Oh Lord, purify me, make me a chalice in which you dwell, offer your sacrifice in me and spread your love through me. Let me shine like gold, adorn me with the jewels of virtue that I may always be open to you. Fill me. Overflow me. Let me be like that most perfect vessel, the Singular Vessel of Devotion, She to whom I cry for protection against the Evil One. I ask this for your glory, for the vessel is nothing without the sustenance inside, the cup nothing unless it is filled. Oh Lord, purify me.

Give me a word, Abba

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Three Attacks of Holofernes: A Scriptural Rambling

Judith 4.

In Judith 4, the Israelites hear about the ravaging acts of the Assyrian general Holofernes. Obviously, they want to defend themselves against him and his horde. What they do is a great lesson for all of us:

Then the children of Israel[...] sent into all Samaria round about, as far as Jericho, and seized upon all the tops of the mountains: [4] And they compassed their towns with walls, and gathered together corn for provision for war. [5] And Eliachim the priest wrote [...] that they should take possession of the ascents of the mountains, by which there might be any way to Jerusalem, and should keep watch where the way was narrow between the mountains.

[6] And the children of Israel did as the priest of the Lord Eliachim had appointed them, [7] And all the people cried to the Lord with great earnestness, and they humbled their souls in fastings, and prayers, both they and their wives. [8] And the priests put on haircloths, and they caused the little children to lie prostrate before the temple of the Lord, and the altar of the Lord they covered with haircloth. [9] And they cried to the Lord the God of Israel with one accord, that their children might not be made a prey, and their wives carried off, and their cities destroyed, and their holy things profaned, and that they might not be made a reproach to the Gentiles. [10] Then Eliachim the high priest of the Lord went about all Israel and spoke to them,

[11] Saying: Know ye that the Lord will hear your prayers, if you continue with perseverance in fastings and prayers in the sight of the Lord. [12] Remember Moses the servant of the Lord, who overcame Amalec that trusted in his own strength, and in his power, and in his army, and in his shields, and in his chariots, and in his horsemen, not by fighting with the sword, but by holy prayers: [13] So shall all the enemies of Israel be, if you persevere in this work which you have begun. [14] So they being moved by this exhortation of his, prayed to the Lord, and continued in the sight of the Lord. [15] So that even they who offered the holocausts to the Lord, offered the sacrifices to the Lord girded with haircloths, and with ashes upon their head.

[16] And they all begged of God with all their heart, that he would visit his people Israel. (D-R)

There is, in this passage, the obvious tension that is so often referenced nowadays. Should we trust God in prayer up to the point of doing nothing that is in our own power? Well, the Israelites certainly did not think so, and God heard their prayer. He wasn't like "Oh, you're preparing for war? Well you obviously don't trust me." In fact, they did trust him, and they showed it in their prayer and penances. However, they also trusted that He was the source of their own power and could act through them and their armies if need be. There was a need, for Holofernes comes later to destroy the House of Israel. He didn't end up doing it though, and that's the thing.

I was thinking about this and I realized that we encounter three attacks in our lives that require a similar response: The attacks of evil In the World, the attacks of evil In Our Lives and the attacks of evil In Our Souls. It's a triple attack, and it's kind of annoying. However, the Israelites show us the way in approaching these attacks. The one that struck me the most was the attacks In the World. Not only were the Israelites up against an attack In the World, but also this blog is about living in the world while not being of it. So here is my thought (finally) and I'd say it applies to all three:

There are many ways in which The Evil One attacks the world at large, whether through vile movements such as Playboy, evil regimes, such as Saddam, Quaddafi, or what have you. He just loves making the world a scary place to be. However, we must follow the example of the Israelites. We must judge what we ourselves can do to protect ourselves and our own from these disastrous things, and then pray and do penance. I'm sorry, but that last one is the hardest, I'd say, harder than even figuring out what to do. If we're honest with ourselves and each other, we can make honest mistakes, but we just don't want to do Penance. We hate mortification. We want to be the best looking, happiest, most successful people out there, and that is exactly contrary to a penitential attitude. So, just as Our Lady of Fatima called us to Penance, we should actually do it. The Lord hears our supplications if we trust in him, and what better way of trusting Him than to show that we are not that Big of a Deal?

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