This is Your Brain… On Prayer

I tried to put together a good “election day and the rosary” type of article but nothing quite seemed to come together. There are plenty of good websites out there that have more time, writers, and other resources to discuss politics and the election through a religious lens. So RosaryMeds election coverage is simply this — read the USCCB‘s Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility and, with a well-formed conscience, seriously consider which candidate will best support the values espoused by the Catholic faith. And while no candidate is ever perfect (after all, Jesus isn’t running for president), think about who will be the most open to legislation that supports, not attacks, your values. And this doesn’t just go for the presidential election, but also keep this in mind when selecting congressional, state, and local officials as well since many times they can have a much more dramatic impact on your life than the president.

Brain on PrayerIn this post I want to discuss your brain on prayer. I came across this short, three-minute video that I found very interesting. The main premise is that a brain in deep prayer shows similar activity as conversing with someone. Neurologically, there is no difference to our brain when we talk to God in prayer or physically with someone right in front of us. Now the critic would look at this data and conclude, ‘I knew it! Catholics and other religious are no different from people experiencing hallucinations or having imaginary friends!” But the critic would be wrong as any prayerful person can attest that we don’t hear real voices in our head telling us what to do when we pray. But there is a very real dialogue going on.

This goes to one of my main themes of RosaryMeds and my book, The Rosary for the Rest of Us, about the benefits of rosary prayer. At its root, rosary meditation is a dialogue with God either directly or through the intercession of Mary and the saints. This is what makes the rosary such a powerful prayer. You aren’t just talking into the void. There is someone listening on the other end and He does respond. It’s not a response in that drug-induced, “there are voices in my head” sort of way. It’s something deeper and less tangible (but still observable as the brain scans in the video show). God responds to our prayers when we suddenly have some sort of clarity on a difficult decision. He responds to us when we find that strength to do the right thing even when doing the wrong thing would be easier. He responds when we realize that some of our daily worries are trivial compared to our spiritual health.  These are just a few examples of how our brain changes during prayer as a result of having a conversation with God.

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in...The First Sorrowful Mystery, The Agony in the Garden, best shows the nature of prayer as a dialogue. Before the Pharisees arrested Jesus, He prayed to God. Jesus first asked God to find another way to redeem humanity besides Him suffering on the cross. But Jesus also showed humility and just asked for the strength to do God’s Will. But where was the dialogue? After all, there were many instances in the Gospel when God spoke as a thundering voice in the clouds. It may seem that Jesus was just speaking into nothingness in the garden of Gethsemane when he was arrested. But God did respond! He gave Jesus the strength to endure the scourging, the crown of thorns, the cross, and crucifixion. He gave Jesus clarity to forgive those who crucified Him in His final minutes of agony on the cross. And God responded by empowering the apostles, through the Holy Spirit, to spread the teachings and love that Jesus showed in His death and resurrection to the far ends of the world for generations to follow. Jesus asked God for the strength to do His Will. God heard loud and clear and responded.   The over one billion Catholics worldwide bare witness to God’s response to Jesus’s prayer.

We should remember this sentence from the Memorare when we pray the rosary: “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession, was left unaided.” Our prayers are heard by God in Heaven, the saints, and our Mother Mary. And they do respond but not always in the way we expect. We should pray for the faith to truly believe this great truth and take advantage of talking to God in prayer.  He’s waiting for you to pick up that spiritual phone and call Him!

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Imitating the Saints

Upon being elevated to the cardinalate on Feb 18 in Rome, Cardinal Dolan of New York said he has a long way to go spiritually.  He said to reporters:

As grateful as I am for being a Cardinal, I really want to be a saint.  I mean that, and I’ve got a long way to go but it is all about holiness, it is all about friendship with Jesus and it is all about being a saint. And that’s what I want to be.


We could learn a lot from Cardinal Dolan’s remarks.  Here is someone who has ascended to one of the highest ranks in the Catholic hierarchy and yet is humble enough to know that he still has a long way to go.  He understands that it’s not his rank that brings him into God’s grace, but his actions.  Cardinal Dolan shows us that we are all called to live as saints whether you are the pope, a priest, a nun, or the average lay person.  If we truly believe in our faith and that living in God’s grace leads to internal happiness in Heaven, then striving to imitate saint-like behavior should be our top priority.

The good news is that anyone can become a saint.  Just look at history.  Saints came from all walks of life whether it be a mother, father, peasant, king, priest, soldier, slave, or repentant sinner.  St. Peter denied he even knew Jesus before becoming the cornerstone of the Catholic Church as our first pope.  St. Paul actively persecuted Christians before reforming his ways, preaching the message of Jesus Christ, and writing letters that became the bulk of the New Testament.  If people like that became saints then realistically there is nothing preventing any one of us from becoming a saint.  The question is, do we have the will and desire to at least try to imitate the saints’ behavior?

Unfortunately, society does not make imitating the saints an easy task.  Many became saints through martyrdom.  Many more had to abandon their lives of material comfort.  But in addition to the physical sacrifices needed to be a saint, there is also a sociological barrier one must overcome.  Society conditions people to believe that saint-like behavior is old-fashioned, goes against normal human behavior, and in some cases, is deeply wrong and immoral.

Various sins have become so commonplace that you are lead to believe it is OK to commit them.  Don’t go to Mass on Sunday?  Don’t worry, you’re in the majority of Catholics.  Don’t regularly receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation?  Who cares, most people don’t receive it anymore.  Why not “live a little” and go on that drunken bender at a strip club with your buddies?  It’s not like you’re a priest or something.  Trying to defend the life of the unborn?  You monster!  And there is the current infantile excuse du jour — artificial contraception is fine since 98% of Catholics use it.  Sometimes I think the early saints got off easy being arrested and fed to lions.  When faced with a monumental challenge like possible martyrdom, people often find the spiritual resolve to endure.  But in today’s world we must navigate a moral minefield as we are constantly bombarded with all these sins disguised as normal human behavior.  The threats are so subtle that we often let down our defenses and fall into sinful patterns of behavior.

Português: Jesus é auxiliado por Simão Cireneu...

In order to keep up our defense against sin, we must turn to the rosary.  When we think about imitating the saints we should remember the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary — Jesus Carrying His Cross.  Jesus endured great hardship after being arrested, tried, scourged, and mocked.  Despite the torture of carrying the cross and falling down repeatedly, Jesus got up because He knew it was important to do God‘s will above all else.  And that is what many of the saints did as well — carried out God’s will even when society thought their actions were silly, unreasonable, and even dangerous.  And that is what God asks of us — to take up our crosses and follow Him even when society mocks us and encourages us to do the opposite.

We should also remember the Third Luminous Mystery of the rosary — Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and a Call for Conversion.  In this season of Lent, really examine your life.  Now look at the lives of the saints (Need help?  Try this book from Amazon).  What is your game plan to bridge that gap between where you are now and where you hopefully want to be?  What small conversions can you make this Lent to become more saintly?  I’m not saying that we will all be saints come Easter, but there is no better time to at least start the conversion process.  Every journey starts with an initial, small step.  What will yours be?

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What Athletes Can Teach Us About the Rosary

Scandals in professional sports is nothing new.  Every few weeks we hear about an athlete cheating on a spouse, using drugs, squandering money on an extravagant lifestyle, or being arrested for any number of crimes.  And yet, if you were to take the secular media’s take on professional sports, the most scandalous and controversial athlete of the last few months was Tim Tebow because he (gasp) prays publicly!  And now there is another devout Christian in pro sports making news headlines.  Basketball star, Jeremy Lin, of the New York Nicks has been on fire lately; helping his team to seven victories in a row.  And like Tebow, Lin does not hide his religion either.  So what can Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin teach us about prayer and the rosary?

Unless prayer is part of your life, you probably won’t understand people who pray publicly.  Many people see Tebow’s taking a knee in a game as some sort of act of self-righteous piety.  But to Tebow, turning to prayer is just as natural as saying “please,” “thank you,” or “sorry” when the situation calls for it.  When something great happens, Tebow turns to God and thanks Him.  In any situation, whether it be a call for help or in thanksgiving, God is Tebow and Lin’s almost-instinctual “go to” person.  The fact that their faith seems weird and out of place tells more about our society and our values rather than their character.  But they can’t hide their faith or “tone it down” any more than we can stop our hearts from beating.  Prayer is just part of their DNA.  And in my opinion, that is something to be praised and admired, not mocked.

Jeremy LinTebow and Lin’s focus on their faith and prayer reminds me of the First Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary — the Agony in the Garden.  Jesus was scared before His arrest and crucifixion.  And when He found Himself in a difficult situation, Jesus’ immediate reaction was to turn to God and ask for help through prayer.  I’m sure that those who arrested Jesus, the pharisees that tried him, and Pontius Pilot who condemned Him probably all wished that Jesus would have “toned down” all that Messiah talk much like how many of us wish that some outwardly religious people would just shut up.  But being connected to God through prayer was an integral part of who Jesus was.  And, as followers and imitators of Jesus, we are called to make prayer an integral part of our lives too.  When we pray the First Sorrowful Mystery we should ask God for the strength and wisdom to constantly turn to Him in prayer regardless of the worldly consequences.

An angel comforting Jesus before his arrest in...Another aspect of the Agony in the Garden is how God chooses to answer our prayers.  While Jesus asked that God find another way to bring salvation to the world besides crucifixion and death, Jesus did yield to God’s ultimate wisdom.  It may seem that God did not answer Jesus’ prayer since He asked to be spared but was ultimately crucified.  But God did answer Jesus’ prayer by giving Him the strength and courage to face His physical and mental torture.  When we pray, we should realize that God does answer us and leads us, but probably not in the way we expect.  Tebow won’t win a football game because he asks God for victory.  Lin won’t always score 20+ points every game because he asks God for it.  We won’t win the lottery or get a promotion at work because we pray for it.  God knows that winning a football game, winning the lottery, or receiving that promotion won’t make us ultimately happy.  In fact, given our innate human weakness, the more worldly success we have the more likely we are to move away from God’s grace and true happiness.  God wants us to be ultimately happy by living forever in His heavenly kingdom.  And so we should look for the answers to our prayers that will meet that goal instead of the short term, and often short sighted, happiness we seek in life.

And so, when we see an athlete like Tebow take a knee and thank God, we should aim to imitate that behavior, not ridicule it.  We should be always conscious of our relationship with God which means constantly talking to God in prayer.  It seems like we spend so much time announcing to the world what we are doing through Twitter and Facebook.  Well, perhaps we should also remember to update God about our joys, sorrows, and worries.  Because ultimately, having a close relationship with God is all that really matters.  When you have that, everything else falls into place.

Do you want to learn more about the First Sorrowful Mystery and other rosary mysteries?  Read “The Rosary for the Rest of Us.”  Available now on Amazon.

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Palm Sunday — Sorrow

Christ in Gethsemane (Christus in Gethsemane),...
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The Palm Sunday Gospel for April 17, 2011 covers the Last Supper, the Agony in the Garden, and Jesus’ Passion and death (Matthew 26:14-27).  This Gospel covers all the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.  There is just so much in this Gospel it is almost a shame that we read it all at once instead of breaking it up over several Masses.  But just because you read the Gospel straight through during Mass does not mean you cannot meditate more on it yourself.  Take your time in this last week leading up to Easter to really absorb the central themes behind the Sorrowful Mysteries of the rosary.  Meditate on Christ’s Passion and death and thank Him for all he does for us.

I know that many times we walk into the church on Palm Sunday and it hits us that this is that LONG Mass and we develop a bitterness because the Mass might run longer than an hour.  Try not to think about how long the Mass is or how it seems to upset your plans for the day.  That extra time should be seen as a gift, not a burden.  Use that time to focus on all Jesus does for us and what He asks us to live.  Jesus sacrificed His life for us so the least we can do is spend a few extra minutes with Him in prayer.

