Improving Your Rosary Prayer with Daily Meditations

A New Way to Love the Rosary

I love finding new ways to embrace the Rosary. I recently came across a podcast series called Daily Rosary Meditations hosted by Dr. Mike Scherschligt. The series is part podcast and part Rosary prayer. Dr. Scherschligt prays the Rosary differently than other Rosary meditations in that he doesn’t pray the Mysteries. Instead, he has a topic that he talks a little about between decades. He has covered stories about the power of the Rosary, the Church teachings on drug use, Purgatory, anxiety, and health.

Dr. Scherschligt does what I’m attempting to do with RosaryMeds — tie everything that the Church teaches and current events to the Rosary. There is nothing that happens to us that the Rosary can’t either help explain or give us the strength to endure. I’ve wanted RosaryMeds to be a treasure trove of ideas fueling Rosary prayer. It looks like Daily Rosary Meditations has done the same.

Some Rosary purists will point out that Daily Rosary Meditations is not Rosary prayer because it lacks the actual Rosary Mysteries. But I think it’s a BYOM Rosary — Bring Your Own Mysteries. There’s nothing preventing someone from listening to Dr. Scherschligt’s stories and teachings and recalling the daily Mysteries while praying the Rosary.

Unlocking the Power of the Rosary

The Sept. 25 episode was particularly powerful. Titled “The Sword“, Dr. Scherschligt tells stories about many of the miraculous events that have occurred because of the Rosary. Powerful armies and dictators have been brought down and dismantled through people coming together in Rosary prayer. If you’re looking for motivation to pray the Rosary, this is a great episode to listen to.

If you have the Amen app from the Augustine Institute installed, then you already have access to Daily Rosary Meditations. You can also listen to it via any podcast app or directly through the website. When I find the time, I will see how I can link to his series from RosaryMeds. It’s that good!

Ten Practices to Reclaim Prayer Time from Screen Time

How I Lose My Day to Screen Time

My day follows a similar pattern. I wake up and pray for the Liturgy of the Hours. After dropping the boys off at school, I will pray the Rosary at church or during my commute. I seem to be on track prayer-wise until about 9 a.m. when I start work. And then my prayer for the day drops off completely aside from saying grace before eating.

There are many reasons why my spiritual routine takes a hit. To start, I have to focus on my work throughout the day and parenting in the evening. There is also the need to relax and take breaks. This usually takes the form of taking out my phone and reading my RSS feeds or playing a quick game. In the evening, when the house is quiet once again, I treat myself to streaming videos. To summarize, my phone with all its apps distracts me. Part of it is the intentionally addictive nature of apps but much of the blame falls on me for seeking these distractions in the first place.

10 Ways to Break Your Phone Addiction

On Catholic Exchange, Teresa Mull wrote an article about detaching yourself from your phone. She suggests making these habits part of your routine:

  1. Designate phoneless areas of your home and commit to phoneless activities: walking in nature, going to the gym (you’ll make more friends without your earbuds!), dinnertime, sitting in waiting rooms, and so on.
  2. If your phone causes you to sin, cut it off: leave it at home, in your purse, whatever.
  3. Consider significantly reducing your social media usage or getting rid of social media all together.
  4. Limit your consumption of news to an hour a day. Find one news program to watch, or one newspaper to read, or one podcast to listen to, and leave it at that.
  5. Wear a watch. If you’re like me, you use your phone as a timepiece, but checking it can lead to reading emails and texts.
  6. If you like to unwind by perusing social media, website, etc., set a timer and discipline yourself. It’s far too easy to be carried away and waste time on these platforms.

Her list is a good start but I think we can expand it. Here are some of the ways I’m replacing screen time with prayer time.

  1. No email or apps in the morning until prayers are completed. That may be the Liturgy of the Hours, reading Scripture, praying the Rosary, etc. The only exception is if those prayers are on an app on the phone. In that case, I have to exhibit some discipline.
  2. Designate a certain amount of quiet time each day. Try 10 minutes of no phone, TV, books, music, etc. Just let your mind wander or pray.
  3. I have a “TODO” list. Before watching any videos in the evening, I need to make progress on something on my list. For example, I need to spend time writing this article before watching “20 Amazing Gadgets that Will Blow You Away” on YouTube.
  4. I need to leave room for nightly prayers before going to sleep. That’s the last thing I do before falling asleep.

Using the Rosary to Break Addictions

What is a good Rosary mystery for breaking addictions? A phone or gadget often goes from being a tool to a vice. That’s where the Second Sorrowful Mystery comes in. The fruit of that mystery is mortification. The Latin root of that word is “death.” Mortification is the practice of putting our sins and vices to death. Through self-denial, we allow those things that separate us from God to “die” in our souls so that God’s grace will grow.

In the context of the Scourging at the Pillar, mortification can be seen as a way to unite our sufferings with those of Christ. Jesus endured immense physical pain and humiliation during his scourging, yet he did not resist or retaliate. Instead, he accepted his suffering with humility and love, offering it up to God for the salvation of humanity. By practicing mortification in our own lives, we can learn to imitate Christ’s example of selflessness and grow in holiness.

If your phone causes you to sin or pray less, ask Mary through the Rosary for the strength to break your phone’s addictive spell. It’s time we all start spending more time with God and less on TikTok. Your mental, physical, and spiritual health will thank you.

Are We Happier?

Looking back at the 1990s

In the 1997 movie, Contact, the preacher Palmer Joss poses this question in a faux interview with Larry King, “Are we happier?” He asks if all the scientific and technological progress has made the world a better place. Keep in mind that the movie came out in the 1990s in the early days of the World Wide Web and years before smartphones, social media, and streaming video. Generally, we’ve made astronomical strides in affluence and comfort since the end of the 20th century, and yet people who have access to these luxuries are more miserable and confused than ever. Why?

Why we need the Church’s Wisdom

Let’s jump to Fr. Robert Spitzer’s last book of his trilogy, The Moral Widsom of the Catholic Church. I haven’t finished reading it yet, but I think he has some interesting thoughts on this topic of “progress” and happiness. He touches on progressive topics like fornication, homosexuality, abortion, and transgenderism and how they’ve become normalized across the world. As a culture, we’ve “progressed” passed what many consider the restrictive and outdated teachings of the Church. But he also cites numerous studies on how these lifestyles lead to increased anxiety, depression, drug abuse, suicides, and other forms of misery. As sin is mistaken for virtue because we no longer listen to the moral authority of the Church, more people suffer as a result.

People often mistakenly believe that the Catholic Church desires people to be unhappy with all their “rules” and forbidding freedom. The flawed logic is that by moving away from the Church’s restrictive and “outdated” teachings, one will achieve greater levels of happiness. What people find however is a life devoid of purpose and meaning because we are reduced to satisfying base desires instead of challenging ourselves for something greater.

Modern society has basically adopted the five-year-old’s “I want to only eat ice cream all day long” approach to life. While we’ve seen advancements in technology leading to greater safety, more entertainment, and access to more information, I don’t think many people would say that the world is a better place or we’re happier than we were a few generations ago. The traditional “first world” cultures are more divided, aimless, confused, and unhappy than previous generations despite all their progress.

Reaping what we sow

Many books in the Old Testament talk about God punishing the Israelites when they break his commandments. I like to think that God punished them by letting them reap what they sowed. If people aren’t going to follow laws forbidding theft, violence, adultery, murder, etc. then what type of society are you left with? One where sin runs rampant. I’m afraid God is punishing us like the Israelites by allowing us to live with the consequences of a world of reduced morality and religious observance.

We need to re-evaluate the Church’s teachings on their own merits, not how they are represented in popular media like the Atlantic or NPR. The Church has sound reasons for her teachings crafted over thousands of years based on the logic and philosophy of some of the greatest human minds led by the Holy Spirit. They don’t make for an easy life, but it’s a life with meaning, purpose, and direction. It’s a life that is in better harmony with natural law and God’s Will. When there’s harmony with God’s design, there’s happiness instead of confusion and anxiety.

Natural law and God

We look at the First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism. Whenever we meditate on this mystery, we should ask ourselves whether we are living according to our baptismal vows which are summed up in the Creed. Are we living what we profess the Church teaches? Remember, embracing the Church means embracing God’s design manifested in all of us through natural law. If we want happiness, we need to be in harmony with God, not with our social media feeds.

Are you happier? If not, try forming a more harmonious relationship with God. Learn about his design for humanity through the Bible, Catechism, and the Mass. Maybe all you need is to listen to God a lot more and cable news a lot less.

The Extraordinary Strength of the Catholic Church

Catholic All-Stars

The movie, The Exorcist, is loosely based on the true story of the demonic possession of a boy known as Roland Doe (not his real name). Father Spitzer, in his book, Christ Versus Satan in Our Daily Lives, chronicles the details of the actual events showing the reality of demons and evil. Roland and his family were actually protestants. When the possessions started occurring they initially went to their pastor. However, the pastor couldn’t match the strength of Roland’s demon and referred his case to Catholic priests. After years of struggle, the Catholic priests exorcised the demon. Later, Roland converted to Catholicism.

I find it interesting that when faced with a powerful evil, the Catholic Church is the only institution that can defeat it. I like the fact that the Church is the all-star team or the special forces of the spiritual realm. When Satan is vigorously attacking us, the Catholic Church has the best defense against him. If someone were to ask me why I’m Catholic, part of my answer would include that the Catholic Church, Mary, and the Rosary are the few entities that Satan actually fears. Why wouldn’t I want the strongest protection against evil?

Sacrificing it All

It’s not easy being one of the elite. An all-star athlete needs to continuously train and make sacrifices. They need to follow workout routines and diets. They need to have laser-sharp focus. Special forces soldiers need to put up with discomfort and know how to handle their fears and perceived limitations. The same is true for Catholics. We need to be highly disciplined and focused, make sacrifices, and follow routines as we combat Satan and face our own doubts and fears.

We train to combat temptation, sin, and evil through Mass attendance and prayer. Serving God needs to be always on our minds. Like athletes needing to focus on their sport, we need to focus on our faith. We may not have the determination of a saint, but that doesn’t mean we can be lazy and half-hearted. We still need to practice our faith the best we can. The good news is that God will help us and fill in our deficiencies when he sees we have a genuine desire to serve Him.

Dumbing Down the Catholic Church

Unfortunately, many of our Catholic brothers and sisters seem to no longer want to put forth the effort required by Jesus Christ. They want to choose that easy life of sleep-in Sundays and moral flexibility. And that may seem fine and even beneficial, for a little while at least. If all is going well and we’re comfortable, we may not see our need for God. But eventually, we all come up against that monumental challenge, temptation, or tragedy. One day, Satan may set his sights on you. And if you haven’t prepared, you won’t be strong enough to stand up and defeat him.

There is a huge need for strong faith in our world that is becoming ever more devoid of morality and allowing Satan more influence. And that is why I get so concerned and scared when I hear about the Church relaxing or not emphasizing many of her teachings. Great sports teams aren’t made through laziness nor are great Catholics. We need to understand that the threat is real and that is why the Church has traditionally set the bar so high. She is only echoing the teachings of Jesus who asks us to sacrifice everything for Him.

Further Reading

If you can, read these articles about why the Catholic faith needs to be challenging and demand so much of us. In embracing our faith, we not only find the strength to reject Satan but more importantly, find joy and peace in God’s grace. I hope these articles will inspire you to start or continue praying the Rosary, receiving the Sacraments, and living according to Catholic teachings.

You have to excuse the long delay in writing new articles. I’ve been so busy lately working, coaching soccer, and participating in different parish ministries. I really wanted to write more about each one of the above articles. Hopefully, I’ll have more time in the future to deep dive into those articles.

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

The Empty Pew Pandemic

Within the last week, I came across these articles about changing church attendance patterns and religious practices. These articles sadden me greatly because so many people have made their lives sadder and harder because they’ve de-prioritized practicing their faith. We need to learn from Mary and the saints’ examples that our lives will ultimately be happier and easy when we chose to serve God.

A person might be entering mid-career, working a high-stress job requiring a 60- or 70-hour workweek. Add to that 15 hours of commute time, and suddenly something like two-thirds of their waking hours in the week are already accounted for. And so when a friend invites them to a Sunday-morning brunch, they probably want to go to church, but they also want to see that friend, because they haven’t been able to see them for months. The friend wins out.

The Misunderstood Reason Millions of Americans Stopped Going to Church

What these articles touch on and what I see in my own life, is a spiritual “quiet quit.” Most people I know who are former Sunday Mass regulars don’t have anything against the Catholic Church. But they started watching live-streamed Masses during Covid. They then skipped a Sunday, and then another, and then another. Since God didn’t smite them and no one asked them to return, their new normal was to be a “Christmas and Easter” Catholic.

“It’s not like they are walking away, saying, ‘I’m now an atheist and don’t believe,’” he says. “They still believe in a God and live life with purpose but are done with the institutional church.”

Why Middle-Aged Americans Aren’t Going Back to Church

Skipping Mass Makes Life Harder

I’ve said this countless times before, skipping Mass and not praying daily makes your day harder, not easier. The articles talk about how people can’t fit in Mass between all the priorities in their lives whether they be work, family, health, or various hobbies. But in skipping Mass, you distance yourself from the source that makes all those priorities and challenges in your life manageable.

Of all the priorities in your life, the last one you want to scale back on is your relationship with God. He’s the one that enables you to move forward and find true happiness and understanding in all that you do. Trouble at work? God can help you. Trouble at home? God can help. Problem with your kids? God can help. No task or challenge is too big for an all-powerful, all-patient, and all-loving God. But we need to form an active relationship with Him through the Church to receive His grace. He wants to help us, but we need to be open to that help.

Many people may ask, “I do believe in God, but I don’t need to attend Mass every week or pray rote prayers to form a relationship with him.” That seems to be the position of many Catholics since the Mass closures during Covid. They stopped going to Mass and their world did not come to a fiery end. But missing Mass is like giving up a healthy diet and exercise in favor of junk food and binge-watching Netflix. Sure, you may be alive and superficially entertained, but you’ve set yourself up for disaster later on in life. We need the Mass because it fills something profound in our souls that nothing else can.

Mary’s Example

Let’s go back to the Annunciation from the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Now Mary had a healthy relationship with God. But God asked her for more… a lot more! Becoming the Mother of God was disruptive, to say the least. But Mary understood the importance of serving God even if it was going to cause hardship and sorrow at specific points in her life. We need to imitate Mary and choose God over worldly comforts and conveniences. God wants us at Mass, not because he needs the praise, but because we need God. It may seem like God asks a lot of us and following him may cause sorrow. But like Mary, we need to understand that those temporary hardships pave the way for profound and meaningful joy.

There are no saints that God didn’t help when they faced their various challenges in life. But when coming to a crossroads, saints choose God over worldly comforts. God calls all of us to sainthood which leads to eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. Satan wants us to choose the seemingly easy life by giving up Mass occasionally knowing that it will lead us further away from God and happiness in this life and maybe the next. The wise, saintly person will choose the road that leads to God knowing that ultimately, his “yoke is easy and burden light” (Mathew 11:30).

