Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thinking in Exodus

In my reading of Exodus, I’ve been noticing different things than the previous times I’ve read it.  The Bible isn’t something we read just once and capture everything we need.  Many details and ideas seem to come forth each time through, probably due to more information about the rest of God’s story as well as our own personal experiences.

This time, one thing I noticed was the amount of animals they were called to sacrifice.  Loads and loads of animals; and always the best ones too, nothing lame or unsightly.  I know sometimes we think about this in the context of giving our best to the Lord, but that can be rather lofty and hard to grasp and hang on to. 

I was thinking about the Israelites though, and how hard all those animals must have been to give up.  We might complain because we have to stop what we’re doing to get to church.  Or maybe we’re not overly enthralled with the money we are “losing” when we donate.  Maybe giving our best can be kind of annoying or even aggravating.  But we’re probably not facing the possibility of going hungry because of it.

Then you throw in how hard that must have been, physically and logistically!  Right now, I can give my church some paperwork and they’ll happily automatically deduct my gift from my bank each month.  The only work I have to do in that instance is fill out some paperwork.  Killing an animal is a LOT more work, and a LOT messier.  There are no flies or blood slicks as a result of my giving now.

Sometimes I think of the fact they spent all this time and effort sacrificing to God and still screwed it up.  I guess we can look on that with disdain and assume we’re somehow better, but in reality, we screw a lot of things up too.  My priest reminded us a few weeks ago you can run around all you want doing things, but if there’s no relationship with Jesus it is all meaningless. 

Our sacrifices and work only are pleasing if they’re done for Him and we have a relationship with Him.  The amount and type and effort and all of that may vary from one period to the next, but God is always the constant.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Proverbs 26

Pro 26:13  The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.
Pro 26:14  As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the slothful upon his bed.
Pro 26:15  The slothful hideth his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth.
Pro 26:16  The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.
Pro 26:17  He that passeth by, and meddleth with strife belonging not to him, is like one that taketh a dog by the ears.
Pro 26:18  As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death,
Pro 26:19  So is the man that deceiveth his neighbour, and saith, Am not I in sport?


This part starts off dealing with the slothful, and then jumps back into some foolish behavior.  I really like the analogy between meddling with strife and grabbing a dog by the ears.  It isn't safe to keep hanging on to them, but it isn't safe to let them go either!

The Memorial of the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist

Readings for today are here.

From Wikipedia:
John anticipated a messianic figure who would be greater than himself, and, in the New Testament, Jesus is the one whose coming John foretold. Christians commonly refer to John as the precursor or forerunner of Jesus, since John announces Jesus' coming. John is also identified with the prophet Elijah, and is described by the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus. Some of Jesus' early followers had previously been followers of John.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time and Psalm 34

Today we celebrate the Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Readings may be found here.  In today's Gospel reading we find out that following Christ is all happy times and walking in the roses and life will become fair.  Okay, not so much.  Following Christ is guaranteed to be problematic.  Some have said if your life is easy as a Christian, you're doing it wrong.
Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
(Mat 16:24-25)
Psalm 34:
A Psalm of David, when he changed his behaviour before Abimelech; who drove him away, and he departed.

I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears. They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed. This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them. O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him. The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good? Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all. He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken. Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate. The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Proverbs 26

Pro 26:1  As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
Pro 26:2  As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.
Pro 26:3  A whip for the horse, a bridle for the ass, and a rod for the fool's back.
Pro 26:4  Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.
Pro 26:5  Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own conceit.
Pro 26:6  He that sendeth a message by the hand of a fool cutteth off the feet, and drinketh damage.
Pro 26:7  The legs of the lame are not equal: so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
Pro 26:8  As he that bindeth a stone in a sling, so is he that giveth honour to a fool.
Pro 26:9  As a thorn goeth up into the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools.
Pro 26:10  The great God that formed all things both rewardeth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors.
Pro 26:11  As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly.
Pro 26:12  Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? there is more hope of a fool than of him. 


The start of Proverbs 26 is all about the foolish.  We certainly want to avoid that label!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Yoda and Mother Teresa

Last weekend, I went hiking with a friend.  When we wrapped up and headed back to the car, we ran into a man on his way to the shooting range.  He wished us a good morning and then asked, "Did you know Jesus Christ loves you?"  We said yes, and thanked him for asking. 

I thought it was kind of an odd thing to find in the parking lot of a state forest, but then I wondered why I thought that.  It boils down to I wouldn't ask that question.  Why not?  It isn't like there's any harm in asking, and it isn't like I'd ever see that person again.  On other other hand, they might reject me.  Or make fun of me.  They might hurt my feelings and I'd be embarrassed. 

I've written about fear in decision making here, here, and here.  The recent homily on humility also made me think of this fear idea, in that I can grow anxious and fearful not only in the decisions I make but also in my following of God.  Perhaps I've taken on a project or made a decision, knowing it is a good thing and pleasing to God, and then start to wonder about the outcome.  What if it doesn't turn out like I want?  What if I get hurt?

