Day 31: The World Passes Away

Today we celebrate the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.

In honor of this feast, you can lessen one of the disciplines of St. Michael’s Lent today.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Let us remember that we are in the presence of a holy God.

Join in the victory of the Lamb.

Take one minute of silence now, praying for God’s blessing on you, your family, fraternity, and all Exodus Men.

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.

Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.

May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

The Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.

# A Reading from the Book of Revelation

As for the beast that was and is not, it is an eighth but it belongs to the seven, and it goes to perdition.

And the ten horns that you saw are ten kings who have not yet received royal power, but they are to receive authority as kings for one hour, together with the beast.

These are of one mind and give over their power and authority to the beast; they will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.”

And he said to me, “The waters that you saw, where the harlot is seated, are peoples and multitudes and nations and tongues.

And the ten horns that you saw, they and the beast will hate the harlot; they will make her desolate and naked, and devour her flesh and burn her up with fire, for God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and giving over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

And the woman that you saw is the great city which has dominion over the kings of the earth.”

# Reflection

“Was and is not.”

This is how Revelation describes the beast, unlike God “who was and is.”

God, who has no beginning and no end, remains forever.

The beast, and his dominion, comes and goes.

He dazzles and threatens, although he is destined to blow away like dust.

We, too, are dust, although remaining fixed in God enables us to live forever with him, sharing in his eternal life.

The chosen and faithful must reject the passing lordship of the beast and stay true to the Lamb, the one who seems to lose for the time being.

The strategy of the Lamb is to allow the beast to rage and make war, seeming to win by seducing the nations.

This is part of the great test and the battle in which we must fight.

The seeming weakness of the Lamb lures the beast in.

In seeming to kill the Lamb, it is defeated.

It is the same for the followers of the Lamb, the saints who also suffer from the senseless rage of the world.

They win by seeming to lose.

This is the logic of the beatitudes.

We are blessed if we are poor now, if we mourn, if we suffer persecution.

These passing difficulties will transform into lasting glory.

We have to choose heaven above this world.

This means saying no to what the world offers: wealth, pleasure, and security.

Our fallen nature clings to these temporary goods.

Faith is what points us beyond, enabling us to cling to what has eternal value.

The beast devours his own, showing us that the world is self-defeating.

It promises many things to us now, although it cannot even deliver on them.

We see people who give themselves over to pleasure and how they become the most miserable of all people: destroyed by addiction, lonely, and unhappy.

The beast uses the wealth of the harlot to attract the nations, although he turns on her and allows her to be devoured.

This is the strategy the devil employs in temptation.

He gets us to fixate on our bodily desires, making them into little idols that promise happiness, and when we give in, we are struck with the disastrous consequences.

If there is nothing lasting in the empty promises of evil, then why do we fall for it so often?

This is part of the mystery of evil: that we do what we do not really want to do.

We allow our immediate desire to triumph for the moment, although we have to get up and fix our sights once again on higher goods.

God, in giving us freedom, allows us to fall, using this experience of weakness to teach us humility and to invite us into a deeper trust in him.

We have to learn the lesson many times, but the goal is to form strong habits over time, strengthening our free will in making difficult choices that will lead to a lasting happiness.

Another way of reading the symbol of the harlot is to see Jerusalem, which also has seven hills (like Rome), as selling itself out to the Romans.

Israel was the chosen people of God, and yet it rejected him when he came as the Messiah.

The temptation remains for Christians, like the Jewish leaders, to turn to the world for support rather than finding it in God.

The wealth and popularity of the current time continues to have its attraction for some in the Church, making it necessary to guard against worldliness in the Christian life as well.

There can be no false Gospel of prosperity when Jesus has told us that we must take up our cross and follow him every day.

The Cross is a sign of victory through what seems like defeat to the world.

Today we remember the finding of Jesus’s Cross by St. Helen, the mother of Constantine, in Jerusalem.

Beyond that event, the day points us to the Cross as a sign of Jesus’s triumphal death that overcomes all enemies and powers.

We are called into this victory as well, uniting all of our prayer and sacrifice to the one supreme offering of Jesus on the Cross.

In your prayer today, reject the harlotry of the present world.

Do not give in to the spirit of the world, but, with your angel, await the coming of Christ.

The Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful.

Let us pray.

Lord, teach us to love you above all things.

Inflame our hearts with your love so that we may turn away from the attachments that hold us back from you. Amen.

Saint Michael the archangel, pray for us.

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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