Daily Devotional for August 16-22
1 Corinthinan 1:6…. I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make away to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
Prayer: O my God I firmly believe that Thou art one God in three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; I believe that Thy Divine Son became man, and died for our sins, and that he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because Thou hast revealed them, who canst neither deceive nor be deceived. (Act of Faith)
Practical Commentary this week… 2 Machabees..
ANTIOCHUS commanded that a certain widow, with her seven sons, should be brought into his presence, and should be forced to eat of the forbidden flesh. They all told him that, as their law did not allow them the use of such meat, they could not obey his command. He immediately had them scourged with whips.
The eldest of the brothers told the king that they were ready to die rather than transgress the law of their God. Then the king, enraged at the young man’s boldness, ordered his tongue to be plucked out, the skin of his head to be torn off, his hands and feet to be cut off, and finally that he should be burnt alive before his mother and brothers. While he was suffering these cruel torments, his mother and his brothers exhorted him to die courageously.
The first brother being dead, they seized the second, and, having torn the skin from off his head, they asked him if he would eat rather than undergo the rest of the torments. But he, refusing not less firmly and courageously than his elder brother, was tortured in the same way till he expired. When he was about to die he exclaimed: “Thou, O most wicked man, destroyest us out of this present life, but the King of the world will raise up us who die for His laws, in the resurrection of eternal life.”
The third brother offered his hands and feet to be cut off, saying: “These I have from heaven, but for the law of God I now despise them, because I hope to receive them again from Him.” Some minutes before his death he declared aloud his willingness to die for God, as his brothers had already done. When he was dead, the fourth brother, the fifth, and the sixth were all three subjected to the same torments as their elder brothers, but each one died in the same manner, having the same spirit. They made no account of pain and death, because they suffered all for God.
Prayer: Having risen from sleep I hasten to Thee, O Lord, Lover of men, and by Thy loving-kindness I strive to do Thy work, and I pray to Thee: help me at all times, in everything, and deliver me from every evil thing of the world and every attack of the devil, and lead me into Thine eternal Kingdom. For Thou art my Creator, the Giver and Provider of everything good, and all my hope is in Thee, and to Thee I send up glory, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.
*Prayer for the next day’s morning
2 Machabees cont.
The king and his courtiers were amazed at the constancy of these young men, so that when the seventh, a mere youth, was brought forward, the king told him, with an oath, that he would make him rich and happy if he would obey his command. Seeing that his words had no effect on the courageous boy, Antiochus called on the mother to advise her son for his own good.
The mother agreed to do so. Then, addressing her son, she said with all a mother’s tender affection: “My son, look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them; and consider that God made them out of nothing, and mankind also; so thou shalt not fear this tormentor, but, being made a worthy partner with thy brethren, receive death, that in that mercy I may receive thee again with thy brethren.”
While she was yet speaking, the boy said: “For whom do you stay? I will not obey the commandment of the king, but the commandment of the law which was given us by Moses.” Then, turning to the king: “Thou”, said he, “thou that hast been the author of all mischief against the Hebrews, shalt not escape the hand of God.” But the king, inflamed with rage, tortured him most cruelly till he yielded up his soul. Last of all the mother herself was put to death.
Prayer: Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears! Turn, then, O most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this, our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Commentary on fortitude in the Machabees…
What gives fortitude? What made this mother and her sons so heroically resolved to give up their lives for God’s sake? What enabled them to endure such horrible tortures?
1. Their firm faith in God and His reward. They believed and confessed that
a) God is the Almighty Lord and Creator of the world: “These hands I have from heaven”—“The King of this world will raise us up”—“God made all these things out of nothing.”
b) That God is just, rewarding the good and punishing the wicked: “We suffer thus for our sins”—“Thou, O most wicked of men, shalt not escape the judgment of Almighty God”—“Receive death, that in that mercy I may receive thee again.”
c) That there is an eternal life, a resurrection of the body, and a meeting again in another world: “The King of this world will raise us up in the resurrection of eternal life”—“These hands I have from heaven … I hope to receive them again from Him”—“That I may receive thee again with thy brethren.” They raised their eyes beyond the perishable things of this earth, to those things which are heavenly and eternal; and they looked to being rewarded by God in another world. They gave up their earthly life, in order to gain eternal life.
