Pope Pius XII: Hitler’s Pope Debunked

Pope Pius XII is often regarded as “Hitler’s pope” because of his silence on the autocracies committed by the Nazis in WWII, particularly the Holocaust. However, the book Church of Spies presents a different side of the story where the Vatican’s silence was not born out of indifference or antisemitism, but one of strategy. In fact, letters and other documents cited in the book reveal that the Catholic Church was working covertly to protect not only Jewish people but anyone who found themselves in the cross-hairs of the Nazis.

To understand Pope Pius’ situation, you have to think like someone living in Hitler’s occupied Europe, not someone looking at the events 60 years after the fact. Imagine living in a world where international law was virtually non-existent and one of the world’s most powerful armies was controlled by a mad man.  Hitler needed very little motivation to destroy any institution that even hinted at challenging him. Would you, as the head of the Catholic Church, deliberately put all Catholics living in Germany and occupied Europe under the scrutiny of the Gestapo by delivering grand speeches denouncing the Nazis? Pius understood that the Church could best help people everywhere through covert action, not blustery speeches.

And so Church of Spies talks about the Church’s role mostly from the point of view of individuals within Germany — priests and lay people alike. It follows the Church’s role in coordinating some of the famous attempts to assassinate Hitler such as Operation Valkyrie. Yes, you heard correctly. The Vatican was aware and helped orchestrate some of the attempts to assassinate Hitler and broker a peaceful transition of power in Germany. The fact that Pope Pius’ involvement in subverting the Nazi regime was not well known and he is known more as a Nazi appeaser goes to show just how well the Vatican spy network was able to keep its cover in a time of intense scrutiny where anyone could be hauled away, tortured, and killed for the slightest hint of plotting against the Nazis.

As much as we love the idea of heroes publicly denouncing and actively fighting the bad guys, Church of Spies shows a Church that needed to be much more nuanced in an atmosphere of utter chaos. Remember, because the Catholic Church had dioceses throughout the world including within Nazi-controlled areas, it was best positioned to act as a spy network during WWII. They could provide intelligence on the Nazis within occupied countries that no other organization could.  The Church and the allies did not want to jeopardize this advantage by needlessly antagonizing Hitler.  This meant utilizing deception and secrecy, not brashness.

I highly suggest Church of Spies, especially if you are interested in WWII history. It will present to you a view of the war from a different, not very well known perspective. The book is well researched using letters, jounal entries, Vatican documents, and other historical documents. It’s not a dry retelling of facts but has a narrative worthy of any Hollywood screenplay. It’s engaging, suspenseful, and informative.  But don’t just take my word for it, check out the numerous awards and 5 star reviews this book has received on Amazon.

 

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Slow Down! — Rosary Prayer isn’t a Hot Dog Eating Contest

I read this article about the value of reading the Bible slowly and contemplatively. The author, David Mathis, compared meditating on the Bible to enjoying a well crafted meal as opposed to trying to scarf it down quickly like you’re in a hot dog eating contest. This article got me thinking that the same principle of meditative bible reading applies to rosary prayer and relates to what I wrote in my last post about finding happiness.

World-class eaters would never stuff themselves at top speed at every meal, but many of us are prone to come to Bible intake like we’re scarfing cheap hot dogs. When morning devotions are simply our first to-do of the day, and we set out simply to read a chapter, check a box, and complete the task, we end up putting ourselves through something more like a hot dog eating contest than an enjoyable, nourishing, life-giving meal.

You can basically replace the word “Bible” in the article with “rosary” and the overall message remains the same. This echoes what I said about how not understanding the why behind rosary prayer reduces it to a check box on your daily to-do list.

What I’m going to do going forward is really take my time praying the rosary and emphasize quality over quantity. I don’t think Mary sits all day on a cloud in Heaven with a clip board making notes on how many rosaries I complete. The rosary isn’t an all or nothing proposition where it doesn’t count if you don’t complete the entire rosary. After all, what does a complete rosary even mean? Five mysteries in a 24 hour period? Five mysteries in a single sitting? All 20 mysteries? The 15 original mysteries? The meaning of a whole rosary can vary greatly depending on the individual. So why race through a rosary to met some arbitrary standard?

