Shia LaBeouf’s Inspiring Testimony on Catholicism

I usually yawn and move on when I hear of a Hollywood celebrity discovering Catholicism. That sentiment doubled when I heard that celebrity is Shia LaBeouf, probably best known for his role in The Transformers movie franchise. However, he gave an insightful interview with Bishop Robert Barron about his encounter with Catholicism while preparing and filming a movie about Saint Padre Pio. Even if you’re not a big fan of LaBeouf, it’s worth listening to. Just imagine Bishop Barron interviewing a recent convert’s observations about the Catholic faith.

Padre Pio’s Influence

I have to give this disclaimer, LaBeouf never actually confirms whether he is converting to Catholicism. It sounds like he is, but at the same time, it’s hard to know what that means. Are we hearing LaBeouf the person or LaBeouf the actor? I hope he won’t be someone who approaches Catholicism as something that has some interesting, therapeutic aspects to it but then promotes ideas that conflict with the Church’s teachings like president Joe Biden or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

I’m going to give Shia LaBeouf the benefit of the doubt and just take his words at face value. His description of his experience living with friars, learning about St. Pio, praying the Rosary, and attending the Traditional Latin Mass are inspiring. If you are a long-time cradle Catholic, you can often forget just how great and powerful our faith is.

Shia Labeouf was at a low point in his life and career when this opportunity to play Padre Pio came to him. Labeouf is known for embracing his roles in his post-Transformers career. In Fury, he enlisted in the National Guard, removed a tooth, and lived like someone on a WWII tank crew while filming the movie. For the Padre Pio movie, he lived with Capuchin friars and learned about Catholicism. However, all that preparation for the film deeply affected LaBeouf. Unlike other movies where he returned to normalcy after filming, this experience changed what normal is for him.

Seizing Opportunity

It took living with friars, visiting Italy, and filming a movie about one of the great mystics of our time to change Labeouf’s heart. Not all of us have that opportunity. Or do we? You would be amazed at the transformative power of reading books from the Ignatius Press catalog, attending Mass regularly, praying the Rosary, and getting involved in parish or archdiocesan events. We have so many opportunities to better know God through our Catholic faith that we often don’t take advantage of. We cheer when we hear conversion stories like Labeouf’s. But we also have the ability to write our own conversion story too.

The next step in your faith journey may be one book away

Pray and meditate on the Third Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and His Call to Conversion. He calls us to a life of conversion; changing our worldly ways into his spiritual ones. We don’t need to hit rock bottom in our lives and have a miraculous intervention to convert. We have opportunities to convert every day. That may mean increasing the amount of time we pray, letting go of certain sins or unhealthy habits, and making an effort to better learn and embrace the Catholic faith. If you feel detached or apathetic to your faith, ask Mary while meditating on the 3rd Luminous Mystery to help inspire and guide you in your personal conversion journey.

The Miracle of Individual Conversion

Conversion is a Process

I find inspiration and hope in the conversion of St. Paul. It makes me realize that God has a plan for all of us, even for those who we deem “lost.” And let’s face it, there are plenty of lost people in this world right now. We live in a post-truth, woke, relativistic, manipulated, fearful, easily offended, snowflake, whipped-up world. It’s easy to feel lost amongst the media noise and competing agendas. Like Saul, who thought he was protecting the Jews from these crazy Christians, people are fighting for all sorts of “causes.” This often ends in people feeling angrier and sadder. Yet, even in all this chaos, God’s plan is at work. Maybe it’s not as dramatic as St. Paul’s conversion, but individuals are converted all the time.

Conversion isn’t usually a one-time event surrounded by blinding light and a voice in the sky. It’s a process of gradual change. For many, conversion is opening their hearts and minds to God’s voice. You may find yourself more motivated to pray, read scripture, and attend Mass. That could evolve into receiving the sacraments, especially Reconciliation. You might find yourself letting go of an old grudge and forgiving those who wronged you. It’s a process of taking a few steps forward and maybe a few steps back.

Conversion in the Rosary

Conversion is a central theme of the Third Luminous Mystery, The proclamation of the kingdom of Heaven and Jesus’ call to conversion. Jesus calls all of us to come to him with our imperfections and ask for his help to convert them. But we should not only pray that we convert our own earthly ways into heavenly ones but for others’ conversion as well. The world feels torn apart right now with the war in Ukraine and various ideologies, ones that have caused so much tragedy, taking hold once again. We need to pray for those individuals who are lost that they may find Jesus Christ and convert to living for the Kingdom of Heaven.

Convert Souls, Not the World

I think we should focus on the changing of individual souls and not praying that the whole world changes. It’s not that praying for world change is a bad thing. I just think it’s a bit of a cop-out. It’s like we want to wake up tomorrow and see that God fixed everything and made our world a utopia. We lost our utopia when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The world will never be a perfect place. That’s what God wanted, but we choose differently. While the world may never be perfect, God still reaches out to each individual soul offering him a chance to start living for His kingdom.

Gains are made one soul at a time. Sometimes those converted souls can have a large impact on others. Look at Saint Paul’s conversion again. Not only did he stop persecuting Christians, but he went on to write letters that make up a good-sized portion of the New Testament. But a meaningful conversion isn’t one that has a large worldly impact. Finding God’s mercy and grace mean the world to the converted soul. Imagine the near-infinite joy of a single soul, one possibly headed for Hell, finding salvation in Heaven because he converted.

I’m not saying we give up on our world. But the world will never be perfect regardless of what leaders we elect and what laws we pass. It will always be broken until the end of time when God establishes a “New Jerusalem.” There will always be sadness, hardship, and tragedy. But the world and our lives are temporary. Our souls are eternal. Investing in our soul’s well-being is the wiser, long-term investment.

There’s a Little “Doubting Thomas” in All of Us

Poor Saint Thomas. I always felt like he got a bad wrap being forever known as Doubting Thomas. All the apostles had their faults, but Saint Thomas and Saint Peter’s are probably the best known along with Judas Iscariot. How unfortunate that his moment of weakness came to define him. He’s like the kid at school that picked up an unflattering nickname based on doing something silly on his first day.

Why did Saint John include this story about Saint Thomas? All the Gospel writers had good reasons for removing or including certain content. Saint John even went as far as providing editorial notes saying that he intentionally left out many of the acts Jesus performed (John 20:30, 21:25) But he included Saint Thomas’ doubt. That story made the cut. What’s so important about it?

We Can’t Put Our Hands in Jesus’ Side

I think Saint John included this story about doubt knowing that everyone reading it for ages to come would relate. Future generations would be like Saint Thomas — being told of Jesus’ resurrection without actually seeing him. We have the Church telling us that Jesus rose from the dead, but we can’t actually place our hands in Jesus’ nail marks. In the lack of physical evidence, will we doubt or believe?

Before we’re too hard on Saint Thomas, ask yourself if you would have acted differently. Jesus rising from the dead was an extraordinary claim. It wasn’t hardened by thousands of years of Church history. Remember, the apostles at this time were still trying to make sense of Jesus’ teachings. They didn’t have centuries of teachings and theologians to help guide them. I think Saint Thomas’ reaction was reasonable. And it was one that many of us still exhibit today.

Many of us have moments of doubt about our faith. We’re just lucky that we don’t have someone recording our doubts and putting them into the most widely distributed book of all time as Saint Thomas did. I think there are times when we want more proof from God. We want to know that the prayers, fasting, almsgiving, etc. are all necessary and ultimately beneficial. Our doubt manifests itself in various ways such as:

  • Not going to Mass or not paying attention during Mass
  • Not believing in the Real Presence of the Eucharist
  • Delay receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation
  • Not praying
  • Acting in ways that are contrary to Church teaching
  • Committing sin

Sin is Doubting God

It’s that last one, committing sin, that I would like to focus on. Sin is demonstrating a lack of faith. It’s knowing what Jesus wants out of us and then doing the opposite. If we were 100% faithful to Jesus with no doubt in him or his Church, we wouldn’t dare do anything contrary to his teachings. And yet, we all show our doubt when we sin. We implicitly say, “I’ve heard the Church’s teachings, but I don’t fully believe them.” We wouldn’t dare commit a sin if Jesus was physically standing in front of us. But he is always there with us but our doubt blinds us to his presence.

Here’s the good news and why Saint John included Saint Thomas’ story in his Gospel. He knew that future generations, billions of people, will not have the advantage of seeing proof of Jesus’ resurrection like Saint Thomas and the apostles. John’s Gospel says, “Blessed are those who have not seen but believe” (John 20:29). That’s us! This account, while at Saint Thomas’ expense, is meant for us. It is a call for us to have faith in Jesus Christ for all time after Jesus physically left this world in the Ascension.

Fighting Doubt with Rosary Prayer

When I’m looking to fight doubt and have faith, I turn to praying the First Joyful Mystery, The Annunciation. Mary, while confused and puzzled by the Angel Gabriel’s announcement, didn’t doubt God’s plan. Likewise, Saint Joseph, while having concerns of his own, also put his faith in God when he stood by Mary’s side instead of divorcing her. They didn’t demand proof or challenge God like Saint Thomas. Rather, they humbly accepted God’s Will. When we pray this mystery, let’s also ask God for humble faith in His divine Will.

I also think about the Third Luminous Mystery, The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the Call to Conversion. The Kingdom of Heaven is real. But how much faith and confidence do we have living for it instead of earthly delights? Again, when we sin, it shows our doubt in the reality of God’s heavenly kingdom. And that is why Jesus calls us to conversion. Conversion means having more faith and less doubt in God’s plan for us. It means trying harder to live for something we cannot immediately see instead of demanding God to prove himself.

Unfortunately, Saint Thomas can’t escape his Doubting Thomas label. But Saint John included his account in his Gospel for our benefit. Are you striving to live in God’s grace and have faith in God’s plan? Or are you wasting valuable time demanding proof before living for God’s kingdom?

God is Unchanging Truth

What is Truth?

The teachings of the Catholic Church are universal. They are the same regardless of time, place, or cultural trend. This is one of the key aspects I’m learning as I read the Catechism this year. The source of everything, including truth, lies with God. God is not only the source of truth, He IS truth. And the mission of the Catholic Church is to reveal that truth to everyone.

This is why calls for the Catholic Church to change her teachings to conform to cultural trends frustrate me. People want to take God’s truth and change it. They probably aren’t aware that they are trying to change God Himself. The Catholic Church seems inflexible because it won’t change her teachings. But she can’t! We need to have the humility to know that we can’t change God. And we should strive to have the faith in God’s truth even when we don’t completely understand it.

Hard to Accept != Hateful

Currently, one of the more divisive areas of Church teaching is that on gender and sexual orientation. Because the Church teaches that homosexuality is sinful, people immediately jump on the Church as being “outdated” or “hateful.” They basically want God to get with the times. People act like we can tell Him that his creation took a vote and we decided to override some of His decisions.

The mistake that many of us make is that we equate unpopular or hard to accept with hateful. It doesn’t help that we hear this day and night from various politicians who desire votes and donations. Of course, they will promote what is popular, not necessarily what is true because it’s popularity, not the truth, that gets them votes.

Look at Jesus. Did he ever promote hate? On the contrary, he directed us to love everyone, even those who we don’t like. But, did he equate love with acceptance of sinful behavior? Never. He forgave sins but never endorsed them. He called people to a life of conversion. It wasn’t he that needed to change, it was the people he called to follow him. His unwillingness to alter Truth is what led him to his crucifixion. The Church, from its very start, embraced Truth over popularity.

Fear of God is a Good Thing

And this is what makes this manifesto from the German Catholic bishops so frustrating. They are demanding that the Catholic Church change its teaching on sexuality. They even have a catchy tagline — For a church without fear. Probably in addition to the term hate, fear is another one of those words that tend to be thrown around in an attempt to score political points.

Maybe a little fear is a good thing. It shows an understanding that some of our actions conflict with truth and we have some remorse. We’re afraid because we know, at some deep level, that what we are doing conflicts with God’s design for us. By not embracing truth, we don’t embrace God. We should be afraid of our actions separating us from God’s grace.

Rather than demanding that God changes, perhaps we should find the humility to change our views and actions. Even when we don’t understand the truth, God asks us to have faith in Him. And having faith in God means having faith in the truth. When you pray the Rosary, look to Mary as the ultimate example of humility and accepting God’s truth even when we can’t completely understand it. And pray that these Geman bishops also have the humility to look past their politics and remember the Truth they are called to teach.

