Daily Rosary Meditations

Dec 02 2020 26 mins 121

Want to start praying, but don't know how? Join us every morning for Scripture, meditation, and a Rosary - all under 25 minutes! It's perfect for your daily commute or morning coffee listening.

Our Lady of Fatima
Oct 13 2019
On this day, Oct 13, 1917 Mary worked a public miracle for more than 70,000 to see at Fatima called the miracle of the Sun. Earlier that year, in July Mary took the three children to hell and then she said to them…“You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace." Mary showed the children a vision of the future, what would happen if humanity did not turn away from sin and turn to God. Mary also prophesied, "In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she will be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world." Ratzinger explained the vision: "The angel with the flaming sword on the left of the Mother of God recalls similar images in the Book of Revelation. This represents the threat of judgment that looms over the world. Today the prospect that the world might be reduced to ashes by a sea of fire no longer seems pure fantasy: man himself, with his inventions, has forged the flaming sword. The vision then shows the power that stands opposed to the force of destruction – the splendor of the Mother of God and, stemming from this in a certain way, the summons to penance. In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined: the future is not in fact unchangeably set, and the image that the children saw is in no way a film preview of a future in which nothing can be changed. Indeed, the whole point of the vision is to bring freedom onto the scene and to steer freedom in a positive direction. The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the secret…Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.” We can prevent the prophetic vision Mary gave in 1917 and help bring about the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by two means: The Rosary and our own personal cross  Prayer: “Pray, pray very much!” and “Pray the Rosary every day.” Penance: “Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of Reparation for the sins by which God is offended and for the conversion of sinners.”  5 First Saturdays of Reparation Accept and Offer to God what you don’t like, what you cannot change. Offer these for the Love of God, the Conversion of sinners, and in Reparation for sin. There is a cosmic Struggle Between: The Devil, his demons and his servants of darkness and God, Mary, his Angels and His servants of Light. God is asking us to play our part for the good of the world and the good of souls.

The Prodigal Son and Acedia
Oct 12 2019 25 mins  
In the Gospel of the Mass today, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, neither the younger nor the older son accepted what they were, sons of the Father. The younger rejected his sonship, wishing his Father dead to receive his inheritance and go and do as he pleased; the older son, by his own words, revealed his true conviction when he said to his father, “all these years I have slaved for you.” For some reason, neither could accept they were sons of the father. Maybe it was the deadly sin of acedia, otherwise known as sloth that prevented them. Sloth is that sin in which we wish to escape the effort, self-control and sacrifice it takes to be an adopted son or daughter of God. In our fallen human nature, it is hard, I mean there is stuff that will have to change in our lives, we will need to detach from disordered desires and addictions that keep us from living according to our true identity and dignity. As I stated yesterday Acedia is an aversion to the invitation from God to become godlike, a saint. What follows is the effort to escape our noble calling through busyness, workaholism, entertainment, news, sports, drunkenness, drug use, pornography, or sex In the last analysis, acedia is this that man will not be what God wants him to be, His son Magnanimity conquers sloth or acedia - Magnanimity is this: I want to be what you O God want me to be – your son and a saint! I don’t want to escape this call to greatness. I accept it, with all its responsibilities, knowing that I cannot do this on my own, but I am confident you can do it in me! I stand ready – Father, go to work on me! I will not run away. This is why magnanimity is so closely related to Hope – the confident expectation that God can and will do in me what He wants if I stand still and don’t run away. Why is it necessary to stand still, to sit in quiet and stillness? First, Because in pride we think everything depends upon us and so we have to be diligent responsible and keep busy. This pride and self-reliance blocks the action of God because only God can make us holy. Second we are afraid of what needs to be done in us to reach our potential and we think if we keep moving, God wont notice us and He will leave us alone and we can prevent God from doing what needs to be done in the us Third we just don’t want to become what God wants us to become so we avoid him through those things I mentioned above: we avoid God by being responsible in the sense of being so damn busy that we are really just running away, or in distraction with news, entertainment, social media, kids sports, on and on and on…However when we sit in quiet, solitude and stillness we have to say to God: Not my will but Your will be done! God I am going to sit here in silence and stillness because I want you to do in me whatever you want to do in me Its really very simple, stop trying to escape. Make some small break in the routine and rut of your life. Give God 5, 10, 20, 30 minutes of undivided attention with no distractions, be still and let Him do in you what He wants. Then make a habit of this every day. You have settled for far too little and its time to demand more for yourself which is exactly what God has always wanted – but you wouldn’t let him.

Two Forms of Hopelessness
Oct 11 2019 23 mins  
As we saw in defining hope, for this virtue to be present the person must perceive heavenly happiness as a) something desirable and possible, and b) something not yet secure. If either of these two truths are lacking from a person’s outlook, hope will die. Hence there are two vices which are directly opposed to the second theological virtue: Despair and Presumption. The primary threat to hope is despair. Despair isn’t just a feeling of gloominess, or depression. It’s the refusal to strive after God, the refusal to make Holiness and Heaven our primary goal and to work for it. People succumb to despair for a variety of reasons, but ultimately, the causes of despair can be narrowed down to two categories. The first is excessive self-focus. If you just look at yourself you’re going to be struck with how disproportionate your strengths are relative to the goal. In other words, if you just look at yourself you’ll only see that there’s not enough there to do what needs to be done, and you’ll end up giving up on holiness and happiness. And it’s certainly the case that what we have on our own isn’t enough, which is why we’re supposed to keep our eyes on Christ, beg for God’s mercy and strength, and realize that “With God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26). An excellent illustration of the danger of self-focus is the story of Peter, who, as long as he kept his attention on Our Lord, was able to walk on water. When his focus switched to his own personal ability and the surrounding circumstances, he began to sink. That’s how the interplay between hope and despair works: look at Him, not at yourself. The second reason we despair is attachment to sin. We end up not really wanting to pursue God, because we know it’s going to mean giving up certain sins to which we’ve grown accustomed. So we choose the evil habits we’re used to over the promise of eternal joy. You are designed to be a saint. But you don’t want to be a saint because you don’t want to give up things you think you cant live without which aren’t really making you happy anyway, still you are addicted to them. What are they? Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the addictions that keep you from perfect joy! A major symptom of despair is an inordinate need for distraction. When you make the decision to settle for mediocre pleasures, mediocre achievements, mediocre loves, you still know deep down you ought to be pursuing higher things. So you try to find some distraction to help you drown out the divine call. Do you remember what it was like to put off studying for a big test, and then tried to make up for it by spending a night in the library? When you get to the library you’re terrified about how much work you have to do, and how little time you have to do it in. You know you need to buckle down and get to the books, but instead you go into denial, trying not to think about it. You wander aimlessly around the library in desperate search of anything that’ll help you procrastinate. You read a magazine article that isn’t even interesting, you browse your social media online, you strike up a conversation with the library staff. But all the while you’re bored, and you have this sick feeling in your stomach because you know a) that the test is coming, b) you don’t know what’s going to be on it; c) you’re not ready for it. That’s our society. We know we ought to spend our time on more noble aspirations, getting ready for the final accounting of judgment, but we really don’t want to talk about it, and we don’t even want to think about it. So we look for anything that can distract us, anything that can drown out the guilt. Maybe that’s why there’s so little silence today.  Presumption is a much more infrequently discussed kind of hopelessness. It’s the vice of thinking heaven is guaranteed: “I’m as good as saved already.”  Presumption can be just as dangerous as despair.

What Will Heaven Be Like?
Oct 10 2019 27 mins  
1817 Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, But we don’t desire heaven and we fear death because we fear heaven because we think all the good stuff to be done is here on earth and heaven is just rest, you know R.I.P. What will we do in Heaven? Let me suggest three things we will do in heaven: Understand our earthly life by God’s knowledge, share in all other human lives, and endless exploration into God and the New Universe First, we will review our past life with divine understanding and appreciation of every single experience, good and evil: This corresponds to the first stages of Heaven known as Purgatory. It might consist of moral reeducation, rather than mere punishment, rehabilitation rather than retribution. Second, we do the same to other’s lives from within. We will know them more intimately and completely than we could ever know our most intimate friend on earth b/c we share God’s knowledge of one another. The Communion of Saints will be even more interesting than human love on earth. Think of the first time you fell in love. The joy of learning about another person and doing all good things with them . Yet without out all the imperfections, and not just with one person, but with all people. We will have the ability to know every human that ever lived. Even more intimately than we knew our closest friend on earth. Who would you like to become best friends with in Heaven? Your spouse, or son or daughter. Maybe a friendship cut short here on earth. I think of my two best friends killed in high school and college. My guardian angel. Who do you want to meet? We will not only explore our own lives and the lives of others - We will begin the endlessly fascinating task of exploring, learning and loving all the facets of the inexhaustible nature of God. The Contemplation of God is not boring.  Heaven will be: Dynamic rather than static. Exploring rather than staring at God. Endless beginnings rather than merely the end because the whole world will be renewed and transformed The material universe itself is destined to be transformed Heaven will be a “New Heavens and a New Earth” 2 Pet. 3:13 “New Heavens and New Earth” means that Every good thing on earth will be in heaven Philippians 3:21 For us, our homeland is in heaven and from heaven comes the savior we are waiting for, the Lord Jesus Christ, and he will transfigure these wretched bodies of ours into copies of his glorious body. He will do that by the same power with which he can subdue the whole universe. From The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis chapters fifteen and sixteen Drawn into a stable Set the scene with the end of the world Closing of the stable door Their sadness at the loss of everything good in Narnia Bigger on the inside than it was on the outside This is fiction but it certainly helps us think about the Heaven and think about it we must b/c that reality charges everything here with eternal significance and that is hope.

Hope: Striving for Heaven
Oct 09 2019 24 mins  
Recently we’ve meditated on the theological virtues of charity and faith, today hope. As we have discussed, faith reveals to us God’s supernatural plan for our lives. With faith we know that the ultimate purpose of each human person lies in the transforming union with God in this life and its fulfillment in Heaven. Once we have this knowledge, it’s time to begin working towards that objective. That’s where the theological virtue of hope enters the picture. Hope is the virtue whereby the individual strives for union with God and Heaven as something which is possible, but not yet guaranteed. There are, then, three conditions needed for the virtue of hope: firstly, an active pursuit of God and Heaven; secondly, a realization that holiness, becoming a saint and the attainment of Heaven is possible, (after all, if it wasn’t possible, why would anyone even try?); thirdly, a realization that failing to attain holiness and Heaven is also possible, (after all, if getting to Heaven was guaranteed, why would you need to work at getting there?). Tragically, it’s common to hear this striving for Holiness and Heaven as something which is merely a distraction from the responsibilities of this life of making a difference on earth.  For example, Marx, the founder of atheistic Communism once famously said that “religion is the drug of the people,” and more recently, Carl Sagan stated, “Life is but a momentary glimpse of the wonder of the astonishing universe, and it is sad to see so many dreaming it away on spiritual fantasy.”  I guess people think that ideas about the next life are simple forms of escapism or wishful thinking that keeps us from doing any good in this world. Yet actually the contrary is true. Those with their eyes fixed on Heaven are the ones who do the most good for earthly society. C.S. Lewis articulates this very clearly: "If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven.” Mother Teresa did more for the poor than anyone and she spent at least four hours in prayer every day. The fact is that those who are only interested in conditions down here lack the power to actually affect conditions down here. Hope, the pursuit of God, Heaven, and holiness, is what charges us on towards the perfection of temporal matters. So do you really want to make a difference?  Do you really want to change the world? Then start by making sure you’re putting God and your supernatural destiny first. A critical part of hope is the desire for Heaven. The weird thing is that even though many of us know we should pursue the supernatural good, we don’t really want to. Union with God has somehow grown unattractive to a great many people. Heaven’s lost its appeal. Why is this, and what can we do to foster a longing for the happiness of the next life? Well, one of the key reasons we lack a healthy attraction to God and Heaven is that our imagination has gotten very weak when it comes to Heaven. When we think of Heaven, we think of a white room, or a big choir that sings “alleluia” all day long, or a bunch of people playing harps and sitting on clouds. Obviously those images of Heaven aren’t going to thrill us; they’re not going to make us excited about the next life. We’ve lost sight of the glory, the joy, the total and perfect happiness that awaits us when we finally come home to God. We're all becoming cynics. Spend time meditating on what God and the saints have to say about Heaven! 

Do You Struggle to Find Time for Prayer?
Oct 08 2019 25 mins  
(Luke 10:38-42). Jesus tells us in plain language: Only one thing is necessary, a deep friendship with Him; spending time alone with Him; talking to Him, listening to him in meditation, and just being with him in silence. If you ask anyone what the bare minimum amount of time for a good conversation with a friend over coffee or a beer unanimously they say at least 30 minutes. If we want a friendship with Jesus we should give Him no less every day. If we cannot, then we are addicts If we will not, then we really don’t want a relationship with God. I think the addictions to the routines of your life are preventing you. You can’t break these addictions in an instant. But you can make one small break in your routines which will free up the log jam and the next steps will follow. What is one small change you can make in your routine to enable you to have more time with Jesus in friendship: maybe  go to bed earlier, get up earlier, spend less time on the phone or computer or TV and then spend that time in friendship with Jesus? Prayer is friendship with God: it is talking, listening and just being together. This corresponds to the three major expressions of prayer: Vocal prayer - speaking to God; Meditation – listening to God; Contemplation – just being with the One who loves us Now, it is not difficult to speak to God – but it is more difficult to listen to him. By listening we mean first, the prayer of meditation. The Catechism suggests two forms of meditation: Lectio Divina (reading and reflecting on the Bible or some writing of a saint or spiritual author); and secondly, the Rosary This Rosary Podcast is a great way to do daily meditation Regardless of the Method all Meditation includes 3 Simple Steps Read or Listen to something from the Word of God which means something from the Bible, or a saint, or a good spiritual writer Reflect or Think about what struck you Try to understand the passage; observe what is going on or being said and ask questions. Relate or apply it to your life Draw conclusions that fit your life Talk over all of this with Jesus in your mind and heart Form a Resolution Choose something practical and concrete to remember or to do today based on your      meditation Write down your resolution and keep it with you Put it into  practice St Francis De Sales on the importance of a resolution: The most important thing of all is that you cling firmly to the resolutions you have taken in meditation so as to practice them carefully. That is the great fruit of meditation, without which it is often not only useless but harmful. Why so? Because the virtues upon which we have meditated but not practiced sometimes puff us up so much in mind and heart that we think we are already what we are resolved to be which no doubt is the case if our resolutions are solid and ardent. But when, on the contrary, they are not practiced, they are useless and dangerous. (Introduction to the Devout Life, II Chap 8) In the Reported Message of Our Lady in Medjugorje on July 25, 2019 she exhorts us to perseverance in Prayer “Dear children! My call for you is prayer. Prayer will be joy for you and a crown that binds you to God. Children, the trials will come and you will not be strong and sin will reign but if you are mine, you will win because your refuge will be the Heart of my Son Jesus. Therefore children, return to prayer so that prayer becomes life for you, day and night. Thank you for having responded to my call.”

Our Lady of the Rosary
Oct 07 2019 23 mins  
Today October 7, is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, originally the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, because when the victory comes it will come through the Rosary! Throughout the 1500s, the Muslim Ottoman Empire grew in strength, especially by means of its domination of the Mediterranean Sea. In 1571, their fleet of 300 ships was massed, just south of Greece, in the Gulf of Lepanto, poised to invade Europe and wipe out Christianity. Pope St. Pius V saw this danger looming on the horizon. In response, he begged the leaders of the West to stop fighting among themselves and unite against the force that was a threat to all. But they were too consumed with building their own kingdoms to come to the defense of the Kingdom of God. So he turned to the Christian people, asking them to take up the weapon of the Rosary and pray it daily. Pope St. Pius V finally found support in Don Juan of Austria, who cobbled together a much smaller fleet of about 200 ships. Giovanni Andrea, a Genoese admiral, agreed to lead the Christian armada against the Islamic onslaught. He possessed one of only five copies of Our Lady of Guadalupe and had been touched to the original Tilma, a gift from the King of Spain, which he hung in his flagship. On October 6, 1571, the night before the battle, Don Juan required all his sailors and soldiers to pray the Rosary while St. Pius V himself led the rosary at the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva in Rome. He knew that if Europe was to be saved, it would only be through the intervention of the Mother of God and the Rosary. On October 7, 1571, the Christian and Muslim fleets entered into Battle in the bay, south of the town of Lepanto (Greece). The Muslim fleet, led by Ali Pasha, arranged in the formation of a massive quarter moon. The Christian fleet was arranged in the shape of a cross, divided into three squadrons: left, center, and right. The battle started badly for the Christians: the Muslim fleet broke through the left and center squadrons, heading right for Admiral Doria’s ship. Doria slipped down to his cabin, where he had hung the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe, fell on his knees and began to pray the Rosary. At that moment, the winds shifted against the Islamic fleet and scattered it. The Christians regrouped and destroyed two-thirds of the Ottoman armada. It is said that the sea was red with blood for miles around by the end of the battle. In Rome, Pope Pius V knew the Christians were victorious before a message could possibly have reached him. During a meeting in the Vatican the pope suddenly rose up and gazed out the window, saying “This is not a moment for business; make haste to thank God, because our fleet this moment has won a victory over the Turks.” When the official news reached Rome, Pope Pius V gave credit to the Virgin Mary. He declared October 7th the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, which we celebrate today as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, because the victory came through the power of the Rosary. At Fatima Mary promised that in the end Her Immaculate Heart would Triumph. But she made it clear the Triumph would only come IF we did our part and use the weapon she has given us: The Rosary. At San Nicolas Mary said: “The weapon that has the greatest influence on evil is to say the Rosary." Sister Lucia dos Santos of Fatima said, "The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”

Faith and Fire Teams
Oct 06 2019 25 mins  
Luke 17:5-10 The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ The Lord replied, ‘Were your faith the size of a mustard seed you could say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you. ‘Which of you, with a servant ploughing or minding sheep, would say to him when he returned from the fields, “Come and have your meal immediately”? Would he not be more likely to say, “Get my supper laid; make yourself tidy and wait on me while I eat and drink. You can eat and drink yourself afterwards”? Must he be grateful to the servant for doing what he was told? So with you: when you have done all you have been told to do, say, “We are merely servants: we have done no more than our duty.”’ We need an increase of faith; we are expected to be good servants, good soldiers The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith.’ Faith is misunderstood. All people have a built-in desire for God because we were created for union with him and nothing less will satisfy. God takes the initiative in this relationship – He reveals himself to man and offers a total unconditional gift of himself, through His Son Jesus Christ. Jesus is the full revelation of God. Jesus reveals all that we need to know to live in relationship with God and Jesus offers Himself to us in Baptism and the Eucharist so that we can achieve the purpose of life – union with God. All that is left is our response; our response to God is what we mean by Faith: By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses men as his friends, and moves among them, in order to invite and receive them into his own company." The adequate response to this invitation is faith. (CCC 142) So, God reveals and offers himself to us through Jesus. Faith is my response to God by my total gift of self to him and believing the whole truth of what Jesus teaches. Faith is a response to all God has done and revealed. My good friend Terry Sexton, a former Marine taught me the Key to Battle – And make no mistake, we are in a ferocious Spiritual War. Archbishop is our General. The Priests are the Commanders. You are supposed to be the Marines. The Marines Equip their soldiers at the lowest level with sound tactics – because as soon as the battle begins, no plan survives the 1st contact with the enemy. The Most Basic Unit in the Marines is a Fire Team consisting of 4 Marines. Every Marine is equipped to lead a Fire Team of 3 others. They are given basic tools to take care of one another. You have be a Fire Team leader. You must determine Who your Unit is – who are the 3 people you will take care of in this Spiritual Battle? Family, grand kids, close friends, those who have been entrusted to you. Ask the Holy Spirit and determine now who your Unit is that you commit to be responsible for. You must Equip your Fire Team – your Unit with Tactics -Friendship, meaningful conversation and prayer. Create a time and a place, and an atmosphere in which you do the things you like to do that does not involve a screen and invite others to do it with you. Have coffee, or a meal, or drinks or desert, go for a walk, play cards…whatever you like and have a good conversation while you are doing it. Learn the Art of Meaningful Conversation. Don’t begin by telling people stuff; instead, Seek to know, understand, love and care for them. Validate their existence by being genuinely interested in their lives, learn the art of asking good questions. Then, lead your fire team in praying the Rosary daily.  I want you to help me Build an army for Our Lady of 10,000 people who live this movement of families and friends who live this way of life of Friendship, meaningful conversation and praying the Rosary together by 8/22/2020 the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. 

Learning Faith Through Friendship
Oct 04 2019 24 mins  
Today is the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. He wanted to be a warrior, a knight in battle, yes for his own glory, still he wanted to be a soldier. When he was a young man he had a dream that his home changed into a great palace filled with shields, armor, swords and banners – on all this war equipment glittered a red cross. As he wandered the halls a beautiful poorly-clad young woman appeared and clasped his hand tightly and said to him: “Francis, my beloved, all this is for you and for your companions. Take up your arms.” Francis misinterpreted the dream. The poorly clad young woman was Lady Poverty; the companions – Franciscans, not secular Knights, and the weapons well, God had other weapons in mind: prayer, penance and preaching. God does not give up on us in our miscues. Francis came to the broken-down church of St. Damian, barley more than rubble. He fell on his knees before the Crucifix and in the silence, Jesus spoke saying: “Rebuild my Church. It is falling down.” Again, Francis did not interpret the will of God perfectly, he began rebuilding the little stone chapel of St. Damian. It was a good start, but God had something much bigger in mind. Men began Francis and his way of life. When there were 12, they went to the Pope for his approval. The night before, the Pope had a strange dream. The Pope dreamed he saw the Church splitting apart, and when it was about to fall into pieces, a small man came up and put his shoulder against the building and with one shove he set the Church back on its foundations like new. When the Pope awoke, he knew the small man was Francis. He approved his way of life. The Church and the world today are in a difficult situation. There are 100 million people in America who were baptized Catholic. Only 15-20% go to Mass every Sunday. The largest and fastest growing group of people have no religious affiliation. For every person under 30 who enters the Catholic Church, 4-5 leave. Baby-boomers are gentrifying, the family is disintegrating, and marriages and baptisms are down by 50 % since 1971. US Surgeon General has declared loneliness and isolation a public health crisis. Roughly half of Americans suffer from this “disease” which I call “Friendship Deficit Syndrome” in which people have no one to share deeply with. Suicide is the number 2 killer of teens behind motor vehicle accidents. Drug overdose is #1 killer of Americans under 50; both a symptom of loneliness. Jesus personally invested in the Apostles, then at the Last Supper he said, “I no longer call you servants but friends.” Salvation comes from faith. Faith comes through friendship. St. Francis of Assisi once told a brother who was struggling with doubts: “Do not be troubled brother, but through friendship learn faith.”  Where you live create an atmosphere of hospitality, friendship and good conversation in your kitchen, living room, deck, garage, by the pool – wherever. Invite people into this space, offer them something to drink or eat. Nobody cares if your house looks like Pintrest, in fact, if your home is too neat and clean it is not hospitable, it looks like no one lives there – the devil wants to stop you by this temptation. Don’t freak out about putting out a big spread – just offer what you have in your fridge and pantry.  The Second Part of this way of life is to Learn the Art of Meaningful Conversation. Don’t begin by telling people stuff; it’s not your responsibility to fix people – that is God’s responsibility – not yours.The first step is to Seek to know, understand, love and care for them. Validate their existence by being genuinely interested in their lives. Learn the art of asking good questions.  The third part of this way of life is that prayer and conversation with friends have some of the same ingredients.  

Faith, Prayer, and Fasting
Oct 03 2019 23 mins  
Since the 19th century this world welcomed, as though it is good news, what people call the death of God. Man, finally free, has become his own god. He can now enter on the way of progress with no inhibitions. According to those who rely completely on science, man is going to be able to resolve by himself all his problems, including the problem of war and even the problem of death. It is thought that there will be a scientific means found to overcome this final disaster which overtakes every human life. In this triumphalistic spirit the world has calmly given itself over to sin, to the most animalistic desires of the human person, which become the religion and morality of the world. From this has come the worst of slaveries, the worst of violence and the worst of despair. Mary, the Mother of God and Our Mother has been appearing at Medjugorje since June 24, 1981 until this day, Oct 2, 2019 to warn us this calm abandonment to sin has placed the world in a state of self-destruction, with no faith and no moral law, and therefore with neither order nor meaning in life, and this is occurring among Christians…Self-destruction because of sin is what Mary has come to warn the world of. This is precisely the message of the ten secrets of Medjugorje which have not yet been disclosed but are destined to be so. The message, which started again June 24th of 1981 and continues to this day is a message of faith, prayer, fasting, conversion, and peace. The message of the reported apparitions at Medjugorje is one of faith in God, The official atheism of Communism in the East tried to eliminate God, and the practical atheistic materialism of the West has done this more thoroughly. God exists, he loves us, but he has created us free and will do nothing for us without us. This is the very law of creation, in fact it is the law of love. God offers Himself to us through His Son Jesus Christ. God waits for our response, our yes or no. We give our yes through Faith in which we give ourselves unconditionally to the Father through Jesus; we believe all that He revealed that is handed down through the Catholic faith as it is summarized in the Catechism and we do our best to live what he revealed. If we don’t live it then we must not have believed it in the first place. The Blessed Mother says specifically in the messages that all religions are not equal and so there’s no sense of a false ecumenism. Jesus Christ is the one mediator to the Father. Our Lady has also given in the Medjugorje message a promise to leave a permanent visible sign for the “unbelievers”, something people can come and see, which will assist them in accepting the authenticity of Medjugorje. At Medjugorje Our Lady is asking for a clearly greater quality and quantity of prayer, what she calls prayer of the heart, a greater interior prayer, and with this call of greater quality of prayer there’s also very clearly a call for more generosity in prayer. Prayer is essential to the Message of Medjugorje because it is in prayer that we communicate with God, that our life derives its energy and is shared with God. Without prayer so many lives are distracted and dispersed for nothing because they are restricted to human solutions alone. Prayer brings us back to the very source of our existence and the goal of our life – God. At Medjugorje, Mary has called for the fifteen decade rosary daily, and if one is quick to dismiss this as just impossible in the present world, it might be good to keep in mind that John Paul the Second got fifteen decades in each day and because he did, was inspired to do the same and therefor, Pope Francis also gets in his fifteen decades, so, they have rather packed schedules, rather significant calendars, and yet they get their prayers and so perhaps it’s not as impossible of a request as one might think at first glance. Our Lady calls for Mass to be the “gift of the day” for the faithful. 

Guardian Angels
Oct 02 2019 22 mins  
Today we celebrate the reality that God has given each person a guardian Angel St. Faustina writes: When I entered the chapel for a moment that same evening, to thank God for all the graces He had bestowed on me in this house, suddenly God’s presence enveloped me.  I felt like a child in the hands of the best of fathers, and I heard these words:  Do not fear anything.  I am always with you.  His love penetrated my whole being.  I felt I was entering into such close intimacy with Him that I cannot find words to express it. 630 Then I saw one of the seven spirits near me, radiant as at other times, under a form of light.  I constantly saw him beside me when I was riding on the train.  I saw an angel standing on every church we passed, but surrounded by a light which was paler than that of the spirit who was accompanying me on the journey, and each of these spirits who were guarding the churches bowed his head to the spirit who was near me. When I entered the convent gate at Warsaw, the spirit disappeared.  I thanked God for His goodness, that He gives us angels for companions.  Oh, how little people reflect on the fact that they always have beside them such a guest, and at the same time a witness to everything!  Remember, sinners, that you likewise have a witness to all your deeds. One day there was an assassination attempt on the life of St Josemaria Escriva the founder of “The Work of God.” As Josemaria was climbing some steps through a busy crowd a man came towards him with knife intent on killing him. Suddenly it seemed, out of nowhere, another large man passed in front of him and disarmed the man with the knife. Josemaria did not recognize either of the men but as the assailant was led away, the other tall man came over to Josemaria and whispered in his ear “you mangey donkey” Josemaria immediately knew then who this man was: it was his Guardian Angel. You see each day in his prayers to God, Josemaria would ask God to look after his “mangey donkey” referring to himself. He had done this all his adult life but had never told a living soul. s a gift from God you have at your disposal an angel of vastly superior intellect who is not bound by space and time to help you know and do the will of God and to protect you from the devil and demons. This Angel was created at the beginning of the world, has seen everything, and is at your disposal to guide and protect you. On May 31, 2000, the CDF approved this consecration prayer: O Holy Angels of God, here, in the presence of the Triune God and in the love of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Redeemer, I a poor sinner, want to make a covenant with you, who are his servants, so that in union with you, I might work with humility and fortitude for the glory of God and the coming of his Kingdom. Therefore, I implore you to assist me, especially – in the adoration of God and of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar – in the contemplation of the word and the salvific works of God – in the imitation of Christ and in the love of his Cross in a spirit of expiation – in the faithful fulfillment of my mission within the Church, serving humbly after the example of Mary, my heavenly Mother, your Queen. And you, my good guardian angel, who continually behold the face of our Father in heaven, God entrusted me to you from the very beginning of my life. I thank you with all my heart for your loving care. I commit myself to you and promise you my love and fidelity. I beg you: protect me against my own weakness and against the attacks of the wicked spirits; enlighten my mind and my heart so that I may always know and accomplish the will of God; and lead me to union with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The Little Way
Oct 01 2019 22 mins  
We are to live in reality and not according to illusions. What is reality? God is love. What are the Implications of the fact that God is love? The nature of love is to give itself as a gift to do what is good for others. So God creates the world and gives us his life at the beginning, on the cross, and in baptism. What more could we want?  He makes us his children, and he is our Father.  Our Father is All-Good: Trust him. Abandon yourself to him with audacious confidence. He can only do good for you, there is no other option. So love him in return. Do all of the little and big duties and tasks of daily life for the love of God. Accept all that you cannot change with trust and love for God.  Offer it for the good of other souls. Work with God to get them to heaven. This is what Jesus lived for 30 years.  Thérèse of Lisieux was a little soul, indeed. Still, from the time of her youth, she had bold desires: She wanted to become a saint, and not just any saint, but a great saint. A story from her childhood helps us understand this — a story she calls “a summary of my whole life.” One day, Thérèse’s older sister Leonie had decided she’d outgrown some of her playthings. So she offered to her little sisters, Céline and Thérèse, a basket full of such items. Céline chose one item that pleased her. But when it came to Thérèse’s turn, the future saint suddenly exclaimed, “I choose all!” and proceeded to take the entire basket. That story expresses well how Thérèse approached the spiritual life and the path to sanctity in particular. She understood that “there were many degrees of perfection” and she wanted the highest degree, saying to the Lord, “My God, I choose all! … ‘I choose all’ that You will!” Later, Thérèse would express her bold desires for holiness in an even more audacious way, saying that she wanted to love God even more than Teresa of Avila, the great Carmelite Doctor of the Church! However, she also realized her weakness and littleness. And so, for Thérèse, saints like the great Teresa of Avila were like eagles, soaring on the heights of holiness; whereas, she simply saw herself as a weak little bird without strength and unable to fly. In fact, she readily admitted, “I am not an eagle.” Nevertheless, she went on to explain, “but I have … an eagle’s EYES AND HEART.” Then, she continued, “[So,] in spite of my extreme littleness I still dare to gaze upon [the Lord], and my heart feels within it all the aspirations of an Eagle.” Such is the boldness that led Thérèse to discover the Little Way. I have always wanted to be a saint....I wanted to find an elevator which would raise me to Jesus, for I am too small to climb the rough stairway of perfection. I searched, then, in the Scriptures for some sign of this elevator, the object of my desires, and I read these words coming from the mouth of Eternal Wisdom: “Whoever is a LITTLE ONE, let him come to me.” And so I succeeded. I felt I had found what I was looking for. … The elevator which must raise me to heaven is Your arms, O Jesus! And for this I had no need to grow up, but rather I had to remain little and become this more and more." He makes us his father. We our his children. Abandon yourself to him with audacious confidence. He can only do good for you. There is no other option. Love him in return. Do all of the little and big duties and tasks of daily life for the love of God. Accept all that you cannot change with trust and love for God. Offer it for the good of other souls. Work with God to get them to Heaven. 

