Tu Bishvat at Sundown begins
Tu Bishvat (Hebrew: ט״ו בשבט, literally: the 15th of the Lunar Month of Shevat) is the New Year for trees (similar to Arbor Day). It falls in January or February each year, typically when almond blossom is seen in Israel. It is one of the four New Years in the Jewish Calendar. According to the Jewish Law (Halachah), the 'New Year for trees' defines the beginning of the year for separating tithes for the poor and Levite. Tithes are 10% portions of a product, which are allocated as charity to either the Levites or the poor. Torah Law requires, that when the Holy Temple was standing, these tithes would be removed from the produce, before it was 'fit for consumption'. There was a seven-year cycle, culminating in the Shimittah year, when fields lay fallow. After every seven seven-year cycles, a Jubilee, 50th year was celebrated.
Tu Bishvat Facts & Quotes
· It is customary on Tu Bishvat to eat fruits of the Land of Israel, particularly those of the Biblical verse A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey (Deuteronomy 8:8). The honey in this verse refers to date honey, according to tradition. Another custom is to plant trees in Israel.
· On Tu Bishvat, we remember that Man is a Tree of the Field (Deuteronomy 20:19). It explains that we may not cut down trees during the siege of a city. The tree of the field is man's life to be used in and after the siege.
· The Code of Jewish Law states that on Tu B'Shevat fasting and eulogies are forbidden, and all penitential prayers are omitted. One of the most important authorities, the Magen Avraham, adds (131:16): It is the custom to eat many different kinds of fruit. The Arizal suggested the eating of fifteen kinds of fruit (on the fifteenth of the month).
· It should be noted that all Jewish holidays begin at sundown one the eve before the Gregorian date specified for the holiday.
Tu Bishvat Top Events and Things to Do
· Make a Tu Bishvat Fruit Plate. Magen Avraham, a leading Jewish authority suggested the eating of fifteen kinds of fruit (on the fifteenth of the month).
· Say Blessings for new Fruit. Two blessings are said for new fruits (which have not yet been eaten that year), namely the standard blessing for fruits ..Who created the fruits of the tree and ..Who kept us alive, and sustained us and allowed us to reach this day.
· Attend a Tu Bishvat tisch which is popular in Hasidic communities. A Tisch is the Yiddish word for table. It refers to a festive meal with Holy Land fruits, wine, bread, fish and other foods.
· Sing a Tu Bishvat Song. There are many songs on YouTube about Tu Bishvat in both Hebrew and English.
"we will plant Trillions of Trees now"
Planting Trillions of Trees will Cancel Out Decades of CO2 Emission say Scientists. There is enough room in the world’s existing parks, forests, deserts and abandoned land to plant trillions of additional trees, which would have the CO2 storage capacity to cancel out decades of carbon dioxide emissions, according to a new analysis by ecologist Thomas Crowther and colleagues at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university.
Trees are “our most powerful weapon in the fight against climate change,” Crowther told The Independent. Combining forest inventory data from 1.2 million locations around the world and satellite images, the scientists estimate there are 3 trillion trees on Earth — seven times more than previous estimates. and they also found that there is abundant space to restore millions of acres of additional forests, not counting urban and agricultural land.
“There’s 400 gigatons [of CO2 stored] now in the 3 trillion trees,” Crowther said. “If we were to scale that up by Planting trillions of more trees now, because that’s in the order of hundreds of gigatons captured from the atmosphere – and anthropogenic emissions will completely be wiped out.”
Planting Trillions of Trees will Cancel Out a Decades of CO2 Emissions, Scientists Find. How to erase 100 years of carbon emissions? Plant trees—lots of them. and there are more than 2000 species of trees with edible fruits and nuts and berries and olives and trees have medicinal properties.
Second Sunday After Epiphany
Religious freedom day
8 He put FEAR of him into their hearts to show them the grandeur of his works, 9 that they might describe the wonders of his deeds 10 and praise his holy name.
It is in and through the Mass that we can see the grandeur of God. Perhaps after Mass would be a great time to take a trek outdoors and in wonder of nature praise his holy name. Create a list of places of grandeur to wonder at the art of God. Start with three or four with a goal of doing one per each season of the year. Here is mine:
· March 19. St. Joseph of the Mountains Shrine.
