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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Introduction to Exodus[1]

Meet the Bible's freedom-fighting, plague-inducing, show-stopping revolutionaries: Moses, his brother Aaron, and of course, God that's ready to set the Israelites free from the bonds of slavery in Egypt. On the road, it will rain fire, bread, and commandments.

Traditionally, Exodus was thought to have been written by Moses himself, but it is most likely an amalgamation of texts—like almost everything else in the Bible—put together between 400 and 600 BCE. Whatever you believe, Exodus is a pivotal moment; it is about a community trying to redefine itself as the ancient world underwent huge changes.

Around this time, the Greeks were at the highest point of their culture, and the Romans were getting started. The Greeks worshipped Zeus while Exodus was being ready.

Written in Hebrew, Exodus is a combination of national narrative—the stories that help identify a country—and straight-up law. The day your people went from slavery or oppression to freedom is the day that your culture became, well, your culture. For the Israelites, being freed from Egypt and taking on the covenant with God was huge politically, socially, economically, and religiously. It is the perfect storm of big moments.

A quick note about the historical Exodus. Archaeologically, there is no evidence for a mass migration of people on the scale the Bible describes. For us (and for you), this is nearly irrelevant; no matter what happened, the stories in this book have had an enormous amount of social impact on Western culture. Like it or not, the stories—not the historicity—are what wield the power.

What is Book of Exodus About and Why Should I Care?

The Ten Commandments.

The Exodus story shapes the entire rest of the Bible. Because it is such a pivotal moment in Israelite culture, the story, the rules, and the aura reverberate throughout the rest of the book. It is the point at which God and the Israelites—the two biggest characters of the Hebrew Bible—get to know each other.

But what about Genesis? Isn't that the biggest, most defining book? No-Exodus. Take a minute to think about what a book like Genesis does; it is a collection of stories, myths, and legends, right? But Exodus takes those themes and vaults them onto a much larger stage. God does not help out one family—he helps out a nation. The Ten Commandments do not apply to just Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob—they apply to all the Israelites. We are going from family-centered to nation-centered, just like that.

And the rest of the Hebrew Bible will be concerned with this issue: how to get God to participate in Israelite life. This is the crash course on what God is like in the "flesh," what his rules are, and how he acts in public places. The whole Hebrew Bible is concerned with God's relationship with the Israelites, and it all starts right here.

march 15 Wednesday before Laetare Sunday

St. Longinus-Ides of march 

Exodus, Chapter 1, Verse 17

The midwives, however, FEARED God; they did not do as the king of Egypt had ordered them, but let the boys live.

 

The book of Exodus retells the story of the leaving of the children of Abraham from the land of Egypt. God blessed Abraham’s descendants and they prospered and overpopulated the land. Egyptians then oppressed the Israelites and took action to control their population by commanding midwives to kill the male children born to the Israelite’s.

 

Nothing ever changes it seems the midwives, were the king of Egypt’s version of our Planned Parenthood. Yet, they the midwives feared God more than the King and spared life. I do not think anyone in the Planned Parenthood organization has any fear of God. The midwives of Egypt were ordered to kill only the male children of the Israelites. In our modern world I wonder who the equivalent of the King of Egypt is. I wonder who or what sex and races are the equivalents of the Israelite children?

 

Let us pray that those within the Planned Parenthood organization and those who support the existence of organizational weapons for the destruction of innocent unborn life may have an awakening to the voice of conscience and fear God: thus preserving life first, then liberty and then the pursuit of happiness. For is not life more, precious than liberty; and is not liberty more precious than the pursuit of wealth. It can be in no other order. As a people and as a nation we have dulled our consciences for too long; this is why the soul of this nation can find no peace. We like the midwives of ancient Egypt must fear God more than Pharaoh. Then and only then will our consciences as a people become unsullied and we will have the strength, courage, and loyalty to follow what is right. 

 

Yes, if we as a people see Christ in the unborn as Paul seen Him at his conversion, we shall again be a bless nation.

