Introduction to Lamentations
This book of the Bible is a series of poems all about the destruction of Jerusalem. Around 587 BCE, the Babylonian Empire rolls into Judah, burns the capital city to the ground, destroys Solomon's Temple, and exiles about a quarter of the city's population. This was a traumatic event on a national scale, right up there with slavery in Egypt. The Jewish people are left to pick up the pieces and wonder "why?" Why did this happen to them? Why wasn't God on their side? Why would he allow a bunch of other-god-worshipping foreigners to invade his holy city? And, why, oh, why did he make Babylon so far away from Jerusalem? The author of Lamentations doesn't have an easy job. He needs to answer this question so the people can move forward and start their lives again. The author decides that it's not the Babylonians or God who's to blame for this terrible destruction—it's the Jewish people themselves. They sinned and disobeyed God. He'd warned them in Deuteronomy what to expect when you don't pay attention to God's commandments. Blaming the victim might not have been the most politically correct thing to do, but it worked. The Jewish people were able to regroup from this crisis and come out strong and thriving. And after about 50 years in exile, the Persian Empire came along and crushed the Babylonians to bits. The Jews returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the city and the Temple and nothing bad ever happened to God's chosen people ever again. Lamentations is an age-old book that tries to answer age-old questions—why do bad things happen? How do you cope with tragedy? How can you express your suffering to God and to other people?
Why Should I Care?
There's suffering (no cell reception, breakups) and there's suffering (invasion, mass destruction, death by starvation, exile). Some suffering is avoidable, and some isn't. No matter. Everyone suffers at some time or another. We're all inconsolable at times about tragedies great and small. The question is what can you do about it? Lamentations offers some helpful suggestions. The first is: Lament. And keep lamenting. Sometimes, it just feels good to get those feelings out. So start with the tears, sad movies, or sackcloth and ashes—whatever works. Second suggestion: once you've cried it out, use your suffering as an opportunity for reflection. Think about what got you to this place. Why did it happen? Was it something you did? If you've cried and reflected, and decided you brought all this bad stuff on yourself (like the poet believes Jerusalem did) Lamentations strongly recommends reconciliation. Ask for forgiveness. Beg for a second chance. AND accept the fact that you may have permanently ruined the relationship. Lament some more about that. If you're suffering for no fault of your own, Lamentations still has something good to offer: the possibility of change. Things will get better even if it sure doesn't seem that way at the moment. Think about how things were better before your tragedy and have confidence that they can be that way again. Corny? Kind of. But it can help put things in perspective. Finally, you can talk about your suffering because we suffer together. The last chapter of Lamentations is a communal prayer to end suffering. Why do we publicly commemorate suffering like 9/11 or the Holocaust? Instead of forgetting about the bad times, we hold onto them to remind ourselves why they happened and how far we've come. The ancient Jews who watched Jerusalem burn had just experienced a national tragedy and they dealt with it the only way they could. They cried together, they told stories, they tried to understand, and they didn't forget. Sounds to us like a pretty good blueprint for coping. Some things never get old.
APRIL 29 Friday of the Second Week of Easter
ST. CATHERINE OF SIENA
You drew near on the day I called you; you said, “Do not FEAR!”
“Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon those who fear him, upon those who count on his mercy, to deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive through famine.” (Ps. 33:18-19)
Everyone deserves to experience some unconditional love, and many go to great lengths to find it and do not. We were created for love but not earthly love. Earthly love is but a foretaste of the love God has for you. Today love someone with no conditions; just love them. For love alone holds the secret to life. There is hope in the midst of calamity.
Benedict XVI's definition of love…"To love someone is to desire that person's good, AND to take effective steps to secure it"
So completely do the saint’s wills correspond to God’s will that their very lifeless bodies are a channel of grace.
“and as a man was being buried, lo, a marauding band was seen and the man was cast into the grave of Elisha; and as soon as the man touched the bones of Elisha, be revived, and stood on his feet” (2 Kgs 13:21)
In the time of Jesus, the use of relics was common place as we see in the gospels with the women that had a hemorrhage for twelve years, when she thought if only I could touch something that touched the sacred and as Jesus passed by she touched his garment and was healed. (Mt. 9:20-21) Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he breathed upon the Church and imparted his life-giving spirit to the apostles and saints. Relics were so important that the Church built many churches over the graves of the martyrs which was in opposition to the Romans and the Jews who considered human corpses to be defiling and unclean. Christian believed in the marvelous exchange: Christ became what we are so that we might become what he is. Even today it is customary for parishes to deposit small relics of the saints within a sealed cavity inside the church’s altar.
St. Catherine of Siena
Catherine, the youngest of twenty-five children, was born in Siena on March 25, 1347. During her youth she had to contend with great difficulties on the part of her parents. They were planning marriage for their favorite daughter; but Catherine, who at the age of seven had already taken a vow of virginity, refused. To break her resistance, her beautiful golden-brown tresses were shorn to the very skin and she was forced to do the most menial tasks. Undone by her patience, mother and father finally relented and their child entered the Third Order of St. Dominic.
Unbelievable were her austerities, her miracles, her ecstasies. The reputation of her sanctity soon spread abroad; thousands came to see her, to be converted by her. The priests associated with her, having received extraordinary faculties of absolution, were unable to accommodate the crowds of penitents. She was a helper and a consoler in every need. As time went on, her influence reached out to secular and ecclesiastical matters. She made peace between worldly princes. The heads of Church and State bowed to her words. She weaned Italy away from an anti-pope, and made cardinals and princes promise allegiance to the rightful pontiff. She journeyed to Avignon and persuaded Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome. Even though she barely reached the age of thirty-three her accomplishments place her among the great women of the Middle Ages. The virgin Catherine was espoused to Christ by a precious nuptial ring which, although visible only to her, always remained on her finger.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Against fire; bodily ills; Europe; fire prevention; firefighters; illness; Italy; miscarriages; nurses; nursing services; people ridiculed for their piety; sexual temptation; sick people; sickness; Siena, Italy; temptations.
Symbols: Cross; heart; lily; ring; stigmata.
Things to Do:
- If you have never done so today would be a good time to read some of St. Catherine's Dialogue.
- Learn more about the Order of Preachers founded by St. Dominic.
Remembrance for All Victims of Chemical Warfare
Day of Remembrance for all the Victims of Chemical Warfare commemorates the victims of chemical warfare and serves to reaffirm the world's commitment to eliminate chemical weapons. Thus, the day also serves to promote peace, security and multilateralism. Although, chemical weapons have been banned for some time by the Geneva Convention, they are still infrequently used. The United Nations proclaimed the Day of Remembrance for all the Victims of Chemical Warfare in November of 2005. It has since been celebrated on April 29th, the same date on which the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force in 1997. The day aims to destroy chemical weapons and further gain adherence to the Convention's articles in order to achieve a safer and more peaceful world.
Remembrance for Victims of Chemical Warfare Facts & Quotes
· Chemical weapons were used for the first time on a large scale in battle during World War I at the battle of Ypres in 1915. The chemical that was used as a weapon was chlorine gas.
· 90% of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpile of 72,525 metric tons has been verifiably destroyed.
are three different schedules of chemicals:
1) Schedule One: these are typically used in weapons such as sarin and mustard gas
2) Schedule Two: these are used in weapons such as amiton and BZ
3) Schedule Three: these are typically the least toxic chemicals and are used for research and the production of medicines.
· For the risks that the leaders of a rogue state will use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons against us, or our allies is the greatest security threat we face. – Madeleine Albright, American politician and diplomat, first woman to be secretary of state.
Remembrance Victims Top Events and Things to Do
· Watch a documentary or movie on the perils of chemical warfare. Some popular options are: Science at War: Laboratory of War, Chemical Warfare Watch, Avoiding Armageddon: Chemical Weapons, and Total Recall.
