Politicians: They Know Not What They Do

In my last article I discussed how the state of American political discourse has descended into a war of bill branding and news soundbites rather than discussion on Constitutional principles.  Specifically, I noted that large negative response many liberal politicians had on the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.  Now it’s time to separate RosaryMeds from your run of the mill “this is what’s wrong with the world” blog.  While others report and complain about politics, I’m going to offer a solution — a prayer.  Specifically, let’s look at a mystery of the rosary for guidance in these worrisome times.

English: A cropped version of Antonio Ciseri's...

When I read about just how zealously many politicians elevate the role of abortion in our society I think of the Third Sorrowful Mystery – The Crowning of Thorns.  I think about how the Roman soldiers mocked Jesus in such a cavalier and dismissive manner.  Although they weren’t Jews, they must have known about the countless miracles Jesus performed which should have ringed warning bells that this wasn’t some mere criminal they were scourging and mocking.  The soldiers, Pontius Pilate, the Jewish leaders, and everyone else involved in crucifying Jesus must have had some inclination that they were playing with fire by so brashly mocking the Son of God.

When I think of the Patty Murrays, Nancy Pelosis, and Harry Reids of our government, I wonder how many of them deep down in their consciences know that they promoting a great evil by backing the pro-abortion lobbies.  Like the Roman soldiers that mocked Jesus, do they have some inclination of the seriousness of their actions?  If their promotion of abortion isn’t born out of pure ignorance, do they know they are playing with fire by acting contrary to their faiths and natural law?  Like the soldiers who got caught up in the moment of mocking Jesus, are some politicians so caught up in scoring political points with their base and lobbyists that they never stop and consider the ramifications of what they are doing?

When you pray the rosary, especially the Third Sorrowful Mystery, pray for those who so brazenly mock Jesus’ teachings for worldly gain.  Pray for their conversion and an awakening to the damage their behavior creates both to themselves and others.  Pray that you personally always remember Jesus’ teachings and not get caught up in behavior that runs counter to it.  It can be so easy to casually mock Jesus through seemingly little sins.  But those little sins can really add up and over time derail you from the path God sets before you.  Be aware of your behavior and find the courage to ask for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation whenever you act contrary to your faith.

Our Prayer

Forgive those Lord who misrepresent Your teachings and hide Your truth in darkness.  We pray for their conversion much like how You touched the heart and mind of your servant, St. Paul on the road to Damascus.  May those who harm so many in their blindness of earthly ambition end up saving 100 times as many souls in their conversion.  We also pray that we may never take Your truth for granted and casually ignore it.  Holy Spirit and our Mother Mary, please give us the strength to honor our Lord Jesus Christ with a crown of good works, love, and charity and avoid crowning Him with the thorns of sin.

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July 27 2014 | politics and prayer and Third Sorrowful Mystery | No Comments »

Passing a Bill By It’s Cover — The State of American Politics

Yep, I’m getting political.  But please keep reading!  This does related to rosary prayer and meditation.  I know many people like to visit my blog to read little, witty observations and my analogies of rosary meditation to exercise, military mottos, movies, etc.  But we also have to remember that we practice our faith in the real world which produces real challenges.  I don’t want my articles to just become useless platitudes that don’t have any connection to the real world.  God calls us to live our faith publicly even in the face of hostility.  Fortunately, He gave us the rosary through his sacred vessel, our Mother Mary, to help us overcome the legions that stand against truth and love.

English: President Barack Obama shakes hands w...What has gotten my dander up recently is the response certain politicians had to the Supreme Court’sHobby Lobby” decision.  The high court ruled that the government cannot compel a private company to provide services that run counter to the owners’ religious beliefs.  It was a classic upholding of the Bill of Rights although it narrowly passed on a 5-4 ruling.  But this ruling set many politicians into a conniption fit especially Senator Patty Murray who introduced a bill named the Women’s Health Protection Act.”  However, a more apt name would have been the “Let’s Dynamite the Constitution and the Judicial Branch of Government Act.”  This bill aimed to not only reverse the Supreme Court’s decision but also eliminate the states’ right to legislate on matters regarding abortion.  Fortunately, the bill came up four votes short in the senate to move forward. Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority Report correctly called out this bill for what it was:

This push for the Women’s Health Protection Act is a p.r. stunt. It’s a meme push. The War on Women is coming to get you!!!!! Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the Obama administration have been such absolute failures that they believe their only hope is to scare women into believing that the GOP intends to drag women back to the stone age or worse yet, the 1950′s. This legislation has zero chance of even being introduced in the House of Representatives. So the Democrats will attempt to argue that Republicans voted against something as benign as the “Women’s Health Protection Act.”

This is my scary observation about the current American political climate — our politicians and the general voting public base discussion on very serious topics on the title of bills and evening news sound bites.  You no longer hear our politicians discuss the actual contents of a bill or whether it has a sound Constitutional foundation.  Instead, they do everything they can to push bills into laws regardless of their constitutionality because they know how hard it is to repeal it once it becomes law.  And so we see bills like the “Affordable Care Act“, “Women’s Health Protection Act”, “Patriot Act“, “Dream Act“, “No Child Left Behind”, “Security and Freedom Protection Act”, and so on.  George Orwell would have been pleased (maybe even a little shocked) how you can create a law to do almost anything as long as it has a catchy title that tugs at the heart strings.  After all, the media and political opponents can have a field day if they can label you as the person who stood against affordable health care, women’s health, or our nation’s security and freedom.  The fact that you may have very just and sound opposition matters not in the war of catch phrases.

A prayer please...

I said in my previous post that we need to continue to pray because so much of the freedom we enjoy often remains in place because of a few votes.  One justice made a difference in the Hobby Lobby decision.  If one of the five had swung and ruled against Hobby Lobby — puff!  Your freedom of religion would have been diminished that much more and it would set precedent for other cases to diminish it even further.  Think about what could have happened to your first amendment rights if one of the five judges who voted in favor of Hobby Lobby retired and replaced with someone who swung the other direction?

And remember Patty Murray’s bill that didn’t move forward because it was four votes short?  Do you know how easy it is to bribe four politicians?  They will keep trying to push something like that bill through in the future.  And that’s the problem — politicians only need to find that one opportune moment, one good sounding bill title, or that perfect soundbite (but never mind about the actual content of the bill) to put into place laws that will be nearly impossible to reverse.  Think about how long Roe vs. Wade has been law despite the growing scientific evidence that a fetus is a human being.  A politician or special interest only needs to get lucky once and political inertia takes hold.  Like a watchman in the night, we must continue to pray to prevent damaging bills from becoming law and never fall into hopelessness that our prayers don’t matter.

I have more to say on this topic, but I need to continue in a future article because this one is already growing long.  Please like and share this article with others.  Think of this article as a bill titled “The apple pie, fresh baked cookies, and grandma protection act.”  If you don’t “like” it then I will say that you stand against apple pie, cookies, and you grandmas.

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July 21 2014 | politics | No Comments »

Rosary SEAL: Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

I previously wrote about how rosary prayer is a lot of Navy SEAL training.  The rosary can be a difficult prayer that is monotonous, time consuming, and requires a lot of concentration.  Not surprisingly, many people either ignore praying the rosary or substitute it with easier and shorter prayers.  I want to explore more in depth what we can learn from the Navy SEALS and apply it to rosary prayer and meditation.  Let’s take a look at one of the SEALS’ famous sayings.

“Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable”

Image of BUD/S trainees covered in mud during ...

Image of BUD/S trainees covered in mud during Hell Week. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To say SEAL training and their missions are tough is an understatement.  They are pushed to their breaking point both physically and mentally in training so that they can remain focused in the field where their lives are on the line.  During training, they will wake up to a routine of lying in the extremely cold ocean to the point of hypothermia before starting whatever grueling challenge the instructors have planned for the day.  The instructors call it getting “wet and sandy” and whenever they say that, the recruits must run into the water and then roll on the sand until they are covered head to toe.  The idea is that a SEAL needs to be able to focus on the task at hand regardless of the situation.  They have to block out all distractions to get the job done.  When they accept that discomfort is just part of the job then that is one less thing that will occupy their thoughts.

What can we learn from this SEAL motto in regards to rosary prayer?  I think it’s important to accept that the rosary is a difficult prayer.  I know it’s almost taboo to admit that many times I don’t feel like praying the rosary.  It’s not that I don’t like the rosary, but I do find it challenging to get into the frame of mind where I can make the most of rosary prayer.  When I think about the fact that I will spend the next 20+ minutes saying the same prayer 50 times over, flipping on the television and flipping off my brain starts to sound very tempting.

When you accept that praying the rosary will be difficult then you will start to become more comfortable praying it.  In other words, while there are dozens of activities that are easier and maybe even more immediately gratifying than the rosary, mentally you just filter them out as an option.  Once you learn to commit to praying the rosary you never will look back at what other things you could be doing.  A SEAL in the freezing water has to push out of his mind how nice it would be to lay next to a warm fire with some hot food because that will just distract him.  Rosary SEALS (Souls Enthusiastically Approaching the Lord) also need to just move forward and completely commit to the rosary and not let the other easier options on how to spend our time become a distraction.

“Don’t think of the thousands of other things I would rather be doing right now”

When we can push forward and get comfortable with the discomforts of the rosary, we can begin to grow spiritually.  By praying the rosary instead of giving into those distractions, you prove to yourself that you have the ability to push yourself and make the rosary and your faith a priority in your life.  When you accept those “discomforts” of prayer you will then have that much more room in your mind, heart, and soul to let the Holy Spirit guide you and discover even more what God has planned for you.  You just have to ignore Satan and his minions urging you to embrace the immediate, physical comforts of this world instead of getting “wet and sandy” in the rosary.

July 10 2014 | catholic | Comments Off

Obama’s Failed Poker Bluff

It has been a big two weeks for both the pro-life and religious freedom causes.  We saw the Supreme Court rule unanimously that the 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics in Massachusetts violated the pro-life advocates and sidewalk counselors right to free speech.  And this week we saw the Supreme Court, in a narrow 5-4 “Hobby Lobby” decision, rule that the government cannot force private employers to provide health plans that include coverage for operations, procedures, and medications that run counter to their personal religious beliefs.

U.S. Supreme Court building.

U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I really liked what Creative Minority Report wrote about the unintentional consequences of Obama‘s efforts to limit the role religion plays in the public square.  It’s a short article that reads:

The great irony of Obama’s unrelenting assault on religious freedom may have had the unintended effect of strengthening religious freedom.

When the Obama administration went to the mattresses on arguments such as declaring that religious schools do not have the right to hire and fire for mission they got unanimously smacked down by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Now, the Administration is red-faced again with the high court ruling that it doesn’t have the power to force “closely held companies” to provide contraceptive coverage. That’s a big deal.

It would be ironic if the overall effect of the Obama administration on religious liberty is a strengthening rather than a deleterious one.

Politics is a lot like a giant poker game.  I enjoy playing poker.  Sometimes I win, but more often I lose.  I lose when I try to force every hand into a big win.  Even when I don’t have a good hand I think to myself that I can bluff my way into winning.  I essentially get impatient and just want to take every pot which is not a smart way to play.  When I take that impatient, “go big all the time” strategy I will usually be the first one to bust out.  I win (or at least stay in the game longer) when I play strategically and take small losses when I’m in an unfavorable situation and moderate gains when I  can.

Like a game of poker, the pro-choice and big government crowds have been playing a very strategic game the last few decades.  It wasn’t overnight that a majority of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion rather than birth.  It wasn’t overnight that Planned Parenthood started receiving millions of dollars in federal funding and built massive clinics in every city in the US.  The pro-abortion crowd has built up their “winnings” by taking small wins here and there and never trying to force a win under unfavorable conditions.  It also helped them by staying away from imposing large, sweeping changes all at once.  That would be like broadcasting to the poker table that you have a straight flush by putting in too much money too quickly.

Poker Night

Poker Night (Photo credit: IanMurphy)

But in recent years, the pro-choice crowd flipped and started playing more of the “go big or go home” strategy to their disadvantage.  Maybe they felt emboldened by their earlier victories that they felt like they could make some big plays to really solidify their position in US law.  Maybe they thought that their opposition was so weak that they could continue to push their agenda even further without anyone putting up fight.  Fortunately for the pro-life cause, Obama went “all in” with the HHS contraception mandate and lost.  He looked at his two pair and thought that would be enough to win the hand.  Unfortunately for him, the US Constitution was sitting at the table with a full house and didn’t fold.

But this isn’t the beginning of the end of the debates over abortion, life, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion.  Rather, it’s the end of the beginning.  Although the pro-life battle has been going on for decades, the millions of lives lost to abortion have really hinged on a few court cases and laws.  And our basic freedoms of speech and religion have only been tested a few dozen times in the high courts.  And while sometimes the legal precedent generates a unanimous 9-0 decision like in the Massachusetts case, other times it really comes down to a single justice’s interpretation of the law.

Given just how fragile and how quickly the pro-life cause and our freedoms can change, it is doubly important to maintain those prayers.  Much like how the Hobby Lobby decision came down to a single justice (I have no idea why it wasn’t a 9-0 decision), these cases may also come down to a single prayer.  We should never think that our prayers don’t matter or influence our world.  Our mother Mary has repeatedly said that prayer is the greatest tool we have to further God’s kingdom and bring His grace to others.  Who knows?  Maybe it’s your rosary prayer and intentions for our government officials that might tip the scale in the next important policy decision.  It may be our prayers that plant a seed in a judge’s heart to look at a case one more time and possibly have a change of heart.

