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.

Blessed Are Those Who Believe Who Have Not Seen

I read this article on Catholic Exchange about the miracle of the “Dancing Sun” at Fatima on October 13th, 1917. On that day, 70,000 people witnessed the sun moving around the sky as if it was dancing. There is no scientific explanation about the event and believers and skeptics both witnessed it. The article said the following:

The sun moved around in a curious fashion. It became very bright and seemed to move around as no one had ever seen it. The best way to describe it was a “dance of the sun.” This day has been called “the day the sun danced.” 70,000 pilgrims witnessed the event firsthand. People from other villages also reported seeing the curious movement of the sun. Some were as far away as twenty-five miles. The event was reported in newspapers around the world and really cannot be doubted.

Fr. Nicholas Sheehy, LCThe Day the Sun Danced Over Fatima

70,000 people! That’s a large athletic stadium filled to capacity. And yet many of us still have doubts about the existence of God, the power of faith, and following the teachings of Jesus. We doubt because we didn’t personally witness the event despite thousands of people saying it was true. It seems ridiculous that we discount the testamony of thousands of people because we didn’t experience it ourselves. If the events at Fatima don’t drive us to give Mary our full attention and really internalize Her desire for us to embrace Her son, Jesus Christ, what will?

I think of Fatima when I pray the Second Glorious Mystery of the Rosary — the Ascension. Many people saw the risen Jesus after His resurrection until His ascension into Heaven. But because we didn’t see Him with our own two eyes and it was nearly 2000 years ago (no smartphones and Twitter), Jesus’ ministry just doesn’t have a large impact on us. But should the fact that it happened so long ago really lessen the impact and importance of Jesus’ mission on Earth?

I think about the apostle Thomas who didn’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection until he was able to personally see Jesus and touch His wounds. And Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29). How many of us are like Thomas? Despite accounts from literally thousands, if not millions of people, over the ages, we still have our doubts about putting our lives entirely in God’s hands. We are like Thomas, clinging to our doubts because God hasn’t announced Himself in our lives to our satisfaction. That falls under the sin of pride — not accepting God’s ways but expecting God to conform to our expectations.

I also can’t help but think of the parable of Lazarus. The rich man, in the agony of Hell, asks Abraham to warn his sons about the consequences of not caring for those in need. But Abraham says that all they need to know has already been told to them through the prophets.

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’

Bible Gateway

How many of us act like the rich man and ask God to send some definite, irrefutable sign of His existence and love for us? I like to change the last verse a little by rephrasing it like this: “If we don’t believe in what is written in the Bible, expressed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or witnessed through countless miracles, we won’t be convinced if God hosted a podcast and posted selfies on Twitter.” We have all the signs and evidence we need to fully embrace God by embracing our faith. When you pray the Rosary, ask yourself, what is preventing you from fully embracing God?

Now look, I’m no saint and I often take my faith and God’s love for granted. I surely do not live each day with passionate faith that unquestioningly follows God’s Will. But when I pray the Second Glorious Mystery, I do remind myself that God has revealed himself countless times to humanity and I should take those signs as seriously as if God revealed them to me personally.

How God Enables Greatness in Us All

When Jesus ascended into Heaven, the apostles must have felt incredibly scared.  This wasn’t the fear they felt when Jesus was arrested and crucified.  That fear had passed since experiencing the truth and glory of His resurrection.  But they must have been scared knowing that the Church was now in their hands.  The apostles were no longer followers, but leaders.  They were commissioned to go out and spread Jesus’ teachings to the whole world.  But there was a hitch — they weren’t Jesus!  They were fishermen, tradesmen, and even a tax collector.  They only had two years of on-the-job training with Jesus and they were confused most of the time.  How were they going to lead God’s Church as effectively as Jesus?

