What Shall We Do With Jesus the Messiah During Easter?

With Covid cases dropping in many places around the world and more people being vaccinated, I’m starting to hear how things will get back to normal again. Unfortunately, looking at the empty pews in the church at Mass on Divine Mercy Sunday, for many people normal means going to Mass only at Christmas and Easter.

We aren’t the first ones to look at the post-Easter Sunday as a return to secular normalcy. Some of the apostles also believed that they would resume their lives prior to following Jesus. Peter talked about how he would go back to fishing (John 21:3). In a way, it did seem like Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were just a moment in time for the apostles much like how Easter Sunday comes and goes for many of us without a lasting effect.

Simon Peter told them, “I am going fishing.”

Of course, Easter Sunday isn’t just a single day of prayer and celebration before resuming our normal lives. In fact, the Easter season lasts 50 days. Much like how Lent is 40 days of preparation, Easter is 50 days of celebration! That should be 50 days of continual prayer, reading scripture, and giving thanks to God. It’s not a time to go back to normal and forget about God until Christmas.

The Rosary

I know you might find it strange meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries during the Easter season. But I think we can meditate on the Second Sorrowful Mystery and the question posed by Pontius Pilate. It’s a small question, but worth extra thought.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

Matthew 27:22

Pilate’s solution was to let the people crucify Jesus. In other words, get Jesus out of the way. By getting rid of Jesus, Pilate thought he would rid the world of his teachings so things can get back to normal. The Pharisees would stop being called hypocrites. They wouldn’t bother Pilate about matters of little interest to the Roman empire. The people would go back to following the Mosaic Law instead of following Jesus’ teachings and questioning the Pharisees.

“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?”

Many of us act the same way after Easter Sunday. We just want to get Jesus out of the way and return to the status quo. Maybe it’s because we’re fatigued from 40 days of Lent and fasting. Or perhaps you didn’t fast during Lent and don’t want the Easter season to continually remind you how you fell short of your goals. Or you don’t want to think about going to Mass every single Sunday, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, praying, and all that other stuff the Church “makes” us do. Some of us, even the most faithful, want to get Jesus out of the way because Jesus’ way is a difficult one.

In this season of Easter, let’s not think of our faith as a burden and something to be avoided. Put yourself in the shoes (or sandals) of the first disciples and think of the joy they must have felt when they learned that Jesus had risen. Were they confused and maybe a little scared? Probably. Did they immediately understand what it all meant? Not really. We may also be confused about what Jesus’ rising from the dead means to us. But like the early Church grappling with Christ’s resurrection, we have this whole Easter season to ask ourselves what we should do with Jesus.

Having Faith in God’s Plan

Anyone who is around children knows that they don’t always follow good advice. Sometimes, when I see my boys making things more difficult for themselves, I offer suggestions to improve the situation. It might be providing them a better way to resolve a conflict or a nicer way to ask for what they want. But despite me only wanting what’s best for them, sometimes their stubbornness or their lack of understanding has them doing things their own way which often leads to further hardship.

One of my goals for 2021 is reading the entire Bible. I bought a special Bible from the Augustine Institute for the task. It’s divided into 365 sections with Old and New Testament readings each day. I’m currently on Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and I’ve noticed a few things about how the Israelites continually didn’t listen to God to their own detriment.

Doubting God in the Bible

It wasn’t God’s intent to have the Israelites wander the desert for 40 years after leaving Egypt. But when they arrived in the promised land, the Israelites’ scouts said they weren’t powerful enough to fight the current inhabitants. Their lack of faith in His plan angered God and that is why He told them they would not be able to enter the land for 40 years. Despite God telling the Israelites that He was with them, they kept acting like they were on their own without God’s guidance and protection.

We can look at the Israelites in the Old Testament and say, “I would have been different; I would have trusted God’s plan.” But that’s what St. Peter told Jesus. He was ready to follow Jesus to his death (Matthew 26:35). And then, when things got real and Jesus was arrested, Peter denied that he knew him! All the apostles fled and hid in fear despite all they had witnessed. Like the Israelites, the apostles just couldn’t let go of their rational, human way of looking at God’s plan. They clung to that doubt that even God has limits.

Our Doubts

And what about us? Let’s face it, the world isn’t in the best shape right now. Do we think that Covid-19 is a problem even too big for God to solve? Sure, we may pray to ask God to help those suffering from the pandemic. But how much confidence do we really have in God’s ability to lead us through these challenging times? We proclaim that God is all-loving and all-powerful. But how much confidence do we put in those words?

The Rosary

Look at Simeon in the Fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. God told him he would not die until he saw the Messiah. The Israelites had been waiting for the Messiah for generations. How easy it would have been for Simeon to dismiss this proclamation and write it off as a moment of insanity. And yet Simeon didn’t doubt God’s plan like the Old Testament Israelites. He faithfully prayed in the temple waiting for Jesus’ arrival.

Fourth joyful mystery Resources

When we pray, let’s really put our faith in God’s ability to do anything no matter how far-fetched it may seem. Maybe, if enough of us really show that level of faith, any number of miracles can happen. Think about all those people Jesus cured. What did he say? Often, Jesus said, “Your faith has healed you.” Where there is faith and humble openness to God, miracles flourish. Maybe we can change the world for the better if we all did a little less doubting in God and have more faith in His unlimited power.

Fasting During Lent

One of the harder aspects of Lent is fasting. We all love our food in whatever form it comes in — a sweet apple, a well-prepared steak, a crunchy carrot, or a square of chocolate. Eating is so engrained in our day that it’s hard to go without it, even for a few hours. But going without food is what God asks of us during Lent.

How the Saints Fasted

I read this article on Catholic Exchange that talks about the physiology of fasting and maybe how the saints of old may have known something that modern medicine is only now able to explain. Humans are built to fast but it’s something we no longer exercise regularly.

When you fast well, it starts to make sense that the Saints fasted in order to achieve closer communion with God — as we might say, to “supercharge” their prayer. It’s hard to imagine St. Anthony of the Desert felt as many people say they do when they fast — cranky and tired. It seems much more likely that he experienced both mental and physical benefits from fasting.

Suzan Sammons in Modern Insights on an Old Lenten Practice

We already know that throughout history people consumed fewer calories than we do today. Their bodies were trained for fasting. That may account for many of the fasting claims in the bible. The story of John the Baptist surviving off of locusts and honey or Jesus fasting for 40 days in the desert may not be that far-fetched. In the modern era, with a restaurant on every block, a fully stocked pantry, and a GrubHub app on our phones, we haven’t trained our bodies for fasting. But through much of human history, going through periods of fasting was a normal occurrence.

Does that mean that the saints’ fasts didn’t really count because they were used to it? On the contrary, fasting supercharged their prayers. Once the body moves from the digestive state to a fasting state, food is no longer in the equation. The body then starts to go into a conservative state which is conducive to meditation and deeper prayer. That’s what you want during Lent, right?

Rediscovering God through Fasting

Lent is a perfect time to retrain our bodies to fast. Now, this isn’t medical advice so please don’t go starving yourself or do anything dangerous. Just know that if you’re a healthy adult your body is capable of going without food longer than you may think. Like fighting the temptation to sin, you have to fight that urge to eat when you feel just the least bit hungry. And while eating because you’re hungry isn’t sinful, the whole idea of fasting is that you are showing God how much you love Him by forsaking a mild earthly pleasure and put yourself in a meditative state.

How does fasting bring us closer to God? Face it, many of us can become slaves to food. Think about how little control you feel when you are hungry. All you can think about is food. And when you’re in that state, food can become a sort of false idol consuming all your thoughts. But hunger can also become a reminder to ask God for help. If God can help you fight hunger pains, think of all the other dimensions of your life He can help you with. You just have to remember to take the time to acknowledge your dependence on God and earnestly ask for His help. And there lies much of the spiritual value of fasting.

When you feel tempted to dive into the bag of cookies or a box of crackers, try reaching for your Rosary instead. Ask God for help in keeping a good Lenten fast. Take the time to ask God for help with other challenges in your life. Thank Him for the fact that you do have food to eat when you’re done fasting. Thank Him that fasting is a choice; a choice many people around the world do not have. Meditate on Jesus in the desert. It was through fasting, not feasting, that Jesus was able to resist Satan’s temptations.

Want to learn more about the science of fasting? Here’s an interesting documentary on it: Fasting (2017) – IMDb

Beating Temptations During Lent

Fasting and sacrifice, the hallmarks of Lent. These are often hard to follow particularly because of the focus given to them. It’s like when someone says “don’t look down!” You have this reflex to immediately want to look down. And when Jesus asks you to “go without,” the first thing you crave is whatever you gave up for Lent. I love donuts, but I don’t eat them all the time. Normally, not having one for a few weeks is no big deal. But when I give them up for Lent, I feel like all I see driving through town are donut shops.

Wild Beasts

Our 40 days of Lent mirror Jesus’ 40 days in the desert when he prepared himself for his ministry. As Fr. Nnamdi Moneme summarizes on Catholic Exchange:

“He remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.” Satan pressured Him to turn stones to bread, jump down from the temple and worship him. Jesus neither fled from the “wild beasts” in the desert nor yield to the tempter; but He resisted till His Father acted and sent Him ministering angels, “He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to Him.”

Mark 1:13

We are among “wild beasts” in our lives as well. But those wild beasts are the temptation to sin or break our Lenten observance. And sadly, I’ve fallen to these wild beasts more than once in my life. Many years ago, I would give up a dozen things for Lent knowing full well I would break most of them. I would then claim victory because I kept one or two of them by the time Easter came about. I told myself those were the ones I meant to keep all along. Clever right? It was Lent by process of elimination which defeats the point. It’s like telling people that you fasted for an hour; it’s a really low bar.

Satan’s Hunting Season

Unfortunately, when we resolve to fast and sacrifice during Lent, Satan doubles his efforts to make us fall. Fr. Moneme goes on to say:

In our temptations, we are pressured by the devil, the world, and our sinful flesh to act immediately to meet what we consider our pressing needs. We are pressured to act so that we do not “miss out” on some advantage or benefit, even if we cannot exactly describe what exactly we are missing out on.

It’s not like I’ll never have another donut or glass of wine again. It’s just 40 days. But Satan or our hunger has a way of overpowering that logic and creates a pressing need. Satan knows that we made a promise to God which makes the fall and our discouragement all the greater. For Satan, Lent must be a great “hunting season” since he knows the added burdens the faithful place on themselves.

What are we to do? Again, let’s look at Fr. Moneme’s advice:

We can start by choosing to do the will of God at the present moment while we postpone our thinking about the temptation. We can say, “Today, I want to do the will of God for me. Tomorrow I can think about this temptation.” We can constantly and consistently postpone thinking about the temptation by repeatedly saying day after day, “Tomorrow I can think about it. For now, I want to do the will of God.”

Keeping Satan on Hold

It’s like we’re scam-baiting Satan. Scam-baiting means keeping a scam phone call going for as long as possible so you tie up the scammer’s time. While he’s wasting his time talking to you, he isn’t scamming a more susceptible victim. We can tell Satan, “maybe tomorrow.” And when we do that day after day, a few things happen. First, we build up strength knowing that we can resist temptation. Second, with God’s help, we start to realize that pressing urge really isn’t that important. Third, Satan will realize his efforts aren’t working and will go look for easier prey.

And what RosaryMeds post would be complete without talking about the Rosary? Given the length of praying the typical five decades (about 20 minutes), it’s a good amount of time to ride out whatever craving or temptation you have. I’ve said in the past when you are earnestly praying the Rosary, you can’t be sinning at the same time. When you feel tempted, take your beads out of your pocket (because naturally, you have them with you at all times) and start praying. Think of Rosary prayer as your spiritual “break in case of emergency” box. Mary will help you through it.

Owning Lent

I’m always telling my kids that they need to show responsibility and ownership or someone else will. For example, owning their toys and games means not breaking them, putting them away, and not losing pieces. If they don’t take responsibility for keeping them functional, they will get lost or break. Or I may accidentally throw out a random, loose piece or someone will step on and break something carelessly left on the floor. The lesson being taught is that one way or another, something is going to happen to those toys and games. It’s better to be the one in control rather than leave it up to others.

Similarly to responsible ownership of things, we also have to own our faith. What I mean by that is that we need to actively manage or participate in it. But it’s something we often fail at. We sort of float through life, going to Mass on Sundays and saying a few prayers but not much else. When we go to Mass, we go into autopilot with the responses and listen to the priest the same way we listen to someone giving a lecture or presentation. We’re there physically but absent spiritually. And many times, we don’t go out of our way to attend Adoration or the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Basically, we don’t give our faith a lot of thought.

Don’t be a Simon

We are often like Simon of Cyrene. He was forced into helping Jesus carry the cross. I like to think of him as someone who was there because he was curious about what was going on. He wanted to see who Jesus was and what was this big deal about him. I think he had no other plan than to passively watch the day’s events unfold. And the next thing he knew, the soldiers picked him out of the crowd and made him shoulder the weight of the cross. That was probably something unexpected and unwelcome.

