Introduction to 2 Chronicles
If 1 Chronicles is the uplifting story of Israel's Golden Age, when King David ruled with justice and mercy, then 2 Chronicles is the hard right turn. Everything starts out just fine. David's son, Solomon, builds the Temple in Jerusalem and impresses everyone with his wealth and wisdom. But when Solomon dies, Israel's fortunes take a nosedive. For starters, the country breaks into two warring kingdoms. The new king of the unified kingdom, Rehoboam, isn't as politically savvy as his ancestor, David. Tired of Rehoboam's heavy-handed rule, the ten northern tribes break away and form their own kingdom. Both the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel go through a series of kings that could best be described as a mixed bag—if by "mixed bag" we mean incompetent, murderous idolaters who'll kill their own grandchildren (sounds like American Politicians to me?) if that's what it takes to stay in power. It wasn't all bad news, though. "Jumpin'" King Jehoshaphat tries to get a peace treaty going with his friends in the north. King Hezekiah starts the tradition of celebrating Passover in Jerusalem. And King Josiah rediscovers the first five books of the Bible during his reign and realizes it would be a good idea to pay them some serious attention. But these few bright spots aren't enough to counteract the absolute corruption of the rest of the kings of Israel. Breaking divine law, killing off family members, worshipping goat-demons—there's all kinds of shocking stuff going down. Things get so bad that even though God has promised that David's descendants will always reign in Israel, he lets the Babylonian Empire invade and destroy Jerusalem, level the Temple, deport much of the population, and leave the rest to die in various horrible ways. Eventually, God lets the people return to Jerusalem to rebuild amid the rubble. But if you were feeling optimistic after 1 Chronicles, with the righteous King David having things well in hand, prepare to be discouraged.
Why Should I Care?
Why do bad things happen? The author of 2 Chronicles knows why, and there's no question about it.
Bad things happen because people disobey God—it's as simple as that. Did your army just get demolished in battle? Better think twice about worshipping those goat gods. Got a case of leprosy or COVID 19? Just because you're the king doesn't mean you're allowed in the Temple doing jobs reserved for the priests. It couldn't be clearer: if you want health, wealth, victory, and military success, you need to do what Yahweh asks. He might be forgiving if you're truly sorry, but otherwise it's just basic math: disobedience = disaster. Don't you wish it were all that simple? We all know that plenty of bad things definitely happen to very good people. Maybe you have a friend who's kind and generous and dying from a horrible disease. Or a fun, supportive cousin who was killed by a drunk driver. Maybe one of your parents can't find a job despite being hardworking and smart. Maybe your sweet little sister gets chosen as the tribute from region 12. Natural disasters sure don't make distinctions between good and bad people when they happen. It all seems so unfair, and it's understandable to want explanations. And there are plenty of explanations. You've heard them all—God's will, things happen for a reason, things happen for no reason, we don't have all the information, they must have deserved it, bad genes, bad luck, bad parents. We all want to figure it out so we can prevent this stuff from happening to us. But apart from not doing dumb, avoidable things that put us at risk for accidents or illness or failure, bad things can happen anyway. And as long as they do, people will wonder why. Chronicles is one answer to this huge question, but you'll have to find your own. And while you're looking, don't text and drive, m'kay?
JUNE 21 Monday
Then the Judahites conquered all the cities around Gerar, for the FEAR of the Lord was upon them; they plundered all the cities, for there was much plunder in them.
Argh sounds like pirates to me. It does not sound very good to us but we must remember that the only law was “might makes right”. The truth is that most people were murdering, thieving pirates. What is new is that Israel had a law that was given them by the creator; however loosely they followed it. Israel begins to understand that if you seek the Lord; you will find the Lord; if you forsake the Lord; the Lord will forsake you.
Judah’s King Asa Wins Big
· When Abijah dies, his son Asa takes over the Kingdom of Judah.
· Asa keeps Judah on the right path. He gets rid of all references to foreign gods and encourages the people to follow God's law.
· He also builds up Judah's defenses and army in various cities. Even though there aren't any wars for 10 years, this is a smart move because eventually the Ethiopians attack Judah.
· Zerah the Ethiopian comes at them with a million soldiers. You read that right. Judah has about 300,000.
· Totally outnumbered, Asa leads the army into battle and does pretty much the only thing he can do right then—he prays. God helps the strong and the weak. And boy, is Judah weak right now.
· The Almighty hears the king's panicked cries and responds with a sweeping victory. Not only do they drive back the million-man army, Judah manages to kill every last one. No exaggeration whatsoever there.
The warriors in Judah are able to get all kinds of booty from the Ethiopians, so it's a pretty big win for them.
Today as we face the multitude of the media and cancel culture let utter the prayer of Asa:
O Lord, there is none like you help the powerless against the strong. Help us, O Lord, our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. You are the Lord, our God; let no man prevail against you.
Veneremur Cernui – Down in Adoration Falling
of The Most Reverend Thomas J. Olmsted, Bishop of
to Priests, Deacons, Religious and the Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix
on the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist
My beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
110. I wish to conclude this exhortation by turning to Mary, Our Mother, whom Saint John Paul II called “‘a woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life” (Ecclesia de Eucharistia, no. 53). Let us entrust our Eucharistic life of her Son’s gift of Himself to her solicitude and care. She lived her faith at the moment of the Annunciation when she was asked to believe that the One whom she conceived through the Holy Spirit was the Son of God. For us, before the Eucharistic mystery we are also asked to believe that the same Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary, becomes present in His full humanity and divinity under the appearances of bread and wine. Her faith-filled consent allowed God to be born in her, making her the Ark of the New Covenant. “With her ‘yes’ she opened the door of our world to God Himself; she became the living Ark of the Covenant, in whom God took flesh, became one of us, and pitched His tent among us” (cf. John 1:14). (Spe Salvi, no. 49). She was the first to receive Jesus in her heart. She became the first tabernacle where God dwells in the fullest possible sense. After Pentecost but before her Assumption into heaven, surely she regularly received the Eucharist from the hands of the Apostles.
111. Who more than Mary is a star of hope for us so that we can see the way to go as followers of Jesus Christ, since we have never been this way before? Who more than Mary can help us renew our faith and fortify our love and devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist? Confident in her maternal care and intercession, let us invoke and imitate Our Lady, woman of the Eucharist:
Blessed Mother, who with your generous “Fiat” unleashed the Fountain of all graces in our world, intercede for us who desire ever greater faith and devotion in your Divine Son that we might cooperate with His work of Redemption.
May the Eucharistic Lord always find in our hearts a welcome dwelling as He did in yours.
Be our refuge and companion on our pilgrim way to the heavenly home where with you and all the Saints we enjoy eternal communion with your Son who is our rock of refuge in all of life’s storms.
Promulgated on Holy Thursday of the Lord’s Supper, April 1, 2021.
+Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix
International Yoga Day
International Yoga Day celebrates yoga, an ancient physical, mental and spiritual practice. Today, yoga, which originated in India, is one of the world's most popular pastime activities. In September of 2014, India’s Prime Minister proposed the establishment of an International Day of Yoga to promote international peace and cooperation. His request was granted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2014 in an effort to highlight the benefits of yoga to physical well-being and to world peace and development.
In a recent homily, Pope Francis reminded listeners that practices like yoga aren't capable of opening our hearts up to God. "You can take a million catechetical courses, a million courses in spirituality, a million courses in yoga, Zen and all these things. But all of this will never be able to give you. freedom," he explained. While yoga was just one example offered among many, the Holy Father touched on a matter of great debate among faithful Catholics who happen to prefer this kind of exercise.
Can Catholics participate in yoga? The answer is a bit more nuanced than one might think. Catholics should not participate in any of the "spiritual" aspects associated with yoga, but technically can do the actual physical exercises. However, many people who practice yoga caution that it is often difficult, if not impossible, to separate the exercises from the meditations. For example, a common mantra repeated in yoga is "So'ham" that roughly translates to "I am the universal self". This focus on the self is contrary to the focus on God to which we are called. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: "Christian prayer... flees from impersonal techniques or from concentrating on oneself, which can create a kind of rut, imprisoning the person praying in a spiritual privatism which is incapable of a free openness to the transcendental God" The Pope tells us that only the Holy Spirit can "move the heart" and make it "docile to the Lord, docile to the freedom of love". If we are seeking a zen-like peace from yoga meditation, then we are seeking peace from the wrong source.
But is it possible to combine exercise and prayer? Founders of SoulCore, a core workout that combines isometric exercises with praying the rosary, say that it is. Deanne Miller and Colleen Scariano explained that their new exercise movement is born from the desire to nourish both body and soul through exercise. Miller explained, "in our physical movement, when tied to prayer-strengthening from the inside-out-we are FULLY ALIVE." www.soulcoreproject.com
· Always fight with the deep conviction that I am with you. Christians are to fight against all demonic tactics—resist!
· 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.