Saturday, January 21, 2017

A Day of Prayer and Penance for Life

In February 2002, the Catholic Church established that throughout the United States,
January 22nd would be observed as a day of prayer and penance against abortion:
“In all the dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life. The Mass 'For Peace and Justice' (no. 22 of the 'Masses for Various Needs') should be celebrated with violet vestments as an appropriate liturgical observance for this day.”

– General Instruction of the Roman Missal, no. 373
Read more at Aquinas and More where they have a good explanation and also some ideas if you are not sure what you want to do.

I'm posting this a day early so it won't be a complete surprise.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: Messages on Cold Ground

Messages on cold ground…, Edward B. Gordon

Well Said: The task of a Christian

The task of a Christian is to drown evil in an abundance of good. It is not a question of negative campaigns, or of being "anti" anything. On the contrary, we should live positively, full of optimism, with youthfulness, joy and peace. We should be understanding with everybody, with the followers of Christ and with those who abandon him, or with those who have never known him at all. Understanding does not mean holding back, or remaining indifferent, but being active.* We need to have the initiative, to want everyone to see the lovable face of Christ.

Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God, vol. 3
* Josemaria Escriva, Furrow

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Restored to Life — After a 72-Hour Stomach Virus

Ahhh, it feels good to have something besides ginger ale!

And it's good to be back to the blog. Except for the Genesis study post which I prepared ahead of time, it's been a bit blank around here. Now that I'm back at the computer things will get back to normal soon.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Genesis Notes: Melchizedek's Resume

I love these resumes from the Life Application Bible. They really have a way of focusing us on important information we might otherwise have missed in the bigger story.

Meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464–67
This meeting between Abram and Melchizedek was most unusual. Although the two men were strangers and foreigners to each other, they shared a most important characteristic: both worshiped and served the one God who made heaven and earth. This was a great moment of triumph for Abram, about whose victory it was. Melchizedek set the record straight by reminding Abram "Blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand" (Genesis 14:20). Abram recognized that this man worshiped the same God he did.

Melchizedek was one of a small group of God-honoring throughout the Old Testament who came in contact with the Jews (Israelites) but were not Jews themselves. This indicates that the requirement to be a follower of God is not genetic, but is based on faithfully obeying his teachings and recognizing his greatness.

Strengths and accomplishments:
  • The first priest/king of Scripture -- a leader with a heart tuned to God
  • Good at encouraging others to serve God wholeheartedly
  • A man whose character reflected his love for God
  • A person in the Old Testament who reminds us of Jesus and who some believe really was Jesus
Lesson from his life:
  • Live for God and you're likely to be at the right place at the right time ...
Vital statistics:
  • Where: Ruled Salem, the site of the future Jerusalem
  • Occupation: King of Salem and priest of God Most High
Key verse:
"This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him ... Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!" (Hebrews 7:1, 4)

Melchizedek's story is told in Genesis 14:17-20. He also is mentioned in Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5-7.

All material quoted is from the Life Application Study Bible. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Worth a Thousand Words: It's Good Together

It's Good Together
taken by Remo Savisaar

Well Said: The prophet is a person

The prophet is not a mouthpiece, but a person; not an instrument, but a partner, an associate of God. Emotional detachment would be understandable only if there were a command which required the suppression of emotion, forbidding one to serve God "with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might." God, we are told, asks not only for "works," for action, but above all for love, awe, and fear. ... You will seeke Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13).
Abraham Heschel, The Prophets
This makes me think of the famous words of one of the most human of all prophets, Jeremiah. It is a personal experience which fully requires the participation of the prophet.
You duped me, O LORD, and I let myself be duped;
you were too strong for me, and you triumphed. ...

I say to myself, I will not mention him,
I will speak in his name no more.
But then it becomes like fire burning in my heart,
imprisoned in my bones;
I grow weary holding it in, I cannot endure it.
(Jer. 20:7, 9)

Give 2 Hours, Once a Year, for Life

If your area has a local March for Life, please consider going.

It doesn't take much time, especially when you consider that this may be the only physical action you take against abortion all year. (Not counting kneeling in prayer, that is.)

In Dallas, if you only attend the march, it takes maybe half an hour to get to City Hall, an hour to march and listen to some speeches and (admittedly not my favorite) sing-along music.

But you will be participating in the one thing that the general public, the media, and government understand.


Your mere presence will help show that more people care about all phases of life than most people realize.

If everyone in Dallas/Fort Worth attended who really believed killing the unborn is wrong, I think the streets would be clogged for hours. The media, who generally ignores the thousands who attend here each year, would be unable to ignore those numbers.

We all have our reasons to stay home.

I understand. Every single year I battle the reasonable rationalizations that spring to mind. But those rationalizations are not really true a lot of the time. In my case, they always boil down to:
  • It's inconvenient.
  • I might get embarrassed.
  • I don't like that music (now I'm clutching at straws).
  • I'd rather be doing something else (anything else).
So, I'll just say it. I'm lazy, easily embarrassed, snobbish, and selfish. Welcome to my inner life.