That’s where the decent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost comes into play.  On Pentecost, we see God’s plan coming together for the post Jesus-as-human world.  The apostles weren’t left to their own devices but had the Holy Spirit to guide them.  I’ve often talked about how one of the greatest gifts of the Holy Spirit is courage.  I’m now realizing that part of that boost in courage must come from the reduction in anxiety.  When the Holy Spirit came and the apostles were able to speak in any language, that must have been a great confidence builder for them.  At Pentecost, the apostles must have realized that it was possible for them to go out and do the seemingly impossible — spread Jesus’ teachings.

Icon of the Pentecost
Icon of the Pentecost (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What about us?  Are we any different from the apostles?  They were common people who were able to do uncommon things because they allowed the Holy Spirit to guide them.  They weren’t Pharisees, scribes, or other learned people.  We, the laity, aren’t priests.  But Jesus does not want us to be passive consumers of the Catholic faith and leave the heavy lifting to the priests and nuns.  We are called to the same service as the apostles and we have the exact same strength and courage through the Holy Spirit as they had.  In other words, we are just as capable of leading God’s Church as the original apostles.

We have to remember that compared to the power of God, all humans are roughly the same.  Comparing the greatest saint to the lowest sinner and then comparing them to God is like asking what grain of sand is mightier compared to a mountain.  The original apostles did great things, but not because they were superhuman.  They would have failed if they were left solely to their own abilities.  The apostles succeeded because they had the help of the Holy Spirit.  They contributed all their power and ability, and God provided them with the rest (which was probably 99.9% of the overall power needed to spread His Word).

Pope Francis’ May intention is all the more relevant in the light of Pentecost.  He asks that the lay faithful may fulfill their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today. The pope echoes what Jesus asked of His apostles in the Ascension — do not be passive consumers of the faith. Do not hoard your faith by not sharing it with others.  We each have a mission which requires active participation.  Be champions of the faith.  Embrace it.  Listen to the Holy Spirit, and don’t be afraid to follow Him.

 

How the Rosary Helps Us Understand the Pope’s May Intentions

I had the privilege of attending a First Holy Communion Mass last weekend.  The Mass was great; all the children were in their fine attire and super excited, parents and family packed the church, and everyone went home to big parties.  I asked my relative who attends the parish how many of those families attend Mass regularly.  More specifically, how many of these families will be at Mass next Sunday.  He guessed about 20%.  I was saddened but not shocked when I heard that low number.

I would think that emphasizing the importance of regular Mass attendance would be a core tenant of preparation for one’s First Communion.  We can’t really blame the second graders for not coming to Mass every Sunday.  After all, they depend on their parents to take them to church.  The responsibility lies almost entirely on the parents to make sure their children attend Mass.  If parents do not attend Mass regularly they convey the message that Mass isn’t that important.  More broadly, they convey that practicing their faith isn’t all that important.  This message creates a cycle where the kids grow up thinking that Mass and receiving the Eucharist is something unimportant and optional which they will pass to the next generation of Catholics.

See the source image
Plenty of first communicants, not many second ones though.

With this scenario in mind, listen to Pope Francis’ intention for the month of May:  That the lay faithful may fulfill their specific mission, by responding with creativity to the challenges that face the world today.  The pope is asking all Catholics to actively live and promote the Catholic Faith.  Promoting the faith cannot fall solely on ordained priests and nuns.  They only make up a small fraction of the Catholic Church.  For the Church to remain thriving, it requires the active participation of the lay faithful who make up 99% of the Church.  Remember, Jesus didn’t select the Pharisees, scribes, and scholars to spread His message.  He chose fishermen and a tax collector as His apostles.  From the start, the foundation of the Church was the laity.

As the lay faithful, we of course need to set a good example.  We need to attend Mass and avoid sin.  And that’s a good start because that can help break the cycle of indifference.  But God wants more from us than just the bare minimum.  He doesn’t want His Church to just survive; He wants it to flourish!  God desires all of us to one day join Him in Heaven and so we need to be active promoters of the faith.  This doesn’t mean pestering and annoying people into conversion.  As the pope says in his May intention, we need to be creative in our approach.

