Wednesday, September 18, 2019


Ember Wednesday


2 Maccabees, Chapter 3, Verse 25
There appeared to them a richly caparisoned horse, mounted by a fearsome rider. Charging furiously, the horse attacked Heliodorus with its front hooves. The rider was seen wearing golden armor.

A caparisoned horse would be a horse that has its mane and tail decoratively tied and saddle and accoutrements highly decorative with the rider in a golden armor being of kingly or princely rank. This imagery noted shows that God will defend His temple. Heliodorus was on a mission to defraud the temple of its funds when he was struck down by this vision. In many respects it is a shadow of the conversion of Saul when God defends the living temples of His church the new Christians.


The True Temple of God[1]

Some thousand years before the time of Christ, the great Temple of Solomon was built. Previously, the tribes of Israel had worshipped God in sanctuaries housing the ark of the covenant. King David had desired to build a permanent house of God for the ark. But that work was accomplished by his son Solomon, equally famous for his wisdom and his eventual corruption. In the Old Testament, the Temple is often referred to as "the house of the Lord." Sometimes it is called "Zion," as in today's Psalm, a term that also referred to the city of Jerusalem. The Temple was a barometer of sorts for the health of the covenantal relationship between God and the people. Many prophets warned that a failure to uphold the Law and live the covenant would result in the destruction of the Temple. The prophet Jeremiah, for example, warned that having the temple couldn't protect the people from the consequences of their sins: "Put not your trust in these deceitful words: 'This is the Temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord'" (Jer 7:4). In 587 B.C., the Temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, marking the start of the exile. During that time, in the 25th year of exile, the prophet Ezekiel had a vision of a new temple (see Ez 40-48). The description of the temple hearkened back in various ways to the first chapters of Genesis (see 2:10-14), including references to pure water, creatures in abundance and unfading trees producing continuous fresh fruit. This heavenly temple, it was commonly believed, would descend from heaven and God would then dwell in the midst of mankind. After the exile, the Temple was rebuilt, then damaged and rebuilt again. Finally, not long before the birth of Christ, Herod built a glorious temple. It was there that Jesus was presented by Mary and Joseph and blessed by Simeon (see Lk 2:22-35) and where he, as a youth, spent time talking to the teachers of the Law (Lk 2:43-50). It was also the setting for the scene described in the Gospel -- the cleansing of the Temple and Jesus' shocking prophecy: "Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up." Was Jesus, in cleansing the Temple, attacking the Temple itself? No. And did Jesus, in making his remark, say he would destroy the temple? No. But, paradoxically, the love of the Son for his Father and his Father's house did point toward the demise of the Temple. "This is a prophecy of the Cross," wrote Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in "The Spirit of the Liturgy." "He shows that the destruction of his earthly body will be at the same time the end of the Temple." Why? Because a new and everlasting Temple was established by the death and resurrection of the Son of God. "With his resurrection the new Temple will begin: the living body of Jesus Christ, which will now stand in the sight of God and be the place of all worship. Into this body he incorporates men." The new Temple of God did, in fact, come down from heaven. It dwelt among man (see Jn 1:14). "It" is a man: "Christ is the true temple of God, 'the place where his glory dwells'; by the grace of God, Christians also become temples of the Holy Spirit, living stones out of which the Church is built" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 1197). Through baptism we become joined to the one Body of Christ, and that Body, the Church, is the "one temple of the Holy Spirit" (No. 776). "Come! behold the deeds of the Lord," wrote the Psalmist, "the astounding things he has wrought on earth." Indeed, behold Jesus Christ, the true and astounding temple of God, and worship him in spirit and in truth.

Ember Days?[2]

The term “Ember Days” is derived from the Latin term Quatuor Tempora, which literally means “four times.” There are four sets of Ember Days each calendar year; three days each – Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. Ember Days fall at the start of a new season and they are ordered as days of fast and abstinence. The significance of the days of the week are that Wednesday was the day Christ was betrayed, Friday was the day He was crucified, and Saturday was the day He was entombed. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the purpose of Ember Days, “besides the general one intended by all prayer and fasting, was to thank God for the gifts of nature, to teach men to make use of them in moderation, and to assist the needy.”

Fall Ember Days[3]

