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WINTER FESTIVAL-BALLET


Charles Dickens birthday 1812

 

Sirach, Chapter 29, Verse 7

Many refuse to lend, not out of meanness, but from FEAR of being cheated needlessly.

 

The lending of money was part of the cycle of life for a righteous Jew and then as today a good person was afraid of being cheated by someone holding a sign up that says: “Why lie I still get high” “Help” “God Bless”.

 

Lending and Love: A Jewish Approach to Loans[1]

 

Tracee Rosen suggests that the Torah provides a system of social engineering in its complex laws of land management and interest-free loans. Every seven years the land was to lie fallow and debts were cancelled. In the meantime, it was forbidden for Jews to charge one another interest when lending money. Tracee Rosen writes, “Both are social engineering policies designed to forestall widening the chasm between the haves and the have-nots in society. Helping the poor become more self-sufficient through these two policies also meant a reduction in the number of Jews who would be required to sell themselves into indentured servitude to repay their debts.” That said we confront a variety of complex problems in the practical application of these laws both in ancient and modern times. While borrowing was the last resort in an agrarian society lending and borrowing of money took on commercial significance in a society that was built upon business and the exchange of capital rather than agriculture. The sages came up with ingenious strategies for circumventing the prohibition against lending money with interest while trying to maintain the spirit if not the letter of the law. At the heart of these practices was a deep belief that property is not ours unconditionally and that we have a responsibility to share our resources with others. From the perspective of the Bible and the sages lending money to fellow Israelites in times of difficult economic straits was an “act of righteousness and kindness.” And yet to loan funds without some type of system of interest became untenable over time. The sages wondered how to balance righteousness with a stable economy.

 

We are left to wonder whether these ingenious strategies circumvent the law or capture the spirit of the law. If we are but stewards of God’s wealth, we must ask ourselves what our responsibilities are to others.

 

Halakhah L’ma-aseh

 

1.               The key to understanding these texts from the Torah properly is that they all suppose the act of lending money to fellow Israelites in times of difficult economic straits to be an act of righteousness and kindness. And indeed, we are commanded multiple times in the Torah to behave righteously toward strangers, poor people, orphans, and widows. The Observant Life, pp.556

 

2.               Giving gifts of charity, of course, is one way to help the poor and powerless. But the Torah seems to recognize at least tacitly, that almost all people will be capable of lending far greater sums of money than they will be able to give away outright as charitable gifts.-The Observant Life, pp. 557

 

3.               It is crucial to remember that the biblical view of lending is rooted in the assumption that loans function primarily in society as a means for the wealthy to assist people in dire economic circumstances. -The Observant Life, pp. 558

 

4.               In our day, there are special societies that exist to facilitate lending money to Jews as an act of charity, but the reality in our world is that most loans are sought from banks or other lending institutions as commercial enterprises rather than acts of charity. The Observant Life, pp. 560

 

5.               The prohibition against taking interest from another Jew was taken so seriously that the Talmud actually rules that participating in such a loan represents a transgression not only for the lender and the borrower, but also for the guarantor, the witnesses and even the scribe...nonetheless, as the financial realities of the medieval period changed, some sort of device was required whereby merchants and business people could borrow money in order to finance their business...referred to as torat iska (business law), the document restructures what we would normally understand as a loan into a kind of business partnership. The Observant Life, pp. 560

 

6.               At the deepest level, these laws are a powerful translation of the dogmatic notion that everything we own ultimately belongs to God from the realm of pious ideas into the world of real people and their very real needs, being willing to release a loan, therefore, is a kind of tacit acknowledgement that all wealth is on loan from the Creator anyway! -The Observant Life, pp. 564

 

7.               In general, the Jewish attitude toward individual wealth can be summed up by these words from the first verse of the twenty fourth psalm: "The earth is the Eternal's and all it contains." And indeed, from the Jewish perspective, we are merely the conservators and stewards of the wealth that ultimately belongs to God. -The Observant Life, pp. 8

 

Marriage Week[2] 

Simon Peter and the other fishermen are astonished at the catch that reveals Jesus as Lord. Jesus’ response to Simon Peter is reassuring: “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men”. Once again, the fisherman of Galilee places his trust in the words of Jesus and leaves everything to follow Him. James and John also do the same; from now on, they will be ‘fishers of men’. Jesus invites them to share in His mission, the mission of the Church. As baptized, we all partake in the mission of Jesus Christ, priest, prophet, and king. As married men and women, the calling is lived out in a concrete home and family. How does your life as a couple, as parents, as godparents, or in another way, touch the lives of your family? How are you witnesses and bearers of the Gospel?

