4/1/20 5th week of Lent
Daily Readings Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 Luke 8:15 John 8:31-42 Daniel 3:14-20, 91-92, 95 King Nebuchadnezzar said: “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, that you will not serve my god, or worship the golden statue that I set up? Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made, whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet, flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe, and all the other musical instruments; otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace; and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may he save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.” King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual and had some of the strongest men in his army bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and cast them into the white-hot furnace. Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” “Assuredly, O king,” they answered. “But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt, walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.” Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him; they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56 R. (52b) Glory and praise forever! “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; And blessed is your holy and glorious name, praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.” R. Glory and praise forever! “Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever. R. Glory and praise forever! “Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.” R. Glory and praise forever! “Blessed are you who look into the depths from your throne upon the cherubim; praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.” R. Glory and praise forever! “Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven, praiseworthy and glorious forever.” R. Glory and praise forever! Luke 8:15 Blessed are they who have kept the word with a generous heart and yield a harvest through perseverance. John 8:31-42 Jesus moved about within Galilee; he did not wish to travel in Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him. But the Jewish feast of Tabernacles was near. But when his brothers had gone up to the feast, he himself also went up, not openly but as it were in secret. Some of the inhabitants of Jerusalem said, “Is he not the one they are trying to kill? And look, he is speaking openly and they say nothing to him. Could the authorities have realized that he is the Christ? But we know where he is from. When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.” So Jesus cried out in the temple area as he was teaching and said, “You know me and also know where I am from. Yet I did not come on my own, but the one who sent me, whom you do not know, is true. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” So they tried to arrest him, but no one laid a hand upon him, because his hour had not yet come.
Psalms 42 and 43 share the same refrain: “Why, my soul, are you downcast?... put your hope in God” (Psalm 42:5,11, Psalm 43:5). Change and hope come as we, in effect, argue with ourselves. But the psalmist makes God his “stronghold” (verse 2), a safer shelter. When we put our trust in the living God, we know that nothing can come into that stronghold without God’s permission, limitation, and purpose. He also rests in God for his vindication, not looking either to human approval or to personal vengeance (verse 1). By doing all this, slowly but surely, the psalmist raises his spirits. The final refrain has a ringing confidence that the earlier ones did not (verse 4-5).
PRAYER: Lord, you are my vindication and reputation-it doesn’t matter what anyone else says. You are my stronghold-nothing else can protect me from every danger, even death. You are my joy and delight- all others will desert me. If you are my God, why should I be downcast? Amen.
Saint of the Day |
Blessed Jane of Toulouse
Blessed Jane lived in the French town of Toulouse during the 13th century. A Carmelite monastery was founded in the same town in 1240 which exposed Jane to the Carmelite lifestyle and spirituality. In 1265 when St. Simon Stock, a 13th century reformer of the Carmelites, was passing through Toulouse, Jane met him and requested to be affiliated with the Carmelites. Simon agreed and Jane became the first Third Order Carmelite.
Jane vowed herself to perpetual chastity and applied herself completely to the Carmelite Rule. In addition to many daily holy practices and penances, she reached out to the community and worked to help the sick and poor. One of Jane's primary missions was encouraging the boys of the town to help her serve the poor and help them discern whether or not they were called to be Carmelites.
Blessed Jane is considered to be a founder of the Carmelite tertiary order and is considered to be its first member.
She died in 1286.
Catholicism Around the World |
Despite facing operational hour limitations and supply shortages, crisis pregnancy centers are working and praying hard to assist pregnant women in any way that they can as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
Due to public safety precautions, businesses and organizations are being forced to close their doors. Crisis pregnancy centers are being forced to operate with limited staff, at a distance, and even close their doors.
However, this has not stopped the mission of many of these centers. Recognizing the concern that abortion rates could still increase during this time, pregnancy centers are working harder to construct care plans, provide over the phone counseling, and develop delivery systems to provide women with items such as diapers and baby formula.
In New York City, the Sisters of Life are running “Visitation Mission” for expectant mothers. The mission is to provide women with diapers, food, cribs, and strollers. Similar volunteer networks across the nation are sending food and gift cards to expectant mothers and families.
In Virginia, the Front Royal Pregnancy Center continues to conduct its operation by providing a call-in service for women to order materials such as baby formula and diapers. The clinic is also working to provide phone-call consultations. With the shelter-in-place mandate established by Governor Gavin Newson, pregnancy centers such as the Sacramento Life Center have experienced challenges in its ability to maintain day-to-day operations. The centers continue to work in every way that they can by providing phone consultations and to create and send drive-by baby care packages with supplies for expectant mothers. Unfortunately, in other areas such as Nashville, Tennessee, Planned Parenthood operations continue while pregnancy centers are being forced to close. The Nashville mayor has deemed the services provided at Planned Parenthood as essential.
Planned Parenthood locations across the nation are continuing to perform surgical abortions, working against state-established policies that have placed restrictions on non-essential and elective surgeries. Planned Parenthood is “continuing to put abortion and profits before health and safety,” stated Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List. In order to confront the continued operations of Planned Parenthood organizations, Dannenfelser and other pro-life leaders have written to the Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Avelar urging him to force abortion providers to cease their operations and provide their personal protective equipment to hospitals for the purpose of treating the coronavirus.
