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Sunday within the Octave of the Ascension Ephesians, Chapter 1, Verse 11-12 11 In him we were also chosen, destined in accord w...

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Monday, December 30, 2019


Book of Ecclesiastes-Introduction[1]


The Book of Ecclesiastes is a weird fit. If the books of the Bible were puzzle pieces, you would have a hard time figuring out where to put Ecclesiastes—it's the kind of piece that needs to be jammed into place, or one that you might be tempted to adjust with a pair of scissors. So Ecclesiastes is definitely odd—Plenty of scholars and theologians agree that Ecclesiastes just feels like it's coming from another planet, one different from almost all the other books of the Bible (except maybe for Job). In fact, many of the rabbis who were putting the Hebrew Bible together didn't want to put Ecclesiastes in—but they were out-voted. Ecclesiastes was a definite original. Some people suggest that Ecclesiastes is so different from everybody else because he was influenced by Greek philosophers—like Epicurus, who was also into talking about heavy subjects like death in a big way. But there isn't any Greek influence on Ecclesiastes’ language, which remains Hebrew, so this all seems sort of unlikely. Ecclesiastes is just the Greek version of Koheleth, which means "Gatherer" or "Assembler"—either because he gathered all the sayings and observations that make up this book, or he used to gather together people and teach them these sayings and observations, which led to his English nickname of "Teacher" or "Preacher. For a long time, Ecclesiastes was said to be the same as King Solomon, the wisest of Israel's kings. But in reality, he lived about half-a-millennium after Solomon. And speaking of wisdom, Koheleth challenges some of the basic points and assumptions made by nearly all the other books in the Bible. Those other books don't ever question the idea that life has a purpose, and that God is guiding that purpose towards something that's ultimately good (again, with the possible exception of Job). Yeah, human beings keep messing up, provoking God's wrath and giving him the occasional panic attack—but the long arc of the Bible seems to bend towards a final time of peace, when the Israelites and the rest of humanity will be living righteously and without endless war. Not so for Koheleth. Yet, despite how radically different the Book of Ecclesiastes is, it's had a huge impact on world literature. The American writer Thomas Wolfe said that it was "the greatest single piece of writing I have ever known, and the wisdom expressed in it the most lasting and profound." And the rock band The Byrds used an entire passage from Ecclesiastes as the lyrics to their hippie-anthem, "Turn! Turn! Turn!" But to understand the hype, you really need to dig into this often-disturbing masterpiece.


Why Should I Care?

The word "wise" is often thrown around like so many foam peanuts. For instance, "wise guy" isn't usually a term for someone who's wise, at all—we apply it to a cocky kid or a Goodfellas-style mobster much more regularly. People even say "wise man" more sarcastically than seriously. But wisdom literature was a popular style of writing in the ancient Middle East. You needed wisdom because life was hard. Assyria could invade you. Babylon could invade you. They could murder you, murder your family, pillage, and plunder. But even now, in the present day, when you're a lot less likely to get stampeded to death by a horde of Babylonian charioteers, you still stand the risk of dying at some point. In fact, recent studies show that 100% of all human beings will, eventually… die. It's science. So, death is inevitable—sorry. So, we're all going to die. (Prepare your frown-face emoticons.) But this is also why Ecclesiastes still has a lot to say. The author has done some hard livin'—he implies he's been through it all. And after these experiences—from living an intense life—Ecclesiastes has something to say. He has wisdom to impart; he wants to give you the news. But is it good news? A fair amount of Ecclesiastes focuses on death and the meaninglessness of life. It begins with the famous refrain, "Vanity of vanities! All is vanity!" and repeats it throughout the book. Now, "vanity" here doesn't mean staring at your reflection and hoping everyone thinks you're winsome and attractive. He's not saying the whole world is just one giant Barbie Vanity Dream Playset by Mattel. Here, the word translated as "vanity" is closely related to the Hebrew word for "fog" or "mist"—the great Hebrew Bible scholar, Robert Alter, translates it as "mere breath." It means the world is a place where everything is always disappearing, dissolving, changing from one day to the next. Things vanish just like the cold breath you breathe out on a winter day. There's a sense of futility, absurdity, confusion, and meaninglessness all mixed up in it too. Basically, he's saying that life is pretty insubstantial. So is Ecclesiastes just a Debbie Downer? Is that all he has to say? Thankfully, the answer is "Not really." Some people think Ecclesiastes is totally pessimistic, but a good number also think he's got a lot more going on. He's not just looking at life and saying, "This is total lame-sauce." He's admitting that life seems meaningless—or, at least, that the plot of life isn't immediately clear. Books like the Bible or the Teachings of the Buddha or Plato's Dialogues try to show people what the plot is or might be—and if you're looking at life without a guidebook, it might easily seem like "vanity." Ecclesiastes is trying to give you the antidote to all this vanity.