Other people are just as sinful as we are, and it is always possible when doing God's work we'll be hurt.  Missionaries in other countries doing God's work are at risk of physical hurt, but we are not entirely safe from hurt here at home either.  Loving our neighbor involves a vulnerability that can't be protected and can lead to pain.  It probably will, actually, given what we know about our own nature.

It really is possible the good we do today will be met with evil from others tomorrow.  Sometimes the big picture seems to go away and all we can see is the pain of the moment.  God doesn't promise us our lives will be easy, full of warm and fuzzy feelings, if we follow Him.  In fact, we're told it'll be awfully hard. 

We're called to love people, not push them away due to our anxiety over our feelings.  I'm not suggesting that we're all called to ask random people in parking lots about Jesus, like the man from the hike, but we are all called to love others completely independently of our feelings.  God didn't say "Love God and love your neighbor, unless of course he hurts your feelings."

To quote Yoda, "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering."  Being afraid of being hurt leads to suffering, usually the very suffering one was trying to avoid in the first place.  Loving others brings pain, for sure, but can also bring great joy and peace.

I'm reminded of this quote, often attributed to Mother Teresa:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle

Today we celebrate the Feast of Saint Bartholomew, Apostle.  Readings for today are found here.

Per Wikipedia:
Bartholomew was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is usually identified as Nathaniel (alternate spelling: Nathanael) (mentioned in the first chapter of John's Gospel). He was introduced to Christ through St. Philip, another of the twelve apostles as per (John 1:43-51), where the name Nathaniel first appears. He is also mentioned as “Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee” in (John 21:2). The name Nathaniel is the one used for him in St. John’s Gospel. The relationship between St. Philip and Nathaniel is noted as per John 1:43-51. 
I have friends who named their son Nathanael.  What a wonderful name! 

The Catholic Encyclopedia says of his death:
The manner of his death, said to have occurred at Albanopolis in Armenia, is equally uncertain; according to some, he was beheaded, according to others, flayed alive and crucified, head downward, by order of Astyages, for having converted his brother, Polymius, King of Armenia. On account of this latter legend, he is often represented in art (e.g. in Michelangelo's Last Judgment) as flayed and holding in his hand his own skin.
Some people will contend that the resurrection of Jesus was just a lie the apostles made up.  Of the many arguments against that theory, one notes how many of the apostles were killed defending this supposed "lie."  How long do you think you'd lie about something if you were being flayed alive?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Proverbs 25

Pro 25:23  The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue.
Pro 25:24  It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.
Pro 25:25  As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country.
Pro 25:26  A righteous man falling down before the wicked is as a troubled fountain, and a corrupt spring.
Pro 25:27  It is not good to eat much honey: so for men to search their own glory is not glory.
Pro 25:28  He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls. 


Oh boy, is it good to study contentiousness and anger and this idea of being rude to others.  For some reason, we think it wise to tell off other people, to "give them a piece of our mind."  We might think someone who does that has a mastery of words, but do we really want to hang out with them?  If we prove our point when angry, does it really accomplish anything?  Have we brought glory to God?  Have we improved the relationship?  Have we helped someone else?  Or are we just happy that we are right?  And what, exactly, does being right get for us?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Humility

Yesterday at Mass we had a great homily on humility.  I looked up some passages that speak to this subject, and there are many!
Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
(1Pe 5:5-7)

By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
(Pro 22:4)

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
(2Ch 7:14)

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.
(Isa 57:15)

And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
(Mat 18:3-4)

But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
(Jas 4:6)

Then there is this one, which was the reading for the Latin Mass this weekend.  It is one of my favorite, because we can always identify with he Pharisee. 
And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
(Luk 18:9-14)
I'm also reminded of the Litany of Humility:
O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.

From the desire of being loved...
From the desire of being extolled ...
From the desire of being honored ...
From the desire of being praised ...
From the desire of being preferred to others...
From the desire of being consulted ...
From the desire of being approved ...
From the fear of being humiliated ...
From the fear of being despised...
From the fear of suffering rebukes ...
From the fear of being calumniated ...
From the fear of being forgotten ...
From the fear of being ridiculed ...
From the fear of being wronged ...
From the fear of being suspected ...

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I ...
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease ...
That others may be chosen and I set aside ...
That others may be praised and I unnoticed ...
That others may be preferred to me in everything...
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today we celebrate the Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Readings are here. In these readings, we see two of the times the word "key" is used in Scripture to denote authority.  In the first, God is changing authority in the house of David to a different minister of affairs.  Notice the opening and shutting phrases.  In the Gospel, the key is given to Peter, and notice the binding and loosing phrases.  These verses contribute to the Biblical basis for the Catholic Church and her authority.

Psalm 33!
Rejoice in the LORD, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright. Praise the LORD with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.

For the word of the LORD is right; and all his works are done in truth. He loveth righteousness and judgment: the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses.

Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast.

The LORD bringeth the counsel of the heathen to nought: he maketh the devices of the people of none effect. The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.

