Medjugorje Message Dec. 2, 2009

Mother Mary’s message at Medjugorje on Dec. 2, 2009:

Dear children. At this time of preparation and joyful expectation I, as a mother, desire to point you to what is the most important, to your soul. Can my Son be born in it? Is it cleansed by love from lies, arrogance, hatred and malice? Above all else does your soul love God as your Father and does it love your fellow brother in Christ? I am pointing you to the way which will raise your soul to a complete union with my Son. I desire for my Son to be born in you. What a joy that would be for me as mother. Thank you.

Chadstone Shopping Centre during busy all-nigh...
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Mother Mary’s message at Medjugorje on Dec. 2, 2009:

Dear children. At this time of preparation and joyful expectation I, as a mother, desire to point you to what is the most important, to your soul. Can my Son be born in it? Is it cleansed by love from lies, arrogance, hatred and malice? Above all else does your soul love God as your Father and does it love your fellow brother in Christ? I am pointing you to the way which will raise your soul to a complete union with my Son. I desire for my Son to be born in you. What a joy that would be for me as mother. Thank you.

You cannot help but notice that obvious Advent and Christmas theme in Mary’s message as She talks about Jesus being born in your soul.  Like Her previous messages, Mary asks that we make room in our hearts for Jesus by clearing away the “junk” of sin.  We do this house cleaning through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  I know that for most people between the Christmas shopping, work, and getting ready for that huge family gathering, going to Confession is probably the last thing on “TO DO” list.  However, a clean soul would be the perfect Christmas gift for Mother Mary this year.  And like a selfless mother, Mary does not ask this of us for Her sake, but for ours.  She desires nothing more than seeing us, side-by-side with Jesus, in His Heavenly kingdom.  So as we flock to the malls, let us also remember to flock to our churches as well and really receive the gift that keeps on giving — God’s grace.

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Medjugorje Message Nov. 25, 2009

Oh boy, I have fallen very behind on my commentary on Mary’s messages at Medjugorje as well as other posts to RosaryMeds. With Thanksgiving, catching a cold, and now Christmas, I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time reading Her messages, much less meditating on them. This is doubly-bad considering Her message asks us to make more room for Jesus in our lives. This time you all receive a special “double feature” of Mary’s messages on Nov. 25 and then Her Dec. 2 message in a post in the very near future.

Our Lady’s message on Nov. 25:

Dear children! In this time of grace I call you all to renew prayer in your families. Prepare yourselves with joy for the coming of Jesus. Little children, may your hearts be pure and pleasing, so that love and warmth may flow through you into every heart that is far from His love. Little children, be my extended hands, hands of love for all those who have become lost, who have no more faith and hope. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Međugorje
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Oh boy, I have fallen very behind on my commentary on Mary’s messages at Medjugorje as well as other posts to RosaryMeds.  With Thanksgiving, catching a cold, and now Christmas,  I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time reading Her messages, much less meditating on them.  This is doubly-bad considering Her message asks us to make more room for Jesus in our lives.  This time you all receive a special “double feature” of Mary’s messages on Nov. 25 and then Her Dec. 2 message in a post in the very near future.

Our Lady’s message on Nov. 25:

Dear children! In this time of grace I call you all to renew prayer in your families. Prepare yourselves with joy for the coming of Jesus. Little children, may your hearts be pure and pleasing, so that love and warmth may flow through you into every heart that is far from His love. Little children, be my extended hands, hands of love for all those who have become lost, who have no more faith and hope. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Mary calls us to have a renewal of prayer.  That seems like a perfect message during this time of Advent.  I feel that we too often get so consumed with the Christmas shopping season that we forget about the Advent praying season.  Everyone looks for that perfect gift, the perfect tree, the perfect dinner, and tasty treats.  And yet, we often forget to perfect our prayer lives.  Mary reminds us that this is a time of prayer.  Don’t forget to do your Christmas shopping but also don’t neglect your Advent praying.

Mary further asks us to help those who are far from God‘s grace.  But she asks us to do more than just remember the lost souls in our prayers (although that is very helpful).  She asks us to be an example of God’s love for those who have no hope.  In other words, Mary asks us to follow up our prayers with good works and action.  She does not say that we should come down hard on those who have strayed from God’s path with words of judgment and condemnation.  Instead, she asks us to remain in a state of grace so that those who are lost will be attracted to God’s ways through our example.  Basically, Mary is reiterating the old adage, “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”  Let us remember that those who have fallen into a life of sin need more of our love,  not less of it.

May we all strive to be beacons of God’s grace so that we may guide those who are lost back to God’s love this Advent season.  May we strengthen ourselves through prayer and make room for Jesus in our lives.  Basically, may we all have the strength to live according to the spirit and meaning of Advent.

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Advent — 60 Things to Remember

This year Advent feels like it is one week longer. In the past week I’ve gone to a 50th wedding anniversary, a wedding, and had a great time with my wife’s family for Thanksgiving. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to friends and family at the various events. At the anniversary, my cousin and I talked about prayer and the rosary. We touched on many ideas and I can’t go into detail on all of them in this post (but I will probably bring them up in the future). However, there was one rosary prayer of her’s that I found particularly interesting that seemed relevant to Advent and preparing our souls for the Lord.

Advent wreath, Frist Advent Sunday
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Welcome to the wonderful season of Advent!  My wife and I were so happy about the start of this blessed season that we tore into our closet, took out all our Christmas supplies, and got busy decorating.  I hope that everyone feels energized and excited about the best four weeks of the year.

This year Advent feels like it is one week longer.  In the past week I’ve gone to a 50th wedding anniversary, a wedding, and had a great time with my wife’s family for Thanksgiving.  I’ve spent a lot of time talking to friends and family at the various events.  At the anniversary, my cousin and I talked about prayer and the rosary.  We touched on many ideas and I can’t go into detail on all of them in this post (but I will probably bring them up in the future).  However, there was one rosary prayer of her’s that I found particularly interesting that seemed relevant to Advent and preparing our souls for the Lord.

The prayer is simple.  On each bead of the rosary you remember someone who needs prayers, something you are thankful for, something you are sorry for, or any other situation that you feel needs remembering.  You don’t need to say a long prayer on each bead.  Just saying someone’s name will suffice.  So that is sixty thoughts total (counting the small beads at the start and the crucifix).  The point is to just think about people and situations so that they go to the front of your mind, heart, and hopefully your actions.  I think this helps prevent us from making our prayers too general.  When we say someone’s name, we attach a face and a real soul to our prayers.  It gives our prayers, sacrifices, and offerings a real, human dimension that we sometimes miss when we just pray generally.

What do you think is more effective?  Saying, “Lord please help those in need” or, “Lord, please look over my aunt during her surgery?”  Now, God knows everyone’s needs whether we voice them our not.  But we don’t need to be specific for God’s sake, but for ours.  Suppose you really do have a family member going in for surgery.  Perhaps actually thinking and voicing his/her name will remind you to give that person a phone call or visit in the hospital.  Or maybe you can fast specifically for that person.  In other words, by thinking of specific people you focus your prayers and spiritual energy towards their specific needs.

Sounds easy?  That’s what I thought until I gave it a try.  Sure, the first twenty or thirty beads are simple enough since I can rattle off friends and family members.  However, I found it quite challenging to think of sixty people and circumstances that are in need of prayer.  That is a little disappointing considering the millions of things to be thankful for, people to pray for, and sins to feel genuine remorse for.  So that will be my challenge for this Advent — to say my sixty small prayers after praying the rosary so that I may remember the needs of those for whom I haven’t prayed enough.  In doing so, in making room for others in my prayers, I will also be making room for Jesus when Christmas arrives.

Give this a try and let me know what you think.  Have a great Advent!

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Daily Thoughts

I’ve been trying to stay on a “one post per week” schedule, but that has been difficult to maintain. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas, but writing a thoughtful article takes time. I often spend days writing and editing a single article in my spare time. However, between rosary meditations and my thoughts on spirituality, I want to throw in some daily (or almost daily) random thoughts, quotations, and other ideas. Hopefully these will be little sparks of inspiration that you can think about when praying.

I’ve been trying to stay on a “one post per week” schedule, but that has been difficult to maintain.  It’s not that I don’t have any ideas, but writing a thoughtful article takes time.  I often spend days writing and editing a single article in my spare time.  However, between rosary meditations and my thoughts on spirituality, I want to throw in some daily (or almost daily) random thoughts, quotations, and other ideas.  Hopefully these will be little sparks of inspiration that you can think about when praying.

The devil hates to see you happy.  So laughter is one of your greatest weapons against Satan and evil.  Use it.

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The Pope Asks for Meditations on Persecuted Christians

One of my previous rosary meditations was on The Second Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus’ Scourging. I discussed how I see suffering broken down into different groups; one of them being actively-persecuted Christians. Pope Benedict XVI also calls us to mediate on the persecuted Christians in our world. We are called to not only pray for them, but to really contemplate deeply how their experiences mirror the Passion of Jesus Christ. This article discusses how the strength and faith of persecuted Catholics around the world shows us the power of the Holy Spirit that is in all of us.

BookOne of my previous rosary meditations was on The Second Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus’ Scourging.  I discussed how I see suffering broken down into different groups; one of them being actively-persecuted Christians.  Pope Benedict XVI also calls us to meditate on the persecuted Christians in our world.  We are called to not only pray for them, but to really contemplate deeply how their experiences mirror the Passion of Jesus Christ.  This article discusses how the strength and faith of persecuted Catholics around the world shows us the power of the Holy Spirit that is in all of us.

I think it is very easy for people in the Western world, the United States in particular, to overlook that many Christians around the world are persecuted in their countries.  Many of us tend to see persecution as something from a previous era.  The first image that comes to my mind is one of people being fed to lions in an arena while a Roman emperor watches.  Not exactly a modern example now, is it?  Perhaps we may not want to think about persecution and instead focus on happier topics such as our Lord’s resurrection.  Many of us also have no idea what real persecution and suffering is.  For those of us living in relative safety, persecution means receiving an odd look or a condescending comment if you tell someone you are a practicing Catholic.  I personally have a hard time praying for the needs of people around the world who actually face the same threats and challenges as early Christians.  And unfortunately, because I do not actively suffer for my faith, those who do are quickly forgotten during the course of my day.  Sure, I may think about them momentarily during a small prayer, but sometimes their problems just seem too big and it is far easier for me to retreat to Facebook or television.

We cannot turn a blind eye to those who actively suffer because of their faith.  Of course we must keep them in our prayers and help them any way possible (probably by supporting a charitable, relief organization) to relieve or eliminate their suffering.  Charity is always a great way to put our faith into practice.  But we also must remember the persecuted because they are a very real example of following Christ’s path.  Their suffering and faith reminds us just how real and relevant Jesus’ teachings in our lives.  Through their faith in Jesus Christ these people have the strength to overcome their hardships.  By meditating and praying for the persecuted we not only give them the hope and power to overcome their terrible situation, but we also prepare ourselves for the difficult moments in our lives.  If the persecuted Catholics in places like China, India, and the Sudan can find the strength to practice their faith then that should be a sign that ALL of us have that same strength.  The persecuted are evidence that the God did not only come into this world thousands of years ago and then left us to fend for ourselves.  Their perseverance shows that God has always been with us through the very real prescience of the Holy Spirit to give us the guidance and strength to overcome any obstacle this world has to offer.

Let us pray for those who live out the Second Sorrowful Mystery every day.  While we may never know their suffering, they are proof on how strong our faith in God can be.  Let us pray that we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our hearts and minds and guide us through whatever hard times we may encounter.  We know that the world can be a cruel and difficult place, but at the same time we have faith that God will see us through it.  While some events do not go as we wish, let us pray that we truly have faith that God has a plan for all of us that lead us into His Heavenly kingdom.  While it is easy to say that we have faith in God’s divine plan when everything goes smoothly, the real test is to trust in God when life turns difficult.  But if the faith of the persecuted Christians is any indication, we know we can endure whatever challenges the world may bring.

It’s always a good time to visit and shop in the RosaryMeds Store.

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Exercising Spiritually

I am going to take a short divergence from my rosary meditation to offer up some thoughts on WHY I think prayer is such an important part of life.  Thank you for reading my meditations on the mysteries of the rosary and there will certainly be more to come.  However, I know that there are many out there that ask, “why should I pray the rosary at all?”  While there are more reasons to pray it than you and I can possible know (and definitely more than what I can put into one article) I want to try to explain the importance of the rosary by comparing it to exercise.

First of all, why do we exercise physically?  It is hard, sometimes painful, takes time, and often we do not see any immediate, tangible results for our hard effort.  However, many of us exercise because we understand that it has many benefits:

  • Keeps us in good health and decreases the chances of illness.
  • Increases our strength and endurance for those times when we need it (like sports or work).
  • Improves our physical appearance.
  • Relieves stress.

Many of us, no matter how busy we are, make the time to exercise because we know that it is an important part of healthy living.  Not only is exercise important enough to schedule into our daily routines, but it is also important enough to spend our hard-earned money on gym memberships, equipment, clothing, and diet foods and supplements.

It is amazing how much time, money, and effort we put into physical exercise and how little we put into spiritual exercise.  Many of us somehow find an hour of our day to “hit the gym” but we cannot find one hour a week to go to church, 20 minutes to pray a rosary mystery or even 30 seconds to say a short prayer of thanks before a meal.  If the exercise analogy does not work for you, then replace that with work or a hobby (and go for a walk).  How much time do you spend browsing the Internet or playing video games compared to how much time you spend in prayer and mediation?

It is important to work out our spiritual muscles just as much as our physical ones.  When you build up your spiritual muscle you will be much more prepared when you are challenged.  Whether the challenge comes as a problem of faith or just handling day-to-day complications, you can better handle any challenge when you pray regularly.  Trying to handle difficult life challenges without a deep faith is like trying to run a marathon with only minimal training.  Sure, you may finish the race but it will be more difficult and painful than if you were adequately prepared.  But more likely, we tend to just give up when the going gets tough because we have not conditioned our heart, mind, and soul to work through life’s obstacles. 

Like exercise, you only need to put in small, but constant effort praying in order to feel results over time.  It takes 20 minutes to pray a mystery of the rosary which is shorter than the time it takes to watch a sitcom.  You most likely will not feel like a saint after a week of prayer (or a month or even longer) but it will start to change you over time.  It will change the way you see the world and your life and really puts into perspective what is really important.  I have a hard time explaining how praying the rosary has changed me.  Unlike exercise I cannot point to a certain metric that tracks my progress.  Unfortunately there is not a faith ranking I can improve.  But I know the rosary has affected me positively as seen in the way I interact with others and in just my overall outlook on life.  It has also brought me closer to my Catholic faith by making it a priority in my life.  Now my faith is every bit as important as my physical health, my finances, my family, and my career.

I could draw out the exercise/rosary analogy longer (since I love analogies) but hopefully you get the idea.  I hope these words might encourage some of you to give rosary meditation a try. 

And like many exercise programs advertised on television (like this one), I’m going to end with my prayer sales pitch:

You can change your life in just 20 minutes a day!  Increase your faith and spiritual health for no money!  That’s right, you can start living a better life and it will not cost you a thing!  Millions of people have tried this program and have seen remarkable results.  So what are you waiting for?  Go and pray the rosary today!

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