Our Lady and Saint Michael
Sep 30 2019 25 mins  
1 Peter 5:8 Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat. In this spiritual battle the is a very important alliance between Mary, the Queen of the Universe and St. Michael the Archangel. The Book of Revelation 12 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown…Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon which had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother. The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron scepter, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne…And now war broke out in heaven, when Michael with his angels attacked the dragon. The dragon fought back with his angels, but they were defeated and driven out of heaven. The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had deceived all the world, was hurled down to the earth and his angels were hurled down with him…Let the heavens rejoice and all who live there; but for you, earth and sea, trouble is coming - because the devil has gone down to you in a rage, knowing that his days are numbered.’ …Then the dragon was enraged with the woman and went away to make war on the rest of her children, that is, all who obey God's commandments and bear witness for Jesus. St Faustina experienced the help of St. Michael: “September 29. On the feast of St Michael the Archangel, I saw by my side that great Leader, who spoke these words to me – ‘The Lord has ordered me to take special care of you. Know that you are hated by evil; but do not fear – Who is like God!’. And he disappeared. But I feel his presence and assistance.” (Diary of St Faustina, para.706) “O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the Principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places (Eph 6:12). Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil (Wis 2:23-24, 1 Cor 6:20). Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels (Rev 12:7-9). “Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity. “These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions (Lam 3:15). Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory. Amen.”

Saint Michael
Sep 29 2019 24 mins  
The Devil is the absolute destroyer, his goal is to divide and conquer by turning man against God and man against man. The weapons he uses is to sow doubt in us toward God the Father and to sow fear, hatred and polarization between husbands and wives, families and nations. Look around and we see precisely this at every level. There are human actors but this is first and foremost a spiritual war fought between spiritual beings, God, angels and demons. St Paul describes this in Ephesians 6:10 If this was not Sunday we would be celebrating today, September 29, the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. But since we are inundated with the powers of darkness in the world and in the Church I want to reflect on the often forgotten and vital role of St. Michael the Archangel, the Prince or Leader of the Spiritual Army of Angels. The Book of Revelation 12:7, Describes a great battle between Michael and his angels fought with the dragon, the devil and his demons. This conflict began with the creation of the angels and it rages to this day and until the end of the world. St. Basil (Hom. de angelis) and other Greek Fathers place St. Michael over all the angels; they say he is called "archangel" because he is the prince or leader of the other angels. In 1884 Pope Leo XIII had celebrated a morning Mass, he went to a meeting with the Cardinals. Suddenly he collapsed into unconsciousness. The doctors who came to his aid found no cause for the collapse, although his pulse almost ceased. Suddenly he awoke and was fresh as ever. He reported that he had seen a terrible vision in which the Devil and his demons would be unleashed in the later half of the 20th and first part of the 21st century as a punishment for sinful humanity. He was granted to see the devil’s seductiveness and ravaging for the coming ages in all lands. In this distress St. Michael the Archangel appeared and cast Satan with all his demons back into Hell. Seeing that we needed the help of the Angelic Army and especially its leader St. Michael, Pope Leo XIII composed the Prayer to St Michael and then commanded it be prayed at the end of every Mass throughout the world perpetually. The entire Church prayed the prayer of St. Michael after every Mass until 1968. Then for some unknown, and demonic reason we abruptly stopped, and literally all hell broke loose in the late 60’s with no-fault divorce, contraception, abortion, the sexual revolution, the breakdown of the family, rampant drug use and the rapid inculcation of Marxist ideologies in our government and education system. I think we need to turn back to St. Michael! On Oct 13, 1973, Mary the Mother of God at the Approved apparition of Akita Japan warned of the impending dangers for the Church "The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres...churches and altars sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. "The demon will be relentless against souls consecrated to God. The thought of the loss of so many souls is the cause of my sadness. If sins increase in number and gravity, there will be no longer pardon for them" "Pray very much the prayers of the Rosary. I alone am able still to save you from the calamites which approach. Those who place their confidence in me will be saved." Am I really preparing myself each day for this spiritual battle by meditation and a resolution, examination of conscience, the frequent reception of the Eucharist and  Confession? What is the meaning of spiritual battle and how am I caring out my mission within my spiritual battles? 

Saint Vincent de Paul and Divine Providence
Sep 28 2019 25 mins  
Yesterday we celebrated the feast of St. Vincent DePaul. His life is a striking example of Divine Providence, the way God works all things for good for those who love him. Vincent lived from 1576-1660. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1600 but did not finish his studies until Oct 1604. When he graduated, he was saddled with a large student loan debt. Nothing changes right! In 1605 the good news reached him that a family friend had died and left him some money to pay for his debt for which he had to go ship to Marseilles through the Mediterranean. In 1605, Vincent returning to by ship and was taken captive by Barbary or Muslim pirates, who took him to Tunis. There, De Paul was auctioned off as a slave. His first master was a fisherman, but Vincent was unsuitable for this line of work due to sea-sickness and was soon sold. His next master was alchemist and inventor. Upon the Alchemists death, Vincent was sold again. His new master was a former Franciscan priest from Nice, France, who had converted to Islam in to gain his freedom from slavery and was living in the mountains with three wives. The second wife, a Muslim by birth, was drawn to and visited Vincent in the fields especially when she heard Vincent singing the Hail, Holy Queen, and she questioned him about his faith. She became convinced that his faith was true and admonished her husband for renouncing his Christianity. Her husband became remorseful and decided to escape back to France with his slave. They waited ten months, but finally they secretly boarded a small boat and crossed the Mediterranean, landing in France in June 1607, more than two years of slavery. Through all of this God was working. After DePaul returned to France he became a Parish Priest and continued his spiritual formation under Fr. Pierre de Bérulle, who was one of the greatest Marian Mystics and Theologians at the time. Bérulle assigned Vincent to serve as a chaplain and tutor to the Gondi family. Preaching a mission to the peasants, who were slaves for all intents and purposes, reminded him of his own harsh captivity and he was inspired to direct all his efforts to the poor. In 1617, Vincent contacted the Daughters of Charity and they then introduced him to poor families. Vincent then brought them food and comfort. He organized these wealthy women of Paris to collect funds for missionary projects, founded hospitals, and gather relief funds for the victims of war and to ransom 1,200 galley slaves from North Africa. St. Vincent DePaul founded the Confraternities of Charity, the Congregation of the Mission and the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. St. Vincent’s work has developed into 268 charitable organizations in 132 countries, serving 100s of millions of people each year. However, without his own experience of enslavement, I wonder if Vincent would have done so much good? The world and our lives are not governed by random chaotic forces nor are they controlled by evil and stupid people. The World and our lives are in the hands of an all good, all powerful and loving Father who is guiding all things that happen to us for our greatest good and the greatest good of our loved ones. An I emphatically mean ALL things, even our own stupid or sinful choices, as I said yesterday. God allowed or permitted St. Vincent DePaul to be captured and made a slave for two years to bring about an even greater good – that Vincent would be moved by this experience and the grace of God to serve countless poor and slaves and to inspire 400 years of charitable work in his wake. There are two parts of the Doctrine Divine Providence: The first is that God is so All-Powerful and Good that He can work All things, and I mean everything to our greatest good. The second part is that we will only benefit from the Providence of God if we cooperate with Him and do our part – responding with Faith, Hope and Love.

Divine Providence and My Stupidity
Sep 27 2019 22 mins  
Divine Providence is the way God guides all things with Wisdom, Love and Power to reach the purpose for which he designed them. CCC 321 This is so liberating – see – last night I was feeling like a caged animal because I can’t exercise with this muscular skeletal problem that causes breathing issues – but I thought – sure I can do some simple exercises – so I did and it was simple – and it was dumb as…because I cant breathe today. Idiot, idiot, idiot…Why do I do such stupid things. Then I reflected on the multiplicity of stupid and even worse sinful things I say and do: idiot, idiot, idiot. But even my stupidity and even my sin are not more powerful than the Providence of God who works all things, even my stupid choices, and my sins for my good if I love Him. Oh there are consequences, physical, moral and spiritual, but we never have cause for despair because God can even work our bad decision and even our sinful decisions for our greater good and the greater good of others and the whole world. That doesn’t give me license to do stupid or sinful things, but it does mean that I don’t have to be perfect. I can be imperfect with the will to better and God will take care of the rest. Excessive sadness and discouragement over our bad decisions are not good and we must not view our own faults too tragically because God is able to draw good from them. Thérèse of the Child Jesus loved greatly this phrase of Saint John of the Cross: “Love is able to profit from everything, the good as well as the bad that It finds in me, and to transform it into Itself.” Our confidence in God must go at least that far: to believe that He is good enough and powerful enough to draw good from everything, including our faults and our infidelities. When he cites the phrase of Saint Paul, Everything works together for the good of those who love God, Saint Augustine adds: “even sins”! Of course, we must struggle energetically against sin and correct our imperfections. When we have been the cause of some evil, we must also try to rectify it to the extent that this is possible. But we must not distress ourselves excessively regarding our faults because God, once we return to Him with a contrite heart, is able to cause good to spring forth, if only to make us to grow in humility and to teach us to have a little less confidence in our own strength and a little more in Him alone. So great is the mercy of the Lord that He uses our faults to our advantage! Ruysbroek, a Flemish mystic of the Middle Ages, has these words: “The Lord, in His clemency, wanted to turn our sins against themselves and in our favor; He found a way to render them useful, to convert them in our hands into instruments of salvation. This should in no way diminish our fear of sinning, nor our pain at having sinned. Rather, our sins have become for us a source of humility.” Let us add also that they can just as well become a source of tenderness and mercy toward others. I, who fall so easily, how can I permit myself to judge my brother? How can I not be merciful toward him, as the Lord has been toward me? Accordingly, after committing a fault of whatever kind, rather than withdrawing into ourselves indefinitely in discouragement and dwelling on the memory, we must immediately return to God with confidence and even thank Him for the good that His mercy will be able to draw out of this fault! We must know that one of the weapons that the devil uses most commonly to prevent souls from advancing toward God is precisely to try to make them lose their peace and discourage them by the sight of their faults… Let us understand this: For the person of goodwill, that which is serious in sin is not so much the fault in itself as the despondency into which it places him. He who falls but immediately gets up has not lost much. He has rather gained in humility and in the experience of mercy.

Who Should You Love?
Sep 26 2019 24 mins  
We have been reflecting on Charity, the virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. Our standard for charity towards those around us is God’s love. In fact, Christ explicitly gave us this standard, saying, “A new commandment I give you: love one another as I have loved you” (John 13:34), that is, selflessly and sacrificially. Consequently, whether we have genuine charity for our neighbors depends on whether we’re willing to give selflessly and sacrificially for their sakes. Notice that Our Lord doesn’t offer this principle as advice, but as a commandment; we’re obliged to love selflessly and sacrificially. As Christians, we’re obliged to spend time with people we don’t enjoy, to be kind to our enemies, to give generously to the poor, to strive for reconciliation with estranged family members, and to show our affection for people we don’t get along with. The Virtue of Charity means practicing the Works of Mercy, both bodily and spiritual. The seven corporeal works of mercy are those which care for the bodily wants of our brothers and sisters. They are: Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, ransoming the captive, caring for the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. The chief opportunity for us to lend material aid to those in need is in giving alms; our financial donations are a critical aspect of fraternal charity, and a work pleasing to God. The spiritual works of mercy are those which promote the welfare of souls. They are instructing, counseling, admonishing, comforting, praying for the living and the dead, forgiving willingly, and bearing wrongs patiently. While it is necessary to do all we can to ensure that all people have the basic physical necessities there is the CCC states “another hunger from which men are perishing: "Man does not live by bread alone, but . . . by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,"…There is a famine on earth, "not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD" (CCC 2835) People come to God through other people.  It is your responsibility to help your spouse, kids, and friends into a deep friendship with Jesus, and you will be held accountable for this just as we are held accountable to take care of the poor, first in our own families and then beyond. This is why it is so necessary and so fulfilling to cultivate a way life of Invitation, Hospitality, Friendship, Good Conversation and inviting others to Pray the Rosary with us. So whom should you love? Christians are supposed to love everybody, but remember that virtue is ordered love, and there’s an order to our love of neighbor as well. When you’re prioritizing your love, the two main things to consider are a person’s need and relationship to you. After that, you go based on whatever other circumstances make you more closely connected to one person rather than another. First we need to consider a person’s relationship to us. God has designed us to feel a greater affection for those nearest to us. We have a natural affection for our family, our friends, our coworkers. This phenomenon isn’t just some evolutionary, tribalistic, adaptive trait: it’s God’s way of encouraging us to love those around us, those with whom we’re likely to come into close contact. God doesn’t want us loving coldly, abstractly, at a distance: He wants us to love the people in front of us, with us in our lives. And so He makes it pleasing to love those to whom we’re more closely connected. Second, consider helping others a source of joy. Because it gives joy, and it forces you to stop obsessing about your own issues, when you help people who are really in need.

What Makes God Happy?
Sep 25 2019 23 mins  
If Charity is to do something for the happiness of someone else, then what would please God, what would make Him happy? What matters most to God is the salvation of souls. This is what motivated Him to become one of us, suffer and die: God loves souls and wants to save them. If we want to do something for God, something for the love of Him, then we should do all we can to help Him save souls. And there are many simple things we can do for the love of God and for the salvation of souls. Each morning in the Morning Offering I shared with you yesterday, we can offer up and unite our prayer, work, joy and suffering to Jesus to help Him save souls. In this way we become God’s fellow workers, as Paul says in 1 Cor 3:9. Did you do your morning offering today or is all that stuff going to be wasted? The second way you can do something for the love and good of God and to make him happy is the be an apostle of friendship and the Rosary. The world is rampant with loneliness and a loss of meaning and purpose. What the world needs is: 1) Families helping families, people helping people, you help your own family,  2) Live the virtue of hospitality, friendship and the art of good conversation, 3) Have a consistent but flexible spiritual schedule and Invite others to join you, and 4) Ask the Holy Spirit for Wisdom, courage and humility. Have a consistent but flexible spiritual schedule and invite others to join you. In the mid 90’s when my kids were very small I would begin each day praying the Rosary by myself. One day the Lord said to me clearly, ”Michael, if you pray the Rosary by yourself everyday, how will your wife and kids pray the Rosary? Change your schedule and invite them to pray it with you.” I changed, and since 1995 we have prayed the Rosary as family every night, no matter where we are or what we are doing. Xavier now lives with 4 buddies at KU and every night at 9, they pray the Rosary together. I don’t care what you do for your spiritual practices, that is up to you, but do something that is consistent with some flexibility, and then invite your wife, your kids or friends into it. For your personal family, there is the opportunity every night, or a few days a week. Try something once a week like a Sunday brunch or on a Sunday evening invite people over. But make it a consistent time and place and build a habit. Live the virtue of hospitality, friendship and the art of good conversation. Stop making the phone, computer or tv the focus of your attention. Make God and other people the focus of your attention. Set up your house so that you can have an atmosphere of hospitality, friendship and good conversation in your kitchen, living room, deck, garage, by the pool – wherever. Invite people into this space, offer them something to drink or eat. Then be interested in their life. Ask them what they think about this or that; Ask them what they are listening to on podcast; ask them what their favorite band is currently or the last good movie or book? Ask them to share what they liked about it. Our world is dying for friendship and meaningful conversation. Be apostles of friendship and good conversation. Give the world what it needs. Ask God for the supernatural gifts of wisdom and courage. Then pay attention to whatever God inspires in your heart and then take action. If you ask, ask with the confidence God answers and when inspirations come, do not ignore them, act on them God planted a desire in my heart. Here we are, 13 months and about 3500 people a day praying the Rosary. Then I felt inspired to take it on the Road. I threw the idea out there and here I am at someone’s house 3-4 times a week. Have the courage and the humility to start. God can work with something. But if you are unwilling to start, to take action, then God has nothing to work with. If you do nothing, then God can do nothing through you.

Hell and Charity
Sep 24 2019 22 mins  
There are, St. Augustine tells us, two basic alternatives in this life: either we can love self to the point of forgetting God, or we can love God to the point of forgetting ourselves. The first choice results in the self-exclusion of heaven otherwise known as hell; the second – Heaven and eternal joy. How could a person choose hell? I mentioned this the other day but I want to build on it - Because of Original Sin we have a fallen human nature. Now, instead of our passions or feelings propelling us toward good and away from evil they do just the opposite – we have a strong attraction to sin and an aversion for the things of God. This condition puts us in great danger. God will not force us to choose him. We must freely choose friendship with him. But in our fallen state, we have this aversion to the things of God and are drawn to sin. If we do not reverse this trend it will grow stronger until death, at which time we will still have an aversion to Him and reject Him. This is why we need to practice the virtue of Charity – the virtue of choosing God for God’s sake. There is a powerful Image of our Particular Judgment from CS Lewis book The Last Battle. Aslan the Lion, the who represents Jesus Christ, comes to Judge all the creatures of Narnia. Behind him stood all the stars so that Aslan’s huge black shadow streamed away to his left. As the creatures came rushing on, they came right up to Aslan. One of two things happened to each of them. They all looked straight in his face, and when some looked, the expression of their faces changed terribly. For some, it was fear and hatred.  They did not find in Aslan what they wanted. They swerved to His left and disappeared into His huge black shadow – an image of hell. But the others looked in the face of Aslan and loved him. They found in Aslan what they had always wanted loved and sought. All these swerved to His right, into the light of Heaven. If at death the soul has spent its life seeking and choosing God, loving God, then it gets what it wanted – union with God in heaven.. On the other hand, if a soul has spent its life choosing itself over and against God and neighbor, then at death it gets what it wanted: Itself and that is All! (That is Hell).  As we said before, there are two basic alternatives in this life: either we can love self to the point of forgetting God, or we can love God to the point of forgetting ourselves. We want, therefore, to build the habit of loving God to the point of forgetting ourselves - this is the virtue of Charity Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. With charity, we are saying to God, I love you; I want your good; I want to do something for you Lord. Jesus I want to offer you a gift. Now this may sound crazy because what can you give God that he does not already have? Well, there is something he does not already have fully – and that is you. God is waiting for you to give yourself totally to him. It is hard to do it all at once, so we can begin by making the habit of giving ourselves to him in little ways each day and this builds the habit of giving ourselves to him completely. Begin each day with the Morning Offering by which we give to God our prayer, work, joy and suffering “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.” Amen. Throughout the day renew the offering of our prayer, work, joy and suffering by saying, “Jesus I offer this to you; Jesus I accept that for the love of you.”

How Saint Dominic Prayed the Rosary
Sep 23 2019 24 mins  
From the earliest days of the Church the faithful had the habit of praying a series of Our Fathers, Hail Mary’s and Glory Be’s. St. Dominic was is unique in the way he used the Rosary as a powerful tool of evangelization. The great Dominican theologian, Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange writes: At the end of the 12th century southern France was ravaged by the Albigensian heresy – a heresy which denied the infinite goodness and power of God by admitting a principle of evil which was often victorious…It was at that moment that Our Blessed Lady made known to St. Dominic a kind of preaching till then unknown, which she said would be one of the most powerful weapons against future errors and in future difficulties. Under her inspiration, St Dominic went into the villages of the Albigensians, gathered the people, and preached to them the mysteries of salvation — the Incarnation, the redemption, eternal life. As Mary had taught him to do, he distinguished the different kinds of mysteries, and after each short instruction, he had ten Hail Mary’s recited… And what the word of the preacher was unable to do, the sweet prayer of the Hail Mary did for hearts. As Mary promised, it proved to be a most fruitful form of preaching. St. Dominic went into villages, gathered people, shared with them the teachings of Jesus. After each short instruction, he had ten Hail Mary’s recited. And what the word of the preacher was unable to do, the sweet prayer of the Hail Mary did for hearts. As Mary promised, it proved to be a most fruitful form of preaching. Furthermore, Mary said this method would be one of the most powerful weapons against future errors and in future difficulties. Well we face many errors spread by the devil through the world and we face many difficulties. Maybe Our Lady is calling us to use the same method, and by accident or inspiration, that is exactly what we are doing. We invite family and friends to join us in our homes, offer hospitality, a meal, drinks, coffee, dessert, we engage in good conversation, and then we invite them to pray the Rosary with us. But we pray the Rosary in a new way that is actually a really old way – introduced by St. Dominic of sharing a short teaching from the Word of God, the teaching of Jesus, and then we pray one decade of the Rosary – and we do this five times, and then the conversation can continue by asking one another what struck us during the meditations. So you can listen to the audio Rosary I send out or you can print the short teaching, read it aloud and pray the decades in between each teaching. Whatever you like. It worked for St. Dominic and Our Lady promised it would work in the future. St. John Paul II in his letter on the Rosary writes: The Rosary is also a path of proclamation and increasing knowledge, in which the mystery of Christ is presented again and again at different levels of the Christian experience. Its form is that of a prayerful and contemplative presentation, capable of forming Christians according to the heart of Christ. When the recitation of the Rosary combines all the elements needed for an effective meditation, (especially when family and friends are gathered together), it can present a significant catechetical opportunity which we should use to advantage. In this way too Our Lady of the Rosary continues her work of proclaiming Christ. The history of the Rosary shows how this prayer was used in particular by the Dominicans at a difficult time for the Church due to the spread of heresy. Today we are facing new challenges. Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us? The Rosary retains all its power and continues to be a valuable resource for every good evangelizer. Padre Pio said: "Love the Madonna and pray the Rosary."

Providence and Self-Reliance
Sep 22 2019 25 mins  
What prevents us from perfect Joy is Self-Reliance. When everything is going well, when we have it all under control, and there is no major crisis, we fall into the bad habit of self-reliance. We think, "I got this…" This is known as the deadly sin of Pride.  Crisis. Then something happens which removes our apparent ability to control things Some examples include: Loss of health. loss of a spouse, problems at work, in marriage, or with a kid. This crisis can leave us dazed and bewildered.  We can’t make sense out of it. We can’t control or solve the problem, and everything is dark. We become lost and paralyzed. We experience anger, fear, sorrow and even despair – these are normal human emotions.  So we have to assess and weigh options. We try to understand what is going on, then make a plan to solve the problem. It is normal to ask “What is going on? Why is this happening?” Ultimately there are two options: Option 1: Chaos and Despair Everything that happens is the result of billions of humans making free choices, like everyone trying to drive through an intersection at once with no lights, and random chaotic forces in nature. In the end it is all just chaos. The world and my life are governed by nothing but random chaos: We come from chaos, our lives are full of chaos, and we descend back to chaos after death. In response to chaos we can try to control everything, or despair from being overwhelmed by fear and anxiety which leads us to numb the fear and pain through distraction by means of entertainment, pot, alcohol, etc. Option 2: Trust in the Providence of God: God the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, of all that is visible and Invisible. He orders all things for good (even the free, stupid and sinful decisions of men, even the apparently chaotic forces of nature). Romans 8:28 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him." The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth: In letter, John of the Cross writes: “Do not let what is happening to me…cause you any grief, for it does not cause me any…Men do not do these things, but God, who knows what is suitable for us and arranges things for our good. Think nothing else but that God ordains all, and where there is no love, put love, and you will draw love out… Letter 26 St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind." St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best." Dame Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith... and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time - that 'all manner [of] thing shall be well.'" Our Response to the Providence of God: Faith, surrender, and to rest in the providence of God. John of the Cross encourages us to view all the struggles and difficulties of life as coming from the hand of God, for the persons good.  This is the Remedy to all our problems: Be responsible, and do things to change your situation for the better. But don't fall into the trap of self-reliance or control. Instead, turn to Jesus and Mary in prayer. Give thanks for every moment, and live in the present. Abandon all future moments to God, since you cannot predict them. And lastly, pray the Rosary constantly. 

The Virtue of Charity (Part II)
Sep 21 2019 22 mins  
We must begin with the distinction between hope and charity because I have hope and very little charity. Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of Heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the Holy Spirit. Hope is the desire for one’s own happiness. And since nothing in this world is perfect, lasting or enough, then our hope is the proper love of self that motivates us to do what we need to achieve perfect and lasting happiness through union with God and heaven. Hope as the desire for happiness propels us to get rid of our vice and sin which destroys union with God, and practice virtue, spend time in prayer, receive the sacraments, learn what Jesus revealed through Scripture and Tradition and so on…so that we can reach union with God. With hope I want my good, my happiness and so I stop doing the things that destroy happiness (sin) and I make a habit out of those things that bring lasting happiness. With hope I desire my own happiness. Charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God. With hope I want my good, my happiness. Charity is based on wanting the good, the happiness of someone else. With Hope I say, “I want my good.” With charity I say, “I want your good.” Italians have a beautiful way of saying I love you, they say “Ti voglio bene.” I want your good. In the theological virtue of charity, we are saying to God, I love you; I want your good; I want to do something to make you happy O Lord. I am good about desiring and striving after my own happiness. I am bad at charity. I rarely think of doing something just for the good or the happiness of God. Since I don’t think about the love of God as much as I should maybe we should begin with basics. The first way we can love God is by keeping the commandments. Jesus said If you love me you will keep my commandments. John 14:15 But Jesus knows the 10 are just an outline of the complexity of life so he went on to say in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21) It is pretty easy to keep the broad strokes of the 10 Commandments. How are we doing on the finer points? Are we loving God when it comes to pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, lust, gossip, judgmental thoughts and words, what we consider small lies, drunkenness, pornography? If we want to be clear on how to love God, we should read paragraphs 2083-2557 of the CCC. In 1 Cor 13:4 Paul gives us a good short list of what we should do to love God: Love is always patient and kind; it is never jealous; love is never boastful or conceited; it is never rude or selfish; it does not take offence and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other people's sins but delights in the truth; it is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes. You are God's chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these…, to keep them together and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful. (Galatians 3:12) 

The Virtue of Charity
Sep 20 2019 24 mins  
Today and tomorrow we will reflect on the virtue of Charity because I do not understand it at all; even more, I don’t live charity toward God and neighbor. So here we go. The two chief characteristics of God’s love are selflessness and sacrifice.  Consequently, in the virtue of Charity, our love must embody these two attributes. Of course, the fact that we must be selfless does not imply that we can never consider our own needs and desires. The virtue of hope is founded on fulfilling one’s own need: “I want to get to Heaven; I need to get to Heaven.” Hope is the desire for supernatural good insofar as it will make oneself happy. This is totally appropriate, but it also needs to be complemented by charity, which is the desire for supernatural good insofar as it’s something that’ll make God and neighbor happy. To have a proper understanding of selflessness, we need to first distinguish between two kinds of love. Love itself can be a difficult idea to get a handle on, given how many kinds there are and how often we use the word “love” with no reflection on its precise significance. The broadest definition of love is: To want some good for someone. Pretty much every time someone uses the word “love” it involves a movement towards some good thing for some person. But there are two ways to want some good for someone. The first way is wanting some good for yourself. Phrases like “I love coffee,” “I love the mountains,” “I love the Kansas City Chiefs,” all describe this first kind of love. It’s based on wanting one’s own happiness. But there’s another kind of love which involves wanting some good for someone else. So, for example, if I were to say, “I love my son; I’d do anything for him,” it would indicate that what I desire is for my son to be happy. Examples of this second love are the way all parents are supposed to love their children, the way Mother Teresa loved the poor, or the way we should all love our enemies. It doesn’t refer to concern for our own enjoyment, but rather a willingness to work for someone else’s fulfillment. Again, these two loves, the first of which is self-focused and the second of which is other-focused, are complementary. Ideally, one should experience both. Consider the love between a husband and wife. When the man says, “I love you,” to the woman, he normally means a) “You make me happy,” and b) “I will try to make you happy.” If, on the other hand, all love were to be reduced to the first kind of statement, that is, to self-focused love, then the love doesn’t mean very much, and it’ll eventually collapse just as soon as one of the parties doesn’t feel like he’s getting anything out of the relationship. Living out Charity always demands sacrifice. If you’ve ever made someone else’s happiness a priority, you know it isn’t easy.  In fact, the proof of charity is measured by sacrifice. If we have a selfless love for God and neighbor, we’ll be willing to suffer in order to serve them. That’s the ultimate test of love, as Our Lord Himself states, “No one has greater love than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). What does all this mean practically?  How can we concretely practice a selfless and sacrificial love?  Well, the first step is to stop thinking about our faith, our religion, and our lives as Catholics as if it was just about us. We have to keep in mind that our number-one purpose in life is to serve God, to please Him. So we shouldn’t evaluate our spiritual life based on whether we get anything out of it. Many people do this; they quit praying, or going to confession, or going to mass, because “it wasn’t doing anything for them.” That’s an indication that they’re lacking the virtue of charity, that their relationship with God is fundamentally selfish.