· June 4-6. Early morning hike Fay Canyon meditate on precious blood of Christ and then hike after breakfast Devils Bridge. Stay Crescent Moon Ranch Cabin.
· September or October. Beaver falls are notoriously difficult to access but once you arrive the site is breath taking. They are the fifth set of falls in the area and are directly after Mooney Falls. Originally some parts of the fall were fifty feet in height, but the floods of 1910 destroyed some of the area. When you are at the site you can see the markings around that show how high the water rose during the flood.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
IV. OFFENSES AGAINST THE DIGNITY OF MARRIAGE
2380 Adultery refers to marital infidelity. When two partners, of whom at least one is married to another party, have sexual relations - even transient ones - they commit adultery. Christ condemns even adultery of mere desire. The sixth commandment and the New Testament forbid adultery absolutely. The prophets denounce the gravity of adultery; they see it as an image of the sin of idolatry.
2381 Adultery is an injustice. He who commits adultery fails in his commitment. He does injury to the sign of the covenant which the marriage bond is, transgresses the rights of the other spouse, and undermines the institution of marriage by breaking the contract on which it is based. He compromises the good of human generation and the welfare of children who need their parents' stable union.
Sunday: Day of Joy, Rest and Solidarity
The "full joy" of Christ
56. Beyond particular ritual forms, which can vary in time depending upon Church discipline, there remains the fact that Sunday, as a weekly echo of the first encounter with the Risen Lord, is unfailingly marked by the joy with which the disciples greeted the Master: "The disciples rejoiced to see the Lord" (Jn 20:20). This was the confirmation of the words which Jesus spoke before the Passion and which resound in every Christian generation: "You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn to joy" (Jn 16:20). Had not he himself prayed for this, that the disciples would have "the fullness of his joy" (cf. Jn 17:13)? The festive character of the Sunday Eucharist expresses the joy that Christ communicates to his Church through the gift of the Spirit. Joy is precisely one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 14:17; Gal 5:22).
Second Sunday after Epiphany
Christ manifests His divinity and His mystical union with the Church with His first miracle at the Wedding of Cana.
THE Introit the Church invites us to thank God for the incarnation of His only begotten Son: “Let all the earth adore Thee, and sing to Thee, O God; let it sing a psalm to Thy name, shout with joy to God, all the earth, sing ye a psalm to His name, give glory to His praise”.
Almighty and everlasting God, “Who dost govern all things in heaven and on earth, mercifully hear the prayers of Thy people, and grant us Thy peace in our days”. Amen.
Rom. xii. 6-16. Brethren:
We have different gifts, according to the grace that is given us: either prophecy, to be used according to the rule of faith, or ministry in ministering, or he that teacheth in doctrine, he that exhorteth in exhorting, he that giveth with simplicity, he that ruleth with carefulness, he that showeth mercy with cheerfulness. Let love be without dissimulation. Hating that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good: loving one another with the charity of brotherhood: with honor preventing one another: in carefulness not slothful: in spirit fervent: serving the Lord: rejoicing in hope: patient in tribulation: instant in prayer; communicating to the necessities of the saints: pursuing hospitality. Bless them that persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that rejoice, weep with them that weep: being of one mind one towards another: not minding high things, but consenting to the humble. Be not wise in your own conceits.
What lesson does the Apostle give us in this epistle?
That we should hate that which is evil, and love that which is good; that we should love one another, and practice works of mercy; that we should be solicitous and fervent, as in the service of God. We should cooperate with the grace of God, and pray instantly.
PRACTICAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR SUPERIORS.
They must expect a severe judgment who seek office only for the sake of emolument, caring little for their duty, and regarding bribes and presents rather than justice. Hmm…sounds like Nancy and Joe to me.
O God, give us Thy grace to follow faithfully what St. Paul teaches us of humility and charity, that we may have compassion on all who are in need, and not exalt ourselves above our neighbors, but, humbling ourselves with the humble, may merit, with them, to be exalted. Amen.
