Did the Shepherd Leave His Flock?

While I’m still taking a summer sabbatical to finish my book I thought I should write an article on an important topic.  This past week we learned that a popular Catholic theologian, Father John Corapi, decided to leave the priesthood after being accused of misconduct three months ago.  When the accusations became public he was placed on administrative leave while Church officials investigated the validity of the claims.  However, although the claims have not been verified or dismissed, Father Corapi decided to leave the priesthood so he could serve a wider audience instead of being stuck in priestly limbo.  His decision did not sit well with many people including myself.  I think about all my posts on the Catholic Answers Forums where I referred to one of his talks.  I think about the hours I spent listening to him on EWTN radio.  Was all that time wasted on a false messenger?

Someone leaving the priesthood, while rare, is not unprecedented.  But Father Corapi leaving the priesthood leaves me with mixed feelings.  If you ever listened to his lectures you probably heard him talk about sacrifice, redemptive suffering, and how we just can’t quit when fighting the good fight.  He talked about the power of God’s grace and the sacraments.  And yet, what are we to conclude when Father Corapi decided to leave the priesthood after three months of administrative leave?  How much did the priesthood mean to him if he could leave it so easily?  It seems like he should have listened to some of his own lectures on perseverance.  Compare him to priests that keep their vows despite persecution or the ones that became martyrs because they would not abandon their calling when times became tough.  So when Father Corapi threw in the towel while the Church was in the early stages of its investigation it makes me wonder how much weight I should give to his teachings.

When I start to have doubts about the validity of Father Corapi’s teachings given recent events I recall one of the more important tenants of the Catholic faith.  God’s truth does not rely on the faithfulness or the state of grace of His messengers. While we are flawed and can fall into sin that does not impact that validity of God’s Word.  Although John Corapi decided to leave the priesthood we must remember that many of his teachings about the Catholic faith remain true because they come directly from Church doctrine.  You cannot deny Church doctrine or history regardless of how you feel about the person making the statements.  This division is what makes the Catholic Church so special in that while the Church, as an institution run by humans may fail at times, God’s truth that underlies that institution remains solid and unchanged.

And so, while I do not agree with Father Corapi’s decision to leave the priesthood, I will not disregard or ignore what he taught about the Catholic faith.  God has always chosen imperfect messengers to spread His word.  I hope that one day I will still be able to hear one of Father Corapi’s lectures on EWTN after the dust settles from the events of these past few months.  It’s a shame that future generations may miss Father Corapi’s strong voice and unambiguous stance on Church doctrine.  We should pray, not only for him, but for all priests who face difficult challenges in their vocation.  The Third Glorious Mystery of the rosary is perfect for priestly intentions since priests are powered by the same Holy Spirit that gave the apostles strength to do God’s will at Pentecost.  May priests everywhere have the strength to continue doing God’s work and fight the good fight.

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Gospel for May 8, 2011 — Awareness

Man and woman (holding her child) walking by t...
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The Gospel for Sunday, May 8 is from Luke 24:13-35 where some disciples of Jesus met Him on the road to Jerusalem but did not recognize Him.  They did not realize Jesus was with them until He ate with them and broke bread similar to what He did at the Last Supper.  Only then did they realize how foolish they were that they did not recognize Jesus in their presence.  Likewise, when we pray the rosary Jesus is in our presence both listening to us and trying to guide us to His kingdom of Heaven.  But often we do not recognize Jesus’ presence in our prayers or in our lives.

This Sunday’s Gospel follows the same theme as last week’s in that it shows that all too often we look for God in our lives in all the wrong places.  Last week Thomas the apostle had so little faith he would not recognize Jesus’ resurrection until he saw Jesus face to face.  And now in this week’s Gospel two of Jesus’ disciples did not recognize Jesus although they were walking and talking with Him.  They did not see Jesus despite the fact that He explained all the scriptures and the teachings of the prophets explaining His death and resurrection.  And yet they still did not recognize Him.  We too often fail to recognize Jesus in our lives although His truth is all around us.

I touched on this briefly when discussing Doubting Thomas and how we do not always take those telling the truth seriously.  In this case I mean the truth of Jesus Christ as taught through the Catholic Church.  We hear this truth all the time whether it be during Mass, in the Catechism or Bible, Papal decrees, or simply the Church’s traditions that have been practiced for centuries.  We hear them and yet we so often do not follow them because we do not think of them as Jesus’ teachings.  We hear them as the thoughts and opinions of fellow humans much like the disciples in the Gospel thought that Jesus was just some normal traveler.  And so we do not give the Church’s teachings the consideration they deserve and go about living counter to its teachings.  Would you argue about abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, contraception, and human cloning if you stood face to face with Jesus?  Probably not.  So why do we so readily argue with His Church and disobey His teachings?  Are we like the disciples in the Gospel who discovered how foolish they were for not recognizing Jesus in their presence?

