I love finding new ways to embrace the Rosary. I recently came across a podcast series called Daily Rosary Meditations hosted by Dr. Mike Scherschligt. The series is part podcast and part Rosary prayer. Dr. Scherschligt prays the Rosary differently than other Rosary meditations in that he doesn’t pray the Mysteries. Instead, he has a topic that he talks a little about between decades. He has covered stories about the power of the Rosary, the Church teachings on drug use, Purgatory, anxiety, and health.
Dr. Scherschligt does what I’m attempting to do with RosaryMeds — tie everything that the Church teaches and current events to the Rosary. There is nothing that happens to us that the Rosary can’t either help explain or give us the strength to endure. I’ve wanted RosaryMeds to be a treasure trove of ideas fueling Rosary prayer. It looks like Daily Rosary Meditations has done the same.
Some Rosary purists will point out that Daily Rosary Meditations is not Rosary prayer because it lacks the actual Rosary Mysteries. But I think it’s a BYOM Rosary — Bring Your Own Mysteries. There’s nothing preventing someone from listening to Dr. Scherschligt’s stories and teachings and recalling the daily Mysteries while praying the Rosary.
Unlocking the Power of the Rosary
The Sept. 25 episode was particularly powerful. Titled “The Sword“, Dr. Scherschligt tells stories about many of the miraculous events that have occurred because of the Rosary. Powerful armies and dictators have been brought down and dismantled through people coming together in Rosary prayer. If you’re looking for motivation to pray the Rosary, this is a great episode to listen to.
If you have the Amen app from the Augustine Institute installed, then you already have access to Daily Rosary Meditations. You can also listen to it via any podcast app or directly through the website. When I find the time, I will see how I can link to his series from RosaryMeds. It’s that good!
Over my vacation, I read the science fiction novel, Return from the Stars, by Polish author Stanislaw Lem. This was the second time I read the novel. When I read it 20 years ago, it didn’t connect with me. However, now I see many parallels with the direction our society is headed with the one depicted in the novel. I think this book is worth exploring through the lens of faith.
Return from the Stars echoes many themes explored in Adulous Huxley’s Brave New World or the movie Logan’s Run. Lem tells the story of an astronaut, Hal Bragg, returning from an intergalactic space mission having only aged 10 years while 127 years passed on Earth. His experiences on this new Earth are like stepping onto an alien planet. Society has completely changed because people live without crime and fear due to a procedure everyone receives at birth which removes humanity’s tendency towards aggression. Robots handle all the dangerous work leaving humans to spend their lives pursuing leisurely activities.
The Tragedy of Comfort
It may seem like a utopia to live in a world without injury, crime, and fear. If you don’t know of any other way of life, a world of war, crime, and toil would seem downright barbaric. However, what type of life is it where your sole purpose is to exist and consume? There is nothing to achieve or fight for. That drive towards improvement via challenging yourself no longer exists. In the novel, this world drives astronaut Hal Bragg to the edge of insanity as he declares, “They’ve killed the man in man!”
We are starting to see the development of such a society depicted in the novel. It’s one bathed in the glowing screens of smartphones. One can spend his whole life watching TikTok videos and streaming Netflix, ordering everything online at the click of a button, and no one daring to tell him, “You should be doing more with your life.” As Hal realizes almost immediately, it’s a life without purpose. Humanity has regressed, not progressed. We are little more than packs of animals dressed up in the comforts technological advances bring.
Return from the Stars stays mostly in the sociological changes to society. It avoids explicitly exploring the political and religious structure of such a society. But I think Lem leads the reader to a similar conclusion that Hal discovers — such a world creates a shallow and meaningless life. Ironically, it is through our hardships and toil that we forge strong connections with each other and God.
Why We Need to Toil
Our lives need to include that spirit of adventure, danger, and toil. There needs to be a sense that we are working towards something. Specifically, we need to have that drive to always be working towards living in God’s grace and eventually spending eternity with Him in Heaven. And that requires hard work and taking risks to achieve something more than what we currently have. It means being thankful for what we have, but knowing that it’s incomplete.