GOSPEL. John ii. 1-11
At that time there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee, and the Mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus also was invited, and His disciples, to the marriage. And the wine failing, the Mother of Jesus saith to Him: They have no wine. And Jesus saith to her: Woman, what is to Me and to thee? My hour is not yet come. His Mother saith to the waiters: Whatsoever He shall say to you, do ye. Now there were set there six water-pots of stone, according to the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three measures apiece. Jesus saith to them: Fill the water-pots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And Jesus saith to them: Draw out now and carry to the chief steward of the feast. And they carried it. And when the chief steward had tasted the water made wine, and knew not whence it was, but the waiters knew who had drawn the water: the chief steward calleth the bridegroom, and saith to him: Every man at first setteth forth good wine, and when men have well drank, then that which is worse; but thou hast kept the good wine until now. This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.
Why was Jesus present at the wedding with His Mother and disciples?
1. In order there to reveal His majesty, and by that means to establish and confirm the belief in His divinity.
2. To show that marriage is pleasing to God.
3. To let us understand how pious the bridegroom and bride were.
4. To teach us that those pleasures are permitted which are in accordance with reason and Christianity, and neither sinful nor leading to sin.
Why did Mary intercede for the bride and bridegroom when the wine was failing?
She was sorry for them, for she is the tender-hearted
mediatrix of the afflicted and destitute. Besides, the number of the guests had
been considerably increased by the presence of Jesus and His disciples, so that
the wine was not sufficient for all.
What is the meaning of the words, “Woman, what is that to Me and to thee?”
According to the idiom of the Hebrew language, they mean as much as, Mother, be not anxious; I will provide the wine as soon as the hour appointed by My Father is come. Jesus did not mean to rebuke His Mother, but He thus gave her and all who were present, to understand that He had not received the power of working miracles as the son of woman, but that He possessed it as the Son of God and should use it according to the will of His Father.
Lent is a month away
The Second Sunday in Ordinary Time is exactly 31 days before Ash Wednesday. The Church has entered Tempus ad Annum, "The Season Throughout the Year," most commonly referred to as "Ordinary Time" and will soon enter the six-week period of Lent culminating in the heart of the Liturgy and the Liturgical Year: Easter, the Paschal Feast. Although not a liturgical season of the Church, the weeks after Christmas are unofficially known as "Carnival," a season of balls, parades, parties and rich food. There is no set beginning as Carnival begins on various dates all over the world. Rio de Janeiro and Venice begin two and a half weeks before Ash Wednesday. Most Americans are familiar with the South Louisiana Mardi Gras which begins on Epiphany.
Regardless of when Carnival begins or how it is celebrated, the celebration intensifies the closer it gets to the beginning of Lent and comes to screeching halt on Ash Wednesday.
The word "carnival" literally means "farewell to meat." In earlier times in the Church, Lenten fasting, and abstinence had more stringent rules. Foods such as meat, butter, cheese, milk, eggs, fat, and bacon were all forbidden in Lent, so Carnival was a time to indulge and use up (and not waste) these foods. While Lent doesn't have the formerly strict regulations, the word carnival in a broad sense is also saying farewell to fleshly or worldly pleasures (even if they are mere indulgences and not sinful) before our Lenten penances and mortifications.
Carnival's Spiritual Connections
For centuries, all over the world, this has been known as a time for preparing for Lent. "Preparing for Lent" is an odd way to describe what goes on during Carnival, but it does have religious connections. Perhaps some have forgotten the original intention, but Carnival is a time of mental and physical preparation for the Lenten time of self-denial. This is a time for family, food and fun before we face Ash Wednesday and fill our days with prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Although it seems like such a secular and materialistic celebration, without the spiritual grounding there can be no Carnival. As Josef Pieper explains:
Wherever festivity can freely vent itself in all its possible forms, an event is produced that leaves no zone of life, worldly or spiritual, untouched.... There are worldly, but there are no purely profane, festivals. And we may presume that not only can we not find them, but that they cannot exist. A festival without gods is a non-concept, is inconceivable. For example, Carnival remains festive only where Ash Wednesday still exists. To eliminate Ash Wednesday is to eliminate the Carnival itself. Yet Ash Wednesday is obviously a day in Christendom's liturgical year (Josef Pieper, 1963, pp 33-34).
And Bernard Strasser elaborates on this spiritual connection:
These carnival days in particular contain a remarkable lesson of spirituality for us. According to their origin and the Church's intention they are anything but days of thoughtless conviviality, and certainly not of dissolute merrymaking. They are not a carryover from pagan times, of which the Church was unable to destroy the memory and observance. Rather are they an integral part of the Church year, with the significant task of illustrating graphically the first part of the Church's sermon text for this season: "You are fools, all of you who seek your final end in earthly things! I your Mother will during the coming weeks of Lent show you where true happiness may be found, Who it is that brought it, and how He merited it for us" (Carnival and Ashes, Orate Fratres: A Liturgical Review, Vol. XVII, No. 4, 146).
Of course, over the centuries there have been abuses of extremes, and the Church has counterbalanced by providing spiritual balance, such as encouragement for Shriving (confessions), Eucharist Adoration, especially the Forty Hours devotion before Ash Wednesday.
There is a juxtaposition of Carnival and Lent. As Pieper mentioned that Carnival festivity "leaves no zone of life, worldly or spiritual, untouched," similar to our observance of Lent. The Church gives us this time to reexamine and reorder all aspects of our life. We can see the contrast of Carnival indulgence and Lenten fasting not just in foods, but all areas of life.
Balancing Family Fun Time
Maria von Trapp in Around the Year with the Trapp Family recognized Carnival as a time for family celebration. She suggested using this time of "merry-making" for dancing, singing, games, parties and gatherings with family and friends. Perhaps some of her suggestions seem subdued and old-fashioned for a very electronically connected generation, but her emphasis was to enjoy the togetherness. Our attention is focused outward nurturing family connections and friendships, with opportunities in practicing dancing and music. The opposite is true in the season of Lent: it is a season to reduce social activities, to turn off the extra noise and visuals (electronics) and to turn inward to talk to and listen to God.
In the modern world our lives are not as connected to the days and the seasons of nature except as inconvenience or enjoyment. Many of us are also disconnected to the rhythm of the Liturgical Year, with its contrasting seasons and feasts. Maria von Trapp explained this so beautifully:
Nobody could stand a Thanksgiving Day dinner every day of the year. There can only be mountains if there are also valleys. It is a pity that the Reformation did away not only with most of the sacraments and all of the sacramentals, but also, unfortunately, with the very breath of the Mystical Body — that wonderful, eternal rhythm of high and low tide that makes up the year of the Church: times of waiting alternate with times of fulfillment, the lean weeks of Lent with the feasts of Easter and Pentecost, times of mourning with seasons of rejoicing. Modern man lost track of this. Deep down in the human heart, however, is imbedded the craving to celebrate, and, in a dumb way, the other craving to abstain, perhaps to atone. In general, these cravings are no longer directed in seasonal channels, as they are for the Catholic, or even for the aborigine who participates in some tribal religious belief.....
It should be our noble right and duty to bring up our children in such a way that they become conscious of high tide and low tide, that they learn that there is "a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance." The rhythm of nature as it manifests itself in the four seasons, in day and night, in the individual's heartbeat and breathing — this rhythm we should learn to recognize, and to treat with more reverence. Modern man has become used to turning day into night and night into day according to his whim or pleasure. He has managed to lose contact completely with himself. He has lost the instinct for the right food and drink, stuffing himself with huge quantities of the wrong things and feeding himself sick. But worst of all, and this sounds almost ridiculous, in the process of growing up he forgot the right kind of breathing....
Again, it is our faithful friend, Holy Mother Church, who leads her children first back to nature in order to make them ready to receive supernatural grace. "Gratia supponit naturam."
Looked upon in this light, the weeks of Carnival are a most necessary time for the individual as well as for families and communities. This period is set aside for us to "let off steam," "to have a good time." And for this we need company. Therefore, Carnival is most obviously the season for parties and family get-togethers...with the avowed intention of having that good time together. Carnival is the time to be social, to give and to receive invitations for special parties. It is the time to celebrate as a parish group... (Maria von Trapp, Around the Year with the Trapp Family, Carnival or Mardi Gras).
