Link Smorgasbord for October 2022

Throughout the day, I often come across articles on the internet that I want to write about. Unfortunately, I either run out of time or couldn’t make the article come together the way I like it. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting and worth reading.

One of my favorite radio shows puts on a segment called “Cleaning out the Sound Fridge” where they play news clips they didn’t find time to air in their usual features. So in that vein, I’m cleaning out the link fridge for October.

I mostly came across Rosary articles this month. Most of the topics I’ve covered in various RosaryMeds articles so I just couldn’t find new angles and themes to write on. But there are also some political stories that I think are important to be aware of.

The Difference Between Freedom and License

The Lost Art of Self-Control

I recently listened to a podcast produced by The Art of Manliness website titled What Happened to the Idea of Self Control? It was an interview with Daniel Akst, author of the book Temptation: Finding Self-Control in an Age of Excess. He brought up interesting points about how we’ve forgotten the benefits of self-control as a society. Instead, we now have this notion that resisting temptations and showing self-control are somehow contrary to exercising freedom.

When I listened to this podcast, I couldn’t help but think of the Israelites in the Old Testament. Countless times, their lack of self-control led to God punishing them. As I said in previous articles, I bet the “punishment” was just the logical consequence of a society acting immorally. When self-control is no longer valued or promoted by a culture, chaos results. The 10 Commandments and other moral laws don’t exist to inhibit peoples’ freedoms. It’s quite the opposite. They remind people of the foundational moral code that allows freedom to flourish.

Freedom vs. License

Let’s review the difference between freedom and license. Freedom is having the ability to freely choose how you want to live as long as it’s compatible with the common good. License, on the other hand, is doing whatever we feel like doing. We tend to confuse these concepts. True freedom results from people considering the consequences of their actions and how it affects others. Freedom is being able to choose between multiple good or neutral options. Choosing to do harm or evil isn’t exercising freedom, it’s taking license. We can never willingly choose evil under the name of freedom, free choice, or free will.

Elections and Freedom

The United States is entering its midterm elections. We’re not electing a new president, but we are electing members of Congress and voting on various laws. Abortion is a big topic now that the Supreme Court overturned federal abortion laws. You hear many pro-abortion politicians talk about the “freedom” to choose. Some even go so far as to promote radical abortion policies while holding rosaries or displaying religious imagery. They paint pro-life advocates as wanting to take away a woman’s freedom. But abortion is gravely immoral. Promoting abortion can never be an exercise of freedom. It’s an exercise in taking license.

Teaching people the evil of abortion and pushing for an abortion-free society does not impede people’s freedoms. A free society is not one where anything goes. That mindset inevitably leads to chaos and disorder. Look at many progressive cities in the United States like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, and Chicago. They are enshrining license in their laws by not enforcing laws against drugs, theft, and even certain violent crimes. This is in the name of “freedom”, “equity”, and numerous other buzzwords. However, these cities have become less free because law-abiding citizens are not safe to lead the life they want. Their freedom to choose the good is restricted so that others can exercise license.

How the Rosary Teaches Freedom

When I think about following God’s laws, I meditate on the First Luminous Mystery. I recall the Holy Spirit coming down on Jesus and God saying “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). God is telling everyone to listen and follow Jesus. And that really is the core of practicing the Catholic faith — listening to Jesus. We affirm this in the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Freedom comes down to listening to God and doing His Will out of a love for Him. Even for those who aren’t baptized Catholic, God still speaks to them through the natural law He created. We are all born free because everyone has the ability to know God and follow Him. We all intuitively understand the difference between good and evil and can make free decisions honoring God’s moral laws.

When you examine your conscience (which you hopefully do regularly), ask yourself if you exhibited freedom or license during the day. Did you allow God to guide you in your interactions with people? Look at some of your political views, politicians, and laws that you support. Do you support them because they are morally sound or because they are convenient? There are so many people who will see our world crumble as long as they get to stay on top. They do that by selling license disguised as freedom. Be smart, pray the Rosary, and see through the lies.

Our Lady of the Rosary

Happy feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary! I’m going to keep this short and sweet. Humbly pray the Rosary without reservation. He will bless you in so many different ways.

