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Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

Apocalypse Now

First, the largest earthquake in their history.
Then, a tsunami of equally epic proportions.
Then, a nuclear meltdown and radiation release that has hampered search and rescue with contamination that could make the area off-limits for decades to come if matters get any worse.

And the worst is yet to come, Cholera, Typhoid, Dysentary from tens of thousands of bodies decaying in the rubble. Add to that malnutrition and the severe post-traumatic stress and its manifestations.

I remember for weeks and weeks after 9/11 the unmistakable and never-to-be-forgotten stench of close to 3,000 bodies (my friends among them) decaying in the mountains of rubble as I drove past on the FDR drive (less than a mile east of ground zero). Those horrendous and inescapable odors are absent from the photos and add to the trauma of the Japanese daily.

Some of the worst trauma is walking through the rubble and knowing that one is surrounded by death unseen, the bodies of loved ones, neighbors, and fellow citizens hidden in the rubble. We had our mountains of rubble, the fires that burned until December of 2001, the seemingly endless funerals. I’ll never forget it. And for as bad as it all was, this disaster in Japan easily eclipses 9/11, Katrina, and Haiti combined and multiplied several times over

As the shock and numbness subside, the anxiety and despair will sink in as health conditions and future options rapidly deteriorate. Already, drinking water is running out and people are hard-pressed for potable water to cook the meager rations of rice. They can’t return home, or even to where home once was.

And all of this has happened during Lent, a time when we are fasting and praying as we turn our focus to the Lord.

For Christians of all stripes, and especially pro-lifers, I offer the following from Isaiah 58 in light of our brothers and sisters in Japan.

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations and getting set to aid in long term support. 95% of their money goes directly to support services.

Also, the children in my parish are starting a toy drive for the children in Japan, as well as kids’ clothes, etc. We are contacting the bishops in the stricken dioceses and setting up a way to ship to the bishops who will ensure distribution.

For pro-lifers, as we respond let’s remember Jesus’ admonition in Matthew 5:

14 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

God Bless.

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Ash Wednesday is upon us next week. Thoughts turn to acts of penance, often what we are going to “give up”.

To what end?

Will we be miserable creatures to live with? Will our fasting lead to harmony or discord, peaceful hearts or riven homes?

To what end?

Hopefully, we do penance to focus ourselves on the Lord. Our asceticism should lead us to focus on our love of God and how our weakness leads to separation from Him.

But what sort of fast is acceptable to the Lord God of the Universe? What does He require? Today we take a look at what it is that God wants of us.

First, before we focus our attention on art showing the radiant and majestic Lord of all, He requires us to see a different face, like the one above. It’s the sort that we try not to look at for more than a second, but feel the simultaneous invitation to look deeper and to look away. Here in Isaiah 58, the Lord Himself spells it out for us.

Isaiah 58 (New International Version)

Isaiah 58

True Fasting

1 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness [a] will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

THIS PASSAGE ADAPTED AND SUNG BY JOHN MICHAEL TALBOT AND TERRY TALBOT. CLICK HERE.

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