Moving from Vice to Virtue
Sep 19 2019 23 mins  
We have reflected on the three powers of the soul: the intellect, will and passions. The passions are the God-given desires, feelings, or emotions designed to propel us toward what is good and away from what is evil. There are eleven fundamental passions: Love, desire, joy, hate, aversion, sorrow, hope, despair, fear, courage and anger. Because of Original Sin we have a fallen human nature. Now, instead of our feelings and desires propelling us toward good and away from evil they do just the opposite – we have a strong attraction to sin and an aversion, a dislike for the things of God. This is one reason it is so hard to spend time in prayer and we would almost like to do anything else. This condition puts us in great danger. God will not force us to choose him. We must freely choose friendship with him. But in our fallen state, we have this aversion to the things of God and a strong attraction to sin. If we do not reverse this trend it will grow stronger until we see God at death, at which time we still have an aversion to Him, and we might reject Him. Well, how could someone see God and not want him? The rich young man in Matthew 19, the Samaritan Village in Luke 9 and the Pharisees upon seeing with their own eyes Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead, all rejected Him. Why? Because they had the habit of an aversion for the things of God and a stronger attraction to sinful things of this world. Vice is to be attracted to sin and an aversion to good, to the things of God. Virtue is the habit of being attracted to good and an aversion to evil. So how do we change our vice to virtue – that is the point to today’s meditation. So how do you get virtue? How do you get your feelings to pull you the right way? There are two complementary techniques: The first is resisting misdirected feelings. This is sometimes called checking the passions, or, more commonly, “fake it till you make it.” If you do the right thing, over and over, eventually your urges will get in line. Most people don’t start out liking exercise, but if they keep at it they begin to look forward to their morning run. People usually don’t start out enjoying prayer, but if they pray anyway, day after day, they get to the point where they can’t do without it. The same goes for abstaining from bad behavior you’re inclined to: if you have a habitually dirty mouth, you’ll want to say horrible things when you get angry – but if you resist that urge long enough, you’ll get to the point where you’re accustomed to clean speech, and where you hate the sound of profanity and vulgarity. The second technique is to mentally focus on pleasing aspect of what's good and displeasing aspects of what's bad. This is sometimes called commanding the passions. You can use St. James’ image, about how a small flame – unworthy talk – can burn down a whole forest of good. Whatever image works to help you realize how deadly gossip is, use that, focus on that, picture that. And eventually your desire to gossip will wane. In any case what you want to remember is that your emotions are, to some degree, under your control. They are voluntary “either from being commanded by the will, or from not being checked by the will.” So it doesn’t work to just say, “Well, that’s just the way I feel,” or “There’s nothing I can do about how I feel.” The whole point of virtue is that there is something you can do about how you feel, which means you can come to delight in both the fruits and the process of acting well. Then read, reflect, and resolve. If you practice meditation and a resolution every day, you will grow in your desire for God and the habit of choosing Him. If you don’t, you will grow in your aversion for God and you will choose sin and reject God. Now you choose!

The Joy of Virtue
Sep 18 2019 23 mins  
The connection between joy and the commandments is counter-intuitive to many people in modern culture. And yet that connection is laid out plainly in the Scriptures. The very first Psalm describes the just man as one to whom God’s law is delightful: “the law of the Lord is his joy he finds pleasure in the Law of God” (Psalm 1:2). Not his “obligation,” but his joy. Christ Himself reaffirms this connection for His disciples: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (John 15:10-11). Why is the commandment of the Lord a source of joy? Because joy comes from fulfilling our design, and God’s commandment reveals our design. When my children were somewhere between one and two years old, they all developed a taste for the woodchips that cover the ground at most of the local playgrounds. Whenever I caught them putting a woodchip in their mouth, I take it away and say, “Don’t eat that.” That’s my law: don’t eat woodchips. Of course, they didn’t get it, and thought I was being mean. But that’s just because they didn’t understand their own internal structure as well as I do. I knew they would get more pleasure, more delight, from not choking to death or trying to digest a massive splinter. And my law, even if they didn’t’ realize it, expressed the way they are made and the way to be happy. So it’s no surprise to me that God’s first law to His children in the Garden of Eden was, “Don’t eat that; it could kill you.” And it’s no surprise that they didn’t understand, and disobeyed, and that the disobedience made them miserable. Because there’s an intrinsic relationship between a) God’s commandments; b) human design; and c) joy. Let me give one more example: The Church, reflecting on the nature of human sexuality, understands that our design is such that marriage, sex and babies must go together and in that order. Furthermore, the sexual union of the spouses and their fertility must not be ripped apart. The self-gift of sexuality will be distorted and frustrated if we deliberately do something to rip fertility out of the act. This is a truth of our design, and it can be expressed in a commandment: contraception is immoral. Not owing to my own intelligence or virtue, but thanks to a good friend who gave me a book on the Churches teaching on Marriage and contraception, and because I have faith in Christ and His Church, we never used contraception in our marriage. And I can honestly say that my kids have probably given me as much joy as anything else in my life. Which means that now, I don’t just understand or obey the commandment – I rejoice in it. The Church’s law on contraception has been a source of joy. Again, the main point: God’s commandment expresses our design, and acting according to our design gives lasting, permanent joy. The goal isn’t just to experience joy as an outcome of following God’s law, but to experience joy in the process of following God’s law. And the only way that happens is when you have virtue. Consider an example of growing in excellence and delight precisely by being docile to instructions that may not seem to make much sense at first: learning to play piano. When you start to take piano lessons, the whole thing feels artificial and restrictive. You have to hold your hands a certain way, repeat unpleasant-sounding scales over and over, learn how to correlate little black dots with letters with the keys, etc... None of it feels related to what you want to do on the piano, which is just play music you like. But if you stick with it, if you submit to “the rules” of music and piano training, one day you might wake up and find yourself an artist.

5 Reasons to Practice Patience
Sep 17 2019 22 mins  
Many of you know I have been suffering for 41/2 years an unexplainable muscular skeletal issue that affects my breathing. Today, I am worn out with it. So I have been reflecting on my need for the virtue of patience. The virtue of patience enables us to bear physical and moral sufferings without being overwhelmed by sorrow. If we suffer well our reward in heaven will immeasurably surpass the pain in this life but we may be in danger of losing our reward because we fail to exercise the virtue of patience. In fact, we suffer even more than we would have, because we don’t conform our will to the will of God. Patience harnesses the emotions of anger and sorrow to help us take advantage of the good of suffering that purifies us of disordered attachments, increases our Faith, Hope and Love which is our capacity to receive the life of God, and leverage our suffering to help save souls and change world events. Paul writes in Col. 1:24 I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake. And in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church. 5 reasons to practice the virtue of patience: 1. Patience helps us conform our will to the loving will of God, who knows better than we the things that are good for us and therefore sometimes sends us suffering and tribulation. 2. The recollection of the suffering of Jesus and Mary, incomparable models of patience, and the sincere desire to imitate them. 3. The necessity of making reparation for our sins by the voluntary and virtuous acceptance of suffering in atonement for our sins. 4. To respond to the invitation of Jesus to help him save souls and change world events for good by uniting our suffering to His as Paul said in Col. 1:24 5. The prospect of an eternity of happiness that awaits us if we know how to suffer in patience. The suffering passes, but the fruit of having sanctified our suffering will never pass. 5 Degrees of Patience: 1. Resignation without complaint or impatience to the crosses God sends us or permits to come to us. 2. Peace and serenity in the face of affliction, without any of the sadness or melancholy that accompanies mere resignation. 3. Acceptance of one’s cross for the love of God and to help save souls 4. Complete and total joy, which leads one to give thanks to God for being associated with him in the mystery of the Cross. 5. The folly of the Cross, which prefers suffering to pleasure and places all one’s delight in external suffering by which one is configured to Christ. As St. Teresa of Avila used to say: “To suffer or to die.” 5 Ways to Grow in Patience: 1. Constantly beg God for the gift of patience.  2. Foresee the difficulties we shall encounter on the path of virtue. St. Thomas recommends this practice to all Christians, and especially to those who have not yet acquired the habit of working with fortitude. In this way one gradually overcomes one's fear, and when difficulties actually arise, one will overcome them much more easily because one has anticipated them. 3. Accept with a generous spirit the little annoyances of daily life. 4.  Meditate frequently on the passion and death of Christ. 5.  You can do anything for the one you love so if you want to be better at bearing suffering then increase your love for God and accept your suffering as a way to love Him more. To be be Cheerful or Joyful in suffering is a necessary requirement of Patience. We must preserve cheerfulness and serenity in trial. It’s not enough to endure - we must endure cheerfully.

Joy and Humility
Sep 16 2019 23 mins  
Joy is the response to something experienced as good, and it invites rest in that good. The final piece of knowledge we need for real joy is self-knowledge, namely, the knowledge that can provide the foundation for humility. In Joseph Pieper’s words, “Humility is man’s estimation of himself according to truth. And that is almost all there is to it.” Joy depends on our knowing the truth about ourselves, I think, for at least four reasons. Knowing who and what we are is helps us to: a) cultivate gratitude; b) not think about ourselves too much; c) appreciate the magnificence of other things; d) resist the urge to feel as though our salvation depends upon ourselves. First, gratitude. Gratitude and a sense of entitlement are diametrically opposed. Have you ever heard someone say “Thank you!” after his insistent demands have finally been met? It doesn’t sound like gratitude – it sounds more like “Well, it’s about time!” You’re not grateful for what you think you’re owed. Gratitude is due to what is given gratuitously. It’s not due to what you claim by right. In fact, you don’t have any absolute rights. Not before God. Because in your native state, you don’t even exist. You’re a sliver of non-being that God took notice of and brought to life – and non-being has no claims on being. Remember Our Lord’s words to Catherine of Sienna: “Do you know, daughter, who you are, and who I am? If you know these two things you will be blessed. You are she who is not; whereas I am He who is.” And not only are you absolutely dependent upon God for your existence, you are a sinner! Apart from God, you’re nothing, and then when God lets you participate in being, what do you do? You turn away from Him, you insult Him by preferring to slide back into evil and sin, the shameful non-being of privation.  You aren't owed anything, so everything is a gift.  That brings us to the second way self-knowledge causes joy: it encourages us not to think too much about ourselves. We aren’t a big deal, so we shouldn’t think a great deal about ourselves. Narcissism doesn’t just mean thinking a lot of oneself, it also means thinking about oneself a lot. That’s disproportionate to the truth – you should think the most about the most important things, and you yourself aren’t one of them. So humility doesn’t mean constant self-disparagement: as C.S. Lewis says, if you meet someone who’s really humble, you’ll notice that person “will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.” That’s as it should be. Satan wants us to think more about ourselves than about anything else, for the simple reason that it’s not good for us and it makes us miserable. When you know you’re little, you appreciate the magnificence of other things, you refocus your attention on the grandeur of the world beyond yourself. Chesterton tells the story of two boys: one became a titanic giant and the other became as small as a grasshopper. The one who became a giant became bored with everything – the wonders of the world were all toy-sized and unimpressive. The one who became tiny was able to have astonishing adventures everywhere. He appreciated everything, now that he saw how big and rich it all was, but to do that he had to become small first. Humility is simply a sense of scale, and because you no longer dominate every scene, you can appreciate things for what they are. But it also takes the pressure off.You’re not in control, you’re not the major mover in the universe. God is. Which also means you can take peace in leaving your very salvation up to him. This was the secret of St. Philip Neri, one of the most famously joyful of all the saints. It’s recorded that one time he gave a very delightful illustration of how to be miserable and how to be happy:

Our Lady of Sorrows
Sep 15 2019 23 mins  
Redemptive Suffering and the Sacrament of Anointing CCC 1499 By the sacred anointing of the sick and the prayer of the priests the whole Church commends those who are ill to the suffering and glorified Lord, that he may raise them up and save them. And indeed, she exhorts them to contribute to the good of the people of God by freely uniting themselves to the Passion and death of Christ. Romans 8:17, “If we are children (of God) we are heirs as well: heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, sharing his sufferings so as to share his glory.” 2 Corinthians 4:17, “The troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of proportion to them.” Colossians 1:24, “It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church.” Why does Jesus want us to participate in His suffering? Our suffering can be good for us Our suffering can be good for others CCC 1500 Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finitude. Every illness can make us glimpse death. 1501 Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, sometimes even despair and revolt against God. It can also make a person more mature, helping him discern in his life what is not essential so that he can turn toward that which is. Very often illness provokes a search for God and a return to him. 1505, During his lifetime, Jesus healed many who were sick. “But he did not heal all the sick. His healings were signs of the coming of the kingdom of God. They announced a more radical healing: the victory over sin and death through his Passover. On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the ‘sin of the world,’ of which illness is only a consequence. CCC 1505 ends with, “By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion.” CCC 1506 Christ invites his disciples to follow him by taking up their cross in their turn. Matthew 10:38, “Anyone who does not take his cross and follow in my footsteps is not worthy of me.”) By following him they acquire a new outlook on illness and the sick.” CCC 1508 Reminds us that we should pray and do all we can medically to be healed. “But even the most intense prayers do not always obtain the healing of all illnesses. Thus St. Paul must learn from the Lord that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” (2 Corinthians 12:9) and that the sufferings to be endured can mean that “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his Body, the Church.” (Colossians 1:24). Cross-Reference 618 speaks of Our participation in Christ’s sacrifice: The cross is the unique sacrifice of Christ…the possibility of being made partners in a way known to God, in the paschal mystery is offered to all men. He calls his disciples to take up their cross and follow him, for Christ also suffered for us leaving us an example so that we should follow in his steps. In fact Jesus desires to associate with his redeeming sacrifice those who were to be its first beneficiaries. This is achieved supremely in the case of his mother, who was associated more intimately than any other person in the mystery of his redemptive suffering. (cf. Mk 10:39, Col 1:24) The Christian Meaning of Human Suffering What do people need to know in suffering? God is all good, all knowing, and all powerful Evil and suffering are not more powerful than God Nothing can happen to you or a loved one that is beyond the power of God to turn it to the greatest good.

Gratitude Flows from Contemplating the Truth
Sep 14 2019 25 mins  
Thomas Aquinas wrote that the greatest of all pleasures consists in the contemplation of truth. Now every pleasure assuages pain as stated above: hence the contemplation of truth assuages pain or sorrow, and the more so the more perfectly one is a lover of wisdom. And therefore in the midst of tribulations men rejoice in the contemplation of Divine things and of future Happiness. So the act of careful reflection on ultimate truth is pleasing, and the truth God has revealed enhances that pleasure immeasurably. Furthermore, the only adequate response to a consideration of the goodness of God, and to His boundless extravagance towards us is gratitude. Gratitude can refer either to a feeling of appreciation or to a display towards our benefactor – and where the display is absent the feeling will quickly evaporate. In other words, when you stop saying “thank you,” your pleasure in the things you’ve been given won’t last. What have you been given? Well, of course, there’s what we all have in common: goods of the body (life, food, clean water, a roof over your head, safety and security); goods of the mind (friends and books and music and memory); and goods of the spirit (you have God’s divine life dwelling within you making you truly a son or daughter of God, a partaker in the divine nature, you have a knowledge of the Father’s love, and the prospect of heaven). God gave all this freely – some of it cost Him a slow, torturous death – just so we could enjoy it. But here’s a first suggestion for cultivating gratitude: make your own list. Many of us, when we hear the phrase “count your blessings,” count like a toddler – we maybe thank God for three or four things, and then we quit. Try this instead: take half an hour and a pen and a piece of paper and write down the top twenty or thirty things you’re most grateful for. Then hang on to that list for a while. Keep it in your purse, or your pocket. I’ve done this with a lot of groups, and I always find it makes a complaining or self-pitying attitude much harder to justify throughout the day. Since we tend not to be grateful, we don’t acknowledge our gifts or say “thank you.” This is, according to Aquinas, a failure in justice: we owe God an explicit recognition of His divine generosity. So why do we fail? What are the primary sources of ingratitude? I think the obstacles to habitual thankfulness can be categorized under two headings: a) dissatisfaction with our spiritual condition; b) dissatisfaction with our worldly condition. Dissatisfaction with our spiritual condition. Of course, in one respect, dissatisfaction with our spiritual condition might be interpreted as the proper guard against self-complacency. We do have a lot of work to do in getting rid of vice and being more conformed to Christ, and there’s no sense denying it. On the other hand, focus on our own faults can easily become so consuming that it prevents a more primordial awareness of how much the Lord has done for us – and for the world – already. Dissatisfaction with our worldly condition. If we’re always looking for more money or more health or more security or more praise, we won’t be grateful. If we say “I just need to make it through today, or to the weekend, or the end of the semester, or the next couple years” or “I just need to get a job, or a house, or make it to retirement” or “I just need to get the kids to bed, or get the kids ready for school, or get the kids to college, or get the kids through college,” – as though achieving any of those things would bring us peace and contentment, we won’t be grateful. Let me suggest two practices for growing in gratitude and happiness. First, the greatest way to thank God is to go to Mass and receive the Eucharist. Eucharist literally means a sacrifice of Thanksgiving. Second, begin your day by thanking God in prayer. 

The Joy of Contemplating the Truth
Sep 13 2019 23 mins  
Things that bring true fulfillment we should do; things that leaves us empty, angry and full of anxiety, we should stop doing. The mind was made for truth like the stomach was made for food. And since the mind is higher than the stomach, the pleasure and satisfaction of knowing the truth should be higher than the satisfaction of having a full belly. Knowing the truth, grasping reality, seeing the big ideas that put everything in a new light – now there’s food for the soul! Think about the last time a talk or a book or even a movie “blew your mind.” Probably it wove together large pieces of your experience – stuff that you knew already – and connected them to some larger principle in a way that brought it all together. We gain our knowledge piecemeal, and when we’re able to put the pieces together into a coherent picture, it’s enormously gratifying, one of the most fulfilling experiences. On the other hand, the countless contradictory statements and bits of information we receive in the news, blogs and podcasts (sport stats, random dates, bits of gossip) are not satisfying, they are like bad appetizers and no main course. My mind is hungry for truth but all I get from the news are bits and pieces of garbage. The news gives us a counterfeit to the truth. To be well informed is a counterfeit to real wisdom. We don’t need a bunch of worthless pieces of information, we need wisdom that comes from contemplating a few true ideas that help us grasp reality and live well – so I am on a complete news detox and fast – why – because its is not satisfying, it makes me angry, and gives most people PTSD. St Thomas Aquinas enumerates a variety of remedies for pain and sorrow. But no other remedy receives so strong an endorsement as does the contemplation of truth: “The greatest of all pleasures consists in the contemplation of truth…And therefore in the midst of tribulations men rejoice in the contemplation of Divine things and of future Happiness.” But it’s pretty hard to convince people today that contemplation of truth is pleasurable, let alone that it’s the greatest pleasure there is. Nonetheless, it’s a fact, evident from both the act of contemplation and the content of contemplation. The act of contemplating the truth just means conforming our minds to the way things are. The hand adjusts its shape differently depending on whether it’s grasping a baseball bat, a pencil, or a penny. Likewise, the mind grasps truth when it shapes itself around some reality or some fact. When the intellect latches on to something outside itself and then fits that thing like a glove, it has scored some truth. Take for example Colossians Chapter 3 “Put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one Body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Now that fits like a glove and satisfies the hunger for truth – that is worth digesting! The desire for knowledge is a constant feature of human life, and the information age has developed countless options for intellectual pleasure in the form of news, blogs, Siri, Wikipedia, TED talks, podcasts, etc. People go to these sources to fight boredom – but boredom can only be fought with pleasure. Which means knowing things is pleasurable. Knowledge is “stimulating,” entertaining, interesting. It’s delightful just to know. The problem, of course, is that the news is an incredibly unreliable way of getting knowledge, truth and a grasp of reality.

The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary
Sep 12 2019 25 mins  
Through the approved apparitions of Fatima, Akita Japan, Kibeho Rwanda, San Nicolas Argentina and others God and Our Lady have made it absolutely clear that if enough people answer the call and pray the Rosary, souls can be saved, and world events can be altered. When the 3rd Secret of Fatima, a vision which showed a world in ruins and many souls lost, was revealed publicly in the year 2000, then Cardinal Ratzinger who became Pope Benedict the XVI, explained in a press conference that the secret was a vision concerning the future, but not a vision that is unchangeably fixed. No, it was just the opposite, the purpose of the vision and why it was revealed in the year 2000 is that is shows us what the future tragically could hold unless we respond to the requests of Our Lady. If we respond, everything can be changed – none of needs to happen. All the tragedy or at least some of it can be averted. He said: In this way, the importance of human freedom is underlined: the future is not in fact unchangeably set, and the image that the children saw is in no way a film preview of a future in which nothing can be changed. Indeed, the whole point of the vision is to bring freedom onto the scene and to steer freedom in a positive direction. The purpose of the vision is not to show a film of an irrevocably fixed future. Its meaning is exactly the opposite: it is meant to mobilize the forces of change in the right direction. Therefore, we must totally discount fatalistic explanations of the secret…Rather, the vision speaks of dangers and how we might be saved from them.” Time and time again, God and Our Lady appeal to believers to change world events by means of prayer and sacrifice. When people respond, big things happen. The Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, that we celebrate today, stands as a solemn reminder of this Fact. The question is, will we heed the call of Mary and respond? The Battle of Vienna In 1571 the Muslim Ottoman invaders were driven back in the Battle of Lepanto, due primarily to innumerable people praying the Rosary because the Christian fleet was badly outnumbered and out gunned. I’ll share that story with you on Oct 7, on the Feast of Lady of Victory. With the failed sea invasion, the Muslim Ottoman Empire decided upon another strategy, seeking to conquer Europe and Christianity by land. By 1683, the Islamic forces had surrounded and laid siege to Vienna, the gateway to Western Europe. The leader of the Muslim army was Mustafa Pasha, whose army swelled to 140,000, compared to only 11,000 within the city walls. Obviously, the Viennese were no match. If Vienna fell, nothing would stop the Muslims from sweeping through the rest of Europe. A Religious Sister in Rome named Sister Maria Candida Columba Fachineti wrote Pope Innocent XI on July 19, 1683 of a vision and message she had received from God and Our Lady that 1000’s of Rosaries in honor of Our Lady of Victory must be said in all the Churches in Rome. If this request would be heeded, Mary would save Europe from the invasion of Islam. The Pope and the people responded with countless Rosaries prayed. Pope Innocent XI then appealed to King Jan Sobieski of Poland. He led the most feared cavalry in Europe, called the winged hussars because they had sown eagles feathers to back of their armor and looked like eagles flying as they rode into battle. More importantly, Sobieski was ardently devoted to Mary and the Rosary. When he received word from the pope, he gathered his cavalry and army, went straight to Czestochowa, where the miraculous Icon of the Black Madonna is kept, consecrated themselves to Mary, then marched more than 400 miles, to Vienna. Sobieski ordered his army to pray the Rosary as they journeyed. At the same time Blessed Marco d’Aviano, A Franciscan monk and Chaplin to the Christian army in Vienna encouraged the army and the people of Vienna to resist the Turks by praying the Rosary on each day of the siege.

Existential Love
Sep 11 2019 25 mins  
I want to end this three day reflection on Joy with a distinction between two kinds of love. We’ll call the first existential love, and define it as taking delight in the existence of another. In everyday English, I think we usually express this love as when you “like” somebody, i.e., when that person’s presence gives you pleasure. There’s also what we could call perfective love, which is desiring and working for the fulfillment of another. This is where we dedicate ourselves to helping someone else, whether materially or spiritually. I think it’s crucial for a celebration of existence to realize that God’s existential love is prior to His perfective love. Creation is prior to redemption. God likes us before He saves us. When we say “God loves you,” we don’t just mean that God wants you to be happy, or that He gives everything to free us from sin. Sure He does. But “God loves you” means first of all that God is pleased that you’re here. How do we know? Because if He wasn’t, you wouldn’t be here! Catholic metaphysics is the most psychologically affirming doctrine there is: God is, right now, supplying you with being. God, right now, thinks you make the world a better place. God, right now, is happy that you exist. And nothing you can do or fail to do can change that. (Yes, we sometimes sin, and God isn’t pleased with that. But even if He doesn’t like our sin, He does like that we’re here). So as long as God delights in your being, and in the being of everything else, you might as well delight in your being and in the being of everything else. You might as well take some time to rest. But remember too that God’s love largely manifests itself through other persons. In other words, we need to consider whether our own attitude towards the people around us is reflective of God’s attitude towards us. Let me give an example: with my kids, I really have a difficult time remembering that my first job as a father is to show them how happy I am that they exist. Because I love them, I want them to develop as full human beings, and I spend a lot of time and energy trying to educate them intellectually, morally, and even physically. That’s as it should be. But that can’t be the fundamental relationship – I can’t put perfective love ahead of existential love. They have to know that my love is unconditional, that I’m just happy they exist, and that nothing they do or don’t do can shake my conviction that their presence makes the world (and my life) way better. I consistently need to remind myself to show them first of all my delight in their existence – that I don’t just love them, I like them. I like them a lot. If I do that, they’ll be that much more likely to rest in God’s goodness and in their own. They’ll be that much better equipped to experience delight now and in the next life. The fundamental mission of every parent is to help their children into a committed relationship with Jesus. Likewise, the fundamental mission of every Christian, and I mean all of you, not just the professionals, is to help other people into a committed relationship with Jesus. Wrongly, we think this means we need to convince other people of doctrines or moral truths. We don’t want to do this because if we begin by telling people about doctrines and the moral law, there is a good chance we will be rejected and seen as annoying. With good reason, because it is not the place to start. The place to start is with existential love, taking delight in the existence of another. The place to begin with all people, especially our spouse and kids, is by getting to know and understand them better. If we have a genuine fascination with their lives and demonstrate this with the interest that leads us to ask good questions which turns into good conversation then we have done that person the greatest service by demonstrating to them that they are of immense value just because they are a human person.

Existential Validation
Sep 10 2019 24 mins  
Joy is the God-given passion or emotion that prompts us to rest in the good. After I climb the mountain, I want to rest on the summit and take in the beauty of 360-degree view that, makes me realize life is bigger and better than all my projects and problems. This allows me to celebrate reality. Then I can peacefully walk back down the mountain and say, “Life is good.” What do you like to do that makes you realize life is bigger and better than your projects problems, that thing from which you walk away you say, “Life is good?” What do you delight in and how often do you partake of that activity? If we refuse to rest, or if we’re incapable of it, joy or delight will be frustrated. If when I got to the top of the mountain I did not sit down and take in the view but immediately trudged off back down the mountain, never raising my eyes to see the glorious vistas but set off to find another summit – then I’ve missed the whole point – the goal, which is to delight to have joy in the good, to rest in the good. Where did we get this attachment to busyness and work? Why the incapacity, the almost pathological fear of rest and the insensitivity to the joys of existential celebration? Joseph Pieper suggests celebrating being entails a celebration of one’s own being. But, you can’t rest in the goodness of existence unless you’re convinced that it’s good that you exist, that you are good. The need for someway to affirm our goodness, our existential validation is universal. Again from Pieper: “What matters to us, beyond mere existence, is the explicit confirmation: It is good that you exist; how wonderful that you are!” One way or another, everyone needs to be convinced that it’s good that they exist. If they think the goodness of their being is in doubt, they will attempt to compensate by the goodness of what they do. But when self-validation is based on doing, not being, the only way to justify oneself is by ceaseless activity. If you’re standing on the solid ground of existential goodness, you can simply rest there. But for a lot of folks the only thing between them and the bottomless void of worthlessness is the net woven of their own achievements. And those cords keep fraying and snapping, their achievements keep getting obsolete and wearing out, which means they must be constantly tending to that net, fixing up the old ropes and adding new ones. They have to make themselves matter, all the time. The most arrogant, self-promoting person you know is desperately trying to save his own existence from slipping into the dark night of irrelevance. That person can’t rest. That person can’t celebrate being. And self-validation doesn’t work anyway. We don’t know enough about a) our own character and b) the grand scheme of things to know whether, in the big picture, in the long run, it’s good that we exist. Only God knows enough about us and about everything else to give us that assurance. Only the one who gave us existence can validate our existence. This is where the doctrine of God’s Fatherhood becomes so consoling. Our Lord’s joy is the model for all Christian joy, and it is based totally on the relationship with the Father: “If Jesus radiates such assurance, such happiness, such availability, it is by reason of the inexpressible love by which He knows that He is loved by His Father.” And a Father’s love isn’t based on doing, but on being. It’s not dependent on performance, but on existence. I don’t love my sons or daughters because they are high-performance kids, I love them because they are my kids. I take joy in them not because of what they does, but because of what they are. My delight in them doesn’t depend on their productivity (good thing too, since the only thing they produced early on was vomit and excrement (what comes out of his body)). God’s love for us is the same way. It is not earned. That’s why we call it gratuitous. Baptism, the sacrament that makes us children of God.

