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Thursday, May 23, 2019
Introduction to 1 Kings
Populated with majestic kings, beautiful princesses, scheming nobles, powerful wizards, and the quintessential evil queen, 1 Kings could almost be set in a fairy-tale world full of griffins and unicorns and magical swords. In fact, if you ever get bored with it, just use your imagination to throw in some fantasy elements, and it'll be better than Lord of the Rings. 1 Kings contains two very different central characters: King Solomon and Elijah. These two could hardly be more different: Solomon is rich (3:13), Elijah is not (as far as we can tell); Solomon lives in a spectacular palace (7:1-12), Elijah is often homeless (17:3-5; 19:4-5); Solomon has servants at his beck and call (4:1-21), Elijah gets his food by begging (17:10-13) or heavenly delivery service (17:6; 19:5-7); Solomon is dignified and eloquent (4:32-34), Elijah is snarky (18:27); Solomon uses his brain (3:23-28), while Elijah uses brute, elemental force (18:37-40); Solomon is cool and calculated (2:22-34), Elijah is a hot-headed spitfire (18:21); in the end Solomon succumbs to temptation (11:4), whereas Elijah (in 2nd Kings) is so pure he's taken directly to heaven before he even has a chance to die (2 Kings 2:11). By presenting these guys side-by-side in the same book, 1 Kings allows us to see both of them more clearly. They're like Captain Kirk and Spock. Woody and Buzz. Carlton and Will. They're convenient, cooperative opposites, and each helps us to better understand the other. And they're not the only foils you'll find in 1 Kings. You'll find a lot of opposites if you keep your eyes open, including within the same character/object/place. Amid all of these dissimilarities scattered across the pages, you'll start to see themes and patterns emerging that can help you understand the mythical enchanted kingdom epic that is 1 Kings.
Why Should I Care?
What would you do if you had superpowers? Would you use them only for good? Would you finally achieve world peace? End all hunger? Or just make your own life easier? Of course you wouldn't use it for evil… right? Maybe just a little bit? Some revenge? A pinch of pleasure here and there? What's the point of all that power if you can't use it to make yourself happy, right? Would your powers worry you at all? They say absolute power corrupts absolutely. Are you sure you could handle it? Okay. We're done grilling you now.
1 Kings is the story of what happens to Israel after its greatest king, David (of David and Goliath fame), dies. Though his son, Solomon, looks for a while like he'll follow in ol' dad's footsteps, in the end he sets Israel up for disaster. As civil war breaks out and the people's rulers get worse and worse with each generation, we see that the stories in 1st Kings (some of which spill over into the next book, 2 Kings) are dominated by people with a lot of power—sometimes almost god-like power: Solomon possesses supernatural wisdom and unfathomable riches; Elijah has the very elements at his disposal; Ahab and Jezebel command legions of soldiers and priests; and the list goes on. How they each behave under these circumstances can be instructive for all of us, because although it might not seem like it now, you possess a lot of power and will probably gain a whole lot more of it as you grow up. Money, education, influence, position, physical strength, emotional awareness, and so on can all give you power over other people. What are you going to do with it?
The difference between Superman and General Zod lies in how each uses his powers. Although you probably can't leap tall buildings in a single bound, you do have the power to change the world in a million ways, whether subtly or in more visible ways. As you read about the extreme powers at play in 1 Kings, try to see past the sheer razzle-dazzle of it all and think about stuff like this. Someday, when you're a powerful politician, teacher, surgeon, mentor, writer, scientist, or mom, the world will be glad you did.
MAY 23 Thursday
1 Kings, Chapter 1, Verse 49-50
49 All the guests of Adonijah got up trembling, and went each their way, 50 but Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, got up and went to grasp the horns of the altar.
In King David’s old age, he developed circulatory problems, and a beautiful young woman named Abishag was brought to the king to attend him and “keep him warm.” Abishag slept in the king’s bed to provide body heat, though she and David were never sexually intimate (1 Kings 1:1–4). After David’s death, his son Solomon became king. Shortly afterward, another of David’s sons, Adonijah, who had at one time tried to take over the kingdom, hatched another plot to wrest control from King Solomon. Adonijah’s first step was to ask Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba, to secure Solomon’s permission to give him Abishag as a wife. Adonijah’s request seems innocuous enough, but it was full of subterfuge. Solomon’s initial response was one of indignation. He said to his mother, “Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him—after all, he is my older brother” (1 Kings 2:22). Solomon rightly saw Adonijah’s desire to marry Abishag as part of his brother’s ongoing attempt to take over the kingdom of Israel. In those days of royal harems, taking possession of a king’s concubines was a declaration of one’s right to the throne. This had been one of Absalom’s methods when he led a coup against David (2 Samuel 16:22). Since Abishag was considered part of David’s harem, her marriage to Adonijah would have strengthened the usurper’s claim to the throne. In judgment for Adonijah’s request, Solomon said, “God do so to me and more also if this word does not cost Adonijah his life!” (1 Kings 2:23). He quickly sent Benaiah, one of their father’s mighty men, to execute Adonijah. The tension between Adonijah and Solomon had been longstanding. Adonijah was older than Solomon and therefore, under normal circumstances, in line before Solomon for the throne. But God promised that Solomon would be king. Adonijah had already attempted to set himself up as king while David was still alive; when David was notified of the plot, he quickly made Solomon’s kingship official (1 Kings 1:38–40). Adonijah’s followers had fled, leaving him in a situation where he could have been killed for his rebellion. King Solomon mercifully granted Adonijah his life on the condition that he pay homage to the king and give up his claim to the throne (1 Kings 1:52–53).
What does it mean to grasp the horns of the altar? 
The innocent blood of the bull represents life over death rubbed on the horn of salvation. The horns represent salvation, forgiveness of sins, and power over death, strength, and mercy for mankind which put together describes God. Rubbing the blood on the horn with a finger illustrates reconciliation of man with God and no death when the horn is touched because the sacrificial blood stands in the gap between man and God on his finger. So this is access to God through the blood of no sin which Adam housed before he disobeyed God. Adam had this power to cover Eve but chose disobedience instead of utilizing his power. Jesus is the blood between the finger and horn. That's the intercession for man.
St. Julia of Corsica
St. Julia was a noble virgin of Carthage, who, when the city was taken by Genseric in 489, was sold for a slave to a pagan merchant of Syria named Eusebius. Under the most mortifying employments of her station, by cheerfulness and patience she found a happiness and comfort which the world could not have afforded. All the time she was not employed in her master's business was devoted to prayer and reading books of piety. Her master, who was charmed with her fidelity and other virtues, carried her with him on one of his voyages to Gaul. Having reached the northern part of Corsica, he cast anchor, and went on shore to join the pagans of the place in an idolatrous festival. Julia was left at some distance, because she would not be defiled by the superstitious ceremonies which she openly reviled. Felix, the governor of the island, who was a bigoted pagan, asked who this woman was who dared to insult the gods. Eusebius informed him that she was a Christian, and that all his authority over her was too weak to prevail with her to renounce her religion, but that he found her so diligent and faithful he could not part with her. The governor offered him four of his best female slaves in exchange for her. But the merchant replied, "No; all you are worth will not purchase her; for I would freely lose the most valuable thing I have in the world rather than be deprived of her." However, the governor, while Eusebius was drunk and asleep, took upon him to compel her to sacrifice to his gods. He offered to procure her liberty if she would comply. The Saint made answer that she was as free as she desired to be as long as she was allowed to serve Jesus Christ. Felix, thinking himself derided by her undaunted and resolute air, in a transport of rage caused her to be struck on the face, and the hair of head to be torn off, and lastly, ordered her to be hanged on a cross till she expired. Certain monks of the isle of Gorgon carried off her body; but in 768 Desiderius, King of Lombardy, removed her relics to Breseia, where her memory is celebrated with great devotion. St. Julia, whether free or a slave, whether in prosperity or in adversity, was equally fervent and devout. She adored all the sweet designs of Providence; and far from complaining, she never ceased to praise and thank God under all his holy appointments, making them always the means of her virtue and sanctification. God, by an admirable chain of events, raised her by her fidelity to the honour of the saints, and to the dignity of a virgin and martyr.
Excerpted from Butler's Lives of the Saints
· Manhood of Christ Day 7, Eleventh Week.
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