Daily Devotional for August 9 – 15
We are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after
the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
Prayer: O Gentle Light of the holy glory of the immortal, heavenly, holy, blessed Father, O Jesus Christ: Having come to the setting of the sun, having beheld the evening light, we praise the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit: God. Meet it is for Thee at all times to be hymned with reverent voices, O Son of God, Giver of life. Wherefore, the world doth glorify Thee.
*Eastern Vesper Hymn
*Practical Commentary this week…
THE Jews, who had returned to their country, lived in peace for two hundred years under the dominion of the successors of Cyrus. This peace was not disturbed even when Alexander the Great, king of Macedonia, destroyed the Persian empire. Whilst Alexander lived, he treated the Jews with great kindness; but when, at his death, the Macedonian empire was divided, evil times came upon Judæa.
That province formed the object of dispute between the kings of Syria and those of Egypt, who made it the battle-ground for their contending armies, so that it was turned almost into a desert. As a natural consequence of these protracted wars, ignorance, corruption and vice struck daily deeper root among the Jewish people. This was one of the darkest periods of their history, all the more so as the succession of prophets seemed to have ceased.
While the Jews were under the sceptre of the king of Egypt, it happened that the king desired a Greek translation of the sacred books of the Jews. He therefore expressed his desire to the High Priest at Jerusalem, who granted the request and sent to Alexandria, the capital of Egypt, seventy-two wise men well versed both in Greek and in Hebrew. These men were kindly received by the king, and made a correct translation for him called for that reason the Septuagint. At that time educated men among the heathen nations knew and spoke the Greek language. Hence this translation of the Scriptures began to be read by the pagans, who thereby came to the knowledge of the true God, and to the belief in the Messias. Thus do we see the hand of Divine Providence, in His design to prepare the Gentiles for the coming of the Saviour.
Prayer: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
Almighty God also inspired a pious Jew, called Jesus, the son of Sirach, to write a work on religious and moral instruction, which forms one of the books of the Catholic Bible, and is called Ecclesiasticus. The following beautiful maxims taken from it deserve careful study. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning and crown of wisdom. The word of God is the fountain of wisdom, and her ways are everlasting commandments. The fear of the Lord shall delight the heart, and shall give joy, and gladness, and length of days. It shall go well with him that feareth the Lord, and in the days of his end he shall be blessed. My son, from thy youth up receive instruction, and even to thy grey hairs thou shalt find wisdom.”
“Come to her as one that plougheth and soweth, and wait for her good fruits. For in working about her thou shalt labour a little, and shalt quickly eat of her fruits. Take all that shall be brought upon thee, and keep patience, for gold and silver are tried in the fire, but acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation. Hear the judgment of your father and grieve him not in his life. The father’s blessing established the houses of the children, but the mother’s curse rooteth up the foundation.”
“Despise not a man in his old age, for we also shall become old. Despise not the discourse of them that are ancient and wise; but acquaint thyself with their proverbs. Praise not a man for his beauty, neither despise a man for his look. The bee is small among flying things, but her fruit hath the chiefest sweetness. Be in peace with many, but let one of a thousand be thy counsellor.”
Prayer: Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world: have mercy upon us. Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world, grant us peace.
More from Ecclesiasticus…
“Nothing can be compared to a faithful friend, and no weight of gold and silver is able to countervail the goodness of his fidelity. If thou wouldst get a friend, try him before thou takest him, and do not credit him easily. For there is a friend for his own occasion, and he will not abide in the day of thy trouble. A lie is a foul blot in a man. In nowise speak against the truth, but be ashamed of the lie in thy ignorance.”
“Let not the naming of God be usual in thy mouth, and meddle not with the names of Saints. A man that sweareth much shall be filled with iniquity, and a scourge shall not depart from his house. Before thou hear, answer not a word, and interrupt not others in the midst of their discourse. Hast thou heard a word against thy neighbour, let it die within thee, trusting that it will not burst thee. Hedge in thy ears with thorns; hear not a wicked tongue; and make doors and bars to thy mouth.”
“Melt down thy gold and silver, and make a balance for thy words. Flee from sin as from the face of a serpent. All iniquity is like a two-edged sword; there is no remedy for the wound thereof. Observe the time and fly from evil. He that loveth danger shall perish therein, and he that toucheth pitch shall be defiled with it In every work of thine regard thy soul in faith, for this is the keeping of the commandments. In all thy works remember thy last end, and thou shalt never sin.”
