Sunday, January 17, 2021

 Second Sunday After Epiphany

feast of saint Anthony, abbot 

Genesis, Chapter 31, verse 31

Jacob answered Laban, 'I WAS AFRAID, thinking you were going to snatch your daughters from me. 

According to Kabalistic sources[1] Laban was a powerful man.  Laban was a magi and the whole world feared him. Jacob feared him too, and that was why he fled from Laban in the middle of the night with his wives Rachel and Leah. Laban had cheated Jacob many times but in spite of Laban’s sly tricks God had ensured that Jacob prospered. Jacob feared Laban but when the Lord said to him, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, I will be with you”, he did so, but in secret. 

It is natural to fear powerful men or women who can do us grave harm. What does a person do who finds themselves afraid of powerful, selfish and perhaps evil people? 

Naturally, your choices are you can either fight, run, do nothing, come to a compromise or grow by developing a third alternative as described by the late Dr. Steven Covey[2]. That is to come to a solution that is better than Jacob or Laban in this example, could have come up on their own.  In this case God intervened for Jacob by coming to Laban in a dream warning him not to harm Jacob and as a result both Laban and Jacob came up with a solution that was better than they separately had in mind; and parted as friends. 

Next time you are faced with fear; resist the temptation to react in the classic fight or flight method and try to discover a way for everyone to win. That is not always possible but that should be your goal. 

ON KEEPING THE LORD'S DAY HOLY[3] 

CHAPTER I 

DIES DOMINI

"Shabbat": The Creator's joyful rest

11. If the first page of the Book of Genesis presents God's "work" as an example for man, the same is true of God's "rest": "On the seventh day God finished his work which he had done" (Gn 2:2). Here too we find an anthropomorphism charged with a wealth of meaning.

It would be banal to interpret God's "rest" as a kind of divine "inactivity". By its nature, the creative act which founds the world is unceasing and God is always at work, as Jesus himself declares in speaking of the Sabbath precept: "My Father is working still, and I am working" (Jn 5:17). The divine rest of the seventh day does not allude to an inactive God, but emphasizes the fullness of what has been accomplished. It speaks, as it were, of God's lingering before the "very good" work (Gn 1:31) which his hand has wrought, in order to cast upon it a gaze full of joyous delight. This is a "contemplative" gaze which does not look to new accomplishments but enjoys the beauty of what has already been achieved. It is a gaze which God casts upon all things, but in a special way upon man, the crown of creation. It is a gaze which already discloses something of the nuptial shape of the relationship which God wants to establish with the creature made in his own image, by calling that creature to enter a pact of love. This is what God will gradually accomplish, in offering salvation to all humanity through the saving covenant made with Israel and fulfilled in Christ. It will be the Word Incarnate, through the eschatological gift of the Holy Spirit and the configuration of the Church as his Body and Bride, who will extend to all humanity the offer of mercy and the call of the Father's love.

Second Sunday after Epiphany[4]

Christ manifests His divinity and His mystical union with the Church with His first miracle at the Wedding of Cana.

THE Introit the Church invites us to thank God for the incarnation of His only begotten Son: “Let all the earth adore Thee, and sing to Thee, O God; let it sing a psalm to Thy name, shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name, give glory to His praise”.

 

Prayer.

 

Almighty and everlasting God, “Who dost govern all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace in our days.”. Amen.

EPISTLE.

Rom. xii. 6-16. Brethren:

We have different gifts, according to the grace that is given us: either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith, or ministry in ministering, or he that teacheth in doctrine, he that exhorteth in exhorting, he that giveth with simplicity, he that ruleth with carefulness, he that showeth mercy with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer; communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind one towards another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits.

 

What lesson does the Apostle give us in this epistle?

 

That we should hate that which is evil, and love that which is good; that we should love one another, and practice works of mercy; that we should be solicitous and fervent, as in the service of God. We should cooperate with the grace of God, and pray instantly.

PRACTICAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUPERIORS.

They must expect a severe judgment who seek office only for the sake of emolument, caring little for their duty, and regarding bribes and presents rather than justice.

 

Aspiration.


O God, give us Thy grace to follow faithfully what St. Paul teaches us of humility and charity, that we may have compassion on all who are in need, and not exalt ourselves above our neighbors, but, humbling ourselves with the humble, may merit, with them, to be exalted. Amen.

 

GOSPEL. John ii. 1-11


 

At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the Mother of Jesus saith to Him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is to Me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His Mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water: the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drank, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

 

Why was Jesus present at the wedding with His Mother and disciples?

