Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
On that day the Egyptians shall be like women, trembling with fear, because of the LORD of hosts shaking his fist at them.
To shake your fist at someone is a way of showing a person you are angry with them. Sometimes God permits the stubbornly evil and impenitent to suffer the inevitable destructive effects upon their bodies and souls that their sinfulness has triggered. We may see these often as giants in our life. What are the giants in your life? Recklessness, extravagance, deceit, lust, greed, envy, arrogance, theft, adultery, malice, murder, and blasphemy, all comes from within. These giants are not out there; there in here; in the heart. The hearts fears make giants. Love is the cure. Love endures Love hopes. Love does small tasks. Love is like a water drop that outlasts the mountain, wearing it away. Love stands defiant before the giants in your life. In and through love we come to discover the giants in our life were shadows all along.
Never fear shadows. They simply mean there’s light shining somewhere nearby. (Ruth Renkle)
Live each day as if it were your last. Death brings an end to all, and man’s life suddenly passes away like a fleeting shadow.
Lord, for those in mortal sin, death is the gateway to hell, but for those in sanctifying grace, it is the pathway to Heaven. Let my greatest desire in life be to live in such a way that I can die fearlessly at any moment. Let me fear sin more than death or any other earthly harm. Amen.
Yet, If we insist on going our own way, following the "I did it my way" philosophy (made famous in Frank Sinatra's hit song!), then God's anger means that He will respect the freedom He gave to us, and say to us, in effect: "OK, do it your way, if you insist. I will not compel you to turn away from your sins and be sanctified. But if you do decide to 'do it your way,' you will have to experience the rotten fruits — the self-destructive effects — of the path you have chosen, both in this life and the life to come." For those cruel and cold-hearted souls who remain stubbornly impenitent and who resist God's grace to the end of their lives, God's anger takes the form of the "eternal punishment" of sinners, which simply means that He allows them to turn their backs on Him and live forever in their self-chosen exile from the light of His countenance. That is why the catechism defines "hell" as essentially "a state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed". As Father Seraphim Michalenko, MIC, explained in the book Pillars of Fire in My Soul: The Spirituality of St. Faustina (Marian Press, 2003): God is totally opposed to all evil, and sends His lightning bolts to oppose it (so to speak), yet we cling by our sins to the lightning rod of evil, and then complain that He is a God of wrath! Clearly, God does not want us to suffer His wrath and indignation. As Jesus said, to St. Faustina, (Diary entry 1588) "I do not want to punish aching mankind, but I desire to heal it, pressing it to My Merciful Heart. I use punishment when they themselves force Me to do so; My hand is reluctant to take hold of the sword of justice." Another time He said to her (entry 1728) that when sinful souls "bring all My graces to naught, I begin to be angry with them, leaving them alone and giving them what they want." Thanks be to God, that His mercy is so much greater than our sins! We do not need to be afraid at all, for as He said to St. Faustina (entry 1485): "Do not be afraid of your Savior, O sinful soul. I make the first move to come to you, for I know that by yourself you are unable to come to Me. Child, do not run away from your Father; be willing to talk openly with your God of mercy who wants to speak words of pardon and lavish His graces on you. ... My Mercy is greater than your sins, and those of the entire world."
Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Prayer. GRANT, we beseech Thee, Almighty God, that we, who are chastised by the fasts we have undertaken, may rejoice with holy devotion; that, our affections being weakened, we may more easily apprehend heavenly things.
EPISTLE, iv. Kings iv. 25-38.
In those days a Sunamite woman came to the man of God to Mount Carmel: and when the man of God saw her coming towards, he said to Giezi his servant: Behold that Sunamitess. Go therefore to meet her, and say to her: Is all well with thee, and with thy husband, and with thy son?
And she answered: Well. And when she came to the man of God to the mount, she caught hold on his feet: and Giezi came to remove her. And the man of God said: Let her alone, for her soul is in anguish, and the Lord hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. And she said to him: Did I ask a son of my lord? did I not say to thee: Do not deceive me?
Then he said to Giezi: Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thy hand, and go. If any man meet thee, salute him not: and if any man salute thee, answer him not: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. But the mother of the child said: As the Lord liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. He arose, therefore, and followed her. But Giezi was gone before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child, and there was no voice nor sense: and he returned to meet him, and told him, saying: The child is not risen. Eliseus therefore went into the house, and behold the child lay dead on his bed; and going in he shut the door upon him, and upon the child, and prayed to the Lord. And he went up, and lay upon the child: and he put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he bowed himself upon him, and the child’s flesh grew warm. Then he returned and walked in the house, once to and fro: and he went up, and lay upon him: and the child gaped seven times, and opened his eyes. And he called Giezi, and said to him: Call this Sunamitess. And she being called went in to him: and he said: Take up thy son. She came and fell at his feet, and worshipped upon the ground: and took up her son, and went out. And Eliseus returned to Galgal.
GOSPEL. Luke vii. 11-16.
