How Rosary Prayer Teaches Us About Complete Faith in God

Hopefully, you can take a break from all the election related news and meditate on this Sunday’s Gospel.  It’s a long one so I’m just pasting the part I want to focus on in this post.

“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

This Gospel reading focuses on the importance of having faith by putting your life entirely in God’s hands.  We all too often think that we can manage our lives on own without help from anyone, including God.  When faced with challenges, many of us have a tendency to try to fight it on our own because we would think of ourselves as weak by admitting that we need help.  Or we will think that we somehow cheated by receiving assistance.

Illustration for Cheating Français : Illustrat...
“No fair! You got help from God!”

Jesus tells us not to be foolish.  God offers us not only His assistance but is willing to take the entire burden if only we let Him.  Jesus told his disciples to not prepare a defense for He would provide wisdom.  That promise is not just true for times of persecution, but for all our challenges, big and small, we encounter daily.

So many of us only tentatively accept God’s help and usually only on our terms.  We tend to treat God’s help as a last resort.  We come to Him in prayer when all else seems to have failed.  This creates a manager/employee relationship where we falsely take the role of manager and God exists to take direction from us.  The Gospel tells us that we need to put God 100% in control of our lives.  Any other amount shows arrogance on our part believing that we can manage our lives any better than God can.

When I think about the power of faith, the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the rosary comes to mind.  Jesus asks us to have incredible faith in His presence in the Eucharist.  He asks us to put away that idea that what we see, smell, feel, and taste is not a piece of bread but is entirely Him!  That is a tall order and similar to the amount of faith He asked of His disciples to let Him guide them when faced with challenges and persecution.

English: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, t...
English: Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. The Eucharist is held in a modern monstrance, flanked by candles. We gaze over the shoulders of altar servers who are kneeling in adoration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, we should remember that all things good come from God.  A reading from the Book of Wisdom reminds us of that fact:

For you love all things that are
and loathe nothing that you have made;
for what you hated, you would not have fashioned.
And how could a thing remain, unless you willed it;
or be preserved, had it not been called forth by you?

If God wants nothing but the best for you, do you have enough faith to yield to His Will 100%?  Or are you holding anything back?  Jesus tells us he will take care of us.  Is your faith strong enough that you believe Him?

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Book Review: Part One of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

This year my New Year’s resolution was to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I’m happy to report that I finished part one which explains Church doctrine by walking through the Creed.  It looks like reading the Catechism is going to be a two year project given that it’s already June and I’ve only finished the first part.  I thought I would write about the Catechism as I finish each part instead of waiting until I was completely done reading it.  Here are my thoughts about part one of the CCC.

I always thought that Catechism was the 10 (thousand) Commandments of the Catholic Church.  I was expecting a “do and don’t” list of sorts.  But providing a list of rules without any context doesn’t make much sense so naturally our church fathers laid down a spiritual foundation to start the CCC.  Part one is a well crafted narrative that walks through each phrase in the Creed and uses it to explain some aspect of the Catholic faith.  And boy does it go into detail at some points where a simple phrase in the Creed referencing the Holy Spirit or the Communion of Saints expands to multiple chapters of theology.  It does get a bit dry and heavy at times but it does provide a solid foundation for the “rules” that come later on.

You have to excuse the nerd speak for a second, but part one of the CCC is like unzipping a compressed digital file.  The Catholic faith compresses nicely in the Creed but like a compressed file on a computer, it’s hard to get anything useful out of it when you only see it in its compressed state.  It’s doubly difficult when the only time you think about the Creed is for those three minutes you utter them in a half comatose state after the homily during Mass.  The CCC is the spiritual “unzip” that takes all that compressed data and makes it something more useful.  Note that it doesn’t introduce anything new that isn’t implied in the Creed but it does clarify the pillars of the Catholic faith.

Another way to think of part one of the CCC is like walking through an art gallery.  If you don’t know anything about art then you would look at a Monet painting and wonder what’s so special about some blurry landscapes.  But if you’ve studied art history and understand the ideas behind Impressionism then the paintings take on a different character.  You can understand the richness and the story behind each work.  Likewise, the Creed may just seem like a bunch of simple statements but part one of the CCC helps you discover the richness and history behind those phrases.  And while someone may not understand every details of the Catechism, that level of understanding isn’t necessary to appreciate it and gain some insight into the Catholic faith.

I recommend part one of the CCC to anyone truly interested on learning more about the foundations of the Catholic faith.  As I’ve said before, part of being a faithful Catholic is also being an informed Catholic.  We need to make learning about our faith as much of a priority as we make learning basic life skills.  Because I can’t think of a more useful tool for Satan to spread his lies than an uninformed Catholic (just look at Nancy Pelosi).  Don’t unknowingly be one of Satan’s minions.  Become informed and put part one of the CCC on your reading list.

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Mary’s Rosary Promise #11

You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.

Mary‘s 11th rosary promise is one of my favorites probably because it is so easily misunderstood (thus providing me with lots to write about). What does Mary mean when she says you will obtain all that you ask through the rosary? I’m sure many of us have prayed for a financial windfall. But how many of us have won the lottery? I’m sure we’ve prayed for good health for ourselves or a loved one. And yet we still get sick. It seems like we ask a lot from Mary through rosary meditation and yet so few of us seem to have our specific requests fulfilled. If Mary doesn’t keep this promise how can we trust her to keep the other 14 rosary promises?

Mary Magdalene, in a dramatic 19th-century pop...
Unlike my last 10 requests, this one is REALLY, REALLY important.

I think the best way to jump into this promise is to retell a homily I heard many years ago. The priest emphasized how we tend to fixate on one specific answer to our prayers and we overlook how God actually answers them. The priest told a story of a man travelling home on foot after a long journey and had to cross a mountain range. Already tired and hungry, he prayed for God to level the mountain so that he could make it home safely and quickly. After waiting a few hours and seeing that God did not level the mountain, the man grumbled, carved a walking stick from a nearby tree branch, and started on his way.  After a rather uneventful trip, he made it over the mountains and back home.

The man was enraged because he thought God did not answer his prayer.  What the man failed to realize was that God provided a tree branch for the walking stick, good weather, and safe passage through the mountain range.  And ultimately, the man did make it over the mountains and back home safely which is why he prayed in the first place.  The man was so fixated on his one specific request that he did not notice two things.  First, he did not realize that he already had the ability to make it over the mountains without God performing a miracle.  Second, he didn’t see all the little things God provided to supplement his abilities.

I think many of us approach prayers and intentions like the man crossing over the mountains.  We ask God for help and wait for a very specific, often miraculous, response.  The response we want is usually an easy answer.  We get sick so we want God to cure us.  We have financial problems, we ask God for a windfall.  We have relationship issues, we ask God to set the other person straight.  We have problems at work, we ask God to make those problem disappear.  But asking God to “bail us out” shortchanges the abilities He already gave us.  God often does help us, not by making our problems go away, but by making us realize he already infused us with the strength, intellect, and abilities to overcome life’s challenges.

Man's face screaming/shouting. Stubbly wearing...
God, why won’t you answer me!!?

Mary’s promise reminds me of how the rosary is a lot like an amplified echo chamber.  You make your intentions through rosary prayer and Mary reminds you that God already gave you the strength to overcome whatever challenges you face.  But the rosary helps magnify Mary’s response so that you can hear it, internalize it, and put into action those gifts God has given you.  You ask for wellness and Mary reminds you that God gave you the strength to endure the sickness and use your physical weakness as an opportunity to offer up a sacrifice to God in reparation for your sins.  You ask for a fix to your financial problems, but Mary reminds you through rosary meditation that money doesn’t make you a better person nor gets you into Heaven.

Mary does hear and answer our prayers and acts as our mediatrix to God.  But we have to be open to the fact that the answer to our prayers isn’t always what we expect.  The rosary helps us not only hear God’s response but more importantly it helps us accept it even when it isn’t what we want to hear.

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Touchdown! — Mary’s Rosary Promise #6

Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.

What separates great athletes from good ones is their ability to overcome difficult challenges and seemingly insurmountable odds. When the game is a close nail-biter, they dig down deep and find a way to come through at key moments. Take the recent NFL playoff game of the Colts vs. Chiefs. The Chiefs had a 28 point lead at one time in the game and it seemed like the Colts season was coming to a disappointing end. The Colts quarterback, Andrew Luck, was having one of his worse games in his NFL career. But the Colts rallied back fueled by Luck’s three passing touchdowns and recovering a fumble for the game winning touchdown. Luck didn’t let the terrible start overwhelm him and he was able to gather himself and mount one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

Touchdown
Andrew Luck scores the game-winning touchdown (CBS Philadelphia)

Mary tells us that when we pray the rosary devoutly we find the ability to dig down deep and not let life’s setbacks keep us down. Like a great athlete, we will have the ability to “muscle through” even when it seems like everything around us is falling apart. Notice that Mary does not say we will never encounter misfortune. Misfortune is an inevitability whether we like it or not. She says we won’t be overwhelmed by it. Now that doesn’t mean we will turn every bad situation into a positive one. Sometimes even great athletes can’t overcome a huge deficit and win every game. But it does mean that we’ll never let life’s difficulties separate us from God’s grace.  No matter what life throws at us, we will not let it break our faith. Even if we never overcome great misfortune in this life, if we truly believe in the power of the rosary we will find hope and comfort knowing that will will find peace and happiness in Heaven.  Even the greatest worldly misfortunes will seem laughably trivial compared to the glory of Heaven.

Mary says in the second part of her promise that those who pray the rosary devoutly will not perish by an unprovided death. What is an unprovided death? An unprovided death means that your soul isn’t in a prepared state for God’s judgement. You have sins on your soul which you have not confessed and are not forgiven. Think of it like defaulting on a loan. Sin is like a debt and it’s a debt you want fully paid off when you die. Otherwise you will face the anger and punishment from your loan provider. In this case God.

Christ as Judge
Christ as Judge (Photo credit: Waiting For The Word)

It’s important to understand a few things. An unprovided death and dying in a state of mortal sin are not the same. An unprovided death is not an automatic judgement to Hell. Remember, we cannot know the state of someone’s soul at the moment of death nor God’s infinite mercy. Even the unprepared soul can find mercy and eventually find its way into Heaven. Also, someone can have a prepared soul without necessarily going to Confession. There are plenty of cases where people die suddenly (car accident, heart attack, fatal accident) without being able to first confess to a priest. But we don’t know if in that instant before their death (the time when people say their life flashes before them) that they repent and prepare their soul for God.  I bring up these caveats because it’s important to understand the many ways someone may prepare their soul outside of the standard means of receiving the Sacrament of Confession.

It’s a pretty logical conclusion that those who recite the rosary devoutly will not have an unprovided death. I already discussed in previous rosary promises that those who pray the rosary earnestly will tend not to commit as many sins in the first place. And those who truly live according to the lessons of the rosary and the teachings of the Catholic Church will be ever mindful of the state of their soul. Someone who is truly converted by the rosary will always share his heart, mind, and life with God up through the moment of his death.

Mary doesn’t promise magic nor does she give people a free pass to live however they want through the rosary. This rosary promise, like all her other promises, simply spells out the logical conclusions for those who truly embrace the rosary.

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Coming Soon: Free Kindle Edition of my Rosary Guide

51Jfa8esBjL._BO2204203200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-clickTopRight35-76_AA278_PIkin4BottomRight-6422_AA300_SH20_OU01_Did you promise to pray more, be better about practicing your faith, or resolve to start connecting with your spiritual side? As some of you know from previous RosaryMeds articles, I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions as they are usually just promises no one actually keeps. But at the same time, I know that people do make them and if your New Year’s resolution involves improving your prayer life, I want to help.

Next week I’m going to offer the Kindle edition of my rosary guide, The Rosary for the Rest of Us, for free. For three days only (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday) you will be able to download it to your tablet, Kindle reader, or computer and it won’t cost you a dime. Already have the book? This the perfect opportunity to tell your friends, family, and fellow parishioners about it so they can pick up a great praying resource at no cost.

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Catholics, Souls of Steel

Anyone who knows me knows that I love movies. We are now entering the summer blockbuster season and there are many films that look promising. I think the movie I’m most looking forward to is the next Superman movie titled Man of Steel. Here’s the trailer for the movie that I’m going to reference in this article. Note the biblical undertones.

The latest Superman movie, Man of Steel, puts a spin on the iconic super hero. Other movies in the franchise show a Superman who jumps at every opportunity to use his powers in service of helping humanity. He is essentially a boy scout with super powers. This new movie asks, what if Superman doesn’t want to be Superman but instead chooses a life as an anonymous human being? The trailer presents two possible outcomes if he reveals his super human nature. He might be rejected, feared, and made an outcast because he doesn’t fit in (he is an alien after all). Or he will be seen as a role model that humanity strives to imitate. From the trailer, it looks like he initially believes the former idea and tries his best to hide his super nature by living off the grid as a fisherman.

Let’s look past the obvious biblical references in the trailer such as the voiceover saying how Superman will be like a god to humans, how he is seen as a “guardian angel”, or that he chooses to work as a fisherman. I want to focus on Superman’s choice to hide his powers and try to live a “regular” life. Can you blame him? After all, look at the other Superman movies where the world expects him to protect humanity from ourselves. He becomes responsible for stopping anything bad from happening whether it be bank robberies, car brake failures, plane crashes, or nuclear armageddon. Would you want to be the person the world relies on to prevent all misfortune 24/7?

Holy Spirit painting

We, as Catholics, are very much like this new Superman. We too are given tremendous gifts and powers. Okay, we cannot fly, have x-ray vision, or outrun a train. But we do have other powers that transcend mere physical capabilities. We have power from the Holy Spirit and God’s grace. That manifests itself in the knowledge to know good from evil and the strength to choose the good even when evil seems easier or more attractive. We have the power to keep going, to keep trying, to keep forgiving, and to keep loving regardless of how hard life tries to knock us down.

We also have the super powers of hope and faith. We have hope that we will one day find eternal happiness in Heaven by living in God’s grace here on earth. We have faith that there is more to our lives that what we experience in this world and it’s worth enduring trials and hardship since we will find comfort in Heaven. It’s the Holy Spirit that gives us strength to live for God‘s kingdom. Superman may have limitless physical abilities. But Christians have limitless spiritual abilities.

Much like Superman hiding his physical power in Man of Steel, we often want to hide our spiritual gifts and just “fit in” with everyone else. Because using those gifts to live as people of God will often make us outcasts in society. For example, when we use our knowledge of good and evil to call attention to the evils of abortion, the world condemns us as hate-filled, uncompassionate, and tyrannical. Or we have a gift of knowledge that tells us that cheating, lying, stealing, being greedy, or lustful are evils that should be avoided. But we so often want to pretend that we do not have that gift of knowledge so that we can do whatever we want. Like Superman, we don’t want to stand out because we are afraid that with great power comes great responsibility (I know that quotation is from Spiderman, not Superman, but it fits well).

What RosaryMeds Do I Need?

Jesus is my Super Hero

When we pray the rosary, think of the Third Glorious Mystery, The Coming of the Holy Spirit, as Christianity’s superhero origin story. It was the Holy Spirit that transformed the apostles from scared deniers of Christ into evangelists who would lay down their lives to spread Jesus’ teachings. Pray for an openness to the incredible power the Holy Spirit gives us to live according to God’s Will and Jesus’ teachings. Jesus taught that a lamp isn’t meant to be hidden under a basket, but put out on the table to illuminate the world around it.  And superheroes aren’t meant to keep their abilities bottled up.  We are spiritual superheros!  And so we are called to be that shining example of God’s love to the world. We pray for the strength to live according to God’s Will especially when it seems easier not to. Because deep down we know that following the path God lays before us will always lead somewhere good. Maybe we won’t find that goodness in this life, but we will certainly find it in God’s heavenly kingdom.

We also should meditate on the Fourth Joyful Mystery, The Presentation in the Temple. Remember, Simeon is a perfect example of how our faith is a type of spiritual super power.  He waited and prayed in the temple his entire life on faith  because the Holy Spirity told him that he would one day cast his eyes on the Savior. And when Jesus came for His presentation in the temple, that promise was fulfilled. I like to think that it wasn’t Simeon’s own abilities that gave him the will to come to the temple every day for many fruitless years. Instead, it was his faith and openness to God’s grace that allowed him to persistently look and wait for Jesus. When we earnestly pray for that same strength, God will surely give it to us. All we have to do is ask. Of course, God may also throw some challenges our way too just to show us that we do, in fact, have the strength to overcome life’s obstacles. After all, what good are super powers if we don’t have super challenges to test them?

Still Looking for those Rosary Meditations

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Why the “Meds” in RosaryMeds?

rosaryIt has been a while since I’ve written a “go the extra mile” type of post.  But with all that is going on in the world right now I think a little spiritual “kick” is appropriate.  I want to tell you why I chose the name “RosaryMeds” for this website.  “Meds” can mean a lot of things.  The first word that comes to mind is “meditation” which I certainly promote on this website and in my guide on praying the rosary.  But you can also think of “meds” as the slang word for “medicine” which also applies to rosary prayer.  First, we should take a look at how some people view medicine:

  • Medicine is meant to treat a disease
  • Sticking to a prescribed regiment takes discipline and often a conscious change in lifestyle
  • Many people stop taking treatments because they don’t feel any positive effects
  • Many people don’t take the fully prescribed dosage because they believe they are already cured

We first must identify the disease being treated when thinking about the rosary as a type of medicine.  In my opinion, we all suffer from the human weakness of failing to follow God‘s will and having the tendency to commit sin.  In many cases, knowing right from wrong is fairly straight forward.  We know that we should avoid vices (lust, greed, envy, wrath, etc.) and embrace virtues (love, charity, compassion, etc.). But we often fall short in finding the strength, energy, and courage to act virtuous and follow the path God puts before us.  And that is where our “rosary medication” comes in.  Praying the rosary is our medicine that strengthens our resistance of committing sin.

Our holy mother Mary tells us that the rosary is our spiritual medication in many of her 15 promises.  She promised:

  • The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy. (#3)
  • It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. (#4)
  • Those who trust themselves to me through the Rosary will not perish. (#5)

Generally available Marian image created in th...

Destroying vice, drawing hearts away from the love of the world, and not perishing in the fires of Hell sound like a some pretty powerful medicine to me.  But we never receive the rosary’s benefits if we never pray it.  Keeping a rosary in a drawer is like keeping the pill bottle in the medicine cabinet.  Medicine doesn’t magically get into our bodies and do its wonders by itself.  We have to want to get better from our affliction and take our medicine.  Similarly, we have to resolve to pray the rosary, stick to it, and make it part of our daily routine.  We have to want to become better people, stronger in faith, and closer to God’s good graces.  Once we find that motivation, the rosary “meds” can kick in and help multiply the benefits of God’s gifts to us.

Prayer is such strong medicine that Jesus Christ not only prescribed it to His disciples, but He took it as well.  While Jesus didn’t have a human weakness towards sin, He did experience fear about doing God’s will as we see in the First Sorrowful Mystery — the Agony in the Garden.  And what was Jesus’ action in the face of human weakness?  Jesus prayed to God for strength and courage which God gave Him as He endured a scourging, a crowning of thorns, carrying the cross, and crucifixion.  Jesus got all the spiritual medicine He needed to endure a level of hardship many of us will never (hopefully) experience.  If prayer was powerful enough for Jesus in His darkest hour, imagine what it can do for you in your daily struggles.

We know that sin and temptation attack our souls every day like a virus.  We know that the rosary is God’s prescription for treating it.  If you were sick with a physical illness would you skip taking your life-saving medicine because “you don’t feel like it?”  Keeping our souls healthy is so much more important than our our bodies (don’t get me wrong, we should take care of both).   So when it comes to our spiritual well being maybe we should be good patients and follow the doctor’s orders by praying regularly.  Remember, a rosary a day keeps the devil away!

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Gospel for March 13, 2011 – Comfort

Temptation of Jesus in desert. HOLE, WILLIAM: ...
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The Gospel for Sunday, March 6, 2011 is from Matthew 4:1-11.  In this Gospel, Jesus fasted and prayed in the desert for 40 days before rejecting Satan’s temptations.  Tired, hungry, and physically weak Jesus had the strength to reject evil.  Jesus shows this same spiritual endurance during His Passion, especially in the scourging at the pillar which we remember when we pray the Second Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary.  May we learn that we too have the strength to endure life’s challenges and that we will find comfort in Heaven after we reject evil in this life.

“Then the devil left him and, behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (Matthew 4:11)  To me, this is the most interesting verse in this Gospel reading.  The fact that angels needed to minster to Jesus after the 40 days in the desert shows just how difficult that ordeal really was.  I think many of us have this idea that because Jesus is God made man and performed many miracles that spending 40 fasting must not have been very hard for Him.  With that mindset we cannot relate with how Jesus faced life’s challenges and think it is unfair that He asks so much of us.  After all, how are we to imitate Jesus without the advantage of being superhuman?  But since angels needed to comfort Him shows us that certain aspects of life were no easier for Jesus than they are for the rest of us.

Like the challenges Jesus faced in His 40 days in the desert, the Second Sorrowful Mystery shows us the great hardship Jesus endured during The Passion.  Jesus felt pain and suffering when scourged at the pillar as any of us would.  But His faith in God gave Him the strength to persevere that torment.  Likewise, our faith tells us that we have the same strength to endure hardship in this life.  We have every opportunity to imitate Jesus by remaining faithful despite life’s challenges.  As much as we would like to be spared hardship in this life, chances are that our physical and spiritual limits will be tested at some point whether that be illness, a tragic accident, or a crisis of faith.  But this rosary mystery shows us that we all have the God-given ability to overcome any challenge and endure any hardship as Jesus did during His scourging.

May we remember that, like Jesus after His 40 days in the desert and all the pain and suffering He encountered in The Sorrowful Mysteries, we too will find joy and comfort in Heaven.  In fact, the comfort that Jesus offers us will so dwarf our earthly suffering that it will make the worst times in our life feel like a momentary itch.  But we also must remember that this consolation only comes to those who live according to God’s will.  Remember, the angels ministered to Jesus only after He rejected the temptations of the devil.  Likewise, we will find true joy and happiness once we reject Satan’s false promises and evils in this world.  Especially in this season of Lent, as we prepare for Easter through fasting and prayer, may we remember that God gave us the gift to overcome any challenge this world has to offer.  Let us remember to use this gift when we face difficult challenges in our lives.

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Pray More Novenas

As Fat Tuesday winds down we now turn our focus towards Lent. If you are looking to do something special this Lenten Season, you might want to try praying a novena. This is a prayer for a specific devotion you say for nine days. You pray novenas for specific causes or intentions.

One of my readers sent me a link to the Pray More Novenas website. It is a really good catalogue of novenas and you can sign up to receive email reminders. I know that novenas only last nine days but it’s amazing how hard it can be to follow through praying them.  Reminders are helpful.

Here’s to making the most of Lent!

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Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

Cover of
Cover of The Screwtape Letters

I just completed reading C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters.  The book is divided into several letters from a senior devil, Screwtape, to a junior devil, Wormwood, who is working on bringing a man’s soul under the influence of Satan.  Each letter investigates a tactic that Satan’s minions use in order to move us away from God, who is referred to as the Enemy throughout the book.  Screwtape instructs his apprentice on how to manipulate human attitudes towards prayer, love, lust, war, politics, the Church, ambitions, etc. in very subtle ways so that someone’s soul will be on the path towards Hell without even realizing it.

The Screwtape Letters does a great job of taking some complex moral and ethical questions and discussing them in simple terms.  Because of the “us vs. them” format of the book you almost feel like you are reading Satan’s playbook on how to tempt you into sin.  While most of the time we learn about how we should live, it is equally useful to learn how NOT to live.  In other words, understanding Satan’s tricks and lies are sometimes just as important as knowing God’s love.  And C.S. Lewis makes it so easy to understand the nature of evil due to the casual nature of the book being in the form of personal letters.  Screwtape’s candor does not hold back the evil intent behind his various tactics.

This book is not heavy in terms of exploring deep theological arguments in Catholic doctrine.  After all, C.S. Lewis was more of “buffet style” Christian where he picked and chose elements from different denominations scattered with some of his own personal beliefs.  So he leaves the deep discussion of doctrine and theological arguments to St. Thomas Aquinas and other doctors of the Church.  Instead, Lewis provides a good introduction and a more light-hearted discussion on the nature of evil for those of us who do not hold a Ph.D in theology.

Personally, I felt that the book got a little stale towards the end once the novelty of learning about morality from the other side wore off.  It sort of felt like Screwtape starts to repeat himself in later letters as he brings up the same themes but uses different examples.  Even in the postscript, C.S. Lewis admits that this was one of the least enjoyable books he wrote because the ideas just came so easily to him.  He admitted that he feared he would smother the readers if he wrote a longer book.  Regardless, it is an interesting read and would suggest that everyone gives it a try.  I can also see it making a great gift for those who need a little theological refresher but do not want to dive into more serious texts.

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