1 Maccabees, Chapter 13, Verse 17-18
17 Simon knew that they were speaking deceitfully to him. Nevertheless, for FEAR of provoking much hostility among the people, he sent for the money and the boys, 18 lest the people say, “Jonathan perished because I would not send Trypho the money and the boys.”
Simon Maccabee now with the assumed death of his brother Jonathan becomes the next leader of the Jews but unlike his brother Jonathan does not become the high priest. Yet because it is not certain that his brother is dead, he is prepared to pay the ransom that Trypho demands which is money and two of Jonathan’s sons as hostages which guarantee that when Jonathan is set free, he will not revolt against Trypho. Trypho invades the land of Judah bringing Jonathan along as prisoner. If Simon refuses the exchange the people will hold him responsible for Jonathan’s death. If he accepts, he is making a deal with a deceitful, treacherous, and ambitious animal called Trypho. Simon has no choice and pays. Trypho of course reneges, marches and ravages as he goes. Simon delays his march on Jerusalem. Thus, Trypho prevented from taking the city of God, like Napoleon at the attempted taking of Moscow must retreat back to Syria when a seasonal snowstorm comes and before he goes kills Jonathan and probably his sons as well. This is tribalism at its worst.
Tribalism and Fear - Unworthy of Christianity
Marilynne Robinson, noted author, express’s some of her fears to what is happening today in many of the churches and inside many of us, namely, new forms of tribalism and fear are reducing our wondrous God to a ‘tribal deity’ and our own ‘local Baal’.
The God of all nations, all families, and all peoples, she asserts, is too frequently being invoked by us as a God, more exclusively, of my own nation, my own family, my own church, and my own people. She cites various examples of this, including her own sadness at how sincere Christians cannot accept each other’s authenticity: “I must assume that those who disagree with my understanding of Christianity are Christians all the same, that we are members of one household. I confess that from time to time I find this difficult. This difficulty is owed in part to the fact that I have reason to believe they would not extend this courtesy to me.” This, she rightly asserts, is unworthy of God, of Christianity, and of what’s best in us. We know better, though we usually don’t act on that and are thus indicted by what Freud called “the narcissism of minor differences.” And this takes its root in fear, fear of many things. Not least among those fears is our fear of the secularized world and how we feel this has put us on a slippery slope in terms of our Christian heritage and our moral values. To quote Robinson here: “These people see the onrush of secularism intent on driving religion to the margins, maybe over the edge, and for the sake of Christianity they want to enlist society itself in its defense. They want politicians to make statements of faith, and when merchants hang their seasonal signs and banners, they want them to say something more specific than ‘Happy Holidays’.
Robinson, however, is distrustful of enlisting political power to defend Christianity. Why because “this country [the United States] in its early period was largely populated by religious people escaping religious persecution at the hands of state Churches, whether French Huguenots, Scots Presbyterians, English Congregationalists, or English Catholics”. She adds: “Since my own religious heroes tended to die gruesomely under these regimes. I have no nostalgia for the world before secularism, nor would many of these ‘Christian nation’ exponents, if they looked a little into the history of their own traditions.” Inside our fear of secularism, she suggests, lies a great irony: We are afraid of secularism because we have, in fact, internalized the great prejudice against Christianity, namely, the belief that faith and Christianity cannot withstand the scrutiny of an intellectually sophisticated culture. And that fear lies at the root of an anti-intellectualism that is very prominent inside many religious and Church circles today. How much of our fear today about Christianity being on a slippery slope can be traced back to this prejudice?
Why are we so afraid of our world and of secularized intellectuals This fear, she asserts, spawns an antagonism that is unworthy of Christianity. Fear and antagonism are very fashionable within religious circles today, almost to be worn as a badge of faith and loyalty. And is this a sign of health?
