Establish a Daily Prayer Routine

A new school year is starting. If you know school-age people, hopefully, they are heading back to classrooms. As we start a new term, the principal of my childrens’ school wrote a small article stressing the importance of routine. Students have a much smoother and better experience when they stick to routines regarding how they wake up and get ready for school, how they do their homework, and how they go to sleep. Routines are important if you want a smooth day. One routine that is vitally important is a prayer routine.

My Morning Prayer Routine

My prayer routine involves waking up early before everyone else in the house and praying the Rosary (what did you expect?). This gets my day started on the right foot by making my relationship with God my priority. It centers me and allows God to speak to me through Rosary meditation on what I should focus on during the day. That’s also why praying in a quiet environment is so important. I don’t want God to have to fight through the noise of everyday life, especially my own thoughts which tend to grow louder as the day moves forward.

At some point in the morning, typically with my coffee, I read my Bible. As I said before, I’m reading the Bible in a Year which is a 10-minute read of Old and New Testament readings. I find the Bible so much richer when I read it daily and the books in order. I start to understand the context and narratives of the various books and chapters; something that is lost if you only hear the readings during Sunday Mass.

The simple joy of coffee and Proverbs

After dropping my boys off at school, I like to drop by the church for some silent prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Again, it’s the stillness that’s important. Remember, Jesus is present in the tabernacle. Like the people in the Gospel who flocked to Jesus for teaching and healing, we should flock to Him in the Blessed Sacrament. After all, we believe that Jesus is every bit as present in the Eucharist as he was in the Gospels. I’ll then take a walk in the park listening to audiobooks and, if time allows, I’ll go to the daily Mass.

Look at that routine. Before starting my workday, I have prayed the Rosary, read the Bible, and prayed at church. It’s such a great way to ground myself in my faith and gives me the strength to face whatever challenges come my way. Some of you may read this and think, “wow, that takes up so much time!” But it is time well spent even if I have to make changes to other routines to accommodate it. Morning prayer makes the day more meaningful and joyful because you allow God into your day.

I try to live according to this saying: “Work smarter, not harder.” The smart way to approach your day is to get as much help as you can. Who better to help you throughout the day than God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Mary, and the saints? They will never be in a bad mood or too busy to help you. But you have to approach them. The earlier the better. That’s why starting your day with prayer is so effective. It acts as a preventative measure so that you don’t get overwhelmed by life’s challenges.

The Rosary

Mediate on the Fifth Glorious Mystery of the Rosary and consider Mary’s role as Queen of Heaven. She sits beside her son, Jesus, as our intercessor. She works on our behalf to bring us into God’s grace and find eternal joy in Heaven. She’s there, ready and willing. We just have to ask for her help. And we do that when we consistently pray for her intercession. If you’re having a hard time sticking to a prayer routine, then ask Mary to help you establish one.

Our Heavenly Queen is always a prayer away

Since I talked about the value of praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament, mediate on the Fifth Luminous Mystery. The Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is a cornerstone of the Catholic faith. It’s what makes Catholicism special and unique. It’s a gift that Jesus is with us today and not just someone who lived thousands of years ago. Since we have Jesus present with us, make a resolution to visit him by praying in a church, attending Adoration, and going to Mass more regularly.

The Importance of Spiritual Health

There are many different dimensions to every human being. The most obvious is our physical dimension. This is seen by how healthy we are and whether our organs are functioning normally. There’s our cognitive state — how well our brain accepts and processes information. We have an emotional side — the way we cope with different situations. And there is our spiritual state reflected by our relationship with God.

Dealing with illness

An illness of any one of these aspects needs to be addressed. When we’re sick we need to seek proper treatment. If we suffer from emotional issues, we need to get help. Or, if we see someone we care about sick or unhealthy, our love for them prompts us to help them get the treatment they need.

