Introduction to 2 Kings
First, we'll re-cap a few things
about the two Books of Kings, as a whole. They're part of the Deuteronomistic
history. What does that mean?"
it means that the Book of Deuteronomy, and its religious legal code, helped
inspire the viewpoint of the Books of Kings' editor (or editors). In fact, 2
Kings describes what appears to be the discovery of a version of the Book of
Deuteronomy, which inspires King Josiah to hack down sacred poles and slaughter
priests on the altars they've made to foreign gods. So, there you go—drop the word
"Deuteronomistic" at parties and win the respect and fear of your
besties. In line with the above, The Second Book of Kings takes a pretty black
and white view of the rulers it discusses. You might be a king who prevents
starvation and improves sanitation, but if you bow down to one sacred pole
dedicated to a female goddess, you get discarded into 2 Kings' "totally
wicked" pile. However, those are the rules of the game according to the
Deuteronomy-inspired outlook of the book. It's all about intense religious law
and hard monotheism. The kings and prophets who adhere to those standards end
up being the heroes of the work. A big part of the work's purpose is to explain
why the Assyrians were able to destroy Israel and why most of the inhabitants
of Judah were sent into exile in Babylon. The book hammers home this point with
insistency: it's because they turned away from God, worshipping deities like
Moloch with child sacrifice or Asherah with sacred poles. Even the good guys, who
start to get the right idea, often aren't perfect. Their efforts to turn things
around don't last long and can't prevent destruction and exile.
the book is a way of interpreting the past through a specific religious
perspective, picking at the various faults it sees as leading to destruction.
At the same time, it gives a picture of the ideal, right way of doing things—which could work, if only people
managed to really get it together for once. The history it tells both threatens
Should I Care?
we would simply say, "This is a book where ferocious bears fatally maul a
crowd of forty-two children"—assuming
that that's more than enough to get anyone interested. And that really does happen—but as it is, we'll try to show you
that there's more to 2 Kings than bears attacking kids, dogs eating a wicked
queen's corpse, the angel of destruction slaughtering 180,000 Assyrian
soldiers, and blasts of fire from heaven killing scores of warriors (although,
again, all of those things totally happen here).
book takes a long, hard look at "What It Takes" to gain and retain power, and what
it finds isn't pretty: conspiracies, assassinations, intrigue, and ruthless
manipulation. These kings kick it Machiavelli-style.
Rebels and Rogues
the same time, there are plenty of good guys in 2 Kings, and the book has a lot
to say about courage, perseverance, sticking to your convictions under
pressure, and more. Like Elijah in 1 Kings (who also appears in the first two
chapters of the sequel), the prophet Elisha is one of the major heroes of 2
Kings, and we suppose you could say he lives by the same motto as Kanye West in
his present day lyrics: "I'm a man of God / My whole life in the hand of
God… / So you better quit playing with
God!" (The more things change, the more they stay the same, we guess.) But people do
keep playing with God, and Elisha is determined to stop them. A few righteous
kings, like Hezekiah and Josiah, get in on the act, along with more prophets.
When the chips are down, the righteous people step it up—although (spoiler alert) in the
end, Israel and Judah are destroyed and almost everyone is sent into exile in
Babylon. Nevertheless, the book gives some inspiring examples of people who
stuck up for a cause greater than themselves, in addition to cataloguing the rogues' gallery of ruthless power seekers.
AUGUST 11 Friday
2 Kings, Chapter 1, Verse 15
Then the messenger of the LORD said
to Elijah: Go down with him; you need not be AFRAID of him. So, Elijah
left and went down with him to the king.
God’s messenger comes you would be wise to listen. We are told that the
messenger to Elijah was an angel. We are not told more but I would imagine that
most likely it was his guardian angel. Listening to and asking your guardian
angel to assist you in accomplishing God’s will is wise.
According to Saint Jerome,
the concept of guardian angels is in the "mind of the Church". He
stated: "how great the dignity of the soul is, since each one has from his
birth an angel commissioned to guard it".
The first Christian
theologian to outline a specific scheme for guardian angels was Honorius of
Autun in the 12th century. He said that every soul was assigned a guardian
angel the moment it was put into a body. Scholastic theologians augmented and
ordered the taxonomy of angelic guardians. Thomas Aquinas agreed with Honorius
and believed that it was the lowest order of angels who served as guardians,
and his view was most successful in popular thought, but Duns Scotus said that
any angel is bound by duty and obedience to the Divine Authority to accept the
mission to which that angel is assigned. In the 15th century, the Feast of the
Guardian Angels was added to the official calendar of Catholic holidays.
