How Will You Land?

As a joke, a comedian named Kurt Braunohler ran a KickStarter campaign to fund writing a funny message in the sky. I think anyone who saw “How do I land?” written in the sky that day got a good chuckle (as well as the millions who saw it on the internet).  And while this was obviously a joke, this little stunt did get me thinking about how often we say and do things without considering the consequences.  How often do we “fly” through life not thinking about the “landing” when we’ll need to account for our actions in front of God?

We too often act like a pilot who takes off with no plan on how to land. We just move from one moment to the next without really contemplating the moral trajectory of our lives. Many of us tend to ignore the fact that some day we’ll need to account for all actions in front of God.  We just assume that somehow everything will just work out. We tend to block out of our minds the eventual conclusion to life which is death, judgement, and either eternal happiness or eternal damnation.  We cannot put off this eventuality any more than a pilot can ignore that one way or another, any plane that is in the air must eventually come down.  Ask yourself, how are you going to “land” in life?  When you die, will it be a smooth landing into God’s heavenly kingdom or will you crash and, quite literally, burn?

Living without considering the long-term consequences of your actions is more than just ignorance; it’s selfishness.  You not only disregard the effect your actions have on the people around you, but you also disregard the gifts, talents, and intellect God gave you.  God gave you a mind, heart, and soul so that you could use it to know Him and live according to His Will. Pope Francis talked about the destructive nature of selfishness in his May 15 homily where he used Judas as an example:

Pope Francis noted that Judas was “off in his solitude” and that his “attitude of selfishness developed into the betrayal of Jesus.  Those who give their life for love are never alone and are always in the community and in the family,” Pope Francis said.  “On the other hand, he who isolates his conscience in selfishness, loses it in the end,” he stated.

Judas is the perfect example of someone who didn’t think about the long-term consequences of his actions but lived from one isolated moment to the next. All he saw was 30 pieces of silver for leading the authorities to Jesus. Did he consider what would happen to Jesus after that?  Did he consider how he would feel? Maybe not. Maybe he was so self absorbed that he never looked past the financial windfall. A pilot who doesn’t know how to land a plane will eventually run out of fuel and crash. And that is exactly what happened to Judas — when the reality of his actions finally kicked in, he mentally and spiritually crashed and then took his own life as the ultimate selfish action.

Judas küsst Jesus (Fresko in der Capella degli...

We have a problem as a society in that we are becoming more isolated and self absorbed. I mentioned in a previous article how we are losing that moral foundation that helps regulate our actions and consider the long term consequences. This is why it is so important to attend Mass every Sunday and pray regularly. These actions give us time to reflect on the consequences of our actions and how they may affect us and others.  When we don’t attend Mass, when we don’t adhere to any doctrine, or pray regularly, we will find ourselves in a similar situation as the pilot who does not know how to land a plane — flying high one moment but always moving closer to an inevitable crash.

Meditate on the Fifth Joyful Mystery of the rosary– The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.  Think about how Mary and Joseph turned around from their caravan and searched for Jesus for three days before finding Him in the temple.  Of course someone who loses their child will search relentlessly until they find him.  That is what any loving parent would do.  What is not so obvious is that many of us often go through our lives unaware of how far we are from Jesus.  Do we “turn around” and start looking for Him?  For some, that may mean returning back to the Church after being away for a long time.  For others, it might mean realizing the sinful nature of their lives and committing to a life of conversion.  And for most of us, it probably means making small reflections in routine prayer and making small life course corrections through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  God wants a smooth landing into His kingdom for all of us.  The question is, are you thinking about how to land?

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We Adopted!

When I heard about on EWTN radio and received two emails from family members about it all on the same day, I knew it was probably a sign from above to mention it on RosaryMeds. The “Adopt a Cardinal” website will randomly assign a Catholic cardinal to you whom you will support through prayer and fasting during the conclave and three days after they elect the new pope. My wife and I are praying for Cardinal Juan Sandoval Íñiguez of Guadalajara, Mexico.

In my book, The Rosary for the Rest of Us, I stress how important it is to offer specific intentions in your prayers.

