Sammy Qs

I’m reading from 1 Samuel today and I’ve come up with a few questions.

1. In 1 Sam 3:3 it says, “The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord where the Ark of God was.”

First, what did they mean by “the lamp of God”? And was it something that was allowed to go out at night and be re-lit in the morning?

Second, if he was sleeping where the Ark of God was… Does this mean he was sleeping in the Holy of Holies? Or is it just saying that he was somewhere in the tent? Not that I personally have anything against sleeping snuggled up next to the tabernacle myself… 🙂 In fact, I often wish that Adoration chapels have little cots and that sleeping in the presence of God was not some frowned-upon event.

2. 1 Sam 3:14, “…the iniquity of the house of Eli will never be expiated by sacrifice or offering.”

This seems quite harsh. What does this mean for the hope of salvation for the sons of Eli? Is it possible to still hope that they had a last-minute conversion of heart at the point of death?

Also, this both makes me think seriously about the sins that I commit — I would never want God to say that of me — and be ever grateful that we have recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation.

Later in the text, Samuel relays to Eli what God had said, and he replies, “He is the Lord; He will do what He deems right.”

What an amazing response! To give your fate over to God like that without whining or pleading? I think this is overlooked by so many people. I know I have read it many times without really understanding what it must have taken for Eli to respond in this way. For me, my priest has instructed me to pray for holy indifference, so that I can pray as Mary did, “Let it be done to me according to Your will.” In this, I can only hope and pray that I will one day be able to put my fate in the Lord’s hands so completely, with holy indifference and complete trust that His plan is the best for me. I know this intellectually, but emotionally, I still have my preferences.

This Was Their Finest Hour

The Book of Man

“This Was Their Finest Hour,” by Winston Churchill.

After witnessing the fall of other European countries to the forces of Hitler and Mussolini, Britain feels the threat advancing toward them.

He reminds us that we cannot undo the past. In a moment of crisis, we cannot waste time reflecting and bewailing past mistakes and actions, but must assess our current situation, take stock of the things in our capacity to do, and then do them. It is not a time to break down and cry, but to show what you are made of – to rise to the occasion.

He tells the people that even against the odds, there is no reason for despair or panic; and reminds them of the last war, where for the first four years they were subject to defeat, yet managed to emerge from this with hope.

He shows the battle for Britain as the turning point for the fate of the world. If Britain is victorious, the whole world is victorious. Yet, if Britain is defeated, the whole world will follow her fate. Britain, then, not only has a duty to herself, but to the whole world.

This speaks an awful lot about the role and importance of community, doesn’t it? Especially of global community. And how we are our brother’s keeper. We stand as one, or we fall as one. Our actions do affect those around us. There is such a thing as a higher purpose, a moral imperative, an objective truth. If we persevere in our struggles, if we fight the good fight, if we live with integrity and honor, then regardless the outcome, it will be our finest hour as well.

Do we live this way?

Add a Little Hop to Your Morning… I Did

I walked out into the kitchen this morning and gave a curious look to something on the floor which shouldn’t be, not recognizing what it was. When I took a step closer and it moved suddenly… AAAAAH! I went running the other way! 🙂 It was a HUGE FROG!

How did he get in my house?

When I went back towards him to try and encourage him to hop out the back door, he saw me coming, SQUEAKED! (Awww…) and hopped away from me in fear. Poor guy. Who knows how long he’s been trapped in the house? I wonder if he’s the one I deliberately avoided killing a couple weeks in a row as I mowed the lawn? If so, he’s gotten pretty big, fast!

I got him outside, then found a little plastic dish, and put it out there, just in case he needed a drink. 🙂

Concord Hymn

The Book of Man

“Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson was written as a tribute to the soldiers of the Revolutionary War.

Not only does it evoke poignant images of the soldiers, but it brings to mind the import of what these men – these common men – did. Perhaps most importantly, they took action. They saw an injustice and they fought to right it. They gave their lives so that their children and their children’s children could know freedom. In the midst of a slumbering world, blind to injustice and tyranny, these men woke us all up and taught us that complacency has no place in the life of men. And that we the beneficiaries of their struggles, have an enduring obligation to honor their memory and keep up the fight in whatever new form it may take in our lives today.