In his March 31, 1997,
Regina Caeli address, Pope Saint John Paul II referred to the concept of
guardian angel and concluded the address with the statement: "Let us
invoke the Queen of angels and saints, that she may grant us, supported by our
guardian angels, to be authentic witnesses to the Lord's paschal mystery".
Lady Clare, "shining in name, more shining in life," was born in the
town of Assisi about the year 1193. She was eighteen years old when St.
Francis, preaching the Lenten sermons at the church of St. George in Assisi,
influenced her to change the whole course of her life. Talking with him
strengthened her desire to leave all worldly things behind and live for Christ.
The following evening, she slipped away from her home and hurried through the
woods to the chapel of the Portiuncula, where Francis was then living with his
small community. He and his brethren had been at prayers before the altar and
met her at the door with lighted tapers in their hands. Before the Blessed
Virgin's altar Clare laid off her fine cloak, Francis sheared her hair, and
gave her his own penitential habit, a tunic of coarse cloth tied with a cord.
it was known at home what Clare had done, relatives and friends came to rescue
her. She resisted valiantly when they tried to drag her away, clinging to the
convent altar so firmly as to pull the cloths half off. Baring her shorn head,
she declared that Christ had called her to His service, she would have no other
spouse, and the more they continued their persecutions the more steadfast she
had her removed to the nunnery of Sant' Angelo di Panzo, where her sister
Agnes, a child of fourteen, joined her. This meant more difficulty for them
both, but Agnes' constancy too was victorious, and in spite of her youth
Francis gave her the habit. Later he placed them in a small and humble house,
adjacent to his beloved church of St. Damian, on the outskirts of Assisi, and
in 1215, when Clare was about twenty-two, he appointed her superior and gave
her his rule to live by. She was soon joined by her mother and several other
women, to the number of sixteen. They had all felt the strong appeal of poverty
and sackcloth, and without regret gave up their titles and estates to become
Clare's humble disciples.
a few years similar convents were founded in the Italian cities of Perugia,
Padua, Rome, Venice, Mantua, Bologna, Milan, Siena, and Pisa, and also in
various parts of France and Germany. Agnes, daughter of the King of Bohemia,
established a nunnery of this order in Prague, and took the habit herself. The
"Poor Clare’s," as they came to be known, practiced austerities which
until then were unusual among women. They went barefoot, slept on the ground,
observed a perpetual abstinence from meat, and spoke only when obliged to do so
by necessity or charity. Clare herself considered this silence desirable as a
means of avoiding the innumerable sins of the tongue, and for keeping the mind
steadily fixed on God. Francis or the bishop of Assisi sometimes had to command
her to lie on a mattress and to take a little nourishment every day.
came with years, and much later Clare wrote this sound advice to Agnes of
Bohemia: "Since our bodies are not of brass and our strength is not the
strength of stone, but instead we are weak and subject to corporal infirmities,
I implore you vehemently in the Lord to refrain from the exceeding rigor of
abstinence which I know you practice, so that living and hoping in the Lord you
may offer Him a reasonable service and a sacrifice seasoned with the salt of
Saint Clare, Virgin,
Foundress of the Poor Clare’s.
the Saracens were besieging Assisi and were preparing to attack the convent,
St. Clare asked to be assisted as far as the entrance, for she was ill. In her
hand she carried a vessel containing the blessed Eucharist as she prayed: O
Lord, do not deliver over to beasts the souls that praise You! (Ps. 73).
Protect Your servants, for You have redeemed them by Your precious Blood. And
in the midst of that prayer a voice was heard, saying: Always will I protect
Saracens took to flight."
and Things to Do:
more about St. Clare:
- Catholic Encyclopedia
- The Golden Legend
- Catholic Ireland
- Saints Stories for All
Clare's relics rest in The Basilica of Santa
Chiara in Assisi, Italy. More information in English available here and here.
Franciscan Archive page dedicated to St. Clare
has links to her writings, biographies, religious congregations, papal
documents, and more.
images and information about the Founder Statue of St. Clare on St. Peter's Colonnade.
for some food feast inspiration.
Pope Benedict XVI's General Audience on St.
not comprehensive, this site maintains the list of different Poor
Clare Orders around the world.
of the divisions of the cloistered and contemplative Poor Clares is the "Poor Clare Federation of Mary
Immaculate," which has 12 monasteries in the United
States. One of the more known monasteries is the one in Roswell, New
Mexico, where Mother Mary Francis, P.C.C.
(1921-2006) was Mother Superior. Some of her books have been
published by Ignatius Press. All her writings are highly recommended. She
wrote a book on St. Clare, which is self-published and available through the sisters in NM.
a short biography of St. Clare by Mother M. Angela,
- Mother Angelica of EWTN was a Poor
Clare. Her monastery is Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration at Our Lady of
the Angels Monastery in Hanceville, Alabama.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART ONE: THE PROFESSION OF FAITH
SECTION TWO-I. THE CREEDS
CHAPTER THREE-I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT
Article 10-"I BELIEVE IN THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS"
II. The Power of the Keys
981 After his Resurrection, Christ
sent his apostles "so that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be
preached in his name to all nations." The apostles and their
successors carry out this "ministry of reconciliation," not only by
announcing to men God's forgiveness merited for us by Christ, and calling them
to conversion and faith; but also by communicating to them the forgiveness of
sins in Baptism, and reconciling them with God and with the Church through the
power of the keys, received from Christ:
[The Church] has received the keys
of the Kingdom of heaven so that, in her, sins may be forgiven through Christ's
blood and the Holy Spirit's action. In this Church, the soul dead through sin
comes back to life in order to live with Christ, whose grace has saved us.
982 There is no offense, however
serious, that the Church cannot forgive. "There is no one, however wicked
and guilty, who may not confidently hope for forgiveness, provided his
repentance is honest. Christ who died for all men desires that in his
Church the gates of forgiveness should always be open to anyone who turns away
983 Catechesis strives to awaken
and nourish in the faithful faith in the incomparable greatness of the risen
Christ's gift to his Church: the mission and the power to forgive sins through
the ministry of the apostles and their successors:
The Lord wills that his disciples
possess a tremendous power: that his lowly servants accomplish in his name all
that he did when he was on earth.
Priests have received from God a power that he has given neither to angels nor to archangels .... God above confirms what priests do here below.
Were there no forgiveness of sins in the Church, there would be no hope of life to come or eternal liberation. Let us thank God who has given his Church such a gift.
984 The Creed links "the
forgiveness of sins" with its profession of faith in the Holy Spirit, for
the risen Christ entrusted to the apostles the power to forgive sins when he
gave them the Holy Spirit.
985 Baptism is the first and chief
sacrament of the forgiveness of sins: it unites us to Christ, who died and
rose, and gives us the Holy Spirit.
986 By Christ's will, the Church
possesses the power to forgive the sins of the baptized and exercises it
through bishops and priests normally in the sacrament of Penance.
987 "In the forgiveness of
sins, both priests and sacraments are instruments which our Lord Jesus Christ,
the only author and liberal giver of salvation, wills to use in order to efface
our sins and give us the grace of justification."
Fitness Friday-The 5 Switches
of Manliness: Nature
In this Switches of Manliness series,
we’ve been talking about those unique parts of a man’s psyche that have fallen
into disuse in the modern world and need to be reactivated. But there’s likely
some overlap between the needs of men and the needs of women; for example,
primitive women used to be quite physical too, and I think modern women need to
have an element of physicality in their lives as well. But with this switch,
there’s definitely more than a little overlap. The Switch of Nature is for
everyone. Men. Women. Children. Squirrels. Well, I think squirrels have it down
pretty well. But it’s for everyone and their mom. Literally—your mom needs it
Man’s Separation from Nature: The
With the rest of the switches, there
was a good amount of theorizing going on as we looked back in time and tried to
uncover the life and perspective of primitive man. But with this switch, we
don’t have to speculate—we can say this with 100% certitude: primitive man
spent a lot more time outside in nature than modern man does. Primitive people
were surrounded by nature all day, every day. Their lives revolved around it:
they supped from it; they created with it; they protected themselves from it;
they even worshiped it.
A life that centered on a deep, vital
connection to nature was the norm for humans for tens of thousands of years.
This connection would only fall apart when the rise of settled agriculture and
then the Industrial Revolution made it possible for more and more people to
make a living in a way that did not involve the land.
and a Man’s Health
organism has an ideal habitat; take it out of its habitat and it could die, or
at least suffer ill-effects.
Time spent outdoors is linked with
lower levels of obesity.
Nature keeps you mentally sharp.
Cities, with their constant noise, crowds of people, and lack of natural
surroundings, can tax the human brain. In fact, studies have shown a link
between being brought up in the city and the chance of a person developing
schizophrenia and other psychotic illnesses.
researchers have found that a walk
in nature, where stimuli makes a much less dramatic play for our involuntary
attention, allows our directed attention to have a rest, leaving it primed and
ready to tackle difficult cognitive tasks once more.
Nature promotes calmness and fights
depression. In a study done in Japan, researchers found that after a 20-minute
walk in the forest, participants had “lower concentrations of cortisol, lower
pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and
lower sympathetic nerve activity” than those who spent time in the city
Those with children, especially
boys, should know that studies have also shown that spending time in nature can
alleviate the symptoms of ADHD.