We should remember this Gospel reading when we pray the Third Luminous Mystery of the rosary and remember Jesus’ proclamation of Heaven and His call to conversion.  Really meditate this week on the areas in your life where you do not hear Jesus through the Church’s teachings and challenge yourself to learn what Jesus is trying to tell you through His Church.  You will probably not be converted in some of your beliefs overnight.  But just researching what the Church really believes and teaches and humbling yourself to the possibility that there might be areas of your life where you have not let the Holy Spirit guide you is a huge step in the right direction.  There is no doubt that questioning your deeply held beliefs is hard especially if Jesus leads you in a direction that runs counter to popular opinion.  But the Third Luminous Mystery points out that we need to choose whether to live for God’s kingdom or our earthly kingdom.  Do you see that Jesus walks beside you every day and is trying to lead you down the right path or are you too wrapped up in living solely for what this world has to offer?

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Remember the Rosary

October is Mary’s month and so the Catholic Church is particularly interested in spreading knowledge of the holy rosary. Since this is a Catholic blog site, I want to do my part and share with you some thoughts on the importance and power of the rosary. But why listen to me when you can read about the rosary from people who understand it infinitely better.

Rosary
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October is Mary’s month and so the Catholic Church is particularly interested in spreading knowledge of the holy rosary.  Since this is a Catholic blog site, I want to do my part and share with you some thoughts on the importance and power of the rosary.  But why listen to me when you can read about the rosary from people who understand it infinitely better.

On October 6, Pope Benedict, in his general audience, said that the rosary was a “simple but efficient prayer” and “a spiritual weapon for each of us.”  Upon reading this I couldn’t help but think of my article on the Hail Mary as our spiritual push up.  Like the push up, the rosary is an incredibly simple prayer in its design.  However, its simplicity is what makes it so powerful in that anyone can pray it.  Since anyone can pray it, anyone can communicate with God and receive His graces.

The rosary is also a weapon in that praying it defends us and others from the evils of satan.  Think about it.  When you are praying the rosary earnestly, you are communicating with God and not engaging in any sinful behavior even if it is just for a short time.  For many, it is about as close to God as we can possibly get throughout the day as we are distracted or busy in so many other ways (work, home, family, friends, etc.).  But even a precious few minutes spent praying the rosary can give you enough strength to resist evil and live according to God’s plan for us.

On October 8, Bishop Jorge Luis Lona of San Luis, Argentina praised rosary prayer because  of its “repetitive rhythm of praise and supplication, like a sort of spiritual breathing.”  This really drives home the idea that praying the rosary gets us into a spiritual state similar to how an athletes “get into the zone” and enter a deeper state of focus and concentration.  Breathing is something we do without thinking — it is just something that comes naturally to us.  Similarly, once we really dive into praying the rosary regularly, living in a constant state of prayer, like the Good Samaritan, becomes second nature to us.  It takes practice to get the most out of the rosary.  You may not feel its benefits the first few times you pray it, but every saint in Heaven will tell you just how powerful the rosary is and how it can help bring you into God’s grace.

The bishop went on to say, “God gives us an immense aid. In order to be able to recognize and receive His gifts, He teaches us to practice praise and supplication.”  Let’s take the bishop’s words to heart and take advantage of this great tool.  We have about half of October left.  If you haven’t done so already, give daily rosary prayer a try.  Priests, bishops, popes, and saints all say that it is one of our best tools in achieving holiness.  How many other endorsements do you need?

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Pope Says Mary is a Source of Strength

On his visit to Palermo, Sicily, Pope Benedict and 30,000 others prayed to the Virgin Mary for strength and support. The Catholic News Agency followed the story: He asked Our Lady to give people “courage in trials, hope in difficulties and renewed impetus to do good.”

palermo sicily
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On his visit to Palermo, Sicily, Pope Benedict and 30,000 others prayed to the Virgin Mary for strength and support.  The Catholic News Agency followed the story:

He asked Our Lady to give people “courage in trials, hope in difficulties and renewed impetus to do good.”

I find the Pope’s use of the word “trial” interesting given Mary’s September message at Medjugorje.  In the September 2 message She offers Her assistance in our trials in life.  We should all be mindful that Mary and the saints’ greatest desire is for us to live in God’s grace and eventually in His kingdom of Heaven.  All we have to do is have the courage to ask for their help and the will to follow it.

Pope Benedict also mentioned Anna Maria Adorni and her devotion to praying the holy Catholic rosary and called us to remember that October is Mary’s month:

The Holy Father prayed that the “daily meditation of the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the ‘praying Virgin’, might fortify us all in faith, hope and charity.”

In the spirit of Mary’s month, try to make it priority to pray the rosary every day.  Even if you cannot pray an entire mystery, try to set aside five minutes to pray a decade.  When our eternal souls are at stake, is five minutes too much to set aside for God?

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Knowing Your Facts

Read this article, “Ten Facts Most Catholics Don’t Know (But Should!).” There is some pretty interesting (although heated at times) debate in the article’s comments. This article reminds me of something I said in a previous article on Lent that to succeed in our endeavours (sports, business, personal faith, etc.) you need to understand the rules of the game. Enjoy!

Holy Mass
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I read this story on Catholic Exchange and then heard an interview on ETWN radio by the author, Gary Zimak.  Gary was a “Mass once a week only” Catholic before he had some medical difficulties.  That was a turning point in his life where he decided to learn more about the Catholic faith and educate others.  He’s not a priest and does not hold a theology degree.  He is just someone who got really excited about learning and teaching the faith.  Wanting to explore my faith and share it with others was one of the main reasons why I started rosaryMeds.  So Gary’s story really hit home.  Maybe one of these days EWTN will interview me about rosaryMeds!

Read his article, “Ten Facts Most Catholics Don’t Know (But Should!).”  Also, there is some pretty interesting (although heated at times) debate in the article’s comments.  This article reminds me of something I said in a previous article on Lent that to succeed in our endeavours (sports, business, personal faith, etc.) you need to understand the rules of the game.  Enjoy!

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Flash of Genius or Insanity?

In this article I take a look at the movie, “Flash of Genius,” and how it relates to many mysteries of the rosary. Even non-religious movies can offer great insight into the Catholic faith and provide some ideas for deeper rosary meditation. Beware, this article has movie spoilers.

In this article I take a look at the movie, “Flash of Genius,” and how it relates to many mysteries of the rosary.  Even non-religious movies can offer great insight into the Catholic faith and provide some ideas for deeper rosary meditation.  Beware, this article has movie spoilers.

The other night my wife and I rented the movie “Flash of Genius.”  It tells the true story of Robert Kearns, the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper for automobiles only to have his idea stolen by the Ford motor company.  Kearns, over a twelve-year court battle, successfully sued Ford and earned recognition for his invention.

Please watch the trailer to the movie as it relates to the rest of the article:

According to the trailer, this looks like a classic “David vs. Goliath” tale.  You would think the movie portrays a family coming together to invent something very practical and ingenious.  They then need to work together and fight a huge corporation that stole their idea.  Through a lot of hard work and sacrifice they eventually win the lawsuit.  Sounds pretty rosy right?  However, the trailer leaves out a lot of the dark undertones that run throughout the film.  Actually, the movie presents a man who obsesses over the fact that someone took credit for his invention and pursues justice at all costs.  In pursuing this quest to get recognition for his work, Kearns alienates his friends and family.  His wife cannot handle the stress of the lawsuit and his refusal to settle with Ford.  She ends up leaving him and takes their six children (the movie does not say whether they got divorced).  At the end of the movie, after winning the lawsuit, a now gray-haired and frail Kearns reflects on how winning the case will never give him back the last twelve years of his life.  Unlike other movies where the audience feels happy when the main character wins in the end, this movie ends with a sense of hollowness since Kearns wins his case at a huge personal cost.

What does “Flash of Genius” have to do with the rosary and faith?  I think the movie is a great example on how sometimes we let our earthly pursuits distract us from living in God‘s grace by following His will.  Even when our pursuits are noble they can still lead us to act in ways that run counter to our faith.  In the movie, Kearns asks what type of example he would be if he just let someone get away with theft.  I ask, what type of example is someone who destroys his marriage and family to pursue recognition for an invention?  I’m not saying that Kearns should not have fought for what was right but he should have kept his lawsuit in perspective.  He basically made defending his invention more important than honoring his marriage and family.  This is an extreme example of what we do all the time which is put our earthly desires in front of our Heavenly ones.  Because Heaven, our souls, and the after life are such hard concepts to grasp we often settle for lesser goals such as wealth, fame, comfort, or earthly power.  But living solely for those fleeting prizes will not earn us more grace in God’s eyes and in the end won’t amount to any true happiness either in this life or the next.

Kearns’ situation in the movie reminds me of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.  I’m reminded about how unfairly the Pharisees, Jews, and Romans treated Jesus.  However, Jesus bore all that pain and suffering because it was God’s will.  In the Agony in the Garden, Jesus asked God to spare Him the suffering and crucifixion if possible.  However, He also said that it wasn’t His will, but God’s will that would be done.  And sometimes, pursuing God’s will can lead to unpleasant situations in our lives.  Living our faith does not mean we will always be treated fairly.  But our faith does give us a road map on how to live when others treat us badly.  It is not to pursue retribution or justice at all costs.  Jesus, even though his suffering and death showed us to love and forgive those who mistreat us.  How we act when the world treats us unfairly is the true test of our faith.  Faith is having the ability to say “yes” to God even if it will make life more difficult or means that you will give up some worldly benefit.  Living our faith may not always be easy but it is the only way to achieve lasting happiness.

I enjoyed “Flash of Genius” as a movie.  It was well made and the actors put on a good performance.  And while it was a much darker movie than what the trailers would have you believe, it was a good rental.  But it served more as a reminder of how shallow life’s little victories can be when they are solely centered on earthly pursuits.  The next time you pray the rosary ask yourself, for whose kingdom are you living?  God’s kingdom of Heaven or your kingdom on earth?

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Medjugorje Messages — May, 2010

Mary’s message at Medjugorje on May 2, 2010: “Dear children; Today, through me, the good Father calls you to, with your soul filled with love, set out on a spiritual visitation. Dear children, be filled with grace, sincerely repent for your sins and yearn for the good. Yearn also in the name of those who have not come to know the perfection of the good. You will be more pleasing to God. Thank you.

Inmaculada Concepción
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Sorry for the long absence, but May was a crazy month for me.  I didn’t have a lot of time to sit down and write posts and my computer was not readily available.  I’m bundling both of Mary‘s messages for May into one posting.

Mary’s message at Medjugorje on May 2, 2010:

“Dear children; Today, through me, the good Father calls you to, with your soul filled with love, set out on a spiritual visitation. Dear children, be filled with grace, sincerely repent for your sins and yearn for the good. Yearn also in the name of those who have not come to know the perfection of the good. You will be more pleasing to God. Thank you.

The phrase, “spiritual visition,” recalls the Second Joyful Mystery of Mary visiting Her cousin, Elizabeth, and sharing the good news.  Like the message in the Visitation, Mary asks us to not only live a good and holy life, but to share that holiness with others.  She asks us to bring Jesus’ love to those who need it most — “those who have not come to know the perfection of the good.”  As I said before, we must remember the “lost souls” in our lives and pray hard that they will come to know the goodness of Jesus Christ and His Church.

Mary’s message at Medjugorje on May 25, 2010:

Dear children! God gave you the grace to live and to defend all the good that is in you and around you, and to inspire others to be better and holier; but Satan, too, does not sleep and through modernism diverts you and leads you to his way. Therefore, little children, in the love for my Immaculate Heart, love God above everything and live His commandments. In this way, your life will have meaning and peace will rule on earth. Thank you for having responded to my call.

This seems very similar to Her May 2nd message.  Again, this message not only focuses on each one of us personally living a holy life, but inspiring others to also become better people by embracing Jesus’ message.  Why must we do this?  Mary says that Satan is also on the prowl trying to bring people down with him into misery and despair.  We live in a time where people, even many in the Chuch, don’t like to think about Satan and the idea of absolute evil.  But Mary reminds us that we must act and bring people into God’s grace because, if we do not, Satan is always there to fill the void.  I will leave you with this thought from Edmund Burke who I think summarizes this idea nicely:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

I find it very interesting that Mary points to “modernism” as one of Satan’s tool.  What exactly does She mean?  When I think of modernism, I think of it mainly in terms of rejecting thoughts, teachings, and institutions that are viewed as old and outdated.  You will easily find plenty of examples of modernist ideas in the media trying to show that the Catholic Church is an old, outdated institution with rules and practices that have no use in today’s world.  But the Church and Her teachings are one of the primary ways Satan is kept in check.  God’s grace, though the Church, strengthens people against the powers of the devil.  So it makes sense that Satan would embrace any idea that diminishes the power of the Church so that his power and influence will increase.  Mary asks us not to forget about the Church and Her teachings, but to love God and keep His commandments.  Despite what current modernists would have you believe, we are in more need of the Church today more than ever to combat the increasing influence of Satan and his minions.

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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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Lenten “Weight” Loss Program

Welcome to the middle of Lent! I hope it has been a good season for you to really examine and work on your relationship with God. I came across this article on Catholic Exchange and thought it correlated nicely with my idea of spiritual exercise.

