Thursday After Ash Wednesday
SAINTS FILICITY AND PERPETUA
Deuteronomy, Chapter 19, Verse 16-20
16 If a hostile witness rises against someone to accuse that person of wrongdoing, 17 the two parties in the dispute shall appear in the presence of the LORD, in the presence of the priests and judges in office at that time, 18 and the judges must investigate it thoroughly. If the witness is a false witness and has falsely accused the other, 19 you shall do to the false witness just as that false witness planned to do to the other. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. 20 The rest shall hear and be afraid, and never again do such an evil thing as this in your midst. 21 Do not show pity. Life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!
This is some pretty hard stuff. Yet, we should not be namby-pamby either. There should be a system of justice and we should be just people. Christ reminds us that if we want justice, we must be just ourselves.
The Gospel of St. Matthew records these words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
5:38 "You have heard that it was said, —An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' 5:39 But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; 5:40 and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well; 5:41 and if any one forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 5:42 Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you. 5:43 "You have heard that it was said, —You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' 5:44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 5:45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 5:46 For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 5:47 And if you salute only your brethren, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Answer provided by Fr. John Echert on 6/12/2001 via EWTN.
Thursday After Ash Wednesday
EPISTLE. Isaias xxxviii. 1-6
IN those days Ezechias was sick even to death, and the prophet Isaias, the son of Amos, came unto him, and said to him: Thus saith the Lord : Take order with thy house, for thou shalt die and not live. And Ezechias turned his face toward the wall, and prayed to the Lord, and said I beseech Thee, O Lord, remember how I have walked before Thee in truth, and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in Thy sight. And Ezechias wept with great weeping. And the word of the Lord came to Isaias, saying: Go and say to Ezechias: Thus saith the Lord the God of David thy father: I have heard thy prayer, and I have seen thy tears: behold I will add to thy days fifteen years: and I will deliver thee and this city out of the hand of the king of the Assyrians, and I will protect it, saith the Lord Almighty.
GOSPEL. Matt. viii. 5-13.
At that time: When Jesus had entered into Capharnaum, there came to Him a centurion, beseeching Him, and saying: Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, and is griev ously tormented. And Jesus saith to him: I will come and heal him. And the centurion, making answer, said: Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldst enter under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant shall be healed. For I also am a man subject to authority, having under me soldiers; and I say to this, Go, and he goeth, and to another, Come, and he cometh, and to my servant, Do this, and he doth it. And Jesus, hearing this, marvelled, and said to them that followed Him: Amen I say to you, I have not found so great faith in Israel. And I say to you that many shall come from the East and the West, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven: but the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into the exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. And Jesus said to the centurion, Go, and as thou hast believed, so be it done to thee. And the servant was healed at the same hour.
Prayer. O God, Who by sin art offended, and by penance pacified, mercifully regard the prayers of Thy people, making supplications to Thee, and turn away the scourges of Thy anger, which we deserve for our sins.
Read: Today we remember the two early Christian martyrs, Perpetua and Felicity. The two early martyrs are always mentioned together because of their close friendship and faith.
During Lent, Memorials are observed as option (they may be omitted) or observed as commemorations.
Reflect: Benedict XVI once said, “[God’s love] is a powerful force that impels us on the path of holiness, if necessary, even to martyrdom” (Homily, March 25, 2007).
Pray: Pray for persecuted Christians today.
Act: Choose something to abstain from this Lent to help you grow in your spiritual journey. Apart from the prescribed days of fast and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for the whole Time of Lent. These practices are disciplinary in nature and often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well. That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.