Pro-life call centers are working ardently to assist women and encourage them to make the decision to keep their child. One of the most important aspects of these phone calls is to reach the heart of women and remind them that they truly want to give life to their children.
Pregnancy centers across America are in desperate need of both donations and prayers. Pro-life leaders recognize the power in prayer and God’s grace. During this time of crisis, our society is allowed the opportunity to be reminded of the importance of human dignity, particularly of the most vulnerable.
Educational Fact |
Did you know that the institution we know as the hospital is entirely an invention of the Catholic Church?
Well, it was. The ancient world had all the material ingredients needed for such an institution. It had medical professionals, and it had sick people. It had a centuries-old tradition of medical science and technology. And yet it could not bring all that together to make a hospital. There was no way to make such a venture profitable, so there was no compelling motive to keep such a venture running during an epidemic.
What they had instead were individual freelance practitioners, who moved from place to place like traveling salesmen — usually outrunning their most recent failure. They passed down their knowledge, as trade secrets, within their family and never risked public disclosure.
The pagans had medicine. What they lacked was charity, as it came to be expressed in hospital-ity, the virtue that gave the healthcare institution its name.
It was the middle of the third century, and the world found itself suddenly oppressed by plague. Scholars disagree on whether the disease was smallpox or influenza. Some say it was Ebola. But whatever the bug was, it quickly reached pandemic levels—and it stayed there for thirteen years. In that time, the population of the empire was reduced by thirty percent, and there was a corresponding decline in every sector of the economy, not to mention the military.
The practice of Christianity was illegal. In fact, it was a capital crime and it was punished more severely during the plague. Why? Because traditional Romans blamed their run of bad luck on the Christians’ refusal to sacrifice to the gods.
Governing the Church in North Africa at the time was a bishop named Cyprian. He had been a prominent attorney in the city of Carthage, earning renown for his work in the courts. And now he brought all the powers of his gigantic intellect to bear on the problems of the Church in his day.
Cyprian called his flock to act with heroic charity during the plague, insisting that Christian doctors must give care not only their fellow believers, but also their pagan neighbors—the very people who were trying to kill them.
Cyprian exhorted his congregation: “There is nothing remarkable in cherishing merely our own people … [We] should love our enemies as well … the good done to all, not merely to the household of faith.”
And from this exhortation of a bishop came medical care as we know it. The foremost expert on the history of hospitals, Dr. Gary Ferngren, made this point emphatically in his recent survey published by Johns Hopkins:
The hospital was, in origin and conception, a distinctively Christian institution, rooted in Christian concepts of charity and philanthropy. There were no pre-Christian institutions in the ancient world that served the purpose that Christian hospitals were created to serve … None of the provisions for health care in classical times … resembled hospitals.
This was not a local phenomenon. We possess similar testimonies from Alexandria in Egypt and elsewhere. The great sociologist Rodney Stark noted that the Catholic Church grew during this period at a steady rate of forty percent per decade, and he believes that growth was due, at least in part, to its profound and unprecedented public witness of charity.
The pattern emerged still more clearly in the following century during the epidemic of 312. By then, the Christians were numerous in every major city. So their efforts were more effective, extensive, and visible. Eusebius, who was an eyewitness, reports that Christians “rounded up the huge numbers who had been reduced to scarecrows all over the city and distributed loaves to them all.”
Gary Ferngren, once again, states most emphatically that “The only care of the sick and dying during the epidemic of 312-13 was provided by Christian churches.” He adds: “No charitable care of any kind, public or private, existed apart from Christian … care because there was no religious, philosophical, or social basis for it.”
Epidemics were among the great terrors of the ancient world. Doctors could identify the diseases, but they knew no way to stop the spread. Antibiotics and anti-viral drugs were still centuries away in the future.
So when the plague hit a city, the physicians were the first to leave. They knew the symptoms from their textbooks, and they knew what was coming, and they knew there was nothing they could do to stop the inevitable horror.
Christians couldn’t stop the plagues either. But they could and did risk their lives in order to serve chicken soup to the sick. They could and did make a clean, well-lighted place for the sick to find rest. And some of those sick people recovered as a result—and became Christians.
In time, those stable Christian institutions—those hospitals—became de facto sites of medical research. Only there could medical professionals gain experience together, compare notes openly, and make progress.
Often you’ll hear people say that the Church has historically waged a “war on science” or a “war on women.” That’s exactly wrong, and the history of the hospital tells why. Many of the pioneers in the field were women—Fabiola in Rome, for example, and Olympias in Constantinople. They changed society in ways that pagan women could not. The Church made opportunities that had been impossible in classical antiquity.
So, if we can fight this year’s disease with medicine, we should thank our long-ago ancestors in the faith. And we might permit ourselves to ask what wonders God will work through today’s circumstances.
Fun Fact |
Michelangelo is the most famous and most accomplished Catholic artist in history. He created the Pietà, the sculptures of David and Moses, the frescoes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and the designs for St. Peter’s Basilica.
Prayer for Healing – O God who are the only source of health and healing, the spirit of calm and the central peace of this universe, grant to me such a consciousness of your indwelling and surrounding presence that I may permit you to give me health and strength and peace, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. Have a blessed day!