Introduction to the book of Zechariah
The prophecies of First Zechariah can be dated to the late sixth century B.C., contemporary with those of Haggai; the oracles of Second Zechariah are somewhat later. The most striking feature of First Zechariah is a series of visions in which the prophet describes the centrality of Jerusalem, its Temple, and its leaders, who function both in the politics of the region and of the Persian empire and in God’s universal rule. These visions clearly relate to the Temple restoration begun in 520 B.C. The prophet is acutely aware of the devastation that comes from disobedience to God’s word, as had been spoken by God’s prophetic emissaries. Yet, it was now clear in this century after the rebuilding of the Temple and the repatriation of many of the exiles, that Judah would not soon regain political autonomy and a Davidic king. So, the various poems, narratives, oracles, and parables of Second Zechariah maintain the hope of previous prophets by depicting a glorious restoration. At that time all nations will recognize Jerusalem’s centrality and acknowledge God’s universal sovereignty.
JULY 6 Monday
MARIA GORETTI-FRIED CHICKEN
13 Just as you became a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you that you may be a blessing. Do not FEAR; let your hands be strong. 14 Thus says the LORD of hosts: Just as I intended to harm you when your ancestors angered me—says the LORD of hosts—and I did not relent, 15 so again in these days I intend to favor Jerusalem and the house of Judah; do not FEAR!
Today reflect on how the Rosary meditations show us how Mary, Jesus and the Holy Spirit show us how to love God with our whole Heart, Mind, Soul and Strength.
St. Maria Goretti was born of a poor family in Corinaldi, Italy, in 1890. Near Nettuno she spent a difficult childhood assisting her mother in domestic duties. She was of a pious nature and often at prayer. In 1902 she was stabbed to death, preferring to die rather than be raped.
"The life of this simple girl—I shall concern myself only with highlights—we can see as worthy of heaven. Even today people can look upon it with admiration and respect. Parents can learn from her story how to raise their God-given children in virtue, courage and holiness; they can learn to train them in the Catholic faith so that, when put to the test, God's grace will support them and they will come through undefeated, unscathed and untarnished.
"From Maria's story carefree children and young people with their zest for life can learn not to be led astray by attractive pleasures which are not only ephemeral and empty but also sinful. Instead they can fix their sights on achieving Christian moral perfection, however difficult and hazardous that course may prove. With determination and God's help all of us can attain that goal by persistent effort and prayer.
"So, let us all, with God's grace, strive to reach the goal that the example of the virgin martyr, Saint Maria Goretti, sets before us. Through her prayers to the Redeemer may all of us, each in his own way, joyfully try to follow the inspiring example of Maria Goretti who now enjoys eternal happiness in heaven."
Patron: Against impoverishment; against poverty; children; children of Mary; girls; loss of parents; martyrs; rape victims; young people in general.
- Please visit this The Pilgrimage of Mercy: Tour of St. Maria Goretti's Major Relics for more information on St. Maria, in particular this article for a more detailed account of St. Maria Goretti's life and Alessandro Serenelli's conversion.
- This saint's feast day is a wonderful launching point to teach our children about purity, chastity and modesty. Sex education should be taught by the parents with a Catholic approach. Young girls can use St. Maria as a model.
- A highly recommended book is St. Maria Goretti: In Garments All Red by Rev. Godfrey Poage. Young teens to adult will enjoy this account of her life.
What are the seven wounds or scars of Christ?
Matthew wrote, “And plaiting a crown of thorns, they put it on His head… (ch. 27:9, also John 19:5). The type of thorns that were grown in Jerusalem were called the Arabian Nebulae. This plant had sharp thorns that were up to 4 inches long. It is estimated that the cruel crown had over 100 spicules or thorns. This crown was pushed into Jesus’ head causing deep wounds. The prophecy given to Ezekiel appears to apply not only to him in his day, but also of Jesus. “And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day… And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house” (Ezekiel 2:3, 6).
In addition, Jesus received blows on his face on two different occasions. This could have caused additional wounds or scars. Matthew wrote, “Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands” (Matthew 26:67; John 18:22). This was a fulfillment to the Old Testament prophecy. “I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting” (Isaiah 50:6).
