Saturday, May 29, 2010

Consolation and the Book of Ruth

Ruth and Naomi gleaning in the field of Boaz

The Book of Ruth 16 And therefore let us humble our souls before him, and continuing in an humble spirit, in his service: 17 Let us ask the Lord with tears, that according to his will so he would shew his mercy to us: that as our heart is troubled by their pride, so also we may glorify in our humility. 18 For we have not followed the sins of our fathers, who forsook their God, and worshipped strange gods. 19 For which crime they were given up to their enemies, to the sword, and to pillage, and to confusion: but we know no other God but him. 20 Let us humbly wait for his consolation, and the Lord our God will require our blood of the afflictions of our enemies, and he will humble all the nations that shall rise up against us, and bring them to disgrace.

I know most Christians focus alot on the New Testament, as I suppose we ought...but...I have to say although I love the NT, I have a special love and reverence for the Old Testament. Lately I've been getting "lost" in the books of Kings - I could read of the lives of King David and King Solomon and oh the sad sad fall of King Saul. This story brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. Oh how easy it is to fall! To have the annointing of the Lord, to have the counsel of the Prophet Samuel, and then to turn to idolotry! What folly! Oh poor Saul! Yesterday I read the following passage:

2 Kings 7:15 But my mercy I will not take away from him [King David], as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before my face.

When I read this passage, it appears there is little reason to hope for the soul of Saul, but I pray perhaps in that brief moment before his soul left his body he turned toward the Lord's mercy! There is no greater tragedy than the soul lost forever to the fires of hell.

But I digress...

I wanted instead to say how much I love the OT and in particular the books of Tobit and Ruth - as quoted at the top of this post. When I read thie above passage, it seemed as if this addresses the very time in which we live. Though the entire world clamors in diabolical hatred toward the Holy Catholic Church, though the press, world leaders and the wicked within the Church persecute the Holy Father, though our Christian life be assailed on all sides - we MUST be steadfast! Be still and hope in the Lord, though the darkness is all around - rejoice and know that He is with us! Be not attached to the Lord's sweetness and consolation - be not attached to the trappings and trifles of this world! Look for all your reward in Heaven where He who is Holy will wipe every tear from your eye and you will suffer no more! Rejoice!

"Death but not sin!"

-St. Dominic Savio, age 7 from his writings in preparation for first Holy Communion

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Prayer of Discouragement

Moses' Prayer of Discouragement
Book of Numbers -Israel
10 Now Moses heard the people weeping by their families, every one at the door of his tent. And the wrath of the Lord was exceedingly enkindled: to Moses also the thing seemed insupportable. 11 And he said to the Lord: Why hast thou afflicted thy servant? wherefore do I not find favour before thee? and why hast thou laid the weight of all this people upon me? 12 Have I conceived all this multitude, or begotten them, that thou shouldst say to me: Carry them in thy bosom as the nurse is wont to carry the little infant, and bear them into the land, for which thou hast sworn to their fathers? 13 Whence should I have flesh to give to so great a multitude? they weep against me, saying: Give us flesh that we may eat. 14 I am not able alone to bear all this people, because it is too heavy for me. 15 But if it seem unto thee otherwise, I beseech thee to kill me, and let me find grace in thy eyes, that I be not afflicted with so great evils.
Hearing the complaint of Moses, the Lord did give him consolation and help:
16 And the Lord said to Moses: Gather unto me seventy men of the ancients of Israel, whom thou knowest to be ancients and masters of the people: and thou shalt bring them to the door of the tabernacle of the covenant, and shalt make them stand there with thee, 17 That I may come down and speak with thee: and I will take of thy spirit, and will give to them, that they may bear with thee the burden of the people, and thou mayest not be burthened alone. 18 And thou shalt say to the people: Be ye sanctified: tomorrow you shall eat flesh...
...But with a just consequence:
for I have heard you say: Who will give us flesh to eat? it was well with us in Egypt. That the Lord may give you flesh, and you may eat: 19 Not for one day, nor two, nor five, nor ten, no nor for twenty. 20 But even for a month of days, till it come out at your nostrils, and become loathsome to you, because you have cast off the Lord, who is in the midst of you, and have wept before him, saying: Why came we out of Egypt?
...and also a just chastisement:
33 As yet the flesh was between their teeth, neither had that kind of meat failed: when behold the wrath of the Lord being provoked against the people, struck them with an exceeding great plague. 34 And that place was called, The graves of lust: for there they buried the people that had lusted.
I am no theologian, just a simple Catholic. I see that the Lord answered Moses's prayer of discouragement based on his suffering of burden and did not chastise him. The Lord did however chastise Israel's complaining despite God's provisions for them. We are such a whining people.
We must turn with trust to the King of Heaven and ask for His actual grace to sustain us in all things - not waste our prayers and thoughts on frivolous so-called sufferings. Rest in the Spirit of the Lord and let not your heart become hopeless but rather hope in the Lord for He is in charge and control of all things. Though the gates of hell beat against you, though all things seem to fall apart around you - lock yourself up in the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for there is the only true refuge.
Lord have pity on me. Amen+