Hal laments that humanity lost the will to explore the stars to instead bask in the immediate comforts technology and science brought them. I think the same sentiment can be said for faith. We lose that sense of urgency to practice our faith in an easy, “safe” world. Why is it, after a huge disaster like the 911 attacks, churches were full to the brim the following weeks? I think, when our sense of comfort is disrupted, we evaluate what is truly important and invest in it. Unfortunately, the last major world event, the Covid pandemic, made it even easier to seek comfort rather than seek God.
Seeking God through the Rosary
Mediate on the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary — The Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Picture Mary and Joseph looking for Jesus after they learned he was missing. They searched for three days in sorrow. Imagine the sense of urgency and determination they must have had looking for their lost child. Everything else took a back seat to find Jesus. Their search required dealing with fear, sorrowful, and hardship. But in the end, their persistence was rewarded when they found Jesus in the temple.
We too should show that same level of focus and determination to find Jesus in our lives. I’m not saying that you neglect other responsibilities such as work, family, and community for your faith. But we can’t become so comfortable that we lose the willpower to serve and honor God. We always need to remember that we have a mission and it’s not to watch Netflix and Disney+ (which I recommend you boycott on principle). To be fully human, we need to strive for something greater than what we have. We need to strive to deepen our love for God and our faith.
I recently finished reading Fr. Robert Spitzer’s second book in his Called Out of Darkness trilogy — Escape from Evil’s Darkness. Like the first book in the series, this one starts slowly. I felt lost reading it because I couldn’t see where he was going. But the concepts start to build on each other making it an engaging and valuable read.
In his first book of the trilogy, Fr. Spitzer explains what evil is. He dove into the eight deadly sins, demonic possessions, and Jesus’ ultimate triumph over Satan. The second book can be thought of as the field manual for resisting that evil. He talks about routines and prayers someone can exercise to protect himself from sin and temptation.
Levels of Desire
The second book centers around moving to higher levels of desire. Satan operates around our lower-level, base desires while God operates at the high ones. Fr. Spitzer’s strategy for combating evil is simple — move to the higher levels toward God and away from Satan through prayer and devotion. Here’s a summary of the levels:
Level one — externally stimulated or physical pleasures and possessions (food, drink, leisure, vices, etc.)
Level two — ego-gratification (increased status, admiration, power, control)
Level three — seeking happiness by making a positive difference for others
Level four — the desire for perfection in love, goodness, and being with God
Fr. Spitzer discusses praying the Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, attending Mass, and receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And while much of what he says shouldn’t be new, especially to those who faithfully follow RosaryMeds, it is motivating to see how all these spiritual practices come together to form a defense against evil.
I recently read We Have Met the Enemy: Self-Control in an Age of Excess by Daniel Akst. He explores the cultural shifts in our views around self-control. This is a secular book so you won’t see much on Church teaching except some implicit connections that those who are religious tend to exercise more self-control. Nor is it a self-help book trying to push some 12-step program. It’s just an honest look at self-control and whether its declining value in our world is a good or bad thing. Naturally, I read it thinking about how self-control is linked to our faith and what the Rosary can teach us about this topic.
We have to endure a world of temptation and excess our ancestors never had to. Think about how convenient life is for the modern person. Most of us have nearly instant access to an abundance of calories, entertainment, and things. We don’t have to go for long periods of time between meals. Food is either a supermarket trip, fast food run, or pantry raid away. And with smartphones and the internet, we aren’t lacking options to occupy our time or buy anything our heart desires.
Our minds and bodies aren’t designed for this modern level of excess. Think about our primitive ancestors. They would need to fast for days between hunting animals. So when they did come across food, they consumed as much as they could because they didn’t know when the opportunity to consume more calories might be. As for entertainment; forget about it. They were too busy trying to stay alive. But if they could find some downtime, they took full advantage of it since they needed the rest to conserve energy.
Humans evolved amongst scarcity. Surviving when resources are scarce is our default setting. So our minds and bodies are working as designed when we indulge in tasty food or relaxing activities. The becomes problematic because we are surrounded by food and leisure 24/7. But our bodies don’t know that and are slow to adapt to the last few decades of changes (a blink in evolutionary terms). We need to override our default mode in this world of abundance. We need to show self-control.
Catholicism and Self-Control
Our Catholic faith helps us develop this sense of self-control. Think about the 7 deadly sins — gluttony, lust, envy, wrath, greed, sloth, and pride. For the most part, the root cause of these sins is a lack of self-control. It’s a failure to control our appetites, desires, and wants. The Church acknowledges and teaches that self-control is about resisting temptation and avoiding sin. This helps us stay healthy physically, but more importantly, spiritually.
Of course, showing self-control isn’t simple in the age of excess. We live in a world that affirms just about every vice. Lust, greed, and gluttony are celebrated as people being free to embrace whatever lifestyle they desire. The world isn’t going to honor your efforts to live on the straight and narrow. In fact, it will mostly like shame you for following conventions it sees as authoritative and fascist.
Self-Control in the Rosary
We can turn to the Rosary for guidance on self-control. When we look at the 7 deadly sins, the root sin is pride. Our pride is what justifies our lack of self-control. Pride is what puts our wants and desires ahead of anyone else’s. It tells us to ignore those voices telling us to exercise self-control. The virtue that counters pride is humility. Naturally, Mary is our model for humility. Meditate on the First Joyful Mystery. Picture Mary putting aside her own desires to do God’s Will. Humility means allowing God to guide us. Self-control and humility are about looking beyond your immediate wants and acknowledging others’ needs. Those “others” are our friends and family, our brothers and sisters in Christ, Christ himself, and our future self.
Look at Simeon and Anna in the Fourth Joyful Mystery. They exemplify restraint and dedication. They spent their lives in the temple praying and waiting for the Chosen One. Think about the level of self-control and patience they must have had. Simeon didn’t give in to their immediate desires but instead focused on what was promised to him — the privilege of seeing Jesus before he died. God promises us Heaven. But like Simeon, we have to show self-control and patience by not giving in to our sinful desires. We have to invest in our future selves that will enjoy the fruits of God’s kingdom. That “investment” won’t always be easy and might take a long time to bear fruit.
Self-control may be a dirty word in today’s culture. But we have to see it for what it really is — putting aside desires that aren’t physically, mentally, or spiritually healthy for us. This is why praying the Rosary, receiving the sacraments, and going to Mass are so important. They amplify this need for self-control, patience, and humility in a world that has practically drowned them out with messages affirming any vice you can think up.
We too often believe that our Catholic faith changing the world is something that cannot happen today. We look at the apostles baptizing people by the thousands after Jesus’ Ascension and think that such a large conversion isn’t possible anymore. Or we look at the early Christian martyrs, like those portrayed in Quo Vadis, who helped convert the Roman Empire, and think that those days are over.
We do have more recent examples of the Catholic faith conquering evil, repressive regimes. My family just finished watching Thou Shalt Love on EWTN (for free) which is the story of Cardinal Stephen Wsyzynski of Poland. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union conducted an assault on the Catholic Church in Poland trying to break it. The idea was that breaking the Church would break the people and usher in Communism throughout the country. Cardinal Wsyzynski, and later Pope John Paul II, lead the country in a non-violent show of faith that the soviets couldn’t break despite the arrests, the beatings, and the propaganda.
Watching Thou Shalt Love reminded me of the David vs. Goliath matchup which was the Polish people vs. the Soviet Union. The USSR had all the political, educational, and military power in Poland. And yet, they were defeated by processions, Masses, and prayers. People showed up by the thousands to honor Mary and her son, Jesus Christ. And, it was the hand of God who protected the people so that those who came to celebrate their faith didn’t end up arrested, shot, or sent to labor camps on a wide scale. It shows that when people put their faith in God as the Polish people did, we can bring down hallow political movements regardless of their worldly power.
Communism’s True Colors
It’s also important for people to see what is truly behind the face of socialism. It disguises itself behind ideas of equity, fairness, and reasonableness. It almost sounds Christian — let’s all share what we have in one big pool. But one of its core tenants is the destruction of organized religion. This is because Communism cannot compete with ideas that do not confess the state as the ultimate authority. Communism tries to establish the government as the makers of truth or morality and hence needs to destroy peoples’ faith in a higher truth not established by political apparatchiks, but by God.
The Rosary and Christian Witness
The history of Poland reminds me of the Third Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. The fruit of this mystery is Christian witness and conversion. The Polish people showed us the power of publicly witnessing our faith. It had the power to not only protect their country but ultimately help bring down the USSR (watch Nine Days that Changed the World to see the connections). Like the apostles and early Christian church, they showed the power of God if you just put your faith in Him.