Unfortunately, while many of us take our physical, mental, and emotional health seriously, we too often let our spiritual health deteriorate. When we don’t pray, attend Mass, receive the sacraments, and commit sin, we become spiritually ill. And if we commit a mortal sin, we spiritually die. These spiritual illnesses and deaths are just as serious as any physical illness. And yet, we don’t treat them as such.

There is certainly a pandemic of spiritual illness. We see this in the declining numbers of Mass attendance or the number of people who don’t believe in the core tenents of Catholic teaching like the Real Presence in the Eucharist. I think this spiritual illness is also the cause of general unhappiness and anxiety for many people. God designed us as physical AND spiritual beings. We cannot be fully happy when we live contrary to God’s design. Unfortunately, no amount of leisure or exercise can address the damage inflicted by an unhealthy spiritual lifestyle.

Think about how quickly we jump onto physical health trends or cures to illnesses. People commit themselves to all sorts of diets, supplements, and workouts to stay healthy. Or, if we’re physically sick, we seek a cure to return to normal, often at great cost. We are willing to put in so much time and effort to take care of our physical needs. But many times we don’t prioritize our spiritual needs. How do we get started living a spiritually healthy life? Fortunately, to restore yourself to full spiritual health, all you need is a few minutes with a priest in a confessional.

Miracles all around us

When someone in a state of mortal sin receives the sacrament of reconciliation he is spiritually resurrected from the dead. It is every bit as miraculous as someone physically dead coming back to life (think Lazurus). Or someone with venial sins going to confession is every bit as healed as someone miraculously cured of a physical illness. Just because we don’t see these healings and resurrections with our physical senses doesn’t make them any less real. Day after day, the Holy Spirit is healing and bringing people back to life through the sacrament of confession.

Miracles in the Rosary

Whenever I think about miracles, the Second Luminous Mystery comes to mind. Jesus’ ministry was full of miracles, mostly around curing people of physical illness. Also, people who were lost or steeped in sin came back to life spiritually in their encounters with Jesus. The spiritual healings may not have been as flashy as the physical miracles but were actually more significant. Their eternal souls found new life. When we encounter Jesus in the sacrament of confession, let’s also remember and marvel at the miracle taking place.

The motivation for this article comes from the current discussion over people, particularly politicians, receiving communion in a state of mortal sin. While they may say how important it is for them to receive the Eucharist, they should instead be focused on first receiving the sacrament of reconciliation. As Catholics, we need the benefits of all the sacraments the Church offers, not just the ones that are convenient to us. If those in a state of mortal sin are looking for strength through God’s grace, they first have to desire a spiritual resurrection. When we pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery, let’s ask God to direct those in mortal sin to Confession before receiving Him in the Eucharist.

Sorry for the long delay in new content on RosaryMeds. I was having issues logging into my account and it took me a while to get to the root cause — an update to my computer’s security software was blocking my login attempts. Next time I need to remember to pray to Saint Isidore!

Are We Punishing Ourselves?

Seeking the “Different”

All too often we seek the “different” because it seems more exotic and impressive. Consider weddings. It’s seems no longer good enough to have a ceremony followed by an enjoyable reception. No, you have to find things to make your wedding stand out — lavish locations, over-the-top decorations, exotic animals, and confetti cannons. Or you can’t go on a regular vacation. It needs to be something you can post on Facebook to make your friends envious.

This need to do something different and exotic didn’t start with Facebook and Twitter. It goes back to the Old Testament. In the book of Kings, generations of kings of Israel followed other gods. I think part of their motivation for doing this was that they wanted to be the king that did something new and progressive. Why follow that old-fashioned God who delivered people out of Egypt with his antiquated commandments when you can worship a more modern god like Baal? Because these pagan gods didn’t actually exist, the kings could attribute anything they wanted to them — any rule and practice would be okay in the eyes of the deity of the day.

