Introduction to Isaiah
Isaiah is a book with a good number of what you might call "mood swings" in it. It goes back and forth between describing the total destruction of all nations and human civilization (boo), to looking forward to a time of universal peace and goodness (yay). This is because Isaiah—or the people who put together Isaiah's book, arranging the prophecies—lived at a time when destruction and retribution seemed to be at hand. At roughly 800 BCE, Assyria was attacking Israel (which, in the Bible, is a pretty typical Assyrian move), and Isaiah was trying to explain how this was really the result of Israel's own sins. But on the plus side: he also keeps predicting a future time when it all gets better.
Isaiah was a person—but he was also a tradition. The Book of Isaiah wasn't, as a whole, written entirely by the original prophet named Isaiah. Many parts of it were written by other people who were inspired by him, and wrote under his name, in his style—kind of like "fan fiction," except this was extremely high quality, prophetic fan fiction (not some sort of "Harry Potter marries Hermione" alternate fantasy thing). Of course, plenty of people believe it was written by one person, but this is the way scholars of Hebrew typically break down the text to try to understand it:
Originally, scholars thought that there were three different "Isaiahs"—known respectively as Proto Isaiah (Chapters 1-39), Deutero-Isaiah (Chapters 40-55), and Trito Isaiah (chapters 56-66). (This is basically a fun, Latin way to say First, Second, and Third Isaiah.) But now it seems like there were (possibly) many more. The relationship between all these different "Isaiahs" is sort of like the way the band Dread Zeppelin does reggae versions of Led Zeppelin songs, except that the original Isaiah's imitators were much more talented and inspired than the consciously not-good members of Dread Zeppelin.
Isaiah fits into the Bible as one of the prophets at the top of the bill—his book is filled with classic examples of the kind of things you would expect a Biblical prophet to say. He's definitely a "major" prophet, and not at all a minor one. In fact, he's up in the big leagues with Ezekiel and Jeremiah, since the books bearing their names are also long and full of plenty of striking images, visions, and predictions. Isaiah has always been a big hit with Christians, too, since they usually interpret him as prophesying the coming of Jesus with his famous passages about the "Suffering Servant." Some have even called Isaiah the "Fifth Gospel" (so, you know, the book's got that going for it).
Ezekiel's visions are really far-out, and Jeremiah's visions are saturated with
gloom and doom, Isaiah's visions always reach towards the hope of finding peace
and rest at last. He helps center the other prophets by keeping his eyes on the
prize, looking forward to the finale at the end of time, the moment when peace and love are finally allowed to rule overall. Far out.
What is the Book of Isaiah About and Why Should I Care?
Well… Isaiah really cares that you care. He's an intense guy, and he wants your attention. He can speak with the voice of God, and he strongly thinks you should hear what it's saying. So, with the dude insistently tugging at your sleeve, are you really going to ignore him?
Maybe—if you've got no idea what he's talking about. But what Isaiah has to offer up is something pretty important: a description of the lowest lows and the highest highs that human beings can conceive of. On the one hand, he's spinning out various visions of total destruction: the wrath of God destroys entire nations and cities, annihilating every man, woman, and child. Wolves and ostriches (yeah, ostriches, among other wild animals) are moving into the ruins, while, on the plus side, the blood and fat spilled by all the dead people is making the soil pretty rich and fertile (ew). So… those are the lows.
But the highs might capture your attention, as well—although they lack the destructive flair of the lows, which you can picture as being like so many well-wrought death-metal album covers. Isaiah continually balances out the massive-scale slaughter with visions of world-wide peace and love. He sees that planet earth will end up being a place where "the lion lies down with the lamb", and where you can play with poisonous snakes without fear of getting bitten (good times).
So, Isaiah isn't just about bringing the wrath, he's also about bringing the love (he's maybe even more about bringing the love, in the end). While reading Isaiah, though, you can keep looking at both aspects. You can also keep wondering whether this is the worst that we're capable of envisioning and the best that we're capable of envisioning—to see how far the your imagination can reach in either direction. Isaiah says that wrath will ultimately give way to forgiveness and mercy. He holds the nice stuff and the not-so-nice stuff up against each other.
The God Isaiah represents is a God of strict justice, but he's also merciful. This might seem to be a contradiction, since pure justice and pure mercy can't really exist at the same time (since you can't forgive someone while simultaneously punishing them)—and in Isaiah, they don't exist at the same time. The justice and wrath of God decimate everyone and pretty much everything for a span of time, but in the end, they fall away totally. What you're left with is a vision of what living in a world governed entirely by mercy would look like and as, it turns out, it's pretty sweet.
The chance to wrestle with these issues—to explore the contradictions between mercy and justice on the page and in your own life—is one of the most important reasons to take an interest in Isaiah. After all, what could be more basic than that? They're big concepts, tough to work your mind around, but rewarding just the same. So, buckle up and dive into all that Mercy and Justice, Love and War.