When you pray the Rosary, meditate on the ideas of God and Truth when you pray the Third Luminous Mystery — The Proclamation of the Kingdom Heaven and the Call to Conversion. It is our duty to learn God’s truth and convert our hearts and minds to honor Him. When we fear God, we’re on our way to understanding Him. When we desire truth, we desire God.

Refusing to See God’s Signs

I continue to read my Bible in a Year every day. I just finished reading the Book of Kings, chapters 18 and 19. These chapters introduce the prophet, Elijah. In this time, the Israelites had once again lost their way and turned to worship other gods such as Baal. Elijah demonstrated the falseness of Baal in a contest of seeing whose sacrifice would be consumed by fire — his or the priests of Baal. After winning that contest in a dramatic fashion, the drought that had been plaguing the land for years ended.



You would think that after all the works of God Elijah demonstrated that the people would have been grateful. But instead, Elijah needed to flee for his life. Instead of being thankful that he called on God to end a drought, they were outraged that he exposed their beliefs in the false god, Baal. Instead of rejoicing in the truth, they hated him for exposing the lies.


I think we are often act similar to those who rejected Elijah even after witnessing the signs. Our desire to appear right often overshadows our willingness to change in light of new information. We hate admitting when we are wrong and would rather be miserable clinging to destructive practices than making an effort to change. In many cases, we choose the behaviors we’re used to instead of making the changes to follow God’s plan.

In the Third Luminous Mystery, Jesus asks us to embrace the Kingdom of Heaven and to convert. Even more than Elijah, Jesus gave us numerous signs and miracles; more than enough reason to put our trust in him and convert from our sinful ways to his ways. And yet, despite the signs, we still sin. We are like the Israelites choosing false gods. We may know that those sins we commit ultimately lead to unhappiness and yet we do them anyway. When we pray the Third Luminous Mystery, we should ask for the courage to truly convert and turn from whatever “false gods” we have in our life whether that be greed, pride, envy, lust, and any other deadly sin.

Part of conversion is having the courage to admit when we are wrong. We have an opportunity to embrace God and turn away from sin whenever we receive the Sacrament of Confession. But like the Israelites, admitting when we’ve acted sinfully is difficult. No one likes to admit they’re wrong which is probably why confessionals sit empty, at least in the United States.

If you’ve been lucky, you’ve heard a priest tell you to go to confession. But that is easier said than done. It’s like telling someone who is out of shape that they just need to eat right, get plenty of sleep, and exercise. It’s not that we don’t know about confession, but many of us don’t have the courage or make it a priority to receive it. That’s where the Rosary comes in. Pray it regularly and ask Mary for the strength to go to confession. Like regular exercise, regular Rosary prayer will build spiritual strength and courage to more fully embrace all that God offers. That includes His grace and His mercy.

May is the Time to Simplify

I have certain addictions. They aren’t terrible ones, but they are addictions nonetheless. Maybe a routine is a better way to put it. I spend a lot of time in the evening watching junk video clips on YouTube. The content isn’t morally bad. It’s mostly clips from many of my favorite shows and movies. But it can suck away a lot of time. I watch one 5-minute clip and then I see another suggested clip that looks interesting. The next thing I know, I’ve spent an hour watching bits and pieces of movies.

I recall many television shows that I would watch religiously — Shark Tank, Law and Order, Lost, and a myriad of cooking competitions. I felt like I had to watch them or else I would fall behind and lose track of the plot. And then something would happen where I couldn’t watch these shows — I went on vacation, I had some important event to attend, etc. And you know what? I didn’t really care that I had missed those episodes and fell behind. For the most part, I stopped watching those shows entirely and it wasn’t a big deal. The key was breaking out of the routine to find something better.

Is this “must see” TV?

I want the month of May to be a time of mental and spiritual spring cleaning. Many people clean physical spaces in spring by getting rid of the junk that has accumulated in the house over the years. But many of us have also accumulated junk habits that need cleaning. I’m sure we can all find those little time sucks that don’t really bring much happiness but we do them out of routine. Even if those routines aren’t sinful, we should evaluate whether we could be doing something better with our time.