Rejecting God

Fast forward thousands of years and look at our current situation. It isn’t too different than Israel in the Book of Kings. Governments and groups try to promote everything progressive and reject anything traditional. They want to take what has worked for generations and throw it out to try something new. Like the couple getting married or an Israelite king, they want to be remembered for doing something novel and unique. They don’t want to follow their predecessor, even if what they did worked, because they aren’t making their mark on history. Furthermore, they don’t want to be bounded by the existing rules but make new ones that are more malleable.

Let’s look around at what all these new progressive ideas have brought us as a society. Are we better off having adopted more woke progressivism and rejecting traditional ideas of marriage, stable families, gender, and even logic? Has tearing down time-tested traditions and institutions made us happier? Based on news headlines, I think people are generally less happy now than in previous generations. What’s changed? Do you think the devaluation of spirituality in our lives plays a part?

In the Book of Kings, terrible things happened to the people who rejected God. In some cases, it was due to God’s punishment. But I also think much of the misery came from the people’s rejection of God’s Commandments. If the Israelites rejected God and His commandments against stealing, adultery, murder, lying, etc. do you think they were happier as a result? Does that sound like a society anyone wants to be part of? Are we happier in a world that has rejected many of those same commandments? Seems like God doesn’t need to punish us when we’re doing a great job punishing ourselves.

The Rosary Connection

Let’s look at the Fourth Joyful Mystery — The Presentation in the Temple. When I first started praying the Rosary, I always contemplated the meaning and value of tradition with this mystery. Mary and Joseph presented the baby Jesus in the temple as was tradition. They understood the importance of staying connected to the past as a means of grounding themselves spiritually. They acknowledged the role God plays in all our lives. By presenting Jesus in the temple, Mary and Joseph acknowledged that it was God and His Truth, not human institutions, that would form Jesus.

Fast forward to the Fifth Luminous Mystery — The Institution of the Eucharist. Jesus still observed the Jewish customs such as the Passover. While many claimed that he disregarded the Mosaic law, he explained that he was fulfilling it; bringing the people back to its true meaning. He wanted people to follow God’s commandments, not to be miserable, but to find joy and happiness. He didn’t want people to be blind rule followers, but instead people who treated each other kindly and honored God. If they could do that, they would find greater peace, joy, and happiness than they had ever known. But like the kings of the Old Testament, many people still insisted on doing things their way, not God’s way.

When you think about the sources of unhappiness in your life, ask yourself if they are due to breaking away from God’s plan for you. Are you rejecting God in favor of what is new, hip, and socially acceptable? Are you rejecting teachings that have brought true happiness to millions of people over thousands of years because they seem difficult or irrelevant? Are you happier as a result?

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 Value of Not Praying for Specific Outcomes

I’m going to talk briefly about politics. I know, I can hear the collective groan from you all because you’re sick and tired of everyone talking about the US elections. But please, stay with me as this ties into Rosary prayer and faith.

I can’t tell you who is going to win the presidency or which party will control the Senate after November 3. But one thing is certain — there will be a large group of people unhappy with the results because their side lost. And there were be others ecstatic because their side won. Some people will think their prayers were answered while others will ponder why God ignored them and would allow such an outcome. What is playing out in 2020 has happened thousands of times throughout human history.

Regardless of the winner, now is the time to learn this important lesson — we shouldn’t pray by asking God for a specific outcome to our concerns. That’s missing the point of prayer and reduces God to the role of a genie. Instead, we should ask God to give us strength, patience, and understanding to live with the outcome. The outcome of an election is manmade, but how we deal with it can be aided through God’s grace. God doesn’t favor one political party over the other. He sees all of us, whether we are Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, etc. as His children.

Like a parent watching children quarrel over a toy, God will let us fight and argue without intervening in some large, magnificent way. Because from God’s perspective, what we argue about in this world isn’t all that important. Yes, even something as worldly important as the US 2020 general election isn’t significant universally. Who we choose as president of the United States is minuscule in importance compared to the state of one’s soul. That is what matters most to God and should be of the utmost concern to us.