At that time Jesus went into a city that is called Nairn; and there went with Him His disciples, and a great multitude. And when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold a dead man was carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow: and a great multitude of the city was with her. Whom when the Lord had seen, being moved with mercy towards her, He said to her: Weep not. And He came near, and touched the brier. And they that carried it, stood still. And He said: Young man, I say to thee, arise. And he that was dead, sat up, and began to speak. And He gave him to his mother. And there came a fear on them all: and they glorified God, saying, A great prophet is risen up among us: and, God hath visited His people.
It’s not just Popeye who will be strong to the finish on Spinach Day, but everyone who chooses to celebrate the day by consuming some of this leafy green plant will get to join in the health benefits as well! Packed with nutrients such as Iron, Vitamin A and Calcium, spinach is known for being a healthy part of a balanced diet – but do we eat enough of it? If not, why not try a new recipe on Spinach Day? Sauté it in olive oil and a little bit of garlic – or what about a baby spinach salad with mozzarella cheese, avocado slices and crispy bacon crumbled on top? Delicious! You can purée spinach up and hide it in soups and pizza sauces for the finicky eaters in your life who might not eat it straight up. So, no excuses – get your leafy greens down you on Spinach Day!
Fasting and Mortification
Modern man and the media often portray persons that fast as deranged, passé or even ignorant. However, fasting and bodily discipline are truly the marks of a man or woman of mature intellect which has mastery over not only the mind but also the body and spirit. St. Paul put it in stronger terms, “put to death therefore what is earthly in you (Col. 3:5).” Jesus has also said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Christ knew we become attached to created things and to the pleasure they bring us. St. Augustine said that sin begins as a turning away from God and a turning toward lesser goods. When we sin, we don’t choose evil. We choose something less than God and His will. Our bodies want more than they need, so we must give them less than they want. Our bodies must be subject to our reason—or our reason will soon be subjected to our bodies. St. Paul went even further. “I pommel my body and subdue it” (1 Cor. 9:27). Nevertheless, our goal should be to let our reason/soul cooperate with the Holy Spirit.
Chassidic philosophy demonstrates three ways in which the body and soul can interact:
Ø The soul can try and mitigate the urges of the body. Things that look good, taste good and feel good are stimulating and addictive. Most of us live life with our body in the driver’s seat. The soul just can’t compete. And so, the soul tries to negotiate reasonably, and encourages moderation.
Ø Or, the soul can choose to reject the body and abhor anything associated with materialism. The soul-driven person would then rebel against society’s shallow and false veneers. Simplicity and ascetism become the ultimate goals of the soul.
Ø The third scenario is not a compromise between the first two. It is an entirely new approach, where the body and soul learn to work together. The soul neither leans towards the body nor rejects it. It does not react; it pro-acts. In a proactive position, the soul directs and channels the body’s inclination in a constructive way. In this last approach, instead of repressing the body’s needs, the soul views them as an opportunity to serve God in a whole new way.
Using the third approach we should fast with a purpose like Moses or Elijah for example before going into God’s presence or to strengthen us or for the benefit of others. Jesus fasted not because He needed to, but as a model for us. We should make self-sacrifices in an effort to make others happy or out of love for our God to share in his plan of salvation. By dying to self, daily, we prepare ourselves for our own moment of death.
Aids in Battle Help from Saints
Saints are veterans of the spiritual war that continues to rage in this world. Their insights, born of long experience in combat with the Enemy, can make us wise and strong in battle.
· God has fashioned and shaped only one enmity, and that an irreconcilable one, which will endure and even increase, until the end: It is that between the Virgin Mary and the Devil, between the children and servants of the Blessed Virgin and the children and accomplices of Satan; so that the most terrible of the enemies of Satan created by God is Mary, his Blessed Mother. ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT
· Men do not fear a powerful, hostile army as much as the powers of hell fear the name and protection of Mary. ST. BONAVENTURE
· You, O Lady, by the simple invocation of your most powerful name, give security to your servants against all the assaults of the Enemy. ST. GERMANUS
· By invoking the name of Jesus Christ, who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, Satan is driven out of men. ST. IRENAEUS
· We are all inclined to sin, my children; we are idle, greedy, sensual, given to the pleasures of the flesh. We want to know everything, to learn everything, to see everything. We must watch over our mind, over our heart, and over our senses, for these are the gates by which the Devil penetrates. See, he prowls round us incessantly; his only occupation in this world is to seek companions for himself. All our life he will lay snares for us; he will try to make us yield to temptations. We must, on our side, do all we can to defeat and resist him. We can do nothing by ourselves, children. But we can do everything with the help of the good God. Let us pray Him to deliver us from this enemy of our salvation, or to give strength to fight against him. With the Name of Jesus, we shall overcome the demons; we shall put them to flight. With this name, though they may sometimes dare to attack us, our battles will be victories, and our victories will be crowns for heaven, all brilliant with precious stones. ST. JOHN VIANNEY
 Paone, Anthony J., S.J. My Daily Bread, Confraternity of the Precious Blood.
 Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896
 Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 27. Fasting and Mortification.
 Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.