Jesus said that we all must carry our crosses. But we have a choice. We can either choose our crosses or someone else will thrust one on us. In this season of Lent, we have many “crosses” to choose from. We can fast, abstain, and increase our prayers and charity. But the key is to actively invest in these practices to more fully embrace our faith and increase our love for Jesus. Otherwise, we become like Simon where hardships are thrust upon us.

In not embracing the faith, we may avoid the relatively minor crosses of Mass, prayer, fasting, etc. But we give up so much more. We lose the joy that comes from celebrations like Easter and Christmas and even Sunday Mass. Without the lows of fasting and the highs of celebration, we live in a flat desert of spirituality. We don’t feel connected to God or protected by Him. We are left to our own devices to face our often harsh world and the snares of the devil.

Active Faith in the Rosary

Compare Simon to Mary in the Second Joyful Mystery. She made a conscious decision to travel while pregnant and help her cousin Elizabeth. She wasn’t passive after the Annunciation but actively decided to serve others. It was probably an uncomfortable journey and a lot of hard work. But it was an active choice. It was a “cross” Mary wanted to carry.

Don’t let this Lent pass by. Own it. There’s still time to make a plan on how you want to make this time different and special. If you don’t already pray the Rosary daily, resolve to do it for the remainder of Lent. Make a plan to read Scripture daily, or fast, or visit a church and sit silently in prayer. Don’t be a Simon and think you can just observe Jesus at a distance. Be like Mary and the saints and actively embrace him.

Family Rosary Prayer Ideas

This one is for you parents out there who are trying to pray the Rosary as a family. I prefer to say the Rosary alone either when I wake up or before going to bed. Trying to wrangle the kids took away much of the meditative and restorative value of the Rosary. But at the same time, it’s also important to teach children to love praying the Rosary, especially during Lent.

Here are some of Janele Hoerner’s ideas for praying the Rosary as a family.

  1. Build up to a full Rosary a day! One decade a day 5 times a week is a full Rosary a week.
  2. Say 1 decade 5 times throughout the day!
  3. Forget English – teach your children a new language!
  4. Listen to the Rosary to follow along – do not just say it yourself!
  5. Make it a cuddly atmosphere!

I have some of my own as well.

  1. Involve signing. Every fifth Hail Mary is sung.
  2. Include Scripture reading and/or a little discussion about each Rosary mystery. This gives everyone some more context and you’re not just saying prayers in a vacuum.
  3. Go around the room and have everyone state an intention or thanksgiving at the start of each decade.
  4. Don’t make the Rosary a form of punishment. It may be tempting to have kids pray a decade when they do something wrong so they can think about it, ask for guidance, or calm down. But they’ll just start associating the Rosary with being in trouble and that won’t lead anywhere you good.
  5. Strive for quality, not quantity. I think it’s better to have one good decade, with Scripture, intentions, and focus than to race through five decades on autopilot. Over time, you can increase the number of decades said in one sitting.
  6. Be excited about it. Children can sense their parents’ emotions. If you aren’t excited about Rosary prayer, how do you expect your children to be excited?
  7. Normalize it. Make Rosary prayer part of the daily routine. There is less chance of pushback if isn’t seen as “extra prayers.”

How to Start the Day Off Right

I’m always looking for more motivation to pray, especially as we enter the season of Lent. But too often we see prayer as drudgery and something we feel obligated to do. When we view prayer in this light, we don’t really gain anything from it. Instead of drudgery, Pope Francis wants us to see prayer as energizing, restorative, and joyful. It should be the way we all start our day.

Prayer transforms a person’s day “into grace, or better, it transforms us: it appeases anger, sustains love, multiplies joy, instills the strength to forgive,” the pope said Feb. 10 during his weekly general audience.

Pope Francis (as reported in the Catholic San Francisco)

I try to make the Rosary the first thing I do in the morning when I wake up. Okay, in all honesty, it’s the first thing I do when I’m half-awake. The Rosary has become my spiritual snooze button. I pray the first few decades in bed after my alarm rings but before I actually start my morning routine. Instead of lying in bed thinking about how I don’t want to get up, the Rosary helps build up my resolve to start the day on a positive note.

Praying for Those Who are Unhappy

“Those people who always are judging others have an awful life; they are always condemning, judging,” he said. “It’s a sad, unhappy life. Jesus came to save us. Open your heart, forgive, excuse the others, understand them, be close to them, have compassion and tenderness, like Jesus.”

