Festivals of Light

Tuesday, December 20, AD 2011

 

Now Judas celebrated the festival of the restoration of the sacrifices of the temple for eight days, and omitted no sort of pleasures thereon; but he feasted them upon very rich and splendid sacrifices; and he honored God, and delighted them by hymns and psalms. Nay, they were so very glad at the revival of their customs, when, after a long time of intermission, they unexpectedly had regained the freedom of their worship, that they made it a law for their posterity, that they should keep a festival, on account of the restoration of their temple worship, for eight days. And from that time to this we celebrate this festival, and call it Lights. I suppose the reason was, because this liberty beyond our hopes appeared to us; and that thence was the name given to that festival.

Josephus

I have always thought it fitting that Christmas and Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, are so close together usually on the calendar.  Approximately 160 years before the Coming of Christ, the Jews revolted against the Seleucid Empire.  This was one of the most important struggles in all of human history.    It determined that the Jews would remain a people set apart, worshiping Yahweh, and not become, like so many Peoples before and since, a lost people, blended into larger populations, their god forgotten.  It was this revolt, led by Mattathias, his name meaning “gift of Yahweh”, and his sons, known collectively as the Maccabees, that is told in First and Second Maccabees.  The revolt was successful, but ultimately, through civil wars and the overpowering military might of Rome, the Jews again fell under foreign domination, and Jesus was born into a world ruled by Rome.  However, the revolt established that the Jews would remain a separate people, worshiping their God and safeguarding their faith.  This was an essential element in setting the stage for the coming of Christ.

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4 Responses to Festivals of Light

To Pray, To Engage, and Fight Like a Maccabee.

Friday, November 21, AD 2008

I confess I am disappointed to see one of my colleagues at American Catholic dismiss the “Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama” as only so much “fruitless and pointless rhetoric”.

In response, permit me to explain what led to my own signature of the letter in question.

Readers of Catholics in the Public Square are no doubt aware that I have emphatically disagreed with Henry and those contributors at Vox Nova who supported Barack Obama throughout the 2008 election.

At the same time, to say Catholics shouldn’t have cast their vote for Obama is not the same thing as asserting that they were prohibited from doing so. This, at least, seems to be the conclusion drawn from the USCCB document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship”:

There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position [on abortion] may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

Suffice to say I was among the those who did not believe a “grave moral reason” existed that warranted voting for Obama. And if some members of Vox Nova disagreed, I’ll give them the benefit of a doubt, and trust they thought about it as long and hard as my own decision to vote for Senator McCain.

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8 Responses to To Pray, To Engage, and Fight Like a Maccabee.

  • Christopher Blosser,

    I respect you more than you know. I also agree with most of your posting.

    I do want to say that if the letter emanated from an orthodox source say like Fr. Zuhlsdorf or even Mark Shea, I would not have regarded the “open letter” as fruitless and pointless.

    I want to say that the letter, because of the source that it is emanating from, is pretty much Dead On Arrival. Not that President-elect Obama would not respond positively, which I am sure you and I agree that he does, but basically that people such as Henry Karlson, Michael Deem, and their ilk have done everything possible (with some even advocating AND voting for Obama) to confuse Catholics, obfuscate the issues, and undermine the Faithful Citizenship document to the point of allowing faithful Catholics to be confused at best, disoriented at most.

    I also agree 100% with Dale Price, and I do pray often each day and for our new President-elect, that we as Catholics should engage in dialogue with our new President. But I do not believe the sincerity and genuiness of a certain group of Catholics that did the maximum possible harm to the efforts of preventing Senator Obama from being elected President of our great nation.

    Christopher, I do not doubt for one moment your sincerity and honesty or Fr. Z’s, Mark Shea’s, Deal Hudsons, and the many other orthodox Catholics that signed. You and the other orthodox Catholics did not do anything wrong, in my eyes.

    To those that misled the faithful, the following quotes from holy scripture come to mind:

    Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.

    — Romans 1:22-23

    Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.

    — Isaiah 5:20-24

    Again Christopher, I don’t fault you for you signing the document. I believe your sincerity to the fullest.

  • Christopher,

    I like the “fight like a Macabee” title. I heard it before from another poster on another blog. Is this a common refrain? If it is, I haven’t heard of it until recently.

    Again, I don’t discount the letter by itself, just that it came from certain Vox Nova bloggers, just seems very disingenuous to me coming from them.

    Tito

  • Christopher,

    A very reasoned and fair engagement on your part.

    Your philosophical mentors are/would be proud, I am sure!

  • Still a nice letter. Always good to keep the door open until it gets slammed shut. If I could guess and I will that our President Elect will be totally preoccupied with ecnomic stuff and being the Wizard of Oz who suddenly makes everything better. Meaning- FOCA and Fairness Doctrine and that other messy stuff may get pushed to back of the attic. Of course this could change in blink of an eye. But still fun to speculate.

  • Wonderfully written Christopher; I agree entirely.

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  • A very charitable and reasoned post. Like you, I thought that the minority of bloggers at Vox Nova who supported Obama were wrong to do so, and I never missed an opportunity make that known in many of my posts there.

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