Prayer: O Lord, save Thy people and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory over their enemies to Orthodox Christians, and protect Thy people with Thy Cross.
2 Maccabees: THE most terrible trial which the Jews had to undergo was that which came upon them at the time when they were made subject to the proud and cruel Antiochus, king of Syria. The king ordered the Holy Books to be torn and burnt; he profaned the Temple, and forbade the observance of the divine laws under the penalty of death.
Unhappily, many of the Jews, yielding to a guilty fear, obeyed the king’s order; but many more refused to comply with the impious mandate, and chose to die rather than violate the holy precept of God. Among these was an old man named Eleazar, ninety-nine years of age, who was renowned as a doctor of the law.
When Eleazar refused to eat swine’s flesh, the use of which was forbidden by the law of Moses, they opened his mouth by force to compel him to eat. But he still refused, and declared that he would undergo any torment that might be inflicted on him, rather than stain his soul with sin by a violation of the commandment of God. Then some of those who stood by, pitying the good old man, advised him to eat of other meat which was not forbidden, so as to feign compliance with the king’s command.
Eleazar replied: “It does not become our age to dissemble.” He then explained to these false friends that even if he made a mere show of complying with the king’s orders in this matter, the young men of his nation might be tempted to follow his example, saying: “The aged Eleazar has become a pagan, why may not we do the same?” Moreover, he exclaimed: “Though for the present time I should be delivered from the punishment of men, yet should I not escape the hand of the Almighty, neither alive nor dead.”
Having thus spoken, the holy old man was dragged to the place of execution, where he suffered a glorious death. In the midst of his torments he cried out: “Lord, Thou knowest I suffer grievous pains, but I am well content to suffer these things, because I fear Thee.”
Prayer: O my God relying on Thy infinite goodness and promises, I hope to obtain pardon of my sins, the help of Thy grace, and life everlasting, through the merits of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer.
*Act of Hope
Commetary on Eleazar (from yesterday’s reading)
Eleazar was strong and steadfast in faith, preferring to die under torture rather than deny his faith by eating the forbidden meat.
The fortitude with which Eleazar endured his torture proceeded from the holy fear of God, to whom he said in presence of the bystanders: “I am well content to suffer, because I fear Thee”; being persuaded within himself: “If I escape from this torture by a miserable hypocrisy, I could not escape the punishment of God.” It is thus we ought to reason when tempted either to do what is wrong, or to neglect what is right. Our Lord has spoken these warning words: Fear not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear Him that can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mat. 10:28).
Eleazar wished to avoid even the appearance of sin, and therefore refused to adopt the suggestion made to him of secretly eating meat which was allowed, though he seemed to be eating swine’s flesh. Every one would have thought that he had eaten forbidden meat, and, as he himself said, he would thus have given a bad example to all the Jews, and especially to the young. This act would also have drawn others into transgressing the law and denying their faith. Those who are the occasion of sin in other persons give scandal, and sin against the Fifth Commandment.
Did those who advised Eleazar to act as if he had eaten the forbidden meat commit sin? Yes, for though it is true that they felt full of compassion for the poor, weak, aged man, they felt no compassion for his soul; and it was, after all, a very erroneous sort of compassion which made them counsel him to commit a sin.
Our Lord Jesus Christ had not yet died for Eleazar. He had not received the teaching and graces of Christianity, nor was heaven open to him; and yet he gave a splendid example of fortitude. How much more shameful would it be for Christians to deny their faith, having before them, in very truth, the example of our Lord, of the holy apostles, and of 13,000,000 martyrs of the Church, and receiving, as they do, so many graces from God!
Prayer: O my God I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all-good and worthy of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life.
*Act of Contrition
**Today is the Feast of the Dormition of the Virgin Mary. These verse below mystically refers to her and Christ…
1Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. 2Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth.
3And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. 4His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. 5She bore a male Child who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron. And her Child was caught up to God and His throne. 6Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days.
Satan Thrown Out of Heaven
And war broke out in heaven: Michael and his angels fought with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death. Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
Now when the dragon saw that he had been cast to the earth, he persecuted the woman who gave birth to the male Child. But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth. And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Prayer: O my God I love Thee above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because Thou art all-good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of Thee. I forgive all who have injured me, and ask pardon of all whom I have injured. (Act of Charity)