Wednesday before Laetare Sunday[1] beginning of Mid-Lent

Prayer. GRANT us, we beseech Thee, O Lord, that, instructed by wholesome fasting, and abstaining from dangerous vices, we may more easily obtain Thy favor.

EPISTLE. Exodus xx. 12-24.

Thus, saith the Lord God: Honor thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest be long-lived upon the land which the Lord thy God will give thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house: neither shalt thou desire his wife, nor his servant, nor his handmaid, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is his. And all the people saw the voices and the flames, and the sound of the trumpet, and the mount smoking: and being terrified and struck with fear, they stood afar off, saying to Moses: Speak thou to us, and we will hear let not the Lord speak to us, lest we die. And Moses said to the people: Fear not: for God has come to prove you, and that the dread of Him might be in you, and you should not sin. And the people stood afar off. But Moses went to the dark cloud wherein God was. And the Lord said to Moses: Thus, shalt thou say to the children of Israel: You have seen that I have spoken to you from heaven. You shall not make gods of silver, nor shall you make to yourselves gods of gold. You shall make an altar of earth unto Me, and you shall offer upon it your holocausts and peace-offerings, your sheep and oxen, in every place where the memory of My name shall be.

GOSPEL. Matt. xv. 1-20.

At that time there came to Jesus from Jerusalem scribes and Pharisees, saying: Why do Thy disciples transgress the traditions of the ancients? For they wash not their hands when they eat bread. But He answering, said to them: Why do you also transgress the commandment of God for your tradition? For God said: Honor thy father and mother; and: He that shall curse father or mother, let him die the death. But you say: Whosoever shall say to father or mother, the gift whatso ever proceedeth from me, shall profit thee; and he shall not honor his father or his mother: and you have made void the commandment of God for jour tradition. Hypocrites, well hath Isaias prophesied of you, saying: This people honoreth Me with their lips: but their heart is far from Me. And in vain do they worship Me, teaching doctrines and commandments of men. And having called together the multitudes unto Him, He said to them: Hear ye and understand. Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth a man: but what cometh out of the mouth, this defileth a man. Then came His disciples, and said to Him: Dost Thou know that the Pharisees, when they heard this word, were scandalized?

But He answering, said: Every plant which My heavenly Father hath not planted shall be rooted up. Let them alone: they are blind, and leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both fall into the pit. And Peter answering, said to Him: Expound to us this parable. But He said: Are you also yet without understanding? Do you not understand, that whatsoever entereth into the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the privy? But the things which proceed out of the mouth, come forth from the heart, and those things defile a man. For from the heart come forth evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false testimonies, blasphemies. These are the things that defile a man. But to eat with unwashed hands doth not defile a man.

Mid-Lent Customs[2] 

Mid-Lent, the week from the Wednesday before to the Wednesday after Laetare Sunday, is a note of joy within the context of sorrow. The perfect symbol of this complex emotion is the rose vestments worn on Laetare Sunday instead of penitential purple or exultant white. Rose stands somewhere in between, as a sort of joyous variation of purple. The last day of Mid-Lent is when catechumens would learn the Apostles' Creed for the first time; the days leading up to that great revelation were thus for them a cause for gladness. This spirit eventually permeated to the rest of the community as "a measure of consoling relaxation... so that the faithful might not break down under the severe strains of the Lenten fast but may continue to bear the restrictions with a refreshed and easier heart" (Pope Innocent III (d. 1216)). 

Mid-Lent customs predominantly involve pre-Christian celebrations concerning the "burial" of winter, where flower decorations and the like betoken the joyous end of the cold and dark. There are also customs involving either matchmaking or announcing the engagements of young couples. In either case, a joyous meal is celebrated during this time. 

In England Laetare Sunday came to be known as "Mothering" Sunday because it was the day that apprentices and students were released from their duties to visit their mother church, i.e., the church in which they had been baptized and brought up. This custom tied into the theme of Mother Jerusalem. 

St. Longinus[3]

St. Longinus was the Roman centurion who pierced the side of Christ with a lance. He is said to have converted to Christianity after experiencing the darkness after Christ's death.

St. Luke tells us that the centurion "gave praise to God", and exclaimed, "Truly this was an upright man." (Luke 23:47)

What was believed to be the Holy Lance of Longinus, was given to Innocent VIII in 1492.

Things to Do:

·       Read more about the statue of St. Longinus at St. Peter's Basilica.

·       Read the Life of Saint Longinus from the Golden Legend.

Ides of March

In modern times, the Ides of March is best known as the date on which Julius Caesar was assassinated in 44 BC. Caesar was stabbed to death at a meeting of the Senate. As many as 60 conspirators, led by Brutus and Cassius, were involved.[4]

Caesar could garner so much power, but in the end, he was assassinated. No matter how powerful a person or corporation may be, there will be an end to their reign and their influence. By way of contrast, the Lord is the everlasting God. Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, who has the power of an endless life. Remembering the frailty and fallenness of all men is a crucial part of gaining wisdom. Solomon captured this so well when he wrote “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10) but “the fear of man is a snare” (29:25). Remembering the fact that no matter how powerful a position a man or woman may hold, God “holds their breath in His hands and owns all their ways” (Dan. 5:23) and that “death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” (Eccl. 7:2).[5]

Preparing for Battle[6] Keeping the Enemy Out of Your Camp

Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to save you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy.  DEUTERONOMY 23: 14. This principle of spiritual warfare must be emphasized: Don’t invite the Enemy into your camp. Look out for Trojan Horses, poisonous reptiles and be prepared to fight.

·       Trojan Horses. Sin is always wrapped in attractive packages. The simple pleasure of satisfying curiosity could be a Pandora’s Box. Stay away from all things of the occult, such as Ouija boards and fortunetelling; séances, channeling, and other forms of necromancy (attempts to contact the dead); substance abuse; sexual sin; and abortion. Seeking the attractive “gift” of pleasure, power, secret knowledge, or (in the case of abortion) even escape from responsibility. In addition, forgiveness is crucial to deliverance from the Evil One, because a bitter heart gives him a foothold in our lives. “Take heed lest anyone be lacking in the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it, many be defiled” (Heb 12: 15). Those especially who have suffered a grave injustice must seek the grace to let go of the offense and pray for the offender, so that resentment doesn’t ferment into malicious bitterness. If we’re ever tempted to invite the Enemy into our “camp” in any of these ways, we must recognize the Adversary’s deception and reject his offer firmly and immediately.

·       “Poisonous Reptiles” are the “little” sins that find their way into our hearts. We may ignore them or think them of no consequence as we try to stand guard over the carefully constructed fortifications of our spiritual life. To resist the temptations of ordinary demonic activity, we must guard our thoughts closely and reject immediately any thought that leads to sin. We must also carefully examine our thoughts to seek out assumptions or conclusions that may be false and contrary to faith, so that they lead us astray. Above all, we must engage in a frequent examination of conscience and then go regularly to Confession.

Here are three ways to beat the devil and continue to stay true to the season of Lent during these difficult times:

Faith: Through the virtue of faith, we believe in God and all that he has said to us. The saints stand as giants of faith that we can strive to imitate during this time. If you’re stuck at home these days, read the life of any saint (online or through a book) and you will see what I mean. It is abundantly clear how their faith kept them strong in the most challenging of situations. 

If we are living in undue fear right now, then we are not living in faith. Our faith starts with us trusting God in prayer and surrendering ourselves completely to him. If we trust that we have a father in heaven who knows our needs, before we even ask for them (Matthew 6:8), then we can trust that God will be with us during this tumultuous time and see us through it – even if the particular trials in our lives become especially burdensome. 

Hope: Hope keeps us from discouragement and is the quality by which we anchor our souls in Christ. We should certainly be prudent and careful during this time.

Throughout history, there have been countless natural and man-made disasters, but God has never forsaken his people. As the psalmist tells us:

“God is our refuge and our strength,

an ever-present help in distress.

Therefore, we fear not, though the earth be shaken

and mountains plunge into the depths of the sea.”

(Psalm 46:2-3)

In addition, never forget that we are not made for this world – we are made for heaven. And while we should certainly live in the hope of a better tomorrow in this world, we should also pray for a greater outpouring of the virtue of hope in our lives, so that we may even more ardently desire to one day enjoy the kingdom of heaven and eternal life.

Love: Among countless lessons that Jesus taught us through his Cross, two are particularly of value during this bank run. The first is that Jesus showed us that love is expressed in action. There are people all around us right now who are alone or who may need help in various ways. Love them in action. This may involve helping your elderly neighbor get groceries. Or it may require you to give your spouse a night off as he/she deals with the new reality of working from home (including possibly a home filled with screaming kids). It may also be a good idea to reflect on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to see how else you can love others in action.

The second lesson I wish to highlight from the Cross is its sacrificial dimension. Jesus showed us his love through sacrifice – dying to himself – by dying on the Cross. Everyone’s nerves are a bit frayed as we continue to grapple with the unknowns and ever-changing situations related to this current bank run. Seize every opportunity you get to make sacrifices – big or small – for someone else in these days. 

Love is at the heart of the Christian faith and in these difficult times, we can witness to our faith in the way we love God and those around us. The greatest benefit of acting through the virtue of love is that the fruits of love are joy, peace and mercy (CCC 1829) – all of which are much-needed right now.

Living our lives rooted in faith, hope and love, especially during this recession, will root us more deeply in God, not just for the Lenten season, but for beyond it too. We don’t know how this monetary crisis will unfold and how it will continue to affect us. But we know God. We can trust and hope in God.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation. whom shall, I fear?

The Lord is the stronghold of my life.

of whom shall I be afraid?”

(Psalm 27:1)

Catechism of the Catholic Church

PART THREE: LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION TWO-THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

Chapter 2 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

Article 10-THE TENTH COMMANDMENT

III. Poverty of Heart

2544 Jesus enjoins his disciples to prefer him to everything and everyone, and bids them "renounce all that [they have]" for his sake and that of the Gospel. Shortly before his passion he gave them the example of the poor widow of Jerusalem who, out of her poverty, gave all that she had to live on. The precept of detachment from riches is obligatory for entrance into the Kingdom of heaven.

2545 All Christ's faithful are to "direct their affections rightly, lest they be hindered in their pursuit of perfect charity by the use of worldly things and by an adherence to riches which is contrary to the spirit of evangelical poverty."

2546 "Blessed are the poor in spirit." The Beatitudes reveal an order of happiness and grace, of beauty and peace. Jesus celebrates the joy of the poor, to whom the Kingdom already belongs:

The Word speaks of voluntary humility as "poverty in spirit"; the Apostle gives an example of God's poverty when he says: "For your sakes he became poor."

2547 The Lord grieves over the rich, because they find their consolation in the abundance of goods. "Let the proud seek and love earthly kingdoms, but blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven." Abandonment to the providence of the Father in heaven frees us from anxiety about tomorrow. Trust in God is a preparation for the blessedness of the poor. They shall see God.

Every Wednesday is Dedicated to St. Joseph

The Italian culture has always had a close association with St. Joseph perhaps you could make Wednesdays centered around Jesus’s Papa. Plan an Italian dinner of pizza or spaghetti after attending Mass as most parishes have a Wednesday evening Mass. You could even do carry out to help restaurants. If you are adventurous, you could do the Universal Man Plan: St. Joseph style. Make the evening a family night perhaps it could be a game night. Whatever you do make the day special.

·       Do the St. Joseph Universal Man Plan.

·       Devotion to the 7 Joys and Sorrows of St. Joseph 

                                                

Daily Devotions

·       Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: The Families of St. Joseph Porters

·       Total Consecration to St. Joseph Day 29

·       Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·       Make reparations to the Holy Face

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Universal Man Plan



[1] Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896

[3]https://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/calendar/day.cfm?date=2021-03-15

[6]Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.

                                            

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