The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men. From the place of his habitation he looketh upon all the inhabitants of the earth. He fashioneth their hearts alike; he considereth all their works. There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety: neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.

Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy; To deliver their soul from death, and to keep them alive in famine.

Our soul waiteth for the LORD: he is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in him, because we have trusted in his holy name. Let thy mercy, O LORD, be upon us, according as we hope in thee.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Proverbs 25

Pro 25:16  Hast thou found honey? eat so much as is sufficient for thee, lest thou be filled therewith, and vomit it.
Pro 25:17  Withdraw thy foot from thy neighbour's house; lest he be weary of thee, and so hate thee.
Pro 25:18  A man that beareth false witness against his neighbour is a maul, and a sword, and a sharp arrow.
Pro 25:19  Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.
Pro 25:20  As he that taketh away a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon nitre, so is he that singeth songs to an heavy heart.
Pro 25:21  If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink:
Pro 25:22  For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.


We should be good to others out of goodness sake, of course. But if you need a bit more reason, verses 21 and 22 tell you yet another reason to be good to your enemies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Well, now that I don't really need you...

So Moses and Aaron go off to tell Pharaoh they need to leave for three days to worship.  This would take away the slave labor for three days, all because a God Pharaoh does not recognize demands it.  He is disinterested.

And afterward Moses and Aaron went in, and told Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Let my people go, that they may hold a feast unto me in the wilderness.

And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.

And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days' journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.

And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens. And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.

And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying, Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves. And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God. Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
(Exo 5:1-9)
Of course we know the ten plagues come next.  One might sometimes wonder why it was Pharaoh didn't relent.  It was pretty obvious God was at work; even his own magicians told him that (Ex 8:19).  He did relent at times and agree to let them go worship, but as soon as the bad stuff stopped happening he went back to his previous decision.

So, for the pattern, we have a bad thing happen.  A person decides to look to God.  The bad thing goes away.  The person decides to stop looking to God.   Seem familiar?  We too frequently only turn to God when we decide we need Him, when life has thrown a challenge at us we can't handle.  Once we're back on level ground, we stop turning to God.

Granted, we have no plagues.  And God does not appear to be using us specifically and individually to show His might to others.  But that's really no reason to turn away when life gets good again.  We're still used by God for His purposes and are still indebted to Him, for creating us first of all, and saving us.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Proverbs 25

Pro 25:8  Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbour hath put thee to shame.
Pro 25:9  Debate thy cause with thy neighbour himself; and discover not a secret to another:
Pro 25:10  Lest he that heareth it put thee to shame, and thine infamy turn not away.
Pro 25:11  A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Pro 25:12  As an earring of gold, and an ornament of fine gold, so is a wise reprover upon an obedient ear.
Pro 25:13  As the cold of snow in the time of harvest, so is a faithful messenger to them that send him: for he refresheth the soul of his masters.
Pro 25:14  Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain.
Pro 25:15  By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.


The first few verses advocate against being to hasty to accuse your neighbor, or share of it with others.  If offended, we should speak to the person directly to solve the problem.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Moses and Reluctance

I’m reading Exodus to prepare for my class. I’m always fascinated by Moses, and how Moses just wasn’t really all that into his task.  Here we have Exodus chapters 3&4.

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb.

And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.

And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.

And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God, the Creator of the Universe, the Lord of Everything, has just spoken to Moses. He’s shown up and talked to this man. And He’s told Moses that Moses will rescue Israel from Egypt. What does Moses do? He argues.

And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?

God has an answer though, because He is God:

And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations.

Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt: And I have said, I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt unto the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, unto a land flowing with milk and honey.

And they shall hearken to thy voice: and thou shalt come, thou and the elders of Israel, unto the king of Egypt, and ye shall say unto him, The LORD God of the Hebrews hath met with us: and now let us go, we beseech thee, three days' journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God.

And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.

And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty: But every woman shall borrow of her neighbour, and of her that sojourneth in her house, jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment: and ye shall put them upon your sons, and upon your daughters; and ye shall spoil the Egyptians.

That certainly sounds pretty good! Remember, the God of literally EVERYTHING is telling Moses this. Moses still suspects this isn’t going to work though.

And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.

And the LORD said unto him, What is that in thine hand? And he said, A rod. And he said, Cast it on the ground. And he cast it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from before it. And the LORD said unto Moses, Put forth thine hand, and take it by the tail. And he put forth his hand, and caught it, and it became a rod in his hand: That they may believe that the LORD God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath appeared unto thee.

And the LORD said furthermore unto him, Put now thine hand into thy bosom. And he put his hand into his bosom: and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous as snow. And he said, Put thine hand into thy bosom again. And he put his hand into his bosom again; and plucked it out of his bosom, and, behold, it was turned again as his other flesh.

And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe thee, neither hearken to the voice of the first sign, that they will believe the voice of the latter sign. And it shall come to pass, if they will not believe also these two signs, neither hearken unto thy voice, that thou shalt take of the water of the river, and pour it upon the dry land: and the water which thou takest out of the river shall become blood upon the dry land.