It’s not that I don’t care about the outcome of the election. I do. And I’m concerned about the direction the United States could go in after this election. But when I meditate on the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, I think about Jesus in the garden asking God to let this cup pass over him. Jesus asks God to find a way for salvation that doesn’t involve pain and suffering. And I pray that the outcome of this election doesn’t result in increased hardship and suffering. But Jesus also said that he would do God’s Will. I too ask that I will remain faithful to God’s plan for me regardless of how the world changes.

Let’s also think about the Fifth Luminous Mystery and the institution of the Eucharist. In the Eucharist and Holy Mass, Jesus is present with us. No matter how the world changes and what hardships we encounter, He is with us. We can always find him in the Mass. He is always waiting for us in the stillness of a church to come and pray. Even if governments try to inhibit our ability to visit Christ in the Eucharist, it’s nothing the Church hasn’t endured before.

I know this is a big ask. But please don’t put all your energy and focus into an election. Don’t stake your happiness on a particular outcome. Don’t give Biden or Trump all-consuming power over your emotional wellbeing. Don’t be a slave to the 24-hour news cycle trapping you in an emotional whirlwind to bump up ratings. The sure bet is to put your faith in God. In other words, “vote” through your actions that you want to send your soul to Heaven. That is way more important than endlessly worrying about who we send to the White House.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Fear of the Lord

As we continue meditating on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we turn our attention to a gift that is often misunderstood — Fear of the Lord. When we think of the word “fear” we often think of it as something negative. But in the context of the Holy Spirit’s gifts, we can replace the word “fear” with “awe” or “wonder.”

Fear of the Lord is the feeling of amazement before God, who is all-present, and whose friendship we do not want to lose. There are two kinds of fear: the fear of a servant and the fear of a child. Of the two, childlike fear of God is the more noble and beautiful. It urges the soul to avoid even the least sin in order not to displease God, our loving and caring Father. Fear of the Lord is that childlike fear which causes us to dread no misfortune so much as that of a displeasing God, making us flee from sin as the greatest evil. The Saints were animated by childlike fear and love for the Heavenly Father and were ready to die rather than break His holy law by willful sin.

https://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/christianity/the-gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-and-how-to-use-them.aspx
Jesus said we all must be like children. Maybe He meant we must keep a sense of childlike wonder and awe.

A Motivation to Evangelize

Fear of the Lord inspires us to hunger for souls the same way Jesus does. We see how many people aren’t aware of the preciousness of our relationship with God. That makes us sad, and it motivates us to help them see the great gift. We are motivated to evangelize.

https://www.fromtheabbey.com/keys-chapel-christian-prayer/gifts-of-the-holy-spirit-empower-our-adventure-gift-of-fear-of-the-lord/

This is a great manifestation of this gift. However, while many of us want to help others, often we don’t know how. But this is where another gift from the Holy Spirit comes in, the gift of knowledge which we discussed previously. It’s that gift that tells us how to help others to appreciate God’s greatness. Understanding helps us show, either through words or example, why prayer and celebrating Mass is so important. We want others to fear NOT having that close relationship with God as much as they would fear not having their spouse or loved one.

It is easy in this time of pandemic to cast aside our need for God and lose that sense of childlike awe. After months of illness, restrictions, and lack of community, many of us might want to say, “forget it, I’m just going to party with reckless abandon since I’m doomed anyway.” But this is the time when we need this gift of awe the most. We need to fear that our current situation might allow Satan to pull us away from God. It’s not that we explicitly tell God to go away. It’s that in our fear and depression, we just lose that sense of awe, stop seeing God’s importance, and then stop fostering our relationship with Him. We need this gift, this motivation, to fear the Lord and fear His absence in our lives now more than ever.

