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Hanukkah – The Festival of Lights

Chanukah, or Hanukkah began at sunset last Sunday and will be celebrated until December 6. Hanukkah means “dedication”. This is celebrated in memory of a very odd, no honestly, miraculous, occasion. Israel was once occupied by the Seleucid Empire, which stretched about from today’s Greece to Iran, and Judaism was not permitted.  Antiochus was the Seleucid army general, and his goal was to defeat Israel and humiliate their God.

A priest named Matthias sparked a revolt, and when he died, his son Judah continued the fight. Although completely outnumbered − a handful of men called the Maccabees against approximately 65,000 troops – and armed only with pitchforks and swords, they attacked at night repeatedly until God enabled them to defeat the overwhelming armies of Antiochus, whose soldiers were the best-fed and best-trained troops in the East.

The Seleucid invaders had desecrated the Second Temple by offering the sacrifice of pigs to Zeus on the temple altar – this is called the Abomination of Desolation.  I am sure the soldiers desecrated and defiled the temple in many other ways also,

When the Jewish warrior Maccabees had driven the Seleucid army out of Jerusalem, the followers cleaned the temple, rebuilt the altar, and rededicated the temple. On the altar was kept an oil lamp, but with only enough oil to burn for one day.  But the lamp burned for seven more days – enough time rebuild and rededicate the temple.  Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, came to acknowledge the cleaning and rededication of the temple. There is a meaning for each of the candles, which we will discuss, but the first candle means dedication.

Today this is commemorated by reading a group of biblical verses (Psalms 113-118), singing special songs, and saying special prayers.  One candle is lit on the first night, two on the second night, and so on until all eight candles are lit on the eighth night.  You will see a ninth candle, used to light the others.  One lights the ninth candle first – it means service to the world.

I was raised a good Catholic girl. So why is this important to all of us? When I read the stories of this and similar miracles, it reminds me that we should pay attention to treating sacred objects, other people, and their beliefs with respect. And it confirms for me the continued support of the Higher Power. That S/HE is always there, ready to help me if only I ask. It may take time, it may take suffering, it may be hard to see at some times, it may come out in a different way from how I wanted it (Thy will, not mine….) but S/HE is there.

In recovery from food addictions, we need to learn to treat the body with respect, to not defile the body with foods that harm it. To reach for the help of HP and other people to learn and practice treating the body with respect. To allow support from God and other people.

Now I just said I was trained to be a good Catholic girl. I intend to offend no one. If there is any part of this that is wrong or that you disagree with, please, please correct me. I will be most grateful for your help.



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