Wednesday, May 11, 2016

How Daily Mass Benefitted My Day to Day Life

Prayer is at the heart of any relationship with God, but to many people, including myself, maintaining a healthy prayer life is a constant struggle. Our daily schedules become so filled with our careers, family, and other activities that it seems we barely have time to breathe. But this is really when we need prayer the most. As I write this I am reminded of a quote from St. Francis de Sales, “Every one of us needs a half hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy, and then we need an hour.” In other words, as life becomes increasingly more complicated and hectic, that’s when our relationship with God becomes ever more critical.

In my personal experience, attendance at daily mass as helped me greatly in this area. I am fortunate in that there are a few churches near my job that offer daily mass at times that are easy to attend before I have to report to the office. I also realize that not everyone reading this may be in a similar situation and finding a daily mass may be much more difficult. I strongly encourage everyone to give it serious consideration. Start off slowly by attending a daily mass once or twice a week and you can eventually grow from there.  The benefits and graces from faithfully attending a weekday mass even once or twice weekly are powerful.

Focus – Every day from the minute I get out of bed, I feel as if I am being pulled in several different directions. My mind usually bounces around from thinking about deadlines at work to which activities do I need to bring my kids to on that day. Add to this the external noise of the world vying for our attention, such as the latest headlines and advertisements. Attending daily mass allows me to spend time each day and remember what is truly important in this world, working on my relationship with Christ.  Listening to the Gospel and the homily and then uniting to Christ through the reception of Holy Communion helps me to focus on what really matters and offer up the day to the Lord. It’s a powerful start to the day to have this mass as a reminder that whatever may happen, Christ is there to get you through it all.

Peace – St. John Bosco had a vision in which he saw the Church as a ship guided by the Pope through very stormy seas. This ship was also being attacked by dark ships as the Holy Father was trying to guide it between two pillars to safety. At the top of the larger pillar was the Holy Eucharist while our Blessed Mother was standing at the top of the other. Why am I bringing this up? This is to illustrate what daily mass has become to me. The world we live in is chaotic. Things are constantly changing around us while our faith is attacked incessantly. Attending mass reminds me that that there is one constant in this world, one thing that will never change and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. The Mass has become my refuge, my safe harbor from the darkness of this world. It gives me a sense of comfort and peace when I can focus on the liturgy and on Christ’s presence and shut out all the noise of the world. Of course this first starts with regular attendance at weekly mass, but daily mass builds upon this and helps me stay safely between the pillars of the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother throughout the week. This goes hand in hand with what I mentioned earlier about focus. The peace and stillness that we receive from being in the presence of the Lord, enables us to more clearly focus on what matters most in the world and take on the day’s challenges with a renewed sense of hope in Christ.

Personal Holiness – This past summer I had the privilege of chaperoning the youth group from my parish to the annual Steubenville East retreat which is organized by the Franciscan University of Steubenville. One of the speakers at this event, Fr. Jose Sanchez, spoke to these teens about growing in personal holiness.  He spoke in a common sense approach to make it relatable to the youth present. Fr. Jose likened daily mass to a bridge. We are required to attend mass weekly, but that is the bare minimum. Throughout the rest of the week we struggle with bad habits, sin, and temptation. Daily mass is a bridge to help get through all this and link us to the mass next weekend. In other words, when we attend Sunday mass and receive the Eucharist, we are strengthened and receive graces from God. As the week goes on, life distracts us from God and slowly chips away at our resolve. This makes it much more difficult to avoid sin and grow in holiness as God calls us. He urged us all to start with attending one daily mass each week on Wednesdays. By doing this, we only have to go a few days before we listen to God’s word and receive the Eucharist. This will give us the graces we need and strengthen our resolve against sin until the next Sunday mass. We grow in holiness by working to overcome sin and bad habits. This is accomplished by building good habits. Weekly mass is the right place to start, but it may not be enough. As I have experienced in my life, good spiritual habits such as prayer and daily mass are powerful tools to get us through the week and break away from habitual sins that we struggle with. I can’t stress enough how much daily mass has helped me in this area, especially in those times where I have fallen again. It has given me the resolve to get up, not lose hope, and continue the fight.

This is just my personal witness to how even one extra mass a week has benefited my daily life. There many more ways in which the graces of a daily mass will transform us if we open ourselves to it. Life moves around us at a maddening pace, consuming what little time we have. But this is precisely why it is critical to take the time to reach out to God through prayer each day. The most powerful way to do this is the Mass.

 “Every one of us needs a half hour of prayer a day, except when we are busy, and then we need an hour.” - St. Francis de Sales.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Crisis Magazine: A New Devastating Critique of the Global Sexual Revolution

"It is quite remarkable that we are fighting the same battle from before the French Revolution, the fight between sexual license and sexual morality. The fight has been non-stop. Sometimes we are winning, other times, like now, we are losing."
-Austin Ruse,  Crisis Magazine.

The link above is to a remarkable article about a powerful book that analyzes the roots of the sexual revolution and its resulting destruction all around us. The most eye opening part of this article is that the immoral sexual ideology of today's progressive movement can trace its roots to cultural Marxism and arguably as far back as before the French Revolution. The battle between sexual license and morality really goes back to the serpent in the garden convincing our first parents that they could be like God and determine for themselves what is right or wrong. 

I recommend this book as well as Takedown: From Communists to Progressives, How the Left Has Sabotaged Family and Marriage by Paul Kengor, Ph.D. Both these books provide the reader a much better perspective of what is really driving the LGBTQ agenda in today's culture and the historical roots of this revolution.

My hope is that books and other media like this will be successful in waking people up to the madness around us before it is too late.

The Hypocrisy of Our Culture and Our Condemning Silence

By now, most people have already heard how former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was fired from his position at ESPN. (see story here).The reason for his termination was a post he put on his personal Facebook account that some found offensive to the transgender (or whatever we are calling them this week) community. ESPN then went so far as to remove virtually any reference to Curt Schilling in documentary they produced about the Red Sox 2004 World Series win, in which he played a large part in.

You can view his facebook post at this link. While I agree that it is somewhat unpleasant to look at, it points out the absurdity of the transgender bathroom debate in our culture right now. To sum it all up, the "progressive" minded folks in our society are willing to put our children at risk in public bathrooms in order to appease a very minuscule, but very vocal, percentage of the general population that due to a mental disorder, cannot identify with their God given gender. Schilling agrees with those of us who see the need for states to pass these "bathroom laws" to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

But the politically correct crowd is vilifying Schilling any one else who dares to publicly oppose this latest push in their LGTBQ ideology. Celebrities are urging boycotts of those states that had the moral courage to pass the bathroom protection laws. Even our "Panderer-in-Chief", President Obama is again shamefully overstepping his federal authority and threatening to withhold federal funds from these states if they don't repeal these laws.

What does all this have to do with the hypocrisy and the silence in the title of this post? Let's step back and look at Schilling's employer, ESPN. This sports network is currently owned by media giant Disney, who also owns the ABC network. The ABC network has chosen to air a sitcom called the "Real O'Neals". This supposed comedy is anything but funny and is nothing more than a weekly episodic attack on Catholicism. The show revolves around a dysfunctional Catholic family that act idiotic most of the time. The only member of this family that is portrayed as reasonable and intelligent is their gay son. Not much of a shocker there! (see more here.) Despite calls from various Catholic and Christian organizations to ABC to stop this bigotted attack against Catholics, network executives are persisting in airing this weekly filth.

The blatant hypocrisy of this situation lies with the Disney executives. On one hand, they allow the firing of Schilling so as to not offend the so called "transgender" community, but on the other hand they find it completely acceptable to offend the entire Catholic Church every week. Can someone in the House of Mouse tell me why it is forbidden to offend one community while yet obstinately attacking another community? Would anyone at Disney ever allow ABC to air a comedy that would similarly attack the gay community or the Muslim community? The answer is an obvious no.

The reason we Catholics have become the last acceptable target of bigotry is in part because of our silence. This same silence reveals the stark truth that we as a Church are losing these battles because we are not even showing up for the fight. I am not saying we should become extremists and use violence. What I am saying is that we as Catholics should stop being lazy and make our voices heard. Start by contact Disney and ABC and telling them to end this anti-Catholic bigotry. Take it even further by boycotting Disney, ABC, their sponsors, and anything else affiliated with Disney. Trust me when I say this, you and your family will survive if you forgo the usual pilgrimage to Disneyworld! Encourage others to stand up against this bigotry as well. Yes you may loose a few Facebook friends by standing up for the Church, but you will survive this too.

Most importantly, the best way to make a difference is to proudly live your faith even in the face of hatred and adversity. Prayer, fasting, the Sacraments, and publicly living your faith can change the world. There are thousands of Christians throughout the Middle East who are being persecuted, tortured and murdered by ISIS just for believing in Christ and refusing to renounce their faith. Yet so many of us Catholics here in the U.S. choose to be silent when our faith is attacked in the media. Our silence is condemning.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Friday, April 5, 2013

Gay Marriage - A Pro-Life Issue

The video below is from the March 26 episode of Piers Morgan's show on CNN. By now you may have already heard about this video where Morgan and his guest Suze Orman try to debate Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation on the issue of gay marriage. Anderson did a brilliant job of defending traditional marriage despite the fact that the whole event was a farce and staged against him. I don't want to rehash the whole debate, but if you want more details please watch the video below and then read this article: How not to have a debate about gay marriage.

What I want to discuss here is what happened beginning around the 11:25 mark in the video. It was both eye-opening and disturbing. Anderson attempts to explain how the true definition of marriage  is not just about uniting a man and a woman, but also about the procreation and raising of children.It was at this point that Orman and Morgan mocked him and encourage the studio audience to do so as well. Their point was that Anderson was wrong and that marriage has nothing to do with children and is only about whatever two consenting adults want.