Football games and pumpkin spice beverages and foods return; Autumn is upon us. Sadly, that is what the fall season means to so many people. We have lost contact the actual natural signs of the seasons of the year and turn to manmade expressions as signals for the change of seasons. But a pumpkin spice latte and football game aren’t true signals of the season change, because the specially flavored latte tends to return earlier each year, and added pre-season games blur the true end of summer and beginning of Fall. Once again, I turn to the Church’s Ember Days as an aid to looking at nature and the change of seasons and recognizing them all as a gift from God. Ember Days are a quarterly observance the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday of one week of each season that “the Church is accustomed to entreat the Lord for the various needs of humanity, especially for the fruits of the earth and for human labor, and to give thanks to him publicly.” (Universal Norms on the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 45). In addition, the Church provides us two seasons of preparation, Advent and Lent. Both seasons are a time for change of heart and renewal. But naturally the change of seasons seem to tug and encourage us for renewal and change (spring and fall cleaning, anyone?). Although not required, the traditional fasting and abstaining of these days are an external expression of turning our hearts and focusing back to God. Practicing Ember Days is not intended to be a backward-looking movement or living in the past. Ember Days are still a part of the Church’s tradition. There is an unbroken continuum within the Church’s Liturgy. Ember Days may look a bit different than pre-Vatican II (but even before 1962 Maria von Trapp was bemoaning how they were different and disappearing in her contemporary 1955 America), but the Ember Days are still a part of the Church’s living tradition. Ember Days are part of the agrarian heritage of our Faith. The Church recognizes our dependency on God for His gifts of nature. The Liturgy has reflects this connection with nature and God. Before man become so civilized, weather, crops, farm animals and the change of seasons were a part of daily life for everyone. Not everyone lived in rural locations, but there was a recognition of that connection of the land to our life. The agrarian connection also recognized that while man could work the land, he can never control the elements. Returning to our agricultural roots brings true humility in remembering man’s role on earth as being completely beholden to God. The gift of nature is from God, and man is not and can never be in control of it. While Liturgy always has the balance of the four forms of prayer: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication, our personal prayers tend to lean heavily on the petition form. The Ember Days were a time dedicated to continuing that petition to help us with our needs, especially with harvests, but also stressing on giving gratitude to God for His generous gifts. The September Ember Days were one of the first Ember Days established, and they are the most prominent of the quarterly days. The Ember Days in September are outside the main liturgical seasons (Advent, Christmas, Lent and Easter) and are closest to the Fall Equinox. The Church recognized the pattern of change of seasons and bringing in the harvest man needs to give thanks and renew our hearts. The public practice of Ember Days within the diocese or parish is dependent on the local Ordinary, so there are many locations that do not observe Ember Days at all. But that doesn’t mean that Ember Days can’t be observed in small ways in our domestic churches. I have written about this several times, so I won’t belabor the point. There are prayers, food, decorations and activities that can easily be incorporated by your family. Even if no extra external activities or food are added, the Ember Days can be a simple three day exercise of remembering to look with wonder at our gifts of nature from God, see the connections in our life, and to use this time to turn our hearts in praise and thanksgiving.

National Cheeseburger Day[4]

National Cheeseburger Day is a day of appreciation for cheeseburgers.  Typically, when cooking a cheeseburger, cheese is added to a hamburger patty a few seconds before the patty is removed from the heat.  This allows the cheese to melt onto the burger.  According to an obituary published by Time in 1964, Lionel Sternberger created the cheeseburger in 1920s, when he placed cheese on top of a hamburger as an experiment. Sternberger was 16 and worked as a cook in his father's sandwich shop in Pasadena, California.  Aside from cheese, other cheeseburger toppings include ketchup and mustard. This tasty national holiday is celebrated each year on September 18th.

National Cheeseburger Day Facts & Quotes

·      According to the US Department of Agriculture, the average cheeseburger contains 303 calories and 30 grams of carbohydrates, as well as 41 mg of cholesterol.
·      In 2008, Burger King released a men's cologne called Flame.  This cologne was marketed as the scent of seduction with a hint of flame-broiled meat. Sounds like a whiff of purgatory, to me!
·      Each year, McDonald's serves more than 5 billion burgers, which translates into a heard of 25 million cows.
·      According to archeologists, ancient Egyptian tombs contain murals about cheese making, which date back to 2000BC.
·      Life is too short to miss out on the beautiful things in life like a double cheeseburger. - Channing Tatum

National Cheeseburger Day Top Events and Things to Do

·      Enjoy a cheeseburger for lunch or dinner.  Try it with an exotic cheese.  Our favorites: Havarti, blue cheese, smoked gouda and goat cheese.
·      To try a twist on the traditional cheeseburger with a veggie, tofu, lamb, bison or chicken patty instead.
·      To celebrate National Cheeseburger Day, host a cheeseburger tasting with your family and friends.  You can create slider cheeseburgers with an assortment of toppings, including:
- Spicy curry mayo with a mango salsa
- Fried egg and bacon
- Mac & Cheese
- Grilled eggplant and hummus
- Wasabi mayo and avocado
- Guacamole, lettuce and tomato
·      Enjoy a free cheeseburger or a cheeseburger upgrade on this national holiday. Some restaurants are offering free cheeseburgers for downloading aps, others free upgrades and others free cheeseburgers for sharing promotional hashtags.
·      Watch empowering documentaries about the impact of unhealthy eating on health and well-being:
1) Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (2010)
2) Supersize Me (2004)
3) Food, Inc (2008)


35 Promises of God[5] cont.

“Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray.”-Proverbs 22:6

Daily Devotions

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Battle for the Soul of America-Day 32


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