Sunday, April 26, 2020


Introduction to Jeremiah[1]



Along with Isaiah and Ezekiel, Jeremiah's one of the "Major Prophets" of the Hebrew Bible: Jeremiah's the only one with a word named after him: jeremiad, meaning a long, mournful lament or angry harangue. God called Jeremiah to the prophecy biz when he was just a kid. Early on in his career, Jeremiah saw King Josiah try to get the Judeans back to observing the laws that God set down for them in Deuteronomy. That worked for a while, but pretty soon they went back to their sinful ways—idol worship, child sacrifice, eating bacon cheeseburgers, etc. God told Jeremiah what would happen (total destruction of Judea courtesy of the Babylonian army) and told him he had to warn the people to shape up or else. Jeremiah spent years prophesying the bad news to no avail. All he got for his trouble was rejection, imprisonment. For some reason, no one wanted to hear about invasion, slaughter, divine wrath, starvation, rape, and enslavement. The king wouldn't listen to his advice about surrendering to the Babylonians to save the nation. Jeremiah spent a lot of time weeping about this. So, just as he prophesied, the city of Jerusalem was invaded and burned to the ground by the Babylonian army as punishment for their disobedience to God. The Temple was reduced to rubble and the king hauled off into captivity. Most of the people who weren't slaughtered immediately were exiled to Babylon from the land promised to them by God, where they'd lived and flourished as an independent nation. The rest were left to starve in the streets and get eaten by vultures. Jeremiah managed to refrain from too much "I told you so." Instead, he went about trying to comfort the people by prophesying about the eventual return from exile and restoration of Jerusalem. He gave them advice about how to manage while living in Babylon and warned them not to go to Egypt, where things would be just as bad. As Rabbi Michael Lerner points out, Jeremiah lived through the most critical point in Jewish history. Having been carted off to exile in Babylon, the Jews were about to disappear from history, probably to be assimilated into the culture of their captors. No ancient nation had ever returned from exile. Thanks to Jeremiah's ideas about personal responsibility and having an individual relationship with the one God, the Jews maintained their identity during the 70 years of foreign exile and Judaism itself was transformed in the process. We have no idea who actually wrote or edited together the prophecies in the Book of Jeremiah. It almost certainly wasn't actually one guy named "Jeremiah," but it's possible that the outlook of the real, historical Jeremiah (who lived from the reign of Josiah to sometime after the fall of Jerusalem in roughly 586 B.C.) strongly influenced the perspective of the Book of Jeremiah, and that at least some genuine prophecies of Jeremiah are included. The book itself was put together at a later time—probably during the end of the Babylonian Exile (late 6th Century B.C.) when the people of Judah were finally allowed by King Cyrus of Persia to go home. Jeremiah's prophecies all have a similar vibe. Jeremiah's desperately warning people about the great tragedy that's about to come down, and it's not a pretty picture. God's angry, and you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Jeremiah is definitely the Red Dawn of Major Biblical Prophets' Books. If you like dungeons and dragons (well, dungeons at least), apocalyptic visions of death and destruction, thundering hordes, eye-gouging, betrayal, and a total breakdown of society, this one's for you.



Why Should I Care?

Rules, rules, rules, we're not recommending anarchy here but, obviously, lots of rules are necessary to keep people living in peace, safety, health, and harmony. No texting while driving is probably a good idea. But sometimes, all the rules we have to follow seem really burdensome and arbitrary, especially when things are going well for us and we assume we're doing the right things. That's the situation that the Judeans of Jeremiah's day found themselves in. Life was pretty good, and the Judeans weren't paying much attention to the rules they were supposed to be living by. Even though those rules were given to them by God Himself and they were living in the city where God's presence hung out in the Temple. The bottom line in Jeremiah is except for the rule about not having other gods, God ends up caring less about the exact details of his rules than about loyalty, respect, and closeness with his people. By obeying the rules, the Judeans would have been showing gratitude and respect to God for all they'd been given. It would have been a real relationship, which was what God really wanted.

APRIL 26 Third Sunday of Easter
OUR LADY OF GOOD COUNSEL

Jeremiah, Chapter 1, verse 8
Do not be AFRAID of them, for I am with you to deliver you—oracle of the LORD.

Jeremiah in this chapter received the call of God and he was afraid. Jeremiah as a young man felt inadequate to do the call of God. Moses on the other hand was a much older man but like Jeremiah when he received the call of God he felt inadequate. When Peter received the call from our Lord Jesus he felt insignificant and cried out, “Leave me Lord. I am a sinful man.” (Luke 5:8b). The lesson here is that when we are called it will be scary. Christ asks us to not be afraid. The perfect example of what our attitude to the call should be was the attitude of Mary at the annunciation when God called her to be the mother of Christ. Mary’s fiat was "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." (Luke 1: 38).

An interesting thing in this verse, is the use of the word presence. Worldly people are masters of presence or the projection of power. When called do not fear powerful people for is not God greater than the world? Talk to God, let him take control for our Lord will empower us and deliver us to accomplish his word just like he did Jeremiah and all the Saints. We for our part must be, ready for change, for God will prepare us for the challenges of our calling. We must be open to the promptings of our Lord and be willing to give up any of our own fa├žades of presence or false images of power we may have developed over time. 

We may have, at times, found ourselves projecting a presence, which is actually just an overreaction to our fears and self-doubts. Let us follow the advice of Father J. Brian Bransfield and realize: 

To find the depths of our identity we must pass through our fears.[2]

Five Enslaving Habits We Must Avoid[3]

While the horror of slavery is thankfully dead as an institution, it sadly lives on in many other forms in many lives today, all around us, in ways maybe not considered slavery by some. I hope to get you to reconsider. But let’s first define our terms:

Slave: “One that is totally subservient to a dominating influence.”~ Merriam-Webster-There are 5 basic areas of life in which we can become totally subservient to dominating influences, and thereby live less-than-ideal and something less than happy lives.

5 Ways Slavery is still with us

1.      Slavery to addictions: Whether we are talking about being enslaved to tobacco or alcohol, or whether we’re talking about enslavement to illicit material online or simply to the TV or to junk food or gossip, any addictions rob us of a measure of freedom and independence. But freedom is required for happiness. So, anything that enslaves us limits the degree of joy we can have in life.

2.      Slavery to the office: When spouse and family and our spiritual lives are playing second fiddle to the office, things are likely out of whack. Of course, there will be times, like the first few years of starting a business, when things will be lopsided. But if the office always is master and you are always its servant, then change may be needed for the fullness of a happy life to be experienced. Remember, your family is not a footnote to your journey. They are there in the thick of things, experiencing it with you, alongside you, maybe, in some ways, because of you. So, give them the time of day, from time to time!

3.      Slavery to success: When success becomes more important than integrity or honor or self-respect, then our subservience to the call of the dollar sign becomes self-destructive, as all addictions are. Happiness is robbed of its internal rewards when our insides are all twisted inside out as we compromise our values in the pursuit of wealth.

4.      Slavery to pleasure: Is the pursuit of pleasure hurting your relationship with your spouse? Are you pursuing pleasure at the expense of your spouse’s pleasure? Is that pursuit violating sacred vows and trusts? Are you spending your family into debt as you chase pleasure from one mountain top to another – or one casino to another – or one vacation to another – or one, well, you get the idea?

5.      Slavery to fear: Does fear and worry prevent you from taking steps to break free of a dissatisfying life? Do you wish for something more, but keep the door closed and locked and continue to do what you’ve always done? Are you trapped in a cycle of sameness, worried that if you tried to start a business, or tried to learn a skill, or tried an adventure on for size, or tried to learn to write or sing or climb, that you would fail and fall and sink and drown?

Afterthoughts

Slavery may be dead as a formal institution of human bondage, but it is alive and well in the hearts and minds and lives of too many people who have the ability to loose the shackles, but haven’t exercised the courage to do it yet.

Preparing for Battle[4] Know Your Weapons

Worship is a spiritual weapon. When we worship God, we enter into His presence in a powerful way. Because demons tremble at His presence, they are reluctant to follow us there. Frequent Mass attendance, then, is an effective weapon of our warfare

Third Sunday of Easter[5]An exhortation on how Christ's flock is to conduct itself and an oblique allusion to the Ascension.

Easter Patronage of St. Joseph

EPISTLE. Gen. xlix. 23-26.

JOSEPH is a growing son, a growing son and comely to behold: the daughters run to and fro upon the wall. But they that held darts provoked him, and quarreled with him, and envied him. His bow rested upon the strong, and the bands of his arms and his hands were loosed, by the hands of the mighty one of Jacob: thence he came forth a pastor, the stone of Israel. The God of thy father shall be thy helper, and the Almighty shall bless thee with the blessings of heaven above, with the blessings of the deep that lieth beneath, with the blessings of the breasts and of the womb. The blessings of thy father are strengthened with the blessings of his fathers: until the desire of the everlasting hills should come; may they be upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the Nazarite among his brethren.

GOSPEL. Luke iii. 21-23.

At that time: It came to pass when all the people was baptized, that Jesus also being baptized and praying, heaven was opened: and the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape as a dove upon Him: and a voice came from heaven: Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased. And Jesus Himself was beginning about the age of thirty years, being (as it was supposed) the son of Joseph.

WHAT WE ARE TO BELIEVE CONCERNING THE EVANGELICAL COUNSELS

In what does the perfection of the Christian life consist? In the perfection of love (Col. iii. 14). The more a man separates himself from the world, and unites himself with God, the more perfect he will be. We can attain to the perfection of the Christian life by means of certain excellent practices known as the evangelical counsels which Jesus Christ lays before us, and to which He calls us, without directly commanding us to adopt them. So that the difference between the commandments and the evangelical counsels consists in this: that the commandments bind us by an indispensable obligation, but the evangelical counsels do not. The evangelical counsels are:

1.       Voluntary poverty.

2.       Perpetual chastity.

3.       Entire obedience under a spiritual director. By voluntary poverty is understood a free-will renunciation of the riches and goods of this world in order to follow Jesus Christ in His poverty. By perpetual chastity we understand a free-will, life-long abstinence, not only from everything that is contrary to purity, but also abstinence from marriage, in order to live only for God and His holy service in virginal purity. By entire obedience we are to understand a voluntary renunciation of one’s own will in order to follow the will and command of a superior whom one chooses for himself. In practicing the evangelical counsels there are three points to be observed, in order that they may serve, or help to eternal salvation:

·         They must be practiced with a pure intention, seeking thereby nothing else than to please God and to praise His holy name.

·         With great humility, in no way giving ourselves preference over others.

·         By great fidelity in observing not only what one has vowed, but also what is commanded. Also, one should live diligently and strictly according to the commandments, otherwise the practicing of the evangelical counsels will be of no avail.


INTROIT, PRAYER, EPISTLE, AND GOSPEL OF THE SUNDAY.

The Church continues to encourage us to rejoice and praise God for the resurrection of Jesus, and sings accordingly, at the Introit of the Mass, “Shout with joy to God, all the earth, alleluia. Sing ye a psalm to His name, alleluia. Give glory to His praise, alleluia! alleluia! alleluia! Say unto God how terrible are Thy works, O Lord. In the multitude of Thy strength, Thy enemies shall lie to Thee” (Ps. Ixv.).

O God, Who dost show the light of Thy truth to those that go astray that they may return to the way of justice, grant to all who are numbered among Christians to reject those things which are incompatible with this name, and to pursue those which are becoming.

EPISTLE, i. Peter ii. 11-19.

Dearly Beloved: I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, to refrain yourselves from carnal desires which war against the soul, having your conversation good among the gentiles: that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may, by the good works which they shall behold in you, glorify God in the day of visitation. Be ye subject therefore to every human creature for God s sake: whether it be to the king as excelling : or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evil doers, and for the praise of the good: for so is the will of God, that by doing well you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men : as free, and not as making liberty a cloak for malice, but as the servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brother hood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants be subject to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the forward. For this is thanks-worthy, in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Explanation. St. Peter here reminds us,

1.       that we are only pilgrims on earth and should not fasten our hearts on the world and its goods. He admonishes us,

2.       to lead an edifying life, particularly when we are among the adversaries of our faith, for, while we may thus do great good, and awaken respect for the Church an un-Catholic and un -Christian life not only brings shame upon him who leads it, but gives scandal to non -Catholics, and places the Church in a false light. He admonishes us,

3.       to be subject to our superiors, for God s sake, for it is He Who commands this obedience (Rom. xiii. 1).

Aspiration. O Jesus, I will impress deeply upon my heart the teaching of Thy apostle, that this world is not my home. Though I should meet in my pilgrimage many adversities, I will patiently combat them, and will not suffer anything to keep me from the way to my true home, heaven. Give me Thy grace, O God, to fulfil this resolution.

GOSPEL. John xvi. 16-22.

At that time Jesus said to His disciples: A little while, and you shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and you shall see Me: because I go to the Father. Then some of His disciples said one to another: What is this that He saith to us: A little while, and you shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and you shall see Me, and because I go to the Father? They said therefore: What is this that He saith, a little while? we know not what He speaketh. And Jesus knew that they had a mind to ask Him, and He said to them: Of this do you inquire among yourselves, because I said: A little while, and you shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and you shall see Me?

Amen, amen, I say to you, that you shall lament and weep, but the world shall rejoice, and you shall be made sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, hath sorrow, because her hour is come but when she hath brought forth the child, she remembereth no more the anguish for joy that a man is born into the world. So also, you now indeed have sorrow, but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice and your joy no man shall take from you.

What is the meaning of the expression, “yet a little While”? Jesus meant that He was soon to leave His disciples, and that during the time of His passion they would have much to endure; but that He would soon see them again, and that then no one should any more take their joy from them. What, in deed, are the sufferings of time, in comparison with the eternal joy to follow, but a small and trivial thing, passing away in the twinkling of an eye? (2 Cor. iv. 17, 18.)

Why did Jesus tell His disciples beforehand of their sufferings and joys?

1.       That they might bear their trials the more easily.

2.       That they might not believe their master to be unable to preserve them from sufferings.

3.       That by looking to the eternal joy they might make light of present troubles, and keep up their courage! Therefore, says St. Chrysostom, “Tell me, if you were called to a temporal kingdom, but before entering into the palace, where you were to be crowned, had to spend the night in a dark and offensive stable, would this be hard for you? would you not bear it cheerfully, in expectation of the kingdom?

ENCOURAGEMENT TO PATIENCE IN ADVERSITY

“You shall lament and weep”. John xvi. 20.

Many think that true happiness on earth consists in honors, riches, or pleasures, but Christ, calls, not the rich, but the poor and persecuted, “blessed.” He even predicts to His disciples nothing but sorrows in this world while to the rich and great, who set their hearts on this world, He predicts nothing but woe, mourning and weeping in the world to come. How much, therefore, are they to be pitied, who, regardless of this truth, think only of spending their days in luxury, but encourage themselves in the illusory hope of reaching heaven, when Christ and all saints have ascended thither only by the way of the cross, and of suffering, and when it is certain that no one can have part in their joys who has not also first borne part of their sorrows.


Our Lady of Good Counsel[6]

On the Feast of Saint Mark, April 25, 1467, the people of Genazzano, Italy witnessed a marvellous sight. A cloud descended upon an ancient church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was revealed which had not been there before. The image, on a paper-thin sheet, was suspended miraculously. Soon after the image's appearance many miracles were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Because of this, Pope Paul II ordered an investigation and the results have been preserved. It was later discovered that the very same image had been seen in a church dedicated to the Annunciation in Scutari, Albania. The image in this church was said to have arrived there in a miraculous manner. Now, the image had been transported from Albania miraculously to avoid sacrilege from Moslem invasion. A commission of enquiry determined that a portrait from the church was indeed missing. An empty space the same size as the portrait was displayed for all to see. Many miracles continue to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V, for example, credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to Her intercession. Several Popes have approved the miraculous image. In 1682 Pope Innocent XI had the portrait crowned with gold. On July 2, 1753 Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the first to wear it.


Daily Devotions

·         Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after SUNSET ON SATURDAY till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
·         Manhood of the Master-week 11 day 7
·         Divine Mercy Novena Day 5
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood




[2] J. Brian Bransfield, Living the Beatitudes-A Journey of Life in Christ.
[3] http://meanttobehappy.com/quote-13-from-the-great-emancipator-slave-part-1/
[4]Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.
[5]Gofine’s Devout Instructions, 1896

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