What are those things today against which we must stand? Where is the tyranny and injustice in the world today? In what ways are we ignorant and complacent to wrongdoing and evil, when we should be fighting? When *we* should be fighting — every common man and woman and not some vague and nebulous “they”? What was this country founded upon? Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? How can we then take a blind eye when life is being redefined such that the right to life becomes a subjective; where one person can arbitrarily declare that another doesn’t have such a right? Is this not an innate right endowed by our Creator? No? Then what country is this? And are we willing to fight to get that country back? What about liberty? Specifically religious liberty? I believe we are all slumbering. Society in general and our governing officials — be it our executive, legislative or judicial branches — are herding us to a forced, homogenized relativism as regards our religious views. Laws are being enacted which curtail our right to religious liberty, yet no one is paying attention.

Who is going to stand up and fire that shot which will again be heard around the world? Who is going to again remind everyone that there are objective truths, and that those truths are worth losing your life over?

Joshua Marcellino

The Book of Man

The next entry is a profile on Joshua Marcellino, and is here to show us that war, no matter how necessary, is still a horrible event which can have a profound effect on the people experiencing it.

Joshua saw action in Iraq. He tells us of the boredom that accompanies the near-constant threat. You never know who or where or when the enemy will strike. This part of the stress of war is usually understood by outsiders, but the stress of boredom and constant vigilance is rarely understood. Particularly as it affects Marines, who are trained to be do-ers – sitting by idly is not something they do well.

He speaks of lost innocence, and of having to fight against the innate compulsion to protect the innocent. Those on the other side of the battle lines didn’t have the same respect for human life and would use even children as means to deliver bombs. If you tried to save one of these little ones, it could well cost you your life.

He notes that even though the situation is awful, it can still be a place which nurtures faith, as “each day you realized God is in control of every second,” and “when you’re in combat, you see prayer answered.” It’s comforting to know that God has a plan, despite and through the horrors. Without faith, it is easy to despair.

Re-acclimation to civilian life is difficult as people try to understand what you went through. Sometimes, there are just no words to describe it and frustration sets in. How do you explain something which you don’t fully understand yourself? How do you cope with helplessness, when all you’ve ever strived to be in your life has been the opposite of helpless? He describes how previous wars have fostered a sense of brotherhood amongst the soldiers, whereas this war, to an extent, encourages detachment and isolation. You almost have to harden your heart to caring too much, for you never know if tomorrow your coworker, your friend, might die – and you’ll still have to continue the fight without any time to grieve.

Nimiam Licentiam: To Bishops of Poland: On Validity of Marriages

The Papal Encyclicals

The third encyclical, Nimiam Licentiam: To bishops of Poland: On validity of marriages, was written on 18 May 1743.

In this encyclical, the problem is that too many marriages are being dissolved in Poland. The pope lays out some of the reasons why this is happening and gives guidelines so that the sanctity of marriage can be better understood.

He notes that there have been a lot of “hidden” marriages occurring, which are not celebrated publicly.

When judging marriages for validity or nullity, the judges have been inexperienced, ignorant, unqualified, or dishonest. If a person appealed, the second judge would charge an additional fee and overturn the ruling of the previous judge.

Marriages were conducted by any random priest and not the pastor who knew the couple.

Marriages were entered into by force or through fear.

Banns were not posted for three feast days prior to the wedding ceremony, to ensure that there were not any impediments to marriage.

Priests did not sufficiently inquire to determine if either party had any impediments to marriage.

Spouses entered pre-nuptial agreements. (The pope said that the penalty for this is excommunication.)

After listing these various practices which undermine the sanctity of marriage, cause scandal and lead to a higher incidence of the dissolution of marriage, the Pope gives some strategies for avoiding these pitfalls and affirming the permanence and validity of marriages.

First, the couple’s pastor should be the one to witness the union, unless there is grave and just cause why he cannot.

Nuptial banns must be posted at least three feast days prior. Only the local bishop can lift this requirement to one feast day or none, and only for grave cause.

Pastors must inquire of the couples to ensure that they are able to enter into a marriage and that there is no impediment.

There will be two processes for judging the validity/nullity of a marriage; the first by the bishop and the second by the metropolitan. If there’s any question after that, it goes to the Cardinals (a specific office in the Roman curia?).

Dear Polish People,
Marriage is serious business. Do not try to find or create loopholes for yourselves.
Sincerely,
The Pope

Amen!

The Campaigns of Alexander the Great

The Book of Man

The Campaigns of Alexander the Great – as told by Arrian, the Roman historian.

After a difficult battle, Alexander the Great allowed disabled soldiers to go home, while he and the able-bodied soldiers remained to press on. At their grumbling, he gave a speech meant to shame and encourage them.

He offers them the opportunity to leave, but first they must understand what he has done for them and what they have done for him in return.

Personal suffering. Have they suffered more than he has? “There is no part of my body but my back which has not a scar….” He led them to victory. He married as they did, so that his descendants and theirs are similar in bloodline. Even though they have been able to profit from their wars, it was he and not the individual soldier who paid the soldier’s debts. He has rewarded those who have served well and has honored those who had fallen in battle, even paying monies due to the soldier to his surviving family members.

So what is Alexander saying about how men should behave? I think he is saying a couple of things. First, leaders should be willing to do everything they request of their men. There cannot be an air of superiority among the ranks (although there is quite compelling reasons for hierarchy and differences in authority and role). Second, as regards the soldiers, they should not disgrace themselves to complain about their lot, especially as they have been treated far better than what justice would dictate. Alexander went above and beyond for them, so, to an extent, he expects his men to go above and beyond for him is response.

Preparing for Eternal Life

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Fr. John suggests that we bring a Bible, paper and pen to church on Sundays. This way, when God speaks to us during the readings or homily, we can write these things down, reflect upon them and put them into work in our lives.

I haven’t reached this point yet.

But, for the past two Masses, I *have* had a couple index cards in my purse….

Yesterday, I caught the 5 pm Mass at St. Anastasia. Fr. JJ was celebrating and gave a homily on John 6, where Jesus says that whoever eats of Him will have eternal life. He went on to give a story of a family on a cross-Atlantic voyage, rationing on bread and cheese, who only finds out at the end of the journey that a sumptuous feast was included in the price of their tickets. So, they could have been eating like kings the whole way. Not only do we sometimes miss the “feasts” that God sends our way during this journey on earth, but we also go the other way and take them for granted — not seeing them as the precious gifts that they are.

In what way to we take Him for granted?

Fr. JJ also reminded us that partaking of the Eucharist is an intimacy, an exchange between people who love each other, and not a one night stand experience. But how many of us treat Communion as a Wham-Bam event? Leaving church as quickly as we can, without so much as a Thank You?

Finally, he left us all with a question. What are we doing — how are we planning — to be a better person?

Because growing in holiness isn’t just going to happen. We have to work on it. We can’t just say, “Oh, I want to pray more.” We have to deliberately set aside the time and DO IT. Are we willing to put forth the effort?

Makenzie’s 1st Birthday!

I wasn’t feeling very well on Sunday, but knew that I should be there for my cousin’s daughter’s first birthday. It’s kind of odd that most of my family doesn’t know what is going on with me, but what do you do about that? I don’t think they’d understand if I wasn’t able to make it, so I dragged myself off the couch and headed over, knowing that it would have to be a short visit. Hopefully, they are okay with that.

Kenzie is such a cute little girl, and very well-behaved, at least as far as I can tell from the times I’ve been around her. 🙂 But instead of me talking all this time, why don’t I show you….

Having late lunch/early dinner:
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I just love her little pigtails!

Her heap o’ presents:
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Pink flower cookies:
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Laughing, like any girl should at her birthday party:
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She had a very fun candy cake. The lollipop theme carried over from Michelle’s baby shower.
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Playing with a balloon:
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Lisa’s son, Leo. At one point, Kenzie and Leo were sitting next to each other and she gave him a kiss. It was very cute, and thankfully, Aunt Anna caught it on video. 🙂
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Close-up of the brightly colored gifts. I really liked this wrapping paper.
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She was having a lot of fun on one of her new scooter toys:
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Here’s a quick video of her on her toy:

Sometimes, depending on how you photograph her, she looks like her Grandma Marilyn. 🙂 Her mom had one of these monthly photo frames on the table I was sitting at, and you could especially see this in the 9 month old photo.

I had to leave before the presents were opened, but I hope she had a great birthday and got lots of fun presents! 🙂 Love you, little girl!

Character of the Happy Warrior

The Book of Man

In this poem by William Wordsworth, he offers an answer to the question:
What are the characteristics of a warrior?

Someone who gives generously from his heart
Someone who faces challenges cheerfully
Someone who assesses, analyzes, and executes
Someone who continues to learn
Someone who has a firm moral compass and lives his integrity
Someone who turns pain and struggle into advantage and strength
Someone who doesn’t allow himself to become jaded, but increases in compassion
Someone who grows in virtue the more he is tested
Someone who acts according to reason
Someone who rights wrongs
Someone who will bear authority honorably, or step aside for someone who can bear it better
Someone who is trustworthy and faithful
Someone who is not caught up with material pleasures
Someone who is noted for being calm when things are not
Someone who perseveres
Someone who is dedicated to his cause
Someone who does not seek fame nor anonymity but accepts his lot
Someone who draws comfort from the upright life he leads