English: A Discalced Carmelite nun sits in her...
English: A Discalced Carmelite nun sits in her cell, praying, meditating on the Bible. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m not saying that you should just give up praying the rosary or not set a goal of praying it. What I am asking is that you don’t water down your rosary praying by racing through it in order to meet that goal. I think Mary appreciates a single decade prayed earnestly over five decades prayed hastily. Some days you may manage a single decade. Other days you may have the energy and concentration for all 20 mysteries. The idea is to not go through the motions to reach a goal but also don’t stop just because you prayed a certain number of mysteries. It’s not like you or Mary are trying to meet some sort of monthly rosary quota. In short, use your rosary prayer time to its fullest by making the most of each prayer.

Did you just rattle off 10 Hail Marys while thinking about last night’s hockey game?  Stop!  Do it again.  Did you just completely forget what mystery you were praying?  Stop!  Take a break and come back when you have more focus.  Where is the downside to acknowledging that you actually weren’t praying for the last five minutes and trying again?  There is no downside if the purpose of your rosary prayer is to pray it earnestly, not to complete the loop.

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Praying with Pinterest

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Like writer’s block, sometimes I come down with a case of prayer’s block. Prayer’s block manifests itself in mindlessly reciting prayers without any real intention or focus. If you have ever prayed an entire decade of the rosary and upon coming to that gap in the chain you did not know what mystery you were praying, you encountered prayer’s block.

I recently discovered a great way combat prayer’s block.  Use Pinterest!  For those who do not know what Pinterest is, it’s a website that allows people to post images and videos on virtual “boards” that have a common theme.  It’s very popular for finding ideas for home decor, organization and storage ideas, DIY projects, arts and crafts, and recipes.  For example, if you want to find a creative way of serving margaritas at your next party, search for “margarita” and Pinterest will show you dozens of pictures of margaritas with links to the website where the image was used.

Welcome to Margaritaville

You can search for any rosary mystery or religious term like Virgin Mary, Rosary Meditation, Rosary Prayer, Catholic Prayer, etc. and see a wall of images.  Focus on those images as you pray the rosary.  They may help inspire new thoughts, meditations, and intentions.  They can help you remain focused on praying and make it more difficult for your mind to wander off.

The link back to the website the image appears on is the important part when it comes to combating prayer’s block.  If you can follow a picture of a margarita to a recipe, why not follow an image of the Virgin Mary to a prayer?  If you select an image on the board, there is a “Visit” button below it that will take you to the website.  Many times these images appear as part of a blog or article that is worth reading for prayer ideas.  If you find an article you like, maybe the author wrote more worth reading or bookmarking that website.  Maybe that website has links to similarly helpful sites.  Following just a few image links on Pinterest can greatly increase your resources if you are ever lacking for prayer ideas.

If you suffer from prayer’s block, give Pinterest (or the Christian themed copycat, Godinterest) a try.

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Lent Post Mortem

 

In software engineering it is common to have a post mortem upon completion of a large project.  A post mortem gives the team a chance to identify what went well and what went badly in the course of the project and investigate the root causes.  The idea is to continue doing what is good and avoid making the same mistakes in future projects.  I like to think of Lent as a large spiritual project that deserves its own post mortem.

When I look back at my Lent, here’s what I did right:

  • Received the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Listened to the Gospel nearly everyday
  • Prayed the rosary nearly everyday (okay, that’s not too different from my usual routine)
  • Fasted from alcohol, candy, and snacks during the day

What was less than ideal:

  • Did not attend any extra Masses or prayer services
  • Did not receive ashes on Ash Wednesday
  • While I did not snack during the day, I didn’t exactly show a lot of willpower in the evening.  So my fast was more like a delayed gratification on some days.

What did I learn?

  • Listening to the daily Gospel really fills in the story and teachings of Jesus that you don’t get only listening to the Sunday Gospel.  I started to better understand the buildup to Holy Week and how Jesus drew the ire of the Pharisees which led to his crucifixion.  I will try to continue reading/listening to the Gospel daily.
  • I should try to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often.
  • Since I abstained from snacks and treats on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I know I can make it the entire day without them.  I should put in more effort to fast from snacks throughout the year, not just on those two days.

Now it’s your turn.  What did you gain during this Lent?  Where did you fall short and do you plan on correcting any errors made during Lent in this Easter season?

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Rome Sweet Home

There is a saying that to truly understand a city you have to have lived in it for twenty years or two weeks. The two weeks part of that saying means that someone with a fresh set of eyes sees aspects of a city that locals have overlooked or just grown used to. I think the same idea applies to Catholicism. To truly understand the Catholic faith you have to have faithfully studied and practiced it for decades or be a recent convert. Recent converts usually see the beauty and understand the theological framework of the Church that cradle Catholics may overlook or take for granted.  For this article, I am going to write about a book I just finished which focuses on Catholicism through the eyes of recent converts.

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Want the book? Click on the image for purchasing options.

I just finished reading Rome Sweet Home which is the story of Scott and Kimberly Hahn.  Many of you may recognize those names because Scott often speaks on EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) about he and his wife’s conversion to Catholicism.  The book is a good read that takes you through their lives at devout and well educated Presbyterians to Scott’s conversion (to Kimberly’s anguish), and then Kimberly’s conversion.  It’s a fascinating read where each chapter first tells Scott’s story and ends with Kimberly’s take on the same events.  It almost reads like a mystery where Scott’s story often ends with some sort of cliffhanger which is later filled in by Kimberly’s story.

There are two aspects of the book that I’m going to touch on briefly.  First, I was amazed by the intellectual honesty Scott and Kimberly showed in their conversion process.  When confronted with information about the Catholic Church’s teaching on various subjects, Scott couldn’t escape how well reasoned they were and how much he agreed with them.  It would have been very easy for Scott to turn a blind eye to the Church’s teachings and return to the comfort of his protestant lifestyle.  But instead he kept digging; wanting to find the truth regardless of where it led him.  The more he read and discussed Catholicism to find that large logic gap to disprove it, the more he fell in love with it.

You have to admire that dedication to the finding truth.  Scott and Kimberly’s story should serve as an inspiration to us all in this season of Lent as we fast, pray, and meditate on finding truth in our lives.  Are you dedicated to finding and then living the truth?  Or will you turn a blind eye to the Church’s teaching when it throws up challenges or conflicts with societal norms?  When you pray the rosary, meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries and think about the giant price Jesus paid by not bending to the expectations of others.  Ask yourself whether you have truly dedicated yourself to the truth and the way Jesus is asking you to live.  That’s okay if you do not meet that high bar.  It is why we pray in the first place — to ask God for the strength to seek out and live according to His Will, not ours.

The second aspect of the book which touched me was how deeply the Hahn’s longed for Eucharist after their conversation.  They appreciate the power of this great gift from God.  They were dismayed about how casually many Catholics receive Communion.  They reasoned that many people truly do not understand who they are receiving in the Eucharist.  Otherwise they would approach it with far more reverence and also a profound joy.  I guess it takes a lifetime as a protestant with the host being just a wafer to truly stand in awe of receiving Jesus in the Eucharist.

Girl receiving first Holy Communion, Sicily
Girl receiving first Holy Communion, Sicily (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we continue our Lenten prayers and fasting, meditate on the Fifth Luminous Mystery, The Institution of the Eucharist.  Ask God for the faith to see the Eucharist like someone receiving Him for the first time.  Imagine being a recent convert where you have gone your entire life denying your soul of that spiritual banquet of the Eucharist and now you are finally able to celebrate.  So deep should our joy of the Eucharist be whether we have received it a few times or thousands of times.  We pray for those going through RCIA as we lead up to their full membership in the Catholic Church this Easter.  And finally, pray for those who receive communion without truly understanding what it is, especially if they receive it with mortal sins on their souls.