I shouldn't be too surprised about this reaction. Our society has embraced death through the use of artificial contraception and abortion. The logical progression from there would be to separate marriage from openness to life. Blessed John Paul II in the Theology of the Body, described marriage has having two important aspects that can never be seperated, the unitive and procreative. Unfortunately, as Ryan Anderson tried to explain in the video, we began to change marriage and split those two aspects 40 years ago with the sexual revolution and widespread use of contraception and abortion.

The sad result of that is exactly what we saw in the video, our society does not see the importance of both the unitive and procreative sides of marriage. Instead it sees marriage as just a type of recognition of a sexual relationship between two people. If children and openness to life is not important in marriage, then it's no surprise that a growing number of people support same-sex marriage.

This is why this battle to protect traditional marriage is a pro-life issue. It all goes back to the central issue of life. Gay marriage will only further the split between marriage and children that began 40 years ago. Future generations will not see children as a blessing and part of the very nature of marriage, but instead as an incidental outcome or even a burden. The daunting challenge that we face is changing people's hearts to accept that sex is sacred, every life is a blessing, and participating with God in the creation of a new human life is at the very heart of marriage.

Monday, April 1, 2013

We Are an Easter People

In this Easter season, we rejoice in the hope and promise of victory that we see in the Risen Christ. Just as the Lord conquered sin and death, we know that through Him we will be ultimately victorious. We, as the Body of Christ, are an "Easter People" because at the core of our faith is the hope of the resurrection.

This world constantly tells us that our Church is outdated and dwindling. Judging by the media, it seems as if we are losing the battles against intrinsic evils such as abortion and homosexual marriage. Think about how many times you have heard lately that the Catholic Church is on the wrong side of history and the most Catholics don't agree with Church doctrine on issues like contraception and gay marriage. Judging by all of these messages, it sounds as if the Church is on it's death bed.

The truth is that like Christ on Good Friday, we will be mocked and condemned in the court of public opinion. This world want's nothing more than to see the Church on its own road to Calvary, where it will be put to death once and for all.  As the Body of Christ, our Church will be persecuted and suffer. It seems we may be entering into those dark times right now with the threat to our religious freedoms casting a large shadow over us. But as an Easter people we know that the story doesn't end there. Because of Christ's Resurrection, we know that ultimately we as the Church will be victorious over sin and death.

During this Easter Season, let us celebrate and show the world that Easter is more than just a day about spring, eggs, and bunnies. It is a time to rejoice in the promise of victory that we have witnessed in the Risen Christ! Alleluia!

Related story:
How we can be Easter people

Friday, November 2, 2012

Update on my Last Post About the Catholic Vote and Non-Negotiable Moral Principles

I wanted to share a few responses I received to my recent letter to the Providence Journal regarding the Catholic Vote and the non-negotiable moral principles. Below are two letters published on the Journal' website rebutting my letter. (My comments about these and much more are after the fold.)
Think for yourself, rather than heeding pope
Ah, there is a rivalry of consciences in the letters to the editor. ("My conscience as a Catholic voter," Oct. 28, by Ray H__; and "Catholic teachings," Nov. 1, by Rob A).
Mr. H__'s discussion of the decisions of his conscience was reasoned and well explained. I admire his conscience.

Mr. A's conscience seems to rely on the teachings of a man who happens to be pope. None of those "non-negotiable moral principles" came from the pope under the cloak of infallibility, so a Catholic can disagree with him and follow his own conscience.
As I recall, there is not supposed to be anyone in the voting booth with us, directing how we vote.

I do not admire the conscience of Mr. A, who seems content to not struggle with these hard things himself, but, instead, lean on the words of the pope.

Peggy G__
Church is not a political party
Rob A's Nov. 1 letter ("Catholic teachings") states that Catholics cannot vote for President Obama because Obama violates moral principles that "Pope Benedict XVI has stated repeatedly ...should come before all other issues in politics."
If true, Benedict's political directive is contrary to the teaching of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

In addressing the question of legalized abortion in newly democratic Poland after the fall of communism ("Witness to Hope" by George Weigel), John Paul echoed the voice of Jesus with regard to politics: "The Church is not a political party nor is she identified with any political party; she is above them, and no political party can claim her."

It is the Church's role to be "a guardian of the moral order and a critical conscience... the laity's task to be directly involved in the area of politics." And it is the responsibility of the people to "learn to dialogue with one another in truth and with respect for their own dignity and that of their counterparts, who, although differing, are not enemies."

John Paul knew instinctively that mixing politics with the pulpit eventually will corrupt the pulpit.

Jack O___
My first reaction to these letters is to be defensive. But the best course of action would be to pray for these people and our nation. These responses are unfortunate indicators of the state of faith in our world. They are also a reminder of the significance of Pope Benedict's call for a year of faith. Religion and faith are being increasingly ridiculed and pushed out of the public sector and confined to home or church on Sundays.