Hard Work: Mary’s Rosary Promise #14

Those who recite my Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.

I think about one of the companies I worked for which had a very intense, deadline-driven atmosphere.  This was in the feature film industry where you can’t just partially finish a shot in a movie or half-deliver a commercial.  There are no beta releases or patch fixes you can deliver later if you fall behind schedule or miss an important detail.  There is tremendous pressure to finish complex shots on schedule and get every detail perfect.

People new to the industry get weeded out fairly quickly because many of them realize that the 7-day work weeks, the every increasing standards, and constant pressure isn’t the career for them.  Initially, fellow coworkers don’t exactly embrace new employees with open arms because they don’t know if they will stick around for very long.  But if you can weather that culture shock and survive a few projects then the company and your fellow co-workers start to accept you more as a teammate.  You showed that you have what it takes to survive and thrive in the industry and you aren’t just some flash-in-the-pan employee who thought movie production was all fun and games.

Feeling fulfilled yet?

Many careers have this type of path where you have to pay your dues.  Lawyers often work their tails off before making partner.  Investment bankers leave their jackets over their chairs at night so their boss won’t think they slacked off and left work early.  Software engineers often bring a sleeping bag to work and snooze under their desk or in an empty office when facing a large project deadline.  There are very few careers where you start out at the top.  And even in the ones where you do start with an elevated title, you still have to work hard to earn the trust and respect of your coworkers.

While many people understand that getting the most out of their careers, marriage, family, and friendships takes hard work, it doesn’t seem like they have a similar understanding when it comes to faith.  They often believe that getting the most out of their religion is almost entirely God‘s responsibility, not theirs.  For many people, their faith is nothing more than showing up to Mass on Sunday and that’s it.  And I’m sure of that group many of them wonder why God feels so distant to them.  But that’s like an employee of a company putting in the bare minimum of effort and then wondering why they don’t move up in the company or find their career fulfilling.  God is always willing to bring you in close in His grace, but you have to make the effort to actually want to be in His grace.

Mary not only says that you can forge a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ, she promises it!  She even lays out exactly how to truly be one of Jesus’ disciples.  It’s not some mystery that only a chosen few are called to.  Mary says pray the rosary faithfully and she promises it will create a deeper relationship with her and her son.  That is something any one of us can do.

Pray the rosary, go to Mass, learn the faith, avoid sin.  Those are the keys to feeling that love, hope, and compassion of Jesus.  I know I’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating.  He’s always there doling out the love and grace but you have to put yourself in the right mode to accept it.  You have to tear down those walls of sin and pride to let Jesus into your heart.  But tearing down those walls is not quick and easy.  And our human frailty is always trying to erect new walls that block God from our souls.

Feel the peace.

When you do come up with a solid plan to routinely tear down those walls of sin, the payoff is huge.  It’s one thing moving up the corporate ladder and feel invested in a company.  But that pales in comparison to feeling that deep sense of peace and comfort that comes from embracing a life of discipleship and commitment to the Catholic faith.  And there is nothing better than realizing in a way that you can’t logically comprehend or explain that Jesus Christ knows you as one of His own and loves you.

I may have misspoke earlier when I said it’s no mystery on how to get closer to Jesus Christ.  It’s actually 20 mysteries… 20 rosary mysteries that is!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Urgent Moral Turnaround Needed!

Last week Obama declared that all health care providers must cover contraception regardless of their moral objections.  That’s it, no discussion, no conscience clauses, nothing except a token stay of execution.  Laws that reflect and respect morality are on life support and the government is looking to euthanize them.  I wish I could say that we’ve hit a crescendo on the assault of religious freedom, but unfortunately I think we are still in the initial salvos.  It’s contraception coverage today, tomorrow its mandated abortion coverage, then on to mandated abortions and who knows what else.

Is this the new face of morality?

Remember that laws reflect the morality of a civilization.  If morality played a more important role in peoples’ lives there is no way a law like this would even be considered.  For me, one of the largest problems with this contraception mandate is not that it’s a law, but that the general public doesn’t recognize or care that evil is becoming rooted in our laws.  Any civilization that makes intrinsic evils the cornerstone of its laws cannot thrive or even survive.  I’ve heard the saying, “Satan’s greatest weapon is making people believe he does not exist.”  That saying has never been more true than when intrinsic evils become the law of the land in the land of the free.

I could vent and rant about this topic for a thousand more words and look at it from a variety of angles.  I could dive into how the systematic dismantling of morality has led to a breakdown in all aspects of society whether it be education, economics, medicine, or crime.  But I’m going to leave that to other articles.  I want to focus on the central theme of RosaryMeds — discussing the need for prayer and the rosary.

Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the image ...
I prefer his moral guidance

Look at the Fourth Glorious Mystery — Mary’s Assumption into HeavenGod assumed Mary into Heaven and gave her a special role — bring us closer to her son, Jesus Christ.  Over centuries, she has appeared to many people with many messages.  She asks us to have a strong faith.  In order to have a strong faith, we need to be well versed in the Bible and the teachings of the Catholic Church.  How else are we to love God and do His will if we never learn His will?  How do we know right from wrong if we never study it and then meditate on it?  Part of the reason laws like the contraception mandate pass is in part due to Catholics not taking a true interest in learning and then defending their faith.

I also think we should turn to the Second Joyful Mystery — The Visitation.  Prayer is good and I truly believe it has the power to change the world.  But part of its effectiveness is that we must act on what God gives us through prayer.  Mary didn’t sit on the grace God gave her in the Annunciation, but she went out into the hostile world and shared that grace with her cousin Elizabeth.  And her son, Jesus, didn’t spend all His time in meditation but instead went out in the world and converted people.  His life was a living prayer since all His actions reflected God’s power and glory.  And so, He calls us to also go out into the world, powered by the guidance of the Holy Spirit from our prayers, to convert souls.

Finally, think about the Fifth Joyful Mystery — the finding of Jesus in the Temple.  Mary and Joseph travelled for three days before realizing Jesus was not with them.  And when they did realize He was missing, they searched in sorrow before finding Him.  I believe we are in a world that has gone very far and still hasn’t realized that Jesus is missing in it.  Hopefully, one day soon, we will realize that Jesus is missing and have the courage to turn around and find Him.  Like Mary and Joseph searching for Jesus “in sorrow,” our return to God’s grace and the rebuilding of morality will not be easy.  There will be setbacks.  There will be those who will stand in our way every chance they get.  But we must have the conviction to endure and continue our arduous mission to bring Jesus’ love into this world.

It’s simple physics.  The world will stay on its course unless opposed by an opposite counter action.  It’s not like one day laws will suddenly appear that will magically turn the world into a moral place.  If we want to change the laws, we have to first start by converting souls.  It takes people like you and me, fueled by prayer, to influence others and change this world for the better.  Without moral people speaking up, this world will continue on its course.  And if you think things are bad now, just wait and see where we go if we sit on our hands.  That’s all I can say for now or else my blood pressure will shoot through the roof.  But believe me, I will revisit this topic and do what I can to fight the further legalization of intrinsic evils.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Is Jesus on Your Gift List?

The weather is turning cold and crisp.  The leaves are falling off the trees.  Houses are lighted up in the evening.  It’s official.  Christmas is here.  And most of us have a “todo” list a mile long.  There are gifts to buy, travel plans to make, decorations to put up, and a ton of other logistics.  But there are many important tasks that we tend to leave off the Christmas chore list.  While we remember the Christmas season, we often forget that it is also the season of Advent.

Advent

Much like how we clean the house for Christmas guests, our souls could use a little house keeping during Advent.  Think about all the time you will spend making everything “just right” for your guests.  But there is one person you should remember on your guest list — Jesus Christ.  As the saying goes, “He’s the reason for the season.”  And Jesus isn’t awed by the size of your outdoor lighting display, how nice the dining room table is set, or any gifts under the tree.  What He would really like to see is a clean soul.  You want to make Jesus’ Christmas?  Think about receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

I’m reminded of the First Luminous Mystery of the rosary — Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan.  We hear the words of John the Baptist to repent and prepare the way for the Lord.  The whole point of Advent is that it is a time of preparation.  We prepare ourselves to fully celebrate Christmas and receive God‘s grace by receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I know many of you are probably thinking that going to Confession is real downer and that I mixed up Advent with Lent.  Many of us want to think about “happy things” during the holidays, not confess what we’ve done wrong.  But if you were willing to fight the crowds at midnight on Black Friday, battle for that last parking space at the mall, and wander throughout town to find the last Elmo doll, then Confession will a breaze.  And unlike some cheaply made trinket that will occupy closet space in a few weeks, the gifts from the Holy Spirit received during Confession is something you can keep for a long time.  Through Reconciliation, you have a brand new start in the Lord’s grace which might be the foundation for leading a holy life.  To borrow another common expression, “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.”  So why not start it on the best foot possible?

If you are scared to go to Confession, try picking up a rosary and praying a few decades every day.  Ask the Holy Spirit, Mary, and all the saints for the courage to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We have a little over three weeks left in Advent.  With a little prayer we can all find that energy to get that one last present on our gift list for Jesus.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Why Catholicism is not a Democracy

Vote

I listened to Ave Maria radio on my drive home from work the other day and had a chance to listen to a replay of a talk given by Al Kresta, host of “Kresta in the Afternoon.”  His talk is titled “The History of Dissent in the Catholic Church” and he takes a very high level view of progressive groups like the American Catholic Council and their misguided attempts to change the Church by making it behave more like democratic government.  I’m going to dive in with some of the highlights I took from his talk as well as show its relevance to the rosary.

Kresta talks about various “constitutions” and “bill of rights” that the American Catholic Council has drafted over the years.  Their demands range from changing dogma on social issues such as abortion, contraception, and homosexuality to how they believe the Church should govern itself.  In summary, they basically want the Church to function like a democracy where the faithful elect Church leaders and can vote for changes to the Church’s moral dogma.  At face value this seems like a great idea.  After all, who doesn’t like democracy?  Democratic nations are usually the freest, happiest, safest, and most prosperous places on the planet.  So wouldn’t a more democratic Catholic Church be a better one?

The answer is no, it would not.  Jesus’ teachings, God’s will, and the basis for all morality cannot be subject to opinion polls, campaign slogans, and popular elections.  For example, something like abortion cannot go from an intrinsic evil to morally acceptable because it wins a vote.  Imagine a faith where your morality and state of grace could flip-flop with every election?  One day you’re in a state of grace and the next day you’re in a state of mortal sin.  Does that sound reasonable to you?  This is moral relativism at its worst.  You just can’t take Jesus Christ and reduce Him to just someone who came up with a bunch of well-meaning ideas that are now outdated and need changing.  Nor can a group of popularly elected “scholars” take it upon themselves to improve on God’s will because they feel it really doesn’t reflect the modern Catholic.  To put it another way, the Church makes “laws” based on moral truths.  You cannot reverse the process and change moral truths because you pass a law.

c. 1459

When we pray the rosary, we should remember the Fourth Luminous Mystery — The Transfiguration.  Here we see the power and majesty of Jesus Christ as God Made Man.  Jesus was not just a man who was trying to interpret God’s Word, but was the Word Made Flesh.  What Jesus taught was not opinion, but Truth.  And that truth remains the same and isn’t something that huamans can change to fit with societal norms.  We also recall the Third Joyful Mystery — The Nativity of Christ.  We meditate that God does not interact in this world on our terms, but His.  While many would have liked Jesus to be a political leader of high stature, He was not.  Jesus was born in a stable and grew up to become a simple carpenter because that was God’s plan.  We should pray that we accept Jesus and His Church for what it is and not try to shape it to our human whims.

Finally, we should pray for those who do find the Catholic Church and God’s will so difficult to live up to that they instead want to change it to suit their desires.  We pray that they allow the Holy Spirit into their hearts, as the apostles did on Pentecost, and go out and face life’s moral challenges instead of fruitlessly trying to redefine morality.  Our Mother Mary has said many times and in many ways that the sooner you stop fighting God, the sooner you can embrace the joy and happiness of His grace.

I highly recommend listening to Al Kresta’s “History of Dissent.”  You can listen to it online (link below) or download it do any portable device.  Do what I did and listen to it in your car.  It makes for a good commute.

DownloadHistory of Dissent

Enhanced by Zemanta

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,