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Your Post Walk for Life Game Plan

March For Life 2009
March For Life 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Walk for Life came and went on both coasts and put up impressive numbers. 50,000+ people walked on the West Coast while tens of thousands braved blizzard conditions on the East Coast (in past years the east coast saw 250,000+ people in better weather). The number of people from all different backgrounds attending these events is something to be proud of. But these marches are only a start. After all, the last time I checked, the Constitution did not mention anything about voting via marches. I’m going to suggest some next steps we can all take to further the pro-life movement.

First and foremost, since this is a blog on the rosary, we should turn to prayer. Our actions are much more powerful when we start by asking God for His advice and guidance. Prayer, especially the rosary, can be thought of as calibrating our spiritual instrumentation to make sure our actions are actually following God’s Will and promoting His kingdom.

I came across this website started by Cardinal Burke where he invites us to join Operation Storm Heaven. The quick synopsis is:

During this Holy Year of Mercy, let us join Cardinal Burke in a spiritual crusade to storm Heaven with prayers to dispel confusion and: bring Hope to souls and minds throughout America and the world; provide spiritual support in the struggle against the temptations of discouragement; to protect our families and our Faith; to stop the advance of evil in our society; and to flood souls with Grace and Light and Truth.

The goal is to have 1 million+ Catholics praying the rosary on the first of each month. I would hope that as loyal RosaryMeds readers that you’re already praying the rosary much more frequently so remembering to pray on the first of each month should be no problem.

What does Cardinal Burke mean by confusion?  Consider this quote from the pro-abortion poster child, Nancy Pelosi.  “I’m with the program in terms of the Catholic Church,” she said as reported by LifeSite News when speaking about abortion.  Now think of how ill-informed people may read that and think that there is some moral wiggle room when it comes to abortion as well as other moral topics (Pope Francis’ off the cuff comments don’t help).  This is the type of misinformation we are up against and requires every Hail Mary you can muster to combat it.

English: Nancy Pelosi photo portrait as Speake...
If God has a plan everyone, He’s sure taking His sweet time with the one for Nancy Pelosi.

I encourage all of you to read and sign the petition to drop the charges against David Daleiden, one of the people behind the videos that exposed Planned Parenthood’s selling of aborted baby tissue. He’s being charged with trying to buy the baby tissue and yet Planned Parenthood isn’t being charged with selling it. Evidently the Houston grand jury that indicted Daleiden never read the pro-abortion manual about being subtle when being hypocritical.

David Daleiden made these undercover videos for The Center for Medical Progress which has been fending off Planned Parenthood’s lawyers since they released them.  In essence, they are fighting every pro-abortion politician in the federal government who are beholden or at least sympathetic to Planned Parenthood.  Since it is doubtful the CMP is going to get a fair day in court, I encourage you to make a donation to their legal fund.

Finally, keep this in mind.  Congress was able to pass a bill to defund Planned Parenthood of your federal tax dollars (something to the tune of a half billion dollars).  President Obama naturally vetoed the bill.  If we had a pro-life president then we would have struck a major blow against the abortion industry.  As we enter the primaries, keep that in mind as you cast your vote.  The next Congress and president may actually listen the the pro-life crowd and defund Planned Parenthood and maybe even change the makeup of the Supreme Court.  But that can only happen if we make it happen.

Your pro-life action plan:

  1. Pray and join Operation Storm Heaven.
  2. Sign the petition supporting David Daleiden
  3. Make a donation to the Center for Medical Progress
  4. Consider the pro-life credentials of those you vote into office

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God Must Come First!