I encourage you to read my postings on the Sorrowful Mysteries throughout this week.  Think about the quantity and quality of your prayers when you read the First Sorrowful Mystery — The Agony in the Garden.  Pray for all those who suffer, especially those who suffer because they strayed from God’s path, when meditating on Jesus’ Scourging in the Second Sorrowful Mystery.  Ask yourself how much respect you give to Jesus and His Church in the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns.  Look around at the crosses other bare and see if you can help them any way you can when you think of Jesus taking up His cross in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery.  And finally, follow Jesus’ example in His crucifixion and ask God for the strength to do His Will no matter where that takes you.

Make the most of Holy Week.  Do not treat it like every other week of the year but really make an effort to turn it into a time of more intense prayer and meditation.  God Bless!

Our Lady’s Messages: December 2010

Our Lady’s December 2nd,  2010 Message to Mirjana:

Dear children; Today I am praying here with you that you may gather the strength to open your hearts and thus to become aware of the mighty love of the suffering God. Through this His love, goodness and meekness, I am also with you. I invite you for this special time of preparation to be a time of prayer, penance and conversion. My children, you need God. You cannot go forward without my Son. When you comprehend and accept this, what was promised to you will be realized. Through the Holy Spirit the Kingdom of Heaven will be born in your hearts. I am leading you to this. Thank you.

Mary talks about gathering strength and becoming aware of the love of a suffering God.  Any of the Sorrowful Mysteries of the holy rosary fit this theme.  Jesus suffered in the garden, was scourged, crowned with thorns, carried the cross, and eventually crucified.  He is the greatest model of showing strength in the midst of difficulty and suffering.  Mary asks all of us to think about Jesus’ suffering when we encounter difficult times in our lives.

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove above the H...
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When faced with difficult challenges it might seem so easy to “run away” and hide whether that be physically, mentally, or spiritually.  Maybe we hide from our troubles with drugs, alcohol, or deviant behavior.  Maybe we avoid attending Mass, praying, and receiving the sacraments in order to avoid taking a deep look at ourselves and realizing where we fail to live as Jesus calls us.

Mary wants us to take a deep look on how we live and notice areas where we do not live as Jesus desires.  She says that we need to realize our deficiencies if we are to convert and start living for Jesus’ Kingdom of Heaven.  There is an obvious reference to the Third Luminous Mystery in Mary’s message.  But much like many people in Jesus’ time we have a tendency to back away from this challenge of conversion.  When Jesus stopped healing people and giving out free bread and fish people quickly abandoned Him.  Even His apostles fled and hid when the Romans arrested Jesus.  Mary asks us to resist that temptation to run and hide from the path Jesus lays before us.  Even when the entire world seems against you for following Jesus’ Will remember that Mary, the saints, and the Holy Spirit are in your corner to support you.  With their help, you will have enough energy to conquer whatever the world throws at you.  All you need to do is supply the will to face those challenges instead of running and hiding.

Message, 25. December 2010:

Dear children! Today, I and my Son desire to give you an abundance of joy and peace so that each of you may be a joyful carrier and witness of peace and joy in the places where you live. Little children, be a blessing and be peace. Thank you for having responded to my call.

Mary’s message if short and sweet.  She asks us to rejoice in the Third Joyful Mystery — Jesus’ birth.  And while She delivers this message on Christmas, we should remember Jesus’ birth throughout the year.  God did not take on human form so that we may remember Him and live according to His Will for just one day.  Jesus didn’t teach us about His Heavenly Kingdom, suffer, die, and rise again only so we would have a reason to decorate our houses with light displays and hit the malls to buy gifts for people.  Jesus came into this world so that we may follow His message of joy and peace every day of our lives.  Mary asks us to spread that peace and joy by first embracing it in ourselves.  So as we start a new year ask yourself, “are you a living blessing and sign of peace?”  If not, how can you convert your heart to live as Mary asks us to live?

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?

Medjugorje Message — March 25, 2010

Mary’s message at Medjugorje on March 25, 2010: Dear children! Also today I desire to call you all to be strong in prayer and in the moments when trials attack you. Live your Christian vocation in joy and humility and witness to everyone. I am with you and I carry you all before my Son Jesus, and He will be your strength and support. Thank you for having responded to my call.

If Jesus was God, why did he pray to himself?
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Mary‘s message at Medjugorje on March 25, 2010:

Dear children! Also today I desire to call you all to be strong in prayer and in the moments when trials attack you. Live your Christian vocation in joy and humility and witness to everyone. I am with you and I carry you all before my Son Jesus, and He will be your strength and support. Thank you for having responded to my call.

This message ties nicely with many of the Sorrowful Mysteries.  First, Mary asks us to be strong in prayer in times of great difficulty.  This sounds very much like the First Sorrowful Mystery where Jesus prayed to the Father for strength before Judas betrayed Him and handed Him over to the authorities to be crucified.  All too often we tend to move away from God in our trials of life or blame Him when bad things befall us.  But Mary asks us to not only pray in these times, but remain joyful and humble in our faith for all to see.

Mary also talks of “carrying” us before Jesus Christ who will provide us strength and support.  This reminds me of the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery where Jesus took up His cross.  In my meditation on this rosary mystery I discuss how our love of God will help us through the difficult times in our life.  Jesus ultimately overcame the pain and torment of the crucifixion by rising from the dead.  Likewise, Mary reminds us that our faith and love in Jesus Christ will ultimately help us overcome any problems we encounter in this world.  While some will overcome these trials in this life through the intercession of miracles, others may need to be patient as their comfort will come in the next one in the kingdom of Heaven.

Pray on!

Rosary Meditation — The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery

Today’s rosary meditation focuses on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus Carries His Cross. This mystery encapsulates many of the Stations of the Cross. We see Jesus take up the cross, fall repeatedly, meet the mourning women, be stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross. Like the other Sorrowful Mysteries, Jesus carrying His cross teaches us about the nature of suffering and that we are called to love God and do His Will despite any suffering we may encounter in our lives.

Christ fallen while carrying the cross, at St....
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Today’s rosary meditation focuses on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus Carries His Cross.  This mystery encapsulates many of the Stations of the Cross.  We see Jesus take up the cross, fall repeatedly, meet the mourning women, be stripped of his garments, and nailed to the cross.  Like the other Sorrowful Mysteries, Jesus carrying His cross teaches us about the nature of suffering and that we are called to love God and do His Will despite any suffering we may encounter in our lives.

While carrying the cross, Jesus fell down repeatedly.  His falling is significant since we dedicate three Stations of the Cross to it.  And yet each time Jesus fell He got back up.  But why did Jesus continue to get up and continue suffering at the hands of the Roman soldiers?  He must have known that each time He got up His situation was only going to get worse as He became more tired and beaten and crucifixion was the only thing that awaited Him.  Why didn’t He just give up and die where He lay and avoid the increasing pain and torment?  What pushed Jesus to get back on His feet?

Jesus continued because He understood that the purpose of following God’s Will is not to avoid suffering and find comfort in this life.  Just the opposite, our purpose in life is to follow God’s Will despite the suffering it may bring.  Jesus followed God’s Will out of love for His Father and love for us.  Jesus’ love was greater than the physical pain He felt and that is why He got back up and continued to His crucifixion.  Likewise, God desires us to love Him despite the suffering we may encounter doing so.  We know that part of loving someone is to make sacrifices at times.  And while Jesus taking up His cross is an extreme example of this truth,  this mystery reminds us that we are also called to love God regardless of our earthly situation.

We may think there is a huge difference between the Son of God mustering up the strength to carry on in the face of great suffering versus us finding it in our daily struggles.  It is very common to question God’s plan when “the going gets tough” and we do not get what we want or what we think is fair.  I often come across people on Catholic forums asking, “Why me?”  “Why can’t I find a job?”  “Why can’t I find a good spouse?”  “Why did I get this illness?”  “I pray every day, I go to Mass, I go to Confession, and I don’t commit any mortal sins so why does God make my life so difficult?”  The answer to all these questions lies within this mystery.  Suffering is part of this life while our reward for loving God and doing His Will will be part of the next.  We endure the trials of this life because our faith tells us that we will find comfort and relief in God’s Kingdom.  Unfortunately, this is not the answer many of us want to hear.  We want instant miracles.  We want our problems to disappear.  We would love God to “bail us out” immediately when we pray to Him.  However, we do not see the big picture as God sees it.  What we see as monumental suffering now in this life ultimately amounts to nothing compared to the glory of Heaven that awaits us in the next life.  At the same time, following God’s Will, even in the face of great suffering, will yield tremendous happiness and comforts in Heaven.  And in the end, finding eternal happiness in Heaven is all that really matters, not the momentary suffering and comforts in this world.

We should pray for all those who have “fallen” in life that they find the strength to get back up and follow God’s plan.  We should pray for those who think God has abandoned them when in fact God is right here pushing them to work through their troubles.  We should pray for those who do not follow God’s Will just to reap the comforts of this life at the cost of comforts in the next one.  We should pray for the understanding that we love God most when we follow Him regardless of the earthly consequences.  Finally, we should pray for the faith that all earthly suffering will be relieved when we enter into our true home, God’s kingdom of Heaven.

Rosary Meditation — The Third Sorrowful Mystery

This rosary meditation focuses on the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns. The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus by dressing Him in royal purple and crowning Him with thorns (Mk. 15:17). They then mocked Him and pretended to pay Him homage (Mk. 15:19). Would the soldiers have acted so cavalier and arrogant if they truly understood who it was they were mocking? While we are not as brazen as those soldiers, we often mock Jesus by giving lip service to our faith. Instead of faithfully following Jesus, we too often dishonor Him by putting the fleeting treasures of this life in front of the treasures waiting for us in Heaven. Particularly in this time of Lent we must make a sincere effort to put Jesus first in our lives and honor Him the way He deserves.

This rosary meditation focuses on the Third Sorrowful Mystery — The Crowning of Thorns.  The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus by dressing Him in royal purple and crowning Him with thorns (Mk. 15:17).  They then mocked Him and pretended to pay Him homage (Mk. 15:19).  Would the soldiers have acted so cavalier and arrogant if they truly understood who it was they were mocking?  While we are not as brazen as those soldiers, we often mock Jesus by giving lip service to our faith.  Instead of faithfully following Jesus, we too often dishonor Him by putting the fleeting treasures of this life in front of the treasures waiting for us in Heaven.  Particularly in this time of Lent we must make a sincere effort to put Jesus first in our lives and honor Him the way He deserves.

We are often very much like the Roman soldiers who pretended to pay Jesus homage.  Sure, we may say that we are good Christians.  We might recite prayers every night and go to Mass every Sunday.  But do we truly believe that Jesus Christ is our king and savior?  Will we follow Him even when times are difficult and our faith runs contrary to society’s norms?  Or is our faith something done in isolation and detached from our “normal” lives?  For example, how many of your beliefs conflict with the Church’s teachings?  Or, when faced with a difficult situation, how often do you tell a “little white lie” or commit some other easy sin to serve your own ends?  Do you go to Confession without intending to truly turn away from your sins and live with a converted heart?  There are so many ways where we pretend to follow Jesus but our actions tell a different story.  And while our transgressions may seem small and inconsequential, they are like the little thorns on the crown we offer to Jesus.  When meditating upon this mystery think about how sincerely you praise and honor Jesus.  Do you practice and live the faith you profess or are you like the Roman soldiers who only pretended to honor Jesus?

For whose kingdom are you living?  We too often live for this worldly kingdom and not for Jesus’ kingdom of Heaven.  There are so many things that compete for our attention — money, power, possessions, and lust just to name a few.  But we must remember this verse from the Gospel of Matthew (6:24):

No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.

But how we try. However, as the verse says, by trying to serve two masters we often end up serving only one.  Since money and possessions are physical, quantifiable things it is often easier to live for them than it is to live for our treasures in Heaven.  After all, we only have it on faith that the riches of Heaven will far outweigh anything made in this world.  But since our eternal reward isn’t something advertised during the Super Bowl by a fancy advertising agency, we too often kick it aside for the things that we can see, hear, and touch.

Ask yourself in this time of Lent, what master are you serving?  What type of crown do you offer Jesus Christ?