Accepting the Light Burden of God’s Truth

You Can’t Fight Nature

Father Cameron Faller wrote this article about the TV series, Alone, where contestants try to survive alone in the wilderness. The winner, Alan Kay, noted the unforgiving nature of the wilderness. A hungry bear is a hungry bear. A cold, damp night is a cold, damp night. As much as someone wants it to be otherwise, you can’t change the natural world to fit your wants and desires.

“You can’t run against nature. You have to work with it or it will run you over. Nature just is….You better understand what it is and get with the program or you will suffer.”

Alan Kay, “Alone” winner

Fr. Faller connects the Alone series to God’s truth. The Catholic Church has always preached the truth even when that truth is inconvenient. Right now, the Church’s teachings have been less popular than ever, particularly on subjects of life, sexuality, marriage, and gender. But like nature, the truth “just is.” The Church can’t change God’s truth any more than we can stop a rainy night because it makes us uncomfortable.

“You better understand what [nature] is and get with the program or you will suffer.” When we go against God’s design of human nature in our individual actions or in the lifestyle we choose to live, we will bring suffering and pain upon ourselves and others. Now, this will not always occur immediately. At first, doing things our way and according to our design may bring an instant sense of pleasure or gratification, but in the long run, nature will always “bite back.”

Alan Kay

Fr. Faller came to a similar conclusion as I did — trying to live counter to the truth sets people up for sadness and suffering. Try as you might, you can’t escape these truths. You can’t find true peace trying to convince yourself that abortion isn’t murder or that someone’s sex is a human-made concept that someone can change. It’s a heavy burden trying to fight against what is or “I am.” Peace and joy come by allowing God to show you the truth and you deciding to live by it. That is why Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:30). And, “The truth will set you free” (John 8:32).

Truth in the Rosary

Whenever I think of God’s truth written on our hearts, I think of the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary — Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan. It reminds me of our baptism and our need to always remain open to the Holy Spirit to guide us in acknowledging God’s truth. Living by the truth isn’t always easy, especially when it seems like we derive little benefit. That is why we need the Holy Spirit to occasionally remind us how we are better off living with the relatively light burden of truth than the heavier burden of living in denial of it.

When you pray the Rosary, think of how the Holy Spirit is steering you toward’s the way God desires you to live. Ask our Mother Mary for the strength to see through the “fog” of modern society which tries to distort and redefine God’s natural laws of ethics and morality. Fog can only change one’s view of the world; not change the world itself. A building or a cliff still exists even when you can’t see it. So you best navigate carefully. The same goes for morality. Reality contains both sin and virtue and no amount of wishing otherwise will change their nature. As much as certain segments of society try, you can’t redefine reality.

Instead of fighting what is, we need to ask for openness to the Holy Spirit to help us live by the realities of God’s truth. Real maturity is showing humility towards God’s design and His desire for how we are to live. Maturity and wisdom come from allowing the Holy Spirit to see the reality of good and evil and asking him for the strength to choose the good.

Three Articles on Faith, Courage, and Prayer

I’m going to give you a small glimpse of how I create content for RosaryMeds. When I read a book, news, or blog site, watch a video, or listen to a podcast, I get ideas on how the topic relates to the Rosary. I will then meditate and brainstorm on that topic for a week as I write drafts. However, sometimes I come across articles that I find interesting but cannot write a comprehensive article for them. I usually just read them and file them away for reference. But I’m going to try something new — write an article that includes short summaries of the various content I come across. I hope you find these articles useful and provide fuel for your prayers.

Trusting the Experts Is a Sign of Spiritual Decline – Crisis Magazine

This article discusses the dangers of “scientism” and the “technopoly” where we put our faith in so-called “experts” and technology instead of God. The author observes:

Instead of technology supporting and nurturing the values of society, technology itself reforms the values of society to revolve around it. Thus, all religious beliefs, symbols, and elements are hijacked and transferred from the supernatural realm to the technical realm. The god they serve does not speak of righteousness or goodness or mercy or grace. Their god speaks of efficiency, precision, objectivity. And that is why such concepts as sin and evil disappear in Technopoly. They come from a moral universe that is irrelevant to the theology of expertise…Sin and evil disappear because they cannot be measured and objectified, and therefore cannot be dealt with by experts.