We have a similar challenge today as Poland had during the latter half of the 20th century. In fact, our challenge is much more insidious. When your country is taken over by an outside force, many people find the motivation to fight back. But what if the threat comes from within? I’m going to say that’s what’s happening today. We still have attacks on the Catholic Church, particularly over issues like abortion, family, marriage, and gender ideology. But we don’t have priests being arrested and churches closed.
Soft Attacks Hit Hard
Today’s political powers learned that you shouldn’t display a show of force because that will mobilize the opposition. Instead of churches being closed, we had a global pandemic and live-streamed Masses leading to tepid attendance. Instead of arresting priests, we now just don’t have many men choosing that vocation. There are countless avenues of entertainment to keep people distracted. And acts of violence against Christians are covered up or treated as a rare, outlying situation. These soft attacks are doing more harm to the Catholic Church because people don’t even realize they are under attack.
These soft attacks make Rosary prayer all the more important. We need to pray that we remain strong Christian witnesses to our faith. I think part of that witness and conversion is making people realize that we are a Church under attack. Because when people feel comfortable, we aren’t strong Christian witnesses. It’s when there is hardship that we tend to fight back. And while I don’t wish misery on anyone, it’s an effective means of trusting in God and calling on Him to help us both societally and personally.
As Christians, particularly Catholics, we tend to fall for the recency bias; thinking that current circumstances are greater than similar situations in the past. This is only natural since these events directly affect us while events in the past affected someone else. Naturally, we’ll place greater emphasis on the events we live through. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from the past.
I recently read Quo Vadis by Henryk Sienkiewicz. The book was first published in 1895 and helped earn Henryk a Nobel Prize in literature in 1905. It’s not every day that I read a Nobel Prize-worthy book. Quo Vadis is historical fiction that takes place in the ancient Roman empire under the reign of Nero. It takes you through the journey of a Roman soldier’s encounter with this strange new sect, Christianity, and their peculiar leaders — St. Peter and St. Paul. It concludes with Nero’s burning of Rome and execution of the Christians.
I see many parallels between how the Romans viewed Christians with how modern-day society does. Both wildly misunderstand Christianity. The Romans believed all sorts of false rumors about Christians such as believing they were poisoning the water supply, killing babies in ritual sacrifices, and starting the great fire (it was actually Nero’s doing). When Nero finally martyred them by feeding them to lions, crucifying them, or burning them alive, the Roman people couldn’t believe how calm and at peace the Christians were when facing their deaths. When the Romans actually saw Christians exercising their faith, it shattered their misconceptions. The Christians’ conviction in Jesus Christ and his Gospel is what changed opinions and eventually the empire.
As the abortion debate continues today, we see many misconceptions and lies told about Catholics. The popular line is that we’re all about suppressing women’s rights, we hate anyone living non-Catholic lives, and we want to dictate what people do in the privacy of their homes. The solution to addressing these misconceptions is the same as what Henryk Sienkiewicz wrote about in Quo Vadis — showing the world our faith in Jesus Christ.
I think part of the reason why there are misconceptions about the pro-life position and Catholicism, in general, is that we’re hiding. In Quo Vadis, the Romans’ hearts and minds didn’t change when the Christians remained hidden. When Nero arrested the Christians and publicly executed them, people witnessed the power of the Christian faith. They didn’t choose when or how they would show their faith. But when the time came, they asked themselves “Quo Vadis?” or “where are you going?” They chose to go wherever God led them.
How about us? Are we going where God leads us? With the recent Supreme Court decisions (and not just the overturning of Roe vs. Wade), the world is calling us out. Like Nero, they may think they are leading us to our demise by insulting us, destroying property, and passing laws that undermine pro-life values. We’ve been asking for this for 50 years and now it’s our time to respond as Christians. We win when the world sees the beauty and happiness that comes from publicly following God.
Where do we start? How about returning to Mass? Now is the time to return if you’ve been away from the Mass for a long time or are still watching it remotely. Unlike the working world where many jobs can be done from home, you can’t live the Catholic faith entirely at home. We need the Mass. We need the sacraments. We need to make efforts to live our faith. And we need to act publicly. How can we expect to change the hearts and minds of those who stand against us if we haven’t let God change our hearts and minds first?
After a year of effort, I finished reading the entire Bible. I had purchased Bible in a Year in late January. For those not familiar with this particular Bible, it’s laid out as follows. The book is dived into 365 sections. Each section contains two excerpts from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. The first Old Testament reading follows the overarching, chronological narrative starting with Genesis. The other Old Testament reading is non-narrative like Psalms, Proverbs, Sirach, etc. The New Testament flows in chronological order. Each day ends with a small explanation and meditation. Let’s jump into my thoughts on this year-long experiment.
What I didn’t like
The Old Testament is repetitive! Maybe this is the software engineer in me, but I like concise language that gets to the point. The Old Testament prophets seem to go on for multiple chapters about how good or how bad the Israelites had been. I get it; they turned away from God and were punished but God still chose the Jews as His people.
Too many details! Reading about the exact layout and dimensions of the temple and Arc of the Covenant or how various rituals were to be performed caused my eyes to glaze over. It made me wish that the Bible had an appendix that included all those details.
Little context. This has more to do with my understanding of the Bible, but I wish this particular series had more of an overview of each book or an overarching summary of the Old and New Testaments. It was often hard to place exactly what was happening into a historical or narrative context.
The commentary comes at the end. This ties into my previous point. I found that reading the commentary first helped me understand the text slightly better. I got a small primer on what to look for in the text.
Psalms! I just don’t understand them. To me, they’re poetry. Nice poetry, but poetry all the same. I have a hard time using Psalms for prayer and meditation. There’s nothing wrong with them, they just aren’t my thing. I mostly skimmed these.
What I liked
Broader context. When you hear readings at Sunday Mass, they don’t make too much sense because they are read out of context. Reading the Bible daily helps establish a narrative. It’s a rich, complex narrative that you really don’t hear if you only listen to 52 snippets on Sunday.
It’s epic! We just saw the 20th anniversary of the initial Lord of the Rings movie. So epic stories are on my mind. And we tend to forget just how epic the Biblical saga is. Leaders, heroes, villains, triumphs, downfalls, redemption, wars, love — it’s all there.
There’s an app. Only recently, I discovered the Amen app which contains the Bible in a Year as audio recordings. Not only that, but they have daily readings, the rosary, and more as audio with pleasant background music. In fact, it has meditations for anxiety relief and falling asleep. It has become one of my favorite religous apps in the short period of time I’ve used it.
There are others. While I read a physical book, there is also a podcast series with Fr. Mike Schmitz. It’s a different series separate from the Bible in a Year series so you can’t mix and match. The few episodes I listened to were nice as Fr. Mike Schmitz does provide more explanation and context around each reading.
Catechism in a Year! There’s no official book by that name, but I’m going to apply the same principle as the Bible and divide reading the CCC over the course of a year. My copy has 756 pages. That’s about 2.1 pages per day which is completely doable. If I can read the Bible in a year, I can certainly read the Catechism too.
This year, I encourage you to take something large like the Bible or Catechism and get through it by breaking it down into small, digestible chunks. I get it, we’re all busy with work, family, and hobbies. It’s just a matter of choice. Is reading the Bible important enough to you to make time for it? It was for me. Are you in?
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:
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.
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.
There are so many distractions in our world that it is becoming increasingly harder to carve out time for earnest prayer. Although I know the benefits of prayer, I often find ways to avoid it. It’s like knowing that exercise, sleep, and a healthy diet will lead to a good life but we don’t always want to put in the effort. So we instead pick up some fast food and binge watch something on Netflix.
Probably the single largest distraction and source of mental junk food is the smartphone. It has all sorts of apps trying to get our attention all day long. I get notified by Duolingo that I haven’t done my Polish language training for the day. My sudoku app reminds me that there is a new puzzle. My journaling app tells me it’s been a while since I’ve written something. It’s so easy to cram my day with all these little apps that it doesn’t leave room for prayer.
I recently finished reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. It is a great read for anyone needing to declutter their day from all the mindless distractions offered through our phones. Some of the better chapters talk about the value of solitude or finding ways to have higher quality interactions with family and friends. Even if you’re already pretty good about your phone usage, give this book a read as I’m sure you’ll learn even more ways to keep your phone usage in check.
Why do I bring up Digital Minimalism on my RosaryMeds site? I think many of us find our phones chewing into our prayer life. Because God isn’t pinging us on our phones telling us He hasn’t heard from us, we forget to pray. Or, prayer just becomes another todo item alongside our daily Elevate lesson. But prayer needs to be more than just something to cram into our day. Prayer needs to be the foundation for our day. Our relationship with God and having His grace is what will sustain us, not how many people liked our post on Facebook.
