Saturday in the Octave of the Assumption
1 Maccabees, Chapter 9, Verse 6
The rats are the first to leave a sinking ship. You can tell when something is about to fail because large numbers of people begin to leave it.
Death of Judas Maccabee
Judas cleverly negotiated a treaty of alliance with Rome that recognized Judea as an independent state. For the first time since before the Babylonian exile, the Jews had their own sovereign nation. Demetrius feared a Rome-supported Judea might induce another of his inherited enemies, Egypt, to join the alliance and invade his empire through Judea. Basing his actions on reports that the Maccabean army was disbanding, Demetrius dispatched a 24,000-man expedition in the spring of 160 BC. Sure enough, Judas was unable to mobilize more than 3,000 troops. Joining battle at Elasa, about six miles east of Beth Horon, the armies clashed briefly before the Jewish warriors, demoralized by the eight-to-one odds, broke and fled, leaving their peerless commander with just 800 valiant veterans. Leading his small band in a desperate charge on the enemy’s right flank, Judas killed a great number of Seleucids but failed in the crucial objective of killing their commander, General Bacchides. Instead, Judas and his little group of loyalists were wiped out. It had taken the Syrians far too long, but in Bacchides they finally found a leader capable of concocting viable strategy and instilling needed flexibility into Syrian formations. Considering the overpowering numerical advantage the Syrians enjoyed in that April clash, it could be said the Maccabees were drawn into a trap even if they realized it from the beginning, for they could not afford to allow this pagan multitude to rampage unchecked throughout Judea. Confronting it when they did, before they had time to assemble sufficient soldiers, was unavoidable—and fatal.
The Legacy of Judas Maccabeus
For no small reason, Judas was called “the Hammer.” His unparalleled battlefield adaptability, proficiency in exploiting an enemy’s mistakes, ability to fight at night, and effective use of terrain, surprise, and espionage made him the bane of succeeding Seleucid commanders. After Judas’s death, his brothers Jonathan and Simon eventually achieved the Judean dream of religious and political independence. It was the first time in recorded history that a subject people had won a revolutionary war for religious freedom. Because he fought in just one poorly chronicled war, Judas Maccabeus has largely been lost among the giant shadows cast by Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghis Khan, Napoleon Bonaparte, Shaka Zulu, and other great conquerors. Unlike them, Judas was a man of noble motives who fought because he had no other choice. Unfettered by outmoded convention, he taught himself and his followers to fight via methods too subtle to be perceived by their powerful but outmoded adversaries. Today’s high-tech military strategists would be well served to study the humble partisan leader of long ago, who wanted nothing more for himself and his people than to be allowed to live and worship in peace.
If we look at the modern world, we see nothing but hostility toward the Faith. In the Middle East, Christians are being martyred in the most brutal way. Every day brings a new threat. Persecution is open and the choice is clear: Serve Christ or die. To live and embrace the Faith in such circumstances requires a great deal of holy fearlessness.
Even in the “civilized” West, persecution is no less present, albeit in a different and more subtle form. We are asked by the powers that be to acquiesce, to compromise on the most fundamental moral issues that exist
· Things like the nature of marriage
· The protection of innocent human life in the womb
· The nature and purpose of human sexuality
Our suffering may be in the form of an angry boss, the loss of a business, or simply persecution with words. While no one is holding a knife to our throat, the choice is just as clear: Serve Christ or suffer. Tragically, there are many bishops and prelates who like the Pharisees—fear the opinion of men more than they fear God. There are many in the hierarchy who would rather make peace with the world and its evil ideologies than suffer with Jesus in obedience to the will of God. As St. Paul said, “I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, [they] live as enemies of the cross of Christ” (Phil. 3:18). These men will have their reward, but as for us, let us serve Christ. Let us choose always to obey God rather than men, no matter what the cost. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit for the holy boldness that he gave on the day of Pentecost to the once cowardly St. Peter. Let us strive after the courage of men like St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher, who joyfully chose martyrdom rather than deny the truths of the Faith. Most of all, let us take up our crosses and follow Christ, who said, “not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” May the will of God be done.
Our Lady of Knock
On August 21, 1879, Margaret Beirne, a resident of Cnoc Mhuire, was sent by her brother to lock up the church for the evening. When she was ready to leave, she noticed a strange brightness hovering over the church. Margaret had other things on her mind, and didn't tell anyone what she saw. Around the same time, another member of the Beirne family, Mary, was leaving from a visit to the church's housekeeper, and stopped with the housekeeper at the gables, where they could see the church. Mary replied:
"Oh, look at the statues! Why didn't you tell me the priest got new statues for the chapel?"
The housekeeper responded that she knew nothing of the priest getting new statues. So, they both went for a closer look, and Mary Beirne said:
"But they are not statues, they're moving. It's the Blessed Virgin!"
Thirteen others also came and saw the beautiful woman, clothed in white garments, wearing a brilliant crown. Her hands were raised as if in prayer. All knew that it was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Queen of Angels. On the right of Our Lady stood St. Joseph, his head inclined toward her. On her left stood St. John, the Evangelist, dressed as a bishop. To the left of St. John stood an altar which had a lamb and a cross surrounded by angels on it. The vision lasted about two hours. People who were not at the apparition site reported that they saw a bright light illuminating the area where the church was. Many of the sick were healed upon visiting the church at Knock.
Things to Do:
· See the website of the Shrine of the Our Lady of Knock.
· For further information see Catholic Saints Info on Our Lady of Knock.
· In the vision, Mary stood in the middle, wearing a long gown and a crown of pulsating brilliance, with a golden rose over her forehead. A golden rose is often the symbol of this Marian apparition.
· Because the 4th Sunday of Lent or Laetare Sunday is often referred as the Golden Rose Sunday, the Simnel Cake could incorporate the Rose tradition. See Laetare, Jerusalem! Rejoice! by Jennifer Gregory Miller for more information.
South Pole Discovery
of the Eternal
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The work of researchers who reported detecting the signal left behind by the rapid expansion of space billions of years ago is rooted in the efforts of a Belgian priest whose mathematical computations in the 1920s laid the groundwork for the Big Bang theory. Msgr. George Lemaitre, a mathematician who studied alongside leading scientists of the first half of the 20th century exploring the origins of the universe, suggested that the cosmos began as a super-dense "primeval atom" that underwent some type of reaction that initiated the expansion of the universe which continues today. The priest's conclusions challenged the conventional hypothesis proposed by luminaries such as Albert Einstein and Fred Hoyle that the universe was in a steady state. Researchers in cosmology over the decades refined Msgr. Lemaitre's idea, leading to what became widely known as the Big Bang theory and later ideas that signs of the Big Bang can be detected. The most recent evidence supporting the Big Bang emerged March 17 when a team of scientists announced they detected polarization in light caused by primordial gravitational waves originating from the Big Bang. The measurements were made with the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization experiment, or Biceps2, located at near the South Pole.