Fearing the Lord in the Rosary

Think about the Fourth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary — The Transfiguration. Imagine the awe Saint Peter, James, and John must have felt when they saw Jesus transfigure into pure holiness before their eyes. This must have solidified their understanding that as apostles they were in God’s company when they were with Jesus. And yet, that sense of awe still faded, at least temporarily, during Jesus’ Passion when they abandoned Him. It shows why this sense of awe is a gift as it’s something we as humans can have a hard time maintaining on our own.

Now think about the Fifth Luminous MysteryThe Institution of the Eucharist. I wonder how many of the apostles truly understood the incredible miracle that was occurring before them at the Last Supper. Or did many of them eat and drink the Eucharist without a true sense of awe of what Jesus offered them? How many times have you received the Body and Blood of Jesus at Mass with a sense of awe over the miracle taking place? Or are you more on autopilot because Jesus isn’t bodily present getting your attention like the Transfiguration?

We really have two awe-inspiring events between the Transfiguration and the Last Supper. It’s easy to stand in awe at a miraculous event like the Transfiguration but harder to see the awe in the Eucharist. For many of us, the Eucharist is something we experience every week so that fear of the Lord’s awesomeness is lost. When you pray the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, remind yourself of the great gift God gives us through the Eucharist. Ask the Holy Spirit to increase your fear in God so that you can see God in all the big and small He manifests Himself in your life.

Get More from Rosary Prayer by Praying in a Church

While earnest prayer is good no matter the location, praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament is particularly beneficial. But why is that the case? After all, if God is everywhere and hears our prayers, why should we make an extra effort to go into a church and pray or attend Eucharistic adoration? In his book, Transforming Your Life Through the Eucharist, Fr. John Kane explores this great mystery and majesty of the Blessed Sacrament. An excerpt was published on Catholic Exchange titled Why We Pray Before the Blessed Sacrament. A word of warning, this is not a light read. Fr. Kane’s words are dense and packed full of ideas. It would be to your benefit to read this article a few times. You may even want to read a small section and meditate on it.

In the Holy Eucharist, Christ is not only the food of our souls, but also the companion of our exile. The human heart yearns for the sweet consciousness of companionship. The Divine Presence in the tabernacle fully satisfies this natural longing, for God alone can fill the heart.

Christ fulfills His promise of continued companionship by laying hold of this universal law of His own implanting in our nature. In the Blessed Sacrament, through the unmistakable signs of our Lord’s nearness, we experience the most thorough enjoyment of His companionship.

Fr. John Kane

My daily routine involves stopping by a church after dropping my kids off at school in the morning. There, I pray the Rosary, read the daily readings and other prayers. It’s hard to explain, but I feel so much better praying the Rosary in church than at home. I think Fr. Kane nails down why. The Blessed Sacrament is Jesus! Naturally, of course, we will feel more comforted and satisfied praying in Jesus’ presence.

I highly encourage you to take up the practice of making time to pray in a quiet church in front of the tabernacle. It’s a great practice that acts as a prayer multiplier. It helps center your day around Jesus. Honestly, the days when I can’t make it to church to pray are days where I feel a bit “off” because I haven’t grounded myself praying in Jesus’ presence. Give this practice a try and see for yourself how beneficial it is.

Come to Jesus in the Eucharist Prepared

I came across an article about how to best prepare to receive the Eucharist at Mass.  I thought it was timely since the pope’s June intention revolves around the idea of fostering respect.  I mentioned in my last post how we not only have to respect each other but we also have to respect Jesus Christ.  And there is no better way to respect Jesus than receiving Him in the Eucharist in the fullest and most reverent manner possible.

The Catholic Exchange article breaks down Eucharistic preparation into ten items.  Please read the article for a full explanation.  For the TL;DR crowd, they are:

  1. Practice your faith
  2. Appreciate the gift of the Eucharist
  3. Confess your sins
  4. Do not arrive late to Mass
  5. Show reverence
  6. Have intentions
  7. Participate in the Mass
  8. Keep a Marian heart
  9. Show thanks
  10. Be a Eucharistic apostle

I liked how the CE article made comparisons to the Mass and Eucharist to attending a party or some other social event.  Typically, we try not to be late, we thank our hosts, we dress appropriately, and we respect the venue.  And yet, many times we don’t extend that same level of courtesy when it comes to receiving Christ in the Eucharist.  We sometimes come to Mass late, zone out during the readings and prayers, stand in line at Communion thinking about other things, and receive the Eucharist almost mechanically.