Pray and meditate on the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration. The fruit of this mystery is the desire for holiness. We need to consecrate ourselves to God, not technology. It’s not that science and technology are inherently evil, but they can become false idols in our lives. We should stay focused on serving God and looking to him in all things regarding our souls.

Are We Willing to Defend Our Faith? – Crisis Magazine

This article talks about the need to defend our faith in the face of a culture that is antithetical to Catholic values. It calls out the Church hierarchy as being too accommodating of non-Catholic voices inside and outside the Church.

If Catholic conviction about Christ, grounded in history from the time of the first stirrings of the Church’s life on the day of Pentecost, is true—and therefore binding upon the faithful—then we’re all obliged to defend it. We shall have to answer before God Himself, in other words, on how well we have done in discharging our duty, which means upholding the dignity and identity of the Son of God.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery is The Crowning of Thorns whose fruit is Moral Courage. May God grant us the courage to defend Church teachings. God will help us live faithfully in a world that will attack us for it.

When Prayer IS the Distraction (

This article talks about three ways we pray that really aren’t prayers. They are:

  1. Telling God how good we are by telling Him our various good works.
  2. Requesting the Lord for signs or trying to make deals with Him.
  3. Asking God to justify or validate our actions.

We should contemplate Jesus’ actions at the Garden of Gethsemane in the First Sorrowful Mystery. This mystery is the epitome of mindful and faithful prayer. Jesus humbly asks for the strength to do God’s Will. There’s a request to have God find another way, but Jesus isn’t trying to negotiate with God. Jesus lays out his fears but also his confidence in God’s plan for him. When we think about this Rosary mystery, let’s imitate Jesus in our prayers.

The Importance of a Purposeful Life

An Alien World

Over my vacation, I read the science fiction novel, Return from the Stars, by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. This was the second time I read the novel. When I read it 20 years ago, it didn’t connect with me. However, now I see many parallels with the direction our society is headed with the one depicted in the novel. I think this book is worth exploring through the lens of faith.

Return from the Stars echoes many themes explored in Adulous Huxley’s Brave New World or the movie Logan’s Run. Lem tells the story of an astronaut, Hal Bragg, returning from an intergalactic space mission having only aged 10 years while 127 years passed on Earth. His experiences on this new Earth are like stepping onto an alien planet. Society has completely changed because people live without crime and fear due to a procedure everyone receives at birth which removes humanity’s tendency towards aggression. Robots handle all the dangerous work leaving humans to spend their lives pursuing leisurely activities.

The Tragedy of Comfort

It may seem like a utopia to live in a world without injury, crime, and fear. If you don’t know of any other way of life, a world of war, crime, and toil would seem downright barbaric. However, what type of life is it where your sole purpose is to exist and consume? There is nothing to achieve or fight for. That drive towards improvement via challenging yourself no longer exists. In the novel, this world drives astronaut Hal Bragg to the edge of insanity as he declares, “They’ve killed the man in man!”

We are starting to see the development of such a society depicted in the novel. It’s one bathed in the glowing screens of smartphones. One can spend his whole life watching TikTok videos and streaming Netflix, ordering everything online at the click of a button, and no one daring to tell him, “You should be doing more with your life.” As Hal realizes almost immediately, it’s a life without purpose. Humanity has regressed, not progressed. We are little more than packs of animals dressed up in the comforts technological advances bring.

Return from the Stars stays mostly in the sociological changes to society. It avoids explicitly exploring the political and religious structure of such a society. But I think Lem leads the reader to a similar conclusion that Hal discovers — such a world creates a shallow and meaningless life. Ironically, it is through our hardships and toil that we forge strong connections with each other and God.