No. Neither fear nor antagonism, she submits, are “becoming in Christians or in the least degree likely to inspire thinking or action of the kind that deserves to be called Christian”. Moreover, “if belief in Christ is necessary to attaining of everlasting life, then it behooves anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian, any institution that calls itself a Church, to bring credit to the Faith, at very least not to embarrass or disgrace it. Making God a tribal deity, our local Baal, is embarrassing and disgraceful.” Fear and antagonism do nothing, she adds, to draw respect to Christianity and our churches and to the extent that we let them be associated with Christianity, we risk defacing Christianity in the world’s eyes. But saying that in today’s climate is to be judged as unpatriotic. We are not supposed to care what the world thinks. But it is the world we are trying to convert. And so, we need to be careful not to present Christianity as undignified, xenophobic, and unworthy of our wondrous, all-embracing God. Why all this fear, if we believe that Christianity is the deepest of all truth and believe that Christ will be with us to the end of time Her last sentences capsulize a challenge we urgently need today. “Christianity is too great a narrative to be reduced to serving any parochial interest or to be underwritten by any lesser tale. Reverence should forbid in particular its being subordinated to tribalism, resentment, or fear.”
St. Monica is an example of those holy matrons of the ancient Church who proved very influential in their own quiet way. Through prayer and tears she gave the great Augustine to the Church of God, and thereby earned for herself a place of honor in the history of God's kingdom on earth. The Confessions of St. Augustine provide certain biographical details. Born of Christian parents about the year 331 at Tagaste in Africa, Monica was reared under the strict supervision of an elderly nurse who had likewise reared her father. In the course of time, she was given in marriage to a pagan named Patricius. Besides other faults, he possessed a very irascible nature; it was in this school of suffering that Monica learned patience. It was her custom to wait until his anger had cooled; only then did she give a kindly remonstrance. Evil-minded servants had prejudiced her mother-in-law against her, but Monica mastered the situation by kindness and sympathy. Her marriage was blessed with three children: Navigius, Perpetua, who later became a nun, and Augustine, her problem child.
According to the custom of the day, baptism was not administered to infants soon after birth. It was as an adolescent that Augustine became a catechumen, but possibly through a premonition of his future sinful life, Monica postponed his baptism even when her son desired it during a severe illness. When Augustine was nineteen years old, his father Patricius died; by patience and prayer Monica had obtained the conversion of her husband. The youthful Augustine caused his mother untold worry by indulging in every type of sin and dissipation. As a last resort after all her tears and entreaties had proved fruitless, she forbade him entrance to her home; but after a vision she received him back again. In her sorrow a certain bishop consoled her: "Don't worry, it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost."
When Augustine was planning his journey to Rome, Monica wished to accompany him. He outwitted her, however, and had already embarked when she arrived at the docks. Later she followed him to Milan, ever growing in her attachment to God. St. Ambrose held her in high esteem, and congratulated Augustine on having such a mother. At Milan she prepared the way for her son's conversion. Finally, the moment came when her tears of sorrow changed to tears of joy. Augustine was baptized. And her lifework was completed. She died in her fifty-sixth year, as she was returning to Africa. The description of her death is one of the most beautiful passages in her son's famous “Confessions”.
The Role of Woman as Mother
Reflections on the richness and gift of being a mother, thought provoking particularly on Marian feasts and saints such as St. Monica. Woman is called to be a giver of life. Not physical life alone, but life on the psychological and spiritual planes as well. Woman's greatness lies in the sphere of nurture: in bearing, fostering, enlarging and expanding life.
Motherhood, in its essence, is a mystery of fecundity. All life on the earth is conceived and nurtured in darkness, brought to birth, sustained and protected until it reaches maturity. Motherhood is the fullness of this organic process, crowning nature with its most perfect fruit--the human being. Mankind has always linked motherhood with the mystery of nature's abundance. In literature and folklore, the warm and fertile "Mother Earth" becomes the most common image of woman's fruitfulness. "I sing of the earth, firmly founded mother of all, supporting on her soil all that lives," wrote Homer, and poets ever since have celebrated the mother's fecundity in everything budding, blossoming, ripening, bearing fruit: the flowering meadow, the full blossoming rose, the fair olive tree, the field of ripening grain, the vine laden with its rich, red grapes.
The ancient pagans stood in wonder before the life-giving power of woman, sensing that motherhood somehow transcended nature to touch the divine. Christianity elevates and purifies the truth which the pagan world could only glimpse. The triune God, the infinitely fruitful, wills to make His creatures partake of His own creative power. Both men and women reflect the divine creativity, but differently. The man as father, generating new life, is an image of the eternal Father "from whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named." The woman as mother, nurturing the seed with her own substance, bearing the new life into the world, bringing it to maturity, reflects God's nurturing love which sustains the world. God Himself has told us that He stands as mother to us: "Shall not I that make others to bring forth children myself bring forth, saith the Lord. Shall I that give generation to others be barren? Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, who are born up by my womb. As one whom the mother caresses, so will I comfort you."
