Holy Tuesday, March 22, 2016
Jeremiah, Chapter 32, Verse 39-40
39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me always, for their own good and the good of their children after them. 40 With them I will make an everlasting covenant, never to cease doing good to them; I will put fear of me in their hearts so that they never turn away from me.
We should have a holy fear of our Priest and Bishops. We should follow their guidance as we would a beloved father or brother. To give us one heart and one way the Bishop of Phoenix asks us men to enter into the breach.
Sometimes we are tempted to follow any leader who is popular. We forget God’s warning about following the proud and evil hearted, For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire, leaving them neither root nor branch, says the LORD of hosts.(Mal 3: 19)
We may think that following the leadership of our bishops is a waste of time. You have said, “It is useless to serve God; what do we gain by observing God’s requirements, and by going about as mourners-before the LORD of hosts? But we call the arrogant blessed; for evildoers not only prosper but even test God and escape.” (Mal 3:14-15)
God is not a God of the past and continues to this day in the action of raising a man up and He does so in our Priests and Bishops. Just like an architect that uses rocks and sticks to become temples or bridges God uses men to build his Kingdom. Strive therefore to be God’s man or women.
The Practices of a Committed Catholic Man
Given these reflections on Catholic manhood, we move to the practical, that is, how to live like a Catholic man. What practices can help us to take up our cross and follow our King?
If we think of soldiers who do not remain in strong physical and mental shape and who fail to practice the essential combat arts, we know they will not be ready for battle and will be a danger to themselves and their comrades in arms. The same is true for Catholic men; those who do not prepare and strengthen themselves for spiritual combat are incapable of filling the breach for Christ.
While there are many habits and devotions that a Catholic man can form, I charge you with keeping these seven basic practices on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. If these practices are not (yet) part of your life, start now!
Pray every day. Each Catholic man must start his day with prayer. It is said, “Until you realize that prayer is the most important thing in life, you will never have time for prayer.” Without prayer, a man is like a soldier who lacks food, water, and ammunition. Set aside some time to speak with God first thing each morning. Pray the three prayers essential to the Catholic faith: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be. Pray also at every meal. Before food or drink touches your lips, make the Sign of the Cross, say the “Bless us, O Lord” prayer, and end with the Sign of the Cross. Do this no matter where you are, with whom or how much you are eating. Never be shy or ashamed about praying over meals. Never deny Christ the gratitude that is due to Him. Praying as a Catholic man before every meal is a simple but powerful way to keep strong and fill the breach.
Examine your conscience before going to sleep. Take a few moments to review the day, including both your blessings and sins. Give God thanks for blessings and ask forgiveness for sins. Say an Act of Contrition.
Go to Mass. Despite the fact that attending weekly Mass is a Precept of the Church, only about one in three Catholic men attend Sunday Mass. For large numbers of Catholic men, their neglect to attend Mass is a grave sin, a sin that puts them in mortal danger. The Mass is a refuge in the Spiritual Battle, where Catholic men meet their King, hear His commands, and become strengthened with the Bread of Life. Every Mass is a miracle where Jesus Christ is fully present, a miracle that is the high point not only of the week, but of our entire lives on Earth. In the Mass, a man gives thanks to God for his many blessings and hears Christ send him again into the world to build the Kingdom of God. Fathers who lead their children to Mass are helping in a very real way to ensure their eternal salvation.
Read the Bible. As St. Jerome so clearly tells us, “Ignorance of the Sacred Scriptures is ignorance of Christ.” When we read God’s word, Jesus is present. Married men, read with your wife and your children. If a man’s children see him read the Scriptures, they are more likely to remain in the Faith. My brothers in Christ, this I can assure you: men who read the Bible grow in grace, wisdom, and peace.