Joy as Rest
Sep 09 2019 23 mins  
A sobering article entitled Death by Loneliness documented that people are committing suicide and mass murders at an alarming rate because people are missing four essential ingredients to happiness: Family, friends, relationship with God that also gives meaning and purpose to suffering and finally, meaningful work. Meaningful work and a sense of achievement are vital to happiness. But production and achievement alone are insufficient. We also need joy, we need to delight in, rest in the work we have done. I love an arduous hike through the woods and up the mountain. But I am frustrated if I can’t get above tree-line, reach the summit and delight or rest in the 360-degree view that makes me realize, life is bigger than my projects or problems – life is really good. To be happy we need both the arduous work and the rest or the delight in the accomplishment of the work. In todays meditation we focus on joy and delight. The power of the soul called the Passions are the good God-given emotions or desires designed to propel us toward good and away from evil. There are 11 fundamental passions: Love, Desire, Joy, Hate, Aversion, Sorrow, Hope, Despair, Fear, Courage, Anger. All the passions except one, prompt us to move. The single exception is joy. Joy may motivate action by its absence – when once you’ve tasted joy, you’ll do an awful lot to get it back again – but when joy is present its only demand is that you rest. Joy is the response to something experienced as good, and it invites repose in that good. We are missing out if we do not learn to delight or rest in a job well-done. We were made for joy, not for sorrow. We have the capacity for delight so that we can rest in the good, and perfect rest in the perfect good – perfect delight – is the ultimate purpose of human existence. Heaven, the ultimate joy, is also described by the fourth chapter of Hebrews as simply entering into God’s rest. So if you can’t rest, how are you going to enter heaven? The Discipline of Rest. What makes joy distinctive is that it prompts us to rest in the good. If we refuse to rest, or if we’re incapable of it, delight will be frustrated. Rest and joy go together. The first condition for delight is rest. St. Paul VI, in his exhortation on Christian Joy, worries that for many, “The burden of their charges, in a fast-moving world, too often prevents them from enjoying daily joys.” When there’s so much to do, so much to get done, people run the risk of failing in the core responsibility of delight. Rest and joy are an obligation, specified in the third commandment. Apparently rest is so foreign, so unlikely for human beings to pursue on their own, that God needs to give us a direct order to take some time every week and prepare for heaven by resting with Him. If left to themselves, people will prefer the merciless yoke of productivity to the joy of the Lord. The Sabbath frees us from that yoke, it reminds us that we were made for God’s delight and not for work’s anxiety. “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). The Catechism beautifully describes the Sabbath as “a day of protest against the servility of work.” Isn’t that beautiful? If you can’t say no to work, then you are a slave. Resting on Sunday is a revolution, it’s a weekly overthrow of the usurping tyrant of getting stuff done. Like sorrow, work is good in itself, and part of the human condition. But in the long run, our final purpose isn’t for sorrow, and it isn’t for work. We were made for rest and delight. In the book, Leisure, the Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper says, we should treat rest and joy, not work, as the goal of life. Many people treat Sunday just as a “recharging the batteries,” or getting “reenergized.” As though spending time with God, thinking about Him and delighting in all He has done, were just a kind of fueling up so that we could get back to the “real business” of life!

Celebrating Our Lady's Birthday
Sep 08 2019 23 mins  
Today, nine months after the Immaculate Conception of Mary, we celebrate her birthday on September 8. Today is the birthday of our spiritual mother. God does not need to use many words to make some of the most important things happen: God said, “Let there be light” and the entire universe sprang into existence. God said, “This is my body.” And bread was transformed into God in the Eucharist at the Last Supper. From the Cross in God said, “Behold, your mother.” What God says become real, and from that moment Mary became our spiritual mother. I know Mary is my Spiritual Mother because I’ve met her In October of 1991 a seminarian, who is now Fr. Bill Ashbaugh, invited me to watch a movie with him. He didn’t tell me what we were going to watch, and little did I know that he had planned for us to watch a video entitled Marian Apparitions of the 20th Century. The movie was narrated by Ricardo Montalban, famous for his endorsement for the Chrysler Cordoba with the rich Corinthian leather. The film documents the apparitions of Mary in the 19th and 20th centuries. At one point as we were watching the video, the room completely dissolved, and it was just me and the Mother of God. To be clear, this was not an apparition. It was more like an intellectual vision. But she was there, and her presence was undeniable. She said to me, “Michael, I have waited too long. You must change now.” For many years right up to that night I had been living in grave, habitual if not mortal sin. Our Lady must have flooded my soul with some unusual grace because when I walked out of that apartment everything changed. I stopped immediately all the grave sins I had made into deep habits and from the next day forward I began to pray the Rosary every day, attend daily Mass and I began to fast on bread and water on Wednesdays and Fridays. I could not have done this on my own and certainly not overnight. This was a special grace from the Mother of God. If the Mother of God is real, then Jesus is real, and then everything must change. Mary, Our Spiritual Mother continues to come to her children on earth to care for them In 1531 Mary appears in Mexico City, leaving a supernatural, permanent, virtually indestructible sign, the cloak of Juan Diego with her image on it, and 10,000 Aztec Indians Convert to Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. You can still see the cloak with her image today with your own eyes for the price of a short flight. 1858 Mary appears at Lourdes France, commands Bernadette to scratch in the ground, and out flows a spring of water that has given forth more than 33,000 gallons of water every day since. At the request of Our Lady people began to bathe in the waters and what occurred was more than 7000 medically verifiable miraculous cures. So many miraculous cures that they built a rail line just to bring the sick to their Mother Mary at Lourdes. In 1917 in Fatima Portugal Mary promised a public miracle for all to see. On October 13, 1917, she delivered on her promise with the miracle of the sun witnessed by more than 70,000 people and reported on by every public newspaper the next day. In the 1980’s Mary appeared at Kibeho Rawanda, warning the people of the growing hatred and that they most forgive their neighbors from the heart. She warned them of a river of blood. They did not listen to their Mother and 1,000,000 Rawandans were killed by their friends and neighbors. Mary has been appearing to six people in Medjugorje Bosnia Herzogovina begging the world to turn away from sin and self-destruction and back to God before it is too late. Will we heed the call of our Mother this time? There is a superabundant power added to the Motherhood of Mary and that is the Holy Spirit. The mission of the Holy Spirit in the world is to conceive the life of Jesus in you, and then form Christ within you, and watch over, protect, educate and nurture the life of Christ in us. God formed Mary as the perfect human expression of the maternal mission.

Too Busy to Pray?
Sep 07 2019 22 mins  
Our Lady is calling us to a greater quality and quantity of prayer. I have been encouraging you to spend more time in silence and solitude with Jesus in prayer. So what do you think people give as the number one reason for not spending time in prayer? They are too busy. We all think we are too busy… CCC 2742 We have not been commanded to work, to keep watch and to fast constantly, but it has been laid down that we are to pray without ceasing. Evagrius (cf. 1 Thess. 5:17) I do not believe we lack time for prayer because we lack love for God. I think the real culprit is that we have been addicted to the routines of our life and these just need to be broken to create new routines and habits. Luke 5:12-16 Jesus was not too busy to pray While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And he stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. And he charged him to tell no one; but “go and show yourself to the priest, and make an offering for your cleansing, as Moses commanded, for a proof to the people.” But so much the more the report went abroad concerning him; and great multitudes gathered to hear and to be healed of their infirmities. But he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. Jesus had the power to heal any disease – people flooded him with requests – healing people of horrible diseases is important stuff – Jesus was really busy with all these sick people – but He was not too busy to pray. In the face of all this need – he withdrew to the wilderness and prayed. Jesus spent time in deep friendship, relationship with His Father in prayer because he built the habit, the routine of prayer. Mark 1:35 In the morning, long before dawn, he got up and left the house, and went off to a lonely place and prayed there. Peter and his companions set out in search of him, and when they found him they said, 'Everybody is looking for you'. Matthew 14, After Jesus fed the 5000 with the multiplication of the loaves, Directly after this he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he would send the crowds away. After sending the crowds away he went up into the hills by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, Luke 22:39 After the Last Supper, Jesus left to make his way as usual to the Mount of Olives, to pray. Notice, Scripture points out, Jesus went to pray, as usual, as was his custom, this was his habit or routine. Jesus had a deep friendship with His Father because he had the habit, the routine of prayer. Beginning and ending each day in prayer was his way of life. We will not reach deep friendship with God in prayer until we establish the habit, the routine of prayer – it’s all about our routines. I know you want a deeper friendship with God, and you know friendship takes time. Yet you probably find yourself almost powerless to make the change. What’s the problem, are you just weak? Do you have no will power? Will-power just means the ability to form routines. The routines we form consciously or unconsciously we can carry out. These routines over time become so powerful they become addictions. There is an old saying, make good habits and become slaves of them. We become slaves to all habits, good or bad. The sub-conscious is powerful. The subconscious is simply habits we have formed into routines of thinking and living. We have built routines in our lives and those routines are so powerful they make us addicts. If we want to make some change, then we must make a break in our ritual, in our routine. We just need to make one change in our daily ritual to change our routine and begin to form new habits to spend more time in friendship with God in prayer. What daily rituals prevent you from spending more time in prayer? What can you do to break one of those rituals and begin anew?

Why Pray the Rosary?
Sep 06 2019 22 mins  
We should pray the Rosary every day because Our Lady came from heaven as aked us to do so. On May 13, 1917 Our Lady requested: “Pray the Rosary everyday, in order to obtain peace for the world, and the end of the war”. Sister Lucia, one of the three children to whom Mary appeared at Fatima explained why she thought Our Lady asked everyone to pray the Rosary every day: I think God is Father; and as Father He adapts Himself to the needs and possibilities of his children. Now if God, through Our Lady, had asked us to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion every day, there would be undoubtedly have been a great many people who would have said, quite rightly, that this was not possible. Some, on account of the distance separating them from the nearest Church where Mass was celebrated; others on account of the circumstances of their lives, their state in life, their job, the state of their health, ect. On the other hand to pray the Rosary is something everybody can do, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, great and small. All people of good will can, and must say the Rosary every day. Why? In order to put ourselves in contact with God, to thank Him for His benefits and ask for the graces we need. It is the prayer which places us in familiar contact with God, like the son who goes to his father to thank him for the gifts he has received, to talk to him about special concerns, to receive his guidance, his help, his support and his blessing. Since we all need to pray, God asks of us, as a kind of daily installment, a prayer which is within our reach: the Rosary, which can be recited either in common or in private, either in Church in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament or at home, either when traveling or while walking quietly in the fields. A mother of a family can say the Rosary while she rocks her baby’s cradle or does the house work. Our day has twenty four hours in it. It is not asking a great deal to set a side a quarter of an hour for the spiritual life, for our intimate and familiar converse with God. We should pray the Rosary every day because it is the School of Mary where she teaches and forms us to become like Jesus. St. John Paul II wrote: The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary's side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). Rosarium 15 Mary has given us a three-fold weapon to change world events, convert family and friends and protect against evil. These three are Pray the Rosary every day Consecrate yourself and your family to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and live the Consecration by living a personal relationship with Mary, moment to moment, day after day Practice Sacrifice and Reparation: what you did not choose, do not like and cannot change, accept with trust and offer it up with love; second – First Saturdays of Reparation – on the first Saturday of 5 consecutive months go to confession, to Mass, pray the Rosary, think about the life of Jesus for 15 with the intention of repairing for all those who refuse to have faith, hope and love and by this means help to save them. By the Rosary Our Lady places us and our family under her Mantle of Protection. When the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both bombing sites experienced miracles associated with the rosary. When Hiroshima was bombed on August 6, 1945, an entire house of Jesuits survived, completely unaffected by the bomb. The Jesuit house was located only eight blocks from where the atomic bomb went off and should have been completely annihilated. A church attached to the Jesuit house and everything else around it for miles was obliterated, but the house with the Jesuits in it survived largely intact. Furthermore, none of the Jesuits suffered any ill effects from radiation or loss of hearing whatsoever.

The Secret of Mother Teresa
Sep 05 2019 22 mins  
God’s plan is for the whole Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, to live in you and through you. God wants to be the life, love and power pulsing through you. If we would give Him room and let Him live in and through us we would be perfectly happy, have meaning and purpose in life, be filled with joy, totally at peace, undisturbed by any storm, wise to make the best decisions, powerful to overcome any difficulty, loving, energetic, able to move mountains literally, convert countless souls and have the deepest and best friendships. We could have all this IF we would give ourselves to God more generously in prayer. In prayer we open our soul to be filled and transformed by God. This was the secret to the greatness of Mother Teresa, the Saint whose feast we celebrate today. Mother Teresa arguably, did more good than any other person in the 20th century precisely because she opened up and let God fill her by prayer. A young priest asked her one day, “Mother Teresa, what is your secret?” she looked at him with a twinkle in her eye and replied, “That is very simple: I pray.” Mother Teresa once said: Without God we are too poor to help the poor, but when we pray, God places His love in us. Look, the Sisters are poor, but they pray. The fruit of prayer is love. The fruit of love is service. Only when you pray can you really serve the poor.” Once at a gas station, during a trip Mother Teresa was making, she looked for a long time at the nozzle through which the gas was flowing into the tank and then said, “Look, Father, that’s like blood in the body: Without blood there is no life in the body. Without gas in the car—no driving. But also, without prayer the soul is dead.” Maasburg, Leo. Mother Teresa (p. 80). Ignatius Press. When asked what prayer was for her, Mother Teresa answered: “God speaks to me—and I speak to Him. It’s that simple. That is prayer.” Prayer is heart-to-heart contact. “If I pray to Jesus, then it’s from my heart to Jesus’ Heart. When I pray to the Mother of God, then it’s from my heart to Mary’s heart. When I pray to my guardian angel, then it’s also heart to heart.” Mother Teresa’s central principle with regard to prayer was this: “God speaks in the silence of our heart, and we listen. Then, out of the fullness of our heart, we speak and He listens. And that is prayer.” Maasburg, Leo. Mother Teresa (pp. 80-81). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition. People often say, “God never speaks to me.” The question is: Do we ever shut up and listen? De we spend time in silence listening to God? Mother Teresa: “In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence…We must improve our prayer and, flowing from that, our charity toward others. It can be difficult to pray when we don’t know how, but we can help ourselves through the use of silence. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence. This silence takes a lot of sacrifice, but if we really want to pray, we must be ready to take that step now. Without this first step toward silence, we will not be able to reach our goal, which is union with God. We forget that in the silence of the heart God speaks, and from the fullness of the heart we speak. Only when we have heard him in the silence of our hearts, only when we have learned to listen to God in the silence of our hearts, only then can we say: I pray. There is no either/or about prayer and love. We can’t say we have either prayer or love: There is no prayer without love and no love without prayer. The fruit of silence is prayer. The fruit of prayer is faith. The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace.” According to Mother Teresa, peace, service, love, faith and prayer all find their origin in silence.

Saving Souls through Suffering
Sep 04 2019 23 mins  
In every approved apparition from the Miraculous Medal to the reported apparitions of Medjugorje, Jesus and Mary have called us to help them save souls and to change world events by our prayer and suffering. Yesterday, the mission to pray; today, suffering.  The Mission of Jesus was to save souls by suffering. We are invited to share in the same mission, to take up our cross daily and follow him.  Recently a wise friend of mine reminded me that my mission was to teach and to suffer. That caught me off-guard, but it is true. I should not forget or reject this aspect of my mission. An essential part of our mission as a Christian is to save other souls and alter world events by our suffering. The greatest good we can do is through our suffering united to Christ and that is what gives meaning and purpose to suffering! I believe Jesus wants us to help him save souls by our suffering. But I don’t like it. And I am tempted to doubt this truth and fall into the temptation that my suffering is random and senseless. There is no reason for my suffering – it just is. Since there is no reason for my suffering then there is no meaning or purpose to my suffering. If the origin of my suffering is random and senseless then there is no meaning or purpose to it. Oh sure, it can make me stronger if I respond in the right way, but the suffering can be so great and last so long that if there is no meaning or purpose to it, eventually it overcomes a person. You can overcome anything if there is a strong enough reason to endure; but if there is no reason, no meaning or purpose, then we cannot endure. This is one of the most important questions that must be answered by every human – what is the meaning and purpose of my suffering? Jesus Christ is the only one who gives meaning and purpose to suffering and the Catholic Church hands down this meaning. No other philosophy or religion answers the question adequately – and that is why so many people are lost, atheist, depressed, commit suicide or mass murders…they do not have a way to make sense out of suffering. We do. Christ has given us the answer. Jesus brought into His suffering all the suffering that would every be in the world, from the beginning to the end of time. He transformed it and gave it meaning and purpose – to save souls. This gives our suffering a meaning - to save souls. Jesus gave a creative character, a creative meaning to our suffering. If we accept and unite our suffering to His, then He uses it to recreate souls, that is, to save souls from sin and hell and to save the world from self-destruction. Jesus is counting on us not to waste our suffering. Don’t waste it – leverage it. What you did not choose, do not like and cannot change, accept with trust and offer with love to save souls. The sufferings of Christ created the good of the world's redemption. This good in itself is inexhaustible and infinite. No man can add anything to it. But at the same time, in the mystery of the Church as his Body, Christ has in a sense opened his own redemptive suffering to all human suffering. In so far as man becomes a sharer in Christ's sufferings—in any part of the world and at any time in history—to that extent he in his own way completes the suffering through which Christ accomplished the Redemption of the world. A young blind woman name Tina was recently hit by a truck walking through an intersection. Miraculously she survived. She has endured multiple reconstructive surgeries. Yesterday she awoke and said three words: Suffering for souls. We offer this Rosary for the recovery of Tina! I want to announce that we are implementing the option to make a donation at the bottom of this email. Our mission is to deliver meaning, hope, and happiness through deep friendship with Jesus and others. Help us develop tools to bring the audio Rosary to a million people by the end of 2025!

Silence and Stillness
Sep 03 2019 24 mins  
Yesterday, September 2, 2019, Our Lady is reported to have given this message at Medjugorje: Dear children, pray! Pray the Rosary every day—that wreath of flowers which, as a mother, directly connects me with your pains, sufferings, desires, and hopes. Apostles of my love, I am with you through the grace and the love of my Son, and I am asking for prayers of you. The world is in such need of your prayers for souls to be converted. With complete trust, open your hearts to my Son, and in them He will inscribe the summary of His words—which is love. Live in an unbreakable connection with the Most Sacred Heart of my Son. My children, as a mother, I am telling you that it is high time for you to kneel before my Son to acknowledge Him as your God, the center of your life. Offer gifts to Him—that which He most loves—which is love towards neighbor, mercy, and pure hearts. Apostles of my love, many of my children still do not acknowledge my Son as their God; they have not yet come to know His love. But you, with your prayer pronounced from a pure and open heart, by the gifts which you offer to my Son, will make even the hardest hearts open. Apostles of my love, the strength of prayer pronounced from the heart—a powerful prayer full of love—changes the world. Therefore, my children: pray, pray, pray. I am with you. Thank you.” This message at Medjugorje is similar to the August 19 message of Our Lady at Fatima: “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.” The message of Our Lady at San Nicolas Argentina in the 1980s is also similar: "God's warning is over the world. Those who stay in the Lord have nothing to fear, but those who deny what comes from him do. Two-thirds of the world is lost and the other part must pray and make reparation for the Lord to take pity. The devil wants to have full domination over the earth. He wants to destroy. The earth is in great danger." Mary tells us, “The weapon that has the greatest influence on evil is to say the Rosary." We need to pray the Rosary every day and to be Apostles of the Rosary. This is a good start, but Our Lady is urging us to go further into union with Jesus and to help him save souls by our deeper prayer. As a young priest, Angelo Comastri, who today is a cardinal archpriest of Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome, relates his first encounter and conversation with St. Mother Teresa:  She gave me a Miraculous Medal, put it in my hand, and asked me, “For how much time do you pray each day?” I was astonished and a little embarrassed. Then, gathering my thoughts, I replied, “Mother, I celebrate Holy Mass each day, I pray the Breviary each day…I pray the rosary each day also and very gladly…” Mother Teresa, with her rough hands, clasped the rosary that she always had with her. Then she fixed on me her eyes, which were filled with light and love, and said: “That is not enough, my son! That is not enough, because love cannot be reduced to the indispensable minimum; love demands the maximum!” I did not understand Mother Teresa’s words right away, and, as though to justify myself, I replied, “Mother, I expected from you instead this question: What acts of charity do you do?” Suddenly Mother Teresa’s face became very serious again, and she said in a stern tone of voice: “Do you think that I could practice charity if I did not ask Jesus every day to fill my heart with his love? Do you think that I could go through the streets looking for the poor if Jesus did not communicate the fire of his charity to my heart?”…Enunciating each word, she added: “Read the Gospel attentively, and you will see that Jesus sacrificed even charity for prayer. And do you know why? To teach us that, without God, we are too poor to help the poor!”  Rest with God in prayer. God wants to give you rest so that he can fill, transform, and heal you.

Judged by Our Love
Sep 02 2019 23 mins  
I want you to reach a deeper friendship and intimacy with God in this life and so for the last few days I have been explaining the nine stages of prayer and that when you reach the 5th stage of prayer, infused prayer or contemplation you will begin to experience heaven on earth. To grow in prayer we need to foster a greater desire for God since as John of the Cross writes the desire for God is the preparation for union with Him. However, we cannot grow in union with God unless we grow in love for other people, including our enemies. I don’t like this. I am all for the love of God, but I don’t want to love all people. Some people are my enemies, and the enemies of the things that are genuinely good, things I love and want to protect. In the 1st Letter of John chapter 4, John warns us we must be on guard against the enemies of Christ and against the world: It is not every spirit, my dear people, that you can trust; test them, to see if they come from God, there are many false prophets, now, in the world. You can tell the spirits that come from God by this: every spirit which acknowledges that Jesus the Christ has come in the flesh is from God; but any spirit which will not say this of Jesus is not from God, but is the spirit of Antichrist, whose coming you were warned about. Well, now he is here, in the world…This is how we can tell the spirit of truth from the spirit of falsehood. False, wrong and evil ideas are dangerous because they lead to evil choices and actions that are destructive to the individual, marriage, family and society such as Marxism that has infected every sector of our society, socialism, contraception, abortion, sodomy and gender fluidity; just to name a few. All bad ideas and destructive actions. We are right to have an aversion toward these destructive ideas and hate them and work to prevent them from having any place in our society. We must think about, assess and judge ideas and actions but we must not hate or condemn persons. This is a crucial distinction because God is love and we will be judged by our love of persons, including enemies. But the devil wants everyone to hate everyone else so that we destroy each other and the world. That simple. 1 John 4:7 My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love…My dear people, since God has loved us so much, we too should love one another. No one has ever seen God; but as long as we love one another God will live in us and his love will be complete in us….We ourselves have known and put our faith in God's love towards ourselves. God is love and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him. Love will come to its perfection in us when we can face the day of Judgement without fear; because even in this world we have become as he is…4:19 We are to love, then, because he loved us first. Anyone who says, 'I love God', and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother that he can see cannot love God, whom he has never seen. So this is the commandment that he has given us, that anyone who loves God must also love his brother. John of the Cross writes: At the evening of life, we shall be judged on our love. Learn to love as God desires to be loved and abandon you own ways of acting. Sayings 60 Love is a choice to think, speak and do what is good for another person. The Golden Rule from the Sermon on the Mount given by Jesus is this: Always treat others as you would like them to treat you. We judge ideas and actions. This is good or this is evil. We must never accept and tolerate evil ideas and actions out of some false form of tolerance. But we must love persons. We can never condemn persons, because we can never know the other two parts of morality: their intentions or their circumstances. Therefore, we can only judge ideas and actions but not persons.

Increasing our Desire for God
Sep 01 2019 24 mins  
I want you to continue to respond to call of Mary to pray the Rosary every day. Through the Rosary the Holy Spirit and Mary will form Jesus within you. The Rosary is the School of Mary. The Rosary is also the greatest weapon to overcome evil and bring peace to our families and the world. Mary is the one who crushes the head of Satan and she will do so in our lives by the Rosary. At the same time I want to encourage you to deepen your friendship with God by spending more time with him in prayer; talking to him from the heart, listening to him by reading the Word of God and just being quiet and still with him. What prevents us from spending more time with Jesus in friendship are the 1000s desires and worries that vie for time and attention. What overcomes these 1000s is a greater desire for God. John of the Cross, in his Living Flame of Love 3:26, says the desire for God is the preparation for union with Him. The questions is: how do we increase our desire for God? The first way is very simple: ask for it. God please give me a greater desire for you. I want to desire you above all things. The desire you feed will grow. The desire you starve will die. If you feed your desire for God, then it will grow and this desire will lead you to a deep and profound union with Him. If you feed your desire for things of this world, this desire will lead you to seek happiness in things that can never satisfy and you will grow increasingly hungry and empty and nothing will satisfy you as you journey further and further away from God. Stop feeding bad desires; feed good desires less; feed your desire for God more. We all have bad desires, disordered desires - we desire good things in a way that begin to control us and become addictions. The roots of these are pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust. Think honestly about the desires that drive your life. Identity them. The desire to win; the desire to be wanted by your spouse or kids; the desire for safety, stability or security; the desire for entertainment, tasty food, the desire to feel good, to look good, to be the best. The desire to achieve great things. Any of these good desires can become disordered and prevent us from union with God and perfect happiness. Stop feeding the bad desires and they will begin to starve and die off. How? All these disordered desires are addictions we don’t seem able to break – well recognize your inability to change them, admit you are powerless over them, immediately turn to Jesus, then take these disordered desires to confession and he will begin to set us free. Stop feeding bad desires but we also need to feed Good desires less. The desire for sleep, food, drink, exercise, family, friends, achievement, knowledge, beauty etc. are good desires. But if one good desire begins to exclude other good things we need and especially if it is stronger than our desire for God then it is an obstacle. So feed these less and they will shrink in power. How do I identify which desires are disordered or out of balance? Ask yourself – am I perfectly happy? What is it in my life that prevents my happiness? What is the cause? The cause will point to a disordered desire. Feed your desire for God and it will grow. Receive Jesus as often as you can in the Eucharist. The Eucharist is God, the consuming fire of love. The more you receive Him the more you will be inflamed with a desire for God. Fire sets other things on fire. God, in the Eucharist is a consuming fire of love. My experience is that when I go to daily Mass, I desire Jesus in the Eucharist more. My desire grows. Spend more time with Jesus in prayer. Proximity causes intimacy; while absence makes the heart go wander. The more we spend time with God the more we want him and the less we desire sin. Go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once a month. Sin separates us from God and diminishes our desire for him. Confession unites us every more closely to God.

Meditation, Reflection, and Resolution
Aug 31 2019 26 mins  
Over the last few days I have been encouraging you to spend more time in friendship with Jesus by moving from stage one, vocal prayer, talking to God, to listening in Meditation so that you can reach stage 5, infused prayer or contemplation, which is the beginning of the experience of heaven on earth. The Rosary is a combination of vocal prayer and meditation, but to move to meditation it is helpful to understand what it is… Jordan Aumann, Spiritual Theology, p. 318 Meditation is a reasoned application of the mind to some supernatural truth, in order to penetrate its meaning, love it, and carry it into practice with the assistance of grace. Meditation is to turn your attention to God To think about what He has said or done In order to understand it To love God for the things He has said and done To form firm convictions That we will put into practice with the assistance of grace What do we meditate upon? As Christians we meditate on the Word of God, but the Word of God is more than the Bible. Jesus is the Word of God. The full Word of God is all that Jesus revealed through his life and his teachings. The full revelation of Jesus is handed down to us through Scripture, Tradition and the teachings of the Catholic Church, called the Magisterium. The complete teaching of Jesus, the full Word of God is called the Deposit of Faith. As Christians meditate upon all that is contained in the Deposit of Faith, all that is found in Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. We can use as good meditation material anything from the Old or New Testaments, or the writings of the saints like Augustine, Aquinas, Teresa of Avila, Therese of Lisieux or St. Faustina. And it doesn’t stop there. We can also reflect upon the teachings of the Church, the Magisterium. In fact, the best synthesis or summary of the Deposit of Faith, all that Jesus revealed is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Catechism is wonderful to meditate upon. Or consider other Magisterial teachings such as St. John Paull II’s letter on the Christian Meaning of Human suffering. All these things are an expression of the Deposit of Faith or the Word of God. All of these are great things to meditate upon during meditation or the Rosary. There is a simple method to meditation. It is like having coffee with a friend. Set a specific time and place conducive to a leisurely intimate conversation. Then Talk and share, listen and understand and finally just enjoy the time together. We have broken it down into 3 R’s which we shared with you yesterday: Read something from the Bible or from the Tradition, some good writing from a Saint or a spiritual author. As soon as something profound strikes you – stop reading. Reflect or Think about what struck you Try to understand what you read Apply it to your life Draw practical conclusions for yourself Talk over all of this with Jesus in your mind and heart Resolution Choose something practical and concrete to remember or to do today based on your meditation Write down your resolution and keep it with you The two most powerful aspects of Meditation are reflecting upon the Word of God and the forming of a resolution. These two together, founded on the grace of God, are the transforming powers of meditation. On the first, the power of reflection Jordan Aumann writes: Numerous persons who live habitually in sin continue in that condition simply because they never reflect seriously upon the state of their souls. Some of them do not have malicious hearts, nor do they hate the things of God or their own salvation; they have simply given themselves entirely to purely natural activities and have neglected the things that are of importance to their soul. One of the greatest proofs that their sad condition is due not so much to malice as to the lack of reflection is the fact that when they…attend a retreat or mission, they may experience a complete conversion of life.

