Why Rosary Meditation is the Best Meditation

If you are a software developer like me then you probably hear this phrase at least once a week — This is how Google does it.  Google, the search engine giant, not only receive accolades for their products but also their development methodology and company culture.  They are the gold standard in just about every category of computing.  It seems like any study or new theory on workplace happiness or productivity must mention how it stacks up against Google’s workforce.

I was not surprised when I came across this Wired article on how Googlers avoid burnout and secretly boost creativity.  Did they discover the perfect work to rest ratio?  Did they find the perfect length of time projects should run?  Do all Googlers receive a therapy dog upon being hired?  It’s actually much simpler.  Google teaches its employees how to meditate.

Like this but probably on mats made of $100 bills.

For once, I can take pleasure knowing that I’ve been teaching you, my readers, something that has Google’s seal of approval.  I’ve previously discussed how rosary meditation has physical and mental benefits.  The science behind the creativity boost is that meditation allows you to switch off conscious thought which is very linear and boost subconscious thinking which taps more areas of the brain to piece together ideas and solutions.

But for once, Google cannot claim founder status on a great idea.  The Jews and the Catholic Church have preached the benefits of meditation and prayer from its earliest days.  And relatively more recently, Mary gave us the ultimate form of meditation through rosary prayer.

Prayerful meditation may not be trendy, but it’s effective.

Like many mysteries of the Catholic faith, the rosary is a paradox.  It is both restful and regenerative while at the same time focused and exhausting.  It’s both relaxing and a workout because it engages the conscious, subconscious, and what I’ll call “other conscious” aspects of our being.

The rosary engages our conscious parts of our brain in that we meditate on specific parts of Jesus’ teachings in the mysteries.  We recite, presumably with some focus and concentration, prayers.  We are recalling all the trials, sorrows, joys, and thanksgivings in our lives and putting them before Mary for her guidance and intercession.  Our brain is actively recalling memories and trying to make connections between our circumstances and what each rosary mystery is trying to teach us.

But in that conscious praying, there is also a lot of subconscious meditation occurring as well.  People talk about getting lost in the rosary where they get into a zone or flow making them much more receptive to how God is trying to direct them. It’s not that you are praying on auto-pilot.  It’s more that the amount of attention you put on thinking about the mysteries, intentions, and prayers gives way to a more subconscious experience where you can better feel God’s presence.

The subconscious meditation of rosary prayer is a lot like riding a bike.  Initially, you are aware of the mechanics of keeping your balance, not falling, and moving forward.  But once you get the hang of it, the mechanics of bike riding become automatic.  It’s not that the mechanics disappear.  They have just become so engrained in your muscle memory that they no longer require conscious focus.  The same can be said for rosary meditation.  The conscious effort of prayer can give way to the subconscious experience of being with God.

Look, no hands!

Finally, there is the other conscious experience of rosary meditation.  And this is what separates rosary meditation from the mindfulness meditation taught by the Googles of the world and is unique to this Catholic prayer.  In no other form of meditation do you have the opportunity to actually ask Mary and the saints for help and guidance and get a response through their intercessions.  The rosary is more than just a mental exercise of balancing conscious and subconscious areas of the brain because there is someone actually listening and responding to you.  Your rosary meditation doesn’t end at your brain’s gray matter but provides an actual opportunity for God to help shape and guide you.  Sorry Google, but the Catholic Church definitely has one-upped you there.

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The Importance of Reading the Sunday Gospel on Monday

It is honesty time!  When is the first time you typically read or hear the Sunday Gospel reading?  Do you:

  • read it a few days before Sunday?
  • glance over it in the missal before Mass?
  • hear it for the first time as it is being read during Sunday Mass?
  • usually run late and miss the Gospel entirely?

I’m guessing that many of you said that the first time you hear the Sunday Gospel is during Mass.  And that is not bad by any means.  But I think someone can get so much more out of the Sunday Gospel by putting in more time and effort reading it midweek.  This is why I try to prepare an article connecting the Gospel to the rosary so that you have time to meditate on it before Sunday Mass.

I’m going to share with you an analogy on preparation from my experience in software engineering.  Talk to any software programmer and they will tell you how they wish they could go back in time and start their project from scratch in order to correct mistakes based on what they discovered while developing their code.  No matter how experienced we are, our initial drafts of code just never have the same level of polish as later drafts.  There is nothing more valuable than just working out a problem over the course of several days often making new discoveries and having novel insights that do not come in shorter time frames.

I think the same principle applies to the Sunday Gospel reading.  The more times you read it and meditate on it, the more you discover and learn.  It makes intuitive sense that someone who has read and meditated on the Gospel five times will have a deeper understanding of it than someone who hears it once at Mass.  The homily does not become the only reflection on the Gospel, but more of the cherry on top of a week-long exercise of prayer and meditation.

I’ve found that layering the Sunday Gospel, daily readings, and the rosary into my daily prayer routine helps form a much richer spiritual life.  I start to see connections between the rosary mysteries and the Gospel readings that were not immediately apparent in initial readings.  Those repeated readings motivate me to approach God in different ways — asking for forgiveness, thanking Him for His many blessings, asking for His guidance, etc.  I start to see current events through the lens of the Gospel and rosary of Jesus’ teachings.

What are you waiting for?  The daily and Sunday Gospels are readily available for you to read anytime.  I like to view them on the web page of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) but you can choose whatever location that suits you best.  Even better, pick up a lector’s workbook and keep it somewhere visible like on your nightstand.

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Gone Fishing

Another Divine Mercy Sunday, another empty church. I am always disheartened to see so many empty pews after the standing room only Easter Mass. Where did everyone go? So much for Easter transforming hearts and minds right?

Seeing all those empty pews reminds me of this reading from John’s Gospel.  One of the first things Peter did after Christ’s death was go fishing. In the Gospel, he says it almost casually — “I am going fishing” (John 21:3). After the drama that he had just encountered, Peter was looking to return to something comfortable and familiar. It’s almost like he was thinking that being one of Jesus’s apostles was great, but that was now something in his past.  Maybe he saw it like we see our teenage or college years — a phase that we grew out of. Peter was picking up his life where he left off before meeting Jesus — as a fisherman.

Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish, in the...
Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish, in the Sea of Galilee, by Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t we all have a bit of Peter in our hearts? We fasted and sacrificed during Lent and celebrated on Easter Sunday. For 40+ days our hearts were focus on making room for Christ. And then what do we do? Go to work the next day and do the same things we’ve always done as if Easter was just another day on the calendar. Do you even recall what the priest said in his Easter homily? Do you feel fundamentally changed? Probably not. But you seem to be in good company since it seems that many of the apostles initially treated their time with Jesus like it was a passing fad. It had its moments and even some promise, but now it was time to get back to reality.

When I find myself sliding back into routine, I meditate on the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the rosary — Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple.  I recall how the Holy Spirit promised St. Simeon that he would not die until seeing the chosen one.  Imagine how surprised, joyful, and maybe even a little scared Simeon must have felt upon hearing this news.  Maybe we felt a similar passion and joy towards our faith on Easter Sunday.  Now imagine how many years Simeon must have waited for that promise to be fulfilled.  The Bible doesn’t give an exact count, but all depictions of Simeon show him as an elderly man.  Who would have blamed him if he started to doubt that promise and believed his time would be better spent on something other than his faith?  But did he lose hope or did he let any doubt affect his faith in God’s plan for him?

Rembrandt Simeon houdt Jesus vast
Rembrandt Simeon houdt Jesus vast (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like St. Simeon, remaining devout to the end of his life, so too must we be devout in our faith long after the immediate joy and glory of Easter fades.  Many times our faith feels challenging like Christ’s last human days on Good Friday and not the celebration of Easter.  But we pray the rosary and focus on imitating those who remained steadfast even in the absence of signs, wonders, and even joy.  We remember St. Mother Teresa who fought a seemingly hopeless battle of helping the poor.  Or we draw inspiration from the martyrs who died without seemingly changing anyone’s heart towards Jesus Christ.  When we pray the rosary, we pray for the faith and hope that Jesus hears our prayers and does answer them even when it seems like we are wasting our time.

Peter may have thought that his time as Jesus’ apostle was in vain.  He may have thought that he would just return to being a fisherman instead of the fisher of men that Jesus promised.  But of course we know that God had a grander plan for St. Peter than just being Jesus’ apostle in Jesus’ earthly life.  And so we pray that we also have the faith, courage, and fortitude to understand that God has a grander plan for all of us even when it seems like our prayers go unheard.

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5 Ways to Become a Happier Person

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

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

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

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

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

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

English: Happy face

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

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What the Rosary Gives You The World Cannot Take Away

Now back to your regularly scheduled program.  My last few posts where political in nature and that is an area I try not to spend too much time writing about.  There are much better sources for political news and commentary.  And honestly, writing about current events through a Catholic lens is flat out depressing because it seems like everything our world holds dear is an attack on Catholic values.  So let’s get back to something more hopeful — spiritual fitness through rosary prayer!

I saved this article and filed it under “I should write a RosaryMeds article on this some day.”  The article is almost a year old, but it’s still very relevant.  This short video talks about the health benefits of meditation, something I’ve written about before.  I very much consider praying, particularly praying the rosary, a form of meditation.  In fact, I think you aren’t getting the most out of the rosary unless you are treating it as a form of meditation.  Otherwise, you may fall into auto pilot mode or what the Bible calls meaningless repetition (Matthew 6:7).  It looks like medicine and psychology are verifying what people who practice their faith have known for a long time — your body benefits from meditation.  I’m going to go one step further and say that your body and soul needs prayer!

I’ve attended happiness seminars that echo the same sentiment as this video.  Your situation partly determines your health and overall happiness.  But a lot of your well being comes down to you making the choice to strive to be happy and healthy regardless of the situation.  I know many people who say they would only be happy if [insert some event or condition].  In other words, they’re saying “I’ll be happy when my world is perfect.”  The problem with that type of thought is that you are moving happiness from something you control to circumstances you cannot control.  And unfortunately, our world has a lousy track record of producing an environment that fosters happiness.

Part of the reason why our world can’t make people truly happy is because our societies throughout history have focused more on trying to acquire happiness through physical means.  This may mean the acquisition of basic comforts to personal wealth and luxuries.  Many centuries ago it was just about staying alive where a good day was a day without a viking invasion.  Now it’s about having a home theater, a fast smartphone, and a reliable car.  Regardless of the time period, so much of that is determined by factors outside your control — where you’re born, what opportunities you’ve had, your genetic makeup, etc.  But not only that, but the happiness that is dictated by your circumstances is always fleeting because the world can (and probably will) change on you.

And that’s where we get back to rosary prayer and meditation.  The rosary isn’t about getting something temporary or something that can be taken away arbitrarily.  It is more about training your mind, body, and soul to realize everything you already have that God has given you.  God has freely given you many gifts through his grace but you have to slow down to take stock in what you have.  God has given you strength just as he gave Mary strength to be the Mother of God as seen in the First and Second Joyful Mysteries.  God provides you guidance as seen in the Third and Fourth Glorious Mysteries.  God has given you a sense of purpose and a mission as seen in the Second Glorious Mystery.  Pick any rosary mystery and you will see that God has already given you a tool for true and eternal happiness.

Saint Padre Pio stated:
Saint Padre Pio stated: “Through the study of books one seeks God; by meditation one finds him”. The Rosary: A Path Into Prayer by Liz Kelly 2004 ISBN 082942024X pages 79 and 86 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Stop looking for happiness in all the wrong places.  Stop waiting for your world to be perfect (or at least comfortable) to start working on being happy.  True happiness starts and ends with you forming a relationship with Jesus.  And rosary prayer is one of the best ways to foster and grow that relationship.

Need some help?  Try praying the rosary with the help of the free RosaryMeds ebook, The 44th Rose.

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The Rosary — The (Not So) Secret to Happiness

Last week at work I had the privilege of attending a class on the science of happiness.  I find topics about brain and neuroscience fascinating probably because I haven’t studied it to death.  A two hour seminar from a former software developer fits nicely into my mosaic of brian knowledge formed from Ray Kurzweil books and Wired magazine articles.

Why would my company want me to learn about the science of happiness?  According to various studies and polls, happy people are about 12 to 25% more productive in their work.  Furthermore, much of what makes people happy revolves around them choosing actions that lead towards happiness.  Therefore, a company has a vested interest in its employees choosing routines that lead to happiness and hence, more productivity.

I’m going to spare you the details of the seminar.  If you want to learn more, just go to HappyBrainScience.com.  I bring up this seminar for one reason — readers of RosaryMeds already know many of the choices that lead to happiness.  For example, in the class we learned about the value of meditation as a way to combat the negative effects of stress.  Guess what?  Many of us who pray the rosary regularly already experience the positive effects rosary meditation has on combating the stress of everyday life.  I’ve mentioned a study in a previous post about the cardiovascular benefits of rosary prayer.  I’ve also talked about how people are happiest when they find “flow” or are “in the zone.”  Many people who pray the rosary regularly find it comforting because they can more easily get in the zone of deep meditation and prayer.

Going back to my happiness seminar, I also learned how we all have a bias towards focusing on the negative.  I think we all know how difficult it is to concentrate or be happy in a group of people if you find even just one person in that group annoying.  Instead of focusing on the people whose company we enjoy or the good situations around us, we too often dwell on what’s wrong and foment a bitterness, if not an outright hatred, of those people who we don’t get along with for some reason or another.  Similarly, we also tend to dwell on our weaknesses more than our strengths.  “I’m overweight.”  “I’m not smart enough.”  “I work too slowly.”  “I don’t have enough patience.”  “I don’t have enough energy.”  Sound familiar?

When I heard about our negative bias and some of the tricks to combat it (you can get a taste of it from the HappyBrainScience blog), I immediately thought this all sounded vaguely familiar.  I then remembered the introduction to my rosary book, The Rosary for the Rest of Us, where I explained the main benefit I get from rosary prayer — perspective.  Praying the rosary helps me understand that all the negative things in life we often dwell on aren’t that big of a deal in the big picture.  By praying the rosary every day, I manage to keep all my problems, stresses, and worries in perspective.  Rosary prayer also reminds me of God’s awesome power to forgive me for all my mistakes, no matter how big.  Rosary prayer reminds me that the Holy Spirit is present and always trying to lead me on the path of true happiness.  Rosary prayer reminds me that no matter how terrible the world appears, there is hope for a better tomorrow.

A rosary crucifix.
This can bring more happiness than winning any lottery.

Not all of us can attend a happiness seminar.  But you don’t have to attend one or buy a “secret of life” type book to start choosing a lifestyle that yields increased happiness.  Want to be happier?  Turn off the TV and computer, silence your phone, pick up a rosary, and pray!  Oh, and reading my rosary book and telling others about this website wouldn’t hurt ;-).

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Being Catholic Means More than Just Showing Up

Athletes need to do a lot more than just show up to a match. A soccer player cannot pat himself on the back after the game because he only managed to keep the ball in bounds. A football player cannot claim success just because he didn’t draw a penalty. No track runner will stand on the medal podium for simply finishing the race. In all sports, athletes need to excel and contribute to their team’s victory. They need to pay attention to their coaches, follow the rules, and respond to the always changing situations on the field.

Coach encourages young athlete
Coach encourages young athlete

Yet, as Catholics, we often live as if we are just showing up to the match instead of focusing on excelling and contributing to build up God‘s church. We often fall into a pattern where we believe just following the rules is good enough. We tend to think that just fulfilling our Sunday obligation of attending Mass also fulfills our life’s obligation of being Catholic. We might even think that being a good Catholic means only avoiding mortal sin. But showing up at Mass and avoiding mortal sin is like the football player just managing not to run out of bounds or draw a penalty. That is the bare minimum that our faith requires. We are called to listen to God and His Church and respond by publicly living our faith in an often challenging world.

Pope Francis, when he was Cardinal Bergoglio put it best when he explained the story of the prophet, Jonah. In a 2007 interview in the magazine, 30 Days, and reprinted in the Catholic San Francisco, the pope said this about Jonah:

Jonah had everything clear. He had clear ideas about God, very clear ideas about good and evil. On what God does and on what he wants, on who was faithful to the covenant and who instead was outside the covenant. He had the recipe for being a good prophet. God broke into his life like a torrent. He sent him to Nineveh. Nineveh was the symbol of all the separated, the lost, of all the peripheries of humanity. Of all those who are outside, forlorn. Jonah saw that the task set on him was only to tell all those people that the arms of God were still open, that the patience of God was there and waiting, to heal them with his forgiveness and nourish them with his tenderness. Only for that had God sent him. He sent him to Nineveh, but he instead ran off in the opposite direction, toward Tarshish.

What he was fleeing was not so much Nineveh as the boundless love of God for those people. It was that that didn’t come into his plans. God had come once … ‘and I’ll see to the rest’: That’s what Jonah told himself. He wanted to do things his way, he wanted to steer it all. His stubbornness shut him in his own structures of evaluation, in his pre-ordained methods, in his righteous opinions. He had fenced his soul off with the barbed wire of those certainties that instead of giving freedom with God and opening horizons of greater service to others had finished by deafening his heart. How the isolated conscience hardens the heart! Jonah no longer knew that God leads his people with the heart of a father.

This story reminds me very much about how we often live our faith. We live it according to a set of pre-defined rules and regulations thinking that is all God wants of us. I know I certainly fall into that trap where I just go to Mass, go to Confession, abstain from meat on Fridays, avoid mortal sin, and pray the rosary. I can check all those tasks off my spiritual “to-do” list so I’m done with my Catholic obligations right? Wrong! God, like a coach, says, “Good for you, now that you’re warmed up let’s get to work.” That’s right, all those “tasks” that we do are just the warm up to living as a true person of faith. The fasting, the prayers, and going to Mass are almost meaningless if they aren’t followed by an openness to the Holy Spirit to live the faith. Following the Church’s rules is the “practice” that prepares us for the “main event” which is responding to God’s call to be a living example of His love.

Prophet Jonah (Michelangelo)
Prophet Jonah (Michelangelo) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What RosaryMeds do I Need?

Almost all Catholics periodically suffer from a case of itsgoodenoughitis. Symptoms include:

  • Just thinking about your faith once a week (or less) at Mass
  • Just saying quick prayers without putting much thought into them
  • Living in ways and holding beliefs that are contrary to what the Church teaches
  • Just not giving a lot of thought on what being a good Christian really means

This will require a double dose of rosary mysteries. When you meditate on the rosary, pay particular attention to the First Luminous Mystery and the Fourth Luminous Mystery. In both Jesus’ baptism and the Transfiguration, God spoke directly to the disciples and said “Listen to My Son!” But we are often like Jonah and ignore what God is actually telling us and want to do things our own way. When Jesus challenges us to put in a little extra effort in living our faith, we can’t just fall back on solely following the rules. Like a good athlete, we need to listen to God, our coach and mentor, and alter our strategy based on His guidance. God knows what we are capable of and won’t ask us to take up a challenge we cannot handle. He is always there on the sidelines saying, “Trust Me. You can do this!” We need to listen to God and have faith that following His Will will lead us to victory — the victory of living in His heavenly kingdom for all eternity.

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Prepare Yourself Spiritually

In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the servants watching over their master’s house while he is away (Luke 12:32-48). There are two verses that really struck a chord with me and relate to many of my earlier articles and rosary meditations: “Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.” These verses stress the importance of always being prepared. But it raises these interesting questions. For what do we prepare? And how do we prepare?

An etching by Jan Luken illustrating Luke 10:3...
Image via Wikipedia

In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the servants watching over their master’s house while he is away (Luke 12:32-48).  There are two verses that really struck a chord with me and relate to many of my earlier articles and rosary meditations:

Be sure of this: if the master of the house had known the hour when the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into.  You also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.

These verses stress the importance of always being prepared.  But it raises these interesting questions.  For what do we prepare?  And how do we prepare?  I think the traditional reading of this Gospel is that we prepare for our final judgement once we die.  We are like the servants while Jesus is the master.  One day the master will return and we will have to account for what we have done.  The Second Glorious Mystery reminds us that Jesus ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of God to judge the living and the dead.  Since we do not know when our final judgement will come, we better be in a constant state of readiness.  But while preparing for our final judgement is important, there are also other, more immediate reasons why we need to be prepared spiritually.

We should also prepare ourselves for the unexpected obstacles of this life.  Similar to how Jesus said that we do not know the hour of our judgement, we also do not know the time or circumstances of great hardship.  It may be the unexpected loss of a loved one, an illness, economic troubles, relationship issues, or just a sense of depression and despair.  Often we cannot prevent such events from occurring.  Since we cannot avoid hardship and trials in life it almost seems foolish to not prepare for them.  As Jesus implies in the Gospel, only a foolish person would not defend his house if he knows thieves are coming.  It is important to build a “reservoir of faith” so that we have the strength to endure the challenges life throws at us in the way Jesus expects from us.

We also prepare ourselves spiritually, not just to endure hardship, but also so we can do good when the opportunity arises.  Thinking back to the story of The Good Samaritan, living a life of constant prayer enables us to spot those opportunities when we can help those in need.  Personally, I know I sometimes live in my own little world and focus on my immediate needs.  We often live where we look after ourselves first and maybe, if we have a little energy left over, we help our loved ones.  And many of us have no energy or desire to help strangers or our enemies.  But when our hearts and minds are truly prepared and aligned with God’s will we gain the ability to look past our immediate needs and see the needs of others.

There are many ways to prepare for the trials of this life, the judgement in the next, and to help those in need.  I always talk about spiritual fitness in my posts.  That is just another way of explaining how to prepare our souls for life’s challenges.  Much like how push ups build physical muscle, prayer and the sacraments build spiritual muscle.  Meditation, reading the Bible, and (of course) praying the Holy Catholic rosary all help galvanize our defenses against sin and resist the false promises of satan.  Like exercise, the earlier we start praying and the more consistently we do it the stronger we will be in the long run.  We will have that extra energy to go that extra mile and help those who need it the most.  So ask yourself, are you prepared?

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Rosary Meditation: The Fifth Glorious Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation is the Fifth Glorious Mystery — The Coronation of Mary. In this decade we see Mary awarded the honor of Queen of Heaven for having wholeheartedly accept God’s call. This is Her rightful place for having faith is God’s plan in The Annunciation, spreading the joy of God in The Visitation, giving birth to Jesus, and ultimately accepting the sorrow of His crucifixion and death. Mary is now in Heaven and amplifies and purifies our prayers and presents them to Her son, Jesus Christ. Mary’s coronation gives Her many titles — Queen of Peace, Queen of Angels, Queen of Saints, and Queen of the Rosary.

Coronación de la Virgen, óleo sobre lienzo. 17...
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Today’s rosary meditation is the Fifth Glorious Mystery — The Coronation of Mary.  In this decade we see Mary awarded the honor of Queen of Heaven for having wholeheartedly accepted God‘s call.  This is Her rightful place for having faith in God’s plan in The Annunciation, spreading God’s joy in The Visitation, giving birth to Jesus, King of the World, and ultimately accepting the sorrow of His crucifixion and death.  Mary is now in Heaven and amplifies and purifies our prayers and presents our needs to Her son, Jesus Christ.  Mary’s coronation gives Her many titles such as the Queen of Peace, Queen of Angels, Queen of Saints, and Queen of the Rosary.

Mary is the Queen of Peace.  Like many people, when I think of peace I think of a world without war and conflict.  And while that is a lofty goal and something worth praying for, Mary and the saints want us to dig deeper.  We cannot have peace in this world with each other unless we have an inner peace with God.  She wants us to work towards this internal peace by reconciling our ways with God’s ways.  She calls us to align ourselves with the teachings of Jesus Christ as handed to us through the Church.  This means putting aside worldly desires of money, power, fame, popularity, and anything else that might distract us from doing God’s will.  Mary knows that we cannot have real peace as long as there is conflict in our hearts between our love for Jesus and our love for earthly desires.

Mary is the Queen of Angels.  We must remember the angels in our prayers, particularly our guardian angels who protect us.  While we may not be aware of it, angels fight against the forces of evil every day to protect our souls from Satan and his minions.  Mary understands the precious gift of being in God’s grace and desires all of us to be in communion with Jesus Christ.  She directs the angels to fight for us because She does not want anyone to lose the gift of grace, especially for the momentary and trivial pleasures of this world.

Mary is certainly the Queen of the Rosary.  The rosary is our way of communicating with God.  We pray it remembering all the sorrows, joys, and glories of Jesus Christ.  When we pray the Joyful Mysteries we pray for the strength to accept God’s plans for us as Mary did.  When we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries we pray for the strength to remain faithful in the face of great suffering.  In the Luminous Mysteries we pray for the strength to live according to Jesus’ teachings.  And in the Glorious Mysteries we pray for the strength to live for our eventual resurrection and judgment.  Mary gives us a great gift in the rosary because we can use it to reflect on all dimensions of our faith.  It reminds us to thank God for all He gives us, ask for forgiveness of our sins and shortcomings, and ask Him for strength to live according to His Truth.

Let us pray that we take full advantage of the rosary to reflect and meditate on our faith.  May we look to Mary to guide us and help bring us closer to Her son, Jesus Christ.

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Medjugorje Message — Feburary 2, 2010

Dear children; With motherly love, today I call you to be a lighthouse to all souls who wander in the darkness of ignorance of God’s love. That you may shine all the brighter and draw all the more souls, do not permit the untruths which come out of your mouth to silence your consience. Be perfect. I am leading you with my motherly hand – a hand of love. Thank you.

Our Lady’s message to Mirjana on February 2, 2010

Dear children; With motherly love, today I call you to be a lighthouse to all souls who wander in the darkness of ignorance of God‘s love. That you may shine all the brighter and draw all the more souls, do not permit the untruths which come out of your mouth to silence your consience. Be perfect. I am leading you with my motherly hand – a hand of love. Thank you.

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