 

1. In order there to reveal His majesty, and by that means to establish and confirm the belief in His divinity.

2. To show that marriage is pleasing to God.

3. To let us understand how pious the bridegroom and bride were.

4. To teach us that those pleasures are permitted which are in accordance with reason and Christianity, and neither sinful nor leading to sin.

 

Why did Mary intercede for the bride and bridegroom when the wine was failing?

 

She was sorry for them, for she is the tender-hearted mediatrix of the afflicted and destitute. Besides, the number of the guests had been considerably increased by the presence of Jesus and His disciples, so that the wine was not sufficient for all. 

What is the meaning of the words, “Woman, what is that to Me and to thee?” 

According to the idiom of the Hebrew language, they mean as much as, Mother, be not anxious; I will provide the wine as soon as the hour appointed by My Father is come. Jesus did not mean to rebuke His Mother, but He thus gave her and all who were present, to understand that He had not received the power of working miracles as the son of woman, but that He possessed it as the Son of God and should use it according to the will of His Father.

Lent is a month away[5]

The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is exactly 31 days before Ash Wednesday. The Church has entered Tempus ad Annum, "The Season Throughout the Year," most commonly referred to as "Ordinary Time" and will soon enter the six-week period of Lent culminating in the heart of the Liturgy and the Liturgical Year: Easter, the Paschal Feast. Although not a liturgical season of the Church, the weeks after Christmas are unofficially known as "Carnival," a season of balls, parades, parties and rich food. There is no set beginning as Carnival begins on various dates all over the world. Rio de Janeiro and Venice begin two and a half weeks before Ash Wednesday. Most Americans are familiar with the South Louisiana Mardi Gras which begins on Epiphany.

Regardless of when Carnival begins or how it is celebrated, the celebration intensifies the closer it gets to the beginning of Lent and comes to screeching halt on Ash Wednesday.

The word "carnival" literally means "farewell to meat." In earlier times in the Church, Lenten fasting, and abstinence had more stringent rules. Foods such as meat, butter, cheese, milk, eggs, fat, and bacon were all forbidden in Lent, so Carnival was a time to indulge and use up (and not waste) these foods. While Lent doesn't have the formerly strict regulations, the word carnival in a broad sense is also saying farewell to fleshly or worldly pleasures (even if they are mere indulgences and not sinful) before our Lenten penances and mortifications.

Carnival's Spiritual Connections

For centuries, all over the world, this has been known as a time for preparing for Lent. "Preparing for Lent" is an odd way to describe what goes on during Carnival, but it does have religious connections. Perhaps some have forgotten the original intention, but Carnival is a time of mental and physical preparation for the Lenten time of self-denial. This is a time for family, food and fun before we face Ash Wednesday and fill our days with prayer, fasting and almsgiving.

Although it seems like such a secular and materialistic celebration, without the spiritual grounding there can be no Carnival. As Josef Pieper explains:

Wherever festivity can freely vent itself in all its possible forms, an event is produced that leaves no zone of life, worldly or spiritual, untouched.... There are worldly, but there are no purely profane, festivals. And we may presume that not only can we not find them, but that they cannot exist. A festival without gods is a non-concept, is inconceivable. For example, Carnival remains festive only where Ash Wednesday still exists. To eliminate Ash Wednesday is to eliminate the Carnival itself. Yet Ash Wednesday is obviously a day in Christendom's liturgical year (Josef Pieper, 1963, pp 33-34).

And Bernard Strasser elaborates on this spiritual connection:

These carnival days in particular contain a remarkable lesson of spirituality for us. According to their origin and the Church's intention they are anything but days of thoughtless conviviality, and certainly not of dissolute merrymaking. They are not a carryover from pagan times, of which the Church was unable to destroy the memory and observance. Rather are they an integral part of the Church year, with the significant task of illustrating graphically the first part of the Church's sermon text for this season: "You are fools, all of you who seek your final end in earthly things! I your Mother will during the coming weeks of Lent show you where true happiness may be found, Who it is that brought it, and how He merited it for us" (Carnival and Ashes,  Orate Fratres: A Liturgical Review, Vol. XVII, No. 4, 146).

Of course, over the centuries there have been abuses of extremes, and the Church has counterbalanced by providing spiritual balance, such as encouragement for Shriving (confessions), Eucharist Adoration, especially the Forty Hours devotion before Ash Wednesday. 

