Introduction to Psalms
The Bible for some is stuffy, overblown, and boring. So and so, son of so and so did such and such a thing to this ruler and then X, Y, and Z happened. (Snore.) Well, that may be a Dull Fest, but Psalms will set the record straight. Think fire and brimstone, giant sea monsters, cannibals, and even drunks. Yeah, ancient poetry is juicy. Psalms is one of the longest books of the Bible, but that's because it's actually a collection of 150 poems about life back in the day. We're talking Real Housewives of the Negev. The Bible mostly comprises stories, prophecies, and laws, but Psalms brings the poetic punch. Most of the Psalms are attributed to David, the Israelites' greatest and most famous king. Turns out King David was a poet too—yeah, he did know it. The Psalms are all written in Hebrew, and have been jazzed up, classed up, and mistranslated ever since they were written starting 3,000 years ago. Part of Psalms' appeal is its poetry. If Leviticus looks as stale as a tax code, then Psalms is a chance for the authors of the Bible to show off their skills and impress their audience, all while getting to the heart of current events. They worry about idol worship, God's wrath, local weather patterns, and even trash talk their most hated enemies. What does this mean for us? Just that Psalms is a goldmine of historical goodies as much as it's a precursor to almost every good piece of poetry written since. Not too shabby.
Why Should I Care?
King David and his courtly assistants were putting pen to paper around the 10th century BCE. Since then, Psalms has been popping up in operas, reggae songs, and your brain. Yep, your brain. Remember, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want"? How about "By the rivers of Babylon"? Or "Out of the mouth of babes"? Yeah, those are all psalms: numbers 23, 137, and 8, to be exact. What we're trying to tell you is that Psalms has staying power. Yeah, it's part of the bestselling book of all time, but it stands on its own, too. Why? The poems address subjects that we all face every day: uncertainty about our position in the universe, doubt that we can succeed, emotion over a loss, and a desire to destroy the Amalekites with fire and water…oh wait, is that us? We may not know much about interstate ethnic rivalries in the 12th century BCE, but we sure can relate to the rest of those feelings. Talk about universal.
ST DENIS- -LEIF ERIKSON DAY
Psalm 2, verse 11
Serve the LORD with FEAR; exult with trembling, accept correction lest he become angry, and you perish along the way when his anger suddenly blazes up. Blessed are all who take refuge in him!
To fully understand this verse, we must know who the writer is referring to. In verse 10 the writer states “Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear. Our God is a just God and to those who have been given much; much is required. Kings (and the 1 percenters) to be wise must humble themselves.
It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of the needle then for a rich man to get into heaven. The "Eye of the Needle" has been claimed to be a gate in Jerusalem, which opened after the main gate was closed at night. A camel could only pass through this smaller gate if it was stooped and had its baggage removed.
I also with this verse picture Mary Magdalene. Mary who by many accounts was a very rich woman financed our Lord’s ministry. We see in this verse the shadowing of her kissing of His feet and at the same time the hardening of Judas’ heart: who on seeing her act of love and wanting riches refused to humble himself and died in his pride.
Does Christ desire us to serve with Fear and trembling?
I noticed the other day that my two dogs when I come in are so excited about seeing me that they tremble with excitement. I think our God wants our hearts and our desires. I think we should have the humble fear that a loved child has for his or her parents, full of love and respect and that we should be excited too. So, let us approach each day with the kind of excitement that makes us tremble ready to do the will of God?
Feast of St. Denis
St. Denis was born in Italy. In 250 he was sent to France with six other missionary bishops by Pope Fabian. Denis became the first bishop of Paris. He was beheaded in 258 with the priest Rusticus and the deacon Eleutherius at Catulliacum, now Saint-Denis. One of the many legends about his torture and death was that his body carried his severed head some distance from his execution site. St. Denis is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers who was invoked particularly in the Middle Ages against the Black Plague.
Patron: against frenzy; against strife; headaches; against diabolical possession; France; Paris, France.
Symbols: beheaded bishop carrying his head — sometimes a vine growing over his neck; mitered head in his hand or on book; white chasuble; tree or stake; sword; Our Lord with chalice and host.
Things to Do:
- Learn more about the Fourteen Holy Helpers and their historical context.
- Bake a French (or Parisian) pastry. Cooking with the Saints by Ernst Schuegraf has 3 recipes for St. Denis — St. Denis Turnovers, Saint Denis Tartlets and Brioche Saint-Denis (Praline Cake).
- Read in The Golden Legend for some of the legends or stories about St. Denis.
Leif Erikson Day
Leif Erikson Day serves to honor Viking Explorer Leif Erikson and celebrate Nordic-American Heritage. Erikson is believed to have been the first European to set foot on the North American continent, having done so nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus. He established a settlement called Vinland and although its exact location is not known, it is believed that it is near L'anse aux Meadows, in Newfoundland, Canada, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 1925, Leif Erikson was officially recognized by President Calvin Coolidge as the first explorer to discover the continent. It took another four decades for the day to become official when, in 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared October 9th as Leif Erikson Day. In 2015, President Barack Obama reproclaimed the day and called upon Americans to celebrate the day appropriately in honor of Nordic-American heritage and the explorers that embarked on the expeditions that led to the creation of the United States.
Leif Erikson Day Facts & Quotes
· Leif Erikson was actually born in Iceland, but his family was Norwegian. He died in Greenland in the year 1020.
· On October 9, 1825, the first wave of Norwegian immigrants arrived on US soil in New York City. Between 1825 and 1925, nearly one-third of Norway's population immigrated to the US.
· Erikson named his settlement Vinland or Wineland due to the many grape vines that he discovered there.
· There are more than 4.5 million Americans with Norwegian ancestry living in the US today, of which 55% live in the Upper Midwest states.
· Histories have been written and more will be written of the Norwegians in America, but no man can tell adequately of the tearing asunder of tender ties, the hardships and dangers crossing the deep, the work and worry, the hopes and fears, the laughter and tears, of men and women who with bare hands carved out of a wilderness a new kingdom. - Rønning, N. N., from the book Fifty Years in America
Leif Erikson Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Purchase a Leif Ericson Millennium Commemorative Coin from the US Mint. The coins were released at the beginning of the century however you can purchase some from collectors online or even try to find them in public circulation.
· Visit one of the many Leif Erikson statues in the United States. There are statues in Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, Virginia, Seattle, Minnesota and North Dakota.
· Take a trip to Iceland, Norway or Greenland and visit the homelands of Leif Erikson.
· Take a trip to UNESCO site of L'Anse aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. This is believed to be the site of Erikson's first New World settlement.
· Watch a movie about Vikings and Leif Erikson. Some movies include Leif Ericson (2000) and The Vikings (1958), The Viking Sagas (1995) and the 13th Warrior (1999).
· Have Beer and Pizza while watching a Viking movie.
· Note: It was a Norwegian who discovered America and it was also a Norwegian who was the first to get to the South Pole and back.
· Total Consecration to St. Joseph