Random Thought: Friendship

Friends talk to each other and treat each other kindly. Have you been Jesus’ friend today?

Friends talk to each other and treat each other kindly.  Have you been Jesus’ friend today?

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Eating Your Spiritual Vegetables

I came across an article on EWTN discussing the results of a study on why people choose to leave the Catholic Church. This article highlights the importance of attending Mass regularly as a child. I want to expand on the article and discuss why parents have such an awesome responsibility to correctly shape their child’s spiritual habits.

I came across an article on EWTN discussing the results of a study on why people choose to leave the Catholic Church.  This article highlights the importance of attending Mass regularly as a child.  I want to expand on the article and discuss why parents have such an awesome responsibility to correctly shape their child’s spiritual habits.

From the article:

The study, “Faith in Flux: Changes in the Religious Affiliation in the U.S.,” was made public Monday by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

“The report highlights the importance of Mass attendance among children and teenagers,” the archbishop said. “Adolescence is a critical time in religious development and, as the poll shows, what happens in the teen years has a long-lasting affect. We have to help young people and their parents appreciate the importance of going to weekly Mass so teenagers know Jesus is there for them now and always.“

It should not come as any surprise that people who attend Mass regularly during their childhood will more likely continue to attend Mass as adults.  I’m reminded of two old sayings — “practice makes perfect” and “use it or lose it.”  In a previous post, I talked about spiritual fitness.  I touched on how becoming spiritually fit is a lifelong process and cannot happen overnight after a single prayer.  Similar to development in other areas of one’s life, starting good spiritual habits early provides a sturdy base on which one builds a strong faith.  I also discussed how people who attend Mass regularly are more in tune with their faith because they make their faith a priority in their lives.  Inversely, those who do not make faith a priority will often reject it either formally (by renouncing their affiliation with the Church) or informally by becoming a Catholic in name only.  However, for parents this decision to leave the Church has much larger implications because of the dire effects it might have on children.

I had a conversation with a friend of mine who said that he would never force his children to go to Mass.  I asked him if he thought regular Mass attendance was important to him.  He answered that it was for him but he did not want to “force” his beliefs on his kids.  I’m often surprised to hear Catholics who do not encourage or expect their children to attend Mass regularly.  These parents say that they want to let their kids develop their own religious identity.  On the surface that seems like a very politically correct and noble course of action.  After all, one of the pillars of Western society is the freedom of religion.  Shouldn’t people be free to choose whatever religion they want instead of having their parents’ religious dogma forced-fed to them?  What’s wrong with that?

Not shaping a child’s religious development is similar to not shaping their nutritional diet and exercise habits.  Good parents do not let their kids eat whatever they want whenever they want.  They know that a child, when given complete freedom to choose their diet, would most likely live entirely off cookies, chocolate, cotton candy, doughnuts, and hot dogs.  Heck, even I as an adult would rather reach for an Oreo instead of a carrot at times.  But I know better and understand the dangers of consuming large amounts of junk food.  However, children do not have the maturity to understand the long-term consequences of a junk food diet.  Hence, it is the parents’ responsibility to introduce healthy foods to their children such as fruits and vegetables and educate them on good eating habits.  Loving parents do not want to see their kids develop health problems (obesity, diabetes, eating disorders, etc.) before they start taking nutrition seriously.

The spiritual diet is formed in a very similar way as the nutritional one.  Parents have a responsibility to make sure their children develop spiritually healthy habits.  That includes routine prayer, following the Commandments and laws of the Church, and attending Mass regularly (for starters).  Parents must set an example for their child’s spiritual development, not leave it in the hands of a child that would often rather watch television and play video games instead of praying and attending Mass.  At times, that means forcing the child to put down the game controller, get dressed, and go to Mass.  It’s the spiritual equivalent of not letting a child leave the dinner table until all vegetables are eaten.  The child may not like it, but you know that ultimately it will benefit him/her.  Children, teenagers, and even young adults often need some guidance and motivation in their spiritual lives since they do not always have the maturity to make such important decisions on their own.  And when it comes to faith, making poor decisions can be devastating.  Moving away from a healthy, spiritual lifestyle can lead to drug abuse, sexual addiction, and a whole host of other damaging behaviors.  With those possible dangers, some of them with permanent consequences, would any parent want a child to learn the importance of faith and spirituality the hard way?

I find it interesting how teaching and encouraging good nutrition, exercise habits, thinking skills, work ethic, and common decency are viewed as good parenting while passing along a good spiritual lifestyle is viewed as brainwashing.  Nutrition, exercise, work, and studying can be difficult at times but we do them because we know they help make life more fulfilling.  And yet, when the Church (or any organized religion) challenges Her members to lead faithful and moral lives that is seen as being unreasonable, unrealistic, and outdated.  We often want to tell the Church to “lighten up” instead of stepping up to the challenge and really pushing ourselves and others to answer God’s call.  For parents, stepping up to that challenge is doubly-important because it sets an example for children.

The “Faith in Flux” study states:

When people were asked to choose why they left from a list of possible reasons, the number jumped from 21% for Catholics who became Protestant, and 27% for former Catholics who are now unaffiliated with any church. Other reasons for leaving the Church, such as disagreement on doctrinal matters, figured much higher.

These results reinforce the importance of teaching children strong spiritual habits.  I’m wondering from that study how many of the 27% who are no longer affiliated with any church did not attend Mass regularly during childhood and incorporate God’s Word in their lives?  I bet many of them grew up in a household where their parents did not place a high priority on Mass attendance, learning their faith, receiving the Sacraments, and prayer.  In fact, taking a relaxed approach to faith can be even more damaging to a child than not practicing any faith at all.  Children grow up with misconceptions when parents live in a way that contradicts the Church’s teachings.  These misconceptions develop into frustration, confusion, and ultimately abandonment of the faith entirely.

Of course, I’m not a parent so what do I know about shaping a child’s spiritual development?  To be honest, I imagine that trying to pass on my Catholic faith to my kids will be one of the scariest aspect of parenthood.  I want my children to be spiritually healthy and lead good and happy lives free from a lot of the evils that take root in so many people today.  I want my children to feel the joy and fulfillment that comes from a life that recognizes and admires God, Jesus Christ, the Saints, and the Catholic Church.  But until I face that trial I can only look at my parents’ example and hope to imitate them as much as possible.  They taught me the importance of:

  • Praying before meals and before going to bed.
  • Reading from the Bible (illustrated children’s Bible when I was young).
  • Attending Mass weekly and on Holy Days of Obligation.
  • Following the Golden Rule of treating others how we want to be treated.
  • Calling attention to the importance of faith in various life situations (births, deaths, hardships, and triumphs).
  • Doing the right thing because it is right, not because I’ll get some reward or recognition.  Inversely, I shouldn’t do bad things even if I don’t get caught.
  • Leading by example.  Children are smart and will notice when parents do not practice what they preach.  Fortunately for me, my parents never gave me the opportunity to find any contradictory behavior.

Thanks Mom and Dad!

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Medjugorje Message: April 25, 2009

Our Mother Mary asks us to make God’s peace our highest priority and through prayer she can help us obtain that lofty goal. I interpret the peace that Mary talks about as being a little different than the conventional notion of peace. Mary’s peace is where we try to obtain a heart centered around God’s truth. Often, I feel like the greatest war is an internal and personal one waged inside our minds and souls.

Medjugorje Mary Statue

Here is a new message from Our Lady at Medjugorje on April 25, 2009:

Dear children! Today I call you all to pray for peace and to witness it in your families so that peace may become the highest treasure on this peaceless earth. I am your Queen of Peace and your mother. I desire to lead you on the way of peace, which comes only from God. Therefore, pray, pray, pray. Thank you for having responded to my call.

The message this time is clear — pray for peace.  Our Mother Mary asks us to make God’s peace our highest priority and through prayer she can help us obtain that lofty goal.  However, I know a lot of people probably think that they are too small to bring about peace in this world.  After all, we are not leaders of nations or political groups.  We cannot attend international summits and converse with the world’s presidents.  So what can we do to create peace?

I interpret the peace that Mary talks about as being a little different than the conventional notion of peace.  It is more than just the absence of war and hatred.  Mary’s peace is where we try to obtain a heart centered around God’s truth.  I feel that the greatest war is an internal and personal one waged inside our minds and souls.  Often we live for all the wrong reasons — money, power, sinful desire, and other pleasures of the flesh.  Living for these goals creates disunity within ourselves because we replace God’s permanent and real love with shallow imitations.  We often hear stories about people who have all the money in the world and yet are not happy.  This is because they do not have the peace that only comes from following God’s will.  As Mary says, real peace can only come from God.

I’m reminded of a story involving Saint Francis.  One day a fellow monk asked him what he could do to bring about peace in this world.  Saint Francis replied that he could start by closing the door quietly.  Saint Francis was cleverly teaching that peace begins with the individual and the conscious effort to live peacefully.  How can there be peace around the world if we are not at peace with ourselves?  The first order in building a lasting peace is to “clean house” spiritually.  Mary’s last message was all about making room for the Lord.  Where do we start?  Mary’s answer is simple — in prayer.  Peace starts with praying and being connected to God.  Without that connection we can never achieve the true peace of God.

Let us pray that we find God in our prayers in order to bring real peace to our hearts and souls.  May we have the courage to find peace, especially with those closest to us like our parents, family members, and friends.  As the song says, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.

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The Pope Asks for Meditations on Persecuted Christians

One of my previous rosary meditations was on The Second Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus’ Scourging. I discussed how I see suffering broken down into different groups; one of them being actively-persecuted Christians. Pope Benedict XVI also calls us to mediate on the persecuted Christians in our world. We are called to not only pray for them, but to really contemplate deeply how their experiences mirror the Passion of Jesus Christ. This article discusses how the strength and faith of persecuted Catholics around the world shows us the power of the Holy Spirit that is in all of us.

BookOne of my previous rosary meditations was on The Second Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus’ Scourging.  I discussed how I see suffering broken down into different groups; one of them being actively-persecuted Christians.  Pope Benedict XVI also calls us to meditate on the persecuted Christians in our world.  We are called to not only pray for them, but to really contemplate deeply how their experiences mirror the Passion of Jesus Christ.  This article discusses how the strength and faith of persecuted Catholics around the world shows us the power of the Holy Spirit that is in all of us.

I think it is very easy for people in the Western world, the United States in particular, to overlook that many Christians around the world are persecuted in their countries.  Many of us tend to see persecution as something from a previous era.  The first image that comes to my mind is one of people being fed to lions in an arena while a Roman emperor watches.  Not exactly a modern example now, is it?  Perhaps we may not want to think about persecution and instead focus on happier topics such as our Lord’s resurrection.  Many of us also have no idea what real persecution and suffering is.  For those of us living in relative safety, persecution means receiving an odd look or a condescending comment if you tell someone you are a practicing Catholic.  I personally have a hard time praying for the needs of people around the world who actually face the same threats and challenges as early Christians.  And unfortunately, because I do not actively suffer for my faith, those who do are quickly forgotten during the course of my day.  Sure, I may think about them momentarily during a small prayer, but sometimes their problems just seem too big and it is far easier for me to retreat to Facebook or television.

We cannot turn a blind eye to those who actively suffer because of their faith.  Of course we must keep them in our prayers and help them any way possible (probably by supporting a charitable, relief organization) to relieve or eliminate their suffering.  Charity is always a great way to put our faith into practice.  But we also must remember the persecuted because they are a very real example of following Christ’s path.  Their suffering and faith reminds us just how real and relevant Jesus’ teachings in our lives.  Through their faith in Jesus Christ these people have the strength to overcome their hardships.  By meditating and praying for the persecuted we not only give them the hope and power to overcome their terrible situation, but we also prepare ourselves for the difficult moments in our lives.  If the persecuted Catholics in places like China, India, and the Sudan can find the strength to practice their faith then that should be a sign that ALL of us have that same strength.  The persecuted are evidence that the God did not only come into this world thousands of years ago and then left us to fend for ourselves.  Their perseverance shows that God has always been with us through the very real prescience of the Holy Spirit to give us the guidance and strength to overcome any obstacle this world has to offer.

Let us pray for those who live out the Second Sorrowful Mystery every day.  While we may never know their suffering, they are proof on how strong our faith in God can be.  Let us pray that we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our hearts and minds and guide us through whatever hard times we may encounter.  We know that the world can be a cruel and difficult place, but at the same time we have faith that God will see us through it.  While some events do not go as we wish, let us pray that we truly have faith that God has a plan for all of us that lead us into His Heavenly kingdom.  While it is easy to say that we have faith in God’s divine plan when everything goes smoothly, the real test is to trust in God when life turns difficult.  But if the faith of the persecuted Christians is any indication, we know we can endure whatever challenges the world may bring.

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.

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Happy Easter

Here’s wishing you and your family a happy and glorious Easter.  As the Catholic Church starts a new year, may we make a resolution to truly form a converted heart and follow the path of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

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Living Catholic

There was an interesting article on ETWN discussing the results of a Gallup poll of Catholics on various moral issues. The article breaks down the opinions between churchgoing and non-churchgoing Catholics. The results are as you would expect — churchgoing Catholics agree more with Catholic dogma than their non-churchgoing counterparts. However, I wasn’t so much interested in the results as I was in the notion of a non-churchgoing Catholic.


There was an interesting article on ETWN discussing the results of a Gallup poll of Catholics on various moral issues.  The article breaks down the opinions between churchgoing and non-churchgoing Catholics.  The results are as you would expect — churchgoing Catholics agree more with Catholic teaching than their non-churchgoing counterparts.  However, I wasn’t so much interested in the results as I was in the notion of a non-churchgoing Catholic.

To me, a non-churchgoing Catholic is a contradiction in terms.  It is like saying you are a non-cooking chef.  Would you want to go to a doctor who was self-taught because he or she did not feel that medical school was necessary for his or her profession?  Do you think an athlete who never takes time to practice will make it into the Olympics?

Like sports, hobbies, or a vocation, one’s faith requires time and dedication to have a greater meaning.  To get the most from your Catholic faith, you have to listen to what the Church teaches either by reading Her official documents, listening to your parish priest, or listening to the Holy Spirit in prayer.  In all cases, being a member of the Church requires active participation.  Participation is so important that Mass attendance is a precept of the Catholic faith.  A precept means that it is one of the minimum requirements of being Catholic.  Other precepts can be found here.  Note that a precept is something that is actionable, not a belief.  The reason why actions and participation are so important to the Catholic faith is because they allow you to follow in the footsteps of Jesus Christ whose life’s work was publicly spreading the Word of God.  Thinking of it another way, no one ever became a saint by hiding their faith.  Being Catholic means living it publicly in our words, thoughts, and actions.

Our faith is rooted in celebrating Mass dating back to the secret meetings of early Christians during the rule of the Roman Empire.  The Catholic faith was always meant to be something lived instead of a mere thought exercise.  This is evidenced by people who have risked their lives throughout history by actively displaying their Catholic faith.  While I’m not saying we should all become martyrs, the fact that so many people have risked their freedom and lives should put in perspective our flimsy excuses for not praying, fasting, or attending Mass.

Ask yourself, what do you DO that makes you a Catholic as opposed to someone of another faith or no faith at all?  To me, that is a very difficult question to answer because 99.9% of my life is spent no differently than anyone else.  While I believe in the major truths of the Catholic Church, do I live out these beliefs daily or are they merely phrases I recite mindlessly in prayers?  Do my actions reflect my Catholic faith or defy them?

As we enter Holy Week, all Catholics, churchgoing and non-churchgoing, should take inventory of their faith.  I know that I mentioned this in earlier posts about making room for God in our hearts and learning about the Catholic faith.  Sometimes we have to be honest with ourselves and reflect on whether we are doing all we can to imitate Jesus.  What positions of the Catholic Church do you agree with and which ones do you not?  Regardless of what side you fall on, do you understand the reasoning and logic behind the Church’s position on many moral issues?  After all, we don’t want to be blind followers of Church doctrine nor mindless detractors of issues we have not approached from all sides.  On the issues where you and the Church disagree, do you stick to your beliefs because you have a fully-informed conscience or is it because it makes your life easier or you more popular?

It is no wonder why that Gallup poll shows that churchgoing Catholics are more in tune with the Church’s teachings.  To look at it from the other end, it is not surprising that people who do not dedicate time to practice their faith stray from the Church’s teachings.  It’s not that one side is brainwashed or the other side is more “progressive” and open to new ideas.  It’s not that one group is good and the other is bad.  We all have our shortcomings and sins that we need to correct.  Looking at the precepts, I’m sure all of us have occasionally failed to live up to them.  This is why we need the Mass so we can orient our “moral compass” and imitate the path of Jesus Christ.  In addition to the graces given in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, the Mass provides us an opportunity to reflect on our Catholic faith.  While technically we can reflect on our faith anywhere, the Mass sets aside time in our chaotic lives to really focus and listen to how God calls us to live.

Let us pray that we make time in our lives for God.  We should pray for those who have rejected God’s Word either outright through their actions or have just lost hope because practicing their faith didn’t produce the results they hoped it would.  Let us pray that we all have the courage and endurance to follow God’s truths even when they seem counter to our lifestyle or more difficult than we would like.  Let us pray that in the holiest week of the year, as we accept many new people to the Catholic faith, that we remember just what a gift it is to have Jesus Christ in our lives.

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.

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Jesus Does Not Need Straw Polls!

I discuss my thoughts on an article I read regarding how many Catholic in France disagree with the Church’s teachings and feel that Pope Benedict should step down.

Notre Dame Cathedral

While I usually stay away from commenting on news and current events, I came across this article and felt that I should provide my thoughts.  After all, we pray and meditate on a much deeper and more meaningful level when we tie them into the struggles and concerns of everyday life.  We never pray in a vacuum, but instead thank God for His wondrous deeds and ask Him for guidance.  Remember, prayer is a dialog with God.  And like any conversation, we want to make sure we have something interesting to talk about.  Hopefully this post will give you a little something to think about.

I read this article today on the Catholic Exchange reporting how many Catholics in France are displeased with the Church’s position on many social issues as embodied in many recent statements of Pope Benedict.  The article read:

More than 80 percent of those polled said they want the Church to “modify its position” on contraception and abortion. Le Journal du Dimanche reported that “significant majorities” want the Church to change the teaching on remarriage after divorce as well as homosexuality.

The article goes on to discuss protests in front of Notre Dame cathedral and calls for Pope Benedict to “step down” as pontiff.  I think what a lot of people miss is that the Catholic Church does not arrive at Her stances on various social issues based on popularity polls.  Just because a large group of Catholics disagree with the Church does not make the Church’s views wrong or evil.  The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit who reveals God’s natural law that does not depend on the momentary whims of society.  The Church cannot take something that is a sin and rationalize it as a good just because a large population of society wants it that way.  That is like saying 2+2=5 because that is what many people believe.  No matter how many polls you take or how vocal that “2+2=5” crowd may be, the math will never add up.  Similarly, many brilliant saints and Doctors of the Church have crafted the Church’s doctrine after years of study, debate, and prayer.  You cannot throw their work out the window simply because you do not like their results.

Let’s look at this from a Biblical perspective.  Jesus never asked his apostles for a vote on what He should do.  Jesus did not change his messages and teachings in order to gain favor amongst the Roman and Jewish authorities.  Jesus did not take a poll on whether the adulterous woman should be stoned or not.  In His agony in the garden, Jesus never told God that he discussed the issue over with the apostles and they voted, 10-2 (Judas was absent for the vote), that Jesus should not be arrested.  Instead, Jesus said that He would do God’s will.  I am sure many people would argue that Jesus could have reached many more people if He had just “lightened up” a little and compromised.  But Jesus knew that the truth was something to be boldly proclaimed, not compromised in order to gain popularity.

Many of today’s Catholics lack that humility to put their faith in God and His Church and follow Her laws.  No doubt, the Church puts forth a mighty challenge.  And many of us would rather see the Church bend and preach an easier path than for us to step up and accept that challenge.  It is human nature to hate being wrong and we often like to blame the person who points out our weaknesses.  But we also must keep in mind that the Pope is merely a messenger of the Holy Spirit.  He does not arbitrarily make up rules and replacing him would not somehow reverse universal truths.  In the article, Damian Thompson, the editor of Britain’s Catholic Herald, had this to say about the Pope which I think sums up the Church’s position nicely:

In the spirit of martyrdom, the successor of St Peter chose not to take the easy path but to speak the truth boldly. At a time when he has been recently subjected to sustained assaults in the world’s media, his courage and determination are an inspiring example of genuine love for the suffering.

So let us pray this week to listen to God’s truth.  Instead of wishing that God’s ways were different, easier, and fit inside society’s current trends, let us strive to be the people God asks us to be.  It is not easy to live as Jesus calls us to live and the first step is usually admitting our failings through the Sacrament of Confession.  And let’s face it, when caught between God’s truth and society’s whims, who is going to win in the end?  I don’t see God or His Church bending because of the results of a straw poll.  So let us pray to imitate Jesus, God’s always-faithful servant, and accept His truth.

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.

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Medjugorje Message: March 25, 2009

A message from the Virgin Mary from Medjugorje. She asks us to awaken our souls for Easter and be open to the truth of Jesus Christ.

Medjugorje Mary Statue

Here is another message from Our Lady at Medjugorje.  Like the earlier message, I ask that you read it with an open mind even if you are highly skeptical of the events surrounding Medjugorje.  If you don’t think that these messages come from Mary then please think of them as coming from a priest or prayer book.  It does not make the message any less truthful.

Dear children! In this time of spring, when everything is awakening from the winter sleep, you also awaken your souls with prayer so that they may be ready to receive the light of the risen Jesus. Little children, may He draw you closer to His Heart so that you may become open to eternal life. I pray for you and intercede before the Most High for your sincere conversion. Thank you for having responded to my call.

I like Mary’s call for a renewed effort or “awakening” of prayer.  I have to admit, lately it has been difficult for me to pray earnestly.  For some reason I feel distracted and my prayer time has felt more burdensome than meditative.  This message is a great relief that I’m not alone in feeling weary on my spiritual journey.  Jesus knows that for many of us prayer does not come naturally and easily.  But he urges us, through His Mother, to dig deep down and make that extra effort to pray and do His will because ultimately it is good for us.

This message reminds me of a doctor telling the patient that, although the recovery from an injury or illness may be difficult, he has to persevere and stay on his regiment to be healed.  Similarly, we are prescribed a spiritual regiment of prayer and fasting to bring us into God’s grace.  Many of us (myself included) sometimes don’t want to take our spiritual medicine.  Maybe we refuse to take it because we do not see immediate results and get discouraged.  Or maybe we make our own “adjustments” to our prayer life instead of following the doctor’s orders.  I know I skimp on prayers all the time telling myself, “I’ll be extra good about it tomorrow.”  Only, tomorrow comes and I fall into the same pattern of putting off prayer, fasting, or acts of charity for another day.

In the remaining days of Lent, let us make an earnest effort to listen to God and what He asks of us.  Mary tells us that it is time to wake up from our “winter sleep.”  As we all know, waking up in the morning can be difficult but we also know that we can’t stay in bed all day because we have obligations to our family, friends, and jobs.  Mary asks us to wake up spiritually because everyone ultimately has an obligation to God.  So now is the time to stop hitting that spiritual “snooze” button, wake up, and live our lives for God.  Let me be the first to say, “Good morning and have a great day!”

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Medjugorje Message: March 18, 2009

My thoughts on the Virgin Mary’s message at Medjugorje on March 18, 2009.

Medjugorje Mary Statue

There is a small village in Bosnia-Hercegovina called Medjugorje.  In that village, the Virgin Mary has been giving messages to six individuals since 1981 through the form of apparitions.  To some, She appears every day while others only receive an apparition once per year.  There is vastly more to the story of Medjugorje than I can explain in this post.  If you like, you can read more at http://www.medjugorje.org.

In addition to my rosary meditations and other spiritual musings, I thought I would start posting Mother Mary’s messages.  While many people are skeptical of the messages coming from Medjugorje, I encourage you to still read them.  Even if you do not think they are authentic, there is still a great deal of spiritual truth behind them.  The messages are great meditations and really make you think about your relationship with God.  So I ask that you read this with an open mind.

Dear children! Today I call you to look into your hearts sincerely and for a long time. What will you see in them? Where is my Son in them and where is the desire to follow me to Him? My children, may this time of renunciation be a time when you will ask yourself: ‘What does my God desire of me personally? What am I to do?’ Pray, fast and have a heart full of mercy. Do not forget your shepherds. Pray that they may not get lost, that they may remain in my Son so as to be good shepherds to their flock.

Our Lady looked at all those present and  added: Again I say to you, if you knew how much I love you, you would cry with happiness. Thank you.

I think this is a wonderful message during the season of Lent.  Mary asks all of us to introspect our hearts and souls and ask ourselves how much room we have made for God in our lives.  Are our hearts only filled with the desire for money, power, social status, and earthly comforts?  Or, are we filled with fear and doubt?  In these uncertain times, have we made any room in our hearts with the faith that Jesus Christ will be with us through any trials we encounter?

Like many of Her other message, Mary calls us to pray and fast.  These are the tools by which God enters and occupies our hearts.  While God is always wanting to be in our lives, we have to make room to let Him into it.  Praying and fasting is a way of doing a little house cleaning of our souls in order to prepare it for God’s graces.  So let is follow Mary’s advice.  We should fast and pray and see what spiritual junk lingers in our hearts that we can let go to make room for God.  Do we keep any grudges toward others that we can let go?  Do we spend every day with a constant anger towards other people or groups?  Do we complain about any unfair circumstances and harbor animosity towards those who seemingly have it easy?  Are our causes just and a reflection of God’s natural law or are they merely shallow justifications to make our lives easier?  Let us take a long look at ourselves and ask, “Have I made room for God today?”

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.

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What’s Your Prayer Score?

I discuss how you can improve your prayer life by measuring how often your pray and do other spirit-building activities.

I recently acquired a Garmin Nuvi 265wt GPS unit.  Along with the usual GPS features, this one includes something called an “EcoScore.”  This is your “economy score.”  The GPS monitors your speed and how smoothly the car starts and stops.   It rates your driving on a scale of 0-100.  The better you drive (no jack rabbit starts and stops, not spending time idle, not driving at excessive speeds, etc.), the higher your score.  This feature turns my daily commute into a little game where I’m trying to change my driving habits to reach a higher score.  Unfortunately I have not broken the 80 barrier for my average EcoScore on my daily commute.  I’m hoping that one of these days, if I can catch a lot of green lights, I will hit an 85 average score.

So what does this new, shiny gadget have to do with your prayer life?  OK, I would be lying if I didn’t put that into my post to brag about my new GPS device a little.  But it got me thinking about how much more effort I put into various tasks when I know I’m being measured or rated in some way.  I play hard in sports because I want to win.  I work out hard at the gym because I want to keep a trim waistline or be able to do more push ups over time.  I’m focused at work in order to get projects done ahead of schedule.  In general, competition makes people perform at their best.

I think part of the reason why many people are turning away from their faith and prayer is because they do not rate their prayer life.  Because they do not see some sort of tangible, measurable result from their prayers they turn to activities where they can see more visible results (like the accumulation of money or possessions).  I think that if people started rating their prayer life the same way they measure their bank accounts you would see a run on rosaries.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am in no way comparing prayer and faith to sports and work.  I don’t want to trivialize prayer by turning it into a competition with others.  Just to put things in the proper perspective, on a scale of 1-100 I bet most of us are a two or three at best when compared to the example set by Jesus.

Instead of prayer being a competition with others, I want to challenge you to make prayer a competition with yourself.  Ask yourself, how often do you pray earnestly?  How often do you go to church, pray the rosary, attend adoration, and go to confession?  Do you contribute time and/or money to charity?  I’m sure no matter where you are in your faith journey, there are ways you can improve.  Especially during Lent, we should rate our prayer life and compare that to where we want to be.  Let us look to the Lord and the Catholic Church as our coach in this competition.

Here are a few things to get you started on rating your spiritual life.  Remember, this is used to measure your current habits against where you want to be, not measure yourself against others.  If you are rating yourself against others you might as well knock off some points for pride.  Look at this list, or create your own, and see if you can improve each week.  It’s time to evaluate your Prayer Score!

  • Go to Sunday Mass: +1
  • Go to Mass on a weekday: +2
  • Pray the rosary: +2
  • Go to confession: +5 (+10 if it has been more than five years since your last confession)
  • Go to adoration: +5 (+20 if you stay all night)
  • Fast for a day: +4 (+7 if you fast on bread and water only)
  • Say grace before each meal: +1
  • Read a chapter in the Bible: +2
  • Donate money to charity: +3
  • Donate time for a charitable cause: +5
  • Learn something from the Catechism: +3
  • Commit a venial sin: -2
  • Commit a mortal sin: -10
  • Do not defend the Church or the faith when others mock it: -5

Good luck!

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