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Saturday, June 8, 2019


Introduction to 2 Chronicles[1]


If 1 Chronicles is the uplifting story of Israel's Golden Age, when King David ruled with justice and mercy, then 2 Chronicles is the hard-right turn. Everything starts out just fine. David's son, Solomon, builds the Temple in Jerusalem and impresses everyone with his wealth and wisdom. But when Solomon dies, Israel's fortunes take a nosedive. For starters, the country breaks into two warring kingdoms. The new king of the unified kingdom, Rehoboam, isn't as politically savvy as his ancestor, David. Tired of Rehoboam's heavy-handed rule, the ten northern tribes break away and form their own kingdom. Both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel go through a series of kings that could best be described as a mixed bag—if by "mixed bag" we mean incompetent, murderous idolaters who'll kill their own grandchildren if that's what it takes to stay in power. It wasn't all bad news, though. "Jumpin'" King Jehoshaphat tries to get a peace treaty going with his friends in the north. King Hezekiah starts the tradition of celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. And King Josiah rediscovers the first five books of the Bible during his reign and realizes it would be a good idea to pay them some serious attention. But these few bright spots aren't enough to counteract the absolute corruption of the rest of the kings of Israel. Breaking divine law, killing off family members, worshipping goat-demons—there's all kinds of shocking stuff going down. Things get so bad that even though God has promised that David's descendants will always reign in Israel, he lets the Babylonian Empire invade and destroy Jerusalem, level the Temple, deport much of the population, and leave the rest to die in various horrible ways. Eventually, God lets the people return to Jerusalem to rebuild amid the rubble. But if you were feeling optimistic after 1 Chronicles, with the righteous King David having things well in hand, prepare to be discouraged.

Why Should I Care?

Why do bad things happen? The author of 2 Chronicles knows why, and there's no question about it. Bad things happen because people disobey God—it's as simple as that. Did your army just get demolished in battle? Better think twice about worshipping those goat gods. Got a case of leprosy? Just because you're the king doesn't mean you're allowed in the Temple doing jobs reserved for the priests. It couldn't be more clear: if you want health, wealth, victory, and military success, you need to do what Yahweh asks. He might be forgiving if you're truly sorry, but otherwise it's just basic math: disobedience = disaster. Don't you wish it were all that simple? We all know that plenty of bad things definitely happen to very good people. Maybe you have a friend who's kind and generous and dying from a horrible disease. Or a fun, supportive cousin who was killed by a drunk driver. Maybe one of your parents can't find a job despite being hardworking and smart. Maybe your sweet little sister gets chosen as the tribute from Region 12. Natural disasters sure don't make distinctions between good and bad people when they happen. It all seems so unfair, and it's understandable to want explanations. And there are plenty of explanations. You've heard them all—God's will, things happen for a reason, things happen for no reason, we don't have all the information, they must have deserved it, bad genes, bad luck, bad parents. We all want to figure it out so we can prevent this stuff from happening to us. But apart from not doing dumb, avoidable things that put us at risk for accidents or illness or failure, bad things can happen anyway. And as long as they do, people will wonder why. Chronicles is one answer to this huge question, but you'll have to find your own. And while you're looking, don't text and drive, m'kay?

JUNE 8 Saturday
MARY MEDIATRIX OF ALL GRACES-SHAVUOT


2 Chronicles, Chapter 14, Verse 13
Then the Judahites conquered all the cities around Gerar, for the fear of the LORD was upon them; they plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them.

Argh sounds like pirates to me. It does not sound very good to us, but we must remember that the only law was “might make’s right”. The truth is that most people were murdering; thieving pirates. What is new is that Israel had a law that was given them by the creator; however loosely they followed it. Israel begins to understand that if you seek the Lord; you will find the Lord; if you forsake the Lord; the Lord will forsake you.

Judah’s King Asa Wins Big[2]

·         When Abijah dies, his son Asa takes over the Kingdom of Judah.
·         Asa keeps Judah on the right path. He gets rid of all references to foreign gods and encourages the people to follow God's law.
·         He also builds up Judah's defenses and army in various cities. Even though there aren't any wars for 10 years, this is a smart move because eventually the Ethiopians attack Judah.
·         Zerah the Ethiopian comes at them with a million soldiers. You read that right. Judah has about 300,000.
·         Totally outnumbered, Asa leads the army into battle and does pretty much the only thing he can do right then—he prays. God helps the strong and the weak. And boy, is Judah weak right now.
·         The Almighty hears the king's panicked cries and responds with a sweeping victory. Not only do they drive back the million-man army, Judah manages to kill every last one. No exaggeration whatsoever there.
·         The warriors in Judah are able to get all kinds of booty from the Ethiopians, so it's a pretty big win for them.

Feast: Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces[3]

Traditionally, today is the feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces. All the graces which flow from the redemption of Jesus Christ are granted to the human family through the motherly intercession of Mary. Mary mediated Jesus Christ, the Author of all graces, to the world when she agreed to be the human mother of God made man (cf. Lk 1:38). And from the cross at Calvary (Jn 19:26) and as the final gift to humanity, Jesus gives Mary as a spiritual mother to us all: "Son, behold your mother" (cf. Jn 19:26). For this reason, Vatican II refers to Mary as a "mother to us in the order of grace " (Lumen Gentium, n. 62) and several twentieth century popes have officially taught the doctrine of Mary as Mediatrix of all graces, quoting the words of St Bernard: "It is the will of God that we obtain all favours through Mary." The Mediatrix performs this task in intimate union with the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, with whom she began the drama of our Lord's Redemption at the Annunciation (cf. Lk. 1:35).

Mary is our Advocate for people of God, in that she takes the petitions of her earthly children, especially in times of difficulties, and brings them through her maternal intercession before her Son and our Lord Jesus.

In the Old Testament, the Queen Mother brought the petitioned needs of the people of Israel to the throne of her son the king (cf. 1 Kings 2:19). Now Mary is the new Queen Mother and Advocate in the new Kingdom of her Son, who brings the petitioned needs of the people of God to the throne of her glorious Son, Christ the King, particularly in our present difficult times.

The universal mediation of the Mother of Jesus as Coredemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces, and Advocate for the people of God is already contained in the official and authoritative teachings of the Church's Magisterium. Now, at the summit of the Marian era, what remains is the final proclamation by the Church of this final Marian doctrine as Christian dogma revealed by God.

Things to Do:

·         Read this article by Fr. William G. Most.

Shavuot – The Holiday that Nurtures Our Souls[4]begins at sunset


Shavuot is one of the three major Jewish festivals and comes exactly fifty days after Passover. After being redeemed from Egyptian slavery, the Jews arrived on Mount Sinai and received the Torah from God. This wonderful event took place 3,319 years ago. The word Shavuot means “weeks.” It marks the completion of the seven weeks, 49 days, between Passover and Shavuot during which the Jewish people prepared themselves for the giving of the Torah. During this time period they prepared themselves spiritually and entered into an eternal covenant with God with the giving of the Torah. Shavuot also means “oaths.” With the giving of the Torah, the Jewish people and God exchanged oaths, forming an everlasting covenant, not to forsake one another. Every year on this day we celebrate and renew our acceptance of God’s gift and our eternal bond with Him. There are several interesting customs associated with this holiday. We stay up all night learning Torah, read the Ten Commandments and the book of Ruth, and eat milk products, especially cheesecake. The custom of learning is especially fitting for the holiday that commemorates the giving of the Torah. The custom of dairy products seems surprising. Among the different explanations given for this custom, one points out that the Hebrew word for milk is chalav. When the numerical value of the letters in this word are added together – 8; 30; 2 – the total is forty. Forty hints to the number of days Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Torah. I would like to present another, perhaps more personal and spiritual reason for this custom. Unlike meat that nourishes the flesh, milk is full of calcium which nourishes the bones. The Hebrew for bones is “Atzmot תמוצע ” which is also the word that means “essence.” This custom hints to the fact that on this holiday we absorb the Torah which nourishes our essence. Additionally, milk is the most basic of foods that a nursing mother shares with her infant. The mother literally gives of her essence and nurtures the essence of the baby. This relationship parallels the personal bond and love that a mother shares with her child. On Shavuot we celebrate the personal relationship that we have with God, when He gives over His essence, the Torah, and we absorb it into the essence of our soul.

Shavuot Facts[5]

·         On Shavuot, it is customary to adorn the Synagogue and home with flowers and green plants.  This is in memory of the foliage around Mount Sinai
·         On Shavuot, it is customary to eat milk products.  Many Jewish houses, replace the normal meat/chicken dinners with a festivity of milk products, including cheesecake, blintzes, cheeses and ice cream.  This custom commemorates the acts of the children of Israel at Sinai.  Having received the Law, they understood that their dishes were no longer Kosher, having been used for milk and meat together.  They also were in need of teaching on the intricate details of ritual slaughter (Shechitah).  Lacking these, they opted to eat only milk products.
·         It is customary in Orthodox and some traditional communities to partake in Bible/Jewish Law lessons throughout the eve and night of Shavuot.  This is in order to accept the Torah for their generation.  In Jerusalem, many people learn the whole night through until dawn and then walk to the Western Wall at sunrise and pray the morning and festival prayer from around 5-8 am.  Thereafter, they go home for a hearty festive breakfast and then sleep the rest of the morning.
·         The Book of Ruth is read in the Synagogue in the Morning of Shavuot.  Ruth converted to Judaism and it is her descendant, David, who became King in Israel.  The book of Ruth demonstrates that achieving a high level in Judaism, is neither ethnic nor genetic.
·         It is customary to wear new clothes on Shavuot.  In the seven weeks (the Omer) preceding Shavuot, people refrain from purchasing major clothing items.

Shavuot Top Events and Things to Do

·         Visit Mount Sinai (Egypt) or Israel.
·         Read the Book of Exodus, Joshua or Ruth in the Bible.
·         Watch the epic film Moses with Burt Lancaster, available for viewing on Youtube
·         Eat Milk products


HOLY SPIRIT NOVENA-NINTH DAY
(Saturday, Vigil of Pentecost)

Thou, on those who evermore Thee confess and Thee Adore, in Thy sevenfold gift, Descend; Give Them Comfort when they die; Give them Life with Thee on high; Give them joys which never end. Amen


The Fruits of the Holy Spirit

The gifts of the Holy Spirit perfect the supernatural virtues by enabling us to practice them with greater docility to divine inspiration. As we grow in the knowledge and love of God under the direction of the Holy Spirit, our service becomes more sincere and generous, the practice of virtue more perfect. Such acts of virtue leave the heart filled with joy and consolation and are known as Fruits of the Holy Spirit. These Fruits in turn render the practice of virtue more attractive and become a powerful incentive for still greater efforts in the service of God, to serve Whom is to reign.

Prayer

Come, O Divine Spirit, fill my heart with Thy heavenly fruits, Thy charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, faith, mildness, and temperance, that I may never weary in the service of God, but by continued faithful submission to Thy inspiration may merit to be united eternally with Thee in the love of the Father and the Son. Amen.

Our Father and Hail Mary ONCE.
Glory be to the Father SEVEN TIMES.
Act of Consecration, Prayer for the Seven Gifts


Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         90 Days for our Nation, 54-day rosary-Day 27



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