If I could paraphrase the following response, it’d be something like “God, I really think your plan is flawed.”
And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.

And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.

God says He will take care of it and Moses will be fine. Still, Moses is not satisfied!

And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.

And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God. And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.

Finally, after God was angry and gives him a different plan, he runs off to complete his task. First, I find it interesting to note that such a poor example of Moses is shown here. If this was indeed the work of a much later author and experienced so many revisions to make it line up with what the Israelites later believed, they probably would have made Moses look a lot better. If the Bible was made up, our hero would not look like a whiner.

Second, if our hero here has so many problems, what does that say about us? How likely is it we do the same thing? How often do we ask of God, “Are you really sure? I’m not sure that’ll work – can we reconsider?” Do we read the Bible and doubt still His wisdom? Do we know of His commands and think they do not apply to us? Do we think He’s lying to us? Do we think He is wrong?

Let us pray God gives us the faith and wisdom daily to avoid this trap and remember the words of His mother, “Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.”





Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Proverbs 25

Pro 25:1  These are also proverbs of Solomon, which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied out.
Pro 25:2  It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.
Pro 25:3  The heaven for height, and the earth for depth, and the heart of kings is unsearchable.
Pro 25:4  Take away the dross from the silver, and there shall come forth a vessel for the finer.
Pro 25:5  Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.
Pro 25:6  Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men:
Pro 25:7  For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen. 


We can see the idea of verses 6 and 7 in the Gospels when Jesus says much the same thing.
When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
(Luk 14:8-11)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Thoughts While Reading