Love
Love (Photo credits: PB Teen)

What’s more important, serving God or serving each other?   points out in his article on The Remnant that over the last few decades the Church’s focus has shifted from loving God first to primarily loving our fellow brothers and sisters.  It’s not that we have to choose one or the other.  We are called to do both.  But it is a matter of priority and focus.  If you accept the premise that Catholic Church has shifted its priorities in the last few generations, ask yourself whether that has strengthened or weakened the Church.  Have we veered from what Jesus taught and what has made the Church strong over the centuries?  Patrick Archbold thinks so and believes much of the weakness of faith within the Church has to do with this shift.  I encourage you to read his article in full.  The focus of this article will be on the rosary (naturally).  Let’s look at what some of the rosary mysteries teach us about loving God vs. loving our fellow humans.

Look at the order of the first and second Joyful Mysteries of the rosary.  In the Annunciation, we see Mary putting God first by accepting his plan for her.  We then see in the Visitation Mary going out and helping her cousin Elizabeth.  Notice the order?  Okay, there is the fact that chronologically, the Annunciation did precede the Visitation.  But there is also a spiritual significance in the order as well.  When we pray the rosary we meditate first on the love of God as seen in the Annunciation and then the love for our fellow brothers and sisters as represented in the Visitation.  In putting our love for God first, we receive his grace and can therefore more fully serve each other just as Mary does in the Joyful Mysteries.

On to the First Sorrowful Mystery.  Jesus fears his upcoming arrest and crucifixion.  But he prays to God asking God to first find another way he could redeem the world but also submits to God’s Will.  Jesus shows his primary love for God by acknowledging God’s authority and humbly submitting to his plan.  Later, when he’s arrested, Jesus tells his apostles, who were ready to defend him, to stand down.  While Jesus loved his apostles and his apostles loved him, Jesus puts his life not in their hands, but into God’s hands.  Again, we see the model Jesus asks us to follow — serve according to God’s Will first.

Finally, take a look at the Third Luminous Mystery.  Jesus preaches that we should all convert our ways to God’s ways.  We are called to live first for the Kingdom of Heaven.  Note that Jesus did not tell us to solely live for the Kingdom of Heaven and forsake our responsibilities and others in this world.  But it is a matter of priority — desiring God’s kingdom must come first.  And from that desire, not only for ourselves but for others, we better help our fellow brothers and sisters to also come to live in God’s grace.

I will leave you with a quotation from the Council of Trent that Patrick Archbold cites in his article as I think it sums up nicely why the love of God needs to come before our love for our fellow humans.

“Moreover, no honor, no piety, no devotion can be rendered to God sufficiently worthy of Him, since love of Him admits of infinite increase. Hence our charity should become every day more fervent towards Him, who commands us to love Him with our whole heart, our whole soul, and with all our strength. The love of our neighbor, on the contrary, has its limits, for the Lord commands us to love our neighbor as ourselves. To outstep these limits by loving our neighbor as we love God would be an enormous crime.” —Catechism of Trent, Part 3, Chapter 5, Question 5

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12 Ways to be a Better Catholic in 2016

Welcome to 2016!  I know many of us have already formulated a list of resolutions to accomplish in this new year.  Personally, I know that I need to continue reading the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I made it through Part I in 2015 and I hope that I will at least read Part II this year.

I believe becoming a better Catholic should be on everyone’s “todo” list this year.  And I’m not talking about having some sort of abstract and vague goal, but to actually formulate an action plan.  The Catholic Exchange provided a great list of steps you can take to become a better Catholic in the new year.  While the article focuses on becoming a committed Catholic man, there is nothing in the article that doesn’t apply to women as well.

I encourage you to read the full article but for the “too long; didn’t read” crowd, here’s the summary.

