Thursday, August 02, 2007

02/08/07 Thursday in the week of the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

of the crown in Egypt, even collecting taxes within the
Jewish community. Then the Seleucid king, Antiochus IV, defeated Egypt
(1 Mac. 1:16-20), and Palestine passed into his control. Conditions
became oppressive for any of the Faithful who held firmly to the
Traditions handed down from Moses and the Prophets. The present reading
reveals how thorough the Seleucid regime was in its efforts to eliminate
Judaism. Granted, the contemporary cultural war in North America is not
marked by the kind of naked state violence used by the Seleucids, yet
one discerns certain parallels in the flagrant secularist attacks on the
beliefs and practices of Orthodox Christians.

First, there was disdain for what the Faithful respected as holy -
places, vessels, activities, persons, and seasons – that which made up
the warp and woof of devout life. The Seleucids blatantly “set up the
abomination of desolation upon the altar” in the Temple (1 Mac. 1:54),
forcing cult sacrifices to Zeus Olympios. An altar to Zeus, together
with his image, was placed above the altar of sacrifice to God. Swine’s
flesh was offered there. Anyone slightly familiar with the Mosaic Law
will immediately perceive the horror of the devout Jews. Yet, a similar
disdain for the holy is widespread today. It is replete in the media, in
judicial rulings against religious expression, and in the forbidding of
public displays of religious images.

The officials of Antiochus suppressed religious education of the young,
for “when they had rent in pieces the books of the law which they found,
they burnt them with fire” (vs. 56). Today, curricula used in public
education, to which the children of Orthodox families are subjected,
inculcate values wholly contrary to the Truth that the Church holds and
seeks to pass on generation by generation. There is blunt prejudice
against the miraculous, the experience of God acting in human life, and
the acceptance of His Self-revelation. Such verities are rejected
because they cannot be proven using the tangible data required by the
scientific method.

Finally, the Seleucids vigorously promoted self-indulgence; yet “many in
Israel were fully resolved and confirmed in themselves not to eat any
unclean thing.” Hence, rather than “be defiled with meats, and...profane
the holy covenant...they died.” (vss. 62,63). Today, the media assumes
self-indulgence as the correct life-style, effectively inviting the
Faithful to violate the Fasts, abandon prayer and the ascetic
disciplines, and ignore chastity and traditional marriage.

O Lord, our God, assist us in serving Thee in true holiness and
faithfulness throughout this present life, so that we fail not finally
to attain Thy heavenly kingdom and the age to come.



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