I'm further along now in my books.  Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction is, at best, problematic.  Here are some reviews I found to be accurate from Amazon:
In what has become typical of modern study of the Bible, Lawrence Boadt has written a book that is filled with a wealth of information that will help a reader understand the Old Testament while constantly undermining the very reason that a person would seek to read it. Boadt assumes that God has had little or nothing to do with the writing of the Scripture, and apparently the cultures that surrounded Israel were the true source of inspiration. While there is much in this book that is useful (and thus it is a two star book and not worthy of a mere single star) there is a great deal of theological garbage through which one must wade to find it.
~~~
The book is scholarly but draws questionable conclusions. Although the author "acknowledges" the Bible is divinely inspired, in fact many of his assertions tend toward undermining that very statement. The book takes positions based on supposed historical facts that are theories only but cited as facts. I think anyone who reads this book should do so with a questioning mind and seious doubts as to the conclusions.
The idea that a story from the Bible is a myth because it couldn't happen is rather illogical, when we consider the source.  It is true that we do not currently have talking donkeys or large fish capable of containing a live adult male.  However, we are talking about God.  God, who created the universe.  God created Heaven.   God created you and me and every baby ever born.  God sent His only Son to die on a cross so we could enter the Heaven He created.  A talking donkey is probably pretty easy.  To simply assume that it isn't possible because we're not not familiar with it is arrogant and more than a bit insulting.

Furthermore, how far does one take this logic?  I do not understand how God could take human form - does that mean Jesus is a myth?  I do not understand how one would multiply bread.  Is that miracle a myth?  No man has ever risen from the dead - must that also be a myth?  If so, what is the point of studying the Bible at all?

Some will assume a Biblical book had to be written later, as it references something that happens, in history, after the presumed time of the author.  For instance, some will say that the Gospels which foretold the fall of Jerusalem must have been written after the fall of Jerusalem.  Otherwise, how would the author know that Jerusalem fell?  It is true that you and I cannot predict the future.  But you and I are not God.  Jesus had been present for all eternity (eternity being a concept that neither you nor I can actually even wrap our heads around).  He has known who we are, individually, forever.  Literally.  Certainly seeing the destruction of a city would not have been out of His grasp.  Yet since it is outside the reach of our grasp, we assume it is impossible.  The book identifies the time the Israelites would be in Egypt as a sign that portion of Genesis was written after the Exodus.  Would God not have known?  Is it not possible that the Creator of the Universe could see these things in advance?

That theory cannot be taken too far though, as many prophecies known to be written prior to Christ foretell His coming.  How did God manage to pull that off?

This book in particular likes to identify the cultures around Israel that prompted the Old Testament stories.  There is apparently a Babylonian story of creation which shares certain elements of the creation story in Genesis.  "While the Priestly authors obviously knew the Babylonian story, or one similar, and used its outline, they did not accept its theology."  Let's say for a moment that the Babylonian story was indeed written down first.  Does this prove for certain the Bible story of Creation is false?
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: (Rom 1:20)
To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.
God's presence has been known simply through the world He created.  The Catechism refers to certain "elements of truth" found in other religions.  Just because they are not aware of the full truth of Christianity does not mean they have escaped the Truth entirely.  Elements may be present, which might include the creation story.  In other words, perhaps the Babylonians knew of the creation story and just got it wrong but written down ahead of the Israelites.

The book does acknowledge the fact that while lots of elements of the Genesis creation account can be found in other cultures, no parallel to the tree of knowledge of good and evil has been found.  Perhaps something has been found since its publishing, but I think this a fine example of trusting ourselves a bit too much.

This book, like many others, presents a four author theory for the writing of the Pentateuch an an accepted fact.  From Wikipedia:
The documentary hypothesis (DH) (sometimes called the Wellhausen hypothesis), holds that the Pentateuch (the Torah, or the Five Books of Moses) was derived from originally independent, parallel and complete narratives, which were subsequently combined into the current form by a series of redactors (editors). The number of these is usually set at four, but this is not an essential part of the hypothesis.

The documentary hypothesis assumes that the text of the Torah as preserved can be divided into identifiable sources that predate its compilations by centuries, the Jahwist (J) source being the oldest, dating to as early as the 10th century BCE, along with the Elohist (E), the Deuteronomist (D), and the Priestly source (P), dating to the 8th to 6th centuries. The final compilation of the extant text is dated to either the 6th or 5th century BCE.
It is interesting to note not all scholars agree with this assessment.  I am also reading Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: Book of Genesis which spends at least an entire page identifying reasons why Moses could actually be the author and this documentary hypothesis is wrong.  Like many "facts" presented by some as unquestionable, this one also has some interesting debates going on.

The Study Bible further references two instances of the Pontifical Biblical Commission speaking on the origin of the Pentateuch.  "Although its pronouncements are not per se considered binding teachings of the Church today, they illustrate the wisdom of the Church in cautioning scholars against a premature and uncritical rejection of longstanding traditions associated with the Bible.  At its first intervention, the Commission judged the modern arguments used to support the Documentary Hypothesis were insufficiently strong to overturn the tradition of Mosaic authorship."  Guess that means I don't have to believe the introduction book then... 



If the Bible is interesting and amazing because humans have done such a good job combining myths and oral stories and a wide array of sources to describe the God we know, then it is barely more than a well published paperweight.  Why in the world would we base our beliefs on such a human tale?  Oh sure, plenty of people will change their lives based on books from the Oprah book club, but really, thousands of years?  Billions of people?

But if the Bible is interesting and amazing because God has used humans to write down what He wants us to know about Himself, it is a totally different story. 

Which is more likely?  Is the Bible nothing more than a collection of amazingly organized and well crafted edited stories from the cultures around Israel?  Is it nothing more than the same accidental happenstance that supposedly created the universe?  If it is, why are we reading it?  If it isn't, why do we doubt?




Why do we trust ourselves?

I've decided to take a class with the University of Dallas Online Catholic Biblical School this fall.  It doesn't start until September, but I'm getting a running start on some of the books and completing the summer reading assignment.