February 25 Carnival Friday
Isaiah, Chapter 7, Verse 3-6
Then the LORD said to Isaiah: Go out
to meet Ahaz, you and your son Shear-jashub, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool, on
the highway to the fuller’s field, 4 and say to him: Take care
you remain calm and do not FEAR; do not let your courage fail before
these two stumps of smoldering brands, the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans and of the son of Remaliah— 5
because Aram, with Ephraim and the son of Remaliah, has planned evil
against you. They say, “Let us go up against Judah, tear it apart, make
it our own by force, and appoint the son of Tabeel king there.
These verses contain a series of oracles and narratives, all closely related to the Syro-Ephraimite war of 735–732 B.C. Several passages feature three children whose symbolic names refer to the Lord’s purposes: Shear-jashub, Emmanuel, and Maher-shalal-hash-baz. Judah and its Davidic dynasty should trust God’s promises and not fear the combined armies of Israel and Syria; within a very short time these two enemy states will be destroyed, and David’s dynasty will continue. Human plans contrary to those of the Lord are doomed to frustration.
Syro-Ephraimite Wartook place in the 8th
century BC, when the Neo-Assyrian Empire was a great regional power. The
tributary nations of Syria (often called Aram) and the Kingdom of Israel (often
called Ephraim because of the main tribe) decided to break away. The Kingdom of
Judah, ruled by King Ahaz, refused to join the coalition. In 735 BC Syria,
under Rezin, and Israel, under Pekah, attempted to depose Ahaz through an
invasion. Judah was being defeated and, according to 2 Chronicles, lost 120,000
troops in just one day. Many significant officials were killed, including
the king's son. Many others were taken away as slaves. During the invasion, the
Philistines and Edomites were taking advantage of the situation and raiding
towns and villages in Judah. Ahaz asked Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria for
help. The Assyrians defended Judah, conquering Israel, Syria, and the
Philistines, but the post-war alliance only brought more trouble for the king
of Judah. Ahaz had to pay tribute to Tiglath-Pileser III with treasures from
the Temple in Jerusalem and the royal treasury. He also built idols of Assyrian
gods in Judah to find favor with his new ally.
Isaiah tells King Ahaz that the invasion will be unsuccessful and tells him to ask God for a sign. Ahaz refuses, claiming he does not want to test God. Isaiah then announces that God himself will choose the sign:
A young woman shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel. He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.— Isaiah 7:14-16
Isaiah 8 details another prophecy about a child by the name of Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Hebrew: מַהֵר שָׁלָל חָשׁ בַּז "Hurry to the spoils!" or "He has made haste to the plunder!"). Isaiah then explains that the significance of this name is that before this child can speak, Assyria will plunder both Syria and Ephraim. Isaiah concludes these prophecies concerning his children, Shear-Jashub (meaning "the remnant shall return"), Immanuel (meaning "God with us"), and Maher-shalal-hash-baz, by saying,
Here am I, and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion. — Isaiah 8:18
The context continues into chapter 9 which also uses a birth of a child as its object.
Carnival Friday-Rio de Janeiro
At the height of Rio’s summer, beginning at least a week before the official event, which runs from the Friday before Ash Wednesday until Shrove (Fat) Tuesday. Rio’s more than 70 samba “schools” (neighborhood social groups, not educational institutions) spend the entire year preparing for this moment, and many open to visitors beginning in September for those who come outside of Carnival season. For those who come for the Carnival itself, though, the centerpiece is the samba parades, made up of lavishly costumed troupes and over-the-top floats from Grupo Especial (the 12 top-tier schools)— each accompanied by a pounding, 150-member-strong drum corps— who perform and compete on the Sunday and Monday before Ash Wednesday.
The parades are televised from 9 P.M. to dawn, at the filled-to-capacity, 75,000-seat Sambódromo (a stadium built specifically for this purpose). Here, the flamboyantly— often scantily— dressed teams fill the air with music, passion, and unbridled frenzy as they compete for the year’s coveted championship.
Indoor samba balls (often attended by guests in full costume) are held in nightclubs, bars, and some hotels around town. But the most authentic experience of all is to join the open-air concerts and tag-along bands that snake through the beachside neighborhoods of Copacabana, Ipanema, and Leblon and the hilltop Bohemian district of Santa Teresa, forming a kind of citywide street party. A glitzy and outrageous bacchanal of flesh and fantasy, Rio’s Carnival is not for the prudish or crowd-fearing.
For those who
want to escape the chaos of Carnival, there’s the grand Belmond Copacabana
Palace, which hosts the most exclusive black-tie ball in Rio. Built in 1923,
“The Palace” overlooks the famous beach from which it takes its name, and its
elegant pool makes a beautiful setting for a dip or an afternoon caipirinha
(cocktail), while its top-rated restaurants serve excellent meals. This was the
backdrop for Flying Down to Rio, the 1933 film that first paired Fred Astaire
and Ginger Rogers; the movie made the Palace a Hollywood favorite. The myth of
yesteryear lives on in the ornate Golden Room; its famous glass dance floor,
lit from below, is where the famous Magic Ball takes place during Carnival.
The Devil and Temptations
There are many and varied ways in which sin and evil are presented to us in an attractive way.
