Switch of Manliness
OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA
Acts, Chapter 10, verse 1-4
1 Now in Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Cohort called the Italica, 2 devout and God-fearing along with his whole household, who used to give alms generously to the Jewish people and pray to God constantly. 3 One afternoon about three o’clock, he saw plainly in a vision an angel of God come into him and say to him, “Cornelius.” 4 He looked intently at him and seized with FEAR, said, “What is it, sir?” He said to him, “Your prayers and almsgiving have ascended as a memorial offering before God.
Cornelius’ Cohort was an auxiliary unit of archers, men who are expert at hitting a mark or target.
Sin is the act of violating God's will. Sin can also be viewed as anything that violates the ideal relationship between an individual and God, or as any diversion from the ideal order for human living. To sin has been defined as "to miss the mark" to have a hardened heart, a loss of love for God, a disposition of the heart to depart from God because of inordinate self-love
Cornelius walked with God because he lived the Shema Israel. Every day, every action of his was metaphorically target practice aiming to love God as he understood Him with his whole heart, mind, soul and strength. Cornelius exemplifies the proper attitude toward wealth and was completely occupied with good deeds and almsgiving.
Cornelius was a non-Jew who would have been regarded as a righteous gentile and is assured a place in the world to come if he knowingly or even unknowingly followed the seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated which are:
1. Do not deny God.
2. Do not blaspheme God.
3. Do not murder.
4. Do not engage in incestuous, adulterous or homosexual relationships.
5. Do not steal.
6. Do not eat of a live animal.
7. Establish courts/legal system to ensure law and obedience.
Near indeed is his salvation for those who fear him; glory will dwell in our land.
Our Lady of Czestochowa (The Black Madonna)
While stationed in the Army I was responsible for the security and protection of ammunition depots which for the most part was protected by the Polish Labor Service. Interacting with men who always professed great devotion to Our Lady of Czestochowa.
The image of Our Lady of Czestochowa, also known as the Black Madonna, was traditionally believed to have been painted by St. Luke the Evangelist on a cypress wood panel from a table used by the Holy Family in Nazareth. It was said to have been brought from Jerusalem by St. Helen and was enshrined in Constantinople for 500 years. It was given to a Greek princess married to a Ruthenian nobleman and it was housed in the royal palace at Belz in the Ukraine for the next 600 years. Art historians believe it is a Byzantine icon of the Hodigitria type dating from the 6th - 9th Century. The image was brought to Poland in 1382 by Ladislaus of Opole who rescued the painting from Belz while escaping an attack by the Tartars who had damaged the painting with an arrow. On his way to Silesia, Ladislaus stopped to rest in the town of Czestochowa near the church on Jasna Góra (Bright Hill). He believed that it was Our Lady’s desire for her image to remain in Czestochowa, so he left the image at the church and invited the Pauline monks from Hungary to be its guardians.
On April 14, 1430, robbers, sometimes associated with the Hussites of Bohemia, looted the monastery and made three slashes on the face of Our Lady in an attempt to remove valuable stones, finally smashing the image into three pieces. In order to repair the icon, the original paint was removed, and the icon was repainted. Although the icon was restored, the slashes in Our Lady’s face remain visible today.
The image of Our Lady of Czestochowa is associated with several miraculous events. One of the most spectacular occurred in 1655 during the height of the Protestant Revolution. The Swedish Lutheran army invaded Poland winning victories over the city after city including Cracow and Warsaw. The Polish King fled the country. When the Swedish army came to Jasna Góra hoping to plunder the sacred site, the monks refused to surrender although they were greatly outnumbered. The following account is from the Polish historian Norman Davies as quoted in Warren Carroll’s series on Christianity.