  1. Develop a rousing case for why Jesus Christ is your King
  2. Commit to be a Saint of Christ the King
  3. Go to Reconciliation at least once a month
  4. Pray for 15 minutes every day
  5. Discover the majestic manliness of the Mass
  6. Participate in Sunday Mass + 1
  7. Pray the Rosary regularly and carry the Rosary with you
  8. Get to know your Patron Saint and Guardian Angel
  9. Read Holy Scripture for 15 minutes each day
  10. Be a priest, prophet and king in your home
  11. Build a brotherhood with other Catholic men in your parish
  12. Commit to tithing and begin to work toward it


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5 Ways to Become a Happier Person

Evenings in my household are busy.  We have a kitchen to clean, toys to pick up, books to read, pajamas to put on, teeth to brush, prayers to say, milk to warm up, and boys to put to bed who don’t always go quietly into the night.  So it’s no doubt that my wife and our savor the time between when the house is finally settled and we fall asleep.  And how to we savor it?  By sitting in bed with both of us staring at our smartphones.  And then we complain that there just isn’t any time to relax and talk.

English: lonely, unhappiness sp: tristeza, des...

Evidently we’re not the only ones substituting conversation for screen time.  I came across this article, 5 reasons why Americans are unhappy, that really hit a nerve.  Americans live in the most prosperous country in what is probably the easiest time in the history of the world.  And yet many of us find ourselves constantly unhappy.  Here is what some financial experts have to say are the causes.

  1. We are zoning out with gadgets — This lowers our emotional cognition and our ability to relate with one another.
  2. 50% of people feel stressed — We stress about the wrong things — missing a green light, less than ideal weather, or someone’s post on Facebook.
  3. Lifestyles of the rich and famous — We get a constant stream through TV and social networks of others living glamorous lives making us depressed and jealous.
  4. There are no siestas in the U.S. — We just work long hours without many vacations.
  5. Many Americans are unhealthy — This is almost a result of the previously mentioned unhappiness causes.  We just aren’t eating healthy because we are tired, stressed, and depressed.

Looking at the list above one thing becomes quite clear to me.  This unhappiness is something we bring upon ourselves.  It is a self-inflicted wound that we make worse either by trying to ignore it or by inflicting more wounds in different ways.  Fortunately, there are ways to counter these habits which lead to unhappiness.  And yes, this is where the rosary comes into play.

  1. Don’t zone out on gadgets.  Smartphones are great tools, but they aren’t everything.  It’s fine to watch a movie or read an article when you’re waiting alone for a train.  But the movie can wait when you have an opportunity to actually talk to a human being like a parent, spouse, sibling, or friend.  Or better yet, squeeze in a rosary decade or two to center yourself.
  2. Feeling stressed?  Try prayer and rosary meditation.  There are so many studies showing the benefits of rest and meditation on the brain.  And as I’ve said many times, praying the rosary helps keeps life’s challenges in perspective.  Pray regularly and you’ll start to see some of the triggers of unhappiness as being rather silly.
  3. Acknowledge that what you mostly see on TV and social media is a heavily edited highlight reel of people’s lives.  While you may see a new vacation picture from a friend every day, keep in mind that most of your friends are just doing “normal” things like you — work, kids, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.  You just aren’t seeing that.  Does your Facebook feed still get you down?  Turn it off.  Trust me, the world won’t come to a crashing halt because you didn’t like someone’s posted picture.
  4. Need a break?  You may not have the luxury of going on vacation or reducing your work hours.  You may not get much of a break from family and household chores.  But that just means you need to make the most of the down time you do have.  Again, try spending some of that time praying and meditating.  It does help put your life and priorities in perspective.  And maybe this is the software engineer in me, but also look to optimize, automate, and schedule.  Auto pay bills, set up email filters, and try to minimize the time needed on routine chores (visit Lifehacker as they have great ideas).  One thing that makes people stressed is that they focus on the work that is yet to be done.  Guess what?  THERE IS ALWAYS WORK TO BE DONE!  Don’t try to aim your happiness metric at a life free of work.  Instead, plan and schedule your work and spread it out.
  5. Eating healthier is a matter of education and self control.  But it’s also a result of working on other aspects of your health like sleep, workload, and stress.  I don’t think you can achieve a healthy diet if you don’t address these other aspects.  But also approach eating like you approach exercise.  The goal of exercise is to push yourself — one more push up, just another quarter mile, an extra rep.  Food can be treated the same way — another hour without a snack, an apple instead of a cookie, going for a walk outside instead of walking to the breakroom.  One way I combat unhealthy eating choices is to say a small prayer when I’m hungry and see an unhealthy snack.  I tell God that instead of satisfying my hunger with a guilty pleasure, I’m going to satisfy my soul with His grace.

English: Happy face

Happiness and unhappiness are conscious choices we make dozens of times every day.  Since they are choices, we have to educate and condition ourselves to make the ones that lead to happiness.  When we incorporate the rosary into our lives we do gain that insight on putting all of life’s challenges into perspective.  We also ask and receive help from our Mother Mary, the Holy Spirit, the dearly departed, the saints, and angels to find ways to increase happiness regardless of what the world throws our way.

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5 Ways to Keep the Cross in Christianity

I came across this article on Catholic Exchange about how there are many in the Church who want to free Christianity from the cross. And yet, this article makes a good point about how you can’t separate the cross from Christianity because you can’t separate Jesus from the cross. Or, as the article puts it, “There simply cannot be a joyful Easter without there first being a Good Friday.”

The article says that the Church faces a lot of enemies within:

Sadly, at the very highest levels of the Church, there are men who are opposed to the Gospel of Christ. They despise the cross and they want a Christianity free from it. They want a Catholicism sanitized of sacrifice, of repentance, of dying to self, of carrying one’s cross to follow Christ. They want an easy religion—a religion that accommodates us in our sin, that pats us on the back and assures us that everything will be ok, a faith that requires nothing of us.

To create this crossless religion, they believe they must change the Church and her immutable teachings. All their thought is bent upon it, and they are currently using every machination in their power to accomplish their aim. Perhaps their chief method is to question what is settled—to whisper like the serpent of old, “Did God really mean what he said?”

This article seems timely given that the Synod on the Family is taking place. I know that Pope Francis has asked everyone not to politicize the Synod. But I still can’t help but wonder who is more passionate at this point in history — those who want to remove the cross or those who seek to preserve it? I know that preserving the cross won’t make you the most popular. But neither are needles and scalpels and you don’t see doctors giving those up.

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“Let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”

The article ends with 4 ways we can keep the cross, and hence our salvation, alive and not be deceived by those who wish to remove it. Here is the summary:

  1. Learn and embrace the teachings and traditions of the Church
  2. Receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist
  3. Stay close to Mary in prayer
  4. Pray and sacrifice

When looking at this list, I can’t help but think about the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the rosary — Mary’s Assumption into Heaven. As I wrote about in The Rosary for the Rest of Us, God set aside a special place for Mary, not just in her earthly lifetime but in ours as well. She has appeared throughout the ages giving us advice and tools with the promise of eternal joy to those who use them.  I think Mary’s guidance can be summed up in some simply, yet important, tasks which mirror what was offered in the Catholic Exchange article:

  1. Pray — How can you have a close relationship with Jesus if you don’t take the time to talk to him?
  2. Read the Bible and other Church teachings — How can you love and embrace your faith if you don’t take the time to learn it?
  3. Fast — How can you love God with your whole being if that being is constantly attached to earthly pleasures?
  4. Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation — How can you remain close to God with a barrier of sin between you two?
  5. Receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist — How can you love and embrace the Catholic Church without receiving her cornerstone sacrament?

English: The statue of the Assumption venerate...

When you pray the Fourth Glorious Mystery, remember to integrate these five tasks into your routine. Doing so will not only remind you about the importance of the cross but also embrace it. As Jesus commanded, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Jesus didn’t make the cross optional. It’s as fundamental to our spiritual life as air and water are to our physical one. Following these routines will remind you of the cross’ importance and not let you be deceived by those who wish to whitewash it out of Christianity.

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