In the rosary, you may have a specific intention each time you pray the Hail Mary. Or you may have a single intention for the entire mystery or even the entire rosary. It is up to you how many intentions you want to present. But it is important to have intentions, thanksgivings, and remorse even if they are just generic ones (for the poor or homeless, for peace, health, etc.). Without intentions you may just go into “auto-pilot” and just say the words without actually praying for anything.

Remember, you are conversing with God, Jesus, Mary, and the saints when you pray the rosary. You have their undivided attention. Don’t you want to have something meaningful to say? While we may speak the the same words as everyone else who prays the rosary, your intentions are uniquely yours. The rosary is your time with Jesus. Make the most of it. He’s listening. The question is, are you actually talking to Him?

la piedad michoacan
My adopted cardinal

I pray specifically for my adopted cardinal on the first Our Father right after the Apostles’ Creed. I usually reserve that Our Father for the pope’s intentions. Given that the Church currently does not have an active pope, I think it makes perfect sense to pray for one of the cardinals who will play a role in selecting the next pope.

Just don’t say the rosary, but pray the rosary. Make it yours. And adopt and support the cardinals who will choose St. Peter‘s successor.

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Amateur Night: How the Media Covers the Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI prays in front of the image ...

In my article about Pope Benedict renouncing his papal authority I told you to be cautious of the media’s coverage of the upcoming conclave. While I expected their reporting to be high on conjecture and low on facts, I can’t believe just how far out in left field some of these “news reports” and editorials are. If you were to piece together comments from various anchors, you would think that the Catholic Church is a horrible institution for not seriously considering a pro-contraception, pro-abortion, married woman as pope. The reporting is almost so ridiculous that even the best writers of all time for Saturday Night Live wouldn’t be able to come up with a parody of the coverage since the coverage is already a parody on shoddy news reporting.

I present the contenders for “worst recent news coverage of the Catholic Church.”  Thank you Creative Minority Report for doing the legwork of collecting these gems.  I would find them hilarious if they were meant as satire.  But unfortunately, they’re serious and are probably highly influential on people’s opinions and perceptions of the Catholic faith.

  1. ABC News:The Catholic Church not in touch with modern society
  2. MSNBC Panelist: Sotomayor for Pope
  3. E.J. Dionne — The best choice for pope? A nun
  4. Conclave & The Media: The Silly Season
  5. CNN vs The Catholic Church
  6. Hoping the Next Pope Isn’t Catholic

Many of these reports follow a similar template.  They automatically dismiss any of the Church’s doctrines that run counter to what is generally accepted in modern society regardless of their moral merit.  Actually, the reports are not only dismissive, but pretty much say the Church’s teachings are wrong and outdated and need to be changed with the next pope.  And not one of these reporters actually interview a priest who would explain why the Church holds certain teachings.  Instead, it is much easier to show anti-Catholics (or not well-catechized Catholics) voicing their frustrations with the Church under the cover of reporting on Pope Benedict‘s renouncement and the conclave.

I told you that the media was going to treat the choosing of the next pope like a political election.  Just go back four months to the presidential race and you will see the same template.  Instead of reporting news and getting stories from multiple, credible sources, the media just airs their progressive wish list and demonize doctrine that has stood the test of time for almost 2000 years.  I think the media has been so relaxed in its duties of holding politicians responsible for their actions that they no longer understand what it means for someone to uphold their core doctrines and principles.  The media doesn’t care if politicians ignore the Constitution (or the equivalent documents in other countries) and so they can’t begin to understand why the Church doesn’t arbitrarily change her doctrines to be more popular.  They act like the pope can wave a magic wand and make artificial contraception no longer sinful behaviour which shows a serious lack of understanding of one of the largest religions on the planet.  This type of irresponsible reporting is scandalous because it leads astray Catholics who aren’t well catechized and turns public sentiment against the Church.

What RosaryMeds Do I Need?

The decent of the holy spirit by Tizian (1546)

Many Catholics have come down with an acute case of noncatechisisitis.  Symptoms include believing biased news reporting of the Catholic Church and not understanding core Church doctrine.  The remedy is to pray and meditate on the Third Glorious Mystery — The Decent of the Holy Spirit.  So many people need the aid and guidance of the Holy Spirit right now, especially the cardinals as they choose the next pope.  But we also need the Holy Spirit to increase our faith in the moral correctness of the Catholic Church.  I’m not Pope Benedict or even a Fr. Robert Baron when it comes to completely understanding the theological foundation for Church doctrine on requirements like non-married priests or male-only priests.  But I pray that the Holy Spirit will open my heart and give me the faith to embrace these teachings.  In a way, the Holy Spirit has the ability to bypass our minds and let us know the deeper truths God imprinted on our souls.  We live in deliberately confusing times.  But the Holy Spirit will lead us through them if we only take the time and effort to listen to God with an open heart through prayer.

Have you encountered any anti-Catholic or just plain ignorant reports on the Chruch from supposedly credible news outlets?  Feel free to tell your story in the comments.

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Can You “Unplug” This Lent?

Can you settle down for just one minute?  Seriously, how long can you go without feeling like you need to do some sort of activity?  I don’t know about you, but I feel like I always have to do something.  I feel anxious if I’m “unplugged” and not checking email, Facebook, and news feeds.  I become bored easily without my cell phone, computer, magazines, books, and television.  Fortunately, I have access to all sorts of media almost 24/7.  But is that a good thing?  The Catholic News Agency reported Pope Benedict’s words during a general audience of pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square:

“Interior and exterior silence are necessary in order to hear that Word,” and yet, “our age does not, in fact, favor reflection and contemplation,” the Pope said March 7. On the contrary, “it seems that people are afraid to detach themselves, even for an instant, from the spate of words and images which mark and fill our days.”

John Longanecker talking on a phone after eati...

The Pope’s words make so much sense to me particularly during this season of Lent.  We tend to fill our lives consuming so much media and information that we do develop a fear of detachment from our technology.  We feel lost without our gadgets.  And while we don’t truly believe that our gadgets replace God, we sure sometimes act like they do.  We get so worked up over an almost-dead cell phone battery or the internet acting sluggish.  We can all probably think of times when we felt angry over missing a favorite TV show.  And yet many times we don’t feel the slightest bit of anxiety over the sins we commit or not regularly receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We often have no worries about overlooking routine prayer and meditating on our relationship with the Lord.  We spend so much time staying up to date with what our friends are up to and what goes on in the world, but often don’t take the time to check our status with God through reflection and contemplation.

The pope’s words remind me of the Fourth Glorious Mystery of the rosary — The Assumption of Mary.  Mary was assumed into Heaven and now acts as our guide on our journey to God’s heavenly kingdom.  In asking for silence and meditation, the Pope echos Mary’s call to fasting and prayer.  Fasting from food is a physical reminder that true happiness does not come from just satisfying our earthly needs.  When we fast, we show ourselves that it’s not what the world offers that will ultimately make us happy.  We push aside, even for just a little while, satisfying our physical desires so that we can concentrate on satisfying our spiritual needs.  But we can fast from things other than food.  We can fast from whatever prevents us from meditating and focusing on our relationship with God.  As you probably guessed already, perhaps we need to fast from our computers, cell phones, and televisions.  Lent may be half over, but we can all still find a little time to “unplug” as the Pope suggests.

pope and me
pope and me (Photo credit: BoFax)

In this time of Lent, really challenge yourself to ask what separates you from fully receiving God’s grace.  Conduct an examination of conscience and receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  But avoiding sin and receiving absolution only gets you half way there.  Think about an athlete in training.  An athlete needs to do more than just avoid a bad diet.  He needs to focus on physical conditioning and perfecting his technique.  Likewise, we need to be more than “not bad people.”  We should take some time this Lent to focus and concentrate on how to best live as one of Jesus’ disciples and show the power and glory of God in this world.  Lets take up the Pope’s challenge to unplug and focus on how we can best serve the Lord.  Because now, more than ever, the world needs to see God’s love and glory by us living our faith.  We need to prioritize and show the world that our faith is more important than TV and the internet.

And yes, I understand the irony of me posting an article on the internet discussing how we need to unplug ourselves from the internet.

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Enjoy the Silence

English: Pope Benedict XVI during general auditionThere are so many events in the news that I could write about in today’s post.  I could continue talking about the Health and Human Services contraception mandate, Proposition 8 being ruled unconstitutional in California, or the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s flip-flop on sending money to Planned Parenthood.  It seems like everywhere I turn, whether it be the internet, television, or radio there is someone talking about these issues and other assaults on religious freedoms.  I feel like it’s a full-time job consuming all this information, signing and promoting petitions, and writing emails and comments.  It is so easy to get lost in the daily “noise” of living in the digital age where we are often “plugged in” 24/7.  But it is important to remember to unplug for a little while to hear what God is saying to us and learn how He wants us to live.

Pope Benedict released his theme for World Communications Day titled “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.”  Here is what the Pope had to say in an article from Vatican Radio:

In silence – Benedict explains – we are better able to listen to and understand ourselves. By remaining silent we allow the other person to speak, to express him or herself. We avoid being tied simply to our own words and ideas. In this way,- the Pope points out – space is created for mutual listening, and deeper human relationships become possible.

I believe the Pope’s words are particularly relevant to our relationship with God and His Church.  How many times do we set aside time in our busy lives to talk to God?  More importantly, amongst our prayers and petitions how often do we calm our hearts and minds to listen to God’s response?  I know many times I rush through my prayers and don’t allow any time to actually listen to God.  It’s like I’m conversing with God but I keep cutting Him off when He wants to respond.  How rude of me!  Not listening to God isn’t good because, as the Pope says, we tie ourselves to our own words and ideas.  When we don’t pray or pray hastily, we don’t open our heart to the Holy Spirit‘s influence and learn how God calls us to live.  Instead, we just focus inwardly on how we want to live which may not be in accordance with God’s plan for us.

I echo several of the themes the Pope expressed on my website and in my book on the rosary.  I see the value of silence and praying the rosary as being linked closely together.  I would say 20 minutes is a good average for praying five rosary decades.  That is a perfect amount of time to let your mind settle down and focus on your relationship with God and contemplate who you are.  You can’t have a productive dialog with God if you don’t put enough time into prayer.  Rushing prayer is like trying to take shortcuts in exercise.  You don’t get any stronger if you just periodically do one push up.  You must allow yourself time to get into “the zone.”  In the end, it isn’t God who needs prayers.  His power and glory does not depend on the quantity of prayers He receives.  To think about it another way, God doesn’t need 53 “Hail Marys” and 6 “Our Fathers” from the rosary.  Those prayers are for our benefit.  We need them because they allow sufficient time to warm up, find that meditative state, and become attentive to how God calls us to live in His grace.

I have little doubt that we live in a troubled world where people of faith are finding themselves constantly under attack.  And I’m all for taking proper actions whether it is donating money to legal funds to fight these attacks or signing petitions.  But we must set aside time to listen to God and learn how He wants us to act.  Fighting all these assaults on religious liberty without prayer is like someone rushing on to the field of battle without adequate armor and weapons.  We must first know God’s truth through prayer before we can fight to defend it.

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It’s the Little Things that Count

Maybe it’s the software engineer in me, but this article from the Catholic News Agency really strikes a chord.  When I’m writing code I have to follow a lot of programming standards and pay close attention to my logic.  Even the smallest error could cause my program to fail.  And it may not fail immediately, but that bug in my code still exists and will usually show up at the worst time.  I think Pope Benedict has a similar approach to the Mass.  In the article, he said that “attention to these details is important in order for the Mass to be a true conversation with the Lord.”  I think this is a great thing to hear in a world full of, “do whatever you feel like; it’s the intention that counts, the details aren’t that important.”  The Pope shows that all those details add up to a huge show of faith.  Inversely, all those little faults add up to a breakdown of reverence for the Mass and for Jesus Christ.

You can see this breakdown in just about any Mass in America.  You walk in only to see people sitting in the pews talking to each other.  Throughout the Mass you might hear people whispering to one another (whispering if you’re lucky; talking in almost normal volume if you’re not).  Some priests use their homilies as if they were practicing a stand up comedy routine.  Sometimes the band or choir treat the Mass like a concert.  And many times people clap at the end of Mass.  Each one of these “details” is small and inconsequential.  None of them are heresies. And yet, when put together the Mass quickly breaks down from a sacred conversation with the Lord to just another social gathering.  This is what Pope Benedict warns us about and why he is so fond of preserving all the details of the Mass.

Now picture a church before Mass that is silent.  People come in, kneel, say a small prayer, and meditate before Mass starts.  The priest processes into the church and up to the altar and gives a solemn bow in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  His homily touches on serious issues of Heaven, Hell, sin, etc.  People approach the Body of Christ during Communion by either bowing or kneeling.  And at the end of Mass, people leave quietly so as not to disturb the people who are still praying.  Now in which Mass would one probably have a more constructive conversation with Jesus Christ.  What Mass was more focused on honoring Him?  It is true that Jesus is present in both Masses.  That’s not the question.  The real question is in what setting are you truly present and listening to Him?  Details matter.

If a deacon participates, he reads the Gospel....
Is your Mass like this?



Rock concert.JPG
Or does it feel more like this?









These details also appear in the rosary.  What makes the rosary so great is that it provides a structured means of communicating with Jesus Christ.  It has those mysteries and prayers for a reason.  Each one draws attention to a certain aspect of our faith.  Praying the rosary is a journey through the entire Gospel.  We reflect on Jesus’ teachings, sufferings, and His ultimate glory.  Like the Mass, the rosary just doesn’t work very well when we don’t focus on the details.  We don’t get much out of the rosary when we pray it on auto-pilot.  I’m sure God appreciates that you at least took the effort to pray, but you are capable of receiving so much more from the rosary with a little more effort.

As an end note, I encourage everyone to read the “General Instruction of the Roman Missal” (GIRM).  See where your parish may be lacking in following these details and respectfully notify the pastor.  Priests probably do forget those details over the years but they might appreciate knowing that it means a lot to people in their parishes if they follow them.  Tell him how you read on some terrific little rosary web site how the Pope calls us all to follow the details of the Mass.
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Do You See God’s Gifts?

Previously I said how articles on RosaryMeds would tie together news and current events with the rosary.  I talked about the Pope meeting with young seminarians, a recent announcement from English bishops reminding people to abstain from eating meat on Fridays, and some tips for people going to college.  However, not all news is neutral and light hearted.  It is the difficult cases that teach us the most about our faith and the power of the rosary.

Take this story for example.  A jury awarded a Florida couple 4.5 million dollars because their child was born without arms and one leg.  And while that is unfortunate, the real tragedy was their reason for suing the doctor.  According to the Palm Beach Post (bold by me):

During a roughly two-week-long trial that ended Wednesday, Mejia and Santana claimed they would have never have brought Bryan into the world had they known about his horrific disabilities. Had Morel and technicians at OB/GYN Specialists of the Palm Beaches and Perinatal Specialists of the Palm Beaches properly administered two ultrasounds and seen he was missing three limbs, the West Palm Beach couple said they would have terminated the pregnancy.

I’m going to skip the social, political, moral, and ethical commentary since, as a pro-life Catholic, I think what’s wrong with their argument is very clear (plenty of other articles dive into those discussions).  Instead, I want to focus on what we can learn from this story.  What does the rosary teach us about difficult cases like this one?  If we look at the Second Joyful Mystery, the Visitation, we see Mary sharing the joy of her pregnancy with her cousin Elizabeth.  Luke’s Gospel talks about how John the Baptist “leaped for joy” in Elizabeth’s womb upon hearing Mary’s greeting and how Mary felt blessed.  Mary goes on to say how her soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and how God did great things to her.  We learn from this encounter that all life, in whatever form, is a gift from God.  All human life, while not perfect, is valuable because God infused us with souls meant to live with Him in Heaven forever.

Image by andy castro via Flickr

Compare Mary’s story with the Santana’s.  Mary also faced hardships first by being pregnant and unmarried (which would have been quite the scandal) and later seeing Jesus suffer in the Crucifixion.  But through all those challenges she saw God’s ultimate glory and her role in bringing joy and happiness to the world.  Both Mary and the Santana’s stories show that life is not without its hardships.  Some people face larger obstacles in life than others.  But God does not give us any challenge we cannot ultimately handle.  Unfortunately, all the Santanas saw was the hardship and not God’s gift to them.  Instead of finding strength through God as Mary did, they wanted a “do over” because they saw their son as a gift with “strings attached.”  And while many of us may not face such large challenges as the Santana family, we often want God to pave over all the challenges or hardships we might encounter through life.  We tend to blame God for any inconvenience or think He does not hear our prayers just because we do not receive the answers we want.

