Friday, August 11, 2023


Introduction to 2 Kings[1]

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?"


Well, 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 godrop 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.


Essentially, 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 thingswhich could work, if only people managed to really get it together for once. The history it tells both threatens and promises. 


Why Should I Care?


Normally, 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 happenbut 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).


The 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.


Righteous Rebels and Rogues


At 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 upalthough (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.


When 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.


Guardian Angel[2]

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".

St. Clare[3]

The 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.

When 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 would become.

Francis 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.

Within 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.

Discretion, 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 prudence."

Saint Clare, Virgin, Foundress of the Poor Clare’s.

"When 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 you!

The Saracens took to flight."[4]

Highlights and Things to Do:

Catechism of the Catholic Church





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 from sin.

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[5]

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 too.

Man’s Separation from Nature: The Third “Frontier”

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.

Nature and a Man’s Health

Every 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 instead.

·       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.

·       Nature 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.

Nature 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 world.

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 about life.

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.

How to 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:


·        Do 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.”

·        Go 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.

·        Go for a nightly after dinner walk.

·        Do chores like mowing the lawn and raking leaves yourself instead of hiring someone to do it for you.

·        Read, surf, or work on the patio or apartment balcony.

·        On 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.

·        Go on a picnic date.

·        Walk to your errands.

·        Ride your bike to work.

·        Find 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.

·        Go 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.

Daily Devotions

·       Unite in the work of the Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: End Sex Trafficking, Slavery

·       Let Freedom Ring Day 35 Freedom from Childishness

·       Religion in the Home for Preschool: August

·       Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus

·       Offering to the sacred heart of Jesus

·       Drops of Christ’s Blood

·       Universal Man Plan

·       Rosary


Today is 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.


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