Martyrdom of Felicity and Perpetua
Perpetua was twenty-two, well born, married and the mother of a tiny son still at her breast. Felicitas, an expectant mother, was a slave. They were among five catechumens whose arrest and imprisonment were meant as a warning to the other Christians in Carthage in the year 203. Tormented by her father who was a pagan and wanted her to apostatize, terrified by the darkness and stifling heat of the dungeon where they were imprisoned, Perpetua's greatest suffering nevertheless was for her baby who was with her. Baptism, however, drove away her fears and with the coming of the Holy Spirit she was at peace and the prison became to her as a palace; in visions she learned the manner of their martyrdom and caught glimpses of what awaits souls in the life after death. Among these was a vision of Purgatory where she saw her little brother Dinocratus suffering. Dinocratus had died when he was only seven, painfully ulcerated about the face. Perpetua saw him "coming out of a dark place where there were many others," dirtily clad, pale, with the wound still on his face, and he was very hot and thirsty. Near him was a fountain but its brim was higher than he could reach and, though he stood on tiptoe, he could not drink. By this vision she knew he needed her prayers, and she prayed for him night and day. On the day the Christians were put in stocks, she had another vision and saw Dinocratus freed. This time he was clean and finely clothed, on his face was a clean scar and beside him a low fountain reaching only to his waist. On the edge of the fountain was a golden cup ever full of water, and Dinocratus drank. "And when he had drunk, he came away — pleased to play, as children will." In the meantime, Felicitas was worried for fear her baby would not be born in time for her to die for Christ with her companions. There was a law which forebade throwing even a Christian woman to the wild beasts if she was with child. Three days before they were to go to the arena, they prayed God would permit the birth of her child, and as soon as their prayers were done, her labor began. She gave birth to a little girl who was afterward adopted by her sister. At last the scene of their martyrdom and in it Perpetua and Felicity were told to put on the garments of pagan priestesses, the two refused and so were stripped naked, covered with nets, and sent to face assault by a maddened cow said to have been used in insult to their womanhood and their maternity. Strangely enough the audience — screaming for blood though it was — yet was touched by the sight of these two so young and so valiant, and the people shuddered. Perpetua and Felicitas were called back and clothed in loose robes. Now Perpetua was thrown, her garment rent, and her thigh gored. Regaining her feet, she gathered her tunic over her thigh so in suffering she would not appear immodest and looking about found her fallen hair ornament and repinned her hair lest one soon to be a martyr seem to grieve in her glory. Looking for Felicitas, she gave assistance to her and standing together they awaited another attack. But the mob cried, "Enough," and the two were led off to the headsman's block. Catching sight of her brother, Perpetua cried out: "Stand fast in the faith and love one another; and do not let our sufferings be a stumbling block to you." Felicitas was struck down first then Perpetua — but only after the nervous swordsman had struck her once and failed to sever her head. The second time she guided his sword with her own hands. So brave, and so full of love; perhaps if she were dying now, she would exhort us to be brave and full of love in slightly different words. Perhaps she would cry out, "Stand fast in the faith and love one another; and do not let our color be a stumbling block to you." Perpetua was white, and Felicitas was black.
The Devil and Temptations
The Kingdom of Darkness and Forbidden Power
· Witchcraft or superstitious magic is used to produce effects that are beyond the power of man. These effects may be good or bad and are brought about by the use of magical words or gestures, or the use of magical herbs, powders, liquids or similar things. There is often a specific invocation of the devil. Physical evils are directed against individuals because of hatred or jealousy. We have all heard about sticking pins in dolls, the evil eye, the eating of cursed food or drinking a liquid, that through the power of darkness is to cause harm, sickness, or death. This is witchcraft. Today, witches can be found almost everywhere, and often they are presented in a positive light. Just remember everyone involved in false worship, seeking forbidden knowledge, or using forbidden power should be absolutely avoided.
· There is also an increased interest in African witchcraft-- voodooism. The gods of voodooism are good and bad. Usually a voodoo service begins after sunset and ends in the early morning. It often includes a bloody sacrifice of a goat or chicken. There is prayer and singing. The gods are supposed to briefly enter into the persons during the ritual.
· In voodooism and witchcraft, Catholic objects such as images of saints, crucifixes, candles, holy water and Catholic prayers are sometimes used, as well as other objects and prayers. Do not be fooled by the apparent religious nature of what happens.
· If you have any objects or written prayers that have been used in witchcraft or given you by a witch, they should be completely destroyed.
If you have been involved in witchcraft you must renounce the devil, renounce the witchcraft in which you have been involved and all witchcraft, ask God's pardon, and confess your sin to a priest. In Confession (the Sacrament of Reconciliation) there is Divine Power needed to free one from the influence of evil.
The Way Examination of conscience
"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."
React. Listen to what the holy Spirit tells you: 'If it were an enemy who insulted me, I could put up with that. But you... tu vero homo unanimis, dux meus, et notus meus, — you, my friend, my apostle, who sit at my table and take sweet food with me!
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896