When we meditate on the Second Joyful Mystery we should remember that all life is precious no matter what form it comes in.  Even the “lost souls” in this world, whether they be criminals, addicts of all kinds, or just plain “evil” persons, are special and precious in God’s eyes.  All those living in mortal sin have an opportunity for forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and can return to the same level of grace as the greatest saints.  In short, we all have an intrinsic value despite the terrible acts we may commit or our physical/mental limitations.  We pray that we have the strength to see past the hardships and challenges in life and see God’s imprint on everyone as Mary does.

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No Cross Too Heavy with God’s Love

Pope Benedict XVI during visit to São Paulo, B...

Where did August go?  Sorry for what seemed like a long vacation.  But trust me, I was hard at work writing my rosary guide which always seemed to need one more revision.  But the good news is that it looks like my summer surge is over and I now have some proof copies for what will hopefully be one, final round of editing.

As summer comes to an end it is time to once again get back to writing articles on RosaryMeds on a more regular basis.  This year I started tieing together the Sunday Gospel reading and a rosary mystery.  Now I want to take my articles in a different direction and tie the rosary mysteries to Catholic news and current events.  I want to show how we can tie the lessons taught in the rosary to things we witness every day.

I’m going to start with some words of wisdom Pope Benedict XVI gave to a group of new seminarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.  He told them not to be afraid to take up their crosses and follow Jesus’ path.  From the article on the Catholic News Agency:

“The Christian follows the Lord with love when he accepts his cross which in the eyes of the world appears as a defeat and a ‘loss of life’, while that man knows that he does not bear his alone but with Jesus, sharing the same path of self-giving,”  the Pope said.

I think this is an important observation on how the modern world views religious life.  Modern secularists look at the time Catholics spend praying, fasting, reading the Bible (ok, most of us probably come up a little short in this category), and receiving the sacraments and ask, “why?”  They see us living what they would consider a pointless life instead of going out and “having fun.”  Of course, questioning the path of Christ is hardly a new phenomenon.  In the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary we see Jesus’ Passion where He falls down and gets back up repeatedly only to face greater suffering.  We look at Christ’s actions and ask, “why?”  Why did Jesus keep getting back up knowing that his path was not getting any easier?  Why did He get up when the only thing facing him was crucifixion?

Jesus continued out of love for us and a resolve to follow the path God laid before Him.  While Jesus pleaded with God in the Garden of Gesthemene to find an easier route, Jesus also acknowledged that He would do whatever God deemed necessary.  God chose a difficult road for Jesus but ultimately one that Jesus not only endured, but triumphed as seen in the Resurrection.  Similarly, God sometimes lays down a difficult road for many of us.  It is one fraught with inconveniences at its best and persecution and martyrdom at its worst.  But all these roads, from the easiest to the hardest, lead to our salvation in God’s Kingdom of Heaven.  God’s glory is why Jesus continued carrying His cross and it is why we carry ours.

So when we pray the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the rosary let us remember those who choose religious life whether they be seminarians, priests, brothers, nuns, deacons, and anyone who serves the Church.  Many of them choose to lead a hard life and one that is not appreciated by many in modern society who view religion as silly superstition.  People who choose a religious vocation see the ultimate joy that comes from living in God’s grace even if that means giving up some worldly luxuries.  They are an inspiration to us all as we should have that same goal of loving God with every word, thought, and action.

We should also pray for those who are staunch secularists or hate faiths like the Catholic Church.  They are the ones who fell under the weight of the cross this world offers them and only see misery in religion.  As the Pope told the seminarians:

“When the fulfillment of one’s life is only aimed towards social success, and physical and economic well-being, man is not thinking according to God but according to man.” Such an attempt to refuse God’s “project of love,” said the Pope, “almost prevents man from carrying out His masterly will.”

The modern secularist reminds me of an athlete who tells himself he cannot continue the long race.  He thinks he has no energy left and that he is too far behind to catch up.  All he sees is obstacles and cannot see that glorious finish line.  All they concentrate on is the heavy weight of their “crosses” in life and in their beaten state they do not see what Jesus has prepared for them in Heaven.  We should pray that they get their spiritual “second wind” and accept God’s “project of love” as the Pope puts it.  When we accept God’s road and truly acknowledge the greatness God has in store for us then there is no cross heavy enough to keep us down.

