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Behold! I will save my people

“By an utterly free and mysterious decree of his own wisdom and goodness, the eternal Father created the whole world.  His plan was to dignify men with a participation of his own divine life.  When in Adam men had fallen, he did not abandon them, but ceaselessly offered them help to salvation, in anticipation of Christ the Redeemer, ‘who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature’.  All the elect, before time began, the Father ‘foreknew and predestined to become conformed to the image of his Son, that he should be the firstborn among many brethren’.

“All those who would believe in Christ he planned to assemble in the holy Church, which was already foreshadowed from the beginning of the world.  In a remarkable way the Church was prepared for throughout the history of the people of Israel and by means of the Old Covenant.  Established in the present era of time, she was made manifest by the outpouring of the Spirit.  At the end of time she will achieve her glorious fulfillment.  Then, as may be read in the holy Fathers, all just men from the time of Adam, ‘from Abel, the just one, to the last of the elect’, will be gathered together with the Father in the universal Church.

“Finally, those who have not yet received the gospel are related in various ways to the People of God.

“In the first place there is that people to whom the covenants and promises were made and from whom Christ was born according to the flesh.  On account of their fathers, this people remains most dear to God, for God does not repent of the gifts he makes nor of the calls he issues.

“But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the creator.  In the first place among these there are the Muslims; they profess to hold the faith of Abraham, and along with us adore the one and merciful God, who will judge mankind on the last day.”

Excerpt from the Constitution of the Church of the Second Vatican Council Nn 2,16

Rabbi Abraham Skorka,Omar Abboud, Muslim leader from Argentina, and Pope Francis, after praying at the Western Wall in Jerusalem May 26, 2014.

The thorn bush

One day the trees went out
to anoint a king to rule over them.
They said to the olive tree, “Be our king!”

The olive tree answered them,
“Must I forgo my oil
which gives honour to gods and men,
to stand and sway above the trees?”

Then the trees said to the fig tree,
“Come now, you be our king!”

The fig tree answered them,
“Must I forgo my sweetness,
forgo my excellent fruit,
to stand and sway above the trees?”

Then the trees said to the vine,
“Come now, you be our king!”

The vine answered them,
“Must I forgo my wine
which cheers the heart of gods and men,
to stand swaying above the trees?”

Then the trees all said to the thorn bush,
“Come now, you be our king!”

And the thorn bush answered the trees,
“If in all good faith you anoint me king to reign over you,
then come and shelter in my shade.
If not, fire will come from the thorn bush
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.”

Judges 8:8-15

The Ten Commandments

The Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments

Yahweh said to Moses, “Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones and come up to me on the mountain, and I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. Be ready at dawn; at dawn come up Mount Sinai and wait for me there at the top of the mountain. No one may come up with you, no one may be seen anywhere on the mountain; the flocks and herds may not even graze in front of this mountain.”

So he cut two tablets of stone like the first and, with the two tablets of stone in his hands, Moses went up Mount Sinai in the early morning as Yahweh had ordered. And Yahweh descended in a cloud and stood with him there and pronounced the name Yahweh. Then Yahweh passed before him and called out, “Yahweh, Yahweh, God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in faithful love and constancy, maintaining his faithful love to thousands, forgiving fault, crime and sin, yet letting nothing go unchecked, and punishing the parent’s fault in the children and in the grandchildren to the third and fourth generation!”

Moses immediately bowed to the ground in worship, then he said, “If indeed I do enjoy your favour, please, my Lord, come with us, although they are an obstinate people; and forgive our faults and sins, and adopt us as your heritage.”

He then said, “Behold, I am now making a covenant: I shall work such wonders at the head of your whole people as have never been worked in any other country or nation, and all the people round you will see what Yahweh can do, for what I shall do through you will be awe-inspiring. Mark, then, what I command you today. I am going to drive out the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites before you.

  1. “Take care you make no pact with the inhabitants of the country which you are about to enter, or they will prove a snare in your community. You will tear down their altars, smash their cultic stones and cut down their sacred poles, for you will worship no other god, since Yahweh’s name is the Jealous One; he is a jealous God. Make no pact with the inhabitants of the country or, when they prostitute themselves to their own gods and sacrifice to them, they will invite you and you will partake of their sacrifice, and then you will choose wives for your sons from among their daughters, and their daughters, prostituting themselves to their own gods, will induce your sons to prostitute themselves to their gods.
  2. “You will not cast metal gods for yourself.
  3. “You will observe the feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you will eat unleavened bread, as I have commanded you, at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt.
  4. “All that first issues from the womb belongs to me: every male, every first-born of flock or herd. But the first-born donkey you will redeem with an animal from the flock; if you do not redeem it, you must break its neck. All the first-born of your sons you will redeem, and no one will appear before me empty-handed.
  5. “For six days you will labour, but on the seventh day you will rest; you will stop work even during ploughing and harvesting.
  6. “You will observe the feast of Weeks, of the first-fruits of the wheat harvest, and the feast of Ingathering at the close of the year.
  7. “Three times a year all your menfolk will appear before Lord Yahweh, God of Israel, for I shall dispossess the nations before you and extend your frontiers, and no one will set his heart on your territory when you go away to appear before Yahweh your God three times a year.
  8. “You will not offer the blood of my sacrificial victim with leavened bread, nor is the victim offered at the feast of Passover to be left until the following day.
  9. “You will bring the best of the first-fruits of your soil to the house of Yahweh your God.
  10. “You will not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.”

Yahweh then said to Moses, “Put these words in writing, for they are the terms of the covenant which I have made with you and with Israel.”

He stayed there with Yahweh for forty days and forty nights, eating and drinking nothing, and on the tablets he wrote the words of the covenant — the Ten Words.

Exodus 34: 1-28

These two tablets were carried in the ark of the covenant and placed in the holy of holies.
These the two tablets were carried in the ark of the covenant and placed in the holy of holies.

Note: Jesus does not ask us to follow these ten commandments, or any of the old law in the old testament. He asks us to love God with all our heart and mind and soul; and to love our neighbor as ourself. Everything else comes from this.

A Pathway to Peace

Singing the Divine Office
Singing the Divine Office

It is to be hoped that Catholics will endeavor to co-operate actively and positively both with their separated brethren, who profess the charity of the gospel along with them, and with all men who desire true peace. It is in this way that they will fulfill their true role in the international community.

A reading from the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in the Modern World N 88-90 (selection)
Office of Readings; Week 31; Tuesday

Achieving Peace

Singing the Divine Office

On the necessity of educating people to pacific attitudes of mind

People should beware of leaving the problems of peace and disarmament to the efforts of a few men without putting their own attitudes in order.  Civil rulers, who must at the same time promote the welfare of the whole world as well as protect the interests of their own people, depend to a very great extent on public opinion and public feeling.  Their peace-making efforts will be fruitless as long as hostility, contempt, and distrust as well as racial hatred and uncompromising ideologies continue to divide men and put them in opposing camps.  Hence a very great need arises to re-educate people’s attitudes and to guide public opinion in a new direction.

Those who are engaged in education, especially the education of the young, and those who mould public opinion should regard it as among their greatest responsibilities to educate people to want peace.  Every one of us needs a change of heart; we must keep in mind the needs of the whole world and see what tasks we can all perform together in order to bring about the improvement of mankind.

We must not let false hopes deceive us.  Animosity and hatred must be put aside, and firm, honest agreements about world peace must be concluded.  Otherwise, in spite of all the wonders of modern science, humanity, which is already in grace danger, may be brought to the point that the only peace it will know will be the dread peace of death.  The Church, however, is living the the midst of these anxieties, and, even though she makes these statements, she has not lost hope.  She intends to propose to our age over and over again, in season and out of season, the message of the apostle: “Behold, now is the acceptable time” for a change of heart, “behold, now is the time of salvation.”

If peace is ever to be achieved, the first condition is to remove the causes of dissension between men.  Wars thrive on these, especially on injustice.  Excessive economic inequalities and unwarranted delay in applying the remedies for them are often the causes of such dissensions.  Other causes are the quest for power, the total disregard for people’s rights, and at a deeper level, envy, distrust, pride, and other selfish passions.  Man cannot tolerate disorders of such a kind, and the inevitable result is that, even though war does not actually break out, the world is constantly disturbed by the strife and violence between men.

Exactly the same evils reappear in the relationships between nations.  If they are ever to be overcome or prevented and if violence is ever to be suppressed, it is absolutely essential that international bodies work together even more effectively and resolutely to co-ordinate their efforts and to work unsparingly to create organizations that will promote peace among men.

A reading from the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church in the Modern World N 82-83
Office of Readings; Week 31; Monday

July 14: Saint Kateri Tekakwitha

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha
St. Kateri Tekakwitha
[Pronounciation: Gah-deh-lee Deh-gah-quee-tah]

Kateri was born in 1656 near the town of Auriesville, New York, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was baptized by Jesuit missionary Fr. Jacques de Lambertville on Easter of 1676 at the age of twenty. She devoted her life to prayer, penitential practices, and the care of the sick and aged in Caughnawaga near Montreal (where her relics are now enshrined). She incurred the hostility of her tribe because of her faith. She was devoted to the Eucharist, and to Jesus Crucified, and was called the “Lily of the Mohawks.” She died in 1680 and was beatified June 22, 1980 — the first native American to be declared “Blessed.” She was canonized on October 21, 2012.

The Office of Readings
The Second Reading
A reading from Saint of the Day, by Leonard Foley, O.F.M

The blood of martyrs is the seed of saints. Nine years after the Jesuits Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf were tortured to death by Huron and Iroquois Native American nations, a baby girl was born near the place of their martyrdom, Auriesville, New York. She was to be the first person born in North America to be beatified. Her mother was a Christian Algonquin, taken captive by the Iroquois and given as wife to the chief of the Mohawk clan, the boldest and fiercest of the Five Nations. When she was four, Kateri lost her parents and little brother in a smallpox epidemic that left her disfigured and half blind. She was adopted by an uncle, who succeeded her father as chief. He hated the coming of the Blackrobes (missionaries), but could do nothing to them because a peace treaty with the French required their presence in villages with Christian captives. She was moved by the words of three Blackrobes who lodged with her uncle, but fear of him kept her from seeking instruction. She refused to marry a Mohawk man and at nineteen finally got the courage to take the step of converting. She was baptized with the name Catherine (“Kateri”), which she took from St. Catherine of Siena, on Easter Sunday.

She was now treated as a slave. Because she would not work on Sunday, she received no food that day. Her life in grace grew rapidly. She told a missionary that she often meditated on the great dignity of being baptized. She was powerfully moved by God’s love for human beings and saw the dignity of each of her people. She was always in danger, for her conversion and holy life created great opposition. On the advice of a priest, she stole away one night and began a two-hundred-mile walking journey to a Christian Native American village at Sault St. Louis, near Montreal.

For three years she grew in holiness under the direction of a priest and an older Iroquois woman, giving herself totally to God in long hours of prayer, in charity and in strenuous penance. At twenty three she took a vow of virginity, an unprecedented act for a Native American woman, whose future depended on being married. She found a place in the woods where she could pray an hour a day and was accused of meeting a man there. Her dedication to virginity was instinctive: She did not know about religious life for women until she visited Montreal. Inspired by this, she and two friends wanted to start a community, but the local priest dissuaded her. She humbly accepted an “ordinary” life. She practiced extremely severe fasting as penance for the conversion of her nation. She died the afternoon before Holy Thursday. Witnesses said that her emaciated face changed color and became like that of a healthy child. The lines of suffering, even the pockmarks, disappeared and the touch of a smile came upon her lips. She was beatified in 1980.

Collect Prayer

O God, who desired the Virgin St. Kateri Tekakwitha to flower among Native Americans in a life of innocence, grant, through her intercession, that when all are gathered into your Church from every nation, tribe and tongue, they may magnify you in a single canticle of praise. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Symbols: lily (a symbol of her purity); a cross (a symbol of her love of Jesus Christ); a turtle (a symbol of her clan).

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Babel undone

Now the Lord came down to see the town and the tower that the sons of man had built.  “So they are all a single people with a single language!” said the Lord.  “This is but the start of their undertakings!  There will be nothing too hard for them to do.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language on the spot so that they can no longer understand one another.”  The Lord scattered them thence over the whole face of the earth, and they stopped building the town.  It was named Babel therefore, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth.  It was from there that the Lord scattered them over the whole face of the earth.

— Genesis 11:5-9

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and something appeared the them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.  They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak foreign languages as the Spirit gave them the gift of speech.

— Acts 2:1-4

Vengeance undone

“Adah amd Zillah, hear my voice,
Lamech’s wives, listen to what I say:
I killed a man for wounding me,
a boy for striking me.
Sevenfold vengeance is taken for Cain,
but seventy-sevenfold for Lamech.”

— Lamech speaking in Genesis 4:23-24

Then Peter went up to him and said, “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me? As often as seven times? Jesus answered, “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times.”

— Matthew 18:21-22

The Suffering of Jesus

“More than the other evangelists, Luke presents Jesus as the pattern man, and the Christian life as, through the Spirit, the imitation of Christ.  This is particularly true of Luke’s treatment of the story of the passion.  The New Testament as a whole does not present the crucifixion in such a way as to appeal primarily to our feelings, and certainly does not exploit them.  The actual sufferings of Christ are not underlined in the way that we might expect when we remember that, as the New Testament itself shows, the Christian life was practically defined (by the Pauline epistles and 1 Peter) as a sharing in the sufferings of Christ.  It is not the actual physical (or mental) sufferings of Christ which are emphasized in the Gospels, but the shame of Israel’s rejection of her Lord.”

The Cambridge Bible Commentary on the New English Bible: The Gospel According to Luke by E.J. Tinsley; p 11