No matter how regularly and fervently we pray, most of us hit prayer blocks. Prayer block is similar to writer’s block — you just have a hard time finding the inspiration and motivation to pray. You know prayer is important but you just can’t get into it like you want to. It is those times where we need to look to others to give us a pep talk and remind us why we pray.
I have not yet read Champions of the Rosary, but it’s definitely on my reading list. It looks like just the book to have handy when I’m not feeling it when it comes to rosary prayer. Fr. Calloway reminds us that the rosary is the saint maker:
The Servant of God Frank Duff — founder of the Legion of Mary — once wondered if there has been a single saint since the 13th century who has not prayed the rosary. Without a doubt, the rosary has been the most frequently mentioned form of Marian devotion by the saints since the 13th century. It would be impossible to list all of these saints.
I’m looking forward to reading this book for sure. If you have a good book that motivates you to pray, contact me using the form below on this page or on Facebook. I’m sure many of my readers would love to have a few good books on prayer, especially the rosary, loaded up on their tablets ready to go for when their rosary prayer enthusiasm wanes.
In software engineering it is common to have a post mortem upon completion of a large project. A post mortem gives the team a chance to identify what went well and what went badly in the course of the project and investigate the root causes. The idea is to continue doing what is good and avoid making the same mistakes in future projects. I like to think of Lent as a large spiritual project that deserves its own post mortem.
When I look back at my Lent, here’s what I did right:
Received the Sacrament of Reconciliation
Listened to the Gospel nearly everyday
Prayed the rosary nearly everyday (okay, that’s not too different from my usual routine)
Fasted from alcohol, candy, and snacks during the day
What was less than ideal:
Did not attend any extra Masses or prayer services
Did not receive ashes on Ash Wednesday
While I did not snack during the day, I didn’t exactly show a lot of willpower in the evening. So my fast was more like a delayed gratification on some days.
What did I learn?
Listening to the daily Gospel really fills in the story and teachings of Jesus that you don’t get only listening to the Sunday Gospel. I started to better understand the buildup to Holy Week and how Jesus drew the ire of the Pharisees which led to his crucifixion. I will try to continue reading/listening to the Gospel daily.
I should try to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation more often.
Since I abstained from snacks and treats on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, I know I can make it the entire day without them. I should put in more effort to fast from snacks throughout the year, not just on those two days.
Now it’s your turn. What did you gain during this Lent? Where did you fall short and do you plan on correcting any errors made during Lent in this Easter season?
Last week I posted an article that looked like a takedown notice from the Department of Justice. It appears many of you thought the notice was real. Part of my intent of writing that article was to grab your attention and maybe even have the post go viral (which unfortunately didn’t happen). I wrote that article in response to some concerning news articles I read. Instead of jumping straight into commentary and risk just going into a snarky rant, I decided to write the fake takedown notice to set the stage (pretty clever huh?).
First, I have some thoughts about the responses I received regarding my fake takedown notice. The fact that so many people thought that it was real struck me as very concerning. I find it alarming that many people believe that the government is taking legal action against people simply stating their religious beliefs. I would like to think that in saner times people would have immediately noticed the ridiculousness of such a post. That tells me that for many, the loss of religious freedom isn’t something that may happen one day but is already here.
Also alarming then is that we are just allowing the loss of our religious liberty without putting up much of a fight. If my article was real as many people thought it was, then besides of few “that sucks” or “really??!!!” comments, people just moved on with their lives. After all, who do you complain to? Is it really worth anyone’s time and energy to make a lot of hay over some obscure blog site being targeted by the US government? Do you really want to stick your neck out and potentially being singled out for government harassment? Not that I want marches on Washington D.C. over RosaryMeds, but I wonder how many little nibbles the government can take into our religious liberties before we find that it’s gone entirely.
Now let’s back up to what originally prompted me to write the satirical takedown notice. After the Supreme Court made its gay marriage decision back in June, I immediately saw numerous commentaries suggesting reforms on religious institutions that object to gay marriage. These commentators want to see the removal of tax exempt status for religious institutions and banning government aid to private colleges that object to gay marriage. This is on top of the fines the government is already imposing on businesses (bakers primarily) who have a religious objection to participating in a gay marriage.
One of the main selling points of gay marriage was that it wouldn’t affect religious institutions or people who have a religious objection to it. I heard over and over how the Catholic Church would never be forced to perform gay weddings. And while that may technically be true, it seems like what was being muttered secretly by gay marriage advocates was “the Catholic Church will never be forced to perform gay weddings because the government is going to shut them down.”
This should all seem like a rerun (or a reboot) of ObamaCare. When it passed there were plenty of assurances that Catholic hospitals would never have to perform abortions or employers would have to provide abortive contraception coverage. And yet millions of our tax dollars go to Planned Parenthood and the HHS Contraception Mandate has gone to the courts multiple times (thankfully the courts repeatedly rule in favor of religious liberty). It’s still very unclear whether ObamaCare does fund abortion considering that the Executive branch has a habit of unilaterally changing the law when convenient. It seems like assurances that religious beliefs will be respected are just platitudes and don’t carry much weight once the law is passed.
Whether it’s gay marriage or health care, the trend is clear — we are entering a period of increased hostility to organized religion, especially Catholicism. I believe that many in power would love nothing more than to see Christian organizations vanish and to scare Christian people from publicly voicing their faith. The political class loves the idea that something is right or wrong based on whether they can convince enough people to vote and pass a law or mandate. They hate the idea that there are universal truths that exist outside their power to change when it’s politically advantageous. And that is why they will use any cause, whether it be health care, gay marriage, immigration, gun control, assisted suicide, etc. to rally people against religious truths. Because if religion can be relegated to a church for one hour on a Sunday, politicians can pass all sorts of crazy laws without being bothered with people bringing up the moral implications.