· Read a book on the widespread dangers of chemical warfare. Some good suggestions are War of Nerves, Chemical and Biological Warfare: America’s Hidden Arsenal, and a Higher Form of Killing.
· Spread awareness on social media by using the hashtags #peacenotwar and #remembranceforallchemicalwarfarevictims
· Visit the site of some of the chemical weapon use. Some ideas, the Battlefields of Ypres, the Battlefields of Passchendaele and the Tokyo Subway.
Arbor Day is a celebration of trees and their importance to providing shelter, stabilization for the ground, and beauty to the beholder. While Arbor Day is a US holiday, several other countries have adopted similar observances including Japan, Australia, Korea and Yugoslavia. In 1970, President Richard Nixon declared Arbor Day a federal holiday and it is observed the last Friday in April each year.
Arbor Day Facts & Quotes
· The first Arbor Day was celebrated April 10, 1872, in the State of Nebraska. More than 1 million trees were planted in Nebraska as they celebrated the first Arbor Day.
· A single tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old.
· Newspaper editor, Julius Sterling Morton began Arbor Day to help bring attention to the importance of trees.
· Since the Yellowstone Fires of 1988, the Arbor Day Foundation has partnered with the US Forest Service. Through this partnership, over 25 million Arbor Day Foundation trees have been planted.
· The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second-best time is now. –Proverb
Arbor Day Top Events and Things to Do
· Plant a tree.
· Visit a nursery and consider buying some plants.
· Organize a neighborhood beautification project.
· Hold a paper drive. Use the recycling proceeds to purchase a special tree.
· Try the St. George Universal Man Plan and slay dragons.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
SECTION TWO I. THE CREEDS
CHAPTER ONE-I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER
Article 1 "I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH"
Paragraph 5. HEAVEN AND EARTH
325 The Apostles' Creed professes that God is "creator of heaven and earth". the Nicene Creed makes it explicit that this profession includes "all that is, seen and unseen".
326 The Scriptural expression "heaven and earth" means all that exists, creation in its entirety. It also indicates the bond, deep within creation, that both unites heaven and earth and distinguishes the one from the other: "the earth" is the world of men, while "heaven" or "the heavens" can designate both the firmament and God's own "place" - "our Father in heaven" and consequently the "heaven" too which is eschatological glory. Finally, "heaven" refers to the saints and the "place" of the spiritual creatures, the angels, who surround God.
327 The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council (1215) affirms that God "from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body."
I. THE ANGELS
The existence of angels - a truth of faith
328 The existence of the spiritual, non-corporeal beings that Sacred Scripture usually calls "angels" is a truth of faith. the witness of Scripture is as clear as the unanimity of Tradition.
Who are they?
329 St. Augustine says: "'Angel' is the name of their office, not of their nature. If you seek the name of their nature, it is 'spirit'; if you seek the name of their office, it is 'angel': from what they are, 'spirit', from what they do, 'angel.'" With their whole beings the angels are servants and messengers of God. Because they "always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven" they are the "mighty ones who do his word, hearkening to the voice of his word".
330 As purely spiritual creatures angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness.
Christ "with all his angels"
331 Christ is the center of the angelic world. They are his angels: "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him. " They belong to him because they were created through and for him: "for in him all things were created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities - all things were created through him and for him." They belong to him still more because he has made them messengers of his saving plan: "Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to serve, for the sake of those who are to obtain salvation?"
332 Angels have been present since creation and throughout the history of salvation, announcing this salvation from afar or near and serving the accomplishment of the divine plan: they closed the earthly paradise; protected Lot; saved Hagar and her child; stayed Abraham's hand; communicated the law by their ministry; led the People of God; announced births and callings; and assisted the prophets, just to cite a few examples. Finally, the angel Gabriel announced the birth of the Precursor and that of Jesus himself.