I am the True Vine

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.
He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit,
and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.”

John 15:1-2

I like the idea that when we reduce and simply, we can be happier and closer to God. We are basically removing all the worldly vices and distractions so what remains is God’s grace. We lose focus on what’s important when we spend our time and energy on frivolous activities. It’s better to consume our time by focusing on a few higher-quality endeavors instead of many low-quality ones. And that goes for our downtime too. Don’t waste your relaxation time on activities that aren’t actually regenerative like arguing with trolls on social media.

The Rosary

When I think about focusing our time and energy wisely, I think about the Third Luminous Mystery — Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and Call to Conversion. Jesus tells us to focus our energies on His Heavenly Kingdom and transform our lives to focus on that goal. That includes not only avoiding sin but also finding ways to “bear fruit.” Not sinning is just the minimum to living for Heaven. Jesus challenges us to do more by finding ways to serve him in all aspects of our lives whether that be work or play.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. (Lk 4:18)

My YouTube Diet

This May, I’m going to try to go on a YouTube diet. I want to reclaim some of that time wasted watching five-minute movie clips. Instead, I may watch actual, full-length movies (I haven’t watched The Hobbit trilogy yet), shows, and documentaries. I’m going to work on some personal projects. I’m going to try to write more RosaryMeds articles. I’m also going to give some YouTube alternatives a try like odysee and rumble since they don’t have censorship based on woke social agendas like YouTube.

Naturally, in Mary’s month, I also want to dedicate more time to Rosary prayer and Bible reading. On weekdays, I now start my day praying the Rosary. I like the idea that by the time I get out of bed, I’ve accomplished something. I’m starting the day with the correct mindset; one centered around God. I’m making my relationship with God a priority above all else.

You would be surprised how much better days go with small tweaks like limiting mindless web browsing and waking up with prayer. This isn’t anything new and is a topic many self-help books cover. But there is an element of truth to them. Small changes can have a huge impact. You just have to be patient and have the motivation to get started. Like giving something up for Lent or Advent, the first few days or weeks of breaking a routine are always the hardest. But with God’s help through prayer, you will hopefully find yourself asking why you didn’t break certain habits earlier.

So, what’s your personal spring cleaning going to be?

The Importance of Chastisements

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

Medjugorje’s Ten Secrets

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

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

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

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

The Importance of Chastisements

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

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

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

The Rosary Connection

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

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

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.

Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Knowledge

Some of us, when confronted with a crisis, know what to do. Think about emergency personnel like paramedics, nurses, and doctors. When there is a medical emergency, they jump into action. If they are at a restaurant and someone collapses, they jump in and help. Other people, while wanting to help, freeze up. Will they make the situation worse by getting involved? Are they able to make the right decisions in that situation? It’s not that their inaction means they don’t care. It’s just that they don’t know what to do.

The ability to act correctly, especially in spiritual matters, is another gift from the Holy Spirit — the gift of Knowledge. It “enables a person to judge rightly concerning the truths of faith in accordance with their proper causes and the principles of revealed truth” (Catholic Straight Answers). While the gift of wisdom is the desire to follow God’s Will, knowledge is the ability to do so. If the gift of understanding is the “why” behind following God’s Will, think of knowledge as the “how.” Even more than just knowing what to think, do, or say, knowledge is also the confidence that what you’re doing is in line with God’s Will. I see so many people on the Catholic Answer Forums asking, “Did I do the right thing when I …?” Knowledge reduces that doubt and scrupulosity.

Knowledge in the Rosary

Consider the Third Luminous Mystery of the RosaryThe Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Conversion. With the gift of knowledge, we can see what comes from God’s Kingdom of Heaven and what does not. We then can make good, knowledgeable decisions to embrace what is Heavenly. If our current desires are for what is earthly, then using knowledge to change our priorities is the process of conversion. When you pray the Third Luminous Mystery, ask yourself whether you are seeing what is Heavenly and making decisions to embrace them.

Next, consider the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary — The Carrying of the Cross. Think about how many people stood by and watched Jesus carry His cross. Many of them might have wanted to help Jesus but they didn’t know how or they were afraid of what the soldiers might do. However, Veronica found the inspiration and courage to stand out from the crowd to wipe Jesus’ face, giving Him a moment of relief.