The Rosary Connection

As you pray the Rosary in May (Mary’s month), remember the pope’s intention.  Think about how you can be a more active champion of the Catholic Faith and lead others to realize the peace that comes from God’s grace.  Here are how some of the mysteries relate to the pope’s call for greater laity involvement in the Church.

The Visitation (2nd Joyful Mystery) — This account immediately follows the Annunciation in the Bible.  Note that God did not direct Mary to go visit her cousin Elizabeth.  Mary went on her own accord to help someone who needed it.  This should remind us all that upon receiving God’s grace we should all be moved to use that grace in helping others in whatever creative way God calls us.

English: Statue of the Visitation in the Churc...
English: Statue of the Visitation in the Church of the Visitation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ascension (2nd Glorious Mystery) — This mystery is about Jesus’ final human appearance before going into Heaven.  He left behind dedicated disciples to carry on His mission.  Today’s lay faithful are descendants of those early disciples.  We have just as much of a responsibility for spreading the teachings of Jesus Christ as those disciples.  Ironically, we find ourselves in a similar world; one that does not know Jesus.  We need to be the ones showing others that our desire for true happiness only comes through Jesus, not by fulfilling all our worldly desires.

The Assumption (4th Glorious Mystery) — Mary is our guide who desires nothing more than for us to know Jesus’ love for us.  We can call on Her when we have a particularly difficult time living and spreading the faith.  Mary will help us and intercede for us if we ask.  God isn’t asking the lay faithful to spread His Word alone.  We can always rely on Mary to assist us.

I hope you have a joyful and glorious month of May.  Honor Mary by praying the Rosary and contemplating the pope’s intention.

Make Rosary Prayer a High Priority

Many of us, including myself, often think we are too busy to pray. We may understand the value of prayer and enjoy praying and yet we too often find ourselves bogged down in day-to-day responsibilities (and let’s be honest, leisure) that we don’t pray as much as we want or should. I know that my goal of a rosary chaplet and scripture reading every day often goes only partially filled.

Cardinal Beniamino Stella, when addressing seminarians, had this to say about prayer:

One hour each day is necessary, a time for the Lord, to allow oneself to be encountered by Him and to grow in His friendship . . . The time that we dedicate to the Lord in prayer, in meditation, and in a personal encounter, is never lost time.” “On the contrary, the more generous we are with those times offered to God, the more we will be able to go to brothers with a pastor’s heart and as precious instruments of the Father’s tenderness.

And yet, I think many of us do see prayer as lost time. It may not be consciously, but what we put ahead of prayer does reveal the priority we put on it. For example, what was I doing right before writing this article? I was watching clips from The Simpsons on Youtube. And while downtime after a busy day is important, was rewatching a Tree House of Horror episode really more important than Rosary prayer or Bible reading?  If actions speak louder than words, then my actions are saying that I don’t always put a high value on prayer.

Also, note that Cardinal Beniamino Stella is talking specifically about meditative prayer.  Not all of us have time to sit quietly for an hour and meditate. However, there are other ways to integrate prayer into your day.  For example, look at St. Therese’s Little Way as a means of incorporating God and reflecting on your relationship with Him in everything you do:

Catholics would do well to imitate St. Therese’s Little Way if they want to be happy in this life, as well as happy in the next.  That “Little Way” consists of simplicity in life, prayer from the heart to Jesus, total trust in God as our Loving Father (not a stern judge), being a true child of God our Father rather than doing our own thing, seeking God’s will in our everyday activities, doing everything for the love of Jesus with humility, being kind to people we can’t stand, and a sincere desire to be with Jesus forever rather than to be in this world.

Let’s look at the Rosary and what it says about prayer.  Prayer was obviously important to Jesus.  In the First Sorrowful Mystery, Jesus turned to God at His darkest hour to find strength.  What did the disciples do after witnessing Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven?  They went to the temple and praised God (Luke 24:53).  Look at Saint Simeon and Anna in the Fourth Joyful Mystery who spent their time in the temple praying and praising God.  Prayer surrounds Jesus in these Rosary mysteries and hence we need to surround ourselves in prayer if we are to have a deep and meaningful relationship with God.

How The Rosary Protects Us From Satan

In an interview, Pope Francis reasserted the Catholic teaching that Satan is not some abstract concept of evil but is an actual being who is cunning and clever.  The Pope said:

“Satan is smart, he tells us that when we kick him out he will go, but then after a while, when you are distracted after a few years, he comes back, with seven companions worse than him.  He is very polite, knocks at the door, rings the bell, comes in politely, and in the end he comes in with his friends.  It’s important to be smart, to spot, and to have the ability to discern Satan’s lies.”

The heart of this RosaryMeds article is not what Pope Francis said in the interview, but the nature of the comments linked to the article.  You may want to pop some Xanax before reading them because they are pretty much an organized religion hatefest.  Ironically, all these comments about how silly Christians are for believing in evil confirms the Pope’s point — Satan is a master when it comes to deception.  The people who think they are above what they consider silly superstition play right into Satan’s master plan.

I think every ISP should also come with a prescription plan to help deal with the craziness

What I find interesting in the comments is this misconception that Pope Francis wants everyone to live in perpetual fear of Satan and that is why he constantly brings him up in interviews.  This seems part of the whole, the Catholic Church wants to control us so they can get more money and power conspiracy theory.  But there’s a large difference between acknowledging someone’s existence and living in fear of him.  The pope is trying to teach the former, not promote the latter.

I think of acknowledging Satan’s existence and not underestimating his abilities is quite sensible.  It’s like driving a car.  If you drive, you must acknowledge that there are bad/lazy/drunk drivers on the road.  Does this mean that you need to fear driving down the street to run errands?  No, we can’t suspend our lives because there is a possibility of getting hurt.  Inversely, we can’t be lazy while driving and disregard safety rules because we don’t believe we’ll get into a collision.  We have to acknowledge that there are dangers and take appropriate precautions but not let those dangers force us into a state of inaction or complacent.

The Catholic Church wants us to be public witnesses of Jesus’ love in this world.  We don’t do that be shutting ourselves in because we fear Satan.  If all the Catholics in the world withdrew from the world out of fear, then Satan gets what he desires — a world free of any awareness and opposition to his power.

The acknowledgment of evil and the consequences of trying to pretend that evil, temptation, and sin does not exist ties back to the Second Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary.  In Jesus’ Ascension, He returned to Heaven to sit at the right hand of God to judge the living and the dead.  We profess this every time we start praying the Rosary and at Mass.  And yet, there are so many people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, who do not believe in judgment because they don’t believe in sin, temptation, and Satan.  In other words, if you don’t believe you can do anything objectively wrong, why should you believe there will be an assessment of your behavior?

When you pray the Rosary, particularly the Second Glorious Mystery, remember that Mary wants us to acknowledge that there is evil, Satan is real, sin is possible, and judgment is inevitable.  But, one of the reasons why we pray the Rosary is to ask Mary and the saints for the strength to love Jesus by following His teachings despite Satan’s attempts to make us do otherwise.  The Rosary is our spiritual seatbelt that protects us from the evil in the world that is constantly trying to cause us to swerve and crash from the path God desires for us.

 

Scripture and the Rosary: Being Prepared

When I glance at news headlines, I see a world that is going downhill at an ever-increasing pace.  Hurricanes, earthquakes, shootings, and fires are sweeping our planet.  In addition to natural and man-made disasters, there is so much anger and division surrounding politics that has crept into everyone’s daily consciousness.  And while I don’t think we’re living in the end times, seeing how quickly things can go from normal to chaotic makes me take stock of my life.  Am I prepared for an emergency?  Is my soul prepared in the event of an unexpected death?  How does scripture and Rosary prayer prepare me for the unexpected?

Last Sunday’s Gospel speaks to our lack of preparation for something we all know is coming.  The Gospel likens the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast to which everyone was invited.  And yet, one of the people was not prepared for the wedding feast and did not have the proper attire.  The king, who was hosting the party, threw the unprepared guest out.

Whenever I hear this Gospel I can’t help but feel sorry for the person who did not have the proper wedding attire.  After all, he was not planning on going to a wedding banquet on that day.  Why would he be walking down a road with his wedding attire in hand?  Or even more curiously, why did everyone else have their wedding clothes at the ready?  He was just going about his business, was told that there was a party and he was invited, and then the king humiliated him and threw him out.  I sometimes feel like the lesson of this parable is that we should be cautious in accepting God’s offer of grace because it comes with strings attached.  What is Jesus trying to tell us?

I don’t know much about Jewish customs in the first century AD so I may be making some very incorrect assumptions.  But I like to think that maybe, upon receiving the invitation to the wedding feast, people had time to quickly go home and get dressed appropriately.  But the one man who did not fetch his wedding garment maybe thought, “I’m sure the king will be okay if I just come as I am.”  He may have thought that since the king was inviting everyone that he probably wouldn’t be very choosy about how the guests chose to conduct themselves.

In case you haven’t made the connection, the parable of the wedding feast is about our death and God’s judgment.  Like the king inviting everyone to the wedding, God invites us all into His heavenly kingdom.  But we do have to come prepared with a soul free of mortal sin.  God will not accept us if our souls are not in the proper state.  For many of us, that may mean time in Purgatory.  For others, they will be turned out of the kingdom entirely.  But unlike the travelers on the road who received a surprise invitation to the king’s banquet, we all know that God invites us to His heavenly banquet.  We have plenty of time to get ready so that we can enter into His kingdom confidently because we adequately prepared.

When I pray the Rosary, I often meditate on my death and judgment on the Second Glorious Mystery — Jesus’ Ascension into Heaven.  I recall the words of the Creed, “He ascended into Heaven and is seated next to God, the Father Almighty.  He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  It’s right there in the creed we profess every time we pray the Rosary and at Mass.  Jesus will judge us and assess our worthiness to enter His Father’s house after our death.  There’s no mystery, surprises, or ambiguity about that.

“Why am I here? Oh right… the sins”

Yes, God is a God of love and mercy which is why He so readily forgives us when we ask for it through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  But we have to show that we want to be with Him and His kingdom through our words, thoughts, and actions.  We have to choose Heaven and work towards it and not assume God will be okay with our inappropriate choices we made in life.  When we make the assumption that we can enter Heaven no matter how we chose to live, we are like the foolish man who had time to prepare and did not take advantage of it.

Lord, as I pray this second glorious mystery of the Rosary, may I remember that You have prepared a place for me in Your kingdom.  May my every action, thought, and word be conducted with the knowledge of Your final judgment.  May my love for you, Oh Lord, be so great that I avoid bad choices in life that would make me unprepared to enter into Your kingdom.

What’s in a Name? Cecil the lion and the Natural Law

I tried really hard to avoid writing about Cecil the lion. Like many people, I don’t really see the point in big game hunting. But I also don’t understand how this one case escalated to international news.  I don’t know the statistics, but I assume big game hunting (legal and illegal) goes on all the time.  Why this case got so much attention beats me.  I then came across an article that summed up why maybe this lion story touched such a collective nerve.

Over at CatholicAllYear.com, Kendra wrote an article titled Why We Feel Better if We Care About Cecil the Lion.  She recognizes the human need to acknowledge universal truth in a world that tries hard to suppress it.  She writes:

A huge segment of our population has been struggling ever since they reached the age of reason to reconcile a personal disgust with the idea of abortion, with the loudly trumpeted demands that we all must recognize that it’s NONE OF OUR BUSINESS and we’d better just pipe down. Choice. My body. Reproductive freedom. It’s not really a baby. All of it has been shouted in the streets until two generations now honestly can’t tell right from wrong or good from evil.

The same goes for other evils we’re supposed to celebrate as choice: like euthanasia, and free love, and conceiving children in such a way as to necessarily deprive them of one or both of their parents.

Moral relativism denies a fundamental part of our Truth-seeking human natures. As human beings, we crave moral absolutes. We know somewhere deep down that there IS such a thing as wrong, such a thing as evil. And we want so badly to be allowed to point a finger at it, finally, that when poor, not-actually-all-that-important-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things Cecil the lion comes along, we can barely contain ourselves.

Here’s my take.  People are upset because unlike other animals killed by hunters, this lion has a name and a history.  Like we do with our pets, we personify Cecil so his killing strikes at the same parts of our emotions as a human being’s murder.  This personification is why we cry watching Old Yeller and the lack of it is why most of us don’t give a second thought to the thousands of animals that are killed every day for food.

This lack of identification is also why we don’t bat much of an eye over the evil of abortion.  Because it’s evilness becomes strikingly obvious when you realize that every abortion is a life lost.  Does the fact that the aborted life didn’t have a name or a history make it any less tragic when he/she is killed?  Are we as a culture so short sighted that we don’t understand that an aborted life would have had a name and history if we let him/her grow?  We’ve murdered millions of Alisons, Margarets, and Jakes.  We’ve murdered many successful doctors, writers, engineers, and scientists that the world will never know.  We’ve murdered millions of best friends, husbands, shoulders to cry on, mentors, and co-workers.  It’s shocking what something as simple as attaching a name to a life does to the perceived value of it.  In one case, attaching a name to an animal raises international outcry while not attaching a name to a human being allows the murder of thousands every day.

Early ultrasound
Dr. Sam Livingston, a promising young physician, killed and harvested for his organs

The RosaryMeds Prescription

Whenever the issue of abortion comes up as it is with the release of these shocking videos from The Center for Medical Progress and debates within the halls of Congress, the Second Joyful Mystery seems like an obvious mystery to meditate on.  Elizabeth exclaims how the baby in her womb leaped for joy at the sound of Mary’s greeting (Luke 1:44).  It’s not “the tissue moved” or “some cells divided”, but a baby leaped out of joy.  This mystery reminds us just how precious life is at every stage of development and that we are infused with a soul at the moment of conception.  We must pray for the conversion of souls and the conversion of our culture to acknowledge the inherent dignity of human life at all stages.

English: Statue of the Visitation in the Churc...
English: Statue of the Visitation in the Church of the Visitation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But let’s dive deeper.  What about this craving for universal truth that the CatholicAllYear article mentions?  What rosary mystery speaks to the importance of knowing what is right and wrong?  The First Luminous Mystery comes to mind.  When I meditate on this mystery, I remember that not everyone is baptized into the Catholic Church and yet everyone does have the God given gift to know what is inherently good and what is evil.  This is often referred to as natural law and it’s something God inscribes in all our hearts; both the baptized and the unbaptized alike.

We live in a culture that tries so very hard to deny this natural law and reject this gift from God.  When we pray the First Luminous Mystery, let’s remember to pray for the conversion of those who struggle in life because of their denial of truth.  We must also pray for the conversion of our world to one that lives in acknowledgement of natural law, not in denial of it.


 

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5 Ways the Rosary Offers Relief from Today’s Headlines

Meditation ideas on the Glorious Mysteries of the holy rosary for dealing with all the troubling news the world is encountering right now.

Lately there has been a lot of news that has many people thinking the world is falling apart. We hear of people suffering from natural disasters across the globe, atrocities committed by groups like ISIS across the Middle East, silly presidential election news (Trump?  Hillary Clinton’s favorite ice cream flavor?), and troubling social/political news about Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage and ObamaCare. Basically, if you’re looking to get worried and upset about something, you don’t have to look much further than your Facebook news feed to grow a few gray hairs.

To me, praying the rosary is all about gaining perspective. And I think everyone could use a little perspective right now. I try to remember that the world has never been a perfect place and has been marked by problems both natural and man made. However, we live in a time when news has never been more accessible which means we get more bad news at an accelerated pace. Or we get a distorted view of the scope of outrage or support on any given issue. But thinking society is falling apart isn’t new.  Mankind has always had its share of problems.

Picture back to the time Jesus lived. If Facebook existed then people’s walls would have been filled with complaints about cheating tax collectors, Roman occupation, and corrupt pharisees. Furthermore, people were probably praying for the same types of solutions we pray for today.  Something to the tune of “Please God, make all our problems go away.”

Jesus did not come into this world to magically change the world with a wave of his hand.  He didn’t make all the Jews’ problems go away. But he did answer the people’s prayers. He did that not by making things easier but by challenging people to look beyond the troubled state of the world and their immediate, physical needs. He wanted them to concentrate more on the state of their souls rather than the actions of Cesar.  For example, he told the rich man to look beyond earthly wealth and to gain riches in Heaven by being charitable (Mark 10:17-31).  He said that those who are persecuted in this world will find glory in Heaven (Matthew 5:10).  He said that we all have to take up our crosses in this life so that we may find comfort in the next (Matthew 16:24-27).

In that spirit, let’s take a look at the Glorious mysteries of the rosary and meditate on gaining a more heavenly perspective instead of dwelling so much on the today’s troubling issues.

#1. Live for something more than this earthly world

The First Glorious Mystery is about Jesus rising from the dead.  The perspective gained from this mystery is that our earthly death is not an end.  Jesus’ crucifixion and death was only a transition from his earthly life to his true, heavenly one.  Jesus’ rising proved that there is so much more to us than the physical realities of this world.

When we think about all the injustice, death, and suffering in this world we should remember that none of it will persist after our earthly death as we rise to new life in Jesus’ kingdom.  And while a lifetime of pain and suffering may seem like an awfully huge cross to carry, it isn’t even a measurable instant of time compared to the eternal joy and happiness Jesus prepared for us in Heaven through his resurrection.

#2. Pray for those have fallen

The Second Glorious Mystery is about Jesus ascending into Heaven.  The perspective gained from this mystery is that Jesus sits at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty, and will judge the living and the dead.  This is important to understand because we need to pray for the repentance and conversion of those who live in sin and cause so much scandal, misery, and unhappiness.  It may seem easy to complain and become stressed over others’ misdeeds.  It’s also easy to ignore them and focus only at our own salvation.  But we do need to pray for them and always be an example to the world of Jesus’ Truth.  Because everyone, including those who live in sin, will one day stand before the Lord with their sins in plain view.  Since we are called to love one another, we should do whatever is possible so that everyone, saint and sinner alike, will enjoy eternal happiness in Heaven.

#3. Let the Holy Spirit guide you

The Third Glorious Mystery is about the Holy Spirit coming to the apostles after Jesus’ ascension.  We live in a difficult world but we can look to the Holy Spirit to give us the strength and courage to persevere and maybe even change the hearts of others.  I don’t think any of the apostles would have thought that they were going to change the world when Jesus first called them to put down their nets and become fishers of men.  But with the guidance of the Holy Spirit they did just that by boldly venturing out and spreading Jesus’ truth.

We too may not think that there is much we can do when we see what appears to be impossible situations to fix or the deep seated hatred in people’s hearts.  But the Holy Spirit does give us the power to live according to Jesus’ truth and to lovingly bring people into God’s grace.  Like when Jesus was here in this world, he did not provide a quick fix to humanity’s problems.  Similarly, the Holy Spirit won’t give us a quick fix either.  But if we have faith and let the Holy Spirit guide us, we can personally thrive and bring others to know Jesus Christ.