Pope Francis

We all know these people; they are on Facebook and Twitter always voicing their outrage de jour. Their day is terrible because of what some politician did or what some celebrity said. The fact that someone may see the world differently is abhorrent to them because they don’t understand how anyone can go through their day not in a similar state of misery. And while I prefer not to engage with these people over social media, we should pray for them and for us as well.

Think of the Second Luminous Mystery, the miracle at Cana. We live in a world of miracles and yet so often, we refuse to see them. We focus so much on the 24/7 news cycle that we fail to appreciate the people in our lives whether they be our spouse, friends, or family. Or we fail to see our boredom or routine as opportunities to build our relationship with God. The wedding at Cana was a disaster when the wine ran out but it turned into an opportunity for Jesus to show himself to those present. And so, maybe we should think of the disasters in our life as opportunities for Jesus to work miracles within us.

Our lifestyles have made it easier to have less meaning and to feel in a constant state of despair. Pope Francis tells us that it doesn’t need to be the case. Starting prayer early and often can help pull us and others out of despair and provide a sense of hope. Because when we pray, we acknowledge God in our life. And when see God in our lives and He becomes the purpose of our day, we may find that we have the ability to make it through any challenge.

“When we are accompanied by the Lord, we feel more courageous, freer and also happier,” he said. “So, let’s pray always and for everyone, even our enemies. This is what Jesus advised us, ‘Pray for your enemies.'”

Pope Francis

The Rosary: Spiritual Armor

I may have painted a rather bleak picture in my last few articles about chastisements and politics. After all, what child wants to get into trouble, and what adult wants to be chastised? But the struggle, hardship, and challenges are part of being human and no one is immune to them. Thankfully, we don’t face them alone and have great protection if we take the right steps to accept them. I, of course, am talking about receiving Mary’s protection by praying the Rosary.

When the family (or culture) is attacked, you and I do not fight alone: we are accompanied by the best of soldiers—Jesus Christ, the Blessed Mother, the choirs of angels, and the saints. The challenge is to allow them into our battles, obey their strategies, and follow their lead. In combat, they guide us to know when to move defensively or offensively.

Kathleen Beckman

In her article on Catholic Exchange, Kathleen Beckman talks about how we don’t face challenges alone, whether they be temptations from Satan or chastisements from God. We always have Mary’s protection. Like a commander on the battlefield, she leads us into battle against Satan. Battles are unpleasant, but that’s exactly what we’re engaged in by the fact that we have souls that both Satan and God desire to claim.

The Blessed Mother is perfectly attuned to the spiritual and temporal needs of families. Our gentle and fierce Mother, moved by the weight of divine love, blesses the domestic church with an abundance of grace. Always aware of the exalted role of the family, and knowing the manifold ways that Satan attacks it, Mother Mary watches over us. The Immaculate Heart is compelled to act in holy boldness on our behalf. Adorned with heaven’s endowment, the Virgin Mary is the most powerful warrior in the Lord’s entire army. Never doubt that God has anointed Our Holy Mother for spiritual combat and victory.  

Kathleen Beckman

This is why praying the Rosary is so important. We can’t hide from Satan. We don’t stand a chance standing up against Satan alone. We can’t “sit this one out” and not participate. We are all in this battle whether we like it or not. If we have no choice but to fight, we might as well put on our best armor and go to war with a great army.

By praying the Rosary, we call upon Jesus, Mary, saints, and angels to protect us. In fact, one of Mary’s 15 promises uses a war metaphor comparing the Rosary to armor:

The rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

Mary’s 3rd promise to those who pray the Rosary

We have to pray the Rosary regularly so that we are always prepared to do battle. Preparation is the best protection. While the Rosary is a powerful prayer on its own, its power increases greatly as you build upon it day after day. Like exercise, the first pushup doesn’t transform your body. It’s somewhere between the first and 10,000th pushup that changes you. Similarly, it’s somewhere in the thousands of Rosary prayers that make you strong enough to destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.

When we pray the Rosary, here’s how Mary helps us defeat evil spirits. Take it to heart and explicitly ask for Mary’s intervention the next time you pray the Rosary.

Mary is the vessel — the mediatrix — of God’s grace. God anointed her for spiritual warfare as the most powerful threat to Satan because of her extraordinary union with Jesus.

Because God chose the Virgin Mary to be the New Eve against demons, the name of Mary has a similar impact to the name of Jesus. This is seen during exorcisms. Demons are terrified of the Virgin Mary who always champions a person’s liberation from evil.

Mary’s holy, maternal presence is extraordinarily painful to demons. They know the efficacy of Marian intervention. The Incarnation — the undoing of the devil — was fulfilled in Mary. 

Mary’s virtues and union with the Holy Spirit make her a fierce destroyer of diabolical plots and tactics. Her life-giving love and defense of God’s family are infuriating to prideful demons. 

Mary, Culture, Family, and Spiritual Warfare

Biden and Pelosi, Who do You Serve?

Compare the relatively short lines for Confession on Saturday to the long lines for Communion on Sunday. We’re either living in an era of saints or people are receiving Communion who should not.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about Catholic politicians in the United States and whether they should receive Communion if they publicly support abortion. Namely, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and President Biden have come under fire. Pelosi infamously said that those who supported Trump because of his pro-life support “sold democracy down the river over one issue.” And Biden, in his spree of executive orders, reversed the Mexico City policy which prohibited U.S. funding of foreign organizaitons that promote abortion.

The Real Presence

The San Francisco Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, provided a profound response to Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden. He didn’t just address them but took the opportunity to comment on how Catholics, in general, are forgetting what is considered the foundation of the Catholic faith — the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.

“For that kind of action [denial of Communion] to make sense to a lot of people, we need to reclaim this sense of what it means to receive [Communion],” Archbishop Cordileone said, pointing to a lack of belief in the real presence of the Eucharist among Catholics. “What are you really saying when you receive Communion? To me, it goes hand-in-hand with this decline in the belief of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist,” he said.

Archbishop Cordileone

Archbishop Cordileone backed up his statements citing Canon Law. Whether you agree or not, abortion or publicly supporting abortion is a mortal sin. And individuals in a state of mortal sin must not receive Jesus in the Eucharist. That’s a clear teaching of the Catholic Church. It’s not something up for debate and can be vetoed or eliminated through executive action because people don’t like it.

Watering Down Catholic Beliefs

It would be great if bishops and cardinals would all be one, clear voice on that matter. Unfortunately, there are those who confuse the issue like Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego:

These bishops, he said, “argue that abortion is not merely a ‘preeminent’ issue in Catholic Social Teaching, but rather constitutes the de facto litmus test for determining whether a Catholic public official is a faithful Catholic, and for determining whether the overall policy stances of non-Catholic officials can be considered morally legitimate.” He added that “if adopted, such a position will reduce the common good to a single issue.”

Bishop Robert McElroy

It’s sad that bishops will throw the Eucharist under the bus under the false sense that it will somehow bring about the common good. How can the Church or government bring about the common good if we confuse what “good” and “evil” even are? What it does is undermine one of the foundations of the Catholic Church. It doesn’t unify but divides not just pro-abortion vs. pro-life groups, but Catholics against Catholics. It creates a Church where people have wildly different beliefs which then fractures the Catholic identity. We see this all the time now where there are the pro-life Catholics, social justice Catholics, pre-Vatican II Catholics, Christmas and Easter Catholics, etc. Each with their own ideas of what the Church teaches.

What frustrates me about Bishop McElroy’s comments is his rather narrow view on why we can’t correct and guide Catholic politicians doing un-Catholic things. I inferred from his comments that we cannot call out politicians over abortion because focusing on that one issue will overshadow good qualities they may possess. Really? Is our government or Church really any better because of politicians like Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden? Are we admitting that there are no other Catholics out there that adhere to the Church’s teachings and can promote the common good? Pelosi is the best we can do? Are we so weak as a Church that we’ll readily water down Jesus’ teachings so that politicians like Pelosi and Biden can feel like good Catholics and good Democrats?

The Truth is Hard

It’s not easy being a Catholic. Jesus didn’t say that it was. But these pro-abortion Catholic politicians can’t have it both ways. They have to decide what they love more — Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church or their positions of power and support from Planned Parenthood. If they think they are entitled to receive Communion in a state of mortal sin, then what exactly do they think they are receiving? If Jesus was present in human form, would they come to him clinging to their pro-abortion position or begging for forgiveness?

