Introduction to Maccabees
The name Maccabee, probably meaning “hammer,” is actually applied in the Books of Maccabees to only one man, Judas, third son of the priest Mattathias and first leader of the revolt against the Seleucid kings who persecuted the Jews. Traditionally the name has come to be extended to the brothers of Judas, his supporters, and even to other Jewish heroes of the period, such as the seven brothers. The two Books of Maccabees contain independent accounts of events that accompanied the attempted suppression of Judaism in Palestine in the second century B.C. The vigorous reaction to this attempt established for a time the religious and political independence of the Jews. First Maccabees was written about 100 B.C., in Hebrew, but the original has not come down to us. Instead, we have an early, pre-Christian, Greek translation full of Hebrew idioms. The author, probably a Palestinian Jew, is unknown. He was familiar with the traditions and sacred books of his people and had access to much reliable information on their recent history (from 175 to 134 B.C.). He may well have played some part in it himself in his youth. His purpose in writing is to record the deliverance of Israel that God worked through the family of Mattathias—especially through his three sons, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon, and his grandson, John Hyrcanus. The writer compares their virtues and their exploits with those of Israel’s ancient heroes, the Judges, Samuel, and David.
The doctrine expressed in the book is the customary belief of Israel. The people of Israel have been specially chosen by the one true God as covenant-partner, and they alone are privileged to know and worship God, their eternal benefactor and unfailing source of help. The people, in turn, must worship the Lord alone and observe exactly the precepts of the law given to them. The rededication of the Jerusalem Temple in the book is the origin of the Jewish feast of Hanukkah. There is no doctrine of individual immortality except in the survival of one’s name and fame, nor does the book express any messianic expectation, though messianic images are applied historically to “the days of Simon”. The author insists on fidelity to the law as the expression of Israel’s love for God. The contest which he describes is a struggle, not simply between Jew and Gentile, but between those who would uphold the law and those, Jews or Gentiles, who would destroy it. His severest condemnation goes, not to the Seleucid politicians, but to the lawless apostates among his own people, adversaries of Judas and his brothers, who are models of faith and loyalty.
OCTOBER 17 Tuesday
FORGIVE AN EX DAY
1 Maccabees, Chapter 2, Verse 62
Do not FEAR the words of sinners, for their glory ends in corruption and worms.
Maccabean wars were fought for religious freedom. Reflect today on our own Declaration of Independence for freedom from the English Crown.
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.
Almighty God, Father of all nations, for freedom you have set us free in Christ Jesus (Gal 5:1). We praise and bless you for the gift of religious liberty, the foundation of human rights, justice, and the common good. Grant to our leaders the wisdom to protect and promote our liberties; by your grace may we have the courage to defend them, for ourselves and for all those who live in this blessed land. We ask this through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, our patroness, and in the name of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, with whom you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
St. Ignatius of Antioch
St. Ignatius is one of the great bishops of the early Church. He was the successor of St. Peter as Bishop of Antioch. He was condemned to death by wild beasts during the Emperor Trajan's persecution. On his way to Rome, he wrote seven magnificent letters, which we still have today, concerning the Person of Christ, his love for Christ, his desire for martyrdom and on the constitution of the Church and Christian life. His sentiments before his approaching martyrdom are summed in his word in the Communion antiphon, "I am the wheat of Christ, ground by the teeth of beasts to become pure bread."
Exhortations to Faith and Love
None of these things is hid from you, if ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ Jesus which are the beginning and the end of life. For the beginning is faith, and the end is love. Now these two. being inseparably connected together, are of God, while all other things which are requisite for a holy life follow after them. No man [truly] making a profession of faith sinneth; nor does he that possesses love hate anyone. The tree is made manifest by its fruit; so those that profess themselves to be Christians shall be recognized by their conduct. For there is not now a demand for mere profession, but that a man be found continuing in the power of faith to the end. Wherefore none of the devices of the devil shall be hidden from you, if, like Paul, ye perfectly possess that faith and love towards Christ which are the beginning and the end of life. The beginning of life is faith, and the end is love. And these two being inseparably connected together, do perfect the man of God; while all other things which are requisite to a holy life follow after them. No man making a profession of faith ought to sin, nor one possessed of love to hate his brother. For He that said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God," said also, "and thy neighbor as thyself." Those that profess themselves to be Christ's are known not only by what they say, but by what they practice. "For the tree is known by its fruit."
PEACE I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
It is important to note that Christ gave His peace in this verse to His apostles just before the betrayal of Judas. Fear has no place in the hearts of believers. Likewise, all our fear and distress as people awaiting His return must give way to the peace that is Christ’s gift. We now must face the conflict with the prince of this world by keeping that peace in a troubled world. Christ by His death demonstrated God’s commandment of total love.
EXHORTATION TO MEET TOGETHER FREQUENTLY FOR THE WORSHIP OF GOD
Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when ye assemble frequently in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and the destruction at which he aims is prevented by the unity of your faith. Nothing is more precious than peace, by which all war, both in heaven and earth, is brought to an end.
Take heed, then, often to come together to give thanks to God, and show forth His praise. For when ye come frequently together in the same place, the powers of Satan are destroyed, and his "fiery darts" urging to sin fall back ineffectual. For your concord and harmonious faith prove his destruction, and the torment of his assistants. Nothing is better than that peace, which is according to Christ, by which all war, both of aërial and terrestrial spirits, is brought to an end. "For we wrestle not against blood and flesh, but against principalities and powers, and against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places." St. Ignatius of Antioch
Forgive an EX Day
Forgiving does not erase the bitter past. A healed memory is not a deleted memory. Instead, forgiving what we cannot forget creates a new way to remember. We change the memory of our past into a hope for our future. Lewis B. Smedes
Forgiveness is a conscious act and for those who have been hurt by others, it can be hard when you know the scars left behind. Relationships can be emotionally intense, filled with history and memories, and can impact your life without you even realizing it. When relationships fall apart, they can hurt, and the pain can last forever. International Forgive an Ex Day is all about taking the time to reflect on your own pain and move forward by forgiving the actions of others. International Forgive an Ex Day provides insight into pain and relationships. This holiday is all about finding the insight you need to move past the mental trauma of a broken relationship, no matter how long it lasted. Typically, during this holiday, participants take an active choice to seek advice about forgiveness, whether that be going to a friend or seeing a counselor. Knowing that the path to healing can be long and hard, this holiday can be used as a start towards forgiveness or as a final conclusion towards forgiving your ex-lover. From there, after making the effort to forgive your ex, it is up to the individual to choose how to move forward from there. This holiday challenges you over how you perceive people in life and encourages people all over the world to start the path to forgiveness. It’s all about self-reflection and healing, so whether you can find the courage and peace of mind to forgive your ex-lover can take time. This is also a time to help others forgive their ex’s by giving them advice about forgiveness.
How to celebrate International Forgive an Ex Day
If you want to celebrate this holiday, then take the chance to talk to your ex to see how they are doing. If you’re not ready to speak with them, take the time to examine yourself and your position in life. In the meanwhile, speak with a counselor about this path to forgiveness and find advice from all sources, from friends and family to professional help. Share this holiday with your friends and family on your favorite social media websites using the hashtag #internationalforgiveanexday and see if this holiday can help others share their experiences about their ex’s and help them forgive the past.
Does Divorced mean EX Catholic?
The institution of marriage is in trouble today. The divorce rate is anywhere from 50 percent for first marriages to 80 percent for subsequent marriages. Perhaps, as a result, more and more couples are choosing to live together without bothering to get married.
The Church—the institution as well as the individuals—needs to minister to the millions of divorced Catholics by both changing ingrained attitudes and reaching out in love. Yes, the Church is and should be pro-marriage, but, like its Lord, it must also love and support those whose marriages have failed. It’s a fine line to walk, but it is necessary.
As the survivor of divorce after 30 years of marriage, I know there needs to be a healthier dialogue within the Catholic Church between those who have never divorced (including our clergy) and those who have. Here are seven things you may not know about divorce:
1. Non-divorced Catholics often come across as judgmental of the divorced. Perhaps they don’t mean to. But there is a definite, although largely unconscious, attitude in the Church that the divorced are less spiritual, less committed to marriage and/or less forgiving than the long-term married. Non-divorced Catholics need to be careful of assumptions, to discard any trace of judgment toward the divorced. Since I have “been there, done that” when it comes to being judgmental, I can address this issue personally. It is too easy for those who have never experienced the desperation and sorrow of a failed marriage to believe that “they could have done something to save it.” Let me assure you, the divorced Catholics I know (including myself) are spiritual, forgiving people who are committed to family and to the institution of marriage. And they did all they could to save their marriages. It is time for all of us in the Church to stop judging the divorced.
2. Not every marriage was ‘joined by God’ even if it took place in a church. This may seem like a rationalization, but Jesus’ statement in Matthew 19:6 (“Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate”) does not apply to all marriages. Many of us, looking back, realize that God was simply not a part of our decision to marry. In my case, I never asked God, never gave God the chance to stop my headlong (and headstrong) determination to get married. And God was trying to get my attention. There were real problems. My intended was heading to a war zone for a year, and friends and family counseled me to wait. But I would not listen. We have all attended enough weddings to recall what the priest or deacon always asks a couple at the beginning of the marriage ceremony: “Do you come here freely and without reservation?” For most of us divorced Catholics, the answer to that question, if we had been truthful, was “no.” How can anyone claim that a particular marriage was “joined by God” if that was not the intention of the parties getting married?
3. The divorced do not have to justify themselves. Even if a divorcing/divorced person is very close to you, you do not know what really happened. Therefore, you should refrain from making comments or asking prying questions. Perhaps we divorced Catholics are overly sensitive, but certain statements and inquiries are like rubbing salt into a very sore wound. I have been asked, “Did you try counseling or Retrouvaille?” as though I would smack my head and say, “Gee, why didn’t I think of that?” Yes, I tried everything I could think of. “Why can’t you just forgive him?” is another gem, to which I answer that forgiveness is not the same as a pardon. People have commented, “But you seemed like such a happy couple.” That’s what we wanted you to think; that’s what we wanted to believe. The bottom line is this: Such questions and comments just hurt, and they are unfair. If a divorcing/divorced person does not want to confide in you, do not prod him/her to tell you what happened. Just love that person. And give him/her the benefit of the doubt that he/she tried everything to make the marriage work. There are a variety of reasons why marriages fail. The “big three” most of us think of are adultery, addiction and abuse, but the real reason behind most failed marriages is simple indifference, often on the part of one spouse. There is no way a husband or wife can save a marriage single-handedly. When a marriage fails, no amount of effort, enabling or denial will save it. It is wrong to ask for details before you support your divorced friend, family member or parishioner. People should not have to justify their actions before they are loved for who they are.
4. Divorce has changed my life for the better. Many other divorced Catholics can say the same. Divorce has released me spiritually, mentally and emotionally to become the person God created me to be. I have been able to move on to a life that is fuller, happier and more creative. The most important change is this: My relationship with God is better today than it ever has been. When I was freed from an impossible, dysfunctional marriage, my relationship with God blossomed. I had some initial worries about my spiritual status when I began the process, but God quickly reassured and comforted me as I went through and beyond my divorce. The psychological counseling and spiritual direction I received during my divorce made me a healthier person than I ever was before. I have worked through the deep problems caused by my dysfunctional childhood. I have faced and forgiven everyone who helped shape my early years in negative ways. And I understand and embrace my individuality. Yes, divorce was a painful passage to go through, but I am a better person today because of it.
5. I don’t need to marry again to be happy. I get a lot of comments, concern and advice about finding someone when people learn I have been divorced for eight years. I really am happy as a single person, and not at all lonely or bitter about the past because I choose to remain single. I understood right from the beginning of my new life as a single person that, in order to be happy in a new relationship, I would have to be happy just being me and being single. My attitude now is, “If it happens, it happens.” In the meantime, please accept that I am fine as a single person. And for goodness’ sake: Don’t try to fix me up with anyone!
6. I hope my divorce makes you question assumptions about your marriage. Does that shock you? It shouldn’t. It means that I love you and I love the institution of marriage. But healthy marriages don’t just happen. I was sure my marriage would never end. At the same time, I was unaware of what makes a healthy marriage and very much in denial about our problems. My marital problems went a lot deeper than most, but every marriage needs constant care. And every marriage can use a tune-up now and then: a few counseling sessions, a Marriage Encounter weekend or a retreat together. Marriage takes a lot of work. I am delighted when friends and co-workers tell me that watching what I went through eight years ago or hearing me talk now about my divorce compelled them to take a second look at their own marriages, strengthen what was weak and recommit themselves to the relationship. The divorced have a great deal to teach the married about what a good, healthy and Christian marriage really is.
7. Every marriage ends. The marriage covenant ends when this life ends. Jesus tells us in Luke 20:34-35 that there is no marriage in heaven. Marriage is an earthly institution with a heavenly purpose. Marriage is a training ground wherein we cosmic youngsters learn about the love that has existed from all eternity within the Holy Trinity. Its purpose is to train us to give up our selfish tendencies, to care for another as we would care for ourselves, to take our place in the Kingdom of God. Marriage is a foreshadowing of our eternal relationship with God and with one another. Marriage is a wonderful thing, but it is not a forever thing. Knowing and remembering that should deepen not only the relationship with your earthly spouse, but also your love for your heavenly spouse, Jesus. As a divorced Catholic, I have taken great comfort from the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman of Samaria at Jacob’s well (John 4:4-42). This poor woman had been married five times and was now living with yet another man. That’s a lot of failed relationships—even by today’s standards! Jesus’ tenderness toward her and his sympathy for her situation are apparent. Did he deliberately go to that spot at that unlikely time of day because he knew she would be drawing water then? Did he send the disciples away to get lunch in the town, so he could talk to her alone? I don’t doubt it. Jesus never spoke to this woman or any other hurting person in ways that increased their pain. He offered this divorcée “living water,” himself, which was what she had been searching for in all her relationships. It is time for the rest of the Catholic Church to do the same.
Divorce and the Catholic Church
· The first thing Catholics should know is that divorce is not a sin that should keep a divorced Catholic from receiving the sacraments. A divorced or separated person is not excommunicated and is still a Catholic in good standing. The only reason for excommunication after divorce is remarriage without going through the annulment process.
· Before a divorced person can remarry in the Catholic Church, he or she must obtain an annulment by a Catholic diocesan tribunal. Obtaining such a decree does not mean that the marriage never took place; it is a determination that a sacramental marriage did not take place.
· This does not mean that the children of that marriage are illegitimate or that the couple was “living in sin.” It means that, in that particular case, the marrying couple had little or no idea what Christian marriage was all about or that there were deep problems from the beginning of the marriage, either in the couple’s relationship or in their families of origin.
· Therefore, the Church may determine that it was impossible then for the couple to enter into a truly Christian marriage. Divorced Catholics who are seeking an annulment should talk to their pastors, who will direct them to the proper contacts at their diocese.
The annulment process can give divorced Catholics three gifts:
CLARITY, by helping them see the why’s and how’s of their failed marriage in a new light.
HEALING, by allowing them to work through their anger and guilt and come through to a better place spiritually and emotionally.
TIME, by forcing the divorced person to wait before making any more relationship decisions.
Recently divorced people are especially vulnerable to needing companionship, support and sympathy. The first person of the opposite sex who provides that is going to be very attractive, but the newly divorced person does not need that kind of complication in the healing process. The newly divorced person needs breathing room after a marriage ends.
The dismal divorce statistics after second and third marriages are proof that too many divorced people simply don’t wait long enough to recover completely. Taking part in the Catholic Church’s annulment process is one way to ensure that a good healing process has begun. If a divorced Catholic does meet someone he or she might want to marry, that person will not only have better tools for discerning whether this is a good relationship but will also have the Church’s blessing on a second marriage.
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART TWO: THE CELEBRATION OF THE CHRISTIAN MYSTERY
SECTION TWO-THE SEVEN SACRAMENTS OF THE CHURCH
CHAPTER TWO-THE SACRAMENTS OF HEALING
Article 4-THE SACRAMENT OF PENANCE AND RECONCILIATION
III. The Conversion of the Baptized
1427 Jesus calls to conversion. This call is an essential part of the proclamation of the kingdom: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel." In the Church's preaching this call is addressed first to those who do not yet know Christ and his Gospel. Also, Baptism is the principal place for the first and fundamental conversion. It is by faith in the Gospel and by Baptism that one renounces evil and gains salvation, that is, the forgiveness of all sins and the gift of new life.
1428 Christ's call to conversion continues to resound in the lives of Christians. This second conversion is an uninterrupted task for the whole Church who, "clasping sinners to her bosom, (is) at once holy and always in need of purification, (and) follows constantly the path of penance and renewal." This endeavor of conversion is not just a human work. It is the movement of a "contrite heart," drawn and moved by grace to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first.
1429 St. Peter's conversion after he had denied his master three times bears witness to this. Jesus' look of infinite mercy drew tears of repentance from Peter and, after the Lord's resurrection, a threefold affirmation of love for him. The second conversion also has a communitarian dimension, as is clear in the Lord's call to a whole Church: "Repent!"
St. Ambrose says of the two conversions that, in the Church, "there are water and tears: the water of Baptism and the tears of repentance."
Tuesday: Litany of St. Michael the Archangel
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus