Gospel for February 13, 2011 — Raising the Bar

Moses with the tablets of the Ten Commandments...
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The Gospel for Sunday, February 13, 2011 is from Matthew 5:17-37.  In this reading Jesus extends the Mosaic law on topics such as murder, adultery, divorce, and swearing oaths.  He challenges people to work even harder to have a loving relationship with God.  For example, while the Mosaic law said “thou shalt not kill,” Jesus “raises the bar” saying that you should not even have grudges and be hateful towards others.  Jesus desires that we build up a strong faith that can endure through any of life’s challenges.  He encapsulates this attitude in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary, The Carrying of the Cross, as He kept moving towards His crucifixion and eventual resurrection despite the pain and suffering.

Jesus extends the Mosaic law partly because the Jews had grown too complacent following the rules.  They were following each law just for the sake of following them and not so much out of a love of God or to improve themselves.  Like someone who had grown too accustomed to a particular exercise routine, the old laws no longer sufficed for building a strong relationship with God.  As Jesus said later in Matthew 19:8, the laws that Moses gave to the Israelites were necessary because they were not ready to accept the full law as God intended.  In technical terms, the original Mosaic law can be thought of as the “beta” version of the law.  It contained many of the essential features but was not completely finished.  And so Jesus’ extensions completed the law as God always intended.

Whenever we feel like God has put a huge burden on our shoulders, let us remember the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery where Jesus took up His cross.  He suffered greatly and fell repeatedly under the crushing weight of the cross.  And yet, God gave Him the strength to get up and keep moving forward.  And although Jesus prayed that God would spare Him such an ordeal, God did not remove that challenge but instead gave Jesus the strength to endure it.  This rosary mystery should show us that we too can endure and ultimately triumph even when it seems like the challenge is too much.  Moses and Jesus did not give us these moral laws with the intent that we will ultimately fail to follow them.  Quite the opposite.  God gave us these laws because He knew we could handle them and that they would ultimately make us stronger in our faith.

Is living according to God’s laws challenging at times?  You bet!  But progress is never made when the road is easy.  Our relationship with God and each other are strengthened when we take up the challenge to live according to His laws.  Only when we take up our crosses and really make the conscious decision to live for Jesus can we truly say that we have a strong relationship with Him.  This idea of challenging ourselves reminds me of JFK’s famous speech about going to the moon.  We didn’t do it because it was easy, but because it was hard.  The same can be said about forging a relationship with Jesus Christ.  View this short video and replace “go to the moon” with “build a relationship with God” to see what I mean

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Book Review: Orthodoxy

Cover of
Cover of Orthodoxy

I recently finished reading G.K. Chesterton’s “Orthodoxy.”  It took me just shy of a year to finish it which is a little embarrassing considering that it is only 240 pages long.  However, compared to the last Christian book I read on the Templar Knights, “Orthodoxy” has a lot of “meat” to it giving me much to think about.  Like a papal encyclical, this book is very dense and you could honestly ponder and debate a single paragraph for hours.  The true genius of Chesterton is his ability to present these highly philosophical arguments in a witty and understandable way.

In “Orthodoxy” Chesterton offers an argument for the Christian faith.  He dives into why the ideas and values of Christianity make sense.  Each chapter presents an idea in the form of a question which Chesterton then tries to answer.  He doesn’t dive into the Catholic Catechism or the Bible for his answers but instead builds his arguments from the ground up using logical deductions and many examples drawn from his observations.  Essentially, Chesterton says that he was trying to build up a rational and consistent philosophy on how he should live.  It turns out that everything he thought was a good idea was not an original one as they had been part of Christian doctrine for centuries.

What impressed me about this book is how something written over one hundred years ago in England is still relevant today.  In fact, you would think that Chesterton was writing a blog about the current state of politics in the world.  That took me by surprise because I was expecting to read a book on spirituality.  Instead, I got discussions on politics, psychology, sociology, and ethics.  Chesterton doesn’t confine himself to a philosophical vacuum, but constructs his arguments based on what he sees and hears in the world around him.  The book even filled me with a little more optimism about our current world.  I see that many of the problems we face today have been around in modern society for centuries in one form or another.  Somehow the world has always moved forward despite everyone thinking that their generation’s problems will doom all of humanity and destroy our future.

I would put “Orthodoxy” on your reading list.  In fact, it might make the list twice as it probably requires a second reading in order to better understand Chesterton’s arguments.  I know that I’m going to put this book back on the shelf for another year or two and then give it another go.  This might be the first book I will read twice.  Yeah, it’s that interesting.

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Seeing Lazarus in Your Life

The Gospel for 9/26/2010 was Luke 16:19-31 which was the story of the rich man and Lazarus. In short, a rich man goes to Hell because he was uncharitable to Lazarus, a poor man. I always squirm before the homily when I hear this Gospel during Mass because many times people will use it to jump into a tirade about how you are an evil person bound for Hell if you have any money. Some will use it as justification on why we need higher taxes or some sort of forced redistribution of wealth. I believe such analysis of this parable misses the point Jesus was trying to make. The rich man did not go to Hell because he was rich. He went to Hell because he was uncharitable with his wealth, neglected those who needed his help, and hence was not showing his love for God.

Print by Gustave Doré illustrating the parable...
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The Gospel for 9/26/2010 was Luke 16:19-31 — the story of the rich man and Lazarus.  In short, a rich man goes to Hell because he was uncharitable to Lazarus, a poor man.  I always squirm before the homily when I hear this Gospel during Mass because many times people will use it to jump into a tirade about how you are an evil person bound for Hell if you have any money.  Some will use it as justification on why we need higher taxes or some sort of forced redistribution of wealth.  I believe such analysis of this parable misses the point Jesus was trying to make.  The rich man did not go to Hell because he was rich.  He went to Hell because he was uncharitable with his wealth, neglected those who needed his help, and hence was not showing his love for God.

This parable reminds me of The Third Sorrowful Mystery of the holy rosary where the Roman soldiers placed a crown of thorns on Jesus and mocked Him.  The crowning of thorns represents how we often show our faith.  Through our actions, instead of offering Jesus a majestic crown made from our love for Him we present a pitiful one made from our indifference.  When do we show this indifference, apathy, and even hatred towards Jesus?  When do we crown Him with “thorns?”  Surely we would treat Him with the utmost honor and respect if we saw Him, correct?  Look no further than Matthew 25:41-45:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs? He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.

By ignoring Lazarus, the rich man ignored Jesus.  If charity shows love for Jesus, then acting uncharitable shows contempt.  Through his actions, the rich man was not putting Jesus first in his life.  The rich man is the antithesis of the Good Samaritan.  While the Good Samaritan lived a life of constant prayer and could spot those in need and readily help them, the rich man was blind to the needs of others.  And that is the heart of Jesus’ parable.  It’s not that money is inherently bad and those who have some and live comfortably should feel ashamed.  It’s that wealth has the capacity to blind you to the needs of others and can prevent you from offering Jesus the true respect, honor, and love He deserves.  That is, money will blind you if you let it.

On the flip side, having some level of wealth provides great opportunities to help others in need and hence really show love for Jesus.  Look around and see some of the great institutions and services funded through charitable donations.  Whether it is a food drive, soup kitchen, or a new hospital, these opportunities to help the less fortunate come from people who use their wealth for good.  Without getting too political, how could these people act so charitably if they did not accumulate anything and could only look after their basic needs?  I want to end with a trailer from the movie, “The Blind Side.”  Besides it being a good movie I think the story paints a good picture on how having a certain level of resources at your disposal enables people to do great things for those less fortunate.

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Our Lady’s Messages — September 2010

Mary’s September messages at Medjugorje. She asks us to find the strength to ask for forgiveness and forgive others. She also asks that we approach Jesus with a humble heart in prayer so that we can hear how He wants us to live.

Message of September 2, 2010 to Mirjana

Dear children. I am beside you because I desire to help you to overcome trials, which this time of purification puts before you. My children, one of those is not to forgive, and not to ask for forgiveness. Every sin offends Love and distances you from it – and Love is my Son. Therefore, my children, if you desire to walk with me towards the peace of God‘s love, you must learn to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. Thank you.

Mary’s central theme in this message is forgiveness.  She phrases it in a very interesting way– as a trial we must overcome.  I like the word “trial” when describing the act of forgiveness, both asking and giving it.  Indeed, asking for forgiveness or forgiving those who have hurt us is challenging and something many of us would like to avoid.  In general, our reluctance to admit our mistakes comes from our prideful human nature.  No one ever wants to think of their behavior as being wrong.  Mary understands that coming before Jesus with a humble heart is not an easy task and that is why She offers Her help.  Mary, in the Fourth Glorious Mystery, was assumed into Heaven and now serves as our guide to find the path of Jesus Christ.  Asking for forgiveness is difficult, but it becomes much easier with the support of the Holy Spirit, Mary, the saints, and the angels.  It is our choice whether we want to face these trials alone.  Personally, I think we should take Mary up on Her offer and ask for Her help to overcome this challenge.

Message, 25. September 2010

Dear children! Today I am with you and bless you all with my motherly blessing of peace, and I urge you to live your life of faith even more, because you are still weak and are not humble. I urge you, little children, to speak less and to work more on your personal conversion so that your witness may be fruitful. And may your life be unceasing prayer. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Perhaps it is because football season started a few week ago but Mary’s message very much feels like a coach talking to the athletes.  Mary, like a coach, sees a bunch of players that are fumbling on the field and just aren’t playing with any strategy.  She sees us losing by not sticking to the “game plan” of following God’s laws, avoiding sin, and just simply putting God first in our hearts, minds, and actions.  The Church lays down a winning strategy as seen in the Bible, Church doctrine, our priests and other Church leaders, and messages from Mary and the saints.  The plan for eternal happiness is out there, but we first must make room in our lives to hear it and then find the energy to live it.

Fumble Retrieval
Image by The PAW Project via Flickr

This message reminds me of the September 26, 2010 Gospel of Luke where Jesus recites the story of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk, 16:19-31).  At the end of the story, the rich man goes to Hell because of his uncaring ways towards poor Lazarus.  In Hell, the rich man asks God if he could return to earth and warn his brothers to reform their ways and avoid a similar outcome.  But God responded that they can hear His Word through Moses and the prophets.  We too, have the Church’s teachings freely available to us and yet we so often ignore it.  We know what is good and what is evil and yet too often we unrepentantly choose evil and ignore the good.  Mary’s frustration in Her message is understandable since She sees so many of us walking on a path towards eternal suffering and unhappiness.  She repeatedly tells us how to walk on the road to God’s grace and yet we ignore Her, the Holy Spirit, the saints, and the Church’s teachings.

Let us not be like the rich man and ignore God’s Word which can be found all around us.  May we try to listen more in our prayers in order to receive guidance so that we may transform our lives and imitate Christ.  We should particularly meditate on the Third Luminous Mystery where Jesus asks us all to have a converted heart.

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Jesus, the Lost Sheep

The parable of the shepherd looking for his lost sheep relates to the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Catholic rosary. Both center on the idea that Jesus calls us to put him first in our lives despite the challenges it may impose.

An etching by Jan Luyken illustrating Matthew ...
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The parable of the shepherd looking for his lost sheep relates to the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Catholic rosary.  Both center on the idea that Jesus calls us to put him first in our lives despite the challenges it may impose.

The Gospel for 9/12/10 is Luke 15:1-10.  When the Pharisees criticized Jesus for welcoming sinners in his presence, he told them the parable of the lost sheep:

What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?  And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’
I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.

While Jesus was talking about himself as the Good Shepherd and how he came into this world to help even the lowest sinner, let us try reversing the roles.  Suppose you are the shepherd and Jesus is the lost sheep.  The shepherd set out to find something valuable that he lost.  Like the shepherd, we too are often seeking something valuable in our spiritual lives, namely God‘s grace.  Similarly, the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Catholic rosary tells the story of Mary and Joseph losing Jesus and looking for him in Jerusalem for three days before finding him in the temple.  Both stories include the element of a difficult search whether it be the shepherd braving the elements looking for his sheep or Mary and Joseph’s frustrating three-day search for Jesus.  Throughout the Gospel Jesus preaches about how those who follow him will face challenges and be persecuted and rejected by others.  Jesus’ own life reflects those teachings by his suffering in the Passion and Crucifixion.

It is important to understand that our faith is not always easy and there will be times of difficulty.  Faith often requires taking risks, going into the great unknown, and sometimes encountering “dead ends” and disappointment.  For instance, it is not always easy to pray regularly, avoid sin, and receive the Sacraments.  It is even harder to love God when it seems like our life is falling apart such as losing a job or the death of a loved one.  Often we just don’t want to put in the effort to incorporate Jesus into our lives because it does not seem like we get anything out of it in return.

The Catholic Church teaches us that we will be rewarded with all the comforts of Heaven when we keep Jesus close to our hearts and work hard to come back into his graces if we sin.  But no matter how many times you hear that, the only way you will actually overcome life’s trials and misfortunes is if you actually BELIEVE it.  After all, why should you work so hard for God’s grace if you don’t believe it has any meaningful value?  It is the belief in God’s Kingdom that drives us forward even in the most difficult of times.  Belief, along with the help of the Church, the Holy Spirit, the saints, Mary, and the angels in Heaven will push us through to the glory of God’s internal kingdom.  We can solicit their help either for ourselves or for others who do not have their heart centered on finding Jesus.

When we pray the rosary and especially the Fifth Joyful Mystery, let us ask God for the strength to endure life’s stuggles in our search for Jesus.  We must pray for those who do not put a high value on God’s grace or are having difficulty finding the energy to continue on the road of faith.  Finally, let us pray that we have the awareness to spot those who are struggling and use any extra spiritual energy to help them out and turn them into believers that God’s Kingdom of Heaven is worth the difficult journey.

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Medjugorje Messages for July 2010

Mary’s July Medjugorje messages focus on the idea of “surrendering” to God. There are many rosary mysteries that center around putting our faith in the Lord and His divine plan for each of us.

Rubens Annunciation 1628 Antwerp
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Mary’s July Medjugorje messages focus on the idea of “surrendering” to God.  There are many rosary mysteries that center around putting our faith in the Lord and His divine plan for each of us.

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

Dear children, my motherly call, which I direct to you today, is a call of truth and life. My Son, who is Life, loves you and knows you in truth. To come to know and to love yourself, you must come to know my Son; to come to know and to love others, you must see my Son in them. Therefore, my children, pray, pray, that you may comprehend and surrender with a spirit that is free, be completely transformed and, in this way, may have the Kingdom of Heaven in your heart on earth. Thank you!

Mary says that we must have the Kingdom of Heaven in our hearts here on earth.  Her statement reminds me of the Third Luminous Mystery where Jesus proclaims His Kingdom and calls us all to conversion.  Mary, in Her message, and Jesus, in that rosary mystery, both say that we need to convert or “transform” our lives by orienting them towards God.  How do we do that?  Mary says that we must pray and surrender ourselves to God’s will.  When we pray and make our hearts open to God we mimic the Apostles in the Third Glorious Mystery when the Holy Spirit came to them.  The Holy Spirit guides us and empowers us to do God’s will.  However, in order for us to be truly transformed, we have to silence all those earthly distractions so we can hear and see God in our lives.  Those distractions include earthly pursuits of money, power, lust, greed, and anything else that orients us to live solely for this world.  Mary challenges us to give up our earthly desires since they blind us from the truth of Jesus Christ.

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

Dear children! Anew I call you to follow me with joy. I desire to lead all of you to my Son, your Savior. You are not aware that without Him you do not have joy and peace, nor a future or eternal life. Therefore, little children, make good use of this time of joyful prayer and surrender. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Again, Mary uses the word “surrender” like She did in the July 2nd message.  She does not ask us to surrender in the traditional sense of the word as in surrendering because we are beaten down and defeated.  Instead she asks us to surrender to God by saying to him through our actions, “thy will be done.”  Much like Mary in the Annunciation, surrendering to God means opening ourselves to lead the life He plans for each one of us.  Instead of fighting God’s plan by falsely believing that we know better, we acknowledge that true happiness is only found though God.  Mary and the saints know this and all they desire is that we come to know this simple fact as well.  This type of surrender isn’t meant to beat us down and make us slaves.  On the contrary, this surrender actually lifts us up into a state of grace because we forge a closer relationship with the Lord.  All we need to do is put our faith and trust in God to follow the path He lays before us knowing that it will ultimately lead us to eternal life in Heaven.

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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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The Lord’s Call to Prayer

This past Sunday’s Gospel was the parable of the Good Samaritan. It’s a story that I’m sure many of us have heard dozens of times about a man who was beaten and robbed. A priest and a Levite avoided the man while a Samaritan helped him and took care of him (Jews and Samaritans did not get along). And we probably all know the teachings behind that parable. We have heard about how God calls us to help one another. We know that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ from our best friend to our worst enemies. We reflect on how we often make excuses for not helping one another such as we’re too busy or it’s too much of an inconvenience. But sitting in my pew last Sunday listening to the homily made me think about another angle of this parable. I asked myself, “how often does God want us to pray?”

The Parable of the Good Samaritan
Image by Fergal OP via Flickr

I use the parable of the Good Samaritan to discuss how often God calls us to prayer.

This past Sunday’s Gospel was the parable of the Good Samaritan.  It’s a story that I’m sure many of us have heard dozens of times about a man who was beaten and robbed.  A priest and a Levite avoided the man while a Samaritan helped him and took care of him (Jews and Samaritans did not get along).  And we probably all know the teachings behind that parable.  We have heard about how God calls us to help one another.  We know that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ from our best friend to our worst enemies.  We reflect on how we often make excuses for not helping one another such as we’re too busy or it’s too much of an inconvenience.  But sitting in my pew last Sunday listening to the homily made me think about another angle of this parable.  I asked myself, “how often does God want us to pray?”

At first glance the parable of the Good Samaritan does not seem to be about prayer.  But I started to reflect on what exactly is the purpose of prayer.  The basic definition of prayer is the act of communicating with God.  So how often should we communicate with God through prayer?  The Third Commandment says to keep holy the Sabbath which occurs once a week.  As Christians, we reserve Sunday as our holy day of prayer.  But instead of a day, many of us only give an hour by going to Mass and “getting it out of the way.”  I defer to Homer Simpson as an example of how many of us think of Sunday Mass:

So what is a realistic amount of time to pray?  A day, an hour, what?  I arrived at the answer listening to the story of the Good Samaritan.  We are called to prayer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.  In other words, God calls us to perpetually be in a state of prayer.  Think about that basic definition of prayer which is communication with God.  By living a life of prayer we live in constant communication with God.  He guides us through life’s obstacles, gives us strength for the rough times, and offers us many blessings.  Another way to put this is that living in prayer leads to living in God’s grace.  But to receive these gifts of guidance, strength, and faith we have to always present our joys, worries, and concerns to God and listen to what He says to us.  Through this communication we prepare ourselves for whatever challenges come our way.

The Good Samaritan was living in prayer when he helped the robbed and beaten man.  Like Mary in the Annunciation or Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Samaritan said through his actions, “thy will be done Lord.”  That is much more than what the priest or the Levite did in that parable when they were too busy to help the poor man.  They represent our tendency to think of prayer as something we separate from our normal lives.  For the priest and the Levite, the man on the side of the road needed help outside of the time they reserved for prayer.  Basically, the poor man needed help when the priest and Levite weren’t in a prayerful mood.  But could you imagine trying to explain to God a good reason not to be in a prayerful mood?  When we are like the Samaritan who integrated prayer into his life, not separated it, we are always ready and willing to do God’s will.  We don’t see helping others as an inconvenience, but as an opportunity to further our relationship with God and live in a deeper form of grace.

So let us not be like the priest or Levite in the parable or Homer Simpson in the video clip.  We are not called to partition our lives into two categories — one where we live in prayer and acknowledge God’s will and one where we do not.  There isn’t a time limit to prayer or an expiration date for acting holy.  Of course there are different forms of prayer.  Prayer means silent meditation, reading the Bible, reciting the rosary, or acting with good will.  For some it might mean religious life as a priest or nun while others it means marriage.  Regardless of who you are and what you do, God calls us to a life of prayer because He greatly desires a dialog with each one of us.  Now ask yourself, do your actions reflect a desire to live in God’s graces?

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Medjugorje Messages for June 2010

I discuss Mary’s two messages at Medjugorje for June, 2010.

Virgin Mary
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I discuss Mary‘s two messages at Medjugorje for June, 2010.

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

Dear Children, Today I call you with prayer and fasting to clear the path in which my Son will enter into your hearts. Accept me as a mother and a messenger of God‘s love and His desire for your salvation. Free yourself of everything from the past which burdens you, that gives you a sense of guilt, that which previously led you astray in error and darkness. Accept the light. Be born anew in the righteousness of my Son. Thank you.

Mary explains Her role as Queen of Heaven when she asks us to accept Her as a “mother and a messenger of God’s love.”  We must remember that Mary and all the saints want to guide us into God’s kingdom.  The saints are eternally in God’s love and their greatest desire is for all of us to one day feel that indescribable closeness with Him.  We can ask Mary and the saints to help us through our struggles in this life and stay in a state of grace.

Why not just pray directly to God?  If He hears our prayers then why pray to a saint who was a human just like you or me?  Why pray to people who had sins, struggles, and all those human imperfections when you can just pray directly to the one who can grant you eternal grace and happiness?  The fact is, we still do pray to God when we pray through the saints.  Think of the saints as our interface to God.  Because God’s nature is so indescribable, the saints offer us a model of the different aspects of God in a way we can comprehend.  They are simpler examples of God’s love, charity, mercy, knowledge, power, strength.  They show us the path to Heaven in a way we understand.  This is why God was made man through Jesus Christ.  And this is why Jesus established the Church which provides us with the collective wisdom of Mary and the saints.  All of this was done so that we may come to know God.

Mary’s message on June 25, 2010:

Dear children! With joy, I call you all to live my messages with joy; only in this way, little children, will you be able to be closer to my Son. I desire to lead you all only to Him, and in Him you will find true peace and the joy of your heart. I bless you all and love you with immeasurable love. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Again, Mary asks us to accept Her guidance to Jesus so that we may find true peace and joy.  Mary, the saints, your guardian angel, the souls in purgatory, and the Holy Spirit constantly try to guide us into Heaven.  Each one of us has an entire divine team that wants to put us on the right track to eternal happiness.  But are we listening?  Have we silenced our hearts of earthly desires to hear these messages?  I’m going to assume that no one who made it into Heaven was ever disappointed in what they found.  So why are we so often reluctant to follow the guidance of those who just want us to feel what they feel for all eternity?  We should pray that we make room in our hearts and minds for those offering us their help.

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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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