Two books I'm reading extensively from right now are Introduction to the Bible: A Catholic Guide to Studying Scripture by Stephen Binz and Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction by Lawrence Boadt.  Both are good, interesting books and I have found a lot of interesting material there.  The Boadt introduction is particularly useful now that I'm more familiar with the Bible than I was when I first looked at it a few years ago.  The cultures and stories and history make much more sense.

One of the first subjects tackled by these books and the workbook and other materials, is which bible to use.  Being a Catholic class, they obviously prefer a Catholic Bible which includes books in the Old Testament not found in Protestant Bibles (though they used to be in them at the back, although not considered divinely inspired).  All the materials advise to avoid paraphrases of the Bible, which are very easy to read but gloss over many difficult items.

The books also recommend against the Douay-Rheims Bible (DRB) and the King James Version (KJV).  The first reason is these are often much harder to read than modern translations, which is certainly true.  I don't think that's a particular problem if one wants to read it.  The second reason is that of course, more modern versions are more accurate.  We know more now than we did then.

While I am not the type to argue for the DRB or KJV as the sole version of God's word, I find the argument that we know more now than we did then to be more than a bit problematic.  Sure, science has made great advances.  We can put a man on the moon, computers can defeat humans at chess, and many previously incurable cancers have high survival rates.  On the other hand, they can't decide if salt is bad for you, if global warming is actually going on, or various other topics of debate .  They used to be sure heavier items fell faster, the atom is the smallest particle in existence, and that germs weren't important (check out this area from the Discovery Science webpage).

Boadt identifies one particular example of archaeology that was sure to be right, but wasn't (pg 53-54):
The field of biblical archaeology was given life in 1871 by the electrifying announcement of George Smith, a young curator at the British Museum, that he had been able to read a Babylonian tablet on which he had found a flood story like that of Noah, but hundreds, perhaps a thousand, years older!  The rush to explore hte lands of the Bible was on.  Every new object or tablet uncovered led to claims and counter-claims and often even wild new guesses  about the background of biblical stories.  The researchers into Babylonian culture were so sure they had mastered ancient history that Franz Delitzsch, a German scholar, could announce in his littel book Babel and Bibel (1904) that Near Eastern culture was no so well known that further study was unnecessary.  Babylonian thought could explain most of the religious thought in the Bible, and scholars should now turn their attention elsewhere.
So on one hand, we recognize that there are a lot of failed attempts to explain something previously.  We might even mock the ignorance of those scientists before.  And then we go on to be absolutely sure that our scientists are absolutely right.  See the problem?

There are a lot of good things about archaeology and what they can find out about the Bible.  Boadt identifies several clues in archaeology that have supported the Bible, which I find fascinating (pg 63):
Sennacherib's Prism:  1 Kings 18-19 tells the story of how king Sennacherib of Assyria attacked Jerusalem and suddenly the city was spared by divine help after an oracle by Isaiah the prophet.  Sennacherib himself left a detailed account of this battle which does not admit defeat but hints that he failed to take Jerusalem.
Just like with modern medicine, we should not throw the baby out with the bath water and ignore advances just because there are faults.  But we do need to admit that there are faults and be careful not to assign absolute authority to the science of men. 

There's nothing inherently wrong with either the KJV or the DRB, and I actually prefer either version for some tasks over more modern versions.  I usually read the Revised Standard Version (RSV), but have the RSV, KJV, and DRB on my Bible software.  I like the fact that they've been used and trusted for centuries.  

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. (Pro 3:5-7)






Sunday, August 14, 2011

Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time and Psalm 32

Today we celebrate the Twentieth Sunday in Ordinary Time.  Readings may be found here.  The Lord is Lord of all nations and people, as we see in these readings.

Onto Psalm 32!

A Psalm of David, Maschil. Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.

When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the LORD; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

For this shall every one that is godly pray unto thee in a time when thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto him. Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about with songs of deliverance. Selah.

I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee.

Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Proverbs 24

Pro 24:28  Be not a witness against thy neighbour without cause; and deceive not with thy lips.
Pro 24:29  Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work.
Pro 24:30  I went by the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding;
Pro 24:31  And, lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down.
Pro 24:32  Then I saw, and considered it well: I looked upon it, and received instruction.
Pro 24:33  Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
Pro 24:34  So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man. 



Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work. It is up to God to render to those according to their works; vengeance is not ours.

Verses 30-34 talk about those who refuse to work  Poverty comes slower to them now, with the government there to prop them up.  Eventually it will come, and probably to us all, on account of it.   God's word is just as valid today as when it was written.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Noah's nakedness

And Noah began to be an husbandman, and he planted a vineyard: And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his younger son had done unto him. And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
(Gen 9:20-25)

After Noah and his family get off the ark and are the only humans left, we get an odd tale about Ham's evil and the curse that came upon Canann (an enemy of Israel the rest of the Old Testament).  What in the world does that mean?  There are a lot of different options or theories about what really happened.  Perhaps Ham did really see his dad naked, though one wonders if that is worthy of such a curse.  Another theory is perhaps this means he castrated his father, which would certainly be worth some angst.  Another theory is that Ham had sexual relations with his father, which certainly fits with the word choice as seeing someone's nakedness can mean this elsewhere.  Or it may indicate maternal incest, as the language used here is used elsewhere in the Old Testament to denote maternal incest.  There are examples elsewhere in the Bible of a son sleeping with the father's wife or concubine to usurp power, so it certainly was not unheard of.  That would certainly result in some anger, but also explain the inclusion of Canaan, the son.  In this theory, Canaan is the result of the incestuous coupling. 

Of course, those are just theories.  There are other places in the Bible we're just not sure exactly what was meant, such as at the start of Genesis 6:
And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.
(Gen 6:1-4)