Remember the Rosary

October is Mary’s month and so the Catholic Church is particularly interested in spreading knowledge of the holy rosary. Since this is a Catholic blog site, I want to do my part and share with you some thoughts on the importance and power of the rosary. But why listen to me when you can read about the rosary from people who understand it infinitely better.

Image via Wikipedia

October is Mary’s month and so the Catholic Church is particularly interested in spreading knowledge of the holy rosary.  Since this is a Catholic blog site, I want to do my part and share with you some thoughts on the importance and power of the rosary.  But why listen to me when you can read about the rosary from people who understand it infinitely better.

On October 6, Pope Benedict, in his general audience, said that the rosary was a “simple but efficient prayer” and “a spiritual weapon for each of us.”  Upon reading this I couldn’t help but think of my article on the Hail Mary as our spiritual push up.  Like the push up, the rosary is an incredibly simple prayer in its design.  However, its simplicity is what makes it so powerful in that anyone can pray it.  Since anyone can pray it, anyone can communicate with God and receive His graces.

The rosary is also a weapon in that praying it defends us and others from the evils of satan.  Think about it.  When you are praying the rosary earnestly, you are communicating with God and not engaging in any sinful behavior even if it is just for a short time.  For many, it is about as close to God as we can possibly get throughout the day as we are distracted or busy in so many other ways (work, home, family, friends, etc.).  But even a precious few minutes spent praying the rosary can give you enough strength to resist evil and live according to God’s plan for us.

On October 8, Bishop Jorge Luis Lona of San Luis, Argentina praised rosary prayer because  of its “repetitive rhythm of praise and supplication, like a sort of spiritual breathing.”  This really drives home the idea that praying the rosary gets us into a spiritual state similar to how an athletes “get into the zone” and enter a deeper state of focus and concentration.  Breathing is something we do without thinking — it is just something that comes naturally to us.  Similarly, once we really dive into praying the rosary regularly, living in a constant state of prayer, like the Good Samaritan, becomes second nature to us.  It takes practice to get the most out of the rosary.  You may not feel its benefits the first few times you pray it, but every saint in Heaven will tell you just how powerful the rosary is and how it can help bring you into God’s grace.

The bishop went on to say, “God gives us an immense aid. In order to be able to recognize and receive His gifts, He teaches us to practice praise and supplication.”  Let’s take the bishop’s words to heart and take advantage of this great tool.  We have about half of October left.  If you haven’t done so already, give daily rosary prayer a try.  Priests, bishops, popes, and saints all say that it is one of our best tools in achieving holiness.  How many other endorsements do you need?

Pope Says Mary is a Source of Strength

On his visit to Palermo, Sicily, Pope Benedict and 30,000 others prayed to the Virgin Mary for strength and support. The Catholic News Agency followed the story: He asked Our Lady to give people “courage in trials, hope in difficulties and renewed impetus to do good.”

palermo sicily
Image by AndrewEick via Flickr

On his visit to Palermo, Sicily, Pope Benedict and 30,000 others prayed to the Virgin Mary for strength and support.  The Catholic News Agency followed the story:

He asked Our Lady to give people “courage in trials, hope in difficulties and renewed impetus to do good.”

I find the Pope’s use of the word “trial” interesting given Mary’s September message at Medjugorje.  In the September 2 message She offers Her assistance in our trials in life.  We should all be mindful that Mary and the saints’ greatest desire is for us to live in God’s grace and eventually in His kingdom of Heaven.  All we have to do is have the courage to ask for their help and the will to follow it.

Pope Benedict also mentioned Anna Maria Adorni and her devotion to praying the holy Catholic rosary and called us to remember that October is Mary’s month:

The Holy Father prayed that the “daily meditation of the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the ‘praying Virgin’, might fortify us all in faith, hope and charity.”

In the spirit of Mary’s month, try to make it priority to pray the rosary every day.  Even if you cannot pray an entire mystery, try to set aside five minutes to pray a decade.  When our eternal souls are at stake, is five minutes too much to set aside for God?