Wednesday in the Octave of the Assumption
1 Maccabees, Chapter 7, Verse 18
This verse is referring to Alcimus who was a descendant of the Biblical Aaron, brother of Moses, but not in the high-priestly line; and being ambitious for the office of high priest, he traveled to Antioch to secure the assistance of the Seleucid king Demetrius I Soter, who had just overthrown Antiochus. Alcimus was of the Hellenizing party, and therefore bitterly opposed by the Maccabees. Demetrius sent an army under Bacchides to establish Alcimus in the high priesthood at Jerusalem. The favor with which Alcimus was received by the Jews at Jerusalem on account of his Aaronic descent was soon turned to hate by his cruelties. When Bacchides and his army returned to Antioch, the Hasmonean Judah Maccabee attacked and overcame Alcimus, and drove him also to Syria. There he secured from Demetrius another army, led by Nicanor, who, failing to overcome Judah by treachery, attacked him directly, but was defeated and killed. A third and greater army, under Bacchides again, was dispatched to reinstall Alcimus. Judah was defeated and killed, Alcimus established as high priest and a strong garrison left in Jerusalem to maintain him. But he did not long enjoy his triumph, since he died soon after, while he was pulling down the wall of the temple that divided the court of the Gentiles from that of the Israelites.
Strife breeds Strife-Love breed’s love therefore,
be always open to forgiving injuries.
Christ tells us to love our enemy which is much easier to say than to do. Yet as much as possible we are to not fear them but strive to love them. Often, we find it difficult to love even our family and neighbors let alone our enemies. In fact, the opposite of fear is not courage but love. Paul illustrates for us the following ways of living to demonstrate true love or charity. (Hebrews, Chapter 13, Verse’ 1-6)
· In all that you do be an agent of hospitality. That is to be generous. Even the poor can be rich in their praise and love of others. Share not only your time, talent and treasure but truly give of yourself to others of your intellect, emotional support, and physical presence. A good guide is the spiritual works of mercy: instruct the ignorant; counsel the doubtful; admonish sinners; bear wrongs patiently; forgive offences willingly; comfort the afflicted; pray for the living and the dead.
· Do what you can to free others of their prisons whether these are self-imposed i.e., addictions or through ignorance. A good guide is the corporal works of mercy: feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; harbor the harbor-less; visit the sick; ransom the captive; bury the dead.
· Marriage is the physical reality of our soul’s marriage to God through the Holy Spirit; therefore. If married love and honor your wife; be chase in spirit whether married or single knowing that marriage is the physical sign of your union with God. Disdain any kind of sexual defilement.
· Avoid the love of money. Seek simplicity and contentment. Treat all the wealth you have as if it were Gods; on loan to you to build the Kingdom; which it is. You can do this if you know, and trust God will never forsake you or abandon you.
The proper meaning of love is to seek the good of the other as other.
Not Holding a Grudge
St. John Gualbert was the son of a noble Florentine, who had only one other and older son, Hugh. When Hugh was murdered by a man supposed to be his friend, John swore vengeance and, in spite of the warnings and sorrow of his father, he set out to destroy him. Well might his father sorrow more over John than over his murdered son, for the motive of revenge is not excusable even in the punishment of a murderer. Still less is it acceptable before God to try to right one injury with another or one murder with another. By chance one day John met his enemy in a very narrow passage and, having the advantage, drew his sword to run him through. The enemy, knowing he had no chance to save himself, fell to his knees, crossed his hands over his breast (let us hope he made a good act of contrition) and awaited the death blow. John advanced in a fury — halted and remembered Christ had prayed for His murderers as He hung on the cross. He put up his sword, gave his enemy his hand and, drawing him to his feet, embraced him. They parted in peace.
As he went down the road, filled with contrition for the terrible deed he had intended to do, he came to the monastery of San Miniato, entered it, and kneeling before the Crucifix he poured out his heart in contrition. As he prayed, the Crucifix miraculously bowed its head as though to bless John's victory over revenge and John was filled with the desire to serve only Christ. He went to the abbot to ask permission to wear the habit, and, when the abbot hesitated for several days for fear of the displeasure of John's father, John hacked off his hair and put on a borrowed habit. This convinced Father Abbot that the young penitent was a serious prospect and he received him into the community.
Woodstock 1969-Anti Fatima Event
On August 15–17, 1969, the Woodstock Music and Art Fair was held on a 600-acre dairy farm near Bethel, New York. It helped usher in a period of moral devastation. The event enshrined free love as acceptable in the national psyche. It created the idea that life should be dominated by the maxim, “if it feels good, do it.”
However, the worst part of Woodstock was its role in creating the spiritual desolation of imagining a utopian society without religion or the Catholic Faith. Woodstock presented itself as a mystical experience with its own dark spiritual message. It was almost a liturgical act of an anti-religion of the unbridled passions that denied a moral law.
Reflection About Another
Reflecting upon Woodstock, it is hard not to recall another event held on a large field that gathered together a huge crowd. This gathering also changed history. The two events could not be more contrary to each other, and yet the parallels and contrasts are striking. They both happened amid a terrible crisis inside society. However, each proposed a radically different solution. The second event took place in a tiny village in the backwater of Portugal called Fatima. The date was October 13, 1917. What attracted people there was no less than the Queen of Heaven. Our Lady had appeared to three young shepherd children and promised to perform a great miracle so that people might have faith and change their lives.
