God: King of the Very Large and Small

Isn’t it amazing that God chose you to live at this particular time and place? Of all the billions of years the universe has existed, of all the years people have roamed the earth, of all the cultures, you happen to live now. You can read this web page, pray the Rosary, and appreciate the Real Presence of God in the Eucharist. Cosmically speaking, we are in a very small group of people who can do all that. God is the king of both the very big and very small. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He created all that there is and ever will be. But he also humbled himself to become one of us through His son, Jesus Christ.

The Vastness of Space

I once heard an astrophysicist say that when it comes to space and the universe, whatever large size and distance you think objects are, you’re probably 10,000 times off. For example, our Milky Way galaxy is slowly headed on a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy. Both galaxies are made up of billions of stars. And yet, when they collide billions of years from now, the chances of two stars colliding are infinitesimally small. And to think that our galaxy is one of the billions of galaxies. It boggles the mind how large our universe is.

In this great vastness are sets of rules and laws that govern everything. God engineered a universe where there are causes and reasons on how everything fits together from massive black holes, to the movement of waves in the sea, to the interaction of subatomic particles. As we discover more about how our universe works, it makes God all that more impressive. He is a creator of such a complex universe and yet everything works in harmony. Nothing happens arbitrarily. To compare, most software developers can’t write more than a few lines of code without introducing a bug or vulnerability. And yet God designed a universe of near-infinite complexity.

The Smallness of Humanity

But God is also the king of the very small, namely us. In this interstellar stew of galaxies, stars, black holes, and nebulas, we exist. And not only do we exist, but we have the gift of knowing God through His son, Jesus Christ. The universe is billions of years old. We hit the galactic bullseye that of all the time and places, we have the honor and privilege of knowing Jesus. For billions of years, the universe was just gasses and rocks in a vast emptiness. Generations of humans went through their existence without being able to experience Jesus.

The Awe of the Transfiguration

When we pray the Fourth Luminous Mystery, The Transfiguration, let’s thank God for giving us the gift of knowing Jesus and his Church. God’s design didn’t need to include Him taking human form. Imagine the great humility that the God who created this vast universe wanted to become human so that we may know him better. And not just “us” in that universal sense, but he wants a special relationship with each one of us individually. The Transfiguration should remind us of just how much of a gift Jesus is to humanity. Put yourself on that hill with Peter and John and marvel at God’s compassion for us.

When you go to Mass, just think of everything that God made happen to put you there in His presence. Of all the billions of years of the universe’s existence, of the trillions of stars spread out millions of light-years, of all the generations of humanity, you can sit in a Catholic church with Jesus through the Eucharist. And like how the laws of physics align to make the universe, God’s design aligns to put you into a church on a specific day celebrating Mass. Take advantage of this remarkable gift.

How to Have Joy in the End Times

Fear of Loss

In 1992, to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Christopher Columbus reaching the New World, the movie 1492: Conquest of Paradise was released. It wasn’t a great movie but there was a scene that stuck out in my memory as I was listening to Sunday’s readings at Mass. The Spaniards created a colony complete with buildings and a church made of stone and brick. It was quite modern and luxurious compared to the straw huts the natives lived in. But then a tropical storm hit wiping out all buildings and structures. It was devastating to the Spaniards who had devoted so much time and materials to their earthly paradise. The natives, having simple dwellings adapted for the environment, rebuilt their homes quickly and moved on with their lives.

This scene from Conquest of Paradise showed me the dangers of attachment to earthly luxuries. Inversely, it showed the freedom of living simply. Many of us spend so much of our lives accumulating things. Even if you’re not wealthy, you still have much to take care of — a dwelling, a car, clothes, phones, TV, etc. We also are concerned about our bank account balances, jobs, and bills. We live with the anxiety of losing these things and facing difficult times. Unfortunately, our media and politicians feed on this fear by promising they will provide security or that their opponents will take everything away.

End Times

In this past week’s readings, we catch a glimpse of the end times. These readings often conjure up images of darkness and suffering. And for many of us, it brings to mind the loss of our comfortable lives of readily available food and entertainment. Many of us can’t imagine a day when our phones don’t work, there’s no food at the market, and our hard-earned money disappears or is worthless. We fear that the lives we’ve spent a lifetime accumulating will disappear.

McDonald’s will survive but their sundae machine will still be broken

It is this human weakness towards earthly comfort that Jesus preached against. It’s what these end times readings address. To summarize, they revolve around the stripping away of all those earthly luxuries to live in the freedom Christ provides. The end of our worldly comfort doesn’t have to frighten us. Jesus tells us repeatedly in the Gospel that we will find greater treasure and comfort in Heaven than whatever the world can provide. He doesn’t want us to worry over the temporary loss of physical things because it will mean that the coming of something far greater is near.

The apostles at Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion exemplify our fear of loss. They probably enjoyed their status of being close to Jesus when he was the rock star. But they scattered when “things got real” upon his arrest. They didn’t want to give up their status of being close to Jesus the celebrity and have everything, including their lives, taken away. I think we can all relate — it’s easy to say you love God and have total faith in him when life is good. It’s much harder when life starts to fall apart.

The Rosary Connection

When you meditate on the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery, the crucifixion, think about how Jesus gave up everything worldly to follow God’s will. Jesus is the Christ, and yet he suffered a terrible death because he understood that God’s kingdom and the salvation of humanity are infinitely greater and more substantive than anything physical. The only worldly things Jesus had left at the end of his life were the cross, a crown of thorns, and nails driven through his body. He asks the same of us when he tells us to take up our cross and follow him. He implies that we must give up what is worldly as he did.

Does giving up everything sound impossible? If it does, you’re in good company. It was initially impossible for the apostles too. They just weren’t spiritually mature to understand the greater glory of God’s kingdom. But when they did understand it, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, they gladly took the path that Jesus took — giving up everything worldly for God. The saints also took similar paths. And Jesus asks the same of us.

I’m definitely not there yet. I’m more like the apostles at Jesus’ crucifixion, not them after his resurrection. I can hardly go an hour without indulging in some luxury whether that be some screen time, coffee, or a snack. But it’s something that I do try to work towards through periodic fasting from food or screen time. I want to have that maturity to see the freedom and joy that comes from detaching from my “stuff.” It’s still a long road and I do stumble. But with God’s help, I do hope to have that outlook that Jesus asks all of us to have — total trust in God and living for His eternal kingdom of Heaven.

In Defense of the Pharisees

Leaders of a Defiant People

What comes to mind when you think about the Pharisees in the Bible? Hypocrites? Dogmatic? Unfair? You probably conjure images of Jesus “knocking them down a peg” when he answers their “gotcha” questions. Needless to say, the Christian view of the Pharisees isn’t the most flattering.

But maybe we’re being a little too harsh on the Pharisees. Remember, the Jews had a long history of disobeying God as chronicled throughout the Old Testament. It’s a history of God guiding and providing for them only to have them turn away from Him in sin by following false gods and breaking the Commandments. They were punished by famine, war, and pestilence and ultimately exiled to Babylon and subject to Roman occupation.

I think many of the Pharisees only wanted to avoid God’s further judgement and punishment. That may account for their dogmatic approach to following the Mosiac law. Like a parent enforcing rules, I think the Pharisees felt responsible for protecting the Israelites from incurring punishments. What do parents do when kids repeatedly disobey them? They usually make more rules and enforce them more rigidly. Now imagine a people who had disobeyed God for generations. Think about how rigidly the Pharisees felt like they needed to enforce the law so that their people would “toe the line.”

This is not excusing the Pharisees’ actions and hypocrisy. They did impose rules and burdens that they themselves did not always follow. Or they got so consumed with the letter of law that they forgot about the spirit of the law until Jesus reminded them. Or they got too used to their power and prestige that they forgot that they were foremost teachers of the people. Jesus showed them how they were supposed to be guiding the Jewish people.

Walk a Mile in Their Shoes

I bring up the Pharisees to show that people aren’t always so easy to label and categorize. We so often label the Pharisees as “bad people.” But that isn’t taking into account the historical and cultural circumstances they found themselves in. We should remember the saying, “Don’t judge someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.” Before we look at someone and make a judgement about their character, we should take some time to consider their circumstances and maybe try harder to understand their motivations.

Think about Mary in the Annunciation. Imagine how quickly people must have judged her when learning about her unwed pregnancy. And her explanation stretched believability, to say the least. But now extend that idea out to the Israelite people. God led them out of Egypt and through the desert but asked them to show a lot of faith in His plan. What he asked of them wasn’t easy and often seemed impossible. And that disbelief caused many of them to disobey God. How quick they were to judge what God could and could not do. Mary, on the other hand, showed complete faith in God’s plan despite how unorthodox it seemed.

Understand, Don’t Judge

What about you? Are you quick to judge what God is capable of? How much faith do you put in your prayers when you bring your intentions before God? How about how you see others? Maybe we’re too quick to label people based on a Twitter or Facebook comment. Maybe we see how someone is dressed or how they speak and assume certain things about them. Maybe we read about the bad actions of a few people and associate that with an entire group.

Whatever the case may be, let’s ask God for more understanding. We know that God’s ways aren’t always our ways. Before we determine whether a certain event or person is “bad” or “good,” let’s remember that it’s part of God’s divine plan for us. Let’s come before God in prayer and ask him for patience and understanding when confronted with situations we do not understand. We may be surprised how God answers if we listen to Him instead of making judgements based on our limited understanding.

If You Want God, You Have to Put in the Effort

No Effort, No Goals

I coach youth soccer. My team is composed of 6 and 7-year-olds, many of whom this is their first time playing organized sports. Unfortunately, today’s kids don’t spend as much time playing sports as previous generations. The reason this is unfortunate is that they miss out on working hard towards something that is a little outside their comfort zone. The other day, my team didn’t score many goals in our game. However, they also seemed uninterested in playing that day. They sort of wandered around the field without that drive or that passion to play their best. They wanted to score goals and win but didn’t want to put forth the effort to make it a reality.

I think adults can often act the same way when it comes to their spirituality. We want to form a deep connection with God, but we don’t want to put in the work needed. We wonder why it feels like something is missing in our lives and why it seems so unfulfilling. Or we look at the terrible news and get depressed or frustrated with the state of the world. But at the same time, we don’t pray, don’t participate in Mass, or receive the Sacraments. We want God to do something, just as long as that “something” doesn’t require extra effort from us.

Effort Rewarded

Let’s look at two women who exemplify what it means to put in effort in serving God and ultimately being rewarded for that effort. It meant that their earthly lives would be upended. They would face ridicule, sorrow, and a lack of earthly freedoms. They had a choice — would they put their faith in God and make the adjustments and sacrifices necessary to find greater joy and happiness? Or would they choose the easier, worldly path?

The first woman who had a choice to make was Bernadette Soubirous, better known as Saint Bernadette of Lourdes. By all accounts, she was just a normal girl from a poor family in France. But she then had an encounter with the Virgin Mary who asked her to return to the grotto where she was appearing and eventually build a chapel there. Whatever plans Bernadette had for her life came to an end when she accepted Our Lady’s requests. She became the subject of ridicule and much scrutiny from church and government authorities. She later entered a convent and died from tuberculosis. Saint Bernadette led a challenging life but she never stopped making an effort to serve God by doing what our Mother Mary asked of her. Like other saints, she put in the effort to form a meaningful relationship with God because she understood the value of doing so.

Full-body relic of Bernadette Soubirous. The photograph was taken at the last exhumation (18 April 1925). The saint died 46 years before the photo was taken; the face and hands are covered with a wax coat.

Think about Mary in the First Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. On Catholic Exchange, Romano Guardini has this to say about Mary’s decision in the Annunciation:

The lesson of the angel’s message alone should suf­fice for every one of the faithful who reads it aright; it is not the announcement that the divine decree was to be consummated in her, but the question of whether she agreed that it be so. This instant was an abyss before which one’s head reels, because here stood Mary in her freedom facing the very first decision on which all of salvation depended. But what does it mean when the question “Will you help the Savior’s coming?” coincides with the other question, “Will you become a mother?”

Why We Linger on Mary in the Rosary (catholicexchange.com)

I don’t think Mary’s plans included becoming an unwed mother to God. And then after Jesus’ birth, her earthly life wasn’t any easier. It was a life of concern and sorrow that we meditate on when we pray the Seven Sorrows of Mary Rosary. But Mary was ultimately rewarded when she was crowned Queen of Heaven (Fifth Glorious Mystery). She knows the value of doing God’s Will better than any other human. As Queen of Heaven, she is willing to help all of us find that strength to make that effort as she did so that we all may live in the joy of Heaven.

Spirit Willing, Flesh is Weak

When God comes knocking at your door with His plan for you, are you going to reject Him because it is difficult? Has God ever not rewarded those who make the effort to follow Him? If we truly believe that God offers us something 1000x better than anything we could create on our own, why do we have such a hard time committing to Him?

Think about the apostles in the First Sorrowful Mystery. I think we can relate to them. Jesus asked them to stay awake and pray with him and instead they all fell asleep. These are the future leaders of the Catholic Church! And they knew Jesus was the Messiah and yet they still couldn’t muster the effort to pray with him or stand by him when he was arrested. They must have enjoyed being some of the chosen few to journey with Jesus when he was curing people and riling up Pharisees. But when things got tough, they couldn’t follow through. They wanted the honor of being apostles without making the sacrifices.

There’s Still Time

What about us? When God asks us for one hour a week to celebrate Mass, are we too tired or too busy? Do God’s requests interfere with a football, baseball, or soccer match? Are we like the apostles, wanting the benefits of being close to Jesus but lacking the will to do what he asks?

The good news is that there’s always time. The apostles may have shrunk away from Jesus’ calling in the Garden of Gethsemane but they made up for it after Jesus’ resurrection. They went to the far corners of the known world preaching Jesus’ Gospel and most of them gave their lives doing so. So maybe you haven’t mustered the strength to follow Jesus. The beauty of our faith is that Jesus always offers us a way to “get back into the game.” We can always receive Reconciliation, go to Mass, and pick up those rosary beads. Jesus will accept anyone willing to put in the effort whether they have 100 years left in his life or 1 minute.

Finding Hope When the World Hates You

Bad News

There seems to be so much unhappy news lately. But more than that, there is so much anger, rage, and despair as well. It’s more than just people getting angry over world events; we’ve been doing that for generations. What’s more concerning is seeing how people vilify each other and tear each other apart in reaction to the news. Whether it’s the tragedy in Afghanistan, laws in response to Covid19, pro-life laws, or California recall elections, I see more than just disagreement; it’s hate. It’s hard going through my day knowing there’s so much hatred towards my faith and morals.

For example, look at what’s happening with the heartbeat law that recently passed in Texas. It’s a law protecting human life. The people who support it have a noble intention — all human life is sacred and deserves protection. And yet, the pro-abortion crowd characterizes pro-life supporters as tyrannical monsters on par with the Taliban (while trying to downplay what the actual Taliban is actually doing). They hate us because we don’t condone murder. I don’t want to get into the details of this law. I could pick any headline (or better yet, events that don’t make headlines because they don’t fit the media’s narrative) and it will lead to the same outcome — people attacking each other over deeply held beliefs because they don’t align with someone’s political agenda.

Read this opinion piece in the Washington Post by San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone. It’s about the Catholic Church’s history of defending civil rights when it was culturally unpopular. He makes a comparison between those events in the 1950s and what is playing out with abortion now. But if you have the stomach, look at a few of the 8,000 comments. You will see post after post of people attacking the Catholic Church, pro-lifers, conservatives, and anyone who doesn’t ascribe to a specific liberal, woke agenda. As a Catholic, it’s hard to read these comments and not become depressed that there are so many people out there who don’t just disagree with me but hate me because of my morals and faith.

Age-old Persecution

Is this rage and persecution of the faithful new? Unfortunately, it goes back thousands of years. Let’s take a look at Psalm 73. It’s a long one, but worth reading. King David asks why God allows such terrible things to happen to His flock, the faithful who follow him. Read and meditate on this.

Why, God, have you rejected us so finally?
Why this rage against the sheep of your flock?
Remember those you have gathered,
those who were yours from the beginning.
The stock you redeemed to be your own possession;
the mountain of Zion, where you chose to dwell.
Turn your steps towards the final devastation:
the enemy has laid waste the sanctuary.
Those who hate you have roared
in the midst of your flock.
They have set up their emblems,
taking the place of your own.
They have raised their axes high,
hewing the wood.
With hatchets and axes
they have hewn down the doors.
They set fire to the sanctuary,
profaned and trampled your tabernacle.
They said to themselves, ‘Let us crush them
once and for all.’
They burned to the ground
every shrine of God in the land.
Our emblems have vanished,
our prophets are gone,
and none of us knows any more.
How long, O God, will the enemy deride?
Will he insult your name forever?
Why do you keep your hand away?
Why do you fold your arms?
God is our king since the beginning,
he has given us help throughout the earth.

Universalis: Afternoon Prayer (None)

I couldn’t help but think of Christians now and how our beliefs are being constantly profaned and trampled by politicians, the media, and anyone with a Twitter account. While King David may have been talking about physical tabernacles, sanctuaries, and emblems being destroyed, we can think about the spiritual, ethical, and moral emblems of Christianity that are under attack now. The powerful are destroying not structures (although look at the vandalism happening against churches), but people’s spirit and will to follow God’s Will.

Finding Hope

What’s my takeaway from all of this? Is there any message of hope? Can I see the rage over Texas’ pro-life law or the US withdrawal from Afghanistan and find something positive? You bet! I take comfort that King David saw similar events thousands of years ago. And yet, those faithful to God remain. The world has never been a welcoming place for God’s people whether they be Jewish or Christian. And yet, God has never allowed those forces to completely overwhelm and destroy the faithful. The hate and persecution will always be there, but so will God’s protection of His Church.

I know it sucks that we live in such difficult times. It’s even worse if these events directly affect you. Knowing that God protects His flock as a whole is little comfort if you’re personally suffering. I believe that the Church will live to see another day but that doesn’t make the insults sting any less. But that’s how martyrs are made — seeing that we are part of something larger than ourselves and committing to it, even onto death. We should take comfort and maybe even some honor knowing that we live for something greater than a politician, political party, or social fads. We live for a Church that God has protected for thousands of years. And while we may bend, He will never let us break. We endured when King David lamented in Psalm 73 and we will endure now.

Praying for Those who Hate You

As Jesus instructed us, pray for those who hate you. I can’t imagine the suffering that so many people carry with them because of their hatred. What’s worse is that much of their anger and hate isn’t based on reality, but false narratives and characterizations by people with ulterior motives. Those who spread lies to advance their interests also need our prayers. If you want to find peace in a world that hates you, you need to pray! It’s that simple.

While I don’t usually associate with Twitter, I found this post interesting.
Sue Perkins 💙 on Twitter: “Who shook the jar? https://t.co/Gzm26UTopH” / Twitter
Before you get upset over someone’s post attacking a deeply-held belief, ask yourself, “who’s shaking the jar?”

Establish a Daily Prayer Routine

A new school year is starting. If you know school-age people, hopefully, they are heading back to classrooms. As we start a new term, the principal of my childrens’ school wrote a small article stressing the importance of routine. Students have a much smoother and better experience when they stick to routines regarding how they wake up and get ready for school, how they do their homework, and how they go to sleep. Routines are important if you want a smooth day. One routine that is vitally important is a prayer routine.

My Morning Prayer Routine

My prayer routine involves waking up early before everyone else in the house and praying the Rosary (what did you expect?). This gets my day started on the right foot by making my relationship with God my priority. It centers me and allows God to speak to me through Rosary meditation on what I should focus on during the day. That’s also why praying in a quiet environment is so important. I don’t want God to have to fight through the noise of everyday life, especially my own thoughts which tend to grow louder as the day moves forward.

At some point in the morning, typically with my coffee, I read my Bible. As I said before, I’m reading the Bible in a Year which is a 10-minute read of Old and New Testament readings. I find the Bible so much richer when I read it daily and the books in order. I start to understand the context and narratives of the various books and chapters; something that is lost if you only hear the readings during Sunday Mass.

The simple joy of coffee and Proverbs

After dropping my boys off at school, I like to drop by the church for some silent prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Again, it’s the stillness that’s important. Remember, Jesus is present in the tabernacle. Like the people in the Gospel who flocked to Jesus for teaching and healing, we should flock to Him in the Blessed Sacrament. After all, we believe that Jesus is every bit as present in the Eucharist as he was in the Gospels. I’ll then take a walk in the park listening to audiobooks and, if time allows, I’ll go to the daily Mass.

Look at that routine. Before starting my workday, I have prayed the Rosary, read the Bible, and prayed at church. It’s such a great way to ground myself in my faith and gives me the strength to face whatever challenges come my way. Some of you may read this and think, “wow, that takes up so much time!” But it is time well spent even if I have to make changes to other routines to accommodate it. Morning prayer makes the day more meaningful and joyful because you allow God into your day.

I try to live according to this saying: “Work smarter, not harder.” The smart way to approach your day is to get as much help as you can. Who better to help you throughout the day than God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, and the saints? They will never be in a bad mood or too busy to help you. But you have to approach them. The earlier the better. That’s why starting your day with prayer is so effective. It acts as a preventative measure so that you don’t get overwhelmed by life’s challenges.

The Rosary

Mediate on the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary and consider Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven. She sits beside her son, Jesus, as our intercessor. She works on our behalf to bring us into God’s grace and find eternal joy in Heaven. She’s there, ready and willing. We just have to ask for her help. And we do that when we consistently pray for her intercession. If you’re having a hard time sticking to a prayer routine, then ask Mary to help you establish one.

Our Heavenly Queen is always a prayer away

Since I talked about the value of praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, mediate on the Fifth Luminous Mystery. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a cornerstone of the Catholic faith. It’s what makes Catholicism special and unique. It’s a gift that Jesus is with us today and not just someone who lived thousands of years ago. Since we have Jesus present with us, make a resolution to visit him by praying in a church, attending Adoration, and going to Mass more regularly.

The Importance of Spiritual Health

There are many different dimensions to every human being. The most obvious is our physical dimension. This is seen by how healthy we are and whether our organs are functioning normally. There’s our cognitive state — how well our brain accepts and processes information. We have an emotional side — the way we cope with different situations. And there is our spiritual state reflected by our relationship with God.

Dealing with illness

An illness of any one of these aspects needs to be addressed. When we’re sick we need to seek proper treatment. If we suffer from emotional issues, we need to get help. Or, if we see someone we care about sick or unhealthy, our love for them prompts us to help them get the treatment they need.

Unfortunately, while many of us take our physical, mental, and emotional health seriously, we too often let our spiritual health deteriorate. When we don’t pray, attend Mass, receive the sacraments, and commit sin, we become spiritually ill. And if we commit a mortal sin, we spiritually die. These spiritual illnesses and deaths are just as serious as any physical illness. And yet, we don’t treat them as such.

There is certainly a pandemic of spiritual illness. We see this in the declining numbers of Mass attendance or the number of people who don’t believe in the core tenents of Catholic teaching like the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I think this spiritual illness is also the cause of general unhappiness and anxiety for many people. God designed us as physical AND spiritual beings. We cannot be fully happy when we live contrary to God’s design. Unfortunately, no amount of leisure or exercise can address the damage inflicted by an unhealthy spiritual lifestyle.

Think about how quickly we jump onto physical health trends or cures to illnesses. People commit themselves to all sorts of diets, supplements, and workouts to stay healthy. Or, if we’re physically sick, we seek a cure to return to normal, often at great cost. We are willing to put in so much time and effort to take care of our physical needs. But many times we don’t prioritize our spiritual needs. How do we get started living a spiritually healthy life? Fortunately, to restore yourself to full spiritual health, all you need is a few minutes with a priest in a confessional.

Miracles all around us

When someone in a state of mortal sin receives the sacrament of reconciliation he is spiritually resurrected from the dead. It is every bit as miraculous as someone physically dead coming back to life (think Lazurus). Or someone with venial sins going to confession is every bit as healed as someone miraculously cured of a physical illness. Just because we don’t see these healings and resurrections with our physical senses doesn’t make them any less real. Day after day, the Holy Spirit is healing and bringing people back to life through the sacrament of confession.

Miracles in the Rosary

Whenever I think about miracles, the Second Luminous Mystery comes to mind. Jesus’ ministry was full of miracles, mostly around curing people of physical illness. Also, people who were lost or steeped in sin came back to life spiritually in their encounters with Jesus. The spiritual healings may not have been as flashy as the physical miracles but were actually more significant. Their eternal souls found new life. When we encounter Jesus in the sacrament of confession, let’s also remember and marvel at the miracle taking place.

The motivation for this article comes from the current discussion over people, particularly politicians, receiving communion in a state of mortal sin. While they may say how important it is for them to receive the Eucharist, they should instead be focused on first receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. As Catholics, we need the benefits of all the sacraments the Church offers, not just the ones that are convenient to us. If those in a state of mortal sin are looking for strength through God’s grace, they first have to desire a spiritual resurrection. When we pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery, let’s ask God to direct those in mortal sin to Confession before receiving Him in the Eucharist.

Sorry for the long delay in new content on RosaryMeds. I was having issues logging into my account and it took me a while to get to the root cause — an update to my computer’s security software was blocking my login attempts. Next time I need to remember to pray to Saint Isidore!

Are We Punishing Ourselves?

Seeking the “Different”

All too often we seek the “different” because it seems more exotic and impressive. Consider weddings. It’s seems no longer good enough to have a ceremony followed by an enjoyable reception. No, you have to find things to make your wedding stand out — lavish locations, over-the-top decorations, exotic animals, and confetti cannons. Or you can’t go on a regular vacation. It needs to be something you can post on Facebook to make your friends envious.

This need to do something different and exotic didn’t start with Facebook and Twitter. It goes back to the Old Testament. In the book of Kings, generations of kings of Israel followed other gods. I think part of their motivation for doing this was that they wanted to be the king that did something new and progressive. Why follow that old-fashioned God who delivered people out of Egypt with his antiquated commandments when you can worship a more modern god like Baal? Because these pagan gods didn’t actually exist, the kings could attribute anything they wanted to them — any rule and practice would be okay in the eyes of the deity of the day.

Rejecting God

Fast forward thousands of years and look at our current situation. It isn’t too different than Israel in the Book of Kings. Governments and groups try to promote everything progressive and reject anything traditional. They want to take what has worked for generations and throw it out to try something new. Like the couple getting married or an Israelite king, they want to be remembered for doing something novel and unique. They don’t want to follow their predecessor, even if what they did worked, because they aren’t making their mark on history. Furthermore, they don’t want to be bounded by the existing rules but make new ones that are more malleable.

Let’s look around at what all these new progressive ideas have brought us as a society. Are we better off having adopted more woke progressivism and rejecting traditional ideas of marriage, stable families, gender, and even logic? Has tearing down time-tested traditions and institutions made us happier? Based on news headlines, I think people are generally less happy now than in previous generations. What’s changed? Do you think the devaluation of spirituality in our lives plays a part?

In the Book of Kings, terrible things happened to the people who rejected God. In some cases, it was due to God’s punishment. But I also think much of the misery came from the people’s rejection of God’s Commandments. If the Israelites rejected God and His commandments against stealing, adultery, murder, lying, etc. do you think they were happier as a result? Does that sound like a society anyone wants to be part of? Are we happier in a world that has rejected many of those same commandments? Seems like God doesn’t need to punish us when we’re doing a great job punishing ourselves.

The Rosary Connection

Let’s look at the Fourth Joyful Mystery — The Presentation in the Temple. When I first started praying the Rosary, I always contemplated the meaning and value of tradition with this mystery. Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus in the temple as was tradition. They understood the importance of staying connected to the past as a means of grounding themselves spiritually. They acknowledged the role God plays in all our lives. By presenting Jesus in the temple, Mary and Joseph acknowledged that it was God and His Truth, not human institutions, that would form Jesus.

Fast forward to the Fifth Luminous Mystery — The Institution of the Eucharist. Jesus still observed the Jewish customs such as the Passover. While many claimed that he disregarded the Mosaic law, he explained that he was fulfilling it; bringing the people back to its true meaning. He wanted people to follow God’s commandments, not to be miserable, but to find joy and happiness. He didn’t want people to be blind rule followers, but instead people who treated each other kindly and honored God. If they could do that, they would find greater peace, joy, and happiness than they had ever known. But like the kings of the Old Testament, many people still insisted on doing things their way, not God’s way.

When you think about the sources of unhappiness in your life, ask yourself if they are due to breaking away from God’s plan for you. Are you rejecting God in favor of what is new, hip, and socially acceptable? Are you rejecting teachings that have brought true happiness to millions of people over thousands of years because they seem difficult or irrelevant? Are you happier as a result?

Refusing to See God’s Signs

I continue to read my Bible in a Year every day. I just finished reading the Book of Kings, chapters 18 and 19. These chapters introduce the prophet, Elijah. In this time, the Israelites had once again lost their way and turned to worship other gods such as Baal. Elijah demonstrated the falseness of Baal in a contest of seeing whose sacrifice would be consumed by fire — his or the priests of Baal. After winning that contest in a dramatic fashion, the drought that had been plaguing the land for years ended.



You would think that after all the works of God Elijah demonstrated that the people would have been grateful. But instead, Elijah needed to flee for his life. Instead of being thankful that he called on God to end a drought, they were outraged that he exposed their beliefs in the false god, Baal. Instead of rejoicing in the truth, they hated him for exposing the lies.


I think we are often act similar to those who rejected Elijah even after witnessing the signs. Our desire to appear right often overshadows our willingness to change in light of new information. We hate admitting when we are wrong and would rather be miserable clinging to destructive practices than making an effort to change. In many cases, we choose the behaviors we’re used to instead of making the changes to follow God’s plan.

In the Third Luminous Mystery, Jesus asks us to embrace the Kingdom of Heaven and to convert. Even more than Elijah, Jesus gave us numerous signs and miracles; more than enough reason to put our trust in him and convert from our sinful ways to his ways. And yet, despite the signs, we still sin. We are like the Israelites choosing false gods. We may know that those sins we commit ultimately lead to unhappiness and yet we do them anyway. When we pray the Third Luminous Mystery, we should ask for the courage to truly convert and turn from whatever “false gods” we have in our life whether that be greed, pride, envy, lust, and any other deadly sin.

Part of conversion is having the courage to admit when we are wrong. We have an opportunity to embrace God and turn away from sin whenever we receive the Sacrament of Confession. But like the Israelites, admitting when we’ve acted sinfully is difficult. No one likes to admit they’re wrong which is probably why confessionals sit empty, at least in the United States.

If you’ve been lucky, you’ve heard a priest tell you to go to confession. But that is easier said than done. It’s like telling someone who is out of shape that they just need to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. It’s not that we don’t know about confession, but many of us don’t have the courage or make it a priority to receive it. That’s where the Rosary comes in. Pray it regularly and ask Mary for the strength to go to confession. Like regular exercise, regular Rosary prayer will build spiritual strength and courage to more fully embrace all that God offers. That includes His grace and His mercy.

Fatima and the Importance of Praying for Sinners

This past weekend, I watched Fatima which was released in 2020. It’s worth watching. I really enjoyed this account because it didn’t romanticize what happened at Fatima in 1916. The movie focused not so much on Mary’s messages, but on the hardship these encounters created for the children and their families. They were accused of lying and being misled by Satan, hounded by pilgrims, and interrogated by civil and religious authorities.

One of the most impactful scenes in the movie was when Mary showed Lucia a glimpse of the souls in Hell. The scene portrayed many of the classical depictions of Hell — fire, smoke, devils, and souls screaming in terror. It gave weight to Mary’s message that we all must pray for the conversion of sinners.

FATIMA: The vision of hell from Our Lady’s Blue Army on Vimeo.

The Tragedy of Hell

Our Lord warns us that we will be separated from him if not helpers in their serious needs of the poor and little ones who are his brothers. To die in mortal sin without repentance and without having to accept God’s merciful love means remaining separated from him forever by our own free choice. And it is this state of definitive self-exclusion from communion with God and the blessed, which is designated with the word ‘hell’.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

The sad fact is that there are souls in Hell permanently cut off from God. The Church teaches that all the souls in Hell deliberately rejected God’s laws and His mercy. But it really hit me recently that this is a tragedy not only for the individual rejecting God but also for the universal church for letting people get to that point.

Looking back at the Old Testament, we have a duty to help correct and convert those living in sin. It’s not out of self-righteousness or judgment that we do this, but out of a genuine concern for everyone’s eternal well-being. No matter how you personally feel about someone, we need to remember they are our brother or sister in Christ. And by not helping them, we run the risk of sin through our silence.

18 When I say to a wicked person, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them from their evil ways in order to save their life, that wicked person will die for[a] their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 19 But if you do warn the wicked person and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their evil ways, they will die for their sin; but you will have saved yourself.

Ezekiel 3:18-19

Maybe it’s because I’ve been steeped in little league baseball for the last two months, but I’ve come to see our faith as a team sport. We succeed and fail as a community. Yes, our faith has an individual and personal aspect to it. We have to do our part in fostering a personal relationship with God. But we are also a community meant to support each other. A person doesn’t fall into mortal sin in a vacuum. I think too many times we turn a blind eye to the mortal sin we witness by taking an “it’s not me” attitude about it. That’s a failure of the community. When we’re not supporting each other, the entire Catholic Church is weaker as a result.

Conversion through the Rosary

Think of the last line of the Hail Mary, “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” In a standard Rosary, you will say those words 53 times. The Hail Mary is a short prayer in terms of words (only 42) so the fact that it specifically mentions praying for sinners is significant. It’s that important to Mary, and it should be important to us as well, that we pray for those committing sins (ourselves included).

I know that I often pray the Fatima prayer too casually when I pray the Rosary. But we must remember that sin has real eternal consequences. And we must pray for those who live in sin because their souls are in danger. I understand, we don’t like to think about Hell or the idea that there are people that choose it. Or maybe the problem seems too big for us to solve. But that’s why we pray — to receive help from those in Heaven and on earth. We can ask Jesus for mercy on sinners, Mary to advocate for them, and the Holy Spirit to convert and guide them. We are never alone in this fight. The conversion of sinners is something the entire Church undertakes together.

O My Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who are in most need of Thy mercy.