Keep the Sabbath. From the creation of Adam and Eve, God the Father established a weekly cycle ending with the Sabbath. He gave us the Sabbath to ensure that one day out of seven we will give thanks to God, rest, and be refreshed. In the Ten Commandments, God asserts anew the importance of keeping the Sabbath. With today’s constant barrage of buying and selling and the cacophony of noisy media, the Sabbath is God’s respite from the storm. As Catholic men, you must begin, or deepen, keeping the holiness of the Sabbath. If you are married, you must lead your wives and children to do the same. Dedicate the day to rest and true recreation, and avoid work that is not necessary. Spend time with family, attend Mass, and enjoy the gift of the day.
Go to Confession. At the very start of Christ’s public ministry, Jesus calls on all men to repent. Without repentance from sin, there can be no healing or forgiveness, and there will be no Heaven. Large numbers of Catholic men are in grave mortal danger, particularly given the epidemic levels of pornography consumption and the sin of masturbation. My brothers, get to Confession now! Our Lord Jesus Christ is a merciful King who will forgive those who humbly confess their sins. He will not forgive those who refuse. Open your soul to the gift of our Lord’s mercy!
Build fraternity with other Catholic men. Catholic friendship among men has a dramatic impact on their faith lives. Men who have bonds of brotherhood with other Catholic men pray more, go to Mass and Confession more frequently, read the Scriptures more often, and are more active in the Faith. Proverbs tells us: “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another” (27:17). I call on each of our priests and deacons to draw men together in their parishes and to begin to rebuild a vibrant and transforming Catholic fraternity. I call on laymen to form small fellowship groups for mutual support and growth in the faith. There is no friendship like having a friend in Christ.
Tuesday of Holy Week
Traditionally the account of Christ's Passion according to St. Mark is read today and most people continue with spring cleaning. Also today marks the bargaining of Judas with the Sanhedrin as the Jewish way of tracking time makes Tuesday evening Wednesday as days changed after sunset and not at midnight following roman time keeping method.
We learned yesterday from St. John that Judas was a thief. He robbed from Christ, from the other apostles, from the incipient Church. Jesus, for him, had become merely an excuse to seek after his own interests. Jesus was not the one thing necessary, as he was for Mary of Bethany. Jesus wasn't even an end, but merely a means for Judas to satisfy his own greed. Judas supposedly had serious qualms of conscience about the failure to sell the years’ worth of aromatic nard with which Mary had anointed Jesus' feet, but he thought nothing about selling Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas had been a disciple merely in his body, not in his heart. Judas had been called personally by the Lord, had lived with him for about 1,000 days, had followed him for three years, had heard him preach and teach, had seen him walk on water, still stormy seas, feed thousands with a five rolls and two sardines, raise three people from the dead, heal on countless occasions the sick, blind and lame and have mercy on countless sinners, had even received from the Lord the power to do many of these same things himself, and had been entrusted by him with the money bag for the Twelve. But he tragically had never gotten to know Jesus, and even more tragically had never gotten to love him. He remained just a follower of Jesus on the outside, not on the inside. In betraying Jesus, Judas valued him less than a handful of coins, forgetting that it would profit him nothing to gain the whole world and forfeit his life.
Preparation for Death
All Christian life is a preparation for death. We cannot predict the moment of our passing but we should be prepared for it both remotely and near term when our death is imminent. It is best to prepare far in advance by making a lifetime habit of confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist. However, if seriously ill do not wait to take action. Confession must be made while we are still thinking clearly and have the energy for the task and we should make arrangements to receive sacramental anointing. Do not rely on others to do this for you. It is important for you, if you are able, to contact the hospital chaplain or priest. Remember there is more after our death for the church teaches us that after our death there is judgment, heaven and hell. Do not be a nilly willy and avoid thinking about death and we should remind ourselves that death is a normal part of life and we should have a sense of humor and it is not a license to make others miserable. We should try to get our affairs in order so to make it easier on others. We should choose a Catholic cemetery for the burial of our mortal remains, as a sign of our belief in the resurrection of the body. Our flesh has been divinized in baptism, made one the flesh of Jesus in Holy Communion, and so its repose is a matter of some consequence. We should keep in mind that at our death as said by Cardinal Newman, “Life is changed, not ