Come Pray the Rosary

Almost a year ago a visitor left a comment mentioning the website “Come Pray the Rosary” (thanks Jack!). This website is a perpetual, online Rosary prayer session with others around the world. The prayer is set to video of various holy places and works of religious art. You can also leave prayer intentions if you like. You can pray alone and start at the beginning of a mystery instead of joining a mystery already in progress. I know that sometimes we all need a little “kick” to start praying and that is what this site offers. It may sound silly, but sometimes a voice set to a little video is the catalyst I need to get in that praying mood. Guided rosary prayer also helps us focus our minds since they have a tendency to wonder when we pray silently by ourselves (or at least I suffer from this at times).

Mary Magdalene, after a painting by Ary Scheff...
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Welcome to Holy Week!  I hope you have had a productive Lenten season as you prepare for the glorious redemption of Christ our King.  Personally, I prepared well during Lent in certain areas (my Lenten sacrifice, attending Stations of the Cross, etc.) and have not quite lived up in other areas (reading the Bible, fasting, etc.).  But, like in other parts of life (and iterated many times in the Gospels) it is not how you start, but how you end that counts.  So I hope to make this a very productive Holy Week.  In that spirit, I want to introduce you to a little gem of a website called “Come Pray the Rosary.”

A year ago a visitor left a comment mentioning the website “Come Pray the Rosary” (thanks Jack!).  This website is a perpetual, online Rosary prayer session with others around the world.  The prayer is set to video of various holy places and works of religious art.  You can also leave prayer intentions if you like.  You can pray alone and start at the beginning of a mystery instead of joining a mystery already in progress.  I know that sometimes we all need a little “kick” to start praying and that is what this site offers.  It may sound silly, but sometimes all it takes is a voice set to a little video to be a catalyst to get into that praying mood.  Guided rosary prayer also helps us focus our minds since we have a tendency to wonder when we pray silently by ourselves (or at least I suffer from this at times).

So you will now see a new link on the left-hand side of my website which will open “Come Pray the Rosary” in a new browser window.  Give it a try if you are looking for new ways of rosary meditation and prayer.

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Rosary Meditation — The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation focuses on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus Carries His Cross. This mystery encapsulates many of the Stations of the Cross. We see Jesus take up the cross, fall repeatedly, meet the mourning women, be stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross. Like the other Sorrowful Mysteries, Jesus carrying His cross teaches us about the nature of suffering and that we are called to love God and do His Will despite any suffering we may encounter in our lives.

Christ fallen while carrying the cross, at St....
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Today’s rosary meditation focuses on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus Carries His Cross.  This mystery encapsulates many of the Stations of the Cross.  We see Jesus take up the cross, fall repeatedly, meet the mourning women, be stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross.  Like the other Sorrowful Mysteries, Jesus carrying His cross teaches us about the nature of suffering and that we are called to love God and do His Will despite any suffering we may encounter in our lives.

While carrying the cross, Jesus fell down repeatedly.  His falling is significant since we dedicate three Stations of the Cross to it.  And yet each time Jesus fell He got back up.  But why did Jesus continue to get up and continue suffering at the hands of the Roman soldiers?  He must have known that each time He got up His situation was only going to get worse as He became more tired and beaten and crucifixion was the only thing that awaited Him.  Why didn’t He just give up and die where He lay and avoid the increasing pain and torment?  What pushed Jesus to get back on His feet?

Jesus continued because He understood that the purpose of following God’s Will is not to avoid suffering and find comfort in this life.  Just the opposite, our purpose in life is to follow God’s Will despite the suffering it may bring.  Jesus followed God’s Will out of love for His Father and love for us.  Jesus’ love was greater than the physical pain He felt and that is why He got back up and continued to His crucifixion.  Likewise, God desires us to love Him despite the suffering we may encounter doing so.  We know that part of loving someone is to make sacrifices at times.  And while Jesus taking up His cross is an extreme example of this truth,  this mystery reminds us that we are also called to love God regardless of our earthly situation.

We may think there is a huge difference between the Son of God mustering up the strength to carry on in the face of great suffering versus us finding it in our daily struggles.  It is very common to question God’s plan when “the going gets tough” and we do not get what we want or what we think is fair.  I often come across people on Catholic forums asking, “Why me?”  “Why can’t I find a job?”  “Why can’t I find a good spouse?”  “Why did I get this illness?”  “I pray every day, I go to Mass, I go to Confession, and I don’t commit any mortal sins so why does God make my life so difficult?”  The answer to all these questions lies within this mystery.  Suffering is part of this life while our reward for loving God and doing His Will will be part of the next.  We endure the trials of this life because our faith tells us that we will find comfort and relief in God’s Kingdom.  Unfortunately, this is not the answer many of us want to hear.  We want instant miracles.  We want our problems to disappear.  We would love God to “bail us out” immediately when we pray to Him.  However, we do not see the big picture as God sees it.  What we see as monumental suffering now in this life ultimately amounts to nothing compared to the glory of Heaven that awaits us in the next life.  At the same time, following God’s Will, even in the face of great suffering, will yield tremendous happiness and comforts in Heaven.  And in the end, finding eternal happiness in Heaven is all that really matters, not the momentary suffering and comforts in this world.

We should pray for all those who have “fallen” in life that they find the strength to get back up and follow God’s plan.  We should pray for those who think God has abandoned them when in fact God is right here pushing them to work through their troubles.  We should pray for those who do not follow God’s Will just to reap the comforts of this life at the cost of comforts in the next one.  We should pray for the understanding that we love God most when we follow Him regardless of the earthly consequences.  Finally, we should pray for the faith that all earthly suffering will be relieved when we enter into our true home, God’s kingdom of Heaven.

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Rosary Meditation — The Third Sorrowful Mystery

This rosary meditation focuses on the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus by dressing Him in royal purple and crowning Him with thorns (Mk. 15:17). They then mocked Him and pretended to pay Him homage (Mk. 15:19). Would the soldiers have acted so cavalier and arrogant if they truly understood who it was they were mocking? While we are not as brazen as those soldiers, we often mock Jesus by giving lip service to our faith. Instead of faithfully following Jesus, we too often dishonor Him by putting the fleeting treasures of this life in front of the treasures waiting for us in Heaven. Particularly in this time of Lent we must make a sincere effort to put Jesus first in our lives and honor Him the way He deserves.

This rosary meditation focuses on the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns.  The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus by dressing Him in royal purple and crowning Him with thorns (Mk. 15:17).  They then mocked Him and pretended to pay Him homage (Mk. 15:19).  Would the soldiers have acted so cavalier and arrogant if they truly understood who it was they were mocking?  While we are not as brazen as those soldiers, we often mock Jesus by giving lip service to our faith.  Instead of faithfully following Jesus, we too often dishonor Him by putting the fleeting treasures of this life in front of the treasures waiting for us in Heaven.  Particularly in this time of Lent we must make a sincere effort to put Jesus first in our lives and honor Him the way He deserves.

We are often very much like the Roman soldiers who pretended to pay Jesus homage.  Sure, we may say that we are good Christians.  We might recite prayers every night and go to Mass every Sunday.  But do we truly believe that Jesus Christ is our king and savior?  Will we follow Him even when times are difficult and our faith runs contrary to society’s norms?  Or is our faith something done in isolation and detached from our “normal” lives?  For example, how many of your beliefs conflict with the Church’s teachings?  Or, when faced with a difficult situation, how often do you tell a “little white lie” or commit some other easy sin to serve your own ends?  Do you go to Confession without intending to truly turn away from your sins and live with a converted heart?  There are so many ways where we pretend to follow Jesus but our actions tell a different story.  And while our transgressions may seem small and inconsequential, they are like the little thorns on the crown we offer to Jesus.  When meditating upon this mystery think about how sincerely you praise and honor Jesus.  Do you practice and live the faith you profess or are you like the Roman soldiers who only pretended to honor Jesus?

For whose kingdom are you living?  We too often live for this worldly kingdom and not for Jesus’ kingdom of Heaven.  There are so many things that compete for our attention — money, power, possessions, and lust just to name a few.  But we must remember this verse from the Gospel of Matthew (6:24):

No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.

But how we try. However, as the verse says, by trying to serve two masters we often end up serving only one.  Since money and possessions are physical, quantifiable things it is often easier to live for them than it is to live for our treasures in Heaven.  After all, we only have it on faith that the riches of Heaven will far outweigh anything made in this world.  But since our eternal reward isn’t something advertised during the Super Bowl by a fancy advertising agency, we too often kick it aside for the things that we can see, hear, and touch.

Ask yourself in this time of Lent, what master are you serving?  What type of crown do you offer Jesus Christ?

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Rosary Meditation — The Second Glorious Mystery

This rosary meditation focuses on The Second Glorious Mystery — The Ascension. After rising from the dead in the First Glorious Mystery, Jesus physically ascended into Heaven. We profess this every time we recite the Apostle’s Creed — “On the third day He rose again; He ascended into Heaven, He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.” We must remember that ultimately we will have to account for our thoughts, words, and actions in front of Jesus who reigns in Heaven. However, the Church gives us tools that allow us to remain close to God and correct our faults before facing our final judgment.

Ascension of Christ
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This rosary meditation focuses on The Second Glorious Mystery — The Ascension.  After rising from the dead in the First Glorious Mystery, Jesus physically ascended into Heaven.  We profess this every time we recite the Apostle’s Creed — “On the third day He rose again;  He ascended into Heaven,  He is seated at the right hand of the Father, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”  We must remember that ultimately we will have to account for our thoughts, words, and actions in front of Jesus who reigns in Heaven.  However, the Church gives us tools that allow us to remain close to God and correct our faults before facing our final judgment.

“He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”  Like many people, I find the idea of judgment scary.  The word “judgment” conveys a trial, assessing guilt, and handing out punishment; none of which are very pleasant.  In life, judging has a very negative connotation.  We hear how we shouldn’t be so judgmental.  Even when we are guilty (either legally or morally) many of us try to avoid admitting our faults and accepting the consequences.  Instead we hide, we lie, or play the “blame game.”  Deep down we want to be innocent, sinless, and virtuous but we often miss that mark.  But in professing our inevitable judgment in the Apostle’s Creed we remind ourselves that we need to work at becoming more Christ-like.  Understanding that our actions have consequences motivates us to avoid sin.  And we avoid sin, not just to avoid punishment, but also realizing that sin separates us from Jesus Christ whom we love.

The purpose of knowing of our coming judgment is not to scare or depress us.  In fact, God does not want to punish any of us.  He desires all of us to one day enter into His kingdom.  And He provides tools to help us avoid a harsh judgment.  The most obvious tool He gives us is the Sacrament of Confession.  This is our opportunity to set things straight with the Lord and remain in His grace.  It’s our way of doing small course corrections so that we can remain on the path that ultimately leads us into His kingdom of Heaven.  To put it another way, by routinely confessing our sins we confront our shortcomings while they are still small and manageable.  Without acknowledging our sins those small shortcomings can turn into major problems and separate us from God’s grace not to mention make our lives miserable.

Another tool at our disposal to live in God’s graces is prayer.  When we center our lives around God through prayer, that means we are not centering it around sin.  In other words, earnest prayer can never be sinful so when we live a life of prayer we live without sin (unfortunately, no one has been able to obtain this lofty goal 100% of the time).  The fact that we pray means that we acknowledge that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father and hears our prayers.  After all, what would be the point of praying if we did not believe that Jesus hears us and guides us?  When we pray we focus, even if only for a short time, on the Lord and ask for His help, thank Him, and listen to how He calls us to live.  In short, we ask for the strength to live for His kingdom and earn our place that He has prepared for us when he ascended into Heaven.

When we meditate on this mystery, may we remember that our ultimate destination is Heaven.  May we show our love for the Lord by not delaying our arrival in Heaven with a detour in Purgatory.  And may we avoid mortal sin and risk loosing His kingdom entirely.  Remembering our final judgment is not a terrible thing.  Like remembering the consequences of breaking civil laws, we must always be mindful of the natural law that God imprints on our hearts and minds.  Doing so will not only have its benefits in the afterlife, but will also manifest itself as an inner happiness in this life.  Let us also remember to pray for those who are far from God’s graces.  Let us pray for those who do not want to confront their eventual judgment but instead choose to hide, lie, and redirect blame.  Because, as the old saying goes, “You can run, but you can’t hide.”

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Advent — 60 Things to Remember

This year Advent feels like it is one week longer. In the past week I’ve gone to a 50th wedding anniversary, a wedding, and had a great time with my wife’s family for Thanksgiving. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to friends and family at the various events. At the anniversary, my cousin and I talked about prayer and the rosary. We touched on many ideas and I can’t go into detail on all of them in this post (but I will probably bring them up in the future). However, there was one rosary prayer of her’s that I found particularly interesting that seemed relevant to Advent and preparing our souls for the Lord.

Advent wreath, Frist Advent Sunday
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Welcome to the wonderful season of Advent!  My wife and I were so happy about the start of this blessed season that we tore into our closet, took out all our Christmas supplies, and got busy decorating.  I hope that everyone feels energized and excited about the best four weeks of the year.

This year Advent feels like it is one week longer.  In the past week I’ve gone to a 50th wedding anniversary, a wedding, and had a great time with my wife’s family for Thanksgiving.  I’ve spent a lot of time talking to friends and family at the various events.  At the anniversary, my cousin and I talked about prayer and the rosary.  We touched on many ideas and I can’t go into detail on all of them in this post (but I will probably bring them up in the future).  However, there was one rosary prayer of her’s that I found particularly interesting that seemed relevant to Advent and preparing our souls for the Lord.

The prayer is simple.  On each bead of the rosary you remember someone who needs prayers, something you are thankful for, something you are sorry for, or any other situation that you feel needs remembering.  You don’t need to say a long prayer on each bead.  Just saying someone’s name will suffice.  So that is sixty thoughts total (counting the small beads at the start and the crucifix).  The point is to just think about people and situations so that they go to the front of your mind, heart, and hopefully your actions.  I think this helps prevent us from making our prayers too general.  When we say someone’s name, we attach a face and a real soul to our prayers.  It gives our prayers, sacrifices, and offerings a real, human dimension that we sometimes miss when we just pray generally.

What do you think is more effective?  Saying, “Lord please help those in need” or, “Lord, please look over my aunt during her surgery?”  Now, God knows everyone’s needs whether we voice them our not.  But we don’t need to be specific for God’s sake, but for ours.  Suppose you really do have a family member going in for surgery.  Perhaps actually thinking and voicing his/her name will remind you to give that person a phone call or visit in the hospital.  Or maybe you can fast specifically for that person.  In other words, by thinking of specific people you focus your prayers and spiritual energy towards their specific needs.

Sounds easy?  That’s what I thought until I gave it a try.  Sure, the first twenty or thirty beads are simple enough since I can rattle off friends and family members.  However, I found it quite challenging to think of sixty people and circumstances that are in need of prayer.  That is a little disappointing considering the millions of things to be thankful for, people to pray for, and sins to feel genuine remorse for.  So that will be my challenge for this Advent — to say my sixty small prayers after praying the rosary so that I may remember the needs of those for whom I haven’t prayed enough.  In doing so, in making room for others in my prayers, I will also be making room for Jesus when Christmas arrives.

Give this a try and let me know what you think.  Have a great Advent!

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Rosary Meditation — The Fifth Joyful Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation focuses on The Fifth Joyful Mystery — The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. When returning from a festival in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph noticed that Jesus was not in the caravan. They went back to Jerusalem and searched for Jesus for three days before finding Him in the temple talking to the elders. When Mary said that she and Joseph had been searching for Him in sorrow, Jesus responded, “Why did you search for me? Did you not know I had to be in My Father’s house?” (Lk. 2:49).

The twelve-year-old child Jesus in the temple ...
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Today’s rosary meditation focuses on The Fifth Joyful Mystery — The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.  When returning from a festival in Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph noticed that Jesus was not in the caravan.  They went back to Jerusalem and searched for Jesus for three days before finding Him in the temple talking to the elders.  When Mary said that she and Joseph had been searching for Him in sorrow, Jesus responded, “Why did you search for me?  Did you not know I had to be in My Father’s house?” (Lk. 2:49).

Mary and Joseph traveled for a day before noticing that Jesus was missing from the caravan.  They assumed He was somewhere else in the party.  How far do we sometimes travel in life before we notice that Jesus is missing?  How many days do we sometimes go without praying, reflecting on our sins, or thanking God for all the blessings He gives us?  How many people do you know who are moving away from God’s graces by sinning but just assume God is “cool” with everything they are doing?  Like Mary and Joseph assuming that Jesus was still in the caravan, many times we assume that we are much closer to the Lord than we really are.  Many times we willfully go against Church teaching and sin and yet still think we are in God’s graces.  It takes a lot of strength and courage to really examine ourselves, admit when we have moved away from the way God calls us to live, and then turn back and rediscover Jesus.  We reconnect with Jesus through the sacrament of Reconciliation, prayer, reading the Bible and the teachings of the Catholic Church.  Basically, we find Jesus in His “Father’s house” when we act in accordance with His Church’s teachings.

Mary and Joseph searched for Jesus for three days before finding Him.  I think this is an important aspect of this mystery.  It shows us that sometimes, even when we commit ourselves to finding Jesus in our lives, it can still be a long and difficult journey.  We don’t always instantly feel God’s graces when we choose to reject sin and follow Jesus.  I’ve heard many times of people feeling frustrated, depressed, or angry with God because they do not feel His presence although they are constantly looking for Him through prayer, fasting, and not sinning.  But this mystery teaches us that we must not give up.  We must constantly be looking for Jesus like a parent would look for a lost child.  Mary and Joseph did not give up their search and neither should we.  The Gospel describes that Mary and Joseph searched “in sorrow.”  Our path to Jesus might not be easy and there will probably be setbacks, dead ends, relapses, and disappointment.  But this is one search that we must never call off because our very souls are at stake.

Let us meditate and pray for all of those who are moving away from God.  We should pray especially for those whose pride has blinded them to the truth of God’s Word.  We must pray for those who twist the Church’s teachings to try to justify sinful behavior.  And we ask God for the strength to always turn towards Him and return to His Father’s house when we stray.  For it doesn’t matter how far off track we are, either with a single sin or a lifetime of sinful behavior, we can always turn around and find God’s mercy.

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Rosary Meditation — The Fourth Glorious Mystery

In the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the holy rosary we meditate and pray on Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. Having accepted God’s plan in the Annunciation, Mary was honored by being assumed, body and soul, into God’s kingdom. However, Her work was far from over as She now takes the role of our guide and spiritual mentor. She is always trying to bring us closer to Her son, Jesus Christ.

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Image by Lawrence OP via Flickr

In the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the holy rosary we meditate and pray on Mary’s Assumption into Heaven.  Having accepted God’s plan in the Annunciation, Mary was honored by being assumed, body and soul, into God’s kingdom.  However, Her work was far from over as She now takes the role of our guide and spiritual mentor.  She is always trying to bring us closer to Her son, Jesus Christ.  She has a difficult challenge since She needs to not only fight the forces of evil, but also fight against our own weaknesses to live as one of God’s children.

Mary has appeared to many different people over the centuries and reiterated the ways we can live in God’s grace and ultimately live in His kingdom of Heaven.  Her messages can be narrowed down to five simple behaviors that She wants all of us to do:

  • Pray:  How can you have a meaningful relationship with God unless you talk to Him?  It doesn’t matter whether you recite prayers, meditate, or just have a free-form prayer session.  You need to talk to God and more importantly, listen to what He tells you.
  • Bible: Again, how can you love God if you do not know Him or His Church?  Read the Bible, the Catechism, and the writings of saints and scholars.  Know your faith so that you can live it with every thought, word, and action.
  • Fast: The key is to detach yourself from the bonds of this world and leave room in your soul for God’s grace.  Mary’s messages at Medjugorje always talk about leaving room for Jesus’ love and mercy and fasting makes you more receptive to God’s truth.
  • Confession: You need to free yourself from the bonds of sin by receiving absolution.  Like a shower for your soul, the Sacrament of Confession cleans away the damage sin inflicts on you and strengthens your resolve to remain in a state of grace.
  • Eucharist: You need to receive Jesus’ Body and Blood regularly because it is your spiritual fuel that will give you the strength and resolve to do God’s will.

Mary wants only the best for us.  She wants us to be close to Her son, Jesus Christ.  That is why She was assumed into Heaven so that She can be our guide and protector from evil.  What She asks of us is not terribly difficult.  She asks us to recognize God in our lives through prayer and act according to His Word.  Taking the time to listen to Mary and following Her guidance will lead to something far greater than anything in this world — God’s kingdom.  So, when we pray this mystery we should ask ourselves, “Are we listening to our Heavenly Mother?”

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Rosary Meditation — The First Luminous Mystery

This rosary meditation focuses on The First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan. In this mystery we see Jesus transforming Baptism from being a purely symbolic act of renewal to an actual gift of the Holy Spirit that cleanses our soul of original sin. For this mystery I’m going to focus on the central message of John the Baptist — a call to repentance. While John is usually associated with Baptism (hence his title), his ministry really focuses on the Sacrament of Confession. He preached that we prepare ourselves to fully receive God when we approach Him with a repentant heart. These two sacraments really go hand-in-hand in that they both center around the Holy Spirit cleansing our soul of the effects of sin.