2-The wounds on His back
“Then Pilate therefore took Jesus and scourged Him” (Matthew 27:20; John 19:1). The Romans used the brutal cat-of-nine tails whip to scourge prisoners. At the tips of the whip were nine strands of leather which had sharp bones or metal balls attached with nails. As the whip was lashed on the back of the prisoners, it would tear out the flesh causing intense bleeding. According to the law, victims could be whipped up to 40 times. However, the punishment would frequently end at 39 lashes because the effects were often fatal.
This was a fulfillment of several Old Testament prophecies to the wounds or scars of Jesus. “The plowers plowed on my back; they made their furrows long” (Psalms 129:3). “I gave My back to the smiters” (Isaiah 50:6). Also, “They shall smite the Judge of Israel with a rod” (Micah 5:1). Jesus indeed endured suffering and pain for those whom He loves.
3 and 4-The wounds on His two hands
Perhaps the most notable scars or wounds of Jesus are those on His hands from the crucifixion. “So Pilate, wanting to gratify the crowd, released Barabbas to them; and he delivered Jesus, after he had scourged Him, to be crucified” (Mark 15:15 also Matthew 27:26, 35; John 19:1, 17). The nailing of Jesus’ hands was a fulfillment to a Messianic Psalm. “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16). Also, the prophet Zechariah foretold of the Messiah’s pierced hands. “And one shall say unto Him, what are these wounds in Thine hands?…” (ch. 13:6). He also added, “They shall look upon Him Whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).
After the resurrection, Jesus invited Thomas “the doubter” to see and touch His nail-pierced hands for himself. “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands… Do not be unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:27).
5 and 6- The wounds on His two feet
The New Testament records that Jesus was crucified by nailing His feet. “And when they were come… to Calvary, there they crucified Jesus” (Luke 23:33; John 19:16-18). This was a fulfillment to the Old Testament prophecy that stated, “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet” (Psalm 22:16). Also, “They shall look upon Him Whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10). The piercing of the feet was an important part of the crucifixion. When the victim was nailed in the feet to the cross, this was essential to them being able to breathe. As they hung with arms extended, breathing was very difficult and the person would have to push up with their legs onto their nail-pierced feet in order to inhale. It caused excruciating pain with every breath, but it was how the victim temporarily survived. This is why the guards would break the legs of the victim in order for the person to expire. However, it was prophesied of Jesus that none of His bones would be broken. “He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken” (Psalm 34:20).
“The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away… But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs… For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken” (John 19:31, 33, 36).
7- The wound on His side
In order to verify Jesus’ death, “one of the soldiers with a spear pierced His side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34). This fulfilled the Old Testament prophecy that stated, “They shall look upon Him Whom they have pierced” (Zechariah 12:10). After the resurrection, Jesus invited Thomas “the doubter” to put his hand also into His side saying, “Reach your finger here…and put it into My side…” (John 20:27).
This final piercing of Jesus showed the state of His heart. The fact that both water and blood came out demonstrates the extreme stress and trauma He was under. It was so intense that it brought about a condition known as pericardial effusion. This is where fluid builds around the heart and can be fatal. It is often said that this event shows that Jesus died of a broken heart.
Jesus’ wounds of love
God demonstrated inexplicable love for the lost race in enduring this sacrifice for us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
The scars or wounds on Christ’s glorified body will remain throughout eternity to testify to the Creator’s infinite love for humanity. “And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? Then he shall answer, those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends” (Zechariah 13:6).
National Fried Chicken Day
· The bird gets the spotlight on Fried Chicken Day, and stomachs are rumbling already. Move over vegetarians, there’s a deep-fried chicken leg and breast coming this way!
· To add more pizzazz to the day, coat the legendary southern food in spices and yell “Yeehaw!” Cover the chicken with a mixture of cayenne pepper, garlic powder and paprika to put the spring back in the step. A little hot sauce? Sure, let’s go all out! Serve the mouth-watering fried food with chicken gravy to up the yum-factor even more.
· Pair the succulent bird with waffles for a classic combo. Or, why not make chicken the star of the show and add a tasty side dish? Lip-smacking sides include buttermilk biscuits, cold potato salad or coleslaw. With fried chicken on the plate, the taste is sure to taste clucking good!
· Trust in God in the midst of troubles.
Starting Tomorrow: Let Freedom Ring: 40 Days to Freedom from the Devil
July 7-August 15, 2020
Through acts of reparation, fasting, penance, charity, and prayer (both personal and sacramental) we call upon the power of God to release ourselves, our families, our parishes, our dioceses, and our nation from all demonic influence and oppression.