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July 01 2014 | news | Comments Off

The Dulling of Faith

We just remembered the 70th anniversary of the Allied landing on Normandy in WWII.  Operation Overlord, or D-Day, was a massive operation that forever changed the face of our world.  Thousands of men stormed the beaches and for many of them, the flashes of German gunfire from concrete bunkers was the last thing they would ever see and the deafening sounds of mortar shells was the last thing they would ever hear.

But like many historical events, even the big ones like D-Day, time erodes our memories and emotions of these events.  As the people who experienced these events pass away and all we’re left with are pictures and videos, these world changing moments start to feel less real and meaningful to us.  Washington D.C. burning to the ground in 1812, thousands of men dying at Gettysburg, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and one day, 9/11, almost start to have as much impact as a work of fiction as time goes on.

D-DAY IMAGE ...

D-DAY IMAGE … (Photo credit: mrbill78636)

I think we often suffer from time diminishing our faith.  Many of us read the Bible and listen to the Gospels at least once a week during Sunday Mass.  We may pray routinely.  We know what Jesus taught and what He expects of us.  We know the high bar He sets for us to get into His kingdom of Heaven.  And I bet, if Jesus walked into your room and repeated what He said in the Gospels, He would have your complete attention.  You would run out and change anything and everything in your life that didn’t line up with His teaching.

And yet, we often ignore, trivialize, or give lip service to Jesus’ message because He said it nearly 2000 years ago and we didn’t witness it firsthand.  We are like St. Thomas who doubted Jesus’ resurrection when the other disciples told him about it because he didn’t personally see Him.  But Jesus’ teachings are no different today than when He walked this earth.  His teachings are no different through the Gospel than if He came walking through your door right now.  And yet we too allow the trivialities of our present situation to overshadow the greater truths Jesus taught us.

English: Transfiguration of Jesus

I think about my lack of appreciation of Jesus’ truth most when I pray the Fourth Luminous Mystery of the rosary, The Transfiguration.  I think about how awe inspiring it must have been for the apostles to witness Jesus transform into a figure of dazzling light and to hear God say, “LISTEN TO HIM.”  If we truly believe in the authenticity of the Catholic faith, then we know the Transfiguration was a real event.  God didn’t just tell the apostles to listen to Jesus.  He told all of us!  But ask yourself, do you live with an awareness of that reality?  Or do you often ignore or trivialize the truths of the Catholic faith because you didn’t personally witness Jesus saying them?  Why does a difference of time and place have such a dramatic effect on our willingness to follow Jesus’ teachings?

Before you beat yourself up, remember that even the apostles failed to truly believe in Jesus’ teachings when confronted with the realities around them.  Judas betrayed Jesus.  Peter, who witnessed the Transfiguration, denied Him.  And all of them, except for John, went into hiding during Jesus’ crucifixion.  They didn’t even have the excuse of being separated from Jesus by thousands of years like we do.  Their cowardice shows just how powerful our human weaknesses are and how they can dominate over our desire to live for God’s eternal kingdom.

And while we may fail to truly believe in Jesus’ message like the apostles did, God came into our lives in yet another form — as the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit gave the apostles that shot of courage and conviction to go out and live and preach the Jesus’ message.  While they may have been lukewarm in their faith while Jesus was alive, they were transformed into true believers on Pentecost.  Even in their fear, the Holy Spirit penetrated their souls and gave the apostles a needed spiritual “kick.”

The Holy Spirit descending at Pentecost by Ant...

The Holy Spirit descending at Pentecost by Anthony van Dyck, circa 1618. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of us are in need of a spiritual kick.  We may not live in fear of practicing our faith (although more and more Christians are being persecuted and martyred throughout the world).  But many of us do suffer from a sense of passivity in our faith because we haven’t heard Jesus’ teachings directly from His mouth.  But the Holy Spirit, the same one that roused the scared apostles into action, rouses us into action as well.  We only have to provide that small bit of kindling in our souls for the fire of the Holy Spirit to erupt into a bright flame of faith.  That kindling is something as small and as easy as focused prayer, rosary meditation, participating at Mass, and receiving the sacraments.  It doesn’t matter that Jesus walked this earth nearly 2000 years ago.  His message is still the same and the Holy Spirit burns just as bright!

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June 10 2014 | easter and Fourth Luminous Mystery and Third Glorious Mystery | Comments Off

A Rosary SEAL Never Quits

“Just ring the bell and this will all be over.”  That must be a common phrase many potential Navy SEALs either hear or think in their initial phase of training called BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL).  This is the stage that whittles down hundreds of candidates to only a select few who can tolerate weeks of physical and mental exhaustion.  While some are cut from the program for underperformance, many voluntarily quit when they ring a brass bell mounted in the barracks three times (hence the term “ringing out”).  When doing hundreds of pushups at night as freezing ocean waves crash overhead, many SEAL recruits question whether the pain and misery is really worth it.

English: Coronado, Calif. (Aug. 23, 2005) &nda...

“Someone remind me why I volunteered for this?”

When I read Saint Louis de Montfort‘s book, The Secret of the Rosary, many chapters really rang true about the mental exhaustion and tediousness of praying the rosary.  I think nearly all of us at some point in our spiritual life begin to feel like a beaten down SEAL recruit and ask, “Why should I continue?”  I know in theory we all love and see value in rosary prayer and meditation.  Many of us set some rosary praying goal whether that is five mysteries a day or all 20 mysteries every week.  We may even start with an abundance of energy.  But over time that initial enthusiasm wears off.  We start to skip a day here and a day there.  We begin to race through rosary decades without even realizing the mystery they represent.  And after a while, whether consciously or unconsciously, we “ring out” and just give up rosary prayer.

When a SEAL recruit quits, he doesn’t quit the armed services.  Quitting BUD/S doesn’t mean one is a bad soldier or isn’t committed to serving this nation.  He just couldn’t find that anchor reason in his heart to keep going through the pain.  And similarly, people aren’t giving up the Catholic faith when they give up the rosary.  They aren’t bad Catholics because they find the rosary repetitive or exhausting.  They are human.  Being human means you probably want a calm, happy, and gratifying life that you don’t immediately feel by reciting 50 Hail Marys.  Fighting our earthly desire that finds the rosary repetitive and tedious and remembering all the benefits of it is a constant battle we all face.  I recall the verse from the Gospel where Jesus tells His apostles, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41).

But there is also something else at play besides our own human frailties that pushes people to give up rosary prayer.  St. Louis de Montfort clearly states in his writings that Satan is actively working to make people want to give up rosary prayer.  Satan hates the rosary because he knows just how powerful it defends our souls from his lies and influence.  But he’s very crafty when it comes to weaning people off the rosary.  He starts small and simple by implanting the desire to pray something a little less tedious like a little free-form meditation or read some psalms from the Bible.  Those aren’t bad prayer habits in themselves but they do plant a little seed of doubt about keeping a rosary routine.  It’s that little seed that, much like a SEAL recruit first contemplating quitting, Satan hopes will spread throughout your thoughts.

St. Louis de Montfort says it best:

Being human, we easily become tired and slipshod—but the devil makes these difficulties worse when we are saying the Rosary. Before we even begin he makes us feel bored, distracted or exhausted—and when we have started praying he oppresses us from all sides. And when, after much difficulty and many distractions, we have finished, he whispers to us: “What you have just said is worthless. It’s useless for you to say the Rosary. You had better get on with other things. It’s only a waste of time to pray without paying attention to what you’re saying; half an hour’s meditation or some spiritual reading would be much better. Tomorrow when you’re not feeling so sluggish you’ll pray better; don’t finish your Rosary until tomorrow.”

Saint Louis de Montfort (2013-03-10). The Secret of the Rosary (p. 89). Catholic Way Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Like a recruit in some sort of spiritual BUD/S training, we have to ignore that little voice and not let Satan’s little pestering derail us.  Satan wants us to “ring out” of rosary prayer by falsing promising us an easier and more gratifying life.  And, depending on our mood, his lies about the rosary being a waste of time might sound tempting.  But we have to keep our guard up and not let momentary inconveniences dominate our thoughts or overshadow our prayers.

Vincent Vidal (1811-1887): Young lady saying t...

A rosary SEAL (Soul Enthusiastically Approaching the Lord)

Much like an elite Navy SEAL, we do have to dig down deep to overcome that urge to quit or take a more casual approach.  Mary gave us 15 great reasons to pray the rosary continuously.  Saint Louis de Montfort gave us many reasons more.  We know deep down how great the rosary is for our spiritual well being.  So treat Satan like that little gnat that he is and just swat his little nagging voice out of your mind when you pray the rosary.

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May 27 2014 | prayer | Comments Off

Book Review: The Secret of the Rosary

I recently finished reading The Secret of the Rosary by Saint Louis de Montfort.  In short, I think this is a terrific book that anyone who regularly prays the rosary should read and share with others.  First, who was Saint Louis de Montfort?  The wikipedia summary is:

Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort (31 January 1673 – 28 April 1716) was a FrenchRoman Catholic priest and Confessor. He was known in his time as a preacher and was made a missionary apostolic by Pope Clement XI.[1]

As well as preaching, Montfort found time to write a number of books which went on to become classic Catholic titles and influenced several popes. Montfort is known for his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the practice of consistently praying the Rosary.

Keep in mind that the average Catholic in the 17th century didn’t have EWTN media, the internet, and RosaryMeds to help them learn about the beauty and power of rosary prayer.  Saint Louis de Montfort basically wrote one of the first howto guides to praying the rosary and spelled out its benefits by telling stories of miraculous events people experienced when they devoted themselves to rosary prayer.

Not to be overly self-promoting, but I was amazed by the similarities between my book, The Rosary for the Rest of Us, and The Secret of the Rosary.  Both books touch on recommended ways of praying the rosary, the benefits Mary promised those who pray it, and even some of the challenges you might face trying to form a rosary praying routine.  Of course, Saint Louis de Montfort had years of theological study in a seminary and was a librarian so he had a lot more spiritual and historical knowledge to draw from for The Secret of the Rosary than I have for RosaryMeds.  Still, I am proud that The Rosary for the Rest of Us overlaps in subject matter with a book written by a saint!  Also, you won’t find commentary on each rosary mystery (not to mention that the Luminous Mysteries didn’t even exist in de Montfort’s time) in The Secret of the Rosary like you find in The Rosary for the Rest of Us.

Buy “The Secret of the Rosary from Amazon.com

Buy “The Rosary for the Rest of Us” from Amazon

The Secret of the Rosary provides a nice little kick of motivation to those who may feel a bit weary after praying the rosary day after day, week after week, and year after year.  Saint Louis de Montfort acknowledges many of the challenges associated with praying the rosary such as finding the time, finding it tedious, mindlessly going through the prayers, wanting to give it up, etc.  Evidently, a 17th century Catholic faced nearly all the same challenges a 21st century Catholic faces about achieving fruitful prayer.  But he offers a sense of hope and infuses a sense of pride for keeping up with rosary prayer even when it is hard.  In the book, he writes:

Even if you have to fight distractions all through your whole Rosary be sure to fight well, arms in hand: that is to say, do not stop saying your Rosary even if it is hard to say and you have absolutely no sensible devotion. It is a terrible battle, I know, but one that is profitable to the faithful soul. If you put down your arms, that is, if you give up the Rosary, you will be admitting defeat and then, having won, the devil will leave you alone.

He often talks about the struggle of good vs. evil, God’s final judgement, and other personal encounters people had with Mary about rosary prayer.  Unlike today’s white-washed view of evil, 17th century Catholics weren’t afraid to acknowledge the terrible reality of Satan and Hell.  When de Montfort writes about the dire consequences of falling into sin and the rewards for remaining in God’s grace, you can’t help but see the rosary in a new light.  No one who reads The Secret of the Rosary can possibly think of the rosary as a silly little necklace or just mindless repetition of prayers when you know all the good it has produced and how many souls it has saved.

I think everyone will take away at least one action item from this book.  For example, I realized that I need to slow down and take my time praying the rosary.  Often, I try to “beat the clock” and get through all five mysteries and additional prayers before arriving at work on my morning commute.  When I know I’m getting close to my office complex, I tend to speed up the prayers in a mad dash.  After reading The Secret of the Rosary, I now realize that there isn’t really no point in racing through Hail Marys so I can check off praying the rosary on my daily todo list.  Essentially, Mary cares more about the quality of your prayers, not the quantity.

Oh, one last point about The Secret of the Rosary.  It’s a fast read.  Each chapter (or Rose as de Monfort calls them) is only a few paragraphs.  So you really don’t have to dedicate a lot of time to the book.  You can read a few chapters a day almost like a daily prayer book.

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May 19 2014 | reviews | Comments Off

The Roadmap: Mary’s Rosary Promise #15

Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

My 2 year old son is at an age where he wants to act like a grownup.  One example is that he often refuses to drink out of a sealed “sippy” cup and wants just a plain glass.  Not only that, he doesn’t want anyone to help him hold it.  Whenever I try to offer a hand to make sure he doesn’t spill or drop the glass, he quickly waves me off.  He also wants to walk around with the glass of water to his play area and refuses to let me carry it for him.  I explain that I should carry it because he will most likely spill it.  In fact, spilling the water is almost a certainty.  But despite my warnings, my son chooses to carry the water glass himself and of course ends up spilling water as he bounces up and down walking.

I wanted to help my son carry and drink his water.  I wanted him to not spill the water on the floor or on himself (who likes being soaking wet?).   But despite all my reasoning, good intentions, and offer to help transport the glass of water safely to the other room, my son ignored my warnings and did it his own way.  And I knew spilled water would be the result, but I let him make his own decision to try something his own way even when I knew it wouldn’t produce the desired result.

“Fine, carry the water yourself.”

This brings us to the idea of predestination.  But what a minute!  Isn’t predestination a protestant belief that Catholics don’t believe in?  Well no.  Catholics also have a concept of predestination although it differs from the protestant belief.  To put it simply, some protestants (Calvinists particularly) believe that since God is all knowing and exists outside of time and space, He has already decided who will get into Heaven and who will end up in Hell.  And because of this knowledge, our destiny has already been decided and there is nothing we can do to change it.

The Catholic’s interpretation of predestination is rooted in the idea that God has a plan for all of us that predestines us to Heaven.  God calls every soul to live in His heavenly kingdom and He gives us the means to get there.  But this is where Catholics and Calvinists split.  For Catholics, God has not predestined anyone to Hell.  Instead, the damned willing reject God’s predestined plan for salvation.  In other words, God lays out the roadmap that leads to Heaven and some people freely choose not to follow it.

Sometimes its best to follow someone else’s plan

Going back to the scenario with my son and the water glass.  I knew that by freely rejecting my advice my son was going to spill the water glass.  But I did not will or cause the water to spill.  I just knew that was going to be the result based on my knowledge of my son’s motor skills and the laws of physics.  Similarly, when we reject God’s predestined plan for us, He knows the unfavorable result of that decision based on his divine knowledge of, well, everything.

What does the rosary have to do with predestination?  Mary promises that those who pray the rosary will have insights into God’s divine roadmap that leads to Heaven.  By praying the rosary, you get a better perspective on whether you are on the right track towards eternal salvation.  This really ties in nicely with many of Mary’s other rosary promises about living a holy life filled with signal graces and the sacraments of the Church.  It’s fitting that talking about predestination is her final promise because it essentially summarizes all the other rosary promises.  If you pray the rosary you put yourself in a position to better understand and follow God’s predestined plan to spend eternity in Heaven.

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rosary (Photo credit: Muffet)

Keep in mind that praying the rosary doesn’t guarantee salvation.  It’s not like you can pray the rosary every day, sin to your heart’s content, and then expect to get into Heaven.  But if you are truly devoted to the rosary then you understand it isn’t a magic talisman but more of a means of making you better attuned to God’s Will.  And when you do have that understanding, the idea of doing anything counter to God’s Will and losing His grace will seem ludicrous.  Of course, we all have our human weaknesses that cause us to forget, ignore, or doubt this great heavenly goal every once in a while.  But God devised a great system, through the Catholic Church, the sacraments, the rosary, the saints, and the intercessions of our Mother Mary to get back on track.  May we take advantage of the many paths included in God’s predestined plan for us to enjoy the His heavenly kingdom.

Wow, all done with Mary’s 15 rosary promises!  What will I write about next?  Any ideas?

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May 06 2014 | Rosary Promises | Comments Off

Hard Work: Mary’s Rosary Promise #14

Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

I think about one of the companies I worked for which had a very intense, deadline-driven atmosphere.  This was in the feature film industry where you can’t just partially finish a shot in a movie or half-deliver a commercial.  There are no beta releases or patch fixes you can deliver later if you fall behind schedule or miss an important detail.  There is tremendous pressure to finish complex shots on schedule and get every detail perfect.

People new to the industry get weeded out fairly quickly because many of them realize that the 7-day work weeks, the every increasing standards, and constant pressure isn’t the career for them.  Initially, fellow coworkers don’t exactly embrace new employees with open arms because they don’t know if they will stick around for very long.  But if you can weather that culture shock and survive a few projects then the company and your fellow co-workers start to accept you more as a teammate.  You showed that you have what it takes to survive and thrive in the industry and you aren’t just some flash-in-the-pan employee who thought movie production was all fun and games.

Feeling fulfilled yet?

Many careers have this type of path where you have to pay your dues.  Lawyers often work their tails off before making partner.  Investment bankers leave their jackets over their chairs at night so their boss won’t think they slacked off and left work early.  Software engineers often bring a sleeping bag to work and snooze under their desk or in an empty office when facing a large project deadline.  There are very few careers where you start out at the top.  And even in the ones where you do start with an elevated title, you still have to work hard to earn the trust and respect of your coworkers.

While many people understand that getting the most out of their careers, marriage, family, and friendships takes hard work, it doesn’t seem like they have a similar understanding when it comes to faith.  They often believe that getting the most out of their religion is almost entirely God‘s responsibility, not theirs.  For many people, their faith is nothing more than showing up to Mass on Sunday and that’s it.  And I’m sure of that group many of them wonder why God feels so distant to them.  But that’s like an employee of a company putting in the bare minimum of effort and then wondering why they don’t move up in the company or find their career fulfilling.  God is always willing to bring you in close in His grace, but you have to make the effort to actually want to be in His grace.

Mary not only says that you can forge a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, she promises it!  She even lays out exactly how to truly be one of Jesus’ disciples.  It’s not some mystery that only a chosen few are called to.  Mary says pray the rosary faithfully and she promises it will create a deeper relationship with her and her son.  That is something any one of us can do.

Pray the rosary, go to Mass, learn the faith, avoid sin.  Those are the keys to feeling that love, hope, and compassion of Jesus.  I know I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating.  He’s always there doling out the love and grace but you have to put yourself in the right mode to accept it.  You have to tear down those walls of sin and pride to let Jesus into your heart.  But tearing down those walls is not quick and easy.  And our human frailty is always trying to erect new walls that block God from our souls.

Feel the peace.

When you do come up with a solid plan to routinely tear down those walls of sin, the payoff is huge.  It’s one thing moving up the corporate ladder and feel invested in a company.  But that pales in comparison to feeling that deep sense of peace and comfort that comes from embracing a life of discipleship and commitment to the Catholic faith.  And there is nothing better than realizing in a way that you can’t logically comprehend or explain that Jesus Christ knows you as one of His own and loves you.

I may have misspoke earlier when I said it’s no mystery on how to get closer to Jesus Christ.  It’s actually 20 mysteries… 20 rosary mysteries that is!

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April 28 2014 | Rosary Promises | Comments Off

Lenten Postmortem

I’m a software engineer.  Part of my job is participating in what are commonly called technical postmortems.  In postmortems, my team recalls what went right and what went wrong with a recently completed project.  The idea is that by learning what we did right and wrong we can correct our bad practices while continuing our good ones in future projects.  An important part of engineering is always refining our processes and behaviors.

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I figure, why not do a postmortem on Lent the same way I do with an engineering project?  This way, I can reflect on what I did right this year and what I need to improve upon for next year.  Like other aspects of our life, we need to sometimes assess our spiritual behavior.  If we don’t, then how will we know what to improve?  What goals can we set for the next day, week, month, year, etc.?  In the Third Luminous Mystery, Jesus calls us to a life of conversion.  But to convert our ways, we first have to analyze them.

Of course, in this case we really can’t call it a postmortem since Jesus is alive and well (that is the main idea behind Easter after all).  So, I’m going to coin a new term and call this a post-risen or post-lenten.

What went wrong

  1. Didn’t go to Ash Wednesday Mass
  2. Initial Lenten sacrifice was too easy
  3. Took a few “cheat” days on Lenten sacrifice
  4. Only went to one bible study class out of an entire series of classes
  5. Didn’t go to any extra Lenten events (Stations of the Cross, weekday Mass, etc.)
  6. Didn’t acknowledge Good Friday noon-3pm hours with prayers, silent reflection, etc.

What went right

  1. Went to a Good Friday Mass service in the evening
  2. Followed through with my Lenten sacrifice (once I made it)
  3. I said a short prayer whenever I was tempted to break my sacrifice
  4. Contributed to a charitable cause
  5. Attended a bible study class in my parish
  6. Received the Sacrament of Confession

Lent Logo 2008

What I need to do next year is plan my Lenten sacrifice much better.  This year I started out with a “no dessert after lunch” sacrifice which turned out to be too easy since not having desserts was something I was already doing for the most part.  About half way through I changed it to giving up all sweets during the day.  Now that was much more challenging but something I was able to do.  And whenever I felt tempted to have a piece of candy or a cookie, I said a small prayer instead.  So my sacrifice led to more prayer throughout the day.  That was what I learned.  How about you?  Can you think of ways you can improve your spiritual habits from this past Lent?

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April 22 2014 | easter and lent and Third Luminous Mystery | Comments Off

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