"He authorized them to introduce the way of living of the Gentiles. Thereupon they built a gymnasium in Jerusalem according to the Gentile custom." —1 Maccabees 1:13-14
King Antiochus Epiphanes defiled the Temple by erecting "the horrible abomination upon the altar of holocausts" (1 Mc 1:54). "Any scrolls of the law which they found they tore up and burnt" (1 Mc 1:56). "Women who had had their children circumcised were put to death, in keeping with the decree, with the babies hung from their necks; their families also and those who had circumcised them were killed" (1 Mc 1:60-61). "Terrible affliction was upon Israel" (1 Mc 1:63).
The beginning of such abominations, sacrileges, and persecutions was the building of a gymnasium. For the Greeks, a gymnasium was not only a place for recreation but also for socialization. At a Greek gymnasium, young men were introduced not only to sports but also to homosexual practices, pagan philosophy, and secular politics. The effect of this multi-faceted exposure to half-truths, confusions, and lies was the undermining of the true faith. The Jews at the gymnasium "covered over the mark of their circumcision and abandoned the holy covenant; they allied themselves with the Gentiles and sold themselves to wrongdoing" (1 Mc 1:15).
Today, the true faith is again being undermined, and we are preparing the way for unspeakable abominations. This is being done through the sports-entertainment mega-systems. This may be the modern counterpart to the Greek gymnasium.
Pray with the blind man of Jericho: Lord, "I want to see" (Lk 18:41).
Prayer: Father, let me see our culture of death the way You want me to see it.
Promise: "At that very moment he was given his sight and began to follow Him, giving God the glory." —Lk 18:43
Praise: St. Albert was a brilliant scientist, theologian, teacher, defender of the faith, and is a Doctor of the Church.
Nihil Obstat: Reverend Ralph J. Lawrence, April 10, 1999
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 16, 1999