Farmer at the dentist, Johann Liss, c. 1616-17.
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This rosary meditation focuses on The First Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.  In this mystery we see Jesus transforming Baptism from being a purely symbolic act of renewal to an actual gift of the Holy Spirit that cleanses our soul of original sin.  For this mystery I’m going to focus on the central message of John the Baptist — a call to repentance.  While John is usually associated with Baptism (hence his title), his ministry really focuses on the Sacrament of Confession.  He preached that we prepare ourselves to fully receive God when we approach Him with a repentant heart.  These two sacraments really go hand-in-hand in that they both center around the Holy Spirit cleansing our soul of the effects of sin.

Think about how you take care of your teeth.  You brush and floss daily to keep them clean.  However, every six months you also need to go to a dentist to have your mouth thoroughly inspected and cleaned by a professional.  Seeing your dentist is not a sign of bad oral health.  It’s not like the only people who need to see a dentist are those who do not brush regularly.  Rather, everyone needs regular brushing and checkups or else our teeth will not be their strongest.  Skipping the daily brushing routine or the checkups might lead to premature dentures.

What does this have to do with repentance besides the fact that most people would probably consider a trip to the dentist as some sort of penance?  Like brushing your teeth, prayer must be part of your daily routine to keep your soul healthy.  Regular prayer is your time to reflect on all those ways you have lived God’s will and offer Him thanksgiving.  You also ask for strength and guidance to continue living a spiritually healthy life.  Prayer serves as a little check to prevent sin from entering and decaying your soul.  However, every so often you also need to see a professional to give your soul a thorough scrubbing away of sin.  And that scrubbing is the Sacrament of Confession.

Just like how brushing alone isn’t enough to keep your teeth healthy, individual prayer alone is not enough to keep your soul healthy.  You can’t completely fix the effects of sin with only individual prayer.  There are instances where your soul requires the help of a professional in order to fix the spiritual decay that may be attacking and spreading within you.  You may think that my analogy leads to the priest hearing your confession to be that professional who “fixes” your soul.  However, the priest is merely the assistant.  The real professional, the one who actually cleanses your soul of sin, is God.  God works through the priest to clean your soul and restore it back to a clean and healthy state.

This mystery should remind us of John the Baptist’s message that we should “prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Mt 3:3).  Let us remember to be thoroughly repentant not just through our private prayers but also by receiving the sacrament of Confession.  That way we clear out souls of everything that blocks us from fully receiving God’s graces.  Instead of seeing confession as some sort of punishment, let us see it for what it really is — a gift.  It is our chance to set things right, fix what is broken in our life, and build a stronger relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ.  May we remember that it is through confession that we return to that pure innocence that we had at our Baptism.  We return to that state of grace that God desires for all of us.  So let us make the effort to go to Confession regularly (the Church says at least once a year) and live as true disciples of Jesus Christ.  And you might want to pop in to see your dentist as well!

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Rosary Meditation: The Fourth Luminous Mystery

This rosary meditation is on the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration. In this mystery, Jesus took his apostles, Peter, John, and James up to a mountain to pray. There His clothes turned dazzling white and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Then a voice came from the clouds saying, “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.”

The upper part of the Transfiguration (1520) b...
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This rosary meditation is on the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration.  In this mystery, Jesus took his apostles, Peter, John, and James up to a mountain to pray.  There His clothes turned dazzling white and Moses and Elijah appeared with Him.  Then a voice came from the clouds saying, “This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.”

In this mystery, Jesus reveals himself as being God made man.  This instance separates Jesus from the prophets of the Old Testament.  Yes, He performed miracles and preached God’s word, but so did the prophets.  The Old Testament is full of stories of people using the grace of God to perform miracles such as Moses parting the Red Sea.  But in the Transfiguration, Jesus shows that He is no mere prophet following God’s will, but He IS God’s will, God’s word, and God’s truth in human form.  I think this is why Moses and Elijah appeared next to Jesus; as if God was contrasting Himself with the prophets that came before Him.

God, Creator of all that exists and ever will exist, the ultimate truth, our final judge, the alpha and the omega, humbled Himself and came down to earth in a human form so that we may know Him personally.  God desires all of us to live in His grace and love and so He became man through Jesus Christ so that we may better understand His ways.  Our human minds cannot possibly understand God’s infinite complexity and He knows that.  So like an adult trying to explain a complex idea to a child, God revealed Himself in a very simple and direct way — by taking a form which people could see, hear, and touch.

God gave the apostles a very direct command to listen to Jesus.  And yet, after all they had seen and heard, they abandoned Jesus at His crucifixion.  Unfortunately, we continue to imitate the apostles’ behavior whenever we disobey God’s will and sin.  Imagine our arrogance to have received the word of God directly from Jesus and then deliberately disregard it because it conflicts with how we want to live or it seem too difficult.  We say we are followers of Christ, but when it comes time to humble ourselves to God’s will and accept Jesus’ teachings we often tell Him, “thanks, but no thanks.”  In the Transfiguration, God gave us very simple and direct order on how we are to obtain grace and that is to listen to His son, Jesus Christ.  And yet, each one of us can probably think of an instance where we refuse God’s grace through our words, thoughts, or actions.

So let us take a moment to remember the awesome gift God gave us through His son, Jesus Christ.  We should remember the gift of the Catholic Church starting with the first pope, St. Peter, who was there at the Transfiguration and later personally appointed by Jesus to lead His people.  God told us to listen to Jesus which means we should learn what the Church teaches so that we may know Him, follow Him, and love Him.  God gave us a tremendous gift by making Himself more accessible through Jesus.  We should pray for all of those who are wasting this precious gift by not following God’s will.  We must pray for a world that seems to have gone out of its way NOT to listen to God’s message.

God made Himself available to all of us through Jesus Christ.  The question is, do we make ourselves available to God by listening to Him?


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Rosary Meditation: The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation is The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery — The Crucifixion. After suffering through the scourging, being mocked with a crown of thorns, and carrying a cross, Jesus died alongside two criminals. Jesus’ crucifixion is the ultimate example that we are all called to follow God’s plan even in the face of great difficulty. As imitators of Christ, we cannot ignore or avoid God’s will when we find ourselves in difficult situations.

The Crucifix and Calvary (#109)
Image by Christopher Chan via Flickr

Today’s rosary meditation is The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery — The Crucifixion.  After suffering through the scourging, being mocked with a crown of thorns, and carrying a cross, Jesus died alongside two criminals.  People seeing Jesus on the cross were puzzled because He saved others, but couldn’t save Himself (Matthew 27:42).  They wanted Him to perform one more miracle so that they would believe in Him forgetting all the miracles He had already performed and that His largest miracle, conquering death and opening the gates of Heaven, was yet to come.

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.  Jesus, being the son of God, could have easily put an end to His suffering any time He wanted.  And yet, He suffered and died horribly.  Why?  Because Jesus practiced what He preached.  His entire ministry revolved around the principles of sacrifice, redemptive suffering, charity, forgiveness, and having faith in God’s plan for us.  And when the time came for His crucifixion, Jesus did not ignore His teachings in order to save his earthly body.   When Jesus taught that we must “take up our cross” in order to gain salvation, He knew full well those words also applied to Him.  Therefore,  as imitators of Christ, we cannot ignore or avoid God’s will when we find ourselves in difficult situations.

Jesus’ crucifixion, while extreme, highlights a situation we find ourselves in all the time.  How often do we try to ignore God’s plan for us because following it causes difficulty or suffering?  How many times do we feel the urge to tell a little lie in order to avoid punishment?  How much easier is it to drown ourselves in drugs or alcohol when times are difficult?  How much simpler is it to “go with the crowd” and not stick out even when the crowd is not living morally?  But God calls us to have faith in His plan despite our situation.  Jesus loved and forgave those who tortured or abandoned Him on the cross because God’s way is one of unconditional forgiveness.  We often try to make excuses for our shortcomings, but in the end we must understand that we are called to live as Jesus taught us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week without exception.   The last time I checked, Jesus did not say “love thy neighbor EXCEPT when he is really, really annoying.”

Let us recall those times in our lives when we did not follow God’s will because it seemed too difficult.  Let us remember when we ignored His plan out of fear of suffering and pray that we can show more resolve in the future.  May we remember that all earthly suffering is temporary and is a minuscule when compared to the infinite joy and happiness of Heaven we gain by following Christ.  It’s true that many people have a much tougher road and a much heavier cross to bear than others.  But we must have faith that God never gives us a larger burden than we can handle.  So we should pray, not only that we have find our innate strength to imitate Jesus’ unconditional love and sacrifice, but that others can find that same God-given, moral fortitude as well.

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