One idea is that the sons of God were angels, and another theory would be that the sons of God were the men from Seth's line and the women were from Cain's line of evil. In either case, the result is the same.  We probably won't know until we die, but we need to remember that an inability to understand this in its entirety is not a barrier to faith. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Proverbs 24

Pro 24:21  My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change:
Pro 24:22  For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both?
Pro 24:23  These things also belong to the wise. It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.
Pro 24:24  He that saith unto the wicked, Thou art righteous; him shall the people curse, nations shall abhor him:
Pro 24:25  But to them that rebuke him shall be delight, and a good blessing shall come upon them.
Pro 24:26  Every man shall kiss his lips that giveth a right answer.
Pro 24:27  Prepare thy work without, and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house.


It is not good to have respect of persons in judgment.  When judging a case, we should not look first to the parties and who they are and what they can do or what power they have.  That is all irrelevant.  Our judgment should not be swayed by the status of another.

Those who commend evil (v 24-25) will be cursed by the people, while the person who identifies evil as evil will be blessed.  How often do we turn the other way from evil?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Feast of Saint Lawrence, deacon and martyr

Today we celebrate the Feast of St Lawrence.  Of this saint, Catholic Culture says:

Lawrence was chief among the seven deacons who served the Roman Church during the mid-third century. The young cleric held a position of great trust, caring for the goods of the Church and distributing its alms among the poor. He was arrested under the Emperor Valerian in 258, laid upon a gridiron and slowly roasted to death. Lawrence rejoiced in his awful martyrdom and died praying for the conversion of the city of Rome, in the hope that from it the faith of Christ might spread throughout the world. From that time idolatry began to decline in Rome.
Also,
Ordered by the authorities to surrender the treasures of the Church, Lawrence asked for two days time during which to gather them. The request was granted and he brought together in the house of Hippolytus the poor and the sick whom he had supported. These he led to the judge. "Here are the treasures of the Church!"
Tradition also tells a story from his death, that he joked, "Turn me over, I'm done on this side."

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Links!

I've recently started using Google reader to keep up to date on all my favorite blogs.  It is quite useful, and it also leaves me with  more ability to find good stuff I want to share here.  So let's do some links!

Jennifer Fulwiler asks What Makes a Person Special?  She talks about some of the things we tell children and why they are special, but there are other, more important reasons why someone is special.  Forgetting God and what He has to say about our specialness, we open ourselves to great danger.
If we continue to see our fellow human beings as special based on arbitrary, flexible definitions that are ultimately rooted in human judgment of evidence, the devaluation of human life will spread to even more segments of society. And one day it could be you or someone you love who is no longer considered special.

Matthew Archbold writes about his $3 lesson in Christianity.  What a great story!  If you don't read any of my other links, read this one.

Video and article about traditional values and practices influence vocations. The video is great and follows the beautiful sisters from the Dominican sisters of St. Cecilia.


Monday, August 8, 2011

Proverbs 24

Pro 24:13 My son, eat thou honey, because it is good; and the honeycomb, which is sweet to thy taste:
Pro 24:14 So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.
Pro 24:15 Lay not wait, O wicked man, against the dwelling of the righteous; spoil not his resting place:
Pro 24:16 For a just man falleth seven times, and riseth up again: but the wicked shall fall into mischief.
Pro 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
Pro 24:18 Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him.
Pro 24:19 Fret not thyself because of evil men, neither be thou envious at the wicked;
Pro 24:20 For there shall be no reward to the evil man; the candle of the wicked shall be put out.

The first two verses here compare honey to wisdom; remember, wisdom is the best of all things.  Wisdom of God leads to many blessings.

I need to remember 17 and 18!  We should not be pleased when our enemy falls.  Leave that to God. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today is the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, and readings are here.  (They are moving to a new site, so if there is a problem with the link, do let me know).  Today we hear of Peter following Jesus on the water, his faith faltering, and Jesus rescuing him.  I have a t-shirt that has the lifeguard symbol that references this story, stating my lifeguard walks on water.

We're on to Psalm 31!  The verse, "Into thine hand I commend my spirit," was spoken by our Savior on the cross.  It was fitting of course, and something we too should strive to say.  If God truly is our lifeguard, then we have nothing to fear on this planet.

To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.

For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name's sake lead me, and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the LORD. I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities; And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.

Have mercy upon me, O LORD, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly. For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me. I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

But I trusted in thee, O LORD: I said, Thou art my God. My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me. Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies' sake. Let me not be ashamed, O LORD; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave. Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.

Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.

Blessed be the LORD: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city. For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.

O love the LORD, all ye his saints: for the LORD preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer. Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Coupons!

I have recently started couponing.  I am not an "extreme couponer," by any means, but I do make time every week to go through the coupons, line them up with sales, and try to make smart shopping decisions.  A recent trip to Wal Mart netted me some extra Cascade dish washing detergent and aluminum foil, both of which I will need in the future.  Those coupons and some others gave me a 10% discount off my total at the end of the trip.  There are a few basic steps I use.

I make a list of items I need, after thinking about the week ahead and what I intend to eat.  Using the ads the grocery stores send out is a great way to find meat on sale, but every week there's other stuff I know I need like vegetables, toilet paper, bananas, etc.

Then, I go through the coupons each week and identify coupons for items I buy frequently such as foil, plastic bags, shampoo, disposable razors, etc.  I do not cut them out, unless I need them that week.  The ones I cut out are set aside.  For the other coupons, I have a spreadsheet to keep track of the item, the date of the coupon, and the date it expires.  I sort this by expiration date.  This list isn't very long because it is just me and not much I need is regularly out in coupons.  My spreadsheet usually has less than 15 items.