Being respectful isn’t easy.  If it were, we would be respectful more often.  Respect takes work often at the cost of personal convenience.  It’s hard to focus on prayers during Mass, to set aside time on a weekend to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation, to continue praying as you walk up the aisle for Communion, and to pray in thanksgiving when you come back to your seat.  But if we truly understood that there is literally nothing on Earth more valuable than the Eucharist, we would be horrified to even consider receiving Jesus without making our best effort to prepare ourselves.

Here’s my item #11 to add to the list of Eucharistic preparation.  Pray the Rosary regularly.  Ask Mary to help increase your faith and understanding of the great gift Her Son offers us.  Ask Her how you can most worthily accept Jesus during Communion.  Showing faith in the power of the Rosary prepares us for the faith we need to fully accept Jesus in the Eucharist.

The Pope’s June Intention: RESPECT

My wife and I spend a lot of time teaching our boys about respect; respecting adults as well as respecting each other. That usually means lessons about listening, responding, and following directions. When we don’t follow directions and do what is expected of us, we aren’t respecting others. We need to listen and acknowledge what people are saying and can’t ignore them. We need to understand that sometimes people have deadlines and multiple priorities and so we need to show respect by providing our full cooperation.

Pope Francis’ June intention is, “That social networks may work towards that inclusiveness which respects other for their differences.” The key word in the pope’s intention is respect. The easiest way to think about respect is to remember the Golden Rule — treat others as you want to be treated. Or, as Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Respect isn’t only about loving those we see and interact with. We also need to respect Jesus and His Church. We need to listen to Him, talk to Him, and follow His instructions. We can’t say we follow and respect Jesus if we do the opposite of how He asks us to live. By sinning, we are showing disrespect. We are like little kids ignoring our father’s directions.

Even if we’re not committing confessable sins, we still may be disrespecting Jesus by ignoring Him and not responding to His call. Are we talking to Him in prayer? Are we listening to Him? Is our relationship with Jesus something important to us and something we work on maintaining? Respect implies that we acknowledge the importance and authority someone has. How can we call ourselves one of Jesus’ disciples if we don’t routinely and honestly acknowledge His importance to us?

Social Media

In the modern world, much of our communication is online whether it be Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, email, or even just the comments section of web pages. Now ask yourself, what if Jesus was one of your “friends” or “followers” on your social networks and He read your posts? Would you be proud of them? Are you fostering a respectful environment? Note that respectful doesn’t mean always being agreeable or a pushover. It doesn’t mean compromising your values and the values of the Church. But it does mean recognizing that how you treat others is also how you treat Jesus. So if you’re not respecting others online, you’re not respecting our Lord.

The Rosary

There are many rosary mysteries to consider and meditate on when it comes to respect. For example, think about the Descent of the Holy on Pentecost (Third Glorious Mystery) and the role the Holy Spirit plays in our lives. Are you showing God the proper respect by listening to the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to guide you in life? Or are you ignoring Him like a disrespectful child? The same can be said about our Mother Mary who reigns as Queen of Heaven which we pray in the Fifth Glorious Mystery. Are we listening to the guidance of our Heavenly Mother and respecting Her authority?

What about respect for Jesus in the Eucharist which we meditate on in the Fifth Luminous Mystery? Are we receiving Him in a worthy state or are we showing him disrespect by receiving Him in a state of mortal sin? And are we truly appreciating the gift which is the Eucharist and thanking God for how lucky we are to receive Him? While we may not have any mortal sins on our soul, receiving the Eucharist without much thought of its preciousness is another sign of disrespect.