Facing Temptation in Prayer
Aug 30 2019 23 mins  
Facing temptations in prayer Prayer is friendship with God. Friendship takes time talking, listening and just being together. But it certainly takes one on one time and focused attention. Vocal prayers like the Our Father and Hail Mary, and personal prayers of petition in which we turn to Our Father for all we need are good. But if we stop there, it is not much of a friendship. We would not call it friendship if the only time we communicate was to ask for something. If the only time you call me is when you want something from me – I will stop answering and I will not consider you a friend. Friendship with God is more than talking and asking. It takes time in relationship – listening and just being together. Yet too often we do stop at the stage of talking and asking and we don’t go on to deeper friendship. Do you long for a greater intimacy with God? The CCC points out different temptations that lead us to fail to develop a deep friendship with Jesus in prayer. CCC 2732 The most common yet most hidden temptation is our lack of faith. It expresses itself less by declared disbelief than by our actual preferences. When we begin to pray, a thousand labors or cares thought to be urgent vie for priority; once again, it is the moment of truth for the heart: what is its real love? Sometimes we turn to the Lord as a last resort, but do we really believe he is? Do we really think God is only our last resort rather than our greatest desire? The Catechism is hitting hard. It is confronting us with the most damning temptation to prayer: the temptation that I may pray, I may turn to God when I need things, but I do not turn to him because I want him. In fact it is my wanting everything but Him that prevents me from prayer. What is really at the root of my struggle to spend more time in solitude talking to God, listening to Him and just being with him in silence and stillness? Please do not misunderstand. Vocal prayer is good, but it is just the first of nine stages of friendship with God. I want you to go on to the second stage, meditation. Meditation is to go on from talking to listening to God by reading and reflecting on his life and words in Scripture and then puts them into practice by a daily resolution. Jesus said as much in the Sermon on the Mount: 'It is not those who say to me, "Lord, Lord", who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?" Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!' 'Therefore, everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on rock. Matthew 7:21-24 The Mother of God has asked us to pray the Rosary every day. That is why I do it. The Rosary is a combination of vocal prayer and meditation. We listen to something from the Word of God, the Deposit of faith comprised of Scripture and Tradition, and then we reflect upon it while we say the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be and the Fatima prayer. So it’s a good combination of stage 1 and 2 of intimacy with God. Now I am encouraging you to increase your relationship with Jesus, if you are not already, by spending additional time in friendship with Him in a form of Catholic Meditation that will prepare you for the third stage – Affective Prayer – because I want you to reach infused prayer, contemplation, the beginning of heaven on earth. Meditation can be broken down to 3 simple steps – 3 R’s Read something from the Bible or from the Tradition, some good writing from a Saint or a spiritual author. As soon as something profound strikes you – stop reading. Reflect or Think about what struck you Try to understand what you read Apply it to your life Draw practical conclusions for yourself Talk over all of this with Jesus in your mind and heart.

The Stages of Prayer
Aug 29 2019 23 mins  
Prayer is friendship with God: it is talking, listening and just being with God. This corresponds to the three major expressions of prayer: Vocal prayer, mediation, and contemplation. The goal of this friendship with God we call prayer is Heaven. Heaven is a transforming union with God. The journey to heaven does not begin at death. The journey or pilgrimage to heaven is supposed to begin now. In fact, you are traveling either closer to heaven or closer to hell at each moment. Time is dynamic. There is no standing still and there are only two ultimate destinations: heaven and union with God or hell and eternal isolation and loneliness. We are indebted to the great Doctor on Prayer, Teresa of Avila, for explaining the different stages in the journey of the soul to Heaven or union with God. The landscape of prayer has been divided into (9) stages: Vocal prayer, Meditation, Affective prayer, Prayers of Simplicity, Infused Contemplation, Prayers of Quiet, Prayers of Union, Prayers of Conforming Union, and the Prayers of Transforming Union. It is a doctrine of the Catholic Church that every person was created by God to reach at least the 5th stage of prayer, infused contemplation, because every person was created for holiness and holiness is the fruit of contemplation. Every one of you praying now has the God given capacity to reach at least the 5th stage in this life – that is if you desire it and persevere in prayer. St. Faustina describes her experience of contemplation this way: "O Holy Trinity, Eternal God, I thank you for allowing me to know the greatness and the various degrees of glory to which souls attain. Oh, what a great difference of depth in the knowledge of God there is between one degree and another! Oh, if people could only know this! O my God, if I were able to attain one more degree, I would gladly suffer all the torments of the martyrs put together." With Stages 3-4  we begin to desire to spend time with Jesus and Mary without talking, without trying to figure things (discursive meditation), but simply to remain alone with them in quiet. John of the Cross describes this as: “An inclination to remain alone and in quietude…If those in whom this occurs, know how to remain quiet (not talking or trying to figure things out) they will soon in that unconcern and idleness delicately experience the interior nourishment.” This prepares us for stage 5 (contemplation): “Contemplation is nothing but a hidden, peaceful and loving inflow of God. If it is given room, it will inflame the spirit with love.” John of the Cross The transition from stage 4 to 5 involves: The Dark Night of the Senses Which accomplishes 2 things in us. First, it purges the soul of all disordered attachments, misdirected desires, and idols and addictions that block God from entering more fully (Pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, lust). Then, it prepares the soul to share more fully in His divine life. We could not handle His divine life if He didn’t prepare us. It would be like pouring new wine into old wine skins. Contemplation is an experience of God, drinking of the Living Water which quenches the thirst of the soul which satisfies as nothing else in the world. How do we prepare to Drink of the Living Water? Jesus said to St. Angela of Foligno, “Make yourself a capacity and I will make myself a torrent.” 1. Desire, want transforming union with God 2. Receive the Eucharist and Reconciliation Frequently 3. Persevere in a Daily Examination of Conscience with Daily Meditation and a Resolution 4. Pray the Daily Rosary 5. Live a well ordered and balanced life (a Rule of Life) 6. Have a Spiritual Director or at least good Spiritual Friendship to give you encouragement and accountability. 

Why Pray? The First Reason
Aug 28 2019 24 mins  
Why would anyone want to pray? I want to pray because I want to be happy. Happiness is to possess the good things that complete or fulfill our human nature. In general, God designed the Human Person to need certain good things to be satisfied. We need: physical goods, psychological goods, family and friendship, knowledge, meaningful work, beauty, and identity.  If you had all these would you be perfectly satisfied? No! And that is the right answer because even though the things of the world are good…the Problem lies in this: Nothing is perfect, lasting, or enough. I desire more - union with God. We were made for union with God.  Today is the Feast of St Augustine and he summed up this desire for union with God when he wrote “you have made us for yourself, O Lord and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” The good things in life are the cups – Jesus is the Living Water. The good things in life we need to be happy – physical, emotional, family, friends, meaningful work, knowledge, beauty, ect… are like cups. But Jesus is the Living Water that needs to fill the cups. Without the Living Water, without a personal relationship with Jesus, then we might have all the right cups, but they are empty. Then we become unsatisfied with our spouse, our house, our job, our health and wealth and everything else. The danger is that we think the problem is with the cup. The cup is empty so we think the problem is with the cup and we think we can solve the problem by getting rid of this cup and getting a different cup, a different spouse or house or vacation or better health or whatever. But the problem was not with the cup The problem is not with the cup, the problem is that the cup is empty of the Living Water, empty of the personal relationship with Jesus that comes through prayer. A different or new cup wont solve the problem. The solution is to fill our existing cups, fill our lives with the Living Water that is Jesus that comes through prayer. A Personal relationship with Jesus is the Living Water that can fill up every area of life so that we can be satisfied. In John 7 Jesus stood and cried out: 'If any man is thirsty, let him come to me! Let the man come to me and drink…For My heart is a Fountain of living water.” The Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church are the Fountains from which the Living Water flows. The Eucharist is the Fountain par excellence because the Eucharist is literally the Heart of Jesus. If you want to drink the Living Water, then you must to come to the Heart of Jesus. The sacraments, especially the Eucharist, is the Fountain. But it is possible to come to the well and not drink. Not only do we need to come to the fountain, but we need to open up and Drink the Living Water. We drink in the Living Water of Jesus by Prayer.  Pope Benedict writes: “Prayer is the self-opening of the human spirit to God.” (Jesus of Nazareth vol 2, p. 233) Many people come to the Fountain of Living Water but they do not drink in the living water because they do not have a personal friendship with Jesus in prayer and they spend little or no time in prayer. Prayer is friendship with God. What does friendship take? Time… time talking, listening, and just being together. The Great Teresa of Avila writes “Prayer…is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends; its means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” Prayer is friendship with God: it is talking, listening and just being together. This corresponds to the three major expressions of prayer: Vocal prayer,  meditation, and contemplation.  Prayer is friendship with God, talking to him from the heart, listening and just spending time with Him. We want to drink the Living Water, but have you ever experienced that you cant talk and drink at the same time. We can't drink the living water unless we spend time drinking and listening.

Beating Your Addiction to Sin
Aug 27 2019 24 mins  
We are all addicts. Addicts to the sins we have turned into habits that are buried so deep in our sub-conscience we do them without even thinking. There are seven roots of our addiction and they are known as the deadly sins: Pride, envy, anger, acedia, greed, gluttony and lust. Pride in the form of self-reliance, the disordered desire for perfection, or being a control freak, refusing to listen to anyone other than oneself; but Pride is also found in timidity, anxiety and fear. Envy is a sadness at someone’s good and pleasure at their misfortune. It leads us to gossip, backbiting, tearing others down in the attempt to raise ourselves up. Its why we love hearing and spreading dirty laundry. Anger and impatience – that’s probably self-explanatory. Acedia or Sloth which is not laziness but rather an aversion to the invitation from God to become a saint. So rather than heed the invitation from God we escape his call through our constant busyness and entertainment which keeps us from doing those things that will really bring us into union with God. After all, there’s nothing more difficult than becoming holy. Greed is a disordered love of getting and possessing. Although this might involve mere money, it can also take the form of an excessive desire for position, knowledge, and other goods. It is the desire for satisfaction and fulfillment in the possession of things which tries to find security in worldly realities, rather than in God. When we fail to trust that God will provide our daily bread then we seek to grab all that we can and store it up for a rainy day. Gluttony refers to eating, drinking and drug use for the sake of pleasure or to escape the reality we find too hard, too painful, or too boring. Finally, Lust, the way we use others sexually to get what we want. Men use women to get what they want and women use men to get what they want. We each want something different but we use one another just the same. The seven deadly sins do not make us happy and our sins certainly don’t make the lives of those around us better. In fact, they destroy the good things in life we need to be happy. If we want to be set free we need to do three things: First, make a searching, honest and fearless examination of conscience. Then, admit to God, to ourselves and to a priest the exact nature of our wrongs in the sacrament of Reconciliation. Finally, do our penance, that is, practice the virtues that conquer the vices to which you have been enslaved: practice humility, good-will, meekness, magnanimity, generosity, temperance, charity, courage, honesty, patience, etc. One of the things that can prevent me from receiving the freedom and healing I need in the Sacrament of Reconciliation regularly is that get lazy about doing a daily examination of conscience. Then when I think about confession I seem to get this amnesia and can’t remember any of my sins so I put it off until I have some sins. I need to change this. At the beginning of each day, or the beginning of my time in meditation, or at the end of the day, I need to take a few minutes for an examination of conscience which consists of three things:  Gratitude, acknowledgment of our wrong, and a practical game plan to go forward.  Start with Gratitude – call to mind all the things for which you are you thankful to God? Then think back over the last 24 hours and admit where you have sinned in your thoughts, words or actions. Ask, why did I do these things? What was at the root? Was it Pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony or lust? Then make a practical game plan to live differently today. God forgives our sin and gives us His grace to be changed and transformed. But, its not magic - we must do our part. Don't try to change everything in your life. Pick one thing to change, one virtue to practice, and that will enable you to change everything in your life eventually. 

Our Lady of Czestochowa
Aug 26 2019 25 mins  
Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled.’ 2. Mary brought Jesus to Elizabeth and John the Baptist in her womb. Mary leads all people to Jesus! The more you develop a relationship with Mary, your spiritual mother, the more she will help you live your relationship with Jesus. Poland may be the last completely Christian nation in the world. I know it is not 100% but it is close. And why has their faith survived, even after 70 years of pressure from Government enforced atheism under the Soviet Union. Because of their deep relationship with Mary, the Mother of Jesus and Our Mother. Poland’s love for Mary is seen in their love for the Icon of the Black Madonna kept at the Monastery of Czestochowa. I saved an image of this icon on your email. Tradition holds that it was painted by St. Luke, the writer of the Gospel and later taken from Jerusalem to Constantinople and then Poland. During Holy Week of 1430, robbers attacked the monastery looking for treasure, finding none they took whatever religious good, chalices, etc. and even the Holy Icon, but miraculously as they carried it away it become so heavy, they could go no further. They dropped it in the mud and slashed the Virgin's face with a sword, and the Icon began to bleed. With the 3rd stroke of the sword the attacker died. Frightened they left it desecrated in a puddle of blood and mud. The monks pulled the icon from the mud, a miraculous fountain appeared, which they used to clean the painting. The icon was repainted in Krakow, but both the arrow mark and the gashes from the sword were left and remain clearly visible today. 3. In the year 1655, the Lutheran King of Sweden, Charles X, attacked Poland. This invading force, known as the Deluge was stopped at only one place the fortress monastery of Czestochowa which contained the miraculous icon of the Black Madonna. As he stood beneath the ramparts of the monastery the Swedish General Muller contemptuously exclaimed "We will have that henhouse down in three days." But that is not how things turned out. Both Polish and Swedish witnesses testified that that during the siege, the Holy Virgin of Czestochowa appeared above the monastery, leading the defenders and directing their fire. A testimony of this miraculous apparition of the Blessed Virgin was given by the Swedish General Muller. After the siege of Czestochowa, General Muller spent some time in Krakow. In one of the churches, he gazed on a picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Asked the reason for his amazement, he said in reply that what convinced him to retreat from the siege of Czestochowa was a visit from a noble woman. Her words and menacing look severely warned him. He did not know who the woman was until he saw this image of Mary in the Church. Then he knew it was the Blessed Virgin Mary herself who turned him away from destroying the Monastery that housed her Icon. “Impossible,” he was saying about the Image. “This is like the Virgin that appeared to me and directed a canon against me by her hand. But on earth something like this does not seem possible. O Celestial and Divine thing! That which I feared beyond measure has shown again in her majestic face.”

The Three Things You Need to Get from This Life to the Next
Aug 24 2019 22 mins  
Today is the feast of the Apostle Bartholomew, also known as Nathanael. I walk by his house in Cana in the Holy Land every time I lead a pilgrimage there. Bartholomew was one of the few who said yes to a life of deep friendship with Jesus Christ. He lived this intimate friendship with Jesus and with the other Apostles for three years and then he went forth after the Resurrection to constantly invite others into friendship with Jesus. We make things too complicated and difficult. This life is most importantly about a deep friendship with Jesus in prayer; it is about living authentic friendships with others; and constantly multiplying by inviting others into this way of life. Yeah, I know, you got a lot of things going on in your life. But the only things you will take with you from this life to the next are these three: your friendship with Jesus – so you better get that now, because if you exit this life without it you are screwed; Virtuous friendships with others also goes with us into heaven, that is why we have the communion of saints – a bunch of really close friends who are perfectly happy with God; Finally, that we helped others to friendship with Jesus like Bartholomew did. The friendship and love Bartholomew had for Christ and souls took him to Armenia, on the far eastern side of Turkey, where he introduced the brother of the King of Armenia to Jesus and he converted. For this the King had Bartholomew skinned alive and crucified head downward. The missionary efforts of St. Bartholomew along with the Apostle Jude Thaddeus were so successful that in 301, thanks to the apostolate of St. Gregory the Illuminator, Armenia became the first nation that embraced Christianity and proclaimed it a state religion, even before the Edict of Milan of 313, by which the Roman Empire tolerated Christianity, and the Edict of Theodosius by which in 380 the Empire recognized Christianity as a state religion. Surrounded by Islam on all sides Armenia has remained a Christian nation until this day. Way to go Bart! The Gospel of Todays Mass for the Feast of Bartholomew is from John 1:45-51 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, the one about whom the prophets wrote: he is Jesus son of Joseph, from Nazareth.’ ‘From Nazareth?’ said Nathanael ‘Can anything good come from that place?’ ‘Come and see’ replied Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael coming he said of him, ‘There is an Israelite who deserves the name, incapable of deceit.’ ‘How do you know me?’ said Nathanael. ‘Before Philip came to call you,’ said Jesus ‘I saw you under the fig tree.’ Nathanael answered, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are the King of Israel.’ Jesus replied, ‘You believe that just because I said: I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.’ And then he added ‘I tell you most solemnly, you will see heaven laid open and, above the Son of Man, the angels of God ascending and descending.’ People come to God through other people. There is no other way. Philp helped Bartholomew into friendship with Jesus by his friendship with Bartholomew. That is precisely how God set it up; that by the unique friendships established through marriage, family, work and social life, we develop authentic friendships with others. True friends want what is best for the other and the greatest good is friendship with God. so that is what we hope to help our spouse, kids and friends to – deep friendship with Jesus. If we truly live the virtue of friendship in which we demonstrate that we know, love and care for the other person unconditionally, then we will have won the right to propose friendship with Jesus to them. But only based on this precondition. Am I really demonstrating that I really know, understand, love and care unconditionally for those around me? If yes, then I am on good footing to help them to Jesus. IF not, then I have some work to do. Bartholomew lived Deep friendship with God.

The Devil and Discouragement
Aug 23 2019 21 mins  
One of the greatest weapons of the devil is discouragement. He wants to discourage us from actions that will lead to our own transformation, the transformation of those around us and the whole world. We need to resist him firmly, refuse to give into his lies and do what God is inspiring within us! 1) The devil wants to discourage us from daily meditation. He knows that if we persevere in daily meditation, we will, over time, go from good, to better, to great, and become a saint. If we persevere in meditation, nothing can stop us. Therefore, the devil does all that he can to stop us and discourage us from prayer by telling us that “we’re wasting our time, that our prayer isn’t accomplishing anything, and that we have too many more pressing responsibilities. Or, God loves you unconditionally and he won’t mind if you skip meditation today.” Fight this attack of the devil by persevering in daily meditation. 2) The devil wants to discourage us from speaking to others about Jesus. The devil knows the power of the gospel and what will happen if we put people in contact with Jesus. So he has to do everything in his power to keep us from talking to others about Jesus. The lie that he spreads to discourage us is this, “you should have faith, but keep it to yourself. Your faith is personal and needs to be private. If you tell others about your faith then your trying to force it on them. You wouldn’t want to be one of those annoying bible thumpers, would you? So just lead by good example and people will come to Jesus.” This is a lie. Our relationship with Jesus is personal, but it was never meant to be private. In fact, Jesus commanded the apostles and all his followers to make it public. Every time Jesus says proclaim or preach the gospel, the phrase in the original language means to “Make it public.” Don’t give into the lie, when God gives the opportunity to speak about Him to others – do it. 3) The devil wants to discourage us from leaving our comfort zone so that we are never able to reach our fullest potential. This could be regarding starting friendships or in taking a step forward in your profession that you feel could help you, the company, and the clients. The devil has engrained in us the fear of failure. “Why would you risk the failure and the humiliation that follows, you’re good where you are right now. Why risk that?” The devil doesn’t want us to have the chance to ever start up new initiatives that entail risks, possibly a business venture, possibly starting or expanding a family, or possibly even inviting people to your home to pray the rosary with you. 4) The devil wants to discourage us from ending sinful habits and creating virtuous ones. He sows the lie that you can’t live without the sinful habit. The habits become so tied to who we are that we let the devil tell us that these habits are our identity, and losing that habit is losing a part of ourselves. We may fall into the vice of overworking, whether it be in the workplace or at home. Instead of living a balanced life, the devil lies to us and makes us fear losing our identity of a “good work ethic,” convincing us to overwork ourselves. The devil tricks us into tying our entirely identity in moderate things such as work. 5) The devil wants to discourage us from loving unconditionally. He does so by telling us, “You’re always the one that gives, they never give anything in return. If you keep loving unconditionally then you will never get what they owe you.” Jesus doesn’t want us to enable sinful manipulation, but the devil skews this and tries to prevent the power of unconditional love. Saint John of the Cross says, “Where there is no love, put love and you will find love."

The Queenship of Mary
Aug 22 2019 24 mins  
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Queenship of Mary. Because Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ, the King of Kings, then she is the Queen of the Universe. In the early 700’s in Jerusalem, St. John Damascene sums up the entire Christian tradition when he writes: "When she became Mother of the Creator, she truly became Queen of every creature." Christ is our King not only because He is the Son of God but also because He is the Savior of the World. Instituting this Celebration of the Queenship of Mary Pope Pius XII wrote: if Mary, in taking an active part in the work of salvation, was, by God's design, associated with Jesus Christ, the source of salvation itself, in a manner comparable to that in which Eve was associated with Adam, the source of death, so that it may be stated that the work of our salvation was accomplished by a kind of "recapitulation," in which a virgin was instrumental in the salvation of the human race, just as a virgin had been closely associated with its death; if, moreover, it can likewise be stated that this glorious Lady had been chosen Mother of Christ "in order that she might become a partner in the redemption of the human race"; and if, in truth, "it was she who, free of the stain of actual and original sin, and ever most closely bound to her Son, on Calvary offered that Son to the Eternal Father together with the complete sacrifice of her maternal rights and maternal love, like a new Eve, for all the sons of Adam, stained as they were by his lamentable fall," then it may be legitimately concluded that as Christ, the new Adam, must be called a King not merely because He is Son of God, but also because He is our Redeemer, so, analogously, the Most Blessed Virgin is queen not only because she is Mother of God, but also because, as the new Eve, she was associated with the new Adam. Let all Christians, therefore, glory in being subjects of the Virgin Mother of God, who, while wielding royal power, is on fire with a mother's love. On this Feast of the Queenship of Mary I want to share with you a few key messages from the apparitions of Jesus and Mary to to Sr. Mary Ephrem Neuzil, a Precious Blood sister in Ohio from 1954 and 1984 known as Our Lady of America. In 2007, Cardinal Burke wrote a letter to every bishop of the U.S. verifying the approved status of this apparition and encouraging all bishops to do as Jesus and Mary had requested in their messages…May 22 1954 Jesus said to Sr. Neuzil, if the world is dying, it is because it will not let Me give it life. I am the resurrection and the life, and unless souls seek their life in Me, they will find only death and destruction. They fear man-made destroyers of life, yet destruction is in themselves. Man destroys himself through the evil that is in himself. Implements of war kill only that which is without. Man kills that which is within – his soul. May 29, 1954, O Man, what have I done to you that you should refuse My aid?... do you know what I find most lacking in the world today? It is FAITH. There are so few souls that believe in Me and My love. They profess their belief and their love, but they do not live this belief. Their hearts are cold, for without faith there can be no love. Pray and sacrifice yourself, my child, that faith may once again find entrance into the hearts of men. July 11, 1954 My daughter I am not loved in the homes of men. And because I am not loved, the Divine Trinity refuses to dwell therein. Children are not taught to love Me, because those who are in charge of them have no time or patience to do so. My Heart grieves over My children in the world. Their hearts are being drawn farther and farther away from Me. They will not even listen to My Mother, because they have never been taught to listen. I am a Beggar for love, but how few give to Me the means by which to satisfy My divine hunger. I hunger for the love of My own, and I receive only the crumbs no other would accept. July 12, 13, 14 1954.

Learning from our Limitations
Aug 21 2019 23 mins  
I hate limitations! I am not the most intelligent person but I have a strong will and I will work or push through anything to accomplish what I want! Well, I came face to face with my limitations last night and today. My body was destroyed from trying to reach a new summit hiking everyday since last Wednesday. Except for Mass I didn’t leave the house today. I’ve been vanquished by my limitations and I am angry, sad and depressed. I have limitations, I hate that I am finite. This is the very trap the devil fell into. Teresa of Avila writes: I believe His Majesty desires to bring us along this way (the way of suffering, trials, crosses and difficulties) for our own good so that we may understand well what little we amount to. The favors that come afterward are of such great worth that He desires first that before He gives them to us we see by experience our own limitations so that what happened to Lucifer will not happen to us. Life 11:11 Because he has no physical body, the devil did not experience his limitations through suffering. Therefore, he thought he was without limits, that he did not need God, so he did not want God and made no space for God in his life. That is why he is in hell. He made allowed no space for God in his life. 2. If we had no limitations, we would be full of ourselves and there would be no space for God to fill with His divine life. Our limitations therefore may be our greatest asset because it creates a space for us to be filled by God and divinized – that is – made God-like. And when we become God-like we surpass our limitations infinitely! Our limitations are unique. It may be physical, psychological, it may be that your kids are growing up and leaving you behind so to speak – you can go with them or keep them with you – it may be the death of a spouse, old age and infirmity; it may be that you are a gifted professional and you take on too many opportunities, clients, or patients and the weight is now crushing you; or you may just find that you face circumstances you cannot change. These are our limitations. They are a gift. Why? Because you cant do any more to overcome it by your power alone! You cant do it. Oh you can make it worse, that’s for sure, by forcing your will or your way, but you cant remove your limitations by your will power. This is a great blessing and the devil missed it completely. See, you CAN have your limitations removed and obliterated completely by A) accepting them with trust in God B) surrendering them to Jesus C) letting God fill that space of perceived loss or frustration with Himself D) when God fills that Space with Himself he raises you up to a divine level – Divinizes you! 3. This is what God did to St. Faustina and Maximilian Kolbe. God allowed both Faustina and Kolbe to face the limitation of TB. She accepted it with trust and God raised her up to become the Apostle of Mercy around the world for the last 100 years. Kolbe accepted his limiting illness with Trust in the Mother of God and he formed the largest monastery in the world, 700 young men, and then duplicate it in Japan, and produced a daily periodical to evangelize with a distribution of over 1,000,000 copies regularly. Then he offered his life for another man in Auschwitz, they denied him water and food for 14 days at the end of which he was latterly glowing with divine light and he wouldn’t die so they had to give him a lethal injection. Kolbe accepted his limitations, God filled that space with the His divine presence and made Kolbe free and powerful and almost indestructible! 4. The devil wants us to focus on the limitations, the loss, the frustration, fear and sorrow. then the devil wants us to hate God for this. Focus instead on God filling your limitations, the space He is carving out, with Himself, making you God-like, free, powerful, beautiful, and full of His divine life. 5. Develop your gifts, maximize your potential, do arduous things, and live life to the full.

Pray Without Ceasing
Aug 20 2019 22 mins  
I am with my family, sadly not all at the same time but in waves, Sandy John Sara Grace, Xavier, Teresa and Nick. We get up, go to daily Mass, hike big all day, cook great meals, laugh, have good conversation and pray the Rosary – well, that is whoever hasn’t fallen asleep. This is wonderful vacation. But today I felt a little lost because I am off my normal spiritual routine of spending the first hour of each day in silent meditation with Jesus and Mary. I’ve had lots of time in silence on the mountains but its not my normal routine and place for meditation so I’m off my game. I have a handful of holy nuns that pray for me, and keep my out of prison and probably from hell. One of them texted me today and I share with her how I was a little lost. She gave me a piece of wisdom that should be lived everyday and I share it with you: “The heart of our prayer routine is to fix our gaze on the Heart of Jesus and that our deepest longing is union with Him. With this I should move through the day without ever leaving intimacy with Jesus. What happens exteriorly is just different scenarios where that intimacy love and union unfold.” Great wisdom right – I should live that every day and so should you! God is not only with us when we are at Mass, or in meditation or praying the Rosary. He is present with us at every moment. We just forget this. In the Our Father we pray: Our Father Who art in Heaven. The CCC 2794 says This biblical expression does not mean a place (space), but a way of being; it does not mean that God is distant, but It refers to His supreme majesty, and power His presence in the hearts of the Just Augustine “Our Father who art in heaven” is rightly understood to mean that God is in the hearts of the just, as in his holy temple. Jesus said to St Faustina, My Kingdom on earth is My Life in the human soul Diary 1784 Pope Benedict This is what prayer really is Being in silent inward communion with God This silent presence of God at the heart of our thinking, our meditating and our being is what we mean by prayer without ceasing St Faustina writes: The moments which are most pleasant to me are those when I converse with the Lord within the center of my being. I try my very best not to leave him alone. He likes to be always with us…Diary 1793 531-534 The mysteries of Jesus’ hidden life Jesus spent 30 years in Nazareth living an Ordinary Life of prayer and work, friendship and family Only 3 years of public ministry Jesus spent 10 times more doing what you do day in and day out than he did in his ministry – WHY? 2 Reasons: Remember, Jesus is an eternal person, that means all that he does remains present, never slips into the past. In some way Jesus is still present living an ordinary life and because He is present in that ordinary life you can meet Him there at every moment of your ordinary life and live it together. It is not just the suffering of Jesus that we can participate in through our own suffering. We can participate in the prayer, work, joy and suffering of Jesus. Every moment of our life can be moments united to him if we just have the right desire – the desire to be united to him, present to him. The opening prayer of Mass each day this week says – love him in all things and above all things. CCC 533 tells us to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life The 2nd reason Jesus lived this ordinary life for 30 years was to teach us - we are to live as sons and daughters of God and become Saints through the ordinary events of life Prayer Work – school Friendship, marriage, family Sickness, suffering, trials and conflicts Living a well ordered and balanced life Friendship with Jesus, like any friendship, requires time and our undivided attention. That is why we need time in silent meditation each day with Jesus and Mary – talking, listening and being with them. But when we leave that time – they don't leave us, we should not leave them.

