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.

Catholicism: Benefits Outweigh the Burdens

I came across this article about how priests are held to higher moral standards than a layperson. Because a priest is Jesus’ representative here on Earth via his vocation, he needs to be held to a higher standard. But I want to take this one step further. Are Catholics in general held to a higher moral standard than a secular person? Doesn’t that seem unfair? Why would someone want to practice a faith that adds more burdens to his life?

The Catholic Exchange article, The Holiness of Priests Makes the Entire Church Holy, talks about how priests are in persona Christi—in the person of Christ. This grants them great power. But to quote Spiderman, with great power comes great responsibility. A priest must be that much more devout because he’s a greater target for Satan and he’s responsible for the sins of his congregation.

St. Anthony Mary Claret said it would be better to leave a town without a priest than to have one who is unworthy. “If God does not send me men who are truly called, God himself will have to take care of the men and souls by means of his angels. A call is God’s gift. I must not bring the unworthy into the sheepfold to destroy it instead of tending it.”

When we pray the First Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, remember to pray for priests. We promise to follow God when we’re baptized. But priests have a responsibility to guide us in our journey. They have an awesome responsibility to lead us in the right direction by teaching God’s Truth. A priest that doesn’t take that duty seriously or abuses his position not only harms himself but harms those he leads astray. Priests need our support and prayers.

What about laypeople? Do we also have more of a burden of holiness than a secular person? After all, we skip Sunday Mass and we’ve committed a sin. But someone of a different religion is not committing a sin when they don’t go to Mass if they were never taught that rule. Other religions can essentially follow God’s natural law while Catholics have to follow all these other additional rules. Doesn’t that seem a bit unfair?

This question over Church rules relates to my previous article about the “Nones” who reject traditional spiritually because they just see it as a collection of rules, burdens, and responsibilities. Why follow a religion that tells you that everything you want to do is wrong? Isn’t it better to find a religion (or create your own) that doesn’t punish someone for being who he wants to be?

What the Nones miss, either when talking about the additional responsibilities of a priestly vocation or being a practicing Catholic, are the tremendous benefits of Christianity. God bestows His grace on you. He lays out a path for you to eventually spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Everything about God is about finding joy. And that’s something that magic crystals, breathing exercises, and new-age spiritualism can’t match.

To find joy in any relationship, you have to follow some rules. You can’t have a meaningful relationship with a spouse if you’re selfish, uncaring, manipulative, or abusive. You have to put forth the effort to make the relationship flourish even if that means taking on some additional responsibilities. And the same goes for Catholicism. To have a meaningful relationship with God, you have to make an effort to make the relationship work. And that means committing yourself to follow God’s laws and understanding how they lead to eternal happiness.

When you pray the Third Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, remember that Jesus proclaimed God’s kingdom of Heaven. Finding joy in Heaven should be our main goal in life. We acknowledge that it will have its burdens and challenges but we ask our Heavenly Mother Mary for guidance and intercession. We pray the Rosary so that we may see how God’s grace is well worth any sacrifices we make or burdens we bare.

When you pray the First Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary, remember that even Jesus was scared of doing God’s Will. He asked God to change the plan. But Jesus also understood that God’s plan would ultimately lead to joy, not just for Jesus in conquering death, but for all humanity. We have been redeemed by Jesus’ sacrifice and the gates of Heaven are open to us all. Jesus shows us how we must focus on God’s Will and not become discouraged by the relatively small burdens it places on us.

Rosary Meditations with Mary’s Magnificat

A Marion prayer that I often overlook in my daily prayer routine is Mary’s Magnificat. It contains Mary’s words when she visited her cousin Elizabeth in the Visitation which we meditate on in the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. The text is as follows.

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,

my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on his humble servant.

From this day all generations will call me blessed,

the Almighty has done great things for me,

and holy is his Name.

He has mercy on those who fear Him

in every generation.

He has shown the strength of his arm,

he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,

and has lifted up the humble.

He has filled the hungry with good things,

and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has come to the help of his servant Israel

for he has remembered his promise of mercy,

the promise he made to our fathers,

to Abraham and his children for ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.