Too difficult to give up the sin? That’s what separates the saints from the rest of us. The saints had the courage to give up all they had to follow Jesus. There were many saints like Saint Francis of Assisi, who came from great wealth. He threw that all away to serve God. And there are other saints that died protecting the Eucharist like Saint Tarcisius. We’ve gone from people willing to die for their faith to those scared of upsetting Pelosi and Biden by correcting their understanding of Church teachings.

Not Just the Politicians

It’s easy to point fingers at Nancy Pelosi or Joe Biden. But let’s be honest, most of us, unless we just received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, aren’t saints either. We are guilty of often not appreciating the power and importance of the Eucharist whenever we zone out at Mass (or not go to Mass). Most of us probably wouldn’t have the courage to give up our money, livelihoods, or lives to protect the sanctity of the Eucharist. If we did have a saintly level of commitment to the Eucharist, wouldn’t we be demanding more from our priests and bishops to both teach the importance of the Eucharist and defend its role as the cornerstone of the Catholic faith? Instead, we go out of our way to accommodate and validate politicians’ warped understanding of Catholicism.

The Rosary: Fifth Luminous Mystery

When you pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery, pray for increased faith in the Real Presence in the Eucharist. And pray for all those souls who receive Jesus in an unworthy state. Pray for our Church leaders, that they follow Archbishop Cordileone’s lead and project a unified voice on the importance of the Eucharist.

The Importance of Chastisements

Many parents know that young kids aren’t always the most responsible or polite. We need to constantly remind them about things like showing proper manners, remembering to do their homework, and keeping their rooms clean. Sometimes we reward them with a treat when they remember to do something right and other times, if the lapse in judgment is severe enough, we punish them. The goal of the rewards and punishments is to instill in them a sense of how to live happily and peacefully.

Medjugorje’s Ten Secrets

God treats us much like how parents treat their children. Often, to get our attention and to show us the right way to live, God provides us signs in both miracles (rewards) and chastisements (punishments). But they have the same goal — to make us aware of our sinful ways and motivate us to convert. And in conversion, we ultimately find peace and happiness in God’s grace. In his book, Medjugorje’s Ten Secrets, author Dan Lynch talks about chastisements and how to prepare for them.

Even if you don’t believe in the authenticity of Mary’s appearances at Medjugorje, this book is still a good read. In fact, the Medjugorje aspects of the book are quite small and don’t provide any new information. This is because the visionaries are steadfast in not talking about the secrets they received from Mary.

The book could have been easily been titled something like “Chastisements Explained” or “101 Reasons to Convert Right Now.” Most of the book is spent explaining why God chastises us and what Mary’s messages in the past teach us about chastisements. It provides many resources on how to live a spiritually healthy lifestyle such as explaining the importance of:

  • Prayer
  • Conversion
  • Fasting
  • Penance
  • Receiving the Eucharist

The Importance of Chastisements

While it’s scary to think that there are some dark days ahead, the purpose of this book isn’t to scare and discourage you. There is a message of hope that no matter how bad things get in this life, the faithful will be comforted in Heaven for all eternity. But hopefully, there will be more souls enjoying Heaven because chastisements will bring forth conversion.

Chastisements and miracles are two sides of the same coin — they both get our attention and cause us to realize the awesome power and love of God. God is no dummy. He sees how easily people turn away from him to lives of sin and immorality when humanity gets a bit too comfortable. Sometimes, He needs to wake us up to the fact that there is more than what this world provides. God needs to get our attention, sometimes with miracles and sometimes with tragedy. But in the end, they bring more people into deeper communion with Him.

Abortion is just one of the many reasons why God needs to wake us up through chastisements

The Rosary Connection

The main idea behind the Medjugorje secrets and chastisements is to bring about conversion. Focus on your personal conversion when you meditate on the Third Luminous Mystery. After all, the word “conversion” is right there in the title — The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Conversion. We all have some sort of converting to do because none of us are perfect. We all have obstacles to overcome that prevent us from living 100% for God. When you pray, ask God to help you identify your weaknesses and give you the will to change them.

One of the messages in Dan Lynch’s book is that we shouldn’t worry about the details of the 10 secrets from Medjugorje. We should already be living a life of prayer, fasting, and conversion. Worrying about the chastisements is like worrying over the end of the world. We shouldn’t wait for supernatural events to motivate us to convert because our personal end (aka death) may come before they take place. We need to act without our Mother Mary nagging or chastising humanity in a big way. If you wait too long because you’re waiting for a big sign, you may miss the opportunity to convert. The “big sign” might be you standing before God and it will be too late to convert.