“When negotiations brought no result, the Swedes began a violent bombardment of the walls. Then, in order to spread fear among the defenders, they started to hurl blazing firebrands, setting the monastery’s barn alight together with a great quantity of corn. Next, all around the monastery, they set up a camp with wooden palisades and gun emplacements…But their attack had little effect. The walls were banked with earth on the inside, and only the cannon displaced a few bricks. Before long, the defenders opened fire in reply. The aim of their gunners was so accurate that after three hours the Swedes were obliged to pull back with great loss. Meanwhile, the inhabitants of houses adjacent to the monastery, where the enemy had found shelter, set their homes on fire, not counting the cost. The Swedes renewed their attack on the 19th of November, the day of the Transfiguration of the Virgin…the official printed a description of this siege, which records that bullets and missiles fell so thick on the church and tower that they seemed to be in flames. But…the cannon balls bounced off the walls and tiles or flew over the church roof, causing no damage….Muller (the Swedish commander) was most angered by the monks, who would climb to the top of the tower and in full choir pour down pious hymns on his soldiers…Jasna Góra was not saved by men…A thick mist screened the monastery from attack…Muller himself saw a Lady in a shining robe on the walls, priming the cannon and tossing shells back in the direction from which they came…He (General Muller) launched this last attack on Christmas Day, firing off all his guns in one salvo, and sending his entire army to storm the walls…But at that very moment, he suffered a fatal accident. He was eating breakfast in a fairly distant house, and cursing Jasna Góra with blasphemies, when suddenly an iron shot penetrated the wall, knocked down all the plates, bottles and glasses from the table, scattered the guests, and struck him in the arm…At last, in the night before St. Stephen’s Day, the Swedes started to drag the guns from their emplacements, to collect their equipment, and to direct their wagons in the direction of Klobuck…Of course, no heretic will believe that cannon balls were repulsed from the walls of Jasna Góra by supernatural means…but all that I have described is true.”
The victory of Our Lady of Czestochowa at Jasna Góra turned the tide of the war. In 1656, the Polish King Jan Casimir proclaimed the Mother of God the “Queen of the Polish Crown” and the shrine at Jasna Góra, the “Mount of Victory” and the spiritual capital of Poland. In recognition of the miraculous image, Pope Clement XI donated a crown to be placed on the image in 1717. Thieves stole the bejeweled crown in 1909. Pope St. Pius X replaced the 1717 crown with a crown of gold.
Our Lady intervened again in 1920 when the Russian army was about to invade Warsaw. As they were about to cross the Vistula River on September 15th, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa appeared in the clouds over Warsaw and the Russian Army retreated. Shortly after this Miracle of the Vistula, in 1925, Pope Pius XI designated May 3rd as the feast day of Our Lady of Czestochowa.
After the liberation of Poland from Nazi occupation, 1.5 million people gathered at Jasna Góra in 1945 to rededicate the nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Pope John Paul II visited the image of Our Lady of Czestochowa four times during his pontificate. Our Lady’s intercession is credited with the liberation of Poland from Communist rule.
The holy painting enshrined at Czestochowa has been a lighthouse of hope during centuries of hardship and defeat. Today, the Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa attracts millions of who love and honor Our Lady’s intercession.
Things to Do:
- Make a virtual visit to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa
- Read A Brief History of the Image of Czestochowa
- Read Who is 'the Black Madonna' and why is she so important?
- Listen to this sermon on the story of Our Lady Czestochowa
Fitness Friday-The 5 Switches of Manliness: Legacy
We started the last post in this series with a surprising fact–that only about 33% of our ancestors were male. We’ll begin this post the same way: When the Titanic sunk, the survival rate for the rich, first-class men (34%), was lower than that for the poor, third-class women (46%). Most people know that the Titanic had less lifeboats than were needed for the number of passengers, and that the richest passengers were given first dibs on those limited seats. And yet, the numbers tell an interesting tale. What happened? Many of the wealthy men decided to let the women, regardless of class, get on the lifeboats first, choosing instead to go down with the ship themselves.
The Expendability of Men
The answer goes back to what we discussed last time in the Switch of Challenge and can be traced to the biological differences between men and women. A woman can only get pregnant by one man (at a time) while one man can impregnate multiple women. A group with five men and one woman is not going to be able to have as many babies as a group of five woman and one man. This is why a woman’s eggs, and her womb, have always been much more valuable than a man’s seed. And why, coupled with our greater physical strength and propensity for risk, men have always been slotted for society’s dirtiest and most dangerous jobs. Like hunting and war. This is true from primitive times down until the present day. Societies had to protect their women if they wanted to survive and thrive. We know what the practical result of the greater expendability of men is–men have historically been called upon to do society’s most dangerous jobs and have often lost their lives in doing so.