Amen

On Catholic Exchange, this article discusses how the Magnificat is another great Marion prayer to meditate on especially since it focuses on praise and thanksgiving for all God provides us. Not only does the prayer’s text itself come from an event recalled whenever we pray the Second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary, but many of the themes in the Magnificat are reflected in other mysteries as well. Let’s take a look at a few.

When I pray the Third Joyful Mystery, The Nativity, I often meditate on how the shepherds in the field came to Jesus after angels announced His birth. I think about how they took time off from their work to rejoice. And this is Mary’s tone in the Magnificat; one of joy and thanksgiving. She talks about how God has done great things for her and how she’s blessed.

nativity scene

Do we take time out of our day to thank God for all He has done for us? Or are we only focused on life’s challenges asking God to make things easier? Do we think about how Mary’s life, as blessed as it was, wasn’t easy? And yet she still rejoiced in what God gave her. And did the shepherds ignore the angels’ announcement of Jesus’ birth? No, they went and rejoiced at Jesus’ manger. Do we take time out of our day to rejoice in what God has provided us, both the big and the small?

The middle portion of the Magnificat reads like the Beatitudes. Mary proclaims how the proud will be “scattered” and the humble “lifted up.” In essence, those humbly living for God’s kingdom will be the ones who will eventually find happiness in Heaven. And that is a core theme of the Third Luminous Mystery, The Proclamation of the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus proclaims the greatness of His Father’s kingdom and asks us all to convert from our prideful, earthly ways to heavenly ones.

It takes humility and faith to accept something we cannot experience with our physical senses. In fact, God asks us to do more than just accept His will. We must fully embrace it with a sense of joy. Mary wasn’t tepid in her response to God’s calling and neither should we. We may not know the details of what God has in store for us, but we do know that His plan ends with us joining Him forever in Heaven. And that knowledge alone should be more than enough to make us excited over embracing our faith to the fullest.

The Catholic Exchange article ends with talking about the difference between happiness and joy. The Magnificat is a prayer of joy. Mary didn’t say she was happy, she said she was joyful. She must have known that her life wasn’t going to be easy after accepting God’s calling and it wasn’t always going to be happy. She did experience periods of great sadness such as witnessing Jesus’ crucifixion and death which we meditate on in the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery.

We too will experience challenges and unhappiness; some more than others. But that doesn’t mean we can’t live joyfully knowing that God has made a place for us in Heaven. We can live joyfully by seeing all the blessings He has provided us that we may otherwise overlook in our daily lives.

I encourage you to pray the Magnificat daily, either before or after the Rosary. I think it will help flip the mentality that many of us have which is focusing mostly on our hardships and asking God to help us. The Magnificat will provide balance because we’ll also see all that God does provide and blesses us with daily. There’s a saying in the classic 80’s movie, Ferris Bueler’s Day Off. Ferris says, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” I think the Magnificat conveys something similar — “life moves fast and if you don’t slow down and appreciate God’s blessings, you could miss them.”

Holiness is the Goal

I read this article on Catholic Exchange about how we should never give up striving for holiness. The author, Constance T. Hull, echos many of the same thoughts as Matthew Kelly in his book that I reviewed, The Biggest Lie in Christianity. Essentially, both talk about how life is made up of moments where we decide either to act holy or sinfully. Of course, the goal is to decide to make each moment a holy moment. Mrs. Hull makes these fine points as we strive for holiness.

  1. We cannot do it alone. It is only through Christ that we achieve holiness. In other words, apart from Christ holiness is not possible and it doesn’t even make sense. How can you be holy without dedicating the moment to Jesus Christ?
  2. We will fall daily. There will be times when we choose not to act saintly. It’s important to realize when we fall so we can analyze why we made that decision and how to not repeat it in the future.
  3. We must get back up. We can’t dwell on our sins. When Jesus forgives us through Reconciliation, He puts our sins behind Him. And we must put them behind us too and not let them lead us into despair.
  4. Seek forgiveness immediately. Part of putting our sins behind us to make forgiveness a priority. This means prioritizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation and setting things right with the people we’ve hurt through our sins.
  5. Holiness is the goal. It’s not just priests and nuns that must live holy lives. We are all called to be saints and we all have the ability to live as saints. But that doesn’t happen by accident. We have to make it a priority.

Enter the Rosary

The mysteries of the Rosary help us lead holy lives. I could pick any of the twenty mysteries and discuss how they touch on one of the aspects of holiness mentioned by Matthew Kelly or Constance Hull. Let’s look at a few. Think about how God calls you to holiness when you meditate on these mysteries.

The Fifth Joyful Mystery, the finding of Jesus in the temple, always reminds me of our quest for holiness. This mystery is a story of loss, agony, and ultimately finding Jesus. And that’s what life is — a continuous cycle of losing Jesus through sin, suffering, and ultimately coming back and finding Jesus in His father’s house, aka the Church and Her sacraments.

I also can’t help but think of the Third Luminous Mystery, Jesus’ proclamation of the kingdom of Heaven and His call to conversion, and meditate on our call to holiness. Matthew Kelly explores this a lot more, but a central theme of holiness is allowing God to totally transform you. It’s not a minor change here, and a tweak there. Jesus asks us to dedicate our lives to conversion. That means changing from one thing to something completely different. We can’t be both saintly and worldly. We have to choose what we want to be and actively convert our actions from worldly ones to holy ones. Remember Mrs. Hull’s words — conversion to holiness is the goal for all us.

Lastly, let’s look at the Third Glorious Mystery, Pentecost. Mrs. Hull said we cannot become holy on our own. And that is why we have the Holy Spirit to guide us on our quest towards holiness. We need to be conscious of how the Holy Spirit acts in our lives as it will often be subtle. It won’t be through a burning bush, a booming voice in the sky, or an apparition. The Holy Spirit acts by providing opportunities to act holy, or implanting a quick thought on doing something nice, or providing a sense of peace and thankfulness towards God. We have to be open to the small ways the Holy Spirit nudges us towards holiness.

God gives us all of the opportunity and many tools to becomes saints. Are you taking advantage of all of them?

Pope’s November Intention: Use the Language of Love

Pope Francis’ November intention is “In the Service of Peace: That the language of love and dialogue may always prevail over the language of conflict.”  Here’s a snippet of Deacon Ted Penton’s reflection on the pope’s message (the full article is found on Zenit).

Jesus didn’t allow Peter to defend him from an arrest by use of the sword. Nor did he call down legions of angels to save him from the Romans who tortured and executed him. Instead, he submitted to death on the cross. In some mysterious way, the Father used the death and resurrection of his Son for far greater purposes than any of his followers could have imagined. As Pope Francis eloquently stated, “In the silence of the cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness, dialogue, and peace is spoken.”

This reflection ties in nicely with my previous post about the sin of pride and the virtue of humility.  I also called out Jesus’ Passion as a time of peaceful and humble acceptance of God’s plan for us.  Jesus showed us that humility is the language of love that Pope Francis refers to in his November intention.  Because when we are humble we let God speak through us.  His words are not filtered and drowned out by our pride.  They aren’t muddled by our limited human minds.  Even when our intentions are good, we still don’t possess the ability to see the “big picture” and construct the same language of love and dialogue that is as effective as God’s Word.

There’s another aspect of the November intention I want to discuss.  We can’t confuse peaceful dialogue with weakness.  All too often, we have this notion that love means letting others roll over us and do as they like.  But look at Jesus’ example.  He was all loving but He was certainly no pushover.  He was unrelenting in preaching God’s truth and never backed down.  He never told sinners that their actions were okay.  But He did teach them what God desired for them and forgave them.  He did this in a loving way that drew people closer, not further away.  We too should imitate Jesus.  We don’t shy away from preaching God’s truth but we must do it in a way that also shows God’s love.

Jesus forgives the adulteress.

When we pray the Third Luminous Mystery of the Rosary, Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom and Heaven and His Call to Conversion, let’s keep the pope’s November intention in our hearts.  Let’s remember to make an effort to convert any of our ways that create conflict into ways that create and foster God’s love.  It’s not an easy journey letting go of our almost instinctive nature to fight hostility with hostility.  But think about Jesus being scourged and how difficult it must have been for Him not to fight back in a hostile way.  Ultimately, Jesus “won” because humiliation, torture, and death was not the end.  He found the strength to endure all of that out of His love for us.  We pray the Rosary this month asking God for that same strength to see that it is love, not hate, that will ultimately win and convert souls.