#4. Follow our mother Mary’s roadmap for happiness

The Fourth Glorious Mystery is about Mary’s assumption into Heaven.  God had a very special plan for Mary and her assumption shows just how revered and elevated she is.  She was not only set aside to be the vessel through which God would manifest himself in human form, but she was also set aside to be our guide and mediatrix after her earthly death.  Like with the Third Glorious Mystery, the perspective we should gain from this mystery is that Mary is always there to help guide us closer to her son’s love.  She has appeared many times with a message of hope, love, and a call to action for conversion.  Over the generations, she has laid out a roadmap of prayer, fasting, and repentance which we should follow.  While it’s easy to get down and think nothing we do can do that will make much difference, Mary says otherwise.  And we should all listen to our mother.

#5. Remember that you are protected

The Fifth Glorious Mystery is Mary’s coronation in Heaven.  We have to understand that there are evil force at work.  And Satan and his minions are playing the long game where they want you to focus all your energy on this world in the hopes that you will be led astray and become his slave for eternity.  He wants you to “go with the crowd” even if what is popular in modern society goes against God’s plan.  Or he wants you to fall into despair, blame God for all that is wrong with the world, and turn away from your faith. But Mary is a powerful queen who reigns in Heaven.  When we accept and live for God’s Heavenly Kingdom then we fall under Mary’s protection against evil and Satan’s influence.  No matter what transpires in our world we know that we will have protection for what matters most — our eternal soul.

Have Better Rosary Meditation by Preparing for a Confrontation

The other day I took a short break at work and went for a walk to clear my head. It was a bright, sunny day so I took a path that followed a small inlet of water from the San Francisco Bay. While I usually listen to an audiobook on my walks (remember, I’m still trying to get through the entire Catechism this year) I discovered that I forgot my headphones. Instead I took my rosary out of my pocket and began to pray it.

As I was taking my prayer walk, I suddenly got a sinking feeling in my stomach. What would happen if someone saw me and was offended by my public display of religion? How would I respond if someone told me to put those beads away? As outrageous as that may sound, remember that I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. It was very possible to come across an atheist with the ACLU on speed dial in my neck of the woods.

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“How dare you pray in public! What if a child saw you?”

I then got my wits together and thought of a more realistic scenario. What if someone saw me walking with my rosary and curiously asked what it was? What if someone asked me to describe rosary prayer or describe the mysteries I was meditating on? That got my mind racing on how I would explain the rosary to a casual passerby.

I rehearsed talking about how I meditate on not being so materialistic when I pray the First Glorious Mystery. I ran a through a small monologue in my head about living a clean life of good works when praying the Second Glorious Mystery. I pictured myself saying how I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me when I pray the Third Glorious Mystery. And so on…

And while I didn’t know it at the time, when constructing my defense for a possible confrontation I was in fact meditating and thinking about the themes and lessons of each rosary mystery. I wasn’t thinking about work. I wasn’t thinking about a movie, tv show, or news article. I wasn’t thinking about any of those topics that usually distract me and put me on prayer “autopilot.” Like a student furiously cramming for a test, I was focused of all the reasons I pray the rosary and what lessons it teaches me.  In short, I was praying the rosary correctly.

I was never cornered by atheist. I didn’t have anyone come up and ask questions. I didn’t get any odd stares from people I passed. But by preparing for the worst I did experience one of my deeper, least interrupted rosary meditations.

Are you prepared to explain what you’re meditating on if someone asks?  Suppose you had an apparition of the Virgin Mary while you were praying.  Sound crazy?  Remember, you don’t pray the rosary in a vacuum.  Who do you think you’re asking to intercede for you when you pray the rosary?  What if Mary vocally responded as she’s done to a select few throughout history.  What if Our Lady first thanked you for praying the rosary and then quizzed you on what exactly you were praying for.  Would you be ready to answer or scrambling because you zoned out?