333 From the Incarnation to the Ascension, the life of the Word incarnate is surrounded by the adoration and service of angels. When God "brings the firstborn into the world, he says: 'Let all God's angels worship him.'" Their song of praise at the birth of Christ has not ceased resounding in the Church's praise: "Glory to God in the highest!" They protect Jesus in his infancy, serve him in the desert, strengthen him in his agony in the garden, when he could have been saved by them from the hands of his enemies as Israel had been. Again, it is the angels who "evangelize" by proclaiming the Good News of Christ's Incarnation and Resurrection. They will be present at Christ's return, which they will announce, to serve at his judgement.
The angels in the life of the Church
334 In the meantime, the whole life of the Church benefits from the mysterious and powerful help of angels.
335 In her liturgy, the Church joins with the angels to adore the thrice-holy God. She invokes their assistance (in the Roman Canon's Supplices te rogamus. . .["Almighty God, we pray that your angel..."]; in the funeral liturgy's In Paradisum deducant te angeli. . .["May the angels lead you into Paradise. . ."]). Moreover, in the "Cherubic Hymn" of the Byzantine Liturgy, she celebrates the memory of certain angels more particularly (St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, and the guardian angels).
336 From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God.
II. THE VISIBLE WORLD
337 God himself created the visible world in all its richness, diversity and order. Scripture presents the work of the Creator symbolically as a succession of six days of divine "work", concluded by the "rest" of the seventh day. On the subject of creation, the sacred text teaches the truths revealed by God for our salvation, permitting us to "recognize the inner nature, the value and the ordering of the whole of creation to the praise of God."
338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. the world began when God's word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted, and time begun.
339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the "six days" it is said: "and God saw that it was good." "By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws." Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.
340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. the sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.
341 The beauty of the universe: the order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. the beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man's intellect and will.
342 The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the "six days", from the less perfect to the more perfect. God loves all his creatures and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said: "You are of more value than many sparrows", or again: "of how much more value is a man than a sheep!"
343 Man is the summit of the Creator's work, as the inspired account expresses by clearly distinguishing the creation of man from that of the other creatures.
344 There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory: May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendor, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste.
May you be praised, my Lord, for sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . .
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.
345 The sabbath - the end of the work of the six days. the sacred text says that "on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done", that the "heavens and the earth were finished", and that God "rested" on this day and sanctified and blessed it. These inspired words are rich in profitable instruction:
346 In creation God laid a foundation and established laws that remain firm, on which the believer can rely with confidence, for they are the sign and pledge of the unshakeable faithfulness of God's covenant. For his part man must remain faithful to this foundation, and respect the laws which the Creator has written into it.
347 Creation was fashioned with a view to the sabbath and therefore for the worship and adoration of God. Worship is inscribed in the order of creation. As the rule of St. Benedict says, nothing should take precedence over "the work of God", that is, solemn worship. This indicates the right order of human concerns.
348 The sabbath is at the heart of Israel's law. To keep the commandments is to correspond to the wisdom and the will of God as expressed in his work of creation.
349 The eighth day. But for us a new day has dawned: the day of Christ's Resurrection. the seventh day completes the first creation. the eighth day begins the new creation. Thus, the work of creation culminates in the greater work of redemption. the first creation finds its meaning and its summit in the new creation in Christ, the splendor of which surpasses that of the first creation.
350 Angels are spiritual creatures who glorify God without ceasing and who serve his saving plans for other creatures: "The angels work together for the benefit of us all" (St. Thomas Aquinas, STh I, 114, 3, ad 3).
351 The angels surround Christ their Lord. They serve him especially in the accomplishment of his saving mission to men.
352 The Church venerates the angels who help her on her earthly pilgrimage and protect every human being.
353 God willed the diversity of his creatures and their own particular goodness, their interdependence and their order. He destined all material creatures for the good of the human race. Man, and through him all creation, is destined for the glory of God.
354 Respect for laws inscribed in creation and the relations which derive from the nature of things is a principle of wisdom and a foundation for morality.
· April 29th Friday-New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
 Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 26. Relics.