Conforming Ourselves to Christ
Aug 17 2019 23 mins  
God created every person to share in his life – to be like God and live like God forever! God’s plan is to bring about a great exchange – he would take on our lowly humanity in order to give us a share in his divinity. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that? St. Peter writes in his 2nd letter that we will become “partakers in the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). And this fact led St. Augustine and St. Thomas to say: God became man so that man could become god. How will we come to share in the life of God? The Holy Spirit and Mary conceive the life of Jesus in our souls through Baptism and then we are to cooperate with God so that Christ is fully formed in us. CCC 520 In all of his life Jesus presents himself as our model. He is "the perfect man", who invites us to become his disciples and follow him. In humbling himself, he has given us an example to imitate, through his prayer he draws us to pray, and by his poverty he calls us to accept freely the privation and persecutions that may come our way However, If we strive to become like Jesus by imitation alone we will fail. God knew this and He provides a further means: CCC 521 Christ enables us to live in him all that he himself lived, and he lives it in us…We are called only to become one with him, for he enables us as the members of his Body to share in what he lived for us in his flesh as our model: St John Eudes: We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and his mysteries, the events of his life, and often to beg him to perfect and realize them in us and in his whole Church…for it is the plan of the Son of God to make us and the whole Church partake in his mysteries, the events of his life and to extend them to and continue them in us and in his whole Church. This is his plan for fulfilling his mysteries in us. Through the Mass and the Sacraments Jesus makes the Events from His life Present So that what took place in Him can take place in us and transform us CCC 1085 In the liturgy of the Church (the Mass and the Sacraments), it is principally but not only the Paschal mystery, the suffering death and Resurrection that Christ signifies and makes present…When his hour comes he lives out the unique event of history which does not pass away: Jesus dies, is buried, rises from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father “once for all. His Paschal mystery is a real event that occurred in our history, but it is unique: all other historical events happen once, and then they pass away, swallowed up in the past. The Paschal mystery of Christ, by contrast, cannot remain only in the past because…all that he did and suffered for all men - participates in the divine eternity, and so transcends all times while being made present in them all…” Jesus is an eternal Person Eternal means there is no past and no future, only the “Present” Every event from the life of Jesus remains PRESENT So that we can enter into it Take part in it – be conformed to it And become like him The mysteries, meaning the events of the life of Jesus are made present in the Mass and the sacraments So that what took place in Jesus May take place in us And we be conformed to Him How does this happen that the events of the life of Christ are made present and we enter them? CCC 1099 The Holy Spirit Recalls the mystery of Christ In the Liturgy of the Word, the first half of the Mass, the Holy Spirit recalls the saving events from the life of Christ; but it doesn’t end with there; CCC 1104 the Christian liturgy not only recalls the events that saved us but actualizes them, makes them present. The Paschal mystery of Christ is celebrated, not repeated. It is the celebrations that are repeated, and in each celebration there is an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that makes the unique mystery present. That is why 1370 can say: In the Eucharist the Church is as it were At the foot of the Cross with Mary, united to the offering and intercession of Christ.

4 Reasons We Need Jesus
Aug 16 2019 23 mins  
The CCC suggests 4 reasons why we need Jesus 457 God became man in Jesus to save us by reconciling us with God. We have all sinned. Romans 6 tells us the consequences of sin is death. Death doesn’t just mean the end of our earthly life. Death as the consequence from unrepented sin means eternal separation from God, but also separation from one another and the complete loss of happiness… Imagine being locked in solitary confinement, completely alone – forever, with no hope that the pain would end. That is Hell That is what Jesus came to save us from Why can’t God just forgive and forget the consequences? B/C God made us free like Himself and with Freedom comes Consequences. Good choices bear good consequences, Bad choices bear bad consequences. If we want him to remove the consequences, Then He would have to remove our freedom We would not be human Imagine Playing a game with young child If every time the child made a wrong move you let him take it back, Then the child was not really playing the game, was he? For God to excuse every bad move I make, He would have to take away my freedom. Rather than destroy our human dignity; God became one of us. He suffered the consequences for us; He suffered our death And rose from the dead. Since Jesus is both God and Man, He could bear the consequences as Man, He could rise from the dead b/c He is God. By His death Jesus fulfilled the consequence of our sin. By His Resurrection He conquered death 2nd Reason we need Jesus… 458 The Word became flesh so that we might know God’s love How do we know God’s love? He died for us At the Last Supper Jesus tells his disciples, “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends…” Then He suffered and died for us We should Read the accounts of Jesus’ suffering and death in the Gospel There you will see for yourself: the outstretched arms of Jesus on the Cross, the arms of the God who proved his love for us by dying for you and me this is the Revelation of God’s love 3rd Reason we need Jesus 459 The Word became flesh to be our model of holiness Jesus reveals what God is really like; He also reveals what we should be like Because Jesus was fully human He shows us how to be Fully Human Fully Alive He teaches us how to live by the way He lived He teaches us how to pray By the way He prayed He teaches us to live Mercy Through his own example of Mercy He teaches us how to fight Temptation To be calm in the storms of life To have courage under persecution To deal with rejection, privation and want To be patient in suffering and death A wonderful old Benedictine monk, Fr. Adrian, when we would be in the sacrament of Reconciliation he would turn to a small statue of Jesus and say to me How would Jesus handle these situations? Michael you must live like the Master Read and think about the life of Jesus in the Gospel For we must learn to live like the Master 4th Reason we need Jesus… 460 The Word became flesh to make us partakers of the divine nature. For this is why the Word became Man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God. For the Son of God became man so that we might become God. The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he made man, might make men Gods. The whole point of life is to be Reunited to God Sin had separated us from Him The distance between us was impossible to bridge Imagine Two Shores separated by a body of water no one could swim You would need a bridge to cross over We need a bridge from God to man Where are God and man joined together? In the Body of Christ That is why Jesus gives us the Eucharist! The Body of Christ is the bridge to cross over to God (John 6:54)

The Assumption of Our Lady
Aug 15 2019 23 mins  
The Assumption of Mary is not recorded in Scripture, but we know it is true because the Apostles were present, they are the witnesses to the Assumption of Mary, body and soul into heaven, and they hand down this fact. The Apostles were present at the home of Mary in Jerusalem when her earthly life came to an end, they carried her body and placed it in a tomb near Gethsemane, and the Apostles were witnesses to her bodily Assumption into heaven. St. Germanus of Constantinople in a homily given in the year 720 states that Mary’s Assumption into heaven was witnessed by the Apostles, who could then confirm the truth with their authority. St. Germanus writes: “Your departure did not lack witnesses…Heaven tells the glory of those who ran to meet you then; earth presents the truth about it; the clouds cry out the honor they paid you, and the angels tell of the offering of gifts that was made to you then, when the Apostles were at your side as you passed away above Jerusalem.” The Church has celebrated the Feast of the Assumption in Jerusalem on August 15 since the 400’s St John Damascene, who lived near Jerusalem proposed Consecration to Mary in one of his sermons on the Assumption (Dormition) of Mary in the 700s: We today also remain near you, O Lady. Yes, I repeat, O Lady, Mother of God and Virgin. We bind our souls to your hope, as to a most firm and totally unbreakable anchor, consecrating to you mind, soul, body and all our being and honoring you as much as we can with psalms, hymns, and spiritual canticles. The First Reading from Mass today is from Revelation 11-12 The sanctuary of God in heaven opened and the ark of the covenant could be seen inside it. Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, adorned with the sun, standing on the moon, and with the twelve stars on her head for a crown. She was pregnant, and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. Then a second sign appeared in the sky, a huge red dragon which had seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. Its tail dragged a third of the stars from the sky and dropped them to the earth, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was having the child, so that he could eat it as soon as it was born from its mother. The woman brought a male child into the world, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had made a place of safety ready. From the time the devil rebelled against God and led 1/3 of the angels with him, there has raged a cosmic battle. The devil and his angels were cast out of heaven. Then the devil, the prince of this world pursued the woman, Mary but had no hold on her for she is the new Eve, "full of grace" of the Holy Spirit, who is preserved from sin and the corruption of death (the Immaculate Conception and the Assumption of the Most Holy Mother of God, Mary, ever virgin). Because the devil could not touch Mary he went off to make war on the rest of her offspring – we are the offspring, the children of Mary, she is our spiritual mother. The devil is bent on one thing and one thing only, our destruction. But if we belong to Mary, he cannot touch us. Mary was Assumed into heaven, but she has not left us alone. She is present. I sense her presence. She is the one who crushes the head of Satan in our lives. Belong to her. Practice living under her influence and care. She will protect you from the deceptions of the devil, the destroyer and she will lead you to the calm harbor of the will of God. Since Mary is our Spiritual Mother and she is the one who crushes the head of Satan the Church recommends 3 things: Entrust ourselves to Mary as Jesus did in the Incarnation Live in union with Mary as a little child with his mother Sit at the school of Mary each day in the Rosary We should imitate Jesus and consecrate ourselves to Mary.

Redemptive Suffering (Part 2)
Aug 14 2019 24 mins  
In the beginning of his letter to the Colossians, St. Paul makes a statement that I think doesn’t make sense except on the Catholic view of participation: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and my flesh I complete what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of His body, that is, the Church” (Colossians 1:24). How could Christ’s sufferings be lacking? And if they were lacking, how could we make up for it? Think of it this way: Christ preached the Gospel, but if we don’t participate in preaching the Gospel, Christ’s preaching won’t have its full effect. Christ loved and served the poor, but if we don’t participate in His love and service for the poor, His love for the poor won’t have its full effect. And Christ suffered for souls, but if we don’t participate in His suffering for souls, than His suffering won’t have its full effect. That’s what it means to “make up what is lacking in Christ’s sufferings for the good of the Church”: it means Christ makes the full impact of Calvary dependent on our willingness to cooperate with Him. Pope Pius XII puts it starkly: “The salvation of many depends on the prayers and voluntary penances which the members of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ offer for this intention.” He goes on to say, speaking to all the faithful, “Let them all remember that their sufferings are not in vain, but that they will turn to their own immense gain and that of the Church, if to this end they bear them with patience. What kinds of sufferings bring divine aid to other people? In the 2nd apparition of the Angel to the three children of Fatima in the Summer of 1916, the Angel stated that the children had a mission from Jesus and Mary to help them save souls by prayer and sacrifice. Lucy asked the Angel: “How are we to make sacrifices?” "Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners.” “In this way, you will draw peace upon your country. I am its Guardian Angel, the Angel of Portugal. Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings which the Lord will send you." The most spiritually fruitful you can be is the patient acceptance and endurance of the sufferings, which you did not choose, you do not like and you cannot change, which God in His mysterious providence sends you. Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychotherapist and concentration camp survivor, used to quote Nietzsche’s dictum that a person can endure any “what” as long as he has a strong enough “why.” The idea is that a person can withstand any amount of suffering given an adequate reason, an adequate cause to which their suffering contributes. And our faith tells us that suffering saves souls – ours, and other peoples’ – and consoles the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It’s hard to think of a worthier cause, one that would inspire more courage in whatever situation, than that. Victims or Voluntary Agents? The word “passion” is connected to the word for “passive.” Because our feelings are responses, they’re associated with something happening to us. The word “suffering” has similar connotations of passivity, and in fact one of its definitions is “to put up with.” The idea is that some other force is the agent, maybe a violent agent, and the sufferer is the victim who feels the effects. At one level, Jesus is the supreme victim. Judas, the Pharisees, Pilate and the Romans, Herod and Satan himself work in concert to attack, suddenly, freely and brutally. An innocent man who has done nothing to deserve this kind of hatred or violence, nothing to provoke it, is subject to betrayal, torture, mockery, death. He puts up with it all. He “suffers himself” to be immolated. But of course, that’s only part of the picture. The other part of the picture, the more important part, is that the entire event is orchestrated by God himself.

Redemptive Suffering (Part 1)
Aug 13 2019 23 mins  
Yesterday we reflected on four causes sorrow, that if prolonged can lead to depression. We should do all we can to change what is bad. However, if we cannot change our suffering, there is still a way forward; we can unite our suffering and sorrow to Christ. He uses it to bring us to transforming union with God, the goal of life and he uses it to save the souls of others. This is what led St. Paul to say “It makes me happy to suffer for you, as I am suffering now, and in my own body to do what I can to make up all that has still to be undergone by Christ for the sake of his body, the Church.” If the suffering of Christ was sufficient to save the world – why would Paul say he wants to make up all that still has to be undergone by Christ? Because God invites us to participate in all he does. This idea of participation is where we get the phrase “offer it up” and it is why Jesus says we cannot be his disciples unless we take up our own cross and follow him every day. Still “offering it up” is a very misunderstood Catholic thing, but once we understand how God has given us a way to participate in his being and action, your suffering can become a powerful force to live with meaning, hope and happiness. Participation in Divine Being and Action To understand how we can help others by our suffering we must grasp one of the most fundamental and neglected ideas in Catholic theology, that of participation. This is the idea that: God has enabled us to share in His being and action in a way that does not add to, subtract from, or compete with His being and action. In the material realm, “sharing” means dividing up limited resources. If you share your pizza with me, I’m subtracting from your pizza. And if we split a pizza, the more you take the less I’ll be able to have. There’s a competition. But sharing or participating in the immaterial or spiritual realm isn’t like that. If I go to a lecture about something I have no knowledge of the professor will share his knowledge with me, but I won’t be taking away or adding to or competing with any of his knowledge about the topic. My knowledge will depend on his, but his won’t depend on mine – so I’m participating in his knowledge in a way that doesn’t threaten his primacy or expertise in any respect. What’s true of this example of teaching and learning is true of all the various ways God wills that we participate in His being and action. God lets us share in His being. On the natural level, our existence is dependent on the existence of God, not vice versa, since He exists in Himself and we exist by sharing in or participating in the existence of God. Moreover, God exists infinitely, so our existence doesn’t so much add to His existence as participate in it: He is the God “in whom we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). Then, through the staggering generosity and presence of the Holy Spirit, sanctifying grace raises our sharing in God’s being to the supernatural level, such that we become, in the words of St. Peter, “partakers in the divine nature” (II Peter 1:4). The fact that we are invited to share in the very nature of God led St. Augustine and St. Thomas to say: God became man so that man could become god. God also lets us share in His action. In particular, the theological virtues allow us to operate at a level above the merely human, since they “adapt man’s faculties for participation in the divine nature.” By faith we know divine truth, by hope we participate in God’s love for ourselves, and by Charity we participate in God’s love for God – which will be the apex of heavenly happiness. So it shouldn’t be surprising that when God became man, and shared in our life, He also opened up new avenues for us to participate in His character and mission. In other words, we participate in Jesus’ being and His action too. We share in His divine sonship, and we look forward to sharing in His death and Resurrection.

Depression and Sorrow
Aug 12 2019 24 mins  
Depression can be caused by suffering, pain and sorrow. Let’s recall the difference between evil and suffering. Evil is the absence of a good which should be present, in other words something is missing that should be there. Blindness is a physical evil since the person is missing sight. Vice is a moral evil since the person is missing virtue – the good actions and habits that result in happiness. Suffering is not evil. Suffering is a felt response to something perceived as evil. The purpose of suffering is to alert us that something needs to change. People always mix up suffering and evil, probably because suffering always indicates the presence of some evil. If we suffer, it’s either because we accurately perceive some present evil, or because we mistakenly think something’s evil when it isn’t – and that very mistake on our part is itself a failure in our judgment. Suffering doesn’t happen without evil. But the correspondence between evil and suffering shouldn’t lead to confusion. Only evil is evil. Suffering can be good. It can be the right response to a perceived evil (causing you to take your hand out of the fire); and it can motive change in our behavior from vice to virtue. Like changing from a life of greed to generosity. We must distinguish between pain which begins in the body and sorrow which finds its origin in the soul. Sorrow can cause us to ask the big questions in life and then seek for answers. Sorrow can also motivate us to make a change in the way we live. If we suffer the sorrow of loneliness, we may make the changes to have deep friendships. Sorrow may also help us appreciate happiness even more. Suffering in the form of pain or sorrow is meant to alert us to a problem and motivate us toward change and ultimately to achieve the purpose of our life - union with God. Suffering can awaken the soul from indifference and sloth, causing it to take our relationship with God more seriously. Suffering can also prevent us from becoming distracted on our journey toward union with God because when we become distracted, as we often do in the summer, then we lose the depth of relationship we had with God when we are in our normal routines, and this lose of relationship results in sorrow. Finally, suffering can empty us of all the addictions and disordered attachments we will not let go of on our own that block us from being filled by God. Suffering is not evil. Evil is evil. Evil is the problem – whether physical, psychological, or spiritual. Evil is the thing to eliminate at all costs – not suffering. We eliminate evil by rectifying the absence of the good that ought to be there; not the numbing of the response that motivates positive change. God allows evil out of respect for our freedom and interdependence, and because He can use evil as an opportunity for good. God gives us the gift of human suffering as a perfection of our nature, and as a motive for heroically moving beyond the weaknesses and defects of our condition: “the more one sorrows on account of a certain thing, the more one strives to shake off sorrow, provided there is a hope of shaking it off.” We are not motivated to change until the pain or sorrow outweighs the pleasure or the comfort. However, suffering in the form of sorrow, just like any other good or any other passion, can also become disordered. It can be counter-productive. It can inhibit, instead of inciting, the process of making things better. Such is the case with “excessive sorrow, which consumes the soul: for such sorrow paralyzes the soul, and hinders it from shunning evil...” There is the danger of a suffering that cripples the will rather than empowering it – and this is depression. It’s not necessarily immoral or imprudent to use drugs to help with depression, but before we get to that we need to appreciate the character of depression as a natural response to significant pain

Why is Jesus God? He Rose From the Dead
Aug 11 2019 24 mins  
Prior to everyone on the planet having an I-phone ready to record, the only verification of any historical event were the eyewitness accounts. In 1 Corinthians chapter 15 Paul recounts the many eyewitnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus from dead.Some deny the Resurrection The disciples lied and stole Christ’s body to support their lie What if the disciples just made the whole thing up? What if the whole story of the Resurrection was a fabrication by the apostles? But the main problem with the Deception hypothesis is this: Why would you give your life for a lie? Furthermore, how could you get more than 500 people to conspire and carry out the same lie over 50 years with no earthly benefit? Many of the apostles and first Christians were martyred in horrible, horrible ways. Who on earth would die for something they know isn’t true? You may give your life for something you mistakenly think is true – but we have no case in history of someone dying for something that they know is a hoax. The word “martyr,” as is commonly known, is actually taken from the Greek word for “witness,” and it is precisely the martyrdom of the early Christians that witnesses to the sincerity of their belief. You may think they were wrong, but they sure didn’t think they were. Jesus died and rose from the dead so that He could offer the same possibility to us if we choose to believe and live according to the will of God. St. Thomas Aquinas writes: "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."The Resurrection of Jesus gives us meaning, hope and happiness. If we come from nothing; and we are going toward nothing after death; then nothing really matters which makes a person feel like you don’t matter, your just a random occurrence. There is no meaning, no hope of something to look forward to. Oh sure, I can have some pleasure now but most of my time is work and there is a lot of pain – why endure it? But if Jesus has risen from the dead, then he is God. there is a God who made the world and made me with a design and purpose – to reach heaven and the resurrection – never ending perfect happiness – that is my destination – that is what I hope in. This gives meaning to my life for now my prayer, work, joy and suffering prepare me for eternity and I can help others to eternity by offering up these things. Without the Resurrection of Jesus – there is Nothing! With the Resurrection there is Everything. The Devil wants to obscure the Resurrection The devil wants us to fear, hate one another, cause division, despair and give up and ultimately kill ourselves. This is precisely the path he led Judas down and it’s the way he wants to lead all people. Do not give in to fear hate and despair. You are not alone. Jesus has risen and he lives in your soul. Turn to Him there. Surrender yourself to Him. Then Hope. Hope means to have a firm confidence that Jesus is going to work everything out in Heaven. (Spe Salvi 43). God can’t make what has happened not to have happened. He can’t change the past, that would be a denial of human freedom. Throughout our lives, God is orchestrating everything. Hope says we will place our bets on Christ.

Why is Jesus God? He Claimed to be God
Aug 10 2019 23 mins  
The third reason we believe Jesus is God and one of the most dramatic differences between Jesus and any other religious founder, is that Jesus said He was God. That’s right. The thirty-something carpenter’s son from a small town in Nazareth said he was the Eternal Creator of the Universe. He actually said, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (thus giving himself the name of the eternal, all-powerful creator of everything visible and invisible). This is the main reason the Jewish leaders wanted to Jesus put to death: “He made himself God’s equal.” John 5:18. Now what can you do with that? First of all, that’s radically unlike what any religious founder would have said. CS Lewis imagines what other religious founders would have said if you’d asked them, “Are you the creator of the universe?” Socrates would have laughed at you. Buddha would have urged you to seek enlightenment. Confucius would have said something like, “Jokes which are in bad taste should not be made.” And Mohammed would have cut off your head for blasphemy.I once talked to a nonbeliever who said that Jesus was a good guy, had some good insights, but was a little neurotic. But calling yourself the creator of the universe doesn’t qualify you as neurotic: it means you’re a full-blown psychotic. If somebody says “I’m the eternal, all-powerful creator of the universe,” you don’t say, “Well, I disagree with you about that. But I’d still like to hear your views on marriage, family, social justice, and morality in general.” Somebody who thinks they’re God (with a capital G!) is not someone who’s going to give you good moral insights. But everyone agrees that Jesus had some of the most beautiful moral insights the world has ever known. Which means He isn’t a psychotic (and remember, thinking you’re God isn’t the sort of honest mistake a sane person can make). But if He’s not psychotic, then when He says that He’s God, He must be speaking truthfully. Which means He really is God.To give in to the lie that Jesus was a great moral leader but not God is the key to the deception of the Anti-Christ. Here are the 12 deceptions of the Anti-Christ according to Venerable Fulton Sheen: 1) He will come disguised as the Great Humanitarian; he will talk of peace and prosperity, not as means to lead us to God, but as ends in themselves. 2) He will write books on the new idea of God to suit the way people live. 3) He will induce faith in astrology so as to make not the will but the stars responsible for our sins. 4) He will explain guilt away psychologically as repressed sex, make men shrink in shame if their fellowmen say they are not broadminded and liberal. 5) He will identify tolerance with indifference to right and wrong. 6) He will foster more divorces under the disguise that another partner is “vital for happiness.” 7) He will increase love for love and decrease love for persons. 8) He will invoke religion to destroy religion. 9) He will even speak of Christ and say that he was the greatest man who ever lived. 10) The mission of Christ, he will say, will be to liberate men from the servitudes of superstition and Fascism, which he will never define. 11) In the midst of all his seeming love for humanity and his glib talk of freedom and equality, he will have one great secret which he will tell to no one; he will not believe in God. And because his religion will be brotherhood without the fatherhood of God, he will deceive even the elect. 12) He will set up a counter-Church, which will be the ape of the Church because, he the devil, is the ape of God…In desperate need for God, he will induce modern man, in his loneliness and frustration, to hunger more and more for membership in his community that will give man purpose, without any need of personal amendment and without the admission of personal guilt. These are days in which the devil has been given a particularly long rope. Why is it so important that Jesus is God? Because you and I are weak. But Christ can fix the mess.

Why is Jesus God? He Worked Public Miracles
Aug 09 2019 24 mins  
Before we get on a flight for which we have a reservation, we’re asked to show some form of ID. They want to make sure we’re who we say we are. Jesus Christ has his proof of identification as well. It’s not a photo ID; it’s his miracles. Jesus performs dozens of miracles, and he uses them as evidence that He’s who He says He is. He goes so far as to challenge people: “Believe in me because of the works that I do.” Here are a few remarkable but often overlooked characteristics of Jesus’ miracles: He never did a miracle for His own advantage (i.e., when He was hungry He didn’t turn the stones into bread)He never did a private miracle. He never did a miracle to satisfy curiosity or popular demand. He never did a miracle that was denied, even by his enemies. Even those who hated him had to admit that his actions were supernatural. The only solution they could come up with was that he was doing his miracles with the help of Satan!Compare that to other religious founders. Mohammed worked no public miracles. Nor Socrates, nor Confucius. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism got tarred and feathered because he said he could do miracles and then failed to deliver. But if God is going to send someone to earth with the message of truth for the world, you’d think He’d give that person the credentials necessary for people to be sure that this was the real deal.Some people will say, “There could never really be a miracle, because a miracle goes against the laws of nature.” But if you believe in God, then a Law of Nature just means the way God usually does things. And a miracle just means when God is doing something unusual. Usually God makes it so that people can’t walk on water, but if on occasion He wants to make it so that people don’t sink when they walk on water, what’s to stop Him? That’s why it’s very important that we Christians not under-emphasize the miracles of Jesus’ life, because if we do we’ll be undermining His claims to being really sent from God. When Jesus physically heals the paralyzed man, it so that we might know “that the Son of Man has the power to forgive sins”? If Jesus can’t do physical miracles, what reason is there to think that he can do spiritual miracles? After all, spiritual miracles (healing our broken souls and corrupt minds) are a lot more difficult than just multiplying a few loaves of bread. If it weren’t for his miracles, we might despair of ever becoming whole.In Mark chapter 1 Jesus heals all the sick brought to him in Capernaum, then he cures the leper. After which the Centurion comes to Jesus telling him his servant is paralyzed. Jesus offers to come to his house but the Centurion responds “Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed.” Immediately the servant is cured. Jesus has power over physical illness. Then Jesus gets in a boat with his disciples and falls asleep while a violent storm breaks out, about to sink their tiny ship. He has power over the forces of nature. Jesus also has power over demonic forces and he even has power over death, raising Lazarus.Jesus has power over sickness, power over the forces of nature, power over the forces of hell, even power over death. Who is this guy? He is God. His Miracles bear witness that he is the Son of God. He is the one to whom we can entrust our entire life. Jesus I surrender to you, take care of everything. Say that 10 times and you will experience a difference.You might be thinking – I’ve prayed for a miracle and nothing’s happened. The goal of life is not physical, emotional or mental healing. The purpose of life is to be emptied of all that blocks us from being filled by God: pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony and lust. Suffering is the most effective means to accomplish this. If you are suffering, it means God is there, he is working to empty you so that He might fill you with Himself. (CCC 549)

Why is Jesus God? He is Preannounced
Aug 08 2019 23 mins  
In your average Comparative Religions course at your run-of-the-mill college, Jesus Christ will be presented in a lineup of major religious founders. He’ll be there with the likes of Zoroaster, Buddha, Socrates, Confucius, Mohammed, Joseph Smith, and maybe Martin Luther. And the similarities between all these people will be emphasized. They were all persons of strong character, who presented a world-view and preached a moral system. Many suffered for their beliefs, and all of them urged people everywhere to unite in serving a Higher Cause. The problem is, emphasizing similarities is sometimes more misleading than emphasizing dissimilarities. As C.S. Lewis pointed out, milk and urine are similar in that both come from a cow, but you wouldn’t really want to make too much of that similarity when the differences are so much more striking and important. So too with Christ. It’s an enormous mistake to emphasize the similarities between Himself and other religious founders when the differences between Him and them are so much more extreme. What is so special about Jesus? Why do we believe Jesus is God? There are four reasons. We will meditate on the first reason today.Jesus was the only person ever pre-announced for centuries If someone is planning on coming to your house for supper, you’d probably be grateful if they didn’t just drop in unannounced. That is doubly true for someone important: My wife hates it when I invite the Archbishop without giving her some advance notice. If God were coming to earth, wouldn’t be nice to have a little heads up – some advance notice. Jesus Christ is the only person in human history to be preannounced. Quite a few details were known about Him before he came like: How he would be born (Isaiah 7:14), where he would be born (Micah 5:2), when he would be born (Daniel chapters 2 and 7), when His public Ministry would begin (Daniel 9:2-27), and that he would work specific miracles (Isaiah 35:5-6 ). Isaiah 53, written 500-700 years+ before Jesus describes in an uncanny way how the Messiah would suffer and die to save many from their sins: Isaiah 53:3 He will be a thing despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering…; he was despised and we took no account of him. And yet ours were the sufferings he bore, ours the sorrows he carried…Yet he was pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins. On him lies a punishment that brings us peace, and through his wounds we are healed. We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way, and Yahweh burdened him with the sins of all of us. Harshly dealt with, he bore it humbly, he never opened his mouth, like a lamb that is led to the slaughter-house, like a sheep that is dumb before its shearers never opening its mouth… They gave him a grave with the wicked, a tomb with the rich, though he had done no wrong and there had been no perjury in his mouth. Yahweh has been pleased to crush him with suffering…By his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself. The first reason we know Jesus is God is that he is the only person ever to be announced for centuries in advance down to every detail of his life. When the two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus were in confusion and despair about the identity of Jesus, he approached them and brought them out of their confusion by showing how he had been predicted and prophesied. And they believed: Luke 24:44 Then Jesus told them, 'This is what I meant when I said, while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms has to be fulfilled'. He then opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, 'So you see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.

