Moses at once bowed down to the ground in worship. Then he said, “If I find favor with you, O Lord, do come along in our company. This is indeed a stiff-necked people; yet pardon our wickedness and sins, and receive us as your own.” (Exodus 34:8-9)
Why does God call food addicts to regular fasting? A similar question came up on one of the BSP* forums one day. I am one of those food addicts. Food used to get me out of bed in the morning. If someone had told me a few short years ago that I would be fasting for 40 days twice a year I would have laughed out loud (between cookies). I found two days a year excruciating. And they were almost 40 days apart! It is still the part of the Rule that I struggle with the most.
Another member discussed with me that she was having trouble accepting the clothing restrictions of the Rule. She is a lovely young woman and although she always dresses modestly, having to give up patterns and colors is a great sacrifice for her.
A while back a friend told me that she would find the regular prayer routine tedious. She prefers variety and spontaneity to structured prayer. Routines put her to sleep.
Does feeling this way about one aspect or another of the Rule (or all three!) mean we are not called to this lifestyle? Not necessarily. We should remember the “widow’s mite” (Mark 12:41-44).
And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:30-32)
I have a strong feeling that the “age of Emmaus” is just around the corner. Perhaps there is much that will transpire between now and then, but I believe the time will come when hearts will burn to know about “this Jesus whom they crucified”. This belief might surprise some, given the way the world is treating Christians these days. But viewed through the eyes of faith there is every reason for Christians to cling to this hope with great joy. Through faith we believe that the victory is ours in Jesus the Lord!
If the disciples had fully comprehended the Lord’s warnings about his imminent death and consequent resurrection, would they not have walked the way of the cross in a completely different manner? But the Holy Spirit had not yet opened their minds to the great mysteries of salvation. It is a different matter for us. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit. We can interpret world events through the lens of eternity. We know about the resurrection. We believe, hope and trust in Jesus, the way, the truth and the life. We have recognized the Lord in the Breaking of the Bread. And by God’s great mercy this gift of faith is given freely to all who desire it.
At Rephidim, Amalek came and waged war against Israel. Moses, therefore, said to Joshua, “Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”[…] As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight. (Exodus 17:8-9, 11)
There can be no doubt that we are engaged in a spiritual battle unique and quite likely unprecedented in human history. The Lord is choosing his warriors, training them with fasting and prayer, and making them lean through sacrifice. With various trials he is teaching them to persevere to the end. The time for ease and rest is past. The lines have been drawn. The battle has begun. Why else would God choose this time in history to put new emphasis on the penitential lifestyle for the laity? Is it not because it is absolutely necessary to the unfolding of his plan for the Kingdom?
Mary has been calling the world to prayer and penance for more than a century. But relatively few have responded. The evil one has amassed a great army, proud and seemingly strong. The army of God is made up of a ragtag few most of whom lack earthly power or influence, many of whom suffer from various infirmities, some are even bedridden. There is nothing in the overall appearance of God’s army that would intimidate an enemy. If the enemy is quaking at this point it might be from derisive laughter; he scorns the army of God at every opportunity. But this is not yet the end of the story.
And just as it is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)
On of my favorite books on the Blessed Virgin is The Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary – From the Visions of Ven. Anne Catherine Emmerich. According to her visions, the ancestors of Mary were Essenes, people who lived a very ascetical life and who yearned for the Messiah with every breath. They were among those who were eagerly awaiting him.
Anne Catherine’s visions have been checked against other sources of historical and cultural knowledge as far as is possible. They have been found to have very few faults and many of those may be attributed to faults of memory, transcription or translation. According to her visions, the families of Saints Joachim and Anne were not materially poor, but even so, they embraced poverty. Many of them, including the holy parents of Mary distributed their possessions in this way: the best third to the Temple, and the next best third to the poor, keeping for themselves only what was last and least. In return, God multiplied their herds and each year they were able to do this again and again. In their hearts through it all was the constant longing for the Messiah.