Contrast on the Two Fields
At both events, everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. At Woodstock, nearly 400,000 people appeared at the farm where they crashed the gates and entered the field. The organizers were overwhelmed by the crowds. The highways were clogged with cars trying to get to the event. At Fatima, some 80,000 faithful came from all over Portugal. They had heard about the apparitions by word of mouth. There were no organizers since it was a spontaneous movement of grace that called people to the site. Nevertheless, they clogged the highways and byways of the small nation to get to the event. Both events prompted government action. When order broke down in Woodstock, the government stepped in by sending nearby Air Force personnel to the concert to prevent chaos and fly in stranded performers. At Fatima, the secular anti-Catholic government played an opposite role. It sent soldiers with fixed bayonets to prevent pilgrims from entering the huge field. When the masses of pilgrims overwhelmed the small number of soldiers, people then managed to join the orderly crowd that patiently waited with great expectation, prayer and faith. Heavy rains came down in torrents at both events creating seas of mud. At Woodstock, the mud mixed with the nudity, promiscuity and drugs to the point that the crowd became one with the quagmire of immorality and muck. Singer John Fogerty described an early morning scene as “sort of like a painting of a Dante scene, just bodies from hell, all intertwined and asleep, covered with mud.” At Fatima, the rains also lashed out against the crowds and turned the field into a great muddy mess. However, the crowds accepted the rain and mire as part of the suffering and penance that would mark the Fatima Message. Many knelt in the mud in prayer.
While the circumstances of the open fields at Fatima and Woodstock are important, the context of these gathering must also be considered. The historical context of Fatima was a world in the process of abandoning the Church and Christian civilization. Europe was engaged in the bloody World War I, which would soon end. The people still had faith but were in danger of losing it. Our Lady came to deliver a message of tragedy and hope, inviting humanity to conversion and amendment of life. Woodstock took place 52 years later in the context of a Sexual Revolution that would devastate what remained of Christian morals in society. America was divided, engaged in a brutal war against communism in Vietnam. The Church was also in a state of turmoil. Woodstock was an event that would celebrate a world without restraint that would soon become mainstream.
What Happened in Fatima
The events that took place in these two fields are what made them so important. At Fatima, the crowd gathered in an ordered fashion as they awaited the appearance of the Mother of God. They were to behold a marvelous yet terrifying scene, which was the most witnessed miracle in modern history. Some 80,000 pilgrims of every age, educational level and social class were there. Believers and non-believers vied for places to see the promised miracle. Our Lady provided it. The clouds opened up and the sun appeared as an immense silver disk. It shone with great intensity yet was not blinding. The enormous ball then started to “dance” across the sky, spinning rapidly scattering red flames. The bright light reflected on the ground, trees, bushes, clothing and faces. After going three times across sky, the globe of fire then appeared to tremble, shake and plunge toward the terrified crowd who thought the world was coming to an end. However, the sun soon zigzagged back to its place and shone benevolently upon the crowd. Many converted and believed. The people noticed that their sodden clothes were both dry and clean.
What Happened at Woodstock
The events at Woodstock stand in stark contraposition. There were no miracles there, but there was an aura that produced an eerie feeling around the event. The bad weather, food shortages and poor sanitation created a climate of generalized chaos. Witnesses reported an atmosphere of free love and nudity that shocked many unaccustomed to seeing such things in public. Drug use was also rampant, especially the use of marijuana and LSD. Thus, many were out of their minds as the music blared from the stage throughout the night. Carlos Santana later recalled how he hallucinated throughout his performance because he was high on the mescaline he obtained from Jerry Garcia. Meanwhile, backstage, The Who singer Roger Daltrey reported that “Woodstock wasn’t peace and love. There was an awful lot of shouting and screaming going on. By the time it all ended, the worst sides of our nature had come out.” The scenes of partying, chaos and sin created a surreal and bizarre spectacle. It was a whimsical space without rules or law where you could “do your own thing” without consequence or risk. Some thought a new age was dawning, both inebriating and terrifying, where the unbridled passions driven by psychedelic drugs would liberate everyone from the staid constraints of the establishment. On the trash-littered fields of Woodstock, a self-centered generation embraced an anything-goes culture of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. America would leave the Woodstock mud fest with sullied innocence.
Two Messages in Conflict
Both fields also produced messages that are still in conflict today. The Fatima message was very clear and precise. Our Lady said: “Let them offend Our Lord no more, for He is already much offended.” Thus, Fatima called upon the world to repent by having recourse to prayer, sacrifice and amendment of life. If humanity did not repent, Our Lady spoke of a great chastisement, symbolized by the Miracle of the Sun. The Fatima message denounced the decadence of the modern world, the sins of the flesh and the abandonment of God and the Church. Woodstock proclaimed an anti-Fatima message. It was an invitation to sin, indulge and offend God. In the name of peace and love, it called upon youth to “imagine” a perfect world where they might live together in harmony without property, Christian morals or God. Woodstock projected an empty world without meaning and purpose that seeks only extreme gratification and pleasures. The clash between Fatima and Woodstock continues. Many Catholics have remained faithful to the Fatima message despite the great pressure to conform to the culture. Others have been mugged by the terrible reality that the Woodstock dream of sexual freedom was an appalling nightmare that left behind a trail of dead, unborn babies, broken relationships and shattered communities. It is therefore not fitting to celebrate the concert’s anniversary but rather to reject all that it symbolizes and represents. Instead, let us embrace Fatima’s saving message of prayer, repentance and amendment of life as the essential solution to a world gone awry.
Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph
The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous, you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus