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What the Book of Ecclesiastes has to Say About the Foolishness of our Times
Archdiocese of Washington ^ | 2/27/2014 | Msgr. Charles Pope

Posted on 02/28/2014 2:30:41 AM PST by markomalley

We are reading through some wonderful “Wisdom Sayings” in the Office of Readings of the Liturgy of the Hours at this time. Several of the sayings speak to the relationship of suffering and wisdom. And in this way the foolishness of our age is disclosed which is so hyper-focused on avoiding suffering at all costs. Perhaps the link of suffering and wisdom is not the most pleasant of associations, but it is no less true for its difficulty. Lets consider a few of the sayings.

The tone was set in the psalm of the day which says,

Make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart.  (Ps 89:3)

At every funeral, in the last portion of my sermon, I say to the faithful very plain terms, “You are going to die, and you don’t get to choose when.”  I then ask them what are they doing to get ready to meet God.

For indeed, in our culture with all of our medicines and the fact that many of our elderly die in nursing homes away from our sight,  we have tended to ignore, and hide the reality of death. And this creates the illusion that death is remote, that we can somehow stave it off indefinitely. Death to many people seems almost theoretical. And in our fallen state, of course we willingly entertain the illusion that death is remote.

And yet, in our almost unprecedented ability to maintain this illusion it is also evident how foolish our collective behavior has become.   Many people live with almost no thought that they will one day die and appear before the judgment seat of Christ and have to render an account for what they do. Too many of us have wrongful priorities and spend most of our time in passing, uncertain unimportant things. And we spend little or no time on eternal and certain things like death, judgment, heaven and hell. Too many go on living in unrepentant mortal sin. All of this is foolishness on an almost colossal scale.

When I speak it funerals and say to people “You are going to die,” there is a visible reaction throughout the congregation. Some look anxiously amused, some look annoyed, and a few look knowingly and nod. But almost all are surprised, even shocked to hear something they almost never hear anymore.

As the Psalm verse implies by its logic, this silence about death is at the source of a great deal of the foolishness of our modern times.  As most surveys indicate, it is evident that upwards of 75-80% of the people are not living in any discernible way that acknowledges that they will die and must prepare for it. Most are not praying, they not reading Scripture, they are not getting to Mass, or any church, they are not receiving Communion, and many are in serious and unrepentant mortal sin. All of this is a foolish neglect giving the judgment that is coming upon them.

Sadly when they do confront death and find themselves in a church for the funeral of a friend or relative, they are more likely to hear a “sermon” about what a great guy Joe was,  but little of anything of their need to pray for him, and prepare for death themselves.

And thus the verse from the Psalm is indeed poignant,  beautiful and necessary: Make us know the shortness of our life, that we may gain wisdom of heart.

There then comes a number of wise sayings in the book of Ecclesiastes which also speak to this theme.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting, For that is the end of every man, and the living should take it to heart.

To be sure, there is a time to celebrate and to feast. We ought to rejoice with those who rejoice. We ought to celebrate the goodness of God. But as the saying from the Book of Ecclesiastes reminds us, there is also a place for morning, and suffering, and that in some sense it is better for us.

The text goes on to say why.

Sorrow is better than laughter, because when the face is sad the heart grows wiser.

Yes, mirth and celebration brings joy, but  sorrow and suffering brings wisdom. And though joy is wonderful, it passes in this world, yet wisdom perdures draws us to God. Wisdom is of God, and the things waiting for us in heaven, it draws us to that place were true joys are, joys which never end.

 And then text drives the point further home:

The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth….For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the fool’s laughter.

Yes, jokes and lighthearted laughter have their moment and they have their place. But too much of them draws us into foolishness. For the need to laugh if we are not careful, comes to take an almost addictive quality.