 

What Is Marriage?[3]

 

Marriage is a lifelong partnership of the whole of life, of mutual and exclusive fidelity, established by mutual consent between a man and a woman, and ordered towards the good of the spouses and the procreation of offspring. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us, marriage is not a purely human institution: the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state has been established by the creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws. . .. For God himself is the author of marriage. Moreover, God has endowed marriage with certain essential attributes, without which marriage cannot exist as he intends.

 

The Church has taught through the ages that marriage is an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman. This union, once validly entered and consummated, gives rise to a bond that cannot be dissolved by the will of the spouses. Marriage thus created is a faithful, privileged sphere of intimacy between the spouses that lasts until death.

 

Marriage is not merely a private institution, however. It is the foundation for the family, where children learn the values and virtues that will make good Christians as well as good citizens. The importance of marriage for children and for the upbringing of the next generation highlights the importance of marriage for all society.

 

Conjugal love, the love proper to marriage, is present in the commitment to the complete and total gift of self between husband and wife. Conjugal love establishes a unique communion of persons through the relationship of mutual self-giving and receiving between husband and wife, a relationship by which ―a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body [flesh]‖(Gn 2:24).The Second Vatican Council speaks about conjugal love in words of great beauty: The Lord, wishing to bestow special gifts of grace and divine love on married love, has restored, perfected, and elevated it. A love like that, bringing together the human and the divine, leads the partners to a free and mutual self-giving, experienced in tenderness and action, and permeating their entire lives; this love is actually developed and increased by its generous exercise in conjugal love one can see something of how Christ loves his Church (Eph 5:25). 

Resources 

·       On marriages in crisis –For Your Marriage list of ministries that help married couples in difficulty or crisis

·       On healthy sexuality within marriage –Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae,1968.

·       On divorce –USCCB, Divorce and the Church’s Healing Ministry, 2010.

·       On lust and pornography –USCCB: Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Pornography, 2015 and Clean Heart series of pamphlets, 2016.

·       Pope Francis’s Catechesis on the Family, January 7, 2015 –November 18, 2015.

·       USCCB, Pastoral Letter Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan, 2009.

·       USCCB, For Your Marriage website: foryourmarriage.org.

·       USCCB, Por Tu Matrimonio website: portumatrimonio.org.

 

Ballet Day[4]Beauty is the Foretaste of Heaven


 

When life takes me on a new journey, I simply remember the smile my first ballet recital put on my face and I move forward.
– Andrea Thompson

 

There’s something magical about going to ballet. The music, the outfits, the utter passion of the dance as the ballet artists lose themselves to the performance, all of it comes together to create a beautiful, otherworldly experience for those in attendance. There is an almost magical power in their graceful movements across the stage, like flower petals on a stiffening breeze. Ballet Day encourages you to get out and see the ballet again, or for the first time if you haven’t already. Ballet found its origins during the Renaissance throughout Italy and France, though it had yet to evolve into the form we know it today. There were no tutus, no ballet slippers, and the iconic pointe work of ballet were all things to come in the future. It found roots in court dances, and thus incorporated the proper dance dress of women at the time, formal gowns that descended to the ankle. Unlike modern performances, the audience would join the dance as it came to a close. Later, it would come to take influences from the French ballet de cour, a form of performance which were performed strictly by the nobility, and would blend dance with speech, music, verse, song, and a great amount of pageantry. Ballet was beginning to take the shape we know of today, and it was here that it developed into a true art form. Since then it has spread throughout the world, from Russia to Germany, and is loved everywhere for its intrinsic beauty. Since then, it has been driven to new artistic heights and embraced multiple cultures, and Ballet Day encourages you to get out and experience its beauty for yourself.

 

How to celebrate Ballet Day


Go to the ballet! That’s the first and best way.
World Ballet Day is a yearly organized event that celebrates the beauty of ballet and what it’s become in the world today. Events are held all over the world, and videos are taken, so don’t think you have to miss out on this beautiful expression of the arts simply because you aren’t able to get out to see them. Ballet will come home to you! So, get out there and get yourself some culture! 