Of course, we all falter and sin. We all disrespect Jesus at some point in our lives. But the good news is that Jesus is willing to forgive us and start anew through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Think of Jesus on the cross in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery. He said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” Our Lord was willing to forgive those who killed Him. He will surely forgive us for the times we haven’t respected Him.

In this month of June, let the idea of respect, particularly how you conduct yourself online, be at the forefront of your mind. Show Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and your Heavenly Mother Mary the proper respect they deserve by listening to their guidance and following Jesus’ teachings. You may not always succeed in living how Jesus directs you, but He will be proud of you when you put in the effort.

Replaying Our Faith Through the Eucharist

I’m in the process of digitizing old home movies originally recorded on videotape.  What I find so interesting is the amount of footage my parents recorded for each event.  I have tapes with two hours of footage of a school talent show where I or one of my siblings was on stage for only five minutes.  I guess my mom really wanted to capture the feeling of the event and not just have five minutes of footage in a vacuum with little or no context.

I think we can all understand my mom wanting to capture every detail of an event.  After all, people upload 300 hours of video to YouTube every minute!  Thousands of posts are made to Facebook every second.  And everyone is an instant shutterbug with their phones.  I bet much of this is to not only record the actual physical events in our lives but also try to capture the associated feelings.  And yet many times, these recordings fail to truly capture the true emotion of an event and upon replay they just come out flat.

But what about our faith?  Is it possible to capture our Catholic Faith in a manner that does not lose any of its fidelity when replayed?  In his homily on the Feast of Corpus Cristi, Pope Francis talked about how the Body and Blood of Christ is a remembrance of our faith.  The Catholic News Agency reported:

“This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.”

Francis explained that when we receive the Eucharist, our hearts have the opportunity to become overwhelmed with the certainty of Christ’s love for us, the Eucharist giving us a memory that is grateful, free, and patient.

We can see the Eucharist as Jesus’ way of capturing the essence of the Catholic Faith to be replayed every time we celebrate it at Mass.  The Eucharist does what no camera and video recording can do, no matter how high the memory and resolution — it captures the entirety of God’s love for us.  When Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me,” he wasn’t just telling that to his apostles in the room.  Jesus was saying that all Christians, present and future, must remember that the Eucharist embodies all of his teachings and love.

3rd quarter of 16th century
3rd quarter of 16th century (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But much like a forgotten videotape in a cardboard moving box in a warehouse, what good is the Eucharist if we don’t receive it?  You never give yourself the opportunity to replay and feel the essence of Jesus’ teachings or God’s love for you.  Don’t get me wrong, you can learn these things at a cerebral level by reading the Bible and listening to homilies.  But that’s not the type of memory you recall when you receive the Eucharist.  The memories replayed through the Eucharist are often only understood by your soul in a way you can’t easily describe because God’s love is beyond the human capacity to describe it.  But just because you can’t describe it doesn’t mean you don’t receive its benefits.

To fully receive the memories of faith in the Eucharist your soul must be in a worthy state.  That means receiving it with no mortal sins, having prepared by fasting, and appreciating the solemnity of the Eucharistic feast.  Otherwise, you are like a broken video player unable to replay the captured memories.  Or at best, it comes out so distorted and degraded that your soul can’t understand it.

When you pray the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, remember how powerful a gift the Eucharist is.  It is not something to be received lightly but it is something we should be receiving regularly.  We need to slow down and remember that our faith is built on the Eucharist.  If we don’t slow down, what good is the Eucharist having on our soul?  As Pope Francis reminded us:

Our lives are such a whirl of people and events that we no longer retain memories. But this leaves us at risk of only living on the surface of things and never going deeper, he said, “without the broader vision that reminds us who we are and where we are going.”

“This is why the Eucharistic commemoration does us so much good: it is not an abstract, cold and superficial memory, but a living remembrance that comforts us with God’s love.”