But I can't get away from the truth of what Jesus tells me about how I'm being judged in the end.
‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
Considering Mary's situation when she said, "Yes" to bearing Christ for us, I feel as if I can't ignore these littlest ones among us and their parents who are being lied to by everyone else in our society. Who need someone to stand up for them and tell the truth.

One of the things I like about the march is that this is my chance to simply "be there." Simply taking this walk lets my presence count without having to achieve another thing. There's a symbolism about that I like. A connection with the unborn whose value is in "being."

That's worth two hours, once a year.


Friday and Saturday schedule notes:

The DFW March for Life is this Saturday, January 14.

Mass is being held TONIGHT, FRIDAY, at St. Monica and San Juan Diego churches.

You can see the whole schedule here.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Well Said: Eyewitnesses to God

There are no proofs for the existence of the God of Abraham. There are only eyewitnesses. The greatness of the prophet lies not only n the ideas he expressed, but also in the moments he experienced. The prophet is a witness and his words a testimony — to His power and judgment, to His justice and mercy.
Abraham Heschel, The Prophets

Worth a Thousand Words: The Lovers

Emile Friant, Les Amoureux, 1888
via Arts Everyday Living

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Well Said: Few are guilty, but all are responsible.

Above all, the prophets remind us of the moral state of a people: Few are guilty, but all are responsible. If we admit that the individual is in some measure conditioned or affected by the spirit of society, an individual's crime discloses society's corruption. In a community not indifferent to suffering, uncompromisingly impatient with cruelty and falsehood, continually concerned for God and every man, crime would be infrequent rather than common.
Abraham Heschel, The Prophets

Worth a Thousand Words: Passing Storm

Passing Storm, Arthur Parton, Date unknown

Genesis Notes: Melchizedek

Melchizedek is only shown to us one time and yet we are reminded of him with the familiar phrase from Hebrews that Jesus is a high priest "after the order of Melchizedek." You wouldn't think there'd be a whole lot to learn from one little "walk on" part. However, as is so often the case with Scripture, there is a whole lot more to it as we can see here.

Melchizedek and Abraham. Painted Limoges enamel plaque, 1560-1570.
Most modern biblical scholarship sees in Melchizedek a pre-figuring of Christ; some scholars suggest that it was actually an appearance of Christ to Abram. He is a mysterious figure. The early tradition of the Church, which continued well up to the time of the Reformation, was influenced by the Jewish rabbinic teaching that Melchizedek was actually Shem, the firstborn son of Noah who lived a very long time. This is a compelling idea. Shem was the one on whom Noah's blessing had rested. He was destined to be a master over the Canaanites. His priesthood was domestic; that is, the one who conducted the worship of God and through whom the blessing of God was received was the head of the family. We have seen this in Noah and Abram. This role was passed from father to firstborn son.

If, in fact, Shem is Melchizedek (this name is more of a title than a name), as the Fathers taught (even Martin Luther understood and taught this), what can we make of the description of him in Hebrews 7:1-10 (please read)? In Heb. 7:3, he is described as "without father or mother or genealogy, and has neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever." In order to understand this statement, we need to know something about the Levitical priesthood in Israel, with which Melchizedek's priesthood is contrasted in the verses that follow.

The Levitical priesthood was instituted in Israel at the time of a great apostasy, a grave turning away from the covenant God had made with His people (see Exodus 32:25-29). Before that time, the priesthood had been a domestic one, as we have seen in Genesis thus far, passed from father to firstborn son. Due to the circumstances of its institution, the Levitical priesthood must be seen as inferior to the earlier one. The writer of Hebrews makes this clear. Additionally, by the time of the writing of Hebrews, the Levitical priesthood featured certain restrictions. A man could not become a priest until he was 30 and had to retire when he was 50. He also had to prove his Levitical (of the tribe of Levi) genealogy through both his father and his mother (this had become important when Israel returned to its land after foreign exile, in about 500 B.C.; there was careful attention to lineage in order to prevent any foreign corruption in the priesthood).

The priesthood of Melchizedek was not that way. There was no need for the Levitical attention to parental lineage ("He is without father or mother or genealogy..."). There was no start and end of his service ("neither beginning of days nor end of life"). It would be this kind of royal priesthood that Jesus would have (prophesied of the Messiah long before by King David in Psalm 110:4). His was the superior priesthood of the firstborn son, not the Levitical one. God's own Son became High Priest. Melchizedek was a type of the One Who was to come.]
All quotes from Genesis, Part II: God and His Family. This series first ran in 2004 and 2005. I'm refreshing it as I go. For links to the whole study, go to the Genesis Index. For more about the resources used, go here.