But the supreme realization of woman's fecundity lies in the spiritual order. At the summit of human fruitfulness stands Mary, the mother of Jesus. The fruit of her womb is the very Son of God, and by her Son's word on the cross she has become the mother of all the living, the dispenser of God's graces throughout all ages. And since Our Lady is the exemplar of womanhood, every woman in a certain sense has a part in Mary’s maternal role. Every woman is meant to share in nurturing the Christ-life in the souls of men. The Christian woman in marriage cannot be content to give her children natural life alone; she must also be their spiritual mother, educating them as members of God's family and like St. Monica, being "in labor of them" as often as she sees them swerving from Him. In her role as spiritual mother woman uses the resources of her maternal instincts and capacities at their most exalted level.
Pots de Creme Day
” From the French have come many excellent things. Nothing related to wartime, mind you, but if you’re looking for ways to enjoy the finer things in life there are no wiser people. Take the Pots de Creme, for instance, a truly decadent preparation that is quite possibly the king of desserts.” Anonymous
Rich, creamy, delectable. Pots de Creme are one of the greatest inventions of the 17th Century, and they’ve remained a favorite treat in the centuries since. Pots de Creme Day celebrates these delicious treats and their long history. In the 17th-century Pots de Creme started becoming popular and were originally created filling crusts like a pie. As time went on they were made in smaller portions and the crust was eliminated. While it remains incredibly popular, many people have difficulty pronouncing it. It is not, as the name suggests, “Pawts deh Creem”, but in fact is pronounced “Po de Krehm”. But no matter how you pronounce it, it’ absolutely delicious and a complete breeze to make! Pots de Creme are, at their most basic, just four ingredients, but once you master the basic recipe a whole world of possibility opens up. Fruit flavors were incredibly common, especially when prepared with fresh fruit, or you could enjoy them as a rich chocolate or butterscotch. Really, there was no end to what these little custards could be. That’s right! These are lightly prepared custards, but the French didn’t have a word for custard, so they called them Pots de Creme.
How to Celebrate
Pots de Creme day is an excellent opportunity for you to discover the ease with which they can be made and the unlimited variety that comes out of one simple recipe. First, start off with a basic vanilla version.
Pots de Creme
6 cups heavy cream
1 ½c whole milk
¾t kosher salt
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
18 large egg yolks
Whipped Cream (for serving)
Begin by putting a rack on the middle space of an oven and begin preheating until it reaches 300F. Blend together the milk, salt, and cream in a large pot, split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into it. Slowly bring the pot to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to prevent the bottom from burning. While that heats, whisk the egg yolks and sugar until they reach a light golden color, and then pour the hot cream into the yolk blend, whisking until smooth. Then strain it through a fine sieve into a pitcher. Place the ramekins on a roasting pan and fill each of them until they’re half full. Bake for 25-30 minutes, and then cool in a water bath for 5 minutes. Then transfer it to a wire rack and let them cool down. Place in a refrigerator and allow to chill for four hours.
Top with whipped cream and serve!
Enhancing one’s fitness goes a long way to improving oneself image and raising one to the challenge of God’s mission for them.
Help! I’m Poor but Want to Eat Healthy!
Unhealthy food is indeed often more accessible and cheaper than healthy alternatives. Unfortunately, it’s these very foods that make us unhealthy and overweight, causing all sorts of INCREDIBLY expensive medical problems down the road. Healthy eating on a budget IS possible; it just takes a game plan and a little creativity. Today we’re going to talk about specific foods that are a great bang for your buck. Whether you’re simply trying losing weight and getting in shape or build some muscle and put on weight without looking like Jabba the Hut, making the right dietary choices will always be 80-90% of your success. And because diet is going to make up THAT BIG of your chance for success, we want you to slowly shift to the most effective choices you can – and for that we recommend the Paleo diet. Over the last few decades, we’ve been eating and drinking more and more, and we developed the idea that a “good deal” means a lot of food. In other words, we tend to associate a deal by looking at the price per calorie. “I got SOO many fries, what a great deal!” Sure, you could buy pasta and ramen and live on mere dollars a day, but we want a game plan that doesn’t skip out on practically every macro and micronutrient – this is a strategy that builds Superheroes. The aim will be to reshape the way you evaluate ‘good deals.’ Instead of price per calorie, we’ll be looking at the price per nutrient. We want the most nutrients for the least amount of money. The choices below will:
· Target nutrient dense foods, but understand that we’re looking for the most economical choices. If food A costs $10 and has 50 of nutrient x, we’ll pick food B instead, which only provides 45 of x but costs just $2.