Spiritualists or Spiritualistic Churches
· Spiritualism involves a communication with the dead or with the spirit world by some psychic or occult means.
· Great care is to be used because many people are fooled. There can be the use of the Bible, holy water, statues of saints and Catholic hymns. Spiritualists often believe in the Fatherhood of God, doing good to others, personal responsibility for what one does, reward for good deeds and punishment for evil deeds. Many are Christian or even Catholic and profess faith in Jesus.
· There is always a dangerous attempt to communicate with the dead or with spirits in some way. It can be through a seance, or perhaps the person just seems to go into a trance.
· Spiritualists are involved in healing, witchcraft, fortune telling or even blessing homes to protect them. Sometimes they believe in reincarnation as well.
· This is the belief that the soul, after death, passes into the body of another human being, an animal, a plant or even an object. Many oriental religions or cults believe this. In Hinduism the god Vishnu is believed to have several reincarnations as a fish, a dwarf, as the person of Rama, and as Krishna in the different ages of the world. This is contrary to the Bible and to all Christian belief in the afterlife. "It is appointed that men die once, and after death be judged" (Heb. 10:27). Those involved with spiritualists must renounce Satan, renounce spiritualism, ask God's pardon, and confess their sin to a priest.
NOVENA TO THE HOLY FACE
Daily Preparatory Prayer
O Most Holy and Blessed Trinity, through the intercession of Holy Mary, whose soul was pierced through by a sword of sorrow at the sight of the passion of her Divine Son, we ask your help in making a perfect Novena of reparation with Jesus, united with all His sorrows, love and total abandonment.
We now implore all the Angels and Saints to intercede for us as we pray this Holy Novena to the Most Holy Face of Jesus and for the glory of the most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Psalm 51, 12-13.
A pure heart create for us O God, put a steadfast spirit within us. Do not cast us away from your presence nor deprive us of your Holy Spirit.
May our hearts be cleansed, O Lord, by the inpouring of the Holy Spirit, and may He render them fruitful by watering them with His heavenly dew, Mary, the most chaste spouse of the Holy Spirit, intercede for us, Saint Joseph pray for us.
Through the merits of your precious blood and your Holy Face, O Jesus, grant us our petition, Pardon and Mercy.
Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel
O Victorious Prince, most humble guardian of the Church of God and of faithful souls, who with such charity and zeal took part in so many conflicts and gained such great victories over the enemy, for the conservation and protection of the honor and glory we all owe to God, as well as for the promotion of our salvation, come, we pray Thee, to our assistance, for we are continually besieged with such great perils by our enemies, the flesh, the world and the devil; and as Thou was a leader for the people of God through the desert, so also be our faithful leader, and companion through the desert of this world, until Thou conduct us safely into the happy land of the living, in that blessed fatherland from which we are all exiles. Amen. (St. Aloysius)
Pray one (1) Our Father, (3) Hail Mary’s, (1) Glory Be.
O Bleeding Face, O Face Divine, be every adoration Thine. (Three times)
Recognizing that God the Father created man on Friday the 6th day I propose in this blog to have an entry that shares on how to recreate and renew yourself in strength, mind, soul and heart.
Be smart when sunbathing
· Everyone knows that a nice tan gives a healthy glow, so as soon as summer comes, we rush to enjoy sunbathing. However, the research show that excessive and irresponsible sunbathing can cause skin problems including skin cancer. Despite all potential threats to enjoy the sun, sunbathing can be healthy if you take all measures to protect your skin from harmful sun rays. Here are some tips for you when and how to enjoy the sun in order to get a healthy tan without any trouble.
· Every time when you face the sun use a sunscreen with SPF protection. Apply a sunscreen all over your body and face at least 30 minutes before sunbathing so that your skin could absorb the cream. When you are in the sun reapply sunscreen every 30 minutes. Also, don’t forget a sunscreen to your lips as they are very sensitive to the sun.
· First time you shouldn’t stay in the sun for more than 15 minutes. Let your skin to get used to the sun. Then you can gradually increase the time you spend in the sun for 5-10 minutes every time.
· Stay in the sun before the noon or just after 3 p.m. Time from 12 a.m. to 3 p.m. is the most dangerous because the sun causes the most damage at this time.
· Don’t forget to drink lots of water to avoid dehydration. Make sure to wear sunglasses as the sun can violate your retina.
· Moisturize your skin after sunbathing. The best moisturizers contain aloe vera which has soothing properties and helps to restore moisture balance of skin cells.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
II. Transmit the faith: catechesis
6 Without being confused
with them, catechesis is articulated within a certain number of elements of the
pastoral mission of the Church, which have a catechetical aspect, which prepare
for catechesis or which derive from it, such as: first proclamation of the
Gospel or missionary preaching to arouse faith; search for reasons to
believe; experience of Christian life: celebration of the
sacraments; integration in the ecclesial community; apostolic and
missionary witness (cf. CT 18).
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
· Total Consecration to St. Joseph Day 10
· Manhood of the Master-week 1 day 6