Blog Post - August 1st
Seven Holy Maccabees| S. Alphonsus Liguori| Daily Meditation| Daily Quote by S. Padre Pio| Divine Mercy Reflection
Today in the Latin Calendar we commemorate the Holy Maccabees, Martyrs. A story about this commemoration can be found by Clicking Here.
The seven holy Maccabee martyrs Abim, Antonius, Gurias, Eleazar, Eusebonus, Alimus and Marcellus, their mother Solomonia and their teacher Eleazar suffered in the year 166 before Christ under the impious Syrian king Antiochus IV Epiphanes. This foolish ruler loved pagan and Hellenistic customs, and held Jewish customs in contempt. He did everything possible to turn people from the Law of Moses and from their covenant with God. He desecrated the Temple of the Lord, placed a statue of the pagan god Zeus there, and forced the Jews to worship it. Many people abandoned the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but there were also those who continued to believe that the Savior would come.
A ninety-year-old elder, the scribe and teacher Eleazar, was brought to trial for his faithfulness to the Mosaic Law. He suffered tortures and died at Jerusalem.
The disciples of Saint Eleazar, the seven Maccabee brothers and their mother Solomonia, also displayed great courage. They were brought to trial in Antioch by King Antiochus Epiphanes. They fearlessly acknowledged themselves as followers of the True God, and refused to eat pig’s flesh, which was forbidden by the Law.
The eldest brother acted as spokesmen for the rest, saying that they preferred to die rather than break the Law. He was subjected to fierce tortures in sight of his brothers and their mother. His tongue was cut out, he was scalped, and his hands and feet were cut off. Then a cauldron and a large frying pan were heated, and the first brother was thrown into the frying pan, and he died.
The next five brothers were tortured one after the other. The seventh and youngest brother was the last one left alive. Antiochus suggested to Saint Solomonia to persuade the boy to obey him, so that her last son at least would be spared. Instead, the brave mother told him to imitate the courage of his brothers.
The child upbraided the king and was tortured even more cruelly than his brothers had been. After all her seven children had died, Saint Solomonia, stood over their bodies, raised up her hands in prayer to God and died.
The martyric death of the Maccabee brothers inspired Judas Maccabeus, and he led a revolt against Antiochus Epiphanes. With God’s help, he gained the victory, and then purified the Temple at Jerusalem. He also threw down the altars which the pagans had set up in the streets. All these events are related in the Second Book of Maccabees (Ch. 8-10).
Various Fathers of the Church preached sermons on the seven Maccabees, including Saint Cyprian of Carthage, Saint Ambrose of Milan, Saint Gregory Nazianzus and Saint John Chrysostom.
St. Alphonsus Liguori
Moral theology, Vatican II said, should be more thoroughly nourished by Scripture, and show the nobility of the Christian vocation of the faithful and their obligation to bring forth fruit in charity for the life of the world. Alphonsus, declared patron of moral theologians by Pius XII in 1950, would rejoice in that statement.
In his day, Alphonsus fought for the liberation of moral theology from the rigidity of Jansenism. His moral theology, which went through 60 editions in the century following him, concentrated on the practical and concrete problems of pastors and confessors. If a certain legalism and minimalism crept into moral theology, it should not be attributed to this model of moderation and gentleness.
At the University of Naples he received, at the age of 16, a doctorate in both canon and civil law by acclamation, but she oon gave up the practice of law for apostolic activity. He was ordained a priest and concentrated his pastoral efforts on popular (parish) missions, hearing confessions, forming Christian groups.
He founded the Redemptorist congregation in 1732. It was an association of priests and brothers living a common life, dedicated to the imitation of Christ, and working mainly in popular missions for peasants in rural areas. Almost as an omen of what was to come later, he found himself deserted, after a while, by all his original companions except one lay brother. But the congregation managed to survive and was formally approved 17 years later, though its troubles were not over.
Alphonsus’ great pastoral reforms were in the pulpit and confessional—replacing the pompous oratory of the time with simplicity, and the rigorism of Jansenism with kindness. His great fame as a writer has somewhat eclipsed the fact that for 26 years he traveled up and down the Kingdom of Naples, preaching popular missions.
He was made bishop (after trying to reject the honor) at 66 and at once instituted a thorough reform of his diocese.