Any look at the “Comedy Channel” will disclose this. Most of the humor there is edgier and edgier, more and more bawdy, filled with sexual content and the demeaning of many human values such as family life, sexuality, and any number of human virtues. Comedians stand before large crowds in theaters and have them laughing about deeply foolish behaviors, such as drunkenness, adultery, lust, greed, pornography, etc.  Comedians also spent a great deal of time demeaning well-known figures, and many important human institutions and activities. At most comedy clubs, almost nothing is sacred, and people will laugh at some of the most hurtful and hateful things.

And thus the text from Ecclesiastes warns that the heart of fools is in the house of mirth, as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the fool’s laughter. Though  mirth has its place, it must be balanced with sobriety and respect for others, for what is holy, decent, admirable, and pure. This is seldom the case with comedy today.

Is all this too harsh an indictment? The text from Ecclesiastes goes on to say:

It is better to hearken to the wise man’s rebuke than to hearken to the song of fools;

Yes, some who read all this, may consider this biblical wisdom to be “negative,”too judgmental, and too rebuking.

Before rushing to this judgment one ought to consider that too many of us have had a steady diet of “the song the fools.”  Whether it is the filthy comedy just described, or the often insipid music, movies and other media of pop-culture which celebrate things like fornication, rebellion and gratuitous violence. One ought to consider that a steady diet of this sort of stuff makes God’s word seem too severe, too rebuking.

Is the problem God’s Word which summons us to sobriety, or is the problem sin which makes us foolish and hypersensitive to any correction? Light is only obnoxious to those who are accustomed to the darkness.

Is God’s word unbalanced, or are we? You decide for yourself, but as for me and my soul I will strive to listen to the Lord and seek balance on his terms not on the world’s terms,  which are already the outer extreme. God’s Word is the reference, not the world’s excesses.

We must look at more Wisdom sayings next week! Our Lady Seat of Wisdom, Pray for us.

TOPICS: Catholic
KEYWORDS: msgrcharlespope

1 posted on 02/28/2014 2:30:41 AM PST by markomalley
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To: Biggirl; ConorMacNessa; Heart-Rest; Mercat; Mrs. Don-o; Nervous Tick; Rich21IE; RoadGumby; ...

Msgr Pope ping

2 posted on 02/28/2014 2:31:30 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley
layman knarf pong

Roman Road to Salvation

The ROMANS a pathway you can walk.

It is a group of Bible verses from the book of Romans in the New Testament. If you walk down this road you will end up understanding how to be saved.

Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
We all have sin in our hearts. We all were born with sin. We were born under the power of sin's control.

- Admit that you are a sinner.

Romans 6:23a "For the wages of sin is death..."
Sin has an ending. It results in death. We all face physical death, which is a result of sin. But a worse death is spiritual death that alienates us from God, and will last for all eternity. The Bible teaches that there is a place called the Lake of Fire where lost people will be in torment forever. It is the place where people who are spiritually dead will remain.

- Understand that you deserve death for your sin.

Romans 6:23b "...but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
Salvation is a free gift from God to you! You can't earn this gift, but you must reach out and receive it.

- Ask God to forgive you and save you.

Romans 5:8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
When Jesus died on the cross He paid sin's penalty. He paid the price for all sin, and when He took all the sins of the world on Himself on the cross, He bought us out of slavery to sin and death! The only condition is that we believe in Him and what He has done for us, understanding that we are now joined with Him, and that He is our life. He did all this because He loved us and gave Himself for us!
- Give your life to God... His love poured out in Jesus on the cross is your only hope to have forgiveness and change. His love bought you out of being a slave to sin. His love is what saves you -- not religion, or church membership. God loves you!

Romans 10:13 "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."

- Call out to God in the name of Jesus!

Romans 10:9,10 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
- If you know that God is knocking on your heart's door, ask Him to come into your heart.
Jesus said,
Revelation 3:20a
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
- Is Jesus knocking on your heart's door?

Believe in Him.

Ask Him to come in to your heart by faith, and ask Him to reveal Himself to you.

Open the Bible to the Gospel of John and read what God says about Jesus, about you, and about being born again.

God will help you. He loves you.

You need to look for a local church where God's word is preached. The Bible says that we are to desire God's word like a newborn baby desires mother's milk.

Aren't you hungry to know the truth?

Water baptism is one of the ways you first show that you have been joined to Jesus. This is an action, and actions will not save you. However, it is an act of obedience and a symbol of commitment.

The symbolism is this:

When you go down in the water you show that You have been crucified and buried with Him, And when you come up out of the water you show that you have been raised to walk with Him in newness of life. (See Romans chapter 6)

You have been born again. (See John chapter 3)

Your body has become God's temple. Your heart is where He lives.

Forgiveness is yours in Jesus. And you belong to Him.

You were sin's slave. But now...

You are a child of GOD! John 1:12

"But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name.

3 posted on 02/28/2014 2:51:16 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: markomalley

Msgr. Pope sounds a little gloomy this morning. Hang in there, Father! Once you get through the next Arctic Blast, spring is on the way.

4 posted on 02/28/2014 2:56:46 AM PST by Tax-chick (I've forgotten most of those languages, but I remember the joke.)
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To: knarf
That's the Roman road. Here's the Southern cut-off.

Christ died for all y'all.
Sum y'all going to Hell anyway 'cause you ain't accepted Him.

5 posted on 02/28/2014 3:02:21 AM PST by DannyTN
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To: DannyTN

Great post.

6 posted on 02/28/2014 3:15:09 AM PST by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the
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To: markomalley


A good one from Msgr. Pope, although it hits too close to home for comfort.


7 posted on 02/28/2014 3:18:15 AM PST by Nervous Tick (Without GOD, men get what they deserve.)
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To: Nervous Tick
Yabut ... after sayin' so much ... there's no follow up

THAT'S the problem.

It's one thing to say what is ... it's another to explain how to get to what can be.

8 posted on 02/28/2014 3:19:58 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: markomalley
Eccl 10:2 -
The heart of the wise inclines to the right,
but the heart of the fool to the left.
9 posted on 02/28/2014 3:38:43 AM PST by RightField (one of the obstreperous citizens insisting on incorrect thinking - C. Krauthamer)
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To: knarf

I know I’m going to die, but life is just constantly grabbing me, demanding of me, that I can’t give death a thought. What are we to do? How can you prepare when you’re just so busy keeping your head above water to stay alive and take care of others?

I have a special needs son, so I need to live to 100. But in all likelihood I wont, so preparing takes on even more meaning.

10 posted on 02/28/2014 3:41:00 AM PST by LibsRJerks
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To: LibsRJerks
You had time to read thus far ... the same will be asked of you to read this ... and you'll never worry again about it .... unless you ALLOW doubt to enter in

Jesus tells the truth ... or He lies.

11 posted on 02/28/2014 3:50:16 AM PST by knarf (I say things that are true .. I have no proof .. but they're true.)
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To: markomalley

“At most comedy clubs, almost nothing is sacred, and people will laugh at some of the most hurtful and hateful things.”

Nothing is sacred except 0bama.

12 posted on 02/28/2014 4:17:04 AM PST by Carl LaFong (The. Media. Is.The. Enemy.)
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To: markomalley

It is a relief to read these unchanging words of wisdom..However, few will read or hear their important message before it is too late to live a different kind of life.

13 posted on 02/28/2014 4:24:45 AM PST by jazzlite (esat)
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To: markomalley

Ecclesiastes is the question the rest of the bible was written to answer.

14 posted on 02/28/2014 5:11:39 AM PST by circlecity
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To: markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; ...
What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun!
Ecc 1:9


15 posted on 02/28/2014 5:37:00 AM PST by NYer ("You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears." James 4:14)
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To: markomalley

I like these two, but perhaps that is because I suffered through five deaths in my immediate family in less than 10 years. These as so true!

**It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to the house of feasting, For that is the end of every man, and the living should take it to heart.**

**Sorrow is better than laughter, because when the face is sad the heart grows wiser.**

16 posted on 02/28/2014 5:43:49 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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