· Limit our draw to ‘good caloric deals,’ avoiding nutrient deficient options such as white bread or ramen.
· Identify foods with high caloric AND nutritional value, for those currently trying to gain weight through strength training.
Let’s do this!
While vegetables can often be expensive, when we looked at some of the best choices, veggies are pretty awesome. One study showed:
“that although fruits and vegetables are an expensive source of dietary energy (calories), they provide key nutrients at a reasonable cost.”
· For starters, don’t be afraid to buy frozen vegetables in the freezer section of your local grocery store (or even canned vegetables). Sure, I love fresh veggies, but since frozen veggies are picked and then frozen at peak ripeness (and thus most nutritionally dense), they are often a better value while being edible for months longer.
· Kale and leafy greens (such as mustard or collard): If there is one super cheap superfood, kale and leafy greens are it! Practically nature’s multivitamin, kale is packed full of protein, vitamin K, C, and A, dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium, and more (a whole lot more). The catch is that kale and leafy greens can be bitter raw, so they need to be cooked. But don’t worry, there are tons of quick and easy ways to make kale delicious. You do NOT want to miss out on one of the most economical superfoods. To get you started, check out Kale Chips or this try this kale and bacon recipe.
· Cabbage: A sister food to kale and leafy greens, from antioxidant to fiber to vitamin C, cabbage is both affordable and nutritionally dense. Cabbage is extremely versatile (soup, salad, stir fry, or sandwiches), and looks like it may have some superfood cancer fighting qualities as well.
· Broccoli: I didn’t understand why everyone else hated Broccoli. Whether fresh or frozen, broccoli provides an excellent price per nutrient value.
· Spinach: Rich in minerals and vitamins, fiber and protein, spinach should be your go-to choose for salads over cheaper but nutritionally deficient greens like iceberg lettuce. The difference between spinach and lettuce is so large, this comparison is a great example to demonstrate why we should be making choices based on price per nutrient, rather than price per calorie.
· Carrots: Carrots are one of my favorite nutritionally dense snacks. Crazy amounts of vitamin A, good carbs, and a little bit of everything else; carrots are a solid choice to supplement a salad or soup.
Be sure to check out your local farmers’ market, as you may find some great deals on fruits and veggies depending on the season and where you live.
Consider the Paleo Diet, today we’re going to explore all cheap protein sources, Paleo or non-Paleo. Meats (chicken/turkey/beef): When we looked at prices across the U.S., chicken and turkey consistently offered better values. However, don’t count beef out; there is almost ALWAYS a specific cut of beef on sale, and by targeting cheaper (and fattier) cuts, you can usually leave the meat section with a killer deal. We aren’t targeting these cuts simply because they’re cheaper.
· Eggs: There’s a reason eggs are usually a staple among those seriously strength training: eggs are a simple yet nutritionally dense source of protein. Toss hard boiled eggs in a salad, scramble eggs in a stir fry, or prepare a regular breakfast staple, eggs are usually too cheap to pass up.
· Canned Tuna: One can of Albacore Tuna contains approximately 120 calories, 28g of protein, and can cost $1 or less. This makes canned tuna a superb value and an awesomely lean protein source. Check out other canned fish, such as salmon, for some variety. And be sure to rotate canned tuna in and out of your diet to reduce risks associated with mercury.
· Legumes: Beans, chickpeas, lentils, oh my! Legumes (especially when purchased in bags), are one of the best prices per nutrient values out there. Legumes such as beans work great in a salad, soups, or even dips. Providing copious amounts of both protein and carbs, legumes offer a great value and easily satisfy macronutrient requirements. Be wary though, nutritional value will vary depending on your specific legume of choice!
· Protein Powder: If the above recommendations don’t work for you and you’re still a little short on protein, try a huge tub of protein powder online. Make yourself a quick protein shake breakfast or post workout meal.