There is a juxtaposition of Carnival and Lent. As Pieper mentioned that Carnival festivity "leaves no zone of life, worldly or spiritual, untouched," similar to our observance of Lent. The Church gives us this time to reexamine and reorder all aspects of our life. We can see the contrast of Carnival indulgence and Lenten fasting not just in foods, but all areas of life.

Balancing Family Fun Time

Maria von Trapp in Around the Year with the Trapp Family recognized Carnival as a time for family celebration. She suggested using this time of "merry-making" for dancing, singing, games, parties and gatherings with family and friends. Perhaps some of her suggestions seem subdued and old-fashioned for a very electronically connected generation, but her emphasis was to enjoy the togetherness. Our attention is focused outward nurturing family connections and friendships, with opportunities in practicing dancing and music. The opposite is true in the season of Lent: it is a season to reduce social activities, to turn off the extra noise and visuals (electronics) and to turn inward to talk to and listen to God.

In the modern world our lives are not as connected to the days and the seasons of nature except as inconvenience or enjoyment. Many of us are also disconnected to the rhythm of the Liturgical Year, with its contrasting seasons and feasts. Maria von Trapp explained this so beautifully:

Nobody could stand a Thanksgiving Day dinner every day of the year. There can only be mountains if there are also valleys. It is a pity that the Reformation did away not only with most of the sacraments and all of the sacramentals, but also, unfortunately, with the very breath of the Mystical Body — that wonderful, eternal rhythm of high and low tide that makes up the year of the Church: times of waiting alternate with times of fulfillment, the lean weeks of Lent with the feasts of Easter and Pentecost, times of mourning with seasons of rejoicing. Modern man lost track of this. Deep down in the human heart, however, is imbedded the craving to celebrate, and, in a dumb way, the other craving to abstain, perhaps to atone. In general, these cravings are no longer directed in seasonal channels, as they are for the Catholic, or even for the aborigine who participates in some tribal religious belief..... 

It should be our noble right and duty to bring up our children in such a way that they become conscious of high tide and low tide, that they learn that there is "a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance." The rhythm of nature as it manifests itself in the four seasons, in day and night, in the individual's heartbeat and breathing — this rhythm we should learn to recognize, and to treat with more reverence. Modern man has become used to turning day into night and night into day according to his whim or pleasure. He has managed to lose contact completely with himself. He has lost the instinct for the right food and drink, stuffing himself with huge quantities of the wrong things and feeding himself sick. But worst of all, and this sounds almost ridiculous, in the process of growing up he forgot the right kind of breathing....

Again, it is our faithful friend, Holy Mother Church, who leads her children first back to nature in order to make them ready to receive supernatural grace. "Gratia supponit naturam."

Looked upon in this light, the weeks of Carnival are a most necessary time for the individual as well as for families and communities. This period is set aside for us to "let off steam," "to have a good time." And for this we need company. Therefore, Carnival is most obviously the season for parties and family get-togethers...with the avowed intention of having that good time together. Carnival is the time to be social, to give and to receive invitations for special parties. It is the time to celebrate as a parish group... (Maria von Trapp, Around the Year with the Trapp Family, Carnival or Mardi Gras).

Mrs. Trapp shared different activities that her family enjoyed, such as folk dancing, singing folk songs, and playing games. Growing up my family enjoyed similar ideas, even though we weren't as musical as the Trapp Family. We loved to learn songs in rounds or harmony to sing together. Other ideas: taking hikes that end singing around a campfire, and Bunco parties, which any age can enjoy. Our local homeschool group just had a sock-hop open to all ages, and checkers and chess tournaments on cold winter days. Some gatherings can be quiet, like family movie nights with popcorn. And don't forget just nurturing mothers with little social gatherings, maybe with themes like a little craft or recipe exchange or just coffee or wine and adult conversation. I have hosted socials where my friends and family come to learn and practice writing pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). Later in Lent we have quiet times where we work on our eggs as meditative work, but during Carnival time it's more of a fun social gathering. The object is to enjoy this time with others.

Carnival is a season with a spiritual focus that encompasses the entire person. It provides contrasts with the spiritual and material, with feasting and fasting, and with Ordinary Time and Lent. We can embrace this time and find ways for merry making, focusing on family and friends to highlight those contrasts in preparation for Lent. Happy Carnival Time!