One of the ways the gift of knowledge manifests itself is knowledge of how to help others in spiritual matters. Many times, we want to help others when we see them struggle or when they are in despair but we don’t know what to do. We are like the onlookers during Jesus’ passion. The gift of knowledge will help us know the right things to say or do. We will be like Veronica — inspired to find a way to help others in need.

Finally, consider the Fourth Glorious Mystery — Mary’s Assumption. I’ve always said how the Assumption was a sign of God’s special plan for Mary after her earthly death. And that plan was for her to guide us to her Son, Jesus Christ. She guides us in acquiring knowledge of Jesus and His love for us. God has provided us so many tools so that we may know Jesus — the Mass, the Bible, sacred tradition, and countless documents. And we also have guides like Mary, the Holy Spirit, and the saints to help us better know Jesus.

Inspired by Mary and the saints, we should take the opportunity to better know Jesus. We should read the Bible, papal encyclicals, and the Catechism to cultivate our knowledge of our faith. Our small investment in learning our faith will then be compounded by the Holy Spirit and our Mother Mary. With that knowledge, we will be able to better discern what is Heavenly and what is not and take comfort in the fact that choosing what is Heavenly will lead to ultimate joy and peace in God’s grace.

The Tragedy of Having Too Much Stuff

I was listening to the soundtrack to the movie, 1492: Conquest of Paradise, the other day. It isn’t a great movie although it has a terrific score. It’s a telling of the story of Christopher Columbus and his discovery of North America. But I’m not reviewing that movie in this article. Instead, there’s a scene from the movie that I want to explore on how it relates to Jesus’ teachings and the Rosary.

Towards the end of the movie, after the Spaniards established a colony on an island in the Bahamas, a massive tropical storm hits and destroys nearly everything the settlers had built. Their grand church, houses, and other structures lay in ruins. Meanwhile, the natives, having been through such storms in the past, didn’t lose much given the simple structures that they could easily rebuild.

This scene demonstrates that the more stuff we surround ourselves with, the harder it becomes to part with it. The storm was a tragedy for Columbus and the settlers because they had invested so much time, energy, and other resources to bring the comforts they were used to into the new world. But the natives didn’t feel a huge sense of loss because they didn’t have a huge worldly investment for the storm to wipe away.

The Gospels are full of accounts of Jesus warning against the acquisition of worldly goods. He tells the rich man to give all that he has and follow Him (Matthew 19:16-24). He talks about the man who builds bigger barns to store his crops only to die the next day (Luke 12:13-21). Whether it’s the movie 1492 or the Gospel, the message is clear. The more stuff you acquire, the more attached you are to this world and the harder it will be to detach yourself from it. Eventually, it’s not you who owns stuff. Rather, more stuff masters over you. And with all that stuff in your life comes the worries of losing it or the pursuit to acquire more. Where is there room for God’s grace?

Now it’s not like I live a Spartan existence. Like many modern households, I surround myself with television, computers, smartphones, and other things. But I try my best to remember that they are just things. I try to keep the perspective that my life will actually be just as happy and fulfilling if those things went away (and maybe even happier). When I pray, I ask God for the strength to not let my possessions own me. That’s easier said than done, but that’s where daily Rosary prayer comes in.

When I think of detachment from worldly goods, I pray the Third Luminous Mystery — The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Call to Conversion. I remember that Jesus taught us that we should store Heavenly goods, not worldly ones. All the wealth and possessions in the world mean nothing if you don’t leave room for God’s grace. When I do find myself focusing too much on “stuff” I ask God to help convert that worldly focus to a Heavenly one.

Let’s face it, our pursuit of possessions is a form of greed, one of the seven deadly sins. The opposing virtue is charity. When I pray the Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation, I think about Mary’s charitable act of helping her cousin, Elizabeth, in her pregnancy although she was pregnant as well. She made the effort to think beyond her needs and desires to help someone else. When we meditate on this Rosary mystery, let’s think about how we can be more charitable in our lives, not only with monetary donations but also with our time and talents. We ask Mary to help us counter our greedy vices with charitable virtues.