Why We Need to Toil

Our lives need to include that spirit of adventure, danger, and toil. There needs to be a sense that we are working towards something. Specifically, we need to have that drive to always be working towards living in God’s grace and eventually spending eternity with Him in Heaven. And that requires hard work and taking risks to achieve something more than what we currently have. It means being thankful for what we have, but knowing that it’s incomplete.

Hal laments that humanity lost the will to explore the stars to instead bask in the immediate comforts technology and science brought them. I think the same sentiment can be said for faith. We lose that sense of urgency to practice our faith in an easy, “safe” world. Why is it, after a huge disaster like the 911 attacks, churches were full to the brim the following weeks? I think, when our sense of comfort is disrupted, we evaluate what is truly important and invest in it. Unfortunately, the last major world event, the Covid pandemic, made it even easier to seek comfort rather than seek God.

Seeking God through the Rosary

Mediate on the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Picture Mary and Joseph looking for Jesus after they learned he was missing. They searched for three days in sorrow. Imagine the sense of urgency and determination they must have had looking for their lost child. Everything else took a back seat to find Jesus. Their search required dealing with fear, sorrowful, and hardship. But in the end, their persistence was rewarded when they found Jesus in the temple.

Look how tired St. Joseph looks

We too should show that same level of focus and determination to find Jesus in our lives. I’m not saying that you neglect other responsibilities such as work, family, and community for your faith. But we can’t become so comfortable that we lose the willpower to serve and honor God. We always need to remember that we have a mission and it’s not to watch Netflix and Disney+ (which I recommend you boycott on principle). To be fully human, we need to strive for something greater than what we have. We need to strive to deepen our love for God and our faith.

Book Review: Escape from Evil’s Darkness

Escaping Darkness

I recently finished reading Fr. Robert Spitzer’s second book in his Called Out of Darkness trilogy — Escape from Evil’s Darkness. Like the first book in the series, this one starts slowly. I felt lost reading it because I couldn’t see where he was going. But the concepts start to build on each other making it an engaging and valuable read.

In his first book of the trilogy, Fr. Spitzer explains what evil is. He dove into the eight deadly sins, demonic possessions, and Jesus’ ultimate triumph over Satan. The second book can be thought of as the field manual for resisting that evil. He talks about routines and prayers someone can exercise to protect himself from sin and temptation.

Levels of Desire

The second book centers around moving to higher levels of desire. Satan operates around our lower-level, base desires while God operates at the high ones. Fr. Spitzer’s strategy for combating evil is simple — move to the higher levels toward God and away from Satan through prayer and devotion. Here’s a summary of the levels:

  1. Level one — externally stimulated or physical pleasures and possessions (food, drink, leisure, vices, etc.)
  2. Level two — ego-gratification (increased status, admiration, power, control)
  3. Level three — seeking happiness by making a positive difference for others
  4. Level four — the desire for perfection in love, goodness, and being with God

Fr. Spitzer discusses praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, attending Mass, and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And while much of what he says shouldn’t be new, especially to those who faithfully follow RosaryMeds, it is motivating to see how all these spiritual practices come together to form a defense against evil.

How the Rosary Helps Us Live a Flourishing Life

Aristotle’s Idea of a Flourishing Life

One of my new favorite websites is The Art of Manliness. Now women, please don’t think that this post is just for men. This website promotes skill and values closely linked to the traditional concept of “manliness” but many of their articles (except maybe those on style) apply to women. For example, I read an article titled “Aristotle’s 11 Excellences for Living a Flourishing Life.” I think there’s something we can learn from it about how to live a good life by living one of value. Here’s a brief explanation of what Aristotle meant by “flourishing” and “virtue” from the article:

For the ancient Greeks, eudaimonia was considered the highest human good. While the word doesn’t easily translate into English, it roughly corresponds to a happy, flourishing life — to a life well-lived.

Eudaimonia wasn’t a destination — a nirvana that, once reached, initiated a state of bliss. Happiness wasn’t something you felt, but that you did; it was a dynamic, ongoing activity.

What that activity centered on was the pursuit of arete, or virtue.

We tend to think of “virtue” in an exclusively moral sense, as having to do with qualities like courage, compassion, and continence. But for the Greeks, virtue meant doing anything well. Courage was a virtue, but so was speaking articulately. Playing an instrument masterfully was a virtue. Strength was a virtue. Beauty was a virtue. 

The Art of Manliness

Aristotle’s 11 Values

In summary, Aristotle’s 11 values are:

  1. Excellence in Morals
  2. Excellence in Judgment
  3. Excellence in Health and Fitness
  4. Excellence in Attractiveness
  5. Excellence in Wealth
  6. Excellence in Honor
  7. Excellence in Organization
  8. Excellence in Family Life
  9. Excellence in Intellect
  10. Excellence in Public Speaking
  11. Excellence in Friendship

Granted, not all these values are Christian values. For example, attractiveness can lead to vanity. And wealth can lead to greed. But it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work hard to earn money and provide financial security for ourselves and our families. When we have a certain amount of wealth, we can also be more charitable towards others. And while health and attractiveness are different values according to Aristotle, I consider them linked. Healthy people are generally more attractive.

The Importance of Values

We may have different values than Aristotle. But we can both agree that we need to hold values to lead a flourishing life. The idea is that we need to focus on pursuing excellence in various areas of our lives. I think we’ve lost that drive for excellence as modern society has made it easier to fulfill basic needs of food, cheap goods, and entertainment. But Aristotle and the Catholic Church will tell you that you need to strive for more than just basic wants and desires.

Look at the saints. No one can accuse them of not striving to live up to certain virtues and standards. They weren’t lazy or aimless. They focused on living in God’s grace and doing his will. They had their weaknesses but they didn’t let those weaknesses detract them from living a full life. This is why we call on saints in our prayers; so we can imitate them in living in a complete way. That way will be different for each one of us.

What are Your Virtues?

I think it’s a good exercise to contemplate what values you desire to excel at. Remember, excellence isn’t a destination, it’s an ongoing process. We’ll never be fully “excellent” until we live with God in Heaven. But we can always strive to have a little taste of that excellence. That’s really what God’s grace is — a taste. Here are the core virtues I try to excel at daily. What are yours?

  1. Excellence in mind — always developing new skills and learning new things.
  2. Excellence in spirit — always connecting with God through prayer.
  3. Excellence in body — staying healthy and avoiding unnecessary risks.

We can often become discouraged when trying to live virtuously. After all, it’s not easy. Many times, it’s hard to drive towards loftier goals when our base desires are satisfied. It’s hard to find the will to exercise when watching a football game with a refreshing beer is readily available. It’s hard to read a book when you can binge-watch a series on a streaming service. But this is why we have tools like the Rosary.

How the Rosary Helps Us Flourish

Mary promises us that when we pray the Rosary we will desire heavenly things. Not only that, she promises us all that we shall obtain all that we ask by reciting the Rosary. We have all the tools we need through the rosary to achieve excellence in various virtues. We just have to know what we want, or rather, what God wants of us. When we know them, Mary and the saints will help us find them when we make the effort.

I’m reminded of what I tell my boys every day when we pray in the morning while driving to school — don’t pass up the best help you will receive all day. Of course, I mean asking for God’s help in making the day a good one. It’s not about getting what we want or some obstacle being magically removed (although I won’t pass up the occasional miracle). It’s about God helping us excel in virtue. When you commit to a life of virtue with God’s help, the actual details of the day will work themselves out according to His will.

Mary and her Rosary are the best tools we have to untangle the “knots” in our lives