Mrs. Trapp shared different activities that her family enjoyed, such as folk dancing, singing folk songs, and playing games. Growing up my family enjoyed similar ideas, even though we weren't as musical as the Trapp Family. We loved to learn songs in rounds or harmony to sing together. Other ideas: taking hikes that end singing around a campfire, and Bunco parties, which any age can enjoy. Our local homeschool group just had a sock-hop open to all ages, and checkers and chess tournaments on cold winter days. Some gatherings can be quiet, like family movie nights with popcorn. And don't forget just nurturing mothers with little social gatherings, maybe with themes like a little craft or recipe exchange or just coffee or wine and adult conversation. I have hosted socials where my friends and family come to learn and practice writing pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs). Later in Lent we have quiet times where we work on our eggs as meditative work, but during Carnival time it's more of a fun social gathering. The object is to enjoy this time with others.
Carnival is a season with a spiritual focus that encompasses the entire person. It provides contrasts with the spiritual and material, with feasting and fasting, and with Ordinary Time and Lent. We can embrace this time and find ways for merry making, focusing on family and friends to highlight those contrasts in preparation for Lent. Happy Carnival Time!
Religious Freedom Day
Religions and religious organizations have been responsible for a great deal of good being done in the world, from the founding of worldwide charity organizations to simply inspiring people to be kinder and humbler on a daily basis, as well as more sympathetic to the plight of his fellow man. Unfortunately, an often-observed characteristic of many religions is that their faithful often try to convert others to their faith, and when those others refuse, the consequences can be grave. From the Roman persecutions of Christians in the ancient times, to the infamous Spanish Inquisition, to the witch hunts of Puritan America, to the Islamic Jihads (or secular progressives for that matter) still occurring today, it is easy to see how dangerous religions can be if not checked, and how overzealous believers in a certain god or no god at all can be in attempting to force everyone else to believe as they do. This is why it is enormously important to make sure religious freedom is granted and protected to all, and this is why the Founding Fathers of the United States of America saw this as such.
On January 16, 1786, soon after the United States of America came into existence as a sovereign nation, the Virginia General Assembly adopted Thomas Jefferson’s landmark Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. This statute then became the basis for what we know today as the First Amendment, which guarantees religious freedom to all people residing in the U.S.A. Every year since then, a statement is released on this same day by the president of the United States officially proclaiming Religious Freedom Day.
How to Celebrate Religious Freedom Day
A good way to celebrate Religious Freedom Day is to do some research about what life used to be like before religious freedom was protected, and every person had the right to believe as he or she chose.
· “The Name of the Rose” is both an excellent book and an excellent movie, which quite accurately depicts what life was like during the Inquisition, and how far the inquisitors were willing to go to find and punish people they suspected of sorcery.
· The young adult novel titled, “The Witch of Blackbird Pond” can also help one understand what it was like to be the least bit different from the rest of the villagers in 17th century New England, and just how dangerous it was to avoid church.
· 1951’s Quo Vadis, on the other hand, demonstrates how badly Christian were persecuted during the reign of the Emperor Nero in Ancient Rome.
· “The Diary of a Young Girl”, written by Jewish teenager Anne Frank during the height of the Nazi persecution of Europe’s Jewish population is both interesting a heartbreaking when one thinks about all of the other innocent children like Anne who died horrible deaths for simply being of the wrong religion.
· The works of Salman Rushdie could also prove to be a very insightful read, as the author himself received years of death threats after the release of his acclaimed novel “The Satanic Verses”, which was critical of Islam was published.
· Now. What if you refuse abortion tainted vaccines?
It could also be an interesting idea to have several of your friends of different faiths get together for coffee and discuss how positively religious freedom and the freedom to not practice any religion at all impact all of your lives and help make them better. Religious freedom is a wonderful thing, that should be fully appreciated and celebrated.
Today is my sister’s birthday; Denise Gail (her name means “To be devoted …to the joy of the father); please pray for her intentions.
· Today in honor of the Holy Trinity do the Divine Office giving your day to God. To honor God REST: no shopping after 6 pm Saturday till Monday. Don’t forget the internet.
Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.