Each day will be broken into prayer, reflection, and reparation.
A reflection (rotating from Fr. Peckman, Fr. Altman & Fr. Heilman) will be written for each day on a particular manifestation of the demonic and the sin it leads to. It will commend a corresponding virtue to cultivate.
Prayers of reparation and exorcism will be followed by a litany
· Monday: Litany of Humility
· Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel
· Wednesday: Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
· Thursday: Litany of St. Joseph
· Friday: Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus
· Saturday: Litany of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
· Sunday: Litany of the Blessed Sacrament
Acts of Reparation and Penance:
Factoring into this will be variables of age, ability, and availability.
* To pray a Rosary for the Intention of exorcism of the day's area of reflection
* To pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet in reparation for the sin caused by the area of the day's reflection
* To commit one act of either a spiritual or corporal works of mercy for either one who has been harmed by our sin or who has harmed us by their sin.
* To commit to fasting or abstinence days as prescribed below.
* To commit to a prescribed time of exercise based on one's abilities
* To commit to going to confession once a week (where available)
* To refrain from all use of the conventional media throughout the 40 days and to limit one's use of social media to one hour a day for non-business or evangelical use.
Understanding that age, health, and the Covid 19 pandemic are current factors...
· Black level: (For clerics)
o Acts of reflection and prayer remain intact. Added is a commitment to a Holy Hour every day.
§ Cleric commits to fasting 3xs a week (unless age or medical condition is an issue).
§ Cleric commits to abstaining from sweets, soda, junk food, and fast food for all 40 days.
§ Clerics with medical conditions and over the age of 65 commit to a half hour of exercise. Otherwise they commit to one hour of exercise, with the understanding that one can exercise and pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet at the same time.
§ They also commit to making more time for the confessional, daily Mass, and praying the entirety of the Divine Office (all hours) for the 40 days.
§ The prayer, reflection, some acts of reparation can be done during Holy Hour and/or exercise time.
§ Clerics commit to confession once a week. Clerics, in a special way, should offer the prayers for those placed under their pastoral care and do their acts of reparations for those harmed by the actions of any cleric, including themselves.
· Blue level: Recommended for those called to go "All In!"
o Acts of Reflection and prayer remain intact.
§ Person commits to fasting 3xs a week (Wednesday, Friday, and any other day, save Sunday).
§ Abstinence from sweets, soda, junk food, and fast food for all 7 days.
§ One hour of exercise with the understanding that one can exercise and pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet simultaneously.
· Red Level: Recommended for those who do not think they can do the blue level:
o Acts of Reflection and prayer remain intact.
§ Person commits to fasting 2xs a week on Wednesdays and Fridays.
§ Abstinence from sweets, soda, junk food, and fast food for the other four days.
§ One hour of exercise, with the understanding that one can exercise and pray the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet at the same time
· White Level: Recommended for pregnant women, senior citizens, those with serious medical conditions:
o Acts of Reflection and prayer remain intact.
§ Abstinence 3xs a week from sweets, soda, junk food, & fast food instead of fasting.
§ Half hour of exercise instead of an hour. That other half hour can be used to do spiritual reading.
§ It should be noted that praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet can be done while exercising
Prayer for Freedom from the Devil
(We will all pray the following prayer each day)
My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
At a word from You the devil and his minions flee in terror.
You are the source of all truth. You are the source of all strength.
By the power of Your Cross and Resurrection, we beseech You, O Lord
To extend Your saving arm and to send Your holy angels
To defend us as we do battle with Satan and his demonic forces.
Exorcise, we pray, that which oppresses Your Bride, the Church,
So that within ourselves, our families, our parishes, our dioceses, and our nation
We may turn fully back to You in all fidelity and trust.
Lord, we know if You will it, it will be done.
Give us the perseverance for this mission, we pray.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception ... pray for us
St. Joseph ... pray for us
St. Michael the Archangel ... pray for us
(the patron of your parish) ... pray for us
(your confirmation saint) ... pray for us
A reflection will be sent out every day via US Grace Force email (sign-up below). Prayers and Litanies will accompany each day. It will also be posted on US Grace Force Website (usgraceforce.com) and shared on various platforms of social media.
IN THE UNITED STATES GRACE FORCE
(Please recruit family and friends to enlist!)