From their firm faith proceeded a great fear and love of God: “We are ready to die rather than transgress the laws of God.”
Prayer: Queen of Heaven rejoice, alleluia: For He whom you merited to bear, alleluia, Has risen as He said, alleluia. Pray for us to God, alleluia. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. Because the Lord is truly risen, alleluia.
Let us pray : O God, who by the Resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, granted joy to the whole world: grant we beg Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may lay hold of the joys of eternal life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
It is impossible to extol and admire sufficiently the unshaken fortitude of the seven brothers. It was comparatively easy for the aged Eleazar to give up his life, for under no circumstances could he have had much longer to live, and the world could not offer him anything worth having. But the Machabean brothers were young, they could look forward to many years of life, and the world offered them many pleasures and enjoyments. Nevertheless, they freely and valiantly gave up their lives, refusing to be turned from their allegiance to God, either by flattering promises or horrible tortures.
The mother’s heroism is even more to be admired. She had most to suffer, for in her heart she suffered all her sons’ tortures. She was, in fact, an eightfold martyr, for she shared in the sufferings of each of her sons, and finally offered up her own life. In truth, the courage of the most valiant of soldiers cannot be compared with the heroism of this woman!
The example of these holy martyrs teaches us that we must not obey our superiors when they command us to do anything which God has forbidden, or when they forbid anything which God has commanded. In such cases we must say, as did the Machabean brothers: “The law of God forbids it; we will not do it.”
Parents should learn from the mother of the Machabees to bring up their children in the fear and love of God, and to care for their souls more than for anything else, so that they may look to meet them again in eternal life. “What doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul!”
Prayer: The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary. And she conceived of the Holy Ghost.
Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and in the hour of our death.
1 & 2 Machabees…
AT the time when Antiochus was thus cruelly persecuting the Jews, there was in Judæa a priest named Mathathias, who had five sons. This zealous priest, having learnt that Antiochus had profaned the Temple and nearly destroyed the worship of the true God, was filled with the deepest sorrow. He new that the wicked king would soon succeed in his impious designs, if the Jews did not offer a vigorous resistance.
He, therefore, called upon all who had any zeal for the laws of God to rise up with him, in defence of their sacred rights, then he and his sons fled to the mountains, where they were soon joined by the valiant men of Israel, and quickly formed a powerful army. They destroyed the altars of the false gods, bravely defended the law of the Lord, and compelled the apostate Jews to leave the country.
After the death of Mathathias, Judas, surnamed Machabeus, or the Hammerer, on account of his invincible courage and great valour, assumed the command of the Jewish army. In battle he showed himself brave as a lion—had several engagements with the Syrian generals, and recovered Jerusalem and the Temple. With a sorrowful heart he saw the Temple in its desecrated and desolate state, the altar profaned, and the grass growing in the deserted courts.
He then purified the Temple, celebrated his victory by a grand festival, and dedicated the altar anew, with the sound of harps, and lutes, and cymbals, and hymns of joy, in the sight of the wondering multitude.
Prayer: Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that, we to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ our Lord.
1 & 2 Machabees cont…
Antiochus, hearing of the splendid victories of Judas Machabeus, was roused to fury, and, hastening to assume the command of his army, set out at once for Jerusalem. But driving at full speed in his war-chariot, he was thrown to the ground and grievously wounded. Soon worms came forth from the body of that impious king; the flesh rotted on his bones, and he became an object of horror and disgust, so that no one could approach him. He who so lately thought that the very stars of heaven should obey Him, was deserted even by his slaves.
Then, seeing the folly and wickedness of his pride, he began to humble himself before the Lord, promising to repair all the evil he had done and to proclaim throughout the whole earth that there was no god but the great God whom the Jews adored. But inasmuch as his repentance proceeded only from the fear of death and the dread of temporal punishment, it was of no avail before God. His sufferings continued unabated, and at last the wicked king, the blasphemer of God, the oppressor of His people, died in torment, the death of a reprobate, as the seven Machabean brothers had foretold him.
The son and successor of Antiochus sent his ablest generals with mighty armies to take Judæa and Jerusalem again. Judas Machabeus and his small army, seeing the hosts that were marching against them, had recourse to God in humble prayer. Then they took up their arms and advanced to meet the enemy, trusting in God alone.
Prayer: May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.