Jesus told them a parable, ‘Look at the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you can see for yourselves that summer is now near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near. In truth I tell you, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Sky and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. Read More
“If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe with your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved. It is by believing with the heart that you are justified, and by making the declaration with your lips that you are saved. When scripture says: No one who relies on this will be brought to disgrace, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: the same Lord is the Lord of all, and his generosity is offered to all who appeal to him, for all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved.
„King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his lords, with whom he drank. Under the influence of the wine, he ordered the gold and silver vessels which Nebuchadnezzar, his father, had taken from the temple in Jerusalem, to be brought in so that the king, his lords, his wives and his entertainers might drink from them. When the gold and silver vessels taken from the house of God in Jerusalem had been brought in, and while the king, his lords, his wives and his entertainers were drinking wine from them, they praised their gods of gold and silver, bronze and iron, wood and stone.
In yesterday’s meditation, we had heard that, according to St John of the Cross, when one makes the decision to follow Christ more intensely, the Devil tries to prevent the decisive step by instilling fear, distracting us and tempting us in various ways. Not infrequently the obstacles can come from people who are close to us, but who have not made up their minds to follow the Lord fully, nor do they understand this path. They may even be pious people, but who do not have a deep enough relationship with the Lord to understand the mystery between God and the soul called by Him. Thus, it may happen that these people feel they have to discourage or even warn against embarking on this more intense path.
We had reflected on the virtue of fortitude in context with the readings from the book of Maccabees; those courageous men and women of the People of Israel. I also pointed out that we need this virtue for our Christian witness in the world, which, in an extreme case, can go as far as martyrdom. We can train ourselves in the virtue of fortitude, and we should not be discouraged if we are naturally fearful. The story of the novice Blanche de la Force (narrated in Gertud von Le Fort’s novel “The Last One at the Scaffold”) can encourage these fearful souls, showing them that they too can be capable of heroic deeds. Read More
Solemnity of Christ the King
At that time, Jesus said to his disciples: When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. Read More
Fortitude – which is considered as one of the four cardinal virtues – is part of the basic equipment of a soldier. If he does not become courageous, he cannot be counted on in the toughest battles, for fear would take hold of him, so that the situation would become dangerous for all his comrades.
The readings of the last few days presented us with impressive examples of faith, faithfulness and fortitude. I have therefore decided to dedicate some meditations to the cardinal virtue of fortitude. In these times of turmoil, it is particularly important to aspire to and practice this virtue, in order to be able to resist the various temptations that are presented to us. Let us take as our model those people we met in the readings of the last days, who showed us that obedience and faithfulness to God are above all earthly values and that, with God’s help, it is even possible to overcome fear.
1 Macc 2:15-29
‘The king’s commissioners who were enforcing the apostasy came to the town of Modein for the sacrifices. Many Israelites gathered round them, but Mattathias and his sons drew apart. The king’s commissioners then addressed Mattathias as follows, ‘You are a respected leader, a great man in this town; you have sons and brothers to support you. Be the first to step forward and conform to the king’s decree, as all the nations have done, and the leaders of Judah and the survivors in Jerusalem; you and your sons shall be reckoned among the Friends of the King, you and your sons will be honoured with gold and silver and many presents.’
2 Macc 7:1,20-31
It also happened that seven brothers were arrested with their mother. The king tried to force them to taste some pork, which the Law forbids, by torturing them with whips and scourges. But the mother was especially admirable and worthy of honourable remembrance, for she watched the death of seven sons in the course of a single day, and bravely endured it because of her hopes in the Lord. Indeed she encouraged each of them in their ancestral tongue; filled with noble conviction, she reinforced her womanly argument with manly courage, saying to them, ‘I do not know how you appeared in my womb; it was not I who endowed you with breath and life, I had not the shaping of your every part.