December 30 Monday in the Octave of Christmas


Ecclesiastes, Chapter 5, Verse 6
Despite many dreams, futilities, and a multitude of words, fear God!

Remember fear of God means reverence and love. Our dreams if not connected to our Godly purpose are unrewarding. Our vainness is a result of excluding God from our plans; and many words do not make a song of praise. It is not the multitude of words but one’s sincerity that counts in the acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty, especially through obedience and reverence. God does not fear to make men great; but for those who are made great they must be responsible, humble and fair for those in command are thoroughly judged by God. We must be of the mindset as spoken by Charles Mayes: “Make sure the thing your living for is worth dying for.” And as leaders we must make sure that when we send others into harm’s way that it would be only if we ourselves would be willing to die to get it done. As confirmed members of the body of Christ it is our duty; no, our sacred honor to give meaning to the words of the psalmist:

“Defend the lowly and fatherless; render justice to the afflicted and needy. Rescue the lowly and poor; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” (Ps. 82:3-4)

Focus[2]

FOCUS is a Catholic collegiate outreach whose mission is to share the hope and joy of the gospel with college and university students. Trained in Church teaching, prayer, sacred Scripture, evangelization and discipleship, FOCUS missionaries encounter students in friendship where they are, inviting them into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and accompanying them as they pursue lives of virtue and excellence. Through Bible studies, outreach events, mission trips and one-on-one discipleship, missionaries inspire and build up students in the faith, sending them out to spread the good news and to live out the Great Commission: Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations (Mt. 28:19).


"Be soldiers."
— Pope St. John Paul II to Curtis Martin, our founder and CEO  

This is a generation in crisis — of identity, of purpose and of belief. Faced with so many distractions, acts of violence, empty pleasures and a loss of faith in God, they are losing hope. For the sake of so many souls, the joyful message of Jesus Christ’s life and salvation needs to be shared, now more than ever.

Recognizing the significant impact, the college years have on a young person’s future, Curtis Martin founded the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, starting with just two missionaries at Benedictine College in 1998.

Later that same year, Curtis was blessed with the opportunity to meet Pope St. John Paul II and to share his vision for FOCUS: a chance for every student to know and feel known, loved and cared for by Jesus Christ. His Holiness listened carefully, and in response he simply told Curtis, “Be soldiers.”
Encouraged and driven by Pope St. John Paul II’s call to a New Evangelization and encouraged with steadfast hope to change the culture for Christ, FOCUS has forged ahead into the battlefield. FOCUS missionaries have spread the gospel message to tens of thousands of college students through on-campus outreach, Bible studies, discipleship, mission trips, national conferences and more.
Today, FOCUS continues to encourage young people to pursue truth and meaning in their lives, to invest in relationships with Jesus Christ and their fellow students. Our story is and remains the same: through God’s mercy, FOCUS missionaries will continue to help young people go and share the good news to everyone they meet, bringing Christ to the world and transforming the world through Christ.


Sixth Day of Christmas-Six Geese a-Laying = the six days of creation[3]

1st Day: Creation of light and its separation from darkness

2nd Day: Creation of the firmament and division of the waters

3rd Day: Collection of waters (sea) and formation of dry land (earth); creation of plants according to their own likeness

4th Day: Creation of heavenly bodies in the firmament (sun, moon, and stars)

5th Day: Creation of sea creatures and winged fowl from the waters

6th Day: Creation of cattle, creeping things, and beasts from the dry land; creation of mankind, male and female

December 30, Sixth Day in the Octave of Christmas - Day Six[4]

God is your beatitude. The things of time are toys. You are eternity's child and your eternity has already begun! There is a compelling urgency to every day and every hour of the day. In it we are to witness to the truth — that God greeted and gifted us at Christmas.

If you know what witness means, you understand why God brings St. Stephen, St. John, and the Holy Innocents to the crib in the cave as soon as Christ is born liturgically. To be a witness is to be a martyr. Holy Mother Church wishes us to realize that we were born in baptism to become Christ — He who was the world's outstanding Martyr. — Love Does Such Things, by Rev. M. Raymond, O.C.S.O.

·         Day Sixth activity (Gingerbread Bowls)
·         Day Sixth recipe (Lamb's Wool)


Cup of Wisdom

For Christmas my wonderful wife brought me three coffee mugs on being 1) a man of courage 2) a man of strength and 3) a man of wisdom. To be a person of wisdom there is no better model for us than that of the Holy Family. Here is what is on the wisdom mug my wife gave me: Blessed is the man who uses knowledge and experience to improve the well-being of others who guides with respect and encourages with love. “Make me to know your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths.” (Psalm 25: 4)

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Ask for the Prayers and assistance of the Angels



[2] https://www.focus.org/about/the-main-thing
[4]https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2019-12-30



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