Epistle for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

The Fasting of St. Charles – 1625 – Daniele Crespi

The following is today’s Epistle.  Isaiah 58:1-9 Douay Rheims version:

[1] Cry, cease not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and shew my people their wicked doings, and the house of Jacob their sins. [2] For they seek me from day to day, sad desire to know my ways, as a nation that hath done justice, and hath not forsaken the judgment of their God: they ask of me the judgments of justice: they are willing to approach to God. [3] Why have we fasted, and thou hast not regarded: have we humbled our souls, and thou hast not taken notice? Behold in the day of your fast your own will is found, and you exact of all your debtors. [4] Behold you fast for debates and strife. and strike with the fist wickedly. Do not fast as you have done until this day, to make your cry to be heard on high. [5] Is this such a fast as I have chosen: for a man to afflict his soul for a day? is this it, to wind his head about like a circle, and to spread sackcloth and ashes? wilt thou call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the Lord?

[6] Is not this rather the fast that I have chosen? loose the bands of wickedness, undo the bundles that oppress, let them that are broken go free, and break asunder every burden. [7] Deal thy bread to the hungry, and bring the needy and the harbourless into thy house: when thou shalt see one naked, cover him, and despise not thy own flesh. [8] Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thy health shall speedily arise, and thy justice shall go before thy face, and the glory of the Lord shall gather thee up. [9] Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall hear: thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If thou wilt take away the chain out of the midst of thee, and cease to stretch out the finger, and to speak that which profiteth not.

I read this early this morning and, frankly, did not get it.   So, I looked it up in Bible Gateway’s New International Version for some help:

58 “Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
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.
‘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.
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.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?

“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?
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?
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.
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,

It is now about three hours later, and after having read both a few times, I think I get it now but am still trying to decide if something might be missing from the NIV?  It is far easier to understand but that makes me wonder if something might be missing.

Having said that, what a fantastic Epistle for Lent.  I think this is something that most of us struggle with if not for a day, then for this season.  We try to do well at the beginning of Lent.  Then it is so easy to forget as the season goes on.  Then, once Lent is over, to forget entirely.  I remember last Lent, I believe it was Palm Sunday or Passion Sunday, when Lent was nearly over our Priest said, it’s not too late.  Lent might be almost over, but it’s still not too late.  While we do not need to fast the year around, we do need to remember the commands of God.

How to do this unceasingly, I’m not sure I’ll ever figure out.

(Maybe it’s my lack of confidence in this, but it seems as if I might be missing something.  I know there is a lot more to be said about this, but I can’t seem to get it typed down today)

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10 thoughts on “Epistle for the Friday after Ash Wednesday

  1. I’ve read each several time now Chad and I get most of it now. I’m reading mostly from the Douay Rheims and, while far more beautiful, it is also more difficult to understand. I am often having to go to a different translation to make it more clear. This makes me nervous as in the past, I have misunderstood what certain passages meant due to our modern language. It makes me hesitant.

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  2. Huh… if anything, I find the first of these more clear. As part of lent, our priest asked us to read the daily epistles and gospels. I’m always in a mood to talk about God, so if you run into places you have questions or you’d like to bounce ideas back and forth, let me know either somewhere here or by email.

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  3. With practice, I am hoping to reach the point where the first is more clear as well.

    If ever you find you are without your Missal but have your phone, this priest is posting the daily readings. If I come across some that I do not understand or need help with, I may post them here and go line by line through them, time permitting. Time permitting is the biggest challenge to getting things like that down in writing.

    I have found what looks to be a good guide to the Old Testament, but have you found a good one for the New Testament?

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  4. I honestly haven’t used any guides to this point. The closest I get are a series of books that have each Sundays gospel and sermons by 4-6 of the Fathers and Doctors of the church, and then two fantastic books for daily meditations. I’ve gone through all of this one –

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00T3HZ3SK/ref=mp_s_a_1_4?qid=1424532184&sr=8-4&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=confraternity+of+the+precious+blood&dpPl=1&dpID=51nTeW2XGdL&ref=plSrch

    And am 1/4 through one on St Paul – so far its still on Acts chapter 13, and regularly detours to Peter and Barnabas. Looking through it, it appears to intersperse his letters with where they take place going through acts.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00T3KN9OC/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?qid=1424532418&sr=8-8&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=confraternity+of+the+precious+blood&dpPl=1&dpID=41u9xIfiiiL&ref=plSrch

    I like these because they’re fantastic at encouraging you to read between the lines into both what may have occurred, but was unwritten, as well as what it means beyond the most immediate interpretation. Paired with the sermons, and a liberal dose of prayer, your mind starts to see how binary interpretations hinder us, as well as connect different parts of scripture at all times.

    The meditations are quick – I do them every day before work and find them usually taking 7-10 minutes, including a prayer before hand on the specific subject of the meditation. The sermons take more time, but as a friend pointed out, there’s always next year when it comes back around. Those sermons, by far, are the best books I’ve spent money on for getting in touch with how the church has approached the scripture before us.

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  5. Thank you very much for the book ideas, Chad. A great deal of my hesitation comes from what you said,

    I like these because they’re fantastic at encouraging you to read between the lines into both what may have occurred, but was unwritten, as well as what it means beyond the most immediate interpretation. Paired with the sermons, and a liberal dose of prayer, your mind starts to see how binary interpretations hinder us, as well as connect different parts of scripture at all times.

    This is what I need.

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  6. That’s the key writing on fasting, so the commentaries I’ve read about it indicate that fasting is to be done not for our own pride (remember the Pharisees, bragging about their fasting routines?) but for those purposes…

    – 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?

    We use a period of fasting and prayer to petition the Lord to break the chains we’ve bound ourselves to sin and bad habits. To pray for our friends and relations who are among the Lost. To indicate true humility. To get closer to God.

    So when we go through the outward motions of fasting, and our hearts are untouched, and thus our actions from the heart (like having fights and being selfish) are untouched by our fast, God isn’t impressed and does not hear us.

    After all… Proverbs 21:3 To do righteousness and justice Is desired by the Lord more than sacrifice. So if we sacrifice by fasting, and neglect righteousness and justice, we fail.

    PS I’m reading the NASB now and really enjoy it. You can try out other translations of difficult passages at Biblegateway if you get stuck, you can even get the greek/hebrew. LOVE that site, very useful. (It’s .com, and it’s free).

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  7. In that case, here’s the set of sermons I was talking about. Its more expensive on amazon than the site I used to buy it, so shop around. They fit in a mans coat pocket (both my sports coats and my army BDU), most back pockets of my jeans, and could easily fit into a womans purse. On my visits to the abbey, I keep this and my rosary on hand, as I never know when I’ll have free time for either, and find it beneficial to be prepared as such

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B007QYSNXE/ref=mp_s_a_1_3?qid=1424535493&sr=8-3&keywords=sermons+of+the+great+fathers&dpPl=1&dpID=51ZLWLOEzDL&ref=plSrch&pi=AC_SY200_QL40

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  8. Thank you, too, Hearthie. I knew there was a site out there that had the Greek and Hebrew and I was trying to find it again. It’s incredibly useful.

    This is what I try to keep in mind in this season:

    I’ve read about it indicate that fasting is to be done not for our own pride (remember the Pharisees, bragging about their fasting routines?) but for those purposes…

    – to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
    to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?

    . . .

    We use a period of fasting and prayer to petition the Lord to break the chains we’ve bound ourselves to sin and bad habits. To pray for our friends and relations who are among the Lost. To indicate true humility. To get closer to God.

    In the past, I would just go through the motions. I’m trying to remedy that.

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