Play More Cards Day[1]

Cards get a bad rap sometimes—and true, there are cards games that can be very addictive if not kept under control. But cards can also be the source of great entertainment for friends who just want to hang out and spend some time together, laughing and relaxing. In general, however, playing cards is fun, and as with most fun things that relax us, it’s typically a good idea to do more of them and let your brain take a break from the stress it’s used to for a change. This is where Play More Cards Day comes in. Play More Cards Day was created in 2013 by Bicycle Cards, the biggest producer of playing cards in the United States. The company began producing their cards in 1885, and they have since had sizable roles in various important historical events. For example, during World War II, the deck was designed as a puzzle, which when put together, became a map. This map was supposed to help potential prisoners make their way to safety once they escaped. Wars also prompted Bicycle Cards to create waterproof cards that would not peel, rip or fall apart after coming into contact with water or moisture. During the Vietnam War, the ace of spades printed on Bicycle Cards’ playing cards was thought to have severe psychological effects on the Viet Cong, which viewed it as a symbol of death and infinite bad luck for their activities. Initially, this rumor was false, but as time went by and American soldiers continued to use Bicycle Cards’ ace of spades as their symbol, it eventually did become a relevant part of Vietnam War psychological warfare symbolism.

How to Celebrate Play More Cards Day

The simplest, as well as the most fun way to celebrate this day, is to, in fact, play more cards. Do you have a favorite card game? If not, find out what you like best by trying out a few different card games. Some people find playing a card game in which you have no partner or team especially fun and challenging, while others prefer the company of another teammate to help them out if they get in a fix, like the Polish cards game Hola. If you’re a person who values peace and quiet above all other things, playing solitaire with real cards as opposed to just clicking on them could prove entertaining. Choose whichever card game you want to play on this day, the only requirement is that you have a good time. Another great way to make sure a party (even a small one) is a success is to have various foods to snack on. If you’re all to be touching cards, it would probably be best of the snacks you choose were not too greasy so as not to dirty the cards. With baked chips becoming all the more popular compared to regular deep-fried chips, that could turn out to be a much easier criterion to meet than it seems. And if all else fails, you and your friends can simply take a break from the game to fill up on something tasty, and them go right back to what you were doing.

Deck of Cards[2]

Song by Tex Ritter 

Friends, this is Tex Ritter with a strange story about a soldier boy and a deck of cards. During a North African campaign, a bunch of soldier boys had been on a long hike, and they arrived in a little town called Casino." 

The next morning being Sunday several of the boys went to church. A Sargent commanded the boys in church, and after the Chaplain had read the prayer the text was taken up next. Those of the boys who had a prayer book took them out, but this one boy only had a deck of cards, and so he spread them out. The Sergeant saw the cards and said, "Soldier, put away those cards." After the services were over the soldier was taken prisoner and brought before the Provost Marshall. 

The Marshall said, "Sargent, why have you brought this man here?" 

"For playing cards in church, sir." 

"And what have you to say for yourself, son?" 

"Much, sir." replied the soldier. 

'The Marshall said, "I hope so, for if not, I shall punish you more than any man was ever punished." 

The soldier said, "Sir, I have been on a march for about six days, and I had neither Bible nor Prayer Book, but I hope to satisfy you, Sir, with the purity of my intentions." 

With that the boy started his story. 

"You see, Sir, when I look at the Ace it reminds me that there is but one God. The deuce reminds me that the Bible is divided into two parts: The Old and New Testaments. And when I see the trey I think of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. When I see the four, I think of the four evangelist who preached the Gospel. There was Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And when I see the five it reminds me of the five wise virgins who trimmed their lamps. Ten of 'em; five who were wise and were saved; five were foolish and were shut out. And when I see the six it reminds me that in six days God made this great heaven and earth. And when I see the seven it reminds me that on the seventh day God rested from His great work. When I see the eight, I think of the eight righteous persons God saved when he destroyed this earth. There was Noah, his wife, their three sons, and their wives. And when I see the nine, I think of the lepers our Savior cleansed, and nine of the ten didn't even thank Him. When I see the ten, I think of the Ten Commandments God handed down to Moses on a tablet of stone. When I see the King, it reminds me that there is but one King of Heaven, God Almighty. And when I see the queen, I think of the Blessed Virgin Mary who is Queen of Heaven. And the jacks, or knaves, it's the devil. And when I count the number of spots on a deck of cards, I find three hundred sixty-five the number of days in a year. Fifty-two cards, the number of weeks in a year. Four suits, the number of weeks in a month. Twelve picture cards, the number of months in a year. Thirteen tricks, the number of weeks in a quarter. So, you see, Sir, my pack of cards serve me as a Bible, almanac, and prayer book." 

"Friends, I know this story is true, because I knew that soldier."

Daily Devotions 

·       Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Holy Bishops and Cardinals

·       Monday: Litany of Humility

·       Enjoy a hot chocolate today

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Universal Man Plan

·       Rosary




[1]https://www.daysoftheyear.com/days/play-more-cards-day/

[2]Deck of Cards lyrics © BMG Rights Management

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