Saturday after Ash Wednesday
Sirach, Chapter 27, Verse 3
Unless one holds fast to the fear of the Lord, with sudden swiftness will one’s house be thrown down.
This verse alone doesn’t make much sense; it is taken out of context. Verse 1 tells us the lesson: For the sake of profit many sin, and the struggle for wealth blinds the eyes. Sirach tells us that we must daily check ourselves and reflect if we in all our actions of our life’s business have done the will of the Father and acted with love and compassion.
There’s a little gift from the Lord for each of us. So many of us have taken this particular gift, kept it neatly wrapped and stuck it high up on a shelf. We don’t want to even peek inside and see what is in it. The gift I am referring to is the 7th one the Lord gave to us through the Holy Spirit — after wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge and piety. That it is mentioned last makes it no less precious. This gift is fear of the Lord.
Why is fear of the Lord a precious a gift?
Why do we need wisdom?
“…love causes fear since it is through his loving a certain good that whatever deprives a man of that good is an evil to him… and… he fears it as an evil.” Saint Thomas assures us of the validity of this type of fear by teaching that this “fear is… borne of love.” Saint Paul the Apostle tells us in Philippians 2: “in fear and trembling work out your salvation.” And fear can even make us more charitable towards others. It was St. Augustine who said, “fear leads to the love of charity.” There is even reason to view fear of the Lord as a spiritual antidote to financial difficulties. Fear of the Lord keeps us in check, asking God always if our actions are pleasing in His eyes. If we want to hold onto our finances, it is wise not to let go of our fear of the Lord. Once we let go of fear of the Lord, it is easy to be blinded by the chance to make a larger profit and by the struggle for ever-greater wealth. In that blindness we can sometimes make unwise choices.
For the sake of profit many sin, And the struggle for wealth blinds the eyes. Like a peg driven between fitted stones between buying and selling sin is wedged in, unless you earnestly hold fast to fear of the Lord, suddenly your house will come down… (Sirach 27:1-3).
Blindness can likewise lead to unwise choices in our voting. Abortion is an intrinsic evil. No evil in this election can surpass the evil that abortion is. We must vote with a good and formed conscience, as we ask ourselves: what if I was in the womb and the knife was coming for me? As U.S. Bishop Rene Gracida stated in a … radio broadcast:
“A Catholic cannot be said to have voted in this election with a good conscience if they have voted for a pro-abortion candidate.” …. (Note: Democrats or Socialists are pro-abortion)
We will be held accountable to God for our voting. A vote in support of those who vote for abortion, translates into a vote for abortion. To vote for abortion is to vote in favor of the shedding of innocent blood by Heaven’s littlest ones whom God most especially loves. This shedding of blood demands justice and if we continue on our current path it would not be at all unreasonable to expect that God will eventually dispense His punishment in His time and in His way, to us as individuals and to us collectively as a nation. Just as earthly fathers must at times punish children whom they dearly love, so God dispenses punishment on us as His beloved children. God is love and the dispensation of His just punishment is an act of mercy. “Justice and mercy appear in the punishment of the just in this world, since by afflictions lesser faults are cleansed in them, and they are more raised up from earthly affections to God…” “The evils that press on us in this world force us to go to God.” (Saint Thomas Aquinas)
That little box so neatly wrapped still sits upon the shelf holding that precious gift and gathering dust. Perhaps the time has come to take the box down from the shelf, blow off the dust, untie the bow, peek inside, and receive the precious gift the Lord has waiting for us that is designed to bring us wisdom — the gift of fear of the Lord. Before we vote, we must pray and ask God for the wisdom to discern His will, and the strength to vote in accord with that. We must read our Bibles and Catechisms, to better understand His will and pray for the grace to stop offending God through sin.
The Tree of Knowledge and the Cross
The sin that was wrought through the tree was undone by the obedience of the tree, obedience to God whereby the Son of man was nailed to the tree, destroying the knowledge of evil, and bringing in and conferring the knowledge of good; and evil is disobedience to God, as obedience to God is good. And therefore the Word says through Isaiah the prophet, foretelling what was to come to pass in the future—for it was because they told the future that they were "prophets"—the Word says through him as follows: I refuse not, and do not gainsay, my back have I delivered to blows and my cheeks to buffets, and I have not turned away my face from the contumely of them that spat. [Is. 50, 6] So by obedience, whereby He obeyed unto death, hanging on the tree, He undid the old disobedience wrought in the tree. And because He is Himself the Word of God Almighty, who in His invisible form pervades us universally in the whole world, and encompasses both its length and breadth and height and depth—for by God's Word everything is disposed and administered—the Son of God was also crucified in these, imprinted in the form of a cross on the universe; for He had necessarily, in becoming visible, to bring to light the universality of His cross, in order to show openly through His visible form that activity of His: that it is He who makes bright the height, that is, what is in heaven, and holds the deep, which is in the bowels of the earth, and stretches forth and extends the length from East to West, navigating also the Northern parts and the breadth of the South, and calling in all the dispersed from all sides to the knowledge of the Father. — St. Irenaeus
Things to Do:
- Today's reading from the book of Isaiah declares that the fasting desired by the Lord is not so much denying oneself food (although this is important) but rather, consists in "Sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; / Clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own." Many families take these words to heart by having an inexpensive, penitential dinner on Fridays in Lent (such as beans and rice) and then giving the extra money to the poor.
- Many families give each child one pretzel during Friday dinners in Lent. Remind your children of the spiritual significance of the pretzel.
- Pray the Stations of the Cross today with your family. An excellent version with beautiful meditations composed by our Holy Father is his Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum. Some other recommended versions are: Eucharistic Stations of the Cross, and the more traditional Stations of the Cross written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori can be found in most Catholic bookstores. Here are some guidelines for praying the Stations of the Cross in your home.
- Any of the linked activities (Fun Pretzel Project, Lenten Scrapbook, Candelabrum for Stations of the Cross) are a perfect way for your children to spend their Friday afternoons throughout this season of Lent.
A leap year is a year containing one additional day added to keep the calendar year synchronized with the astronomical or seasonal year. Because seasons and astronomical events do not repeat in a whole number of days, calendars that have the same number of days in each year drift over time with respect to the event that the year is supposed to track. By inserting an additional day or month into the year, the drift can be corrected. A year that is not a leap year is called a common year.
Folk Traditions. In Ireland and Britain, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only in leap years. While it has been claimed that the tradition was initiated by Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in 5th century Ireland, this is dubious, as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century. Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation was deemed to be a pair of leather gloves, a single rose, £1 and a kiss. In some places the tradition was tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, February 29, or to the medieval (bissextile) leap day, February 24. According to Felten: "A play from the turn of the 17th century, 'The Maydes Metamorphosis,' has it that 'this is leape year/women wear breeches.' A few hundred years later, breeches wouldn't do at all: Women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat — fair warning, if you will." In Finland, the tradition is that if a man refuses a woman's proposal on leap day, he should buy her the fabrics for a skirt. In France, since 1980, a satirical newspaper entitled La Bougie du Sapeur is published only on leap year, on February 29. In Greece, marriage in a leap year is considered unlucky. One in five engaged couples in Greece will plan to avoid getting married in a leap year. In February 1988 the town of Anthony in Texas, declared itself "leap year capital of the world", and an international leapling birthday club was started.In the United States, February 29 is often referred to as "Sadie Hawkins Day" signifying a gender role reversal, such as a day when a woman proposes marriage to a man.
Manhood of the Master-Day 20