suffering, Sin and Healing
93. While each family is created by God to mirror His own love and to share in His very life, the entrance of sin into the world damaged this original intention and everywhere threatens the strength and stability of the family. Each and every family, without exception, feels the burden of sin and its consequences. However, the suffering caused by sin, when united to Christ, becomes redemptive and can be the source of indescribable grace in the sanctification and salvation of your families.
94. Society would tell us that suffering is an evil to be avoided at all costs, even if that avoidance results in sin. But our faith tells us this is not true.
The Way Mortification
"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."
What a taste of gall and vinegar, of ash and aloes! What a dry and coated palate! And this physical feeling seems as nothing compared with that other bad taste, the one in your soul. The fact is that 'more is being asked of you', and you can't bring yourself to give it. Humble yourself Would that bitter taste still remain in your flesh and your spirit if you did all that you could?
 McCain, John and Salter, Mark. (2005) Character is destiny. Random House, New York.