The Transfiguration
Aug 06 2019 25 mins  
The Feast of the Transfiguration (Matthew 16:24). The event of the Transfiguration is a Diamond placed within a setting of 5 predictions of the suffering of Jesus (16:21; 24; 17:9; 17:12; and 17:22). We just heard the first of the five predictions at the end of which Peter tries to stop Jesus and Jesus responds 'Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle in my path, because the way you think is not God's way but man's.' Why does Jesus call Peter Satan? Because Peter what Satan is always trying to do – turn Jesus away from the will and mission of the Father. That Jesus would save souls from hell by his suffering, death and Resurrection is the will of the Father. Then Jesus said to his disciples, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me. For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake will find it. What get if we are followers of Jesus is to be Agents of Change – Jesus goes before us, saving souls by taking up his Cross, then he invites us to help him save souls by taking up our own crosses. If we do, then our suffering will help to save souls and we will share in his glory – which he revealed in the Transfiguration. At Fatima Mary said, God wishes to establish in the World Devotion to My Immaculate Heart, wanting to save souls by this means.What does devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary mean? For one it means to imitate the Heart of Mary. What was the response of the Immaculate Heart of Mary during the suffering of Jesus? What did she do? She traveled through all the human emotions of a mother – she experienced fear, anger, helplessness, darkness, discouragement, the deepest sorrow She Prayed She accepted the Will of the Father with Trust She offered Her Sacrifice with Love For what Purpose? For the conversion of sinners – to save souls from Hell – that is why her Son suffered and died. Devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary means to be Consecrated or Dedicated to live in imitation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to do what She did Face our Cross Go through all the human emotions that come with suffering Accept with Trust what you can’t change Offer your sacrifice with love Joining it to the sacrifice of Christ For the conversion of souls Why should we do this? Because Jesus and Mary are inviting us to help them save the world and sous from self-destruction by taking up our cross.Think of what Christ suffered in this life, and then arm yourselves with the same resolution that he had: anyone who in this life has bodily suffering has broken with sin, because for the rest of his life on earth he is not ruled by human passions but only by the will of God. Everything will soon come to an end, so, to pray better, keep a calm and sober mind. My dear people, you must not think it unaccountable that you should be tested by fire. There is nothing extraordinary in what has happened to you. If you can have some share in the sufferings of Christ, be glad, because you will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed. The Problem with suffering is that We feel like helpless victims of unjust suffering But we are not the victim of a random senseless forces We are the Agents of Change Christ was not a Victim in His Passion and Death He was the Agent of Change His Sacrifice Changed the World I am not a victim when I suffer and die I am an Agent of Change I am a co-Redeemer with Jesus and Mary This is where I make my greatest impact! This is where we prove our love for God and help Jesus save souls God says – I want you help me save souls I say, “Yes, I want to help you!” Ok - here is your Cross

Our Lady of the Snow
Aug 05 2019 21 mins  
Today, August 5, is the Feast of Our Lady of the Snow. It commemorates a powerful intervention of the Mother of God in the world. In 352 AD, there was a Roman aristocrat named Giovanni. He and his wife, having no children, made a vow to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary. They prayed that she might make known to them how they were to dispose of their property in her honor. Mary appeared to Giovanni in a dream on August 4 and told him to build a church on the site where he would find snow the following morning. Bewildered, he went immediately in the morning to tell Pope Liberius of his dream. But that same night, Mary had also appeared to the pope and told him he would find snow on the Esquiline Hill, and there he was to outline the dimensions of a new church. On 5 August, at the height of the Roman summer, snow fell during the night on the summit of the Esquiline Hill. In obedience to a vision of the Virgin Mary that they had the same night, the Pope outlined the size of the Church and the couple built the basilica of St. Mary Major in honor of Mary on the very spot that was covered with snow. Everything in the Old Testament was a preparation for something in the New Testament. The manna or bread from heaven that fed the Israelites as they journeyed through the wilderness to the Promised Land is fulfilled by the Eucharist, the True Bread from heaven. Mary is the fulfillment of Noah’s Ark. Mary is the New and Eternal Ark where we are to find refuge from the flood of evil that is swamping the world today. From October 13, 1983 to February 11, 1990, Jesus and Mary appeared in San Nicolas, Argentina. This apparition has become fully approved by the Church. On December 30, 1989, Jesus said to the visionary: “Formerly, the world was saved by the ark of Noah. Today the Ark is My Mother. Through her, souls will be saved, because she will lead them to me. He who rejects My Mother rejects Me! Many are letting the grace of God pass by in these days.” The Flood is a good image because we all may experience or are experiencing a Flood that appears to be on the verge of swamping our lives. It come in the form of tackling a major investment or business venture; it may be the stress of your job; seemingly unresolvable difficulties with a child be it physical, mental, or emotional; maybe your own chronic illness; maybe an addiction that that has you on the brink of drowning. Or maybe it’s just the onslaught of evil in the world and, well sadly, even within the Church that has you feeling like you’re are sinking…It really doesn’t matter what form the flood takes in your life, what matters is that just as God told Noah to build and get into the Ark, so now God has given us the Ark, Mary our Mother, refuge of sinners and Our Most Merciful Mother. Go into the Ark by Consecrating yourself, your family, your profession and your country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Give yourself and all the things you cannot control to Mary and she will save you from drowning in the Flood. St. Maximilian Kolbe is a particularly close friend of mine. What I love most about him is his indefatigable (isn’t that a great word – it means untiring) confidence in Mary. Kolbe was convinced only one thing was necessary – belong entirely to Mary and she would help you to know and do the will of Jesus. Just as Mary worked out all the details for the bride and groom at Cana, Mary will work out all the details of our lives – if we go into the Ark, if we entrust everything to Mary. In a letter of his from May 8, 1938, Kolbe writes: The concern is over, isn’t it? But you were worried…I am not surprised my friend that sometimes in weakness your hands fall. My hands also fell. In such case the best thing to do is to commit the matter to the Immaculata, to greatly restrain oneself, and not to interfere with the Immaculata, for difficulties which we have turned over to her are no longer our concern. I see Mary everywhere. I see difficulties nowhere.

The Purpose of Pain and the Dark Night
Aug 04 2019 24 mins  
vil is evil and suffering can result from evil, but suffering is not evil. The purpose of pain and suffering can only be understood within the overall context of the purpose of the human person. The ultimate purpose of the human being is union with God. Suffering can be, is meant to be, something that moves us forward towards the divine destination, and it plays a crucial role at every stage of that journey. Pain and suffering can rouse us from our spiritual sloth and indifference so that we take our relationship with God and way we are living seriously. Once we are on the right path, suffering can prevent us from standing still, it keeps us moving forward toward God. Finally, suffering can empty us of all that has blocked God from filling our soul with himself. Therefore, the last leg of the journey, as St. John of the Cross describes it, is the Dark Night. Not Batman, but the Dark Night of the soul. (Sirach 2). We don’t have to wait until after death and purgatory to reach heaven. Heaven is transforming union with God and we are designed for transforming union here. At every moment God wants to flood our souls with His Divine Life. The problem is that we have BLOCKAGES! We have filled our soul with everything but God, things that need to be emptied out so that we may be filled perfectly by God. John of the Cross says The more he wants to give, the more he makes us de sire - even to the point of leaving us empty in order to fill us with goods. You will be repaid for the goods…that you leave behind… Since the immense blessings of God can only enter and fit into an empty and solitary heart, the Lord wants you to be alone. For he truly loves you with the desire of being himself all your company. Our soul is emptied of disordered attachments to be filled by God through two things: The Active purification; and the Passive purification We do our part to empty our soul of disordered loves and attachments by: Daily meditation and resolution, living a balanced life, frequent sacramental life, and meeting with a spiritual director. If you want to reach Heaven, do your part. We can only carry ourselves so far on this journey up the mountain to God. There is only so much we can do to purify our soul on our own from our disordered attachments. They are too deeply rooted, too hidden from our sight. But God Our Father knows exactly what we need to be purified and emptied so that we can be flooded by His life and be perfectly happy. This is when he allows the Passive Purification. If something occurs in your life that you did not choose, do not like, and cannot change, say yes to God even if you don't feel like it. This is where God, by heavy trials, particularly interior ones, perfects and completes what the soul has begun on its own but cannot complete on its own. That is why it is Passive but not In-Active b/c we cooperate by saying yes to God and by not escaping through any means available. John of the Cross describes the purification of The Dark Night using two images: In the purification of the senses, God is likened to a loving mother who first nurses her child, carries and caresses it in her arms, but who then must wean it, teach it both to walk on its own and to put aside the ways of childhood. In the other, the purification of the spirit, God's action is likened to fire working on and transforming a log of wood. In this process of purification which is painful we must allow God to lead. Our job is to say yes, and to accept the Lord's work with all its consequences. Our temptation will be to escape. The pain of body and soul is so great in the Dark Night that we would do almost anything to stop it. Resist this temptation. Keep your eyes fixed on the good you want – transforming union with God and the bliss of heaven on earth. Certainly do what is reasonable and moral to change what is evil or broken or diseased in your life, but do not try to escape those things you did not choose, do not like and cannot change.

The Purpose of Pain
Aug 03 2019 23 mins  
Our meditation yesterday and today has been adapted from the draft of a book called, the Morality of Drug Use by John Mark Miravalle The Purpose of Suffering and Pain Suffering itself is not an evil. Evil is evil. Evil is the problem. Evil – whether physical, psychological, or spiritual – is the thing to eliminate. Salvation from evil is the main objective of God. Salvation from suffering is not the goal. If it were, we would just create a government office that distributes freely morphine, opioids, pot and meth. Or we could just organize a concerted drop of nukes on as many human habitations as possible – we’d all die instantly and painlessly and no one would ever suffer again. Within the broader category of suffering, it’s helpful to distinguish between pain, which begins in the body, and sorrow, which begins in the soul. Pain motivates people not to harm themselves, not to stick their hands in the fire or poke forks into their eyes. People who can’t feel physical pain tend to hurt themselves much more regularly, even if they’re aware that their activities are objectively damaging their bodies. Pain is a basic response system for which there is no substitute. And the same goes for sorrow. Sorrow, for instance, can cause us to reconsider what we think about everything. Where do we come from, what happens after death and what is the meaning of life? Do you think you came from nothing, and that you’ll just dissipate back into nothingness after death? The sorrow provoked by that empty outlook should prompt a more careful assessment. If you don’t know what the meaning of life is, and you’re unhappy about that, good – you ought to be! Victor Frankl, the Austrian psychologist and Holocaust survivor suggests, we should not numb the pain, the pain is good, it has a purpose, to motivate us to go in a search for meaning that will lead us to union with God. If we just numb the pain then we never seek or find God. Sorrow Sorrow can motivate us to change from a bad to a good person, from vice to virtue. If you find yourself deprived of some good, your spiritual dissatisfaction may make you reflect on how you’ve either neglected that good, or, worse, discouraged that good by directly acting against it. Loneliness, for instance, might make you realize that you haven’t put enough effort into friends and family, or that your habits of greed and envy and lust and anger are consistently cutting you off from other people. When the sorrow becomes great enough, you will be motivated to change. But as long as the pleasure of the vice outweighs the sorrow, you will never change. Sorrow, like pain, has a purpose. Leading Us to God The purpose of pain and suffering can only be understood within the overall context of the purpose of the human person. The ultimate purpose of the human being is union with God. Suffering can be, is meant to be, a spur that drives us forward towards the divine destination, and it plays a crucial role at every stage of that journey. To begin with, suffering wakes the soul from spiritual sluggishness, and demands that we take the question of our own existence seriously. CS Lewis writes: We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities; and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but SHOUTS in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Suffering will not let us rest content, because it is itself discontentment. It demands we seek an answer, a solution to the human question. Before we even begin our journey to God, suffering motivates us to search for a path to a better mode of being. Once we’ve found the path – the one road to God, the one way, the one Mediator, Jesus Christ – suffering may prevent us from idling, from procrastinating.

The Difference Between Evil and Suffering
Aug 02 2019 21 mins  
Over the next few days, we will meditate on truths that I hope will begin to transform the way you see suffering and help you see the way that God sees our suffering. CCC 412 concludes the section on Original Sin by asking "Why did God not prevent the first man from sinning?" Evil exists because angels and humans abused their freedom. To prevent evil, it would be necessary for God to take away our freedom. But then we would not be persons, and we wouldn't be able to love. Love requires freedom, and God wants lovers, not pets. I speak often of offering up suffering and suffering is closely related to evil, but they are not the same thing. People always mix up suffering and evil, probably because suffering always indicates the presence of some evil. If we suffer, it’s either because we accurately perceive some present evil, or because we mistakenly think something’s evil when it isn’t – and that very mistake on our part is itself a failure in our judgment. So suffering doesn’t happen without evil. But the correspondence between evil and suffering shouldn’t lead to confusion. Only evil is evil. Suffering can be good. It can be the right response to a perceived evil, the sign and substance of a healthy emotional life. More than that, it can motivate change, and so improve both our understanding of reality (the intellect’s attainment of truth) and how we live our lives (the will’s attainment of goodness). Still, only evil is evil and suffering can be good. We need to define the word evil. Since all existence comes from God, and God is all-good, it follows that evil cannot come from God or be a form of existence. Evil, consequently, is a specific form of non-existence. It’s a privation, that is, the absence of a good which should be present. If something is bad, it’s because it’s missing something it should have. It’s bad to be blind because it means you don’t have sight; it’s bad to have cancer because the cells lack the proper harmony with the rest of the body in their process of replicating; and it’s bad to do poorly on a test because it means that your test suffers from an absence of the right answers. Finally, it’s morally bad to be wicked, because it means you lack the virtue – the honesty and prudence and love – you ought to have. To repeat, evil, is the absence of a good which should be present. What then is suffering as distinct from evil? Suffering is the felt response to something perceived as being evil. Different evils are all unpleasant in different ways, and the crucial point is that they should be unpleasant to motivate us to change things. We ought to be repulsed by evil. We should be disgusted at the thought of eating rat poison, …It’s not enough just to know abstractly that these things are bad; it’s a sign of human excellence to feel a concrete emotional repugnance for them. Indifference, callousness, nonchalance in the face of evil – these aren’t strengths, but defects of character. We ought to dislike evil But if we dislike evil then when we experience evil we’ll suffer. And that’s as it should be. St. Leo the Great writes, "Christ inexpressible grace gave us blessings better than those the demon's envy has taken away." Suffering is the felt response to something perceived as evil. If I lack something I ought to have such as health or a relationship, I do what I can to change it. If I can’t change it, then God is allowing it to bring about a greater good. I can choose to believe this which changes my emotional response and therefore I suffer less. Another powerful way to transform our suffering is to thank God for everything even if we don’t like it or can’t see good from it yet. In this way we stop living by the feelings that say - this feels bad therefore it is bad. Instead we begin to live by the reality that God works all things for good for those who love him.

She Will Crush His Head
Aug 01 2019 25 mins  
As a consequence of original sin the powers of our soul have been wounded. Our passions, feelings and desires now propel us toward sin rather than toward God and our intellect has become darkened and confused while the will is weak. As a result, we desire and choose things that are not good for us, we sin, we turn away from God and toward the devil, even if unknowingly. (1 John 3:7-8, CCC 407). Even though Jesus conquered the devil by his death and Resurrection, tragically, people still choose sin which keeps them under the influence of the devil. That is why the devil is the Ruler of this world. People choose to serve him under the guise of all the idols of our age. You are I are not immune to his influence. There are vices, temptations and sins we are powerless against. Do you know the ones you cannot root out? (CCC 410). Revelation chapter 12 describes the cosmic battle between the Woman, Mary, and the great Red Dragon, Satan. The Catechism then connects this prophecy with the Antichrist who will usher in a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers, causing them to turn away from Christ and the Catholic Church. There is a universal spiritual battle raging right now Not between the US and Russia, Christians and Islam, but between the Woman (Mary) and Satan Mary stands on the battlefield, inviting her children to fight with her to save souls from hell and to bring about the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart The weapons she offers are Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Rosary and by taking up our cross and following Jesus. At Fatima in 1917 Mary revealed to the three children that God wanted to save the world through devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Devotion means to consecrate oneself to Mary. Consecration is an unconditional gift of self to Mary so that the Holy Spirit and Mary may form Jesus within you. This is not a one-time event. We must live the consecration, moment to moment, day after day, by living in imitation of Jesus’s relationship with Mary as he grew up under her influence and care. Practice living in the presence of Mary. Do this especially when you are plagued by some spiritual storm, temptation, sin, doubt, weakness or fear. Turn to Mary and say, “Mary, I surrender to you, take care of everything!” Or simply say, “Mary.” I say Ya Adhra – The Virgin Pray the Rosary every day At the approved apparition in San Nicolas Mary said: “The weapon that has the greatest influence on evil is to say the Rosary." Sister Lucia of Fatima The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new power to the praying of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether earthly or spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families…that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Take up your cross and follow Jesus Lourdes, Fatima and every approved Marian apparition emphasizes the power of uniting our sacrifices and sufferings to Jesus to save souls. The Angel of Portugal said to the visionaries of Fatima: "Make of everything you can a sacrifice and offer it to God as an act of reparation for the sins by which He is offended, and in supplication for the conversion of sinners. In this way, you will draw peace upon your country…Above all, accept and bear with submission the sufferings which the Lord will send you." What you did not choose, do not like and cannot change Accept it with trust and unite it to the Cross of Jesus to bring about the final defeat of Satan and the salvation of souls. Your own cross is a T-bar, a lever to move the world and souls Archimedes: “If I had a lever long enough and a place to stand, I could move the whole world.” Do not waste the gift and power of your suffering; Leverage your cross for Souls and help Our Lady crush the head of Satan.

The Consequences of Original Sin
Jul 31 2019 22 mins  
God created the world and humans in four-fold state of harmony Harmony or good relationship between God and mankind in which God literally dwelt in their souls as in a Temple Harmony between men and women – I have no idea what that could have been like so I can’t describe it. Harmony between Man and creation – there was no sickness, no disease, no natural disasters, no death for the human person – we were created immortal with all of creation serving us. Finally, there was a harmony within the human soul. The intellect, will and passion worked in a perfect accord As a consequence of original sin, CCC 400 states, The harmony in which they had found themselves, thanks to original justice, is now destroyed: the control of the soul's spiritual faculties over the body is shattered; the union of man and woman becomes subject to tensions, their relations henceforth marked by lust and domination. Harmony with creation is broken: visible creation has become alien and hostile to man. Because of man, creation is now subject "to its bondage to decay". Finally, the consequence explicitly foretold for this disobedience will come true: man will "return to the ground", for out of it he was taken. Death makes its entrance into human history. To understand what happened to our soul we must remember from a few days ago the way the powers of the soul were originally designed to work. The Intellect is designed to know reality – how things really are. Once the intellect grasps reality it has the truth. Then it must make a judgment: this is good or this evil. Our passions are designed to respond to the truth perceived by the intellect and Motivate the will to choose the good and avoid evil. Through my intellect I know coffee is good for me. My passions respond to this truth by moving me by my desires to make a pot of coffee as soon as I get up. This is the case of the powers of my soul working as they should. The intellect perceives reality, then give this info to the passions that respond to the truth perceived by the intellect which then motivate the will to choose some good In our fallen state, it goes more like this: I get up in the morning after a very restless night sleep; I feel rotten, this passion or emotion causes me to treat myself and everyone around me rotten (I could have substituted others adjectives here). The point is, I let my feelings of pain, fear, frustration and despair determine how I choose to live. We were designed to live according to reality and truth not fallen and disordered passions and emotions. Is your life based on feelings or on reality? Almost all people say reality or truth. Almost no one lives according to reality. If they did then they would live continuously in a state of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control; the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are the results of living according to truth rather than disordered passions. Which passions, feelings or emotions control you? How do we reintegrate and heal the soul? I get up in the morning feeling rotten. Now what should I do? Think, the way I am feeling is going to lead to a lot of destructive choices today. I don’t want that. Plus – the way I am feeling – is it reality. Is everything terrible and is all hope lost? No, that is not reality. The reality, even if I don’t feel this way and don’t particularly like it right now is that suffering brings us closer to God and it brings us the grace to accomplish great things. That is good. Since God works all things for good for those who love him, then this suffering has meaning – God is using it to bring about some good. Therefore I can choose and even like the good God will bring about by this suffering. Furthermore, I can be thankful for suffering that God uses to bring about the good. Gratitude then sets me free from destructive feelings. Simply stated – I replace the wrong feeling with the right thoughts that begin to change my feelings which motivate good actions.

The Fall
Jul 30 2019 25 mins  
Today we meditate on the nature of the Fall and Original Sin Genesis 2:15-17 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die." The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil signifies the power to determine what is good and what is evil God alone has this power God created the world; he gave angelic and human persons their design. Something is good for us when it helps us fulfill our design, it is bad for us, it is evil when it frustrates our design. But we do not have the power to change our God given design, therefore we cannot determine what is good and what is evil We have Intelligence and Freedom – we must use our intelligence to learn what is good and evil and then choose But we cannot make something evil good and good evil. Even though we make something legal – that doesn’t make it good because we can’t change reality, God’s design for the world. Genesis 3:1-7 The serpent said to the woman, "Did God say, `You shall not eat of any tree of the garden'?" And the woman said to the serpent… ‘God said, `You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." St John Paul II “This is truly the key for interpreting reality” The Devil seeks to destroy the Fatherhood of God by spreading a lie that sows doubt in His Goodness. The devil says: You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, determining good and evil. The implication is this: God is keeping you from happiness by his moral law. God is not a loving Father. He is a Master and you are his slaves. God told you not to eat of the Tree b/c He does not want you to become like Him. It’s God’s laws that are keeping you from Freedom and Happiness.” The devil sows doubt in the Goodness of God. We have all given in to the lie and we distrust Him In the Diary 300 of Faustina Jesus said: Oh, how much I am hurt by a soul’s distrust! Such a soul professes that I am Holy and Just, but does not believe that I am Mercy and does not trust in My Goodness. Even the devils glorify My Justice but do not believe in My Goodness. How many of you would be comfortable praying this prayer? My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you. My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you. My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you. No way! I’m not going to pray that and mean it – are you crazy! God will do it! He’ll take from me things I like that aren’t good for me He’ll give me things I don’t like that are good for me CCC 397 Man, tempted by the devil, let his trust in his creator die in his heart and, abusing his freedom, disobeyed God's command…All subsequent sin would be: And a lack of trust in His goodness Disobedience toward God How can we grow Trust with God? Spend time with Him every day in prayer. You can’t trust someone you don’t know. You can’t get to know someone without spending time with him. Spend time with God in silence and solitude, meaning, put away the distractions. Read the Scriptures and reflect on what God is saying to you through them Then make the Resolution to remember and live out what you meditated upon in prayer We grow in trust by gratitude and thanksgiving At the beginning or end of each day, think of all the things for which you are grateful to God. These are the concrete manifestations of his love and care for you. We tend to focus on the negative but if we consciously think about all God has and is doing.

The Fall of the Angels
Jul 29 2019 23 mins  
THE FALL OF THE ANGELS 391 Behind the disobedient choice of our first parents lurks a seductive voice, opposed to God, which makes them fall into death out of envy. Scripture and the Church's Tradition see in this being a fallen angel, called "Satan" or the "devil". The Church teaches that Satan was at first a good angel, made by God: "The devil and the other demons were indeed created naturally good by God, but they became evil by their own doing." 392 Scripture speaks of a sin of these angels. This "fall" consists in the free choice of these created spirits, who radically and irrevocably rejected God and his reign. We find a reflection of that rebellion in the tempter's words to our first parents: "You will be like God." The devil "has sinned from the beginning"; he is "a liar and the father of lies". If Satan was originally created as a good angel, why did he fall, why did he reject God? Teresa of Avila writes: I believe His Majesty desires to bring us along this way (the way of suffering, trials, crosses and difficulties) for our own good so that we may understand well what little we amount to. The favors that come afterward are of such great worth that He desires first that before He gives them to us we see by experience our own limitations so that what happened to Lucifer will not happen to us. Life 11:11 The devil, because he has no physical body, did not experience his limitations through suffering He thought he was without limits Therefore, he thought he did not need God So He did not want God Why is Lucifer in Hell? He did not want God Christianity is declining in first world countries, they are turning away from God, because they have everything so they think they do not need God and therefore do not want God and never set out to pursue friendship with God in prayer. This is pride which can only be overcome by grace and humility. Humility is recognizing two things I have limits I have a divine potential I need God, therefore I want God, so I pursue a deep friendship with God in prayer. CCC 393 It is the irrevocable character of their choice, and not a defect in the infinite divine mercy, that makes the angels' sin unforgivable. "There is no repentance for the angels after their fall, just as there is no repentance for men after death." This seems pretty harsh or frightening that the angel’s sin is irrevocable and there is no repentance for us after death. However, we must realize we create a reality by our choices that cannot be undone at some point. Because their knowledge was complete and because there was no material component to their person, the angel’s decision was definitive immediately. Our choices forge our character and destiny over time, bit by bit. In giving you a soul, God has given you a lump of clay that you are forming, choice by choice into either a God-like or demonic statue. As time goes by that clay, your statue, your soul, gets harder to change. The more you chose good actions that become good habits or virtues the more the statue becomes God-like. The more we make bad choices that become bad habits or vices the more the statue become demonic. At some point it cannot be changed for good or for evil. Even now it is getting harder to change. What kind of statue are you shaping? CCC 394 Scripture witnesses to the disastrous influence of the one Jesus calls "a murderer from the beginning", who would even try to divert Jesus from the mission received from his Father. Likewise, the devil wants to divert you away from the mission you have received from God, the devil wants to turn you away from doing the will of God. The greatest weapon we have to help us stay focused on the will of God is to go back to meditation each day, beginning with a brief examination of conscience – did I do the will of God yesterday. Do I want to do the will of God today? Yes, ok, now do your meditation, reflect and think about the Word of God, then make a simple concrete resolution.

Perseverance in Prayer
Jul 28 2019 23 mins  
Once Jesus was in a certain place praying, and when he had finished one of his disciples said, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ He said to them…‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants. ‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’ The most important motivation to spend time with God in prayer is that we all want to be happy. Happiness consists in possessing those good things we need to fulfill our human nature. In general we need physical goods, food, shelter, ect., we need family and friends, meaningful work and achievement, knowledge, beauty and so on. But even if we had all these we would still not be perfectly happy because nothing in this world is perfect, its not lasting and it can never be enough. We were made for more. We were made for union with God. Nothing less will satisfy the infinite longing of the human heart. Prayer is precisely where we go to drink in God and become happy. Jesus said, 'If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me! Let him come and drink…From my heart will flow fountains of living water. He was speaking of the Spirit which those who believed in him were to receive.’” It is a consolation to learn that the Great Teresa of Avila, Universal Doctor of Prayer, struggled for 18 years with distraction in prayer until she read the Confessions of St. Augustine which made her realize her problem in prayer was that she thought her prayer depended on her. She learned that Prayer is more about what God wanted to do in her more than what she was doing in prayer. If you want to grow in prayer; abandon yourself-reliance; learn to depend entirely upon Jesus; and just spend time with Jesus in friendship. As Teresa writes: Meditation in my opinion is nothing else than an intimate sharing between friends: it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us. Finally, just persevere Teresa of Avila says we need to add courage and determination to our perseverance Have great confidence, for it is necessary not to hold back one's desires, but to believe in God that if we try we shall little by little, even though it may not be soon, reach the state the saints did with His help. For if they had never determined to desire and seek this state little by little in practice they would never have mounted so high. His Majesty wants this determination, and He is a friend of courageous souls if they walk in humility and without trusting in self. I have not seen any cowardly soul or any of these who under the pretext of humility remain along the bottom of this path who do not take many years to advance as far as these courageous ones do in a few. I marvel at how important it is to be courageous in striving for great things along this path. For though the soul is not yet strong enough, it nonetheless takes flight and goes very high although like a little fledgling it soon tires and stops. Teresa of Avila, Life, 31:3

Making a Mess of Our Souls
Jul 27 2019 22 mins  
Responding to the Truth and Motivating Pursuit of the Good We have been meditating on the powers of our soul: the intellect, the free-will and the passions and their purpose. King Solomon had an amazing intellect, may be the smartest guy who ever lived. He also had a strong will – he got a lot accomplished. But his passions were totally out of control. Solomon never harnessed his passions and feelings which led him to be enslaved to his desire for power, wealth and women – 700 wives and 300 concubines. These turned his heart away from God to the worship Satan hidden behind the pagan gods Molech and Ashteroth, to whom he offered child sacrifice and burned his sons. In the end Satan always demands human sacrifice in the form of abortion, infanticide, suicide and war. The point is, Solomon made a train-wreck of his life because the powers of his soul were not integrated. It must not be so for us! The Intellect is designed to know reality – how things really are. Once the intellect grasps reality it has the truth. Then it must make a judgment: this is good or this evil. The Intellect then tells the will to choose what it perceives as good and to avoid what is evil. Our passions are designed to: 1. Respond to the truth perceived by the intellect 2. Motivate the will to choose the good and avoid evil The passions are situated between intellect and will, and they’re supposed to originate from the intellect and prompt a right choice of the will. Through my intellect I know fish and vegetables are good for me. My passions respond to this truth by moving me by desire to prepare and eat them. This is the case of the powers of my soul working as they should. This is not always the case…too often, my passions propel me to choose something that is not good for me which causes harm to my body and even more to my soul. The better we understand this, the more able we are to cooperate with God’s grace to get the powers of our souls working as we should. There are three ways we regularly screw up the way the powers of the soul should work and make a mess This happens first of all when our intellects and wills don’t do their jobs. If we don’t know the truth, our passions will be responding to a faulty picture of reality. If you have a wrong perception of things, your feelings will be correspondingly imbalanced. If you think the world is a brutal, senseless place, or if you think you yourself are worthless, you’re going to feel pretty lousy about everything – even though you shouldn’t, and these lousy feelings about the world or yourself will propel you to make the wrong choices. Often our thoughts and feelings are not in tune with reality, with God’s design for things. Catch yourself; think – what does God want; chose that. Are my feelings and desires in line with reality, with God’s design? If not, then I must choose to live according to reality as God made it and not according to how I feel or what I desire. The second way we screw up our soul is when we make a habit of the wrong choices. Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny. Do something bad enough and you get used to it, and then you get to like it, and then you get to need it. And at that point your emotional life will be all out of joint. One act of pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony or lust is bad. But if you do any one of these actions enough, they become habits, they become second nature. Now we have a vice, a bad habit. Vices change our nature and make it vicious. Even worse, the more we do what is bad the more we desire it and the more our passions propel us toward what is bad. This is how we form addictions. We have a routine of choosing something bad for so long that we have malformed our passions to desire it and propel us toward it without even consciously thinking about it. Do you know which of these deadly sins you have made a second nature?

What does the soul need to live?
Jul 26 2019 22 mins  
Today we reflect on what the soul needs to live. Just as the body needs food, water and oxygen to live, the soul needs reality. Specifically, the intellect needs to be nourished by reality in the form of truth and the will needs reality in the form of goodness. Without food and water, the body will die. Without reality in the form of truth and goodness, the soul begins to die from a sense that life is meaningless. The intellect receives reality in the form of truth. Therefore, the soul needs to feed on truth to thrive. When the intellect grasps reality accurately – it possesses truth and then the mind is satisfied and can rest. That is why we are restless when we can’t understand something. The intellect rests when it possesses, locks in the truth it wants to understand. The intellect needs to be nourished on reality in the form of truth. We can know reality or truth through our experiences, that is, through science, and we can know reality through reason. But we cant know the answers to the most important questions in life by science and reason alone, such as, where did all the matter in the world come from in the first place, what is the purpose of life, what is the meaning of suffering and what happens after death? These questions go beyond what science and reason can tell us. To know the answers to these things God must reveal them to us, and thankfully he has through His Son Jesus Christ. His teaching is handed down infallibly through the Catholic Church so that we can know with certainty the answers to the most important questions in life. The question is – do you take the time to think about the most important questions in life and to seek the truth through what God has revealed? Goodness The intellect needs to be nourished by reality as truth. The second power of the soul, the will needs and desires reality as goodness. In general we need a number of good things to be fulfilled and happy: food, drink, shelter, safety and security; relationships and friendships, meaningful work, knowledge, beauty, etc… These things – all these realities – are “good” for us, because they help us become “good” (that is, they fulfill us). This is the proper need and desire of the will: realities which are good/complete in themselves and which enable us to become good/complete. But even if a person had all these good things – would we be perfectly happy? No. Because no good thing, and no amount of good things on earth are perfect, they are not lasting, and they can never be enough. We were made for more we were made for union with God. God is the ultimate reality, and the ultimate goal of the human soul. He is the source of all truth and goodness. Created things are really true and good because God made them, and following the trail of created goods and truths leads to God because He’s where they all come from. We need to pursue and possess food, drink, achievement, relationships and the like. But they are like cups and God is the Living Water. We need the cups to drink but without God, the Living Water, the cups are empty and unfulfilling. We’re supposed to pursue the good things of this world in such a way that it leads us towards the ultimate Truth and Good, God, who alone can give unending nourishment to the soul. “Whoever drinks the water I will give will never be thirsty again” (John 4:14). Our problem is that we try in vain to find all our happiness and identity in the truth and goodness of this world and we become addicted to these things, making them into idols. The goal of life is to be filled and transformed by God. In this process we need to pursue and possess what is true and good and beautiful. But allow God to strip and empty you, that He might fill you with himself – the ultimate Good. We are not talking about giving up things, because that does not strip the soul of the desires that remain set on them. We are talking about stripping away the craving for gratification in those things.

Saint James the Greater
Jul 25 2019 23 mins  
Matthew 20:17-28 Then the mother of James and John came with her sons to make a request of Jesus, and bowed low; and he said to her, ‘What is it you want?’ She said to him, ‘Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You do not know what you are asking’ Jesus answered. ‘Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?’ They replied, ‘We can.’ ‘Very well,’ he said ‘you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.’ When the other ten heard this, they were indignant with the two brothers. You may be tempted to accuse James and John of vain ambition, especially since the other Apostles were indignant, but I believe, with St. John Henry Cardinal Newman that this was not vain ambition, rather Noble Ambition, Magnanimity, the virtue to desire and do great things for the love of God and souls. They asked to reign with Christ. He in answer told them: Not that they were guaranteed of it But that they must venture for it, strive after it St Jerome says, “Jesus said not, ‘You shall not sit there,’ that He might not discourage the two brothers; neither did He say, ‘You shall sit there,’ that He might not stir the others to anger; but by holding up the prize before all, He might encourage all to strive for Him. So a just king presiding over a contest instituted by him, if his relatives and friends should come and say, ‘Give us the prize,’ gives this answer, ‘It is not mine to give the prize to you, but to those for who it is prepared, namely, to those who strive in the contest and gain the victory.’” “Are you able to drink the cup that I am to drink…? They said to Him, “We are able.” Here then a great lesson is impressed upon us, that our duty as Christians lies in this, to take a risk to do something great for the love of God and the good of others without the absolute certainty of success. James did risk all for the love of Christ…Our Lady of the Pillar - On January 2, 40 AD James had made it as far as Zaragoza Spain, where he was preaching the Gospel but with little success. Feeling very defeated he sat down on the bank of the Ebro River, dejected. At this time, Mary, the Mother of God appeared to St. James, standing on a pillar of Marble and she said to him, “James, the faith you establish here will be more firm and last longer than the pillar I stand upon.” Do not be discouraged and do not give up. I am with you and will help you.” James arose, preached the Gospel, won many converts to Christ and the faith he established in Spain endures to this day. To remember the visit and promise of the Virgin Mary, the first Marian shrine was built around the pillar. And James began to convert the pagans of early Spain. This was the first Marian Apparition known as Our Lady of the Pillar in Zaragossa Spain in 40 AD. Ten years before Mary was assumed into heaven. In whatever ways you feel defeated, dejected or just simply bored with life, entrust to Mary under the title of Our Lady of the Pillar and she will strengthen you to go on an be victorious. Jesus asked James, Can you drink the cup that I drink? James responded, “I can” and he did. In the year 42 James had returned to Jerusalem and King Herod Agrippa, the grandson of Herod the Great, as Luke tells us, “laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the Church. He had James, the brother of John beheaded, killed by the sword.” The gift Christ offers to us is that of eternal life and to reign with Him forever, which came at the price of His precious Blood Should we not respond in the most generous manner possible to such a great gift? Should not I be willing to give and risk everything in return for so great a gift as Christ is giving to me simply out of love and gratitude? Think of what He has done for us, Shouldn’t we try to give as much as we can in return?

The Power of the Soul
Jul 24 2019 23 mins  
Yesterday we reflected in the creation of the invisible world and better understanding of the Angels. Today, the visible world and a better understand of who we are as human persons. CCC 355, 1700, As human persons we were created “in the image of God.” This means we were endowed with a spiritual and immortal soul… To have direction in life we need to know the purpose of the soul To know the purpose of the soul we need to know the purpose of the powers of the soul There are Three Powers of the Soul: intellect, will, and passions. In the beginning, God designed the powers of the soul to work in harmony: The job of the intellect is to know reality and make a judgement – this is good, that is evil. The passions respond to the intellect’s perception of reality and prompt the will to go toward what is good for me or away from what is bad for me. Led by the intellect and propelled by the feelings, the will chooses what is good or rejects what is evil. Tragically Original Sin damaged the powers of the soul: We are born with a darkened Intellect - subject to Ignorance + Confusion about right and wrong, good and bad We now have a weak Will so that even when we know what is right we have a hard time choosing it We have Strong Passions or feelings inclined toward selfishness and use Our desires have become dis-ordered We have become slaves to our disordered desires Manifest in the 7 Deadly Sins Pride, envy, anger, greed, gluttony, sloth and lust The Vices that make us vicious They Destroy the good things we need to be happy Which 2-3 deadly sins are habits in your life? At the beginning of each day, the beginning of your time in prayer, or at the end of the day, take a few minutes for an examination of conscience which consists of three things: Gratitude, Acknowledgment of our wrongs A practical game plan to go forward Start with Gratitude – call to mind all the things from which you are you thankful to God? Then think back over the last 24 hours and admit where you have sinned in your thoughts, words or actions. Ask, why did I do these things? What was at the root? Was it Pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony or lust? Then make a practical game plan to live differently today.

The Angels
Jul 23 2019 23 mins  
In the Creed we profess that we believe in God the Father, Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is visible and invisible. Well, what is the invisible? It is the spiritual creatures God has made, the Angels, one third of which rejected God, but that is for another time. These fallen angels became Satan and the demons. They were originally good angels who refused to love and serve God and share in His life. Angles and demons are a whole civilization of persons, pure spirits without bodies, who day in and day out which we ignore. It is a civilization that is far more intelligent, powerful and numerous than the human civilization. One key mission the angels have is to help us make it safely home, while Satan and demons do all in their power to destroy our souls in hell. We must start tapping into the supernatural power of our Guardian Angels. We are in a spiritual war. We pray to St. Michael, “Defend us in battle…” if you don’t see the battle, that’s the problem. We are in a spiritual battle between good and evil, a battle between God’s greatest creature, Mary and the most heinous creature, Satan. We need to recognize the reality of Angels and demons and develop a powerful collaboration and friendship with our Guardian Angel. CCC 330 As purely spiritual creatures, angels have intelligence and will: they are personal and immortal creatures, surpassing in perfection all visible creatures, as the splendor of their glory bears witness. God is the first cause of all things and He works through secondary causes. The first of these secondary causes are the angels. There are nine groupings or Nine Choirs of Angels according to Scripture and Tradition. Colossians 1:15-16 Christ is the image of the unseen God and the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, Thrones, Dominations, Sovereignties, Powers - all things were created through him and for him. 1st Order of Angels is focused on adoration and contemplation of God – they are the Seraphim, Cherubim, and Thrones 2nd Order of Angels assigned to the Government of the Cosmos – the operation of all material things: planetary bodies and the courses of nature – the Dominions; the Powers, whose role it is to give us aid against Satan; and the Virtues – strengths against temptations. In Latin, virtus means strength. 3rd Order – Principalities, responsible for human government; Archangels, whose special task is to direct humanity; and the Guardian Angels CCC 336 From its beginning until death, human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. "Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life." Already here on earth the Christian life shares by faith in the blessed company of angels and men united in God. God has created and given you a Guardian Angel whose principal mission is to help get you to heaven. This spiritual person knows you far better than you know yourself – they have a supernatural knowledge of you, your strengths, weakness and all you have ever done. God wants us to tap into the help of our Guardian Angel. We don’t have to fight this spiritual battle alone. By the way, your Angel is far more intelligent and powerful than you are. The Angelic intellect is immediate. Your Angel does not need time to think things over. He knows exactly what you should do – so why not develop a close collaboration with him. We can do this by developing a friendship with them. Pray to your angel, talk to him regularly, pay attention to his guidance and follow his inspirations. For more about Faustina and angels read her Diary, section 630.

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People?
Jul 22 2019 22 mins  
Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? 309 If God the Father almighty, the Creator of the ordered and good world, cares for all his creatures, why does evil exist?... Why did God not create a world so perfect that no evil could exist in it? With infinite power God could always create something better. But with infinite wisdom and goodness God freely willed to create a world "in a state of journeying" towards its ultimate perfection…With physical good there exists also physical evil as long as creation has not reached perfection. 311 Angels and men, as intelligent and free creatures, must journey toward their ultimate destinies by their free choice and preferential love. They can, therefore go astray. Indeed, they have sinned. And because of the Original Sin of the first two humans, the harmony with creation is broken. Human sin brought sickness, disease, natural disasters and death into our world. The only way God could change this would be to remove free will from angels, Satan, and humans. But this would make us pets rather than persons capable of sharing in the Life of God forever. Better to suffer the stuff of this life than be a pet for a short time. Yes, the troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of all proportion to them. 311 God is in no way, directly or indirectly, the cause of moral evil. He permits it, however, because he respects the freedom of his creatures and, mysteriously, knows how to derive good from it: (St. Augustine writes) “For almighty God. . ., because he is supremely good, would never allow any evil whatsoever to exist in his works if he were not so all-powerful and good as to cause good to emerge from evil itself. St. Catherine of Siena said to "those who are scandalized and rebel against what happens to them": "Everything comes from love, all is ordained for the salvation of man, God does nothing without this goal in mind." 312 In time we can discover that God in his almighty providence can bring a good from the consequences of an evil, even a moral evil, caused by his creatures: "It was not you", said Joseph to his brothers, "who sent me here, but God. . . You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive." From the greatest moral evil ever committed - the rejection and murder of God's only Son, caused by the sins of all men - God, by his grace that "abounded all the more", brought the greatest of goods: the glorification of Christ and our redemption. 313 "We know that in everything God works for good for those who love him." Romans 8:28 The constant witness of the saints confirms this truth: St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best." St. Julian of Norwich: "Here I was taught by the grace of God that I should steadfastly keep me in the faith. . . and that at the same time I should take my stand on and earnestly believe in what our Lord shewed in this time – All shall be well, and all shall be well. All manner of things shall be well.” 324 What God has revealed gives us the certainty that He would not permit an evil if he did not cause a good to come from that very evil, by ways that we shall fully know only in eternal life. What should we do when we face something that appears bad or very difficult? Pray, Think and Do all you can to change it. If you cannot change it, then God has willed it or is allowing it. It is not senseless. It has meaning God is allowing it and using it to bring about a greater good Trust him Accept it Offer it up in love Then it is meritorious for you – for we are rewarded according to our love And our suffering offered up helps save others - especially our loved ones and friends. Col 1:24

5 Steps to Heaven
Jul 21 2019 24 mins  
Heaven is the goal of life. Heaven is transforming union with God. Why wait, why put it off? Nothing less than union with God can satisfy the deep longing of your heart. Five simple steps to achieve union with God: Do and accept the will of God; flee from sin; develop a deep friendship with Jesus; have a profound interior life; belong to Mary. If we want to be united to God, then we must strive to do His will in everything. But just saying I want to do the will of God is too general, too vague. There are areas in your life you know you are not bringing God into because you are not thinking about it or because you don’t want Him in there. It could be work, relaxation, family, friends, your summer, vacation…You know what you are doing wrong. What are you going to do the make a change? If we want to be united to God then we must flee from every sin, both serious and small sins, and flee from every occasion of sin. Be intentional about identifying and rooting out the deadly vices: pride, envy, anger, sloth, greed, gluttony, lust. we are scandalized by the way other so-called Christians acct; yet we excuse our own bad behavior – or we don’t even notice it. This is case of plank eye. Take the plank out of your own eye before you call out the speck in my eye. Don’t be discouraged, these things are a reminder of our personal powerlessness and the need for constant surrender to and reliance on Jesus and Mary. The point is not to live a mediocre, lukewarm life. Be determined to reach union with God here! Our Goal is Heaven and Heaven is transforming union with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. We want to say, like St. Paul. “I live now not with my own life but with the life of Christ who lives in me.” Therefore, we seek to know and do the will of Jesus because we want to be united to Him. We accept our own crosses as a way to help Jesus carry His cross and save souls. We flee from sin because sin is a personal offense to Jesus and I don’t want to offend Him. I become virtuous so that I may love Jesus better. I want to go to Mass to enter into the sacrifice and thanksgiving of Jesus and to receive Him in the Eucharist, the closest possible union with Him this side of death. I see prayer as friendship with Jesus; talking to him from the heart, listening to him and thinking about him by reading Scripture and just being with Him. And as my friendship with Him grows, I want others to experience the same happiness meaning and fulfillment, so I act to help others to friendship with Jesus. To reach heaven we need a profound interior life. Things in this world a good; but nothing is perfect, its not lasting and it can never satisfy our longing for God. And where do we find God? He dwells in your soul. But we never look for him there because we are too busy doing things or too busy with entertainment. We don’t find God in our soul because we are addicted to work, kids, entertainment, news…on and on it goes. Stop – put away the excuses and distractions. Go into silence. Talk to God from the heart. Read the life of Jesus in the Gospels. Think about him. Be with Him. At first you will go crazy as you suffer withdrawal from your addictions. But don’t escape back into the addictions. Admit to Jesus you are powerless, surrender to Him and beg Him to do it for you. I you want to reach heaven, then give yourself to Mary. The Holy Spirit brings us into union with God and the Holy Spirit works through Mary. The more you belong to Her, the more the Holy Spirit will unite to Jesus. Develop a personal relationship with Mary – a real concrete friendship and dependence upon her. St. Maximilian Kolbe said: I see Mary everywhere, I see difficulties nowhere. Live continuous friendship with Mary; have complete confidence in her.

The Ascent to God
Jul 18 2019 21 mins  
In the book the Ascent of Mt Carmel, St John of the Cross says “the ascent to God…lies in keeping the soul empty, naked and purified of every disordered desire. The only desire should be to fulfill the will of God and to carry the Cross of Christ.” The question for us is: are we doing the will of God; and are we carrying the cross? What criteria do we use to judge whether we are doing the will of God? Too often men measure their success or their impact based on their profession and their ability to provide financially for their family alone. This is not universal but often women judge their success or impact based on the health and well-being of their children and their relationships. How do you judge how you are doing in life? Secondly, how would you judge yourself in the sense of doing the will of God? How does God measure our success or impact? Let me suggest eight criteria that reflect whether we are doing the will of God: Am I changing from a life of bad habits, vice, to a life of good habits, virtue; Am I living a deep friendship with Jesus in prayer, especially daily meditation and a resolution; Do I love and honor my spouse (if you live with your parents do you honor your father and mother); Are you doing all you can to help your children reach not only their human but even more their divine potential; am I fulfilling my work responsibilities outside the home and inside the home; Am I helping others to a deeper friendship with Jesus by living authentic friendship; do I accept with joy the will of God in the things I cannot change; finally, do I accept the Cross in my life and offer it up to save souls? As we do an honest evaluation of each area of our life, we will see that in many ways we have made progress, we have grown and there is much for which to give thanks. However, if we are honest, we must admit there is more in my life that I cannot change or fix and more that is out of my control than within my control. If we are honest, we see clearly our limitations: I cant seem to change myself any further from vice to virtue. I confess the same sins over and over. I cant heal my broken body or soul. I cant fix this or that relationship or person. I cant fix the problems in the world or in the Church – heck I cant even change the problems within myself. This may seem to be a recognition of defeat, but it is the moment of triumph. It is the moment of triumph because if I am to make any real progress, I must admit I am powerless to transform myself from a sinner to a saint – that my life has become unmanageable. But there is Someone greater than me Who can restore me to sanity. I make the decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of Jesus and the Holy Spirit through Mary. Then I make a thorough examination of my life and go to Confession. Now I am entirely ready to have God remove all the defects of my character, so I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings. Then I make a list of all the persons I have harmed, and I am willing to make amends to them all whenever possible except when it would injure them or others. Finally, I commit to a daily examination of conscience, to daily meditation and a resolution and to go out through authentic friendship to help someone else to a deep friendship with Jesus. As we go forward, striving to do will of God and carry the Cross Christ we must resist the temptation to give into frustration anger gluttony lust ect. When you experience the temptation to any of these, immediately turn it over to Mary, the principle instrument of the Holy Spirit, wait for her to act, hold fast, don’t give up because God always provides a way forward.

God's Providence
Jul 17 2019 21 mins  
CCC 302 Creation has its own goodness and proper perfection, but it did not spring forth complete from the hands of the Creator. The universe was created "in a state of journeying" toward an ultimate perfection yet to be attained, to which God has destined it. We call "divine providence" the dispositions by which God guides all his creatures with wisdom and love to their ultimate end. One passage of Scripture captures the reality of Providence: Romans 8:28 All things work for good for those who love God. CCC 303 The witness of Scripture is unanimous that the care of divine providence is concrete and immediate; God cares for all, from the least things to the great events of the world and its history. The Scriptures powerfully affirm God's absolute sovereignty over the course of events…CCC 304 And so we see the Holy Spirit, the principal author of Sacred Scripture, often attributing actions to God without mentioning any secondary causes. This is not a "primitive mode of speech", but a profound way of recalling God's primacy and absolute Lordship over history and the world, and so of educating his people to trust in him. St. Thomas More, shortly before his martyrdom, consoled his daughter with these words: "Nothing can come but that that God wills. And I make me very sure that whatsoever that be, seem it never so bad in sight, it shall indeed be the best." CCC 305 Jesus asks for childlike abandonment to the providence of our heavenly Father who takes care of his children's smallest needs: 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. For life means more than food, and the body more than clothing. Think of the ravens. They do not sow or reap; they have no storehouses and no barns; yet God feeds them. And how much more are you worth than the birds! Can any of you, for all his worrying, add a single cubit to his span of life? If the smallest things, therefore, are outside your control, why worry about the rest?... But you, you must not set your hearts on things to eat and things to drink; nor must you worry. It is the pagans of this world who set their hearts on all these things. Your Father well knows you need them. No; set your hearts on his kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well. Providence comes from the word pro-videre which means “to see”. In His providence God sees all things before you; in place of you and in your favor. What do we mean by this? God sees all the things you will experience long before you, in fact from all eternity. Nothing is a surprise to him, nothing catches him off-guard. Second, even if you do not understand what you are going through, God does. God sees it, he understands it for you, He can make sense out of it for you – trust him. Finally, God will see all things in your favor – He’s got your back. God providentially guides all things to good through His Wisdom, that is, through the Holy Spirit. Speaking of the Holy Spirit, Wisdom chapter 8:1 states “She (the Holy Spirit) reaches mightily from one end of the earth to the other, and she orders all things well.” Mary, as the human expression of the Spirit, participates in this providential care of the Holy Spirit as the Spiritual Mother of all people. Mary watches over every aspect of the Christian life and home as she did for Jesus and Joseph in Nazareth. Therefore, Christians have called Mary, Our Lady of Providence. I have attached an image of Gaetano's Madonna gazing lovingly upon her two-year-old Son. This image of Mary as "Queen of the Home" has been enshrined over the fireplace of countless homes throughout the world. Maybe someone will place it over their mantle.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel
Jul 16 2019 22 mins  
Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. What this is about and what it has to do with our lives is the theme of our meditation today. The Holy Spirit has a maternal mission to form Christ in you. The Holy Spirit carries out this maternal mission through Mary. When you turn to Mary, you are turning to the Holy Spirit that Christ may be formed in you. On July 28, 1935 Kolbe wrote: And what about the Holy Spirit? He is in the Immaculata…as the Son of God is in Jesus, but of course, with this distinction – in Jesus Christ, one divine person, two natures, the divine and the human, are united. In the Immaculata, her nature and person are distinguished from the nature and person of the Holy Spirit. However, the union between the Holy Spirit and the Immaculata is so inexpressibly perfect that He conducts His activity through her only. Therefore, she is the mediatrix of all graces flowing from the Holy Spirit…In honoring the Immaculata, we honor in a special way the Holy Spirit. (p. 473-474 Foster) In this feast of Our Lady of Mt Carmel, we must be reminded that the Holy Spirit works through Mary, our Spiritual Mother to bring to completion our union with God. Sometime between the year 1247 and 1265, St. Simon Stock, the head of the Carmelites, prayed to Mary, asking for a special privilege from her for the Carmelites. Mary appeared to him with a multitude of angels, holding in her hands the Scapular of the Order. She said, “This will be for you and for all Carmelites the privilege, that he who dies in this will not suffer eternal fire.” Mary promised that the grace of final perseverance will be granted through her intercession to all those who, by means of the Scapular, dedicate themselves to her and wear it until death out of devotion to her and to the teachings of Christ. The scapular (from Latin scapulae, "shoulders") is a garment worn by men and women of religious orders to serve as a reminder their commitment to live a Christian life. Mary appeared to St. Simon Stock and gave him the promise that all those who wear the scapular and live true devotion her will be saved. The Carmelites then invited lay people to wear a much smaller version of the scapular and benefit from the same promise. There is nothing magical about wearing a brown scapular or some Marian Medal. Wearing it should signify and serve to remind us to live true devotion to Mary. The saving power comes from the Holy Spirit and our response to the grace of the Spirit – not the wearing of this or that thing. What matters is living Devotion to Mary which is to live in Imitation of Jesus relationship with Mary, so that the Holy Spirit and Mary may form Jesus within us. Devotion to Mary has three essential elements: To consecrate oneself entirely to Mary as Jesus did in the Incarnation; To live a personal relationship with Mary, moment to moment, day after day, in imitation of Jesus’ relationship with her as he grew up under the direction and care of Mary in Nazareth; finally, to Sit in the School of Mary each day in the Rosary. These three practices keep us close to Mary, through whom the Holy Spirit will form Jesus in us. Those who do this will be saved. It is not about wearing this or that scapular or medal. It is about a deep personal and lived relationship with Mary and Jesus. Am I living a personal relationship with Mary, my Spiritual Mother in such a way that it causes me to be more virtuous, more pure, more courageous and more charitable? In a word – more like Jesus Christ. If not, why not? I wear the Miraculous Medal rather than the Brown Scapular. We will learn about the Miraculous Medal on Thursday. Every time I take the medal off and put it back on it is a reminder of my identity: I am the son of Mary, She is my Spiritual Mother, I belong entirely to her. I can rely on her for everything just as Jesus did when he was a small boy growing up under her care and influence. It is a reminder to me that I am not alone and I don’t have to go it alone

Where did we come from and where are we going?
Jul 15 2019 22 mins  
Where do we come from? Where are we going? What is the meaning of life? These are the questions taken up in CCC 282-301, the answers to which we will meditate upon today in the Rosary. The lie the devil has spread is that we do not come from an All-Good, All-Powerful and Loving Father. Instead, all the matter in the universe was smooshed into an incredibly hot, infinitely dense subatomic speck of matter. Then, resulting from random chance, the universe and human sprung into being and developed. This ultimately means, you come from nothing, nothing more than random chaos and there is nothing after death. You come from nothing, you are going toward nothing and your life has no meaning. God’s answers to these questions are quite different. With infinite wisdom, power and love, God created the world and you so that you could share in the very life of God and live with him and your family and friends forever. The truth is so much better than the lie. Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” There exists but one God. . . he is the Father, God, the Creator, the author, the giver of order. He made all things by himself, that is, by his Word and by his Wisdom", "by the Son and the Spirit" who, so to speak, are "his hands." God is perfect and complete in the Trinity. He needs nothing at all. So why did God create the world and us? Because God is Love and Goodness itself. Love is a gift of self for the good of others. God has no other reason for creating than his love and goodness: “Creatures came into existence when the key of love opened his hand.” We came from love and we are invited to enter fully into the love of God and we journey by way of love. John of the Cross says: At the evening of life we shall be judged by our love. The World was created for the Glory of God. What is the Glory of God? The CCC and St Irenaeus teach that The Glory of God is man fully Alive! To be fully alive means to reach all our human and divine potential by becoming an adopted son or daughter of God. This means that the purpose or meaning of life is our transformation to be like God and live like God forever. This transformation come by emptying ourselves of all disordered desires, then longing for God above all things, seeking to do his will, allowing him to purify and finally to fill us completely with Himself. God creates an ordered and good world CCC 299 Because creation comes forth from God's goodness, it shares in that goodness - "And God saw that it was good. . . very good", for God willed creation as a gift addressed to man, an inheritance destined for and entrusted to him. Not only is creation good, so too every person is fundamentally good. To every person God says: “It is good that you exist, how wonderful you are!” Tragically, many people do not know this about themselves. It is our job to make it known to them. Beginning with our spouse, each of our children and the rest of the people in our lives. How will you communicate this to someone today! God upholds and sustains creation. 301 With creation, God does not abandon his creatures to themselves. He not only gives them being and existence, but also, and at every moment, upholds and sustains them in being, enables them to act and brings them to their final end. This means that if God was not thinking of you, right at this moment, you would cease to exist. God holds you in existence at every moment and he enables you to do all you do. Jesus said to the Apostles at the Last Supper: Apart from me you can do nothing. Recognizing this utter dependence upon God should lead us to see that the most important thing, the most productive thing we could do each day is set aside time to give our 100% attention to God in prayer. Because we depend upon God for everything, prayer is the best investment of our time. But most people don’t pray because they are too busy. The pride this implies!

God, the Almighty
Jul 14 2019 21 mins  
CCC 268 Of all the divine attributes, only God's omnipotence (that He is All-Powefull) is named in the Creed: "I BELIEVE IN GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY, CREATOR OF HEAVEN AND EARTH." To profess this power has great bearing on our lives. We believe that his might is universal, for God who created everything also rules everything and can do everything. God's power is loving, for he is our Father, and mysterious, for only faith can discern it when it "is made perfect in weakness. " CCC 269 The Holy Scriptures repeatedly confess the universal power of God…If God is almighty "in heaven and on earth", it is because he made them. Nothing is impossible with God, who disposes his works according to his will. He is the Lord of the universe, whose order he established and which remains wholly subject to him and at his disposal. He is master of history, governing hearts and events in keeping with his will: As Wisdom 11:21 states "It is always in your power to show great strength, and who can withstand the strength of your arm? CCC 270 God is the Father Almighty, whose fatherhood and power shed light on one another: God reveals his fatherly power in three ways: by the way he takes care of our needs; by the filial adoption that he gives us ("I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty"): God shows forth his almighty power by converting us from our sins and restoring us to his friendship by grace. The power of God is seen most clearly in his mercy and forgiveness. In the face of evil God seems apparently powerlessness 272 Faith in God the Father Almighty can be put to the test by the experience of evil and suffering. God can sometimes seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the death and Resurrection of his Son, by which he conquered evil. Christ crucified is thus "the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men." It is precisely in our weakness that the power of God is manifest. St John Paul writes in his letter on the meaning of human suffering: the weaknesses of all human sufferings are capable of being infused with the same power of God manifested in Christ's Cross. In such a concept, to suffer means to become particularly susceptible, particularly open to the working of the salvific powers of God, offered to humanity in Christ. In him God has confirmed his desire to act especially through suffering, which is man's weakness and emptying of self, and he wishes to make his power known precisely in this weakness and emptying of self. Salvific Dolores 23 CCC 273 Only faith can embrace the mysterious ways of God's almighty power. This faith glories in its weaknesses in order to draw to itself Christ's power. The Virgin Mary is the supreme model of this faith, for she believed that "nothing will be impossible with God", and was able to magnify the Lord: "For he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name." Mary believed the words of the Angel, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the Power of the Most Hight will overshadow you…and Nothing will be impossible to God.” Even before it happened and her belief enabled it to happen. Mary continued to believe as she stood beneath the Cross, held her dead Son in her arms and laid him in the Tomb. And God did what seemed impossible – He raised her Son from the Dead. Mary come and be our faith in God the Father Almighty when we are weak. How do we stay faithful when things seem impossible? Keep this in mind at all times and say it over and over: Nothing is impossible to God; and God works all things for good for those who love him. CCC 274 "Nothing is more apt to confirm our faith and hope than holding it fixed in our minds that nothing is impossible with God. Romans 8:28 All things work for good for those who love God.

What Faith Means
Jul 13 2019 19 mins  
Faith in God should affect the way we think and live in five ways. First, belief in God should lead us to turn to him alone as the first cause and final goal of all things. Everything that happens, God has willed or allowed for our greatest good. Therefore, abandon yourselves unconditionally to God’s Providence, to the way He guides all things for good. Trust him to work out your purification and holiness as He sees fitting. Try not to resist him but to do his will and accept his will in all things since union with God is our goal. If everything we are and have comes from God and if God works all things for good for those who love him, then we should live in constant thanksgiving. We should begin each day, naming many things for which we are grateful to God. Then, when something wrong or bad happens, pray, ask God what to do and do what you can to change it. If you cannot change it, then thank God for it because God works all things for good for those who love him. Faith in God means knowing the unity and true dignity of all men: everyone is made in the image and likeness of God. Every person comes from God and every person is made for union with God through Jesus Christ in the Catholic Church. Our role is to take the initiative to help them to friendship with God. Our role is also means we must live the Golden Rule: do to others what you would want them to do to you. Faith in God means making good use of created things: faith in God, the only One, leads us to use everything that is not God only insofar as it brings us closer to him, and to detach ourselves from it insofar as it turns us away from him: A prayer of St Nicholas of Flue captures this idea well: My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you. My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you. My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you. Faith in God means trusting God in every circumstance, even in adversity. A prayer of St. Teresa of Avila wonderfully expresses this trust: Let nothing trouble you / Let nothing frighten you Everything passes / God never changes Patience / Obtains all Whoever has God / Wants for nothing God alone is enough.