Next, I use Coupon Mom to compare the sales at Wal Mart with the coupons of recent weeks.  The idea is to use a coupon on something Wal Mart has just put on sale so you get more savings.  Say an item normally goes for $4, Wal Mart has it on sale for $3, and you have a $1 coupon.  You can buy a $4 item for $2.  So I go through this list and identify anything on my list for the week that also appears here.  I then go back to the coupons from the week indicated and cut out those coupons and put them with the others.  The unused coupons, still in the coupon book, go in a cheap file folder system by date.

At this point I also look for other deals on Coupon Mom on stuff I will need eventually.  I do not stockpile, but if there's a way to save 80% on aluminum foil or toilet paper or paper towels or kleenex or something that will never go bad and will get used, I cut out the coupon and add it to the list.  This can be dangerous though if you add things you don't really need.  You can end up spending more than you would have without the coupons or process.

I like to organize my list so it is in roughly the same order as the store.  I also like to organize my coupons in the order I'm going to buy them in because I am super anal and will want to look at the coupon while I am looking at the item.

Finally I go to the store and go through the list.  It is very important while at the store to make sure your coupon isn't getting you to spend more.  For instance, last week I had a great coupon for some nice toilet paper.  Even with the coupon, the toilet paper cost more than my regular brand.  I ditched the coupon and bought my regular brand.  Only get the items on your list!

Yes, this does take some time to do, but not nearly as much as I thought.  More time may equal more savings though, so find your happy balance.  We're called to be good stewards of God's money, and this is one way to do that.  It also is kind of fun and challenging, and should mean I have more money left over later.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Proverbs 24

Pro 24:10-12  If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain; If thou sayest, Behold, we knew it not; doth not he that pondereth the heart consider it? and he that keepeth thy soul, doth not he know it? and shall not he render to every man according to his works?

When I read this, I think of notable times in human history when people in general totally failed to do the moral thing.  The Holocaust and our current abortion practices come to mind.  One day we will all be judged by the God who truly knows how much we knew.  It isn't like Watergate where we can lie about how much we knew and when we knew it.  We are all called to act in the moment on the wrongs we see.  Feigned ignorance is no defense.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wedding at Cana

In honor of my parents' anniversary, here is John 2:1-11.

And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom, And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Interesting Links

"This is a constant temptation on the journey of faith to avoid the divine mystery by constructing a omprehensible god who corresponds with one's own plans, one's own projects."
-- Pope Benedict XVI, Audience, June 1, 2011.

This quote is expanded upon in The Constant Temptation: On Man's Pursuit of False Gods.
Yet, if we reject the information of our reason and what is also revealed to us, this rejection does not leave us alone. We can't just walk away. We seek to put in its place something "better," something we concoct by ourselves. We think we can improve on both our being and our destiny. We do not put it this way perhaps, but this is what we are about. We come up with theories and technologies that, we insist, are better than what is promised to us. In so doing, however, we are implicitly left to ourselves. We have nothing left but ourselves. We think that we can come up with a better explanation of why and what we are. We do not notice that what we are doing is substituting a divine plan for a human one. We declare the latter to be the more important one. We can "create" ourselves. Men will be like gods.
Some have apparently tried to say the Gospel reading regarding the multiplication of the loaves was not a miracle.  Jesus simply convinced everyone to share.   This article from the new Theological Movement blows holes in that idea.
The would-be-followers of Christ who “feed themselves” and who “share amongst each other” are those who foment against the Church and her Tradition, who join together in groups calling for radical change (consider those impious bands who demand women’s ordination and approval of same-sex “marriage”). These indeed do not receive the true bread from Christ our God, but only share their meager “treats” amongst themselves.
The title sums up this article:  Wacko Atheists Sue over WTC Cross.
Think about this. If Silverman’s logic is followed we should also make sure that any Star of David or any Jewish symbols are removed from the Holocaust Museum, which receives millions in federal funding.
And finally something far lighter and a lot funnier: Jennifer Fulwiler (mother of five) goes to Whole Foods.
It was a spontaneous decision, based on vague positive associations of the organic foods chain rather than any kind of rational thought process. You see, the last time I had been in a Whole Foods was back when I had one child and lived downtown, a short walk from the flagship location. I have these fond memories of relaxing strolls down to the store with the baby in the sling, picking up one bag’s worth of food that would feed my whole family, not even glancing at the receipt because I still had the budget to make statements like, “Healthful, organic food is worth any price!” And so when I realized that I was going to be driving by a Whole Foods after some morning errands with the kids, I thought it might be fun to stop by.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Proverbs 24

Pro 24:1  Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
Pro 24:2  For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
Pro 24:3  Through wisdom is an house builded; and by understanding it is established:
Pro 24:4  And by knowledge shall the chambers be filled with all precious and pleasant riches.
Pro 24:5  A wise man is strong; yea, a man of knowledge increaseth strength.
Pro 24:6  For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety.
Pro 24:7  Wisdom is too high for a fool: he openeth not his mouth in the gate.
Pro 24:8  He that deviseth to do evil shall be called a mischievous person.
Pro 24:9  The thought of foolishness is sin: and the scorner is an abomination to men.

We're told not to hang out with evil men, or to envy them.  Why would we envy them?  Their life must look appealing.  Something about their ways must appeal to us, and we may want to join them.  There is danger there, as evil won't be picky about victims.  If you are a parent, is this not just the advice you'd give to a child?  How much more so we should follow it when given by God.

Notice it does not say houses are built by brute strength or money.  There's no talk about debt ceilings here either...

Monday, August 1, 2011

The First Gospel

Genesis Chapter 3:
Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

And Adam called his wife's name Eve; because she was the mother of all living. Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

The bold portion is sometimes said to be the First Gospel, or Protoevangelium, as it is the first promise of God's mercy following the fall.  Already, God was promising an end to the new exile.  God was telling man that there would come a day when a man would crush Satan.  Even in the midst of the fall, at the start of our great need for aid, God was working for our salvation.  Man has been wounded, but man will crush Satan in the end, through Jesus.