Tuesday of the Third Week of Easter
Joshua, Chapter 10, Verse 1-2
1 Now when Adonizedek, king of Jerusalem, heard that Joshua had captured Ai and put it under the ban, and had done to that city and its king as he had done to Jericho and its king, and that the inhabitants of Gibeon had made their peace with Israel, remaining among them, 2 there was great FEAR abroad, because Gibeon was a great city, like one of the royal cities, greater even than Ai, and all its men were warriors.
Gibeon was going to get a beat down by the Canaanite Kings because it had aligned with Israel. Joshua showed he was a man of virtue by coming to the aid of Gibeon even if the treaty was by trickery. Often you can tell the character of a person by how they treat their past enemies and how they respond to overwhelming odds. Israel the smallest of nations came to the defense of Gibeon to fight an enemy five times larger, but the faith of Joshua and his army multiplied their numbers. Faith is always a great multiplier in overcoming odds take the story of Glen Cunningham who beat the odds to go on to compete at the Olympics.
Glenn Verniss Cunningham (August 4, 1909 – March 10, 1988) was an American distance runner and athlete considered by many the greatest American miler of all time. Cunningham was nicknamed the "Kansas Flyer", the "Elkhart Express" and the "Iron Horse of Kansas".
Cunningham's legs were very badly burned in an explosion caused when someone accidentally put gasoline instead of kerosene in the can at his schoolhouse when he was eight and his brother Floyd was thirteen. Floyd died in the fire. When the doctors recommended amputating Glenn's legs, he was so distressed his parents would not allow it. The doctors predicted he might never walk normally again. He had lost all the flesh on his knees and shins and all the toes on his left foot. Also, his transverse arch was practically destroyed. However, his great determination, coupled with hours upon hours of a new type of therapy, enabled him to gradually regain the ability to walk and to proceed to run. It was in the early summer of 1919 when he first tried to walk again, roughly two years after the accident. He had a positive attitude as well as a strong religious faith. His favorite Bible verse was Isaiah 40:31:
"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint."
He competed in both the 1932 Summer Olympics as well as the 1936 Summer Olympics. While on the ship traveling from the U.S. to Germany, he was voted "Most Popular Athlete" by his fellow Olympians.
In 1934, he set the world record for the mile run at 4:06.8, which stood for three years.
Today, become an Iron Horse for the Lord!
April 20 has become a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the legalization of cannabis. North American observances have been held at Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district, the University of Colorado's Boulder campus, Ottawa, Ontario, at Parliament Hill and Major's Hill Park, Montreal, Quebec at Mount Royal monument, Edmonton, Alberta at the Alberta Legislature Building, as well as Vancouver, British Columbia at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The growing size of the unofficial event at UC Santa Cruz caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: "The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community."
Up in Smoke
Q: I have a question regarding the use of marijuana and whether it is considered a sin to smoke it recreationally now that it is legal in Washington state. I have a Catholic friend who smokes it and doesn’t seem to think that there is anything wrong with doing so. What does the church teach about using marijuana recreationally — is it a sin?
A: During the period of continuing formation following my ordination, I was introduced to Stephen Covey’s well-known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The second habit has always stuck with me: “Begin with the end in mind.” It means that before we start something, we need to think it out and make sure our present actions will help us toward our future goals.
Covey’s second habit can be applied to the spiritual life. The goal of our spiritual lives is ultimately to love God and others to the fullest possible extent, and ultimately to make it to heaven. What we do in the present should assist us in these spiritual goals.
So, to your question, with the understanding that marijuana is a legally prescribed therapeutic drug for certain mental and physical conditions: Does recreational marijuana use help or hinder us in reaching this goal of our Christian life?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Vatican II, says the following: “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” (1730) God doesn’t force us to seek and love him; it is something that he has left us free to do.
Marijuana affects the limbic system of the brain, which deals with emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and sense of smell and time. Using this substance, as many studies show, causes both physical and psychological effects in the user, including heightened heart rates, short-term memory loss, delayed reaction, depression and even anxiety. When a person smokes marijuana, they are placing chemicals in their nervous system that alter their consciousness and have the potential to produce future emotional and physical damage.
Marijuana certainly is not beneficial to the spiritual life, and if it becomes a serious impediment to growth in the spiritual life and drawing closer to God and our ultimate goal, heaven, the church would consider its recreational use a sin. It’s important to remember that there is a big difference between recreational and therapeutic drug use and this understanding does not apply only to marijuana.
YouCat, the youth catechism of the Catholic Church, says: “Every time a person loses or forgets himself by becoming intoxicated, which can also include excessive eating and drinking, indulgence in sexual activity, or speeding with an automobile, he loses some of his human dignity and freedom and therefore sins against God. This should be distinguished from the reasonable, conscious, and moderate use of enjoyable things.” (389)
When we forget ourselves in this way through “intoxication” of any kind, we run the risk of forgetting what the purpose and goal of our lives are, and certainly are not considering this ultimate goal in the present.
St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) We were created to be good and responsible stewards of God’s creation, including our bodies, which are sacred. Recreational marijuana use can be an impediment to the fullness of life that God wants to share with us and so can become a hindrance to being a good steward of what God has created. Do you want to be a Dude or a Dud?
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel