One Year of RosaryMeds

December 11 came and went and I didn’t even realize that it was the one year anniversary of RosaryMeds going live. I’ve had a great time writing posts, reading your comments, and learning how to run an online blog site. Most importantly, writing articles about the rosary and the Catholic Church made me set aside time in my week to just think about my faith. Like I’ve said before, how can you love your faith if you don’t take the time to understand it?

December 11 came and went and I didn’t even realize that it was the one year anniversary of RosaryMeds going live.  I’ve had a great time writing posts, reading your comments, and learning how to run an online blog site.  Most importantly, writing articles about the rosary and the Catholic Church made me set aside time in my week to just think about my faith.  Like I’ve said before, how can you love your faith if you don’t take the time to understand it?

As RosaryMeds now enters its second year I have a few goals.  First, I definitely need to finish writing meditations on all the mysteries of the rosary.  I then need to compile that into some sort of ebook download.  I don’t have many plans after that except the usual blogging goals (more visitors, more discussion in the articles’ comments section, etc.).  And that is where you, the reader, come in.  Please let me know if there are topics that you think would be really interesting for me to discuss or ways that I can improve the site.

And now some statistics from the first year:

  • 59 articles
  • 52 comments
  • 2,736 unique visitors
  • 6,236 pages viewed at an average time of 1.88 minutes/page
  • Visitors came from 83 different countries speaking 39 languages
  • The most popular Google search term that brought people to RosaryMeds: “luminous mysteries meditation”
  • Most visited page (not counting the home page): The Luminous Mysteries
  • Most popular single post:  Rosary Meditation on the Third Luminous Mystery

Thank you for visiting this site.  Thank you for telling other people about this site.  Thank you for visiting my advertisers.  Here’s to another great year of RosaryMeds!  Happy Praying.

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In the News — Astrophysical Discoveries Point to a Creator

I read this article on the Catholic News Agency today and thought it was worth sharing. Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, PhD is a philosopher and physicist who says that the more we learn about our universe, the more it points to the idea that it must have a creator.

a few years after the big bang
Image by gari.baldi via Flickr

I read this article on the Catholic News Agency today and thought it was worth sharing.  Fr. Robert J. Spitzer, S.J, PhD is a philosopher and physicist who says that the more we learn about our universe, the more it points to the idea that it must have a creator.

Here is a snippet from the article explaining the theory of of “singularities”:

“Every single Big Bang model shows the existence of what scientists call a ‘singularity,’ and the existence of each singularity demands the existence of an external ‘element’ to the universe,” Fr. Spitzer said.

The priest physicist then proceeded to explain the different, complex versions of the various Bing Bang theories.

He quoted Roger Penrose, the world-famous English mathematician and physicist, who corrected some of the theories of his friend and colleague Stephen Hawkins to conclude that every Big Bang theory, including the one known as Quantum theory, confirms the existence of singularities. Therefore, said Spitzer, the need to find an explanation to the universe’s existence drives us to seek “a force that is previous and independent from the universe.”

Fr. Spitzer also quoted the 2003 experiments by three leading cosmologists, Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin, who were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space-time boundary.

“The concept at this point is clear: nothing is nothing, and from nothing, nothing comes, since nothing is… nothing!” Fr. Spitzer said, to explain the fact that contemporary astrophysics demands “something with sufficient power to bring the universe into existence.”

“It sounds like a theological argument, but is really a scientific conclusion.

“There is no way to ignore the fact that it demands the existence of a singularity and therefore of a Creator outside space and time,” he added.

According to Fr. Spitzer, “this theory has become so scientifically solid, that 50% of astrophysicists are “coming out of the closet” an accepting a metaphysical conclusion: the need of a Creator.”

Personally, I’ve always seen it as very logical that something must have existed outside of the universe and created the dense matter that would later become the Big Bang.  Read the full here.

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Becoming a Winner Through Sacrifice

Along with the rewards and benefits that come with membership in the Catholic Church comes duties, obligations, and even sacrifices. This article on the Catholic News Agency discusses how the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, says that modern society has lost the ideas of duty and sacrifice. I see the theme of duty represented in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery and the importance of sacrifice shown in the Third Luminous Mystery. We should meditate on these mysteries for the strength and courage to do all that God asks of us.

Rocky Balboa: The Best of Rocky album cover
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Along with the rewards and benefits that come with membership in the Catholic Church come duties, obligations, and even sacrifices.  This article on the Catholic News Agency discusses how the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues, says that modern society has lost the ideas of duty and sacrifice.  I see the theme of duty represented in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery and the importance of sacrifice shown in the Third Luminous Mystery.  We should meditate on these mysteries for the strength and courage to do all that God asks of us.

Through His death, Jesus showed us that we all have a duty to live and defend our faith.  As I said in my Crucifixion meditation, I feel that Jesus’ crucifixion is the ultimate example that we are all called to follow God’s plan even in the face of great difficulty.  It is our duty, as Catholics, to remain faithful no matter the earthly consequences our faith might bring.  I see so many instances where peoples’ duty to the Catholic faith stops as soon as it comes in conflict with their personal views, beliefs, or lifestyle.  However, the Church always reminds us that we have an obligation to put God first in our lives.  And while that can cause great hardship in this life, God rewards our dedication with everlasting life in His kingdom.

The Third Luminous Mystery, The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Conversion, outlines the need for sacrifice.  I typically see sacrifice in terms of fasting.  However, I often wonder what difference it makes whether I fast or not.  After all, am I a better person because I skip a dessert or give up drinking soda?  Do my prayers carry any more weight because I didn’t eat meat on a Friday?  When put into the context of the Third Luminous Mystery, sacrifice and fasting make more sense.  In his book, “Fasting,” Fr. Slavko Barbaric explains the sacrifice of fasting as “a call for conversion directed to our body… by which we become free from and independent of all material things.”  Notice how he echos the idea of sacrifice being a tool for conversion.  When we fast and sacrifice, we detach ourselves from the fleeting pleasures of this world and open ourselves to the much greater gift of God’s grace.  In other words, God is no more receptive to us because we fast (after all, He is already infinitely receptive to everyone) but we become more receptive to God.

Our duty as Catholics to live a life of sacrifice will not be easy.  However, Archbishop Jean-Louis Brugues is very direct when he says, “God’s plan cannot be fulfilled except through sacrifice.”  In other words, sacrifice is not something optional for Catholics nor is it something we should only think about during holy seasons like Lent.   Yes, our faith can present challenges.  But what challenge can be so great that it is not worth the promise of God’s Heavenly kingdom?

Here’s a little snippet from the movie, “Rocky Balboa” where Rocky explains to his son that winning means being able to make sacrifices and endure life’s challenges.  Think about this philosophy in terms of your faith.  Are you a fighter or are you letting life’s hardships keep you down?  Do you have the conviction to really live for God’s kingdom by always striving to do God’s will even in the face of great difficulty?

PS: “Fasting” is out of print, but it is worth picking up a used copy.  It is only 47 pages (large type), but it is a great introduction on the importance of fasting.

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Kiva — Teaching Someone to Fish

I’m going to diverge a little from my usual posts and talk about a topic that combines charity, investing, and entrepreneurship. I’m going to talk about Kiva. Kiva is a website that allows you to give small loans to people, typically who live in poor areas of the world. Kiva describes itself as the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe. Its mission is to help alleviate poverty.

Image representing Kiva as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I’m going to diverge a little from my usual posts and talk about a topic that combines charity, investing, and entrepreneurship.  I’m going to talk about Kiva.  Kiva is a website that allows you to give small loans to people, typically to those who live in poor areas of the world.  Kiva describes itself as the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs around the globe.  Its mission is to help alleviate poverty.

I discovered Kiva by accident.  I received a gift certificate for it as an award at work.  At first I was a little disappointed because previous award winners received items like a new iPod.  And who doesn’t like receiving a shiny, new gadget?  Not knowing anything about Kiva, I felt like someone had made a donation to charity in my name.  That would have been fine and I would have been quite happy if that had been the case.  But there was still that little, materialistic part of me that really wanted the cool gizmo.  But that was before I learned what Kiva was all about.

Kiva is not a charity in the way you traditionally think of one.  You do not just write a check that goes into a large pool of money to be handed out or used for administrative costs.  Instead, you are contributing directly to individuals who are trying to improve their lives and the lives of their families.  You are not giving people a handout, rather you are loaning them money so they can do something constructive with it.  The whole concept reminds me of the saying, “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime.”  Kiva is the opportunity to “teach people to fish” since they are using this money to build a business, get an education, or improve their situation some other way.  It feels great knowing that there is a specific person, with specific goals, who is helped by a small contribution.  It is amazing how we have the power to transform lives for the cost of a book or DVD.

You do not earn interest from your loans on Kiva.  But you do get your principle investment back and can loan it to others (Kiva has a 98% repayment rate).  And that is the most amazing aspect of the whole operation — you have the ability to perpetually help many people for years with a very small initial investment.  Think of it like this — a one-time donation of $100 to a typical charity is spent once and is gone.  However, putting that same $100 into a Kiva account has the potential to help people achieve their dreams indefinitely.  How often can you say that $25 (the minimum loan amount) transformed people’s lives by allowing someone to fix his taxi, grow fruit to sell at a market, and build a home?  Those are just some real examples of how my loans were utilized.

It is rare in this world that so little can go such a long way.  I’m reminded about the story of Jesus multiplying the fish and bread to feed the masses (John 6).  At first no one would have thought that a young boy’s meager offer of a few loaves and some fish would be enough to satisfy so many people.  But through the power of Jesus Christ, the boy’s sacrifice did produce enough to feed everyone.  In a similar vein, a seemingly small contribution to Kiva can go a long way in helping those who are trying to help themselves.  So whose behavior do you want to imitate?  Do you want to act like the apostles and doubt that a small contribution might do any good?  Or do you want to be like the boy and offer what you can and see miracles happen?

PS: I do not work for Kiva or benefit personally in any way from it.  I just think it is something everyone should know about.

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Imitate Mary and Say “Yes” to God

On Sunday, August 16, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Angelus reflections to Our Lady. Speaking to 4,000 people gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, he explained that, like Mary, Catholics are called to say yes to God. His reflection touches on themes found in various rosary mysteries such as the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Institution of the Eucharist. We should ask ourselves, do we have the faith to say yes to God as Mary did and the strength to carry out His will?

The icon of Annunciation from the Church of St...
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On Sunday, August 16, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Angelus reflections to Our Lady. Speaking to 4,000 people gathered in the courtyard of Castel Gandolfo’s apostolic palace, he explained that, like Mary, Catholics are called to say yes to God.  His reflection touches on themes found in various rosary mysteries such as the Annunciation, the Assumption, and the Institution of the Eucharist.  We should ask ourselves, do we have the faith to say yes to God as Mary did and the strength to carry out His will?

Here is what Pope Benedict said as reported on the Catholic News Agency:

“What happened to Mary is also valid for every man and woman,” he expounded. “God asks each of us to welcome him, to make available to him our hearts, our bodies, our entire existence, so that he can dwell in the world. He calls us to join ourselves to him in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, to form the Church together…by the very nature of our yes, that mysterious exchange also happens to and in us. We are assumed in the divinity of he who assumed our humanity.”

I like this idea that Mary not only said yes to God’s will, but also welcomed Him and made Him available to her heart.  I think often, even when we do God’s will, we do it begrudgingly and without a lot of joy.  We tend to think of God’s will as a burden, not a gift.  Of course going to Mass, receiving the sacraments, and following God’ laws are good things and something we should always strive to do.  But we should also remember than when we do say yes to God we receive a gift of grace which should fill our hearts with joy.  Who doesn’t find it even a little bit exciting that God lives within us when we accept His will?  With that prospect of God working through us, we should not only say yes to Him, but we should also jump at the opportunity with passion and vigor.

I think Mary had a very good understanding of the benefits and joy that come out of saying yes to God.  Did following God’s will make her life easier?  Of course not.  She was burdened with the scandle of an unwed pregnancy and then the sorrow of seeing her son crucified.  But I think she understood that these earthly burdens were minimal when compared to the eternal rewards of living in God’s grace.  I think we often forget about the infinite treasures of heaven amongst our daily struggles.  Because this heavenly reward is something beyond our understanding, we tend to lose sight of it and settle for meager substitutes.  We fall into sin doing things that make us temporarily happy now instead of taking that harder road that will ultimately lead to eternal happiness.  So let us listen to Pope Benedict and be like Mary.  Let us not only say yes to God, but say yes with the joy of knowing that following His plan for us will lead to a happiness greater than anything we can imagine.  And let us pray for everyone who has lost sight of that goal and have said no to God either through their words, thoughts, or actions.

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The Rosary: Heavenly Medicine

If you notice, the tag line for my website is, “A rosary a day keeps the devil away.” As clever as that sounds, there is a great deal of truth in that statement. The rosary is not a piece of fashion or some sort of magical talisman. It is more like medicine or a vitamin that helps fight off the devil who is as real as any disease but many orders of magnitude deadlier. It is extremely important to use the rosary and pray to Mary for She is incredibly powerful and will keep you safe.

In Christianity, Satan is considered the being...
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If you notice, the tag line for my website is, “A rosary a day keeps the devil away.”  As clever as that sounds, there is a great deal of truth in that statement.  The rosary is not a piece of fashion or some sort of magical talisman.  It is more like medicine or a vitamin that helps fight off the devil who is as real as any disease but many orders of magnitude deadlier.  It is extremely important to use the rosary and pray for Mary’s intercession for She is incredibly powerful against evil and will keep you safe.

Why is the devil deadlier than any physical disease?  He is such a grave threat because he can kill something far more precious than your body and that is your eternal soul.  Keep in mind that your physical body only exists for an instant when compared to the eternity of the afterlife.  Any physical pain and suffering endured in this world is minuscule compared to the joy or torment in the afterlife.   But in that instant you are in this world, the devil is actively trying to claim your soul for all eternity.  It is an ongoing battle and you must be prepared to fight and resist sin.

But like many diseases, there is a very effective, preventative medicine to prevent ESD (eternal soul death).  In case you didn’t guess, it’s the rosary.  It may be made of simple rope or a chain, but it is your life line to keep your soul healthy and resistant to the devil.  Praying it will build up your immunity to evil and prevent you from falling into mortal sin.  When you focus on the rosary, you focus on God and doing His will, not indulging in sinful activity.  By praying routinely the temptation to fall into sin will diminish.  However, even the best medicine is useless if you never take it.  For the rosary to be effective, you need to take it off your rear view mirror of your car or out of your desk drawer and pray it.  And you have to match that prayer with a spiritually healthy lifestyle with the intent to do God’s will.

Prayer is an effective antidote to sin because it was given to us from the Mother of God.  The Virgin Mary gave us the rosary like a good mother gives medicine to a child.  She intends for us to use it so that we may live in a state of grace.  The Archbishop of Mexico City, Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, had this to say about appealing for Mary’s intercessions to fight the devil:

She brings us to Jesus, she protects us and cares for us in this difficult ministry … Mary also participates in exorcisms. She herself is an exorcist and expels the devil through her sanctity.

Mary is our heavenly mother and one tough opponent for the devil.  With Her, our Lord Jesus Christ, the saints, and the angels in Heaven, you are well protected from the devil and anything he may throw at you.  So let’s take advantage of this great, heavenly medicine and pray regularly because our immortal souls depends on it.

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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.

Church

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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