His greatest sorrow came toward the end of his life. The Redemptorists, precariously continuing after the suppression of the Jesuits in 1773, had difficulty in getting their Rule approved by the Kingdom of Naples. Alphonsus acceded to the condition that they possess no property in common, but a royal official, with the connivance of a high Redemptorist official, changed the Rule substantially. Alphonsus, old, crippled and with very bad sight, signed the document, unaware that he had been betrayed. The Redemptorists in the Papal States then put themselves under the pope, who withdrew those in Naples from the jurisdiction of Alphonsus. It was only after his death that the branches were united.
At 71 he was afflicted with rheumatic pains which left incurable bending of his neck; until it was straightened a little, the pressure of his chin caused a raw wound on his chest. He suffered a final 18 months of “dark night” scruples, fears, temptations against every article of faith and every virtue, interspersed with intervals of light and relief, when ecstasies were frequent.
Alphonsus is best known for his moral theology, but he also wrote well in the field of spiritual and dogmatic theology. His Glories of Mary is one of the great works on that subject, and his book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament went through 40 editions in his lifetime, greatly influencing the practice of this devotion in the Church.
St. Alphonsus was known above all as a practical man who dealt in the concrete rather than the abstract. His life is indeed a “practical” model for the everyday Christian who has difficulty recognizing the dignity of Christian life amid the swirl of problems, pain, misunderstanding and failure. Alphonsus suffered all these things. He is a saint because he was able to maintain an intimate sense of the presence of the suffering Christ through it all.
Someone once remarked, after a sermon by Alphonsus, "It is a pleasure to listen to your sermons; you forget yourself and preach Jesus Christ."
Patron Saint of:
Simply put, God does not demand our praise because he needs it, but because we need it. It is for our benefit, not his. If the whole world neglected to ever utter a single word of praise to God, he would not be hurt or diminished in any way. But we, the non-praisers, would be sadly crippled.
Quote by S. Padre Pio:
Make an effort to be more and more careful in observance of the divine precepts and of the duties belonging to your state.
Divine Mercy Reflection
Reflections on Notebook Three: 189-236
We continue now to the third notebook that Saint Faustina filled with messages of Mercy from our Lord. As you enter into this notebook, pause and reflect upon all that you have read so far. Has it changed your perspective on life? Has it changed you? If it has, then continue down that same path and trust that the Lord will continue to do great things in your life. If it has not, reflect upon why!
Sometimes we need more than the words we read. We also need true prayer, deep prayer and what we may call “soaking prayer.” Consider this as you read through the reflections flowing from this notebook and allow the words to not only enter your mind, but to also enter deeper. Read them prayerfully and carefully. Speak to our Lord as Saint Faustina did. Read some more of her actual diary in addition to these reflections and learn from her humble and childlike faith.
The Lord wants to do great things in your life! Open the door, through prayer and reflection, and let Him in!
Reflection 213: The Spiritual Gift of Understanding
Do you understand the mysteries of God? Imagine that you were a theologian who studied the faith of our Church for many years. Would knowledge of all the theological disciplines of our Church necessarily produce in you an authentic understanding of these mysteries that were studied? No, it wouldn’t necessarily produce understanding. In fact, it is entirely possible that while knowing all about God and all that has been revealed through the ages, you still might lack an authentic understanding of God and the profound mysteries of our faith. Understanding ultimately comes as a gift from God. It’s an infused gift which illumines and enlightens and is obtainable only by a direct and personal revelation from God. Yes, study of the faith and attentiveness to clear articulation of this same faith disposes one to understand, but the inspired gift of Understanding is still required to penetrate and grasp all mysteries of our faith. Understanding is a true gift of God’s Mercy (See Diary #1107).
Reflect upon your own understanding of the infinite Mercy of God. How fully do you comprehend this Mercy? Reflect upon all that God has revealed to us throughout history. He has spoken definitively through Scripture and has also spoken definitively through His Church in numerous ways. Reflect upon how fully you grasp all the articles of our faith that have been revealed through the ages. God has spoken in a clear and public way. Now He desires to speak those same truths to you in the depths of your soul. If you are willing to listen, your understanding will open the floodgates of the Mercy of God.
Lord, there are so many truths that I do not fully grasp. Your life and Your workings are glorious and mysterious all at once. Give me the grace of Understanding so that I may penetrate the depths of Your Truth and Your Mercy. I open myself to You, dear Lord. Jesus, I trust in You.