Catholic Recipe: Saint Antony of the Desert Soup[6]


 

Saint Antony, called the Great, lived in Egypt between A.D. 251 and 356. At age 18, the gospel text "If you wish to be perfect, go and sell all that you have and then follow me" so moved him that he left everything behind and retired to an inaccessible place in the wilderness where he dedicated his life to God in manual work and continual prayer. In his old age, he imparted wisdom to his disciples and encouraged them to lead a monastic life. Because he was the first Christian to retire to a monastic life, he is considered to be the first monk and also the father of all monks. His feast is celebrated on January 17. Try this simple, healthy recipe in honor of Saint Antony the hermit.

 

INGREDIENTS

 

3 tablespoons oil of choice

1 cup barley

1 carrot, finely grated

2 leeks, sliced

1 bay leaf

1/3 cup fresh parsley, minced

Salt to taste

7 cups water

1 bouillon cube, if desired

Chopped mushrooms, if desired

 

DIRECTIONS

 

1. Heat the oil in a soup pot and add the barley, stirring continuously for one minute. Immediately add the carrot, leeks, bay leaf, parsley, salt, and water.

2. Cook the soup over low to medium heat, covered, for 40 to 45 minutes, until the barley is tender. Add more water if needed. For extra taste, add the bouillon and the mushrooms during the last 20 minutes of simmering. Remove the bay leaf. Serve hot.

 

Recipe Source: From a Monastery Kitchen: The Classic Natural Foods Cookbook by Brother Victor-Antoine d'Avila-Latourrette, Gramercy Books, 1997

 

Sons of Liberty[7]

 

Today Benjamin Franklin was born in 1706. As a founding father of this nation, one wonders would he question if Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness are Still Self-Evident Rights? Whether it is self-evident or not, it is the philosophical belief in the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that helped make America both great and good. Thomas Jefferson stated: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

 

Jefferson’s argument is not that the right to life, the right to liberty, and the right to pursue happiness originate in government, but that these rights have a divine origin.  Jefferson argued that the job of all governments was to “secure” rights that God had already granted.  In other words, the rights to life and liberty do not come into being with the force of government fiat; life and liberty are pre-political rights already granted by God.  Today, we have lost that concept.  Almost a quarter-millennia later, these rights are no longer considered self-evident, and neither is a Creator.  Once God and the natural law are disassociated from rights—once the idea of justice and goodness are separated from rights—we are left with a political environment in which anything could be considered a right, or nothing could be considered a right.

 

As Pope John Paul II said in Denver, Colorado at World Youth Day in 1993: When the Founding Fathers of this great nation enshrined certain inalienable rights in the Constitution…they did so because they recognized the existence of a ‘law’ – a series of rights and duties – engraved by the Creator on each person’s heart and conscience. In much of contemporary thinking, any reference to a ‘law’ guaranteed by the Creator is absent. There remains only each individual’s choice of this or that objective as convenient or useful in a given set of circumstances. No longer is anything considered intrinsically "good" and "universally binding". Rights are affirmed but, because they are without any reference to an objective truth, they are deprived of any solid basis. Vast sectors of society are confused about what is right and what is wrong, and are at the mercy of those with the power to "create" opinion and impose it on others.

 

Pope John Paul II saw and foresaw, once rights are viewed as mere arbitrary constructs with no relation or reference to our Creator, rights become a mere matter of whimsy—subject no longer to God, but to the fickle winds of public opinion.  Today, we are often told that it is not life and liberty, but their opposites that are self-evident.  We are told that the right to abortion and euthanasia are self-evident, and that religious liberties and liberties of conscience have no validation in law. The founding fathers generally recognized that human laws and rights should reflect each other, largely because they have the same origin.  Just as human law must come from divine law, so do rights ultimately come from God and from justice.  Rights flow from justice, and if a right cannot be traced to justice, it is no right at all.  Once a right, however, is traced to justice—the right to life, for instance—it has the “solid basis” about which Pope Saint John Paul II spoke. 

 

Indeed, as Jefferson noted all those July 4th’s ago, men “are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”  Whether it is self-evident or not, it is the philosophical belief in the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that helped make America both great and good.  Let’s continue to promote and defend all three.

 

The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true, all of them just. (Ps. 19:10)

 

Let the words of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. (Ps. 19:15)

 

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 6 pm Saturday till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.

·         Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·         Make reparations to the Holy Face

·         Drops of Christ’s Blood

·         Rosary




[1] Laitman, Michael.  (2011).  Unlocking the Zohar.  Laitman Kabbalah Publishers.

[2] Convey, Steven.  (2011).  The 3rd Alternative.  Free Press.

[4]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.

[5]https://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/carnival-part-one-season-contrasts/

[6]http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2017-01-17

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