When a woman had a baby, that in most cases forced her to grow up. But a man needed an external push to propel him into maturity, to keep him from wanting to slide back into infantile dependency. And this is why the mark of a manhood, according to sociologist Steven L. Nock, became whether or not he produced more than he consumed…did he do his part to add value, power, and wealth to society? When he passed from the earth, would he leave the tribe stronger than he came into it? Or was he a lazy leech? Did he leave a Legacy?
The Chance for Immortality
Thus, every man should be a Johnny Appleseed of sorts, scattering their seeds of creation wherever they go, and being content to know that the seeds may not bear fruit until long after they have moved on. It requires patience, and a sort of faith, a faith in the idea that we have not lived in vain, that the world is a little different from our being here.
And legacy comes not just from the creation of physical and literary objects. A legacy can come from an idea, a business, a tradition, a thought…anything that changes a person, the world, just a little and gets passed on, anything that lasts.
There are lots of little ways to create your legacy. A man never knows when an encouraging word given to another may change the course of that person’s life, and in turn, alter the course of history and add value to the world. Here are a few ways to create your legacy every day:
· Keep a journal
· Start a manliness club at your college or high school
· Begin a new tradition at your fraternity
· Take steps to start your own business
· Start a blog
· Be a mentor–become a Big Brother, coach Little League, take someone new at work under your wing, etc.
· Share your ideas in a Master Mind Group
· Start a Bible Study or small group at church
· Figure out new and better ways of doing things at work
· Make a piece of furniture or another item that you can pass on to your children, and they can pass on to their children
· Start a new program in your community–a rec league, a recycling program, etc.
· Tinker with an invention
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
SECTION TWO-THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
Article 4-THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
1485 "On the evening of that day, the first day of the week," Jesus showed himself to his apostles. "He breathed on them, and said to them: 'Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained"' (Jn 20:19, (22-23).
1486 The forgiveness of sins committed after Baptism is conferred by a particular sacrament called the sacrament of conversion, confession, penance, or reconciliation.
1487 The sinner wounds God's honor and love, his own human dignity as a man called to be a son of God, and the spiritual well-being of the Church, of which each Christian ought to be a living stone.
1488 To the eyes of faith no evil is graver than sin and nothing has worse consequences for sinners themselves, for the Church, and for the whole world.
1489 To return to communion with God after having lost it through sin is a process born of the grace of God who is rich in mercy and solicitous for the salvation of men. One must ask for this precious gift for oneself and for others.
1490 The movement of return to God, called conversion and repentance, entails sorrow for and abhorrence of sins committed, and the firm purpose of sinning no more in the future. Conversion touches the past and the future and is nourished by hope in God's mercy.
1491 The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest's absolution. the penitent's acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation.
1492 Repentance (also called contrition) must be inspired by motives that arise from faith. If repentance arises from love of charity for God, it is called "perfect" contrition; if it is founded on other motives, it is called "imperfect."
1493 One who desires to obtain reconciliation with God and with the Church, must confess to a priest all the unconfessed grave sins he remembers after having carefully examined his conscience. the confession of venial faults, without being necessary in itself, is nevertheless strongly recommended by the Church.
1494 The confessor proposes the performance of certain acts of "satisfaction" or "penance" to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ.
1495 Only priests who have received the faculty of absolving from the authority of the Church can forgive sins in the name of Christ.
1496 The spiritual effects of the sacrament of Penance are:
- reconciliation with God by which the penitent recovers grace;
- reconciliation with the Church;
- remission of the eternal punishment incurred by mortal sins;
- remission, at least in part, of temporal punishments resulting from sin;
- peace and serenity of conscience, and spiritual consolation;
- an increase of spiritual strength for the Christian battle.
1497 Individual and integral confession of grave sins followed by absolution remains the only ordinary means of reconciliation with God and with the Church.
1498 Through indulgences the faithful can obtain the remission of temporal punishment resulting from sin for themselves and also for the souls in Purgatory.
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