Today we celebrate the many victories in our lives. We celebrate a historical victory on this day, but we also celebrate God’s victory over sin. We celebrate our small daily victories when we choose to follow God and honor Him by living according to His Will.

I Finished Reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church

One of my goals this year was to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Like a New Year’s resolution, this has been a goal of mine quite a few times. I would start reading the CCC, but then eventually move on to something else. However, after completing Bible in a Year in 2021, I had a fresh resolve to make it through the CCC. In terms of page count, the Catechism is much shorter than the Bible. But it is packed with theological nutrients for the soul.

This was sitting on my self for decades

What the CCC is and is Not

I always thought the Catechism was a rulebook of dry “do this, not that” stanzas. I believed this because whenever I heard someone quote the CCC, it was mostly with the intent of correcting someone’s views of the Catholic Church. And while it certainly lays out various rules, it does so in the context of Church history, teachings, and the Bible. It’s a “do this, not that BECAUSE…” And the “because” is the important part.

The CCC breaks down into a few main sections.

  1. The Creed
  2. The Sacraments
  3. The 10 Commandments
  4. Prayer

Densely-Packed Spiritual Nutrients

Each one of these sections is like a strand of DNA — they are densely packed with information about the nature of God and our relationship with him. One strand of human DNA contains 3 billion base pairs in a 6-micron space. If you were to uncoil all your DNA in all your cells, it would stretch across the diameter of the solar system twice (link)!

The same principle goes with the Catechism. It takes words we profess like “I believe”, “one, holy, catholic, apostolic”, “Our Father”, “Hail Mary”, and “Though shalt not…” and uncoils their meanings over hundreds, if not thousands, of words. And while someone like me cannot recall the details of any single section of the CCC, it does provide the soul satisfying theological nutrients when regularly consumed.

Fuel for the Soul

The Catechism provides a fuller context for other spiritual practices such as Rosary prayer or the Liturgy of the Hours. The goal of my RosaryMeds website and books are to provide context and inspiration for the Holy Rosary. The CCC provides a greater context for the entire Catholic faith. I’m disappointed I didn’t discover the beauty and value of the Catechism until recently. But better late than never!

Here’s a little historical fact on the Catechism. The book that we reference today is relatively young. Saint John Paul II introduced it in 1992. I always thought the Catechism was something that dated back to the early Church. And while the teachings do, the book itself does not. There have been catechisms throughout the Church’s history, but they’ve been regional; written for specific audiences, and with emphasis on different topics. I think my next goal will be to read some of these older catechisms like the Baltimore Catechism. I hope I can build on my momentum of reading the Bible and the CCC and continue reading Catholic literature regularly.

Our Mother Mary’s Great Reasons to Pray the Rosary

I came across these articles providing suggestions on how to make the Rosary experience better for families, particularly those with young children. There are some interesting ideas in these articles that I hope you find useful to bring your family closer to Jesus through his mother, Mary. But all the “tips” in the world won’t matter if we don’t show a burning desire for praying the Rosary and practicing our faith. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then our example is worth a thousand pictures.

Leading Future Generations to the Rosary

My target audience for RosaryMeds is adults. So I take a more academic approach to draw people into Rosary prayer. There are still many adults who have not felt the joy through earnestly praying the Rosary. If we are to foster a love of the Rosary in children, adults need to love it first. I think of it like the oxygen mask protocol on airplanes — adults need to put on their masks first before assisting children. Likewise, adults need to embrace the Rosary first if they desire their children to embrace it.

Children learn so much from their parents’ example. Take Mass for example. Even if a child attends a Catholic school and learns about the importance of Mass in religion class, they probably won’t attend if their parents don’t go to Mass. First, there are logistical limitations such as transportation. But more importantly, kids follow their parents’ example, especially their father’s. If we don’t show a burning desire for our faith, we can’t expect the future generation to embrace it either.

I created RosaryMeds and wrote various books to show adults the beauty and power of the Rosary. I hope that these will inspire people to pray the Rosary and pass down that practice to the next generation. If you know anything about exponents in mathematics, a small change can produce dramatic results. If one person draws two people to the Rosary, and those two each draw in two more, and that pattern repeats itself, then in 20 “levels” (2^20) 1,048,576 people will be praying the Rosary. That’s a huge chain effect!

Mary’s Reasons for Rosary Prayer

I could try to come up with many reasons to pray the Rosary. But they will pale in comparison to our Mother Mary’s reasons. She provided us 15 promises to those who pray the Rosary. The Rosary provides benefits both in this life and helps us find eternal happiness in Heaven. Learning about these promises should motivate everyone to not only pray the Rosary but share its joys with others. Here is a taste of the benefits of Rosary prayer:

  • To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.
  • The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.
  • I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  • All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

Whether it’s through RosaryMeds articles, “Top Ten” lists, or Mary’s promises, we all need to pray the Rosary. The stakes are too high and the benefits too great not to pray it. I’m not saying that we’re entering some sort of “End Times” era and need to convert (although it feels like that sometimes). I don’t need to. Everyone, at every age, needs to treat all our time in this life praying, practicing, and converting. We all have a finite lifespan. So why not take up a practice that will serve you well in this life, and more importantly, in your eternal life?

Evil is Real, Prayer is Necessary

Suddenly Too Tired

Like most kids his age, my 7-year-old son has tons of energy. He runs around the house all day chasing his older brother. He talks at great length about his interests. He’s an active kid. But then, when it’s time for evening prayers, he is suddenly “too tired” to pray. If we’re lucky, we’ll get some mumbled prayers out of him but not much else. But then a miracle usually strikes and he’s soon jumping off sofa cushions before going to bed. It’s uncanny how he gets his second wind immediately after prayers are over.

Is what my son does during evening prayers really that much different from how many of us practice our faith? How many times do we not seem to have the energy to pray, fast, or go to Mass? And yet, we somehow find the energy to go to work, parties, and various social events. We can spend hours watching TV or sports, but can’t spare any time or energy to go to a church to pray.

The Real Risk of Sin

Many people diet and exercise because they want to avoid many medical complications that come from an unhealthy lifestyle. But exercise and diet can only lower your risk. They can’t guarantee that you won’t get sick or contract a serious disease. Because of this lack of certainty, many of us choose to roll the dice. We’ll take the immediate gratification now like eating what we feel like and sitting in front of a screen. Why not enjoy life now instead of trying to fight diseases we may never get right?

“I don’t need exercise; I have strong genes”

I think that mentality spills into many of our prayer lives. Prayer and living the Catholic faith aren’t a guarantee of earthly happiness. This is because we don’t see all the sins or unhappiness that we avoid through prayer. This is similar to how someone doesn’t exactly know all the diseases he didn’t get through exercise and healthy living. Unfortunately, it’s not knowing what didn’t potentially happen that dissuades many of us away from prayer, fasting, and receiving the sacraments.

Unlike a physical illness which we may not get whether we exercise or not, sin and temptation are a certainty. We face it every day and we need to be prepared. The war in Ukraine shows the evil that is always lurking around us just waiting to be unleashed. Here is what Ukrainian Greek Catholic Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk had to say about the nature of evil:

“This war reminds us more and more of the rules of unseen warfare, the spiritual struggle that every Christian wages with the devil, with evil, and his servants, Therefore, if we hide or conceal our sins, our flaws, they become stronger, they dominate us. But when we bring them to light, go to confession, speak of them truthfully to ourselves, and open our hearts to a spiritual father, it is as if we bring the devil to the light and take away his power.”

Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk

When we don’t pray, fast, attend Mass, or receive the sacraments, evil grows more powerful. I’ll reiterate that this isn’t a probability of sin and evil having an effect on you, it’s a certainty. Some people may get lucky and live a long healthy life without proper exercise and diet. But you can’t get lucky and avoid the wickedness and snares of the devil without a strong prayer life.

The devil is always around trying to lead us astray

How to Defeat Sin

Many of us are tied as we enter Holy Week and then the Easter season. We’ve been praying and fasting for over five weeks now. But now is not the time to let up on our commitment to faithfully serving God. Like I said in my previous post, God calls on all Catholics to be His elite followers. He asks a lot of us but only because the dangers are real. God loves each of us and doesn’t want us dominated by evil. We have the tools to fight back and remain in God’s grace:

  1. Prayer
  2. Fasting
  3. Reading the Bible
  4. Confession
  5. The Eucharist

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.

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

My Books are Now Free!

