When I was studying under Brother Francis and Brother Hugh we used to play a numbers game. Beginning with “One” we would proceed to “Two, Three, Four, etc,” naming everything we could about the Faith that had to do with that number. “Five and Six” were difficult, as were “Nine and Eleven.” Twelve was easy: twelve Apostles, twelve tribes of Israel, twelve loaves of Proposition in the temple. I could go on. After twelve, it was very difficult, unless you were really erudite in the Bible and Church history. After thirty-three, Our Lord’s years on earth, one must skip to forty and from forty to seventy-two. There’s quite a few seventy-twos. There were seventy-two Disciples of Our Lord; Our Lady was seventy-two when she died and was assumed into heaven; Columbus took seventy-two days to cross the ocean. I am sure there are other seventy-twos from the Old Testament, but I have forgotten them.
This column is about all the forties that we find in our holy religion.
Ascension Thursday, which is forty days after Easter, is coming up soon on May 5th. Here are some other forties well worth remembering:
Moses talked with God (and fasted, without even water) for forty days on Mount Sinai.
Elias, fleeing from the wicked queen Jezabel after he had slain her prophets, traveled to Mount Horeb from the deserts of Berthsabee in Juda on the food given him by an angel. Elias “was afraid” before he ate the cakes made in heaven. (imagine that!). He walked for forty days, living only on one meal from the strength of the angel’s food, unto Horeb, the mountain of God in the desert, where he had more visions. (3 Kings: 19:6) Mount Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai.
The Flood lasted forty days.It took Noe one hundred years to build the ark. (There’s a 100 for you).
Goliath mocked Israel for forty straight days.Then, he was slain by David.
Moses led the Israelites in the desert for forty years.
Jesus fasted forty days and nights in the desert. Then, like Elias and his angel, He was ministered to by many angels, who gave Him bread and water.
In honor of His fast, Lent lasts forty days (excluding Sundays).
There were forty martyrs of Sebaste. In the year 320, in Armenia, forty Christian soldiers of the Roman army were martyred by being stripped and put on a frozen lake. One of them apostasized. He was replaced by another soldier who bravely professed the he, too, was a Christian. We know the name of the youngest and last of these martyrs to die. He was Melitho. While still barely living, his mother carried him to the fire where the other dead martyrs were being thrown. He died there in his mother’s arms and was offered as a holocaust with the others.
Does anyone know any other holy forties?
There are two holy 153s. Anyone know what they are?
There are two 969s. Anyone know what they are?