This isn’t about Catholics wanting to codify our beliefs into law. It’s not specifically about gay marriage or health care. This is all about Catholics (and religions in general) fighting to preserve our God given right to our religious beliefs without being persecuted by the government by having our livelihood threatened. The last time I checked, there was no Constitutional amendment repealing the First Amendment which reads:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
I know many readers are probably put off by now about my recent political commentary even if you sit on the same side of the political aisle as I do. But like I said in previous posts, we live in the real world and rosary prayer and meditation need to play a part in it. Rosary prayer cannot be something detached and isolated from the other parts of our lives. It is meant to fuel us and guide us through our our lives, especially the hard parts.
We should turn our prayers toward what is happening in Iraq right now. Since January, 1.2 million people have been displaced by ISIS and other radical groups. One group that was already being actively persecuted in the region before January, but are now targeted to a heightened degree is the region’s Christian communities. Rev. Andrew Write, an Anglican pasture in Baghdad, said “It is as if hell has broken out here and nobody cares. The situation is so serious and it is very easy to feel forgotten.”
Iraq is just one of many places where Christians have been driven from their homes with nothing but the shirts on their backs. In some places, they are beheaded or even crucified! Over the last few years churches that have stood for hundreds of years were shut down, vandalized, or destroyed throughout Syria, Egypt, Libya, and other countries. By some measures, Christians are now the most persecuted group in the world, but as Rev. Write said, nobody cares.
I’m really not qualified to give a detailed analysis of international politics and why there isn’t a more vocal outrage over the world’s besieged Christians. But here are some of my thoughts. In the developed world, when we think of Christians we have the image of nicely dressed people attending a suburban church and then going to a nearby coffee house for pancakes and omelets. Or we think of the majesty of St. Peter’s Square. Some stereotypical images of the Spanish inquisition, European witch hunts, or the Crusades might come to mind. Throw all these perceptions together and it forms a picture of a group of people who don’t need any help at best, or are getting what they deserve at worst.
But in much of the world, the Christian communities are no different from the non-Christian communities around them. It’s not like Christians in Iraq are some wealthy, powerful group that are being toppled by a desperate underclass. They are farmers, shopkeepers, employees in some business, mothers, fathers, and children just like everyone else. Their day to day lives are no different from those around them except maybe they have different diets and worship habits. They don’t have a direct connection to the politics or history of Christianity. And yet, in their moment of need, many in the international community are silent because of their perception of who Christians are.
Jesus challenges us to help one another personally. One of my readers commented about my previous article on how Jesus offered a place for those who were left out of the normal hierarchy. Jesus didn’t espouse politics nor catered to a specific group of people. Yes, he taught mostly amongst the Jews, but His message was for everyone regardless of religion, ethnicity, time, or place. We look at the Third Glorious Mystery, Pentecost, where the Holy Spirit gave the apostles the courage to go out and teach Jesus’ message to all the world. And while they preached the Word to religious and political leaders (since they would have the most influence) they also taught to the masses and spread the Word as individuals to individuals.
Individuals helping individuals is the core of Jesus’ ministry. Yes, we still must lean on our governments and religious leaders to help. After all, it’s religious and government institutions that have the best infrastructure to deliver aid effectively. And yes, we must pray for those who are feeling so alone and abandoned as forces of evil drive them from their homes and kill them. But prayer is not the end of our role in helping those in need, it’s the beginning. Jesus didn’t want people to pray and then wait for governments and religious leaders to officially adopt His Word before living the Gospel.
Now it’s not like we can jump on the nearest plane to Iraq and drive from the airport to the area where Christians have fled. But we can still help on a personal level. Please consider donating to the Catholic Relief Services as they do have the means of reaching out to those undergoing hardships that we will (hopefully) never know.
It’s that time of year again. Flowers start to grow, the grass turns green, trees get their leaves back, and we get ashes on our forehead. Yep, that’s right, on March 5th we kick off Lent with Ash Wednesday.
I read a great article in the Catholic San Francisco about how to prepare for Easter this Lent. Sister Margie Lavonis says it best when she wrote in her article, Lent: An opportunity to grow, that we shouldn’t “let this be just another 40 days of the year.” She talked about many of the same themes I routinely mention on RosaryMeds (has she been reading my work?). She touches on how our relationship with God needs a commitment from us, through prayer, to grow:
No relationship can deepen and grow unless we are willing to listen and share ourselves with the other person. God is no exception. During Lent, if you don’t already, set aside at least fifteen minutes of your time each day to be with God. Go to a quiet place, if you can find one, slow down and let God love you. Read and reflect upon some scripture each day and get to know the one who loves you unconditionally and who has given you all you have. I suggest using the Mass readings for each day and reflect on what God is saying to you. In fact, it would be good to try to go to Mass more than just on Sunday if you can.
She also covers some ideas for fasting and alms giving. Remember, it’s not all about giving up desserts and writing checks. I know it may sound cliche, but I’m really going to try to remember that it’s Lent every one of these 40 days leading up to Easter whether that means praying more, offering small sacrifices to God, or giving a little more of my time and patience to those who need it. How about you? Are you prepared to get prepared?