Because I’ve been less than thrilled by Amazon’s recent decisions to help block the free exchange of ideas and information, I’m pulling my books from its Kindle platform. The good news is that you can download PDF versions directly from the RosaryMeds website for free. Download them, convert them to whatever format you want, print them out, and share them with whoever you want. If you want print editions, you’ll still be able to purchase them on Amazon for now until I find a different printer. After all, I don’t have a printing press sitting in my house.

  • The Rosary for the Rest of Us: PDF
  • The Rosary Prayer Guide for the Rest of Us: PDF

If you find these books meaningful and feel like providing a small payment for them, you can contribute electronically. Your tips will go towards the hosting fees of

What the Rosary Teaches us about Preparation

In last Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus told the parable about the wedding guests and how one was thrown out because he wasn’t wearing appropriate attire.

But when the king came in to meet the guests,
he saw a man there not dressed in a wedding garment. 
The king said to him, ‘My friend, how is it
that you came in here without a wedding garment?’
But he was reduced to silence.
Then the king said to his attendants, ‘Bind his hands and feet,
and cast him into the darkness outside,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.’

For a long time, this part of the parable troubled me. I always felt bad for the guest who showed up only to be tossed out for not wearing the appropriate attire. Here was a king, desperate to have people attend his wedding banquet after the invited guests turned him down. And so someone, maybe out of a sense of pity, agreed to come only to be humiliated and thrown out. Hadn’t the king ever heard the saying, “beggars can’t be choosers?” What did he expect by going out and inviting random people to his banquet?

Like Jesus’ other parables, this one isn’t supposed to be taken literally. It’s not a lesson on the etiquette of first-century wedding attire. Similar to the parable of the workers in the field, Jesus is using a simile about God and Heaven. Like any comparison, it’s not going to line up exactly. It’s the overall message and lesson being taught that is important, not the details used for illustration.

The point Jesus made in this parable was that God invites everyone to His Heavenly Kingdom. But that doesn’t mean we can act however we want and He has to accept us. Let’s look at this parable from a different point of view. Maybe the person without the garment wasn’t someone who could not afford one and maybe he wasn’t driven by pity to attend the banquet. Maybe he figured that because the king was asking everyone, he wouldn’t care how people came. Maybe, it was out of laziness that this person came to the banquet not attempting to make himself presentable. Basically, he was being what we would call a freeloader — someone looking to score a free meal.

I think that is the point of the parable — God won’t accept freeloaders in Heaven. While He desires all of us to be with Him in Heaven, we have to truly want to be there too. And if we want something, we have to work towards it. We can’t be lazy, selfish, or self-entitled. God made the rules quite clear through the 10 Commandments and Jesus’ teachings. Much like how people are expected to know the proper attire for a wedding banquet, we are expected to know and follow God’s laws for entering Heaven.

Preparation in the Rosary

Think about the Third Luminous Mystery, Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and His Call to Conversion. We can think of conversion as us putting on the proper banquet attire and following proper etiquette. Our conversion is us taking off our worldly desires and sinful behavior so that we can appropriately sit at God’s banquet table in Heaven. We should be so excited about that prospect that we prepare ourselves here in this earthly life.

Praying the Rosary and meditating on the mysteries is about preparation. I forget who said it, but there’s a piece of wisdom that says, “if you don’t prepare for all possible circumstances, you haven’t prepared at all.” Well, death and judgment isn’t just a possible circumstance, it’s a certainty. Maybe the person in the parable without the wedding garment had one, but it was dirty. Or maybe he lost it. Whatever the case, he wasn’t prepared when the king invited him to the banquet. Ask yourself, are you prepared to attend God’s heavenly feast? Or are you still clinging to your worldly garments?

I like to pray for those who are close to death and judgment when I pray the Second Glorious Mystery. Jesus ascended into Heaven to make a place for each of us. He is the king making room at the banquet. However, many are not prepared. I pray for those in danger of being thrown out of the heavenly feast because they came before God not adequately “dressed.” Or some may need to wait a long time in Purgatory before being allowed to sit at God’s table. Pray for everyone close to death, especially those who don’t know it because maybe God will call on them suddenly and without warning. Pray that those who need it most receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and that we all make an effort towards conversion. Let’s all have our Heavenly wedding attire close at hand.