After finishing Digital Minimalism, I’m trying to be much more deliberate in what I do. I put my phone away when I’m eating with my family. I also put it away when I’m playing with my kids. I’m working on my phone not being filler to my day. Because once you pick it up to check an app or website quickly, you often find yourself wasting minutes or hours mindlessly clicking links and watching movies. I don’t want to be a slave to my phone.
If I do have a few minutes of downtime, I’m going to do what people did not too long ago — just be alone with my thoughts. It’s okay to not always be doing something. Our brains need that break from being constantly connected. I find that when I’m alone with my thoughts, prayer often follows. That turns low-quality swiping into high-quality communication with our #1 fan, God.
In short, whatever you do throughout the day, do it deliberately. Don’t sort of be present at the breakfast table, but fully present. Don’t sort of talk to people, but actually have a conversation. And don’t rush through prayers, but say them with focus. That is why I wake up at 6 am now, don’t touch my phone, and launch straight into Rosary prayer. Whatever messages and emails that came through the night can wait 30 minutes. If I want a good day, then I have to start it correctly.
What about you? Do you want your day to go well? If so, how are you starting it? Is it checking in with God through the Rosary or checking your Twitter feeds?
There’s a saying in the creative world that the artist is his own worst critic. Many people, when seeing the results of their efforts, focus on the flaws. A painter only sees a shade of color that is slightly off. An actor remembers that one line that didn’t quite deliver the emotional impact he wanted. A musician dwells on that missed note that no one else noticed. A software developer, see a working computer program, instead dwells on a few lines of code that feel hacked together. We all have our faults that gnaw away at us leading us to doubt our abilities.
What about our spirituality? How accurately do we see our ability to live in holiness? Do we think we have the ability to live holy lives? Or do we only see the challenges and limitations and think holiness isn’t possible? This is the exact question Matthew Kelly asks in his book, The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity. Don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler since he clearly states it in the first chapter. The biggest lie in Christianity is that holiness isn’t something we can achieve. And that lie has had a negative cascading effect on the world.
Buying into the lie that we cannot be holy has prevented many of us from even trying. We look at the lives of the saints and think, “I can’t be like that.” And so we skip Mass, skip prayers, and go along with the secular crowd. Why choose a challenge that can only end in failure? And that’s the type of thinking Satan wants us to fall in to. If we give up on holiness we become susceptible to his influence.
Now, of course, the book (which is an easy read by the way) goes into detail on exposing the lie that we cannot achieve holiness. Holiness is possible. Matthew Kelly explains that we need to practice what he calls holy moments — small instances when we act holy. We can start small with one or two holy moments per day — saying prayers, making a sacrifice, doing something nice, etc. We can then expand the number of holy moments. And guess what happens when you chain together enough holy moments? You have a holy day! Then a holy week, holy month, and guess what? You now have a holy life! And what happens when multiple people live in holiness? A holy world!
Holy Moments in the Rosary
When I think of holy moments when I pray the Rosary, I think of Veronica in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery — Jesus carrying His cross. Veronica is the woman who wiped the face of Jesus during His passion. I consider it a pure holy moment. It was something small and mostly ineffective in relieving Jesus’ suffering. But she showed courage standing out from the crowd and possibly incurring the wrath of both the Roman soldiers and Jewish authorities to help someone in need the best she could. We may scoff and criticize the futility of Veronica’s actions. But who knows how many people she converted in that single action. Perhaps her example eased the fear others in the crowd may have been feeling at the time. And maybe many of those people went on to become one of the many of disciples that formed the early Church.
Matthew Kelly wants us to understand that there is no act of holiness too small. They all can have an impact, especially when combined. And there is no challenge too great that we can’t overcome if we leave ourselves open to God’s influence. When you pray the Rosary and meditate on the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, remember that we can all act like Veronica and stick out from the crowd. But first, we have to want to stick out from the crowd. It’s not easy to break out of our routines but that is exactly what God calls us to do. And that is why we pray the Rosary — asking Mary for her help to follow God’s plan. When we have as powerful of an intercessor as Mary, holiness is not only possible, it’s inevitable.