· Other `cheap protein options that may be a great deal include quinoa, greek yogurt, cottage cheese, and one of the many types of nut butter.
Fruits provide one of the biggest challenges, especially in the United States, because they are so expensive relative to other food groups. Fruits can also be tricky. Grapes, which seem to be a moderate value, end up being one of the worst price per nutrient options out there. This may lead to the completely understandable reaction that I had, “SCREW IT! I love grapes, and I’m buying them!” But don’t worry, there are still some excellent cost-efficient options for fruits:
· Watermelon: I know, I know. My first thought too was, “isn’t it mostly water?” Well, yes. But as it turns out, since watermelon is so darn cheap, it is an incredible value per nutrient. Packed with lycopene (antioxidant), vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus, watermelon is a wonderful and easy to eat nutritional deal.
· Bananas: If you’re following the Paleo Diet and avoiding most grains, bananas are a great source of carbs. Bananas are super cheap and provide you with tons of potassium. They can be added to oatmeal, eaten as a snack, or my favorite, as a desert (frozen bananas).
· Plums: Packed full great micronutrients like vitamin A, K, and C, plums are an excellent source of fiber and carbs.
· Pears: Although pears possess a good amount of natural sugars, they are another great source of fiber and vitamin C…and usually even cheaper than plums.
· Other fruits that may be great nutritional deals in your area: cantaloupe, apricots, kiwis, and nectarines.
Don’t forget about dried fruit – although high in sugar, bulk dried fruit can be an incredible nutrient value.
If you are training like crazy or are working hard to get bigger by packing on muscle and size, then chances are you’ll require more and more food (read: fuel) to reach your goals. If you’re strength training and not getting bigger, then you’re not eating enough – it’s that simple. Calories become more important, fats and oils, beans and legumes, and dairy products become more cost effective than vegetables and fruits (however, don’t neglect vegetables to make sure your…um…” plumbing” can handle the extra calories!).
· Oats: Oats are incredibly cheap, provide ridiculous amounts of both carbohydrates and protein, and fulfill other micronutrient and mineral requirements such as thiamin, folate, magnesium, and phosphorus. Oats are simple to make, can be prepared a variety of ways (sweet or savory), and can be bought and stored easily in bulk!
· Whole Milk: Although milk isn’t Paleo, its low cost combined with high amounts of protein, calcium, and vitamin D makes it an attractive option when trying to meet high calorie requirements (if your body can handle the lactose).
· Avocados: Avocados are perhaps the densest food listed in this entire article, both calorically and nutritiously. Although they may appear costly, avocados can be an incredible price per nutrient value. Put them in salads, on sandwiches, or eat them plain with a little bit of salt! When your local grocery store puts avocados on sale, be sure to stock up!
· Sweet Potato: A better nutritional value than normal potatoes (plus a lower glycemic load), sweet potatoes are a great source of carbohydrates, dietary fiber, and incredible amounts of vitamin A. Sweet potatoes sliced, covered in olive oil, and thrown in the oven at 375 for 12 minutes each side. So simple, even a nerd could cook it.
· Olive Oil: One of the best ways to add good fat without cholesterol or sodium is olive oil. Add extra olive oil to salads, meats, and legumes.
· Almonds/Walnuts/Almond butter: Raw almonds are a versatile option that can serve as a great supplementary source of protein and fat. While almonds can be a great value, be sure to buy them in bulk to optimize your price per nutrient deal. And if you haven’t tried almond butter and apple slices, you’re missing out.
No matter what value foods you plan to buy, be sure approach eating healthy on a budget with a plan of attack. You will find that if you take advantage of healthy foods on sale (especially buy one get one free deals), many foods that aren’t listed here will suddenly become a great value! Remember: If your goal is weight loss, the majority of your calories should come from fat and protein, NOT carbohydrates/grains! This is the whole premise of the Paleo Diet that we’re so fond of. Concerned about pesticides and have a bit more money to spend? Here are nine foods you should try to buy organic, and seven organic options you can pass up. As long as you’re no longer thinking “more is better,” but instead searching for value healthy foods, you’ll be on your way to becoming a Superhero.
- Join in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Protection of Life from Conception until Natural Death.
The Collegeville Bible Commentary, 1986.