Welcome to the middle of Lent!  I hope it has been a good season for you to really examine and work on your relationship with God.  I came across this article on Catholic Exchange and thought it correlated nicely with my idea of spiritual exercise.  From the article:

Let’s face it, we are all weighed down to some extent by selfishness and assorted vices.  Given a choice, very few of us will choose suffering over comfort.  Many times, we don’t even realize how much we love to be comfortable.  Fortunately, the Church gives us the season of Lent to examine our souls and remove the extra “weight” that keeps us apart from the Lord.  Here are five simple steps that you can use during Lent to identify and eliminate some of this excess “poundage” from your life.

The article discusses examining ourselves, setting goals, and not giving up.  Where have we seen this before?  Oh yeah, losing Lenten “weight” can probably be seen as a requirement on becoming a Lenten Superstar!  And if this Lent hasn’t been a period of deep reflection like you hope it would, don’t worry.  You still have three more weeks of Lent.  And like Jesus‘ parable of the workers in the field, God doesn’t care what time you get on board and follow Him just as long as you do.

So let’s attack these next few weeks with spiritual fervor and tenacity.  Hands in… READY… GO LENT!

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Rosary Meditation — The Fourth Joyful Mystery

This rosary meditation focuses on The Fourth Joyful Mystery — The Presentation of our Lord. In this mystery we see Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the temple as was the Jewish tradition. They encountered a man named Simeon whom the Holy Spirit said would not experience death until he had seen the Anointed One. Upon seeing Jesus, Simeon said “Now Master, You can dismiss Your servant in peace; You have fulfilled Your word” (Luke 2:29). Simeon is an example on how our faith requires patience, endurance, and moral fortitude. While there are times when we may not feel God’s presence in our lives our faith tells us that He is always near and always hears our prayers.

La Présentation de Jésus au Temple
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This rosary meditation focuses on The Fourth Joyful Mystery — The Presentation of our Lord.  In this mystery we see Mary and Joseph present Jesus at the temple as was the Jewish tradition.  They encountered a man named Simeon whom the Holy Spirit said would not experience death until he had seen the Anointed One.  Upon seeing Jesus, Simeon said “Now Master, You can dismiss Your servant in peace; You have fulfilled Your word” (Luke 2:29).  Simeon is an example on how our faith requires patience, endurance, and moral fortitude.  While there are times when we may not feel God’s presence in our lives our faith tells us that He is always near and always hears our prayers.

I sometimes come across postings on the Catholic Answers web forums from people who feel discouraged since they do not feel close to Jesus.  They talk about how they pray, go to Mass, fast, and read the Bible and yet they do not feel the Lord’s grace.  I think we can all look to Simeon as an example that even the most just and pious need to be patient and have faith that the Lord will present Himself in the way that will ultimately lead us to Him.  However, while God desires all of us to be in His heavenly kingdom, the road is a long one fraught with temptation and sin.  But if we can hold on and remain faithful, even when it seems like God does not hear our prayers or notices our good deeds, we will be rewarded with the eternal happiness of Heaven.

Why must our faith be difficult to live at times?  Why don’t we get direct answers to our prayers from a thundering voice in the clouds?  Why must we endure such hardship and struggle?  I think Mother Teresa can help us find an answer.  In her private letters to Rev. Michael Van Der Peet she once said (as reported in this Time article):

Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see, — Listen and do not hear — the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me — that I let Him have [a] free hand.

Here was a woman who embodied everything great about the Catholic faith and yet at times she felt distant from God’s love.  She, like Simeon, was just and pious and yet she endured periods of time when she felt a great emptiness in her heart. Kolodiejchuk, a senior Missionaries of Charity member, explains that perhaps that emptiness is what drove her to do such great work.  She never felt like her job was done or that God was prematurely rewarding her when there was still so much for her to do.  Perhaps this was God’s way of making sure that pride did not hinder her important work.  Mother Teresa still continued to do the Lord’s work and even put up a good face to others (the statements about her spiritual difficulties were not known until after her death).  And, like Simeon, her patience paid off as she is now closer to Jesus than any of us ever can be in this world.

When we meditate on the Fourth Joyful Mystery let us remember Simeon and how his faith and patience was ultimately rewarded.  We must pray for those who have fallen on the long and difficult road of faith that they get back up and have the strength to live as Jesus calls them.  Remember, God has a plan for each of us and that plan will ultimately lead us to His heavenly kingdom.  We just need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide us, especially in those times when it feels like God is the most distant from us.  It is those times of great hardship when Jesus presents Himself to us although it may not be in the way we expect or we may not be listening.  Remember in your prayers to not only speak to the Lord, but also allow Him to respond for He will show you the way to Him.

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