Nature boosts your testosterone.
fights cancer. In another study done in Japan, researchers had participants
spend 3 days and 2 nights in the woods; the participants took long walks in the
forest during the day and stayed at a hotel near the forest at night. The
participants showed a 50% increase in “natural killer cells” (a component of
the body’s immune system that fights cancerous growths), as well as an increase
in other anti-cancer proteins. This boost in NK activity lasted for a month
after the experience, showing that even if you can only tear out into the woods
once in a while, it is certainly worth it.
and Man’s Soul
“Man’s heart away from nature becomes hard; [The
Lakota] knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to a lack
of respect for humans too.” –Standing Bear
Cynicism. I personally believe it is one of the biggest, if
not the biggest threat to manliness. Cynicism makes a man jaded and saps his ability to
experience wonder and amazement; nature restores it. Nature gives a man back a
bit of the heart of a boy, a heart that can acknowledge some mystery in the
Nature increases your humility. Some studies have shown that narcissism is on the rise among young people.
Parents coddle their kids and build up their self-esteem to the point they feel
invincible. And technology caters to our every whim, molding itself to our
personal interests and preferences.
Nature is pretty and
soothing….but it can also literally kill you. It’s not just lovely
sunsets and breathtaking canyon views. It’s also grizzly bears and perfect
storms. Out in nature you get a renewed sense of your vulnerability. At the
foot of a mountain, you sense your true smallness in the world. And nature
quickly shatters any notion that the universe revolves around you; it doesn’t
stop raining just because you picked that day to go camping.
Nature heightens your senses. We talk through phones and
computers. We are entertained through our televisions. We get our food through
the grocery store. All of our experiences are mediated through middlemen. When
was the last time you had a direct, primary
experience? Nature lets you take in all the elements in their most
primitive forms, before they’ve been packaged for your consumption.
Nature heightens your creativity. Studies that observed children at
play found that they engaged in more imaginative, explorative, and creative
play when they played in open, green spaces than when they played on asphalt
and in structured spaces. Free of the structure of our daily lives, the lines
and rules that rein us in, the minds of adults too, are free to wander. Nature
allows both your body and mind to explore, which can lead you to fresh insights
Nature heightens your spirituality. If you’re a religious guy, perhaps
the best way to feel close to the Creator is to wander among His creations. The
experiences I’ve had where I’ve felt closest to God have not happened in a
church pew, but out in the woods.
Nature centers you.
It’s an ineffable feeling that I’ve found nowhere else. The jangled pieces of
my life that have been rattling around inside my head just fall into place. And
I feel a stillness and a peace.
Turn the Switch of Nature
Of all the Switches of Manliness, the Switch of Nature
is perhaps easiest to turn. There are so many small things you can do to get a
bit more of the outdoors inside of yourself. Remember, even looking through a
window at nature helps people (so for goodness’s sake, stop putting those tv’s
in the back of your car for the kids!).
You may live in the country, have a job that keeps you
outside all day, or be lucky enough to know someone with a farm or ranch where
you can go hang out whenever you’d like. But I know there are some men out
there whose only time outside is when they’re walking to and from their car during
the day. For these guys, make it a goal to spend at least an hour outside every
day. It doesn’t seem like much, but it can make a big difference—remember,
small and simple changes add up and can turn the switch to the on position.
Here are a few suggestions to get started:
your workout outside. A study found that “compared with
exercising indoors, exercising in natural environments was associated with
greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in
tension, confusion, anger, and depression, and increased energy.”
to a park to eat your lunch. If there’s no park near your workplace, at least
eat in the car with the windows down.
for a nightly after dinner walk.
chores like mowing the lawn and raking leaves yourself instead of hiring
someone to do it for you.
surf, or work on the patio or apartment balcony.
nice days, open your windows at home and in the car. On a cloudless 70-degree
day most of the windows in our apartment complex are closed and everyone is
driving around with the windows up in their cars. It makes me wonder sometimes
if the whole world has gone mad.
on a picnic date.
to your errands.
your bike to work.
a hobby or sport that requires you to be outside. There are dozens to choose
from: Skiing, skateboarding, surfing, running, gardening, geocaching, hunting,
fishing, and so on and so forth.
camping. Talk about a no brainer. But you need to stop thinking about camping
like it has to be a long, elaborately planned trip. Even one night helps.
I know you’ll feel inertia—you’ll feel like getting everything together
and driving to the campsite won’t be worth it. Even one night is worth it. It
will refresh you.
Freedom Ring Day 35 Freedom from Childishness
Litany of the Most Precious
Blood of Jesus
my Grandson Frank Isak’s (Free Laughter) Third birthday I ask your prayers.
This was the blessing and prophecy I wrote for his naming.
This child will
be a free man who laughs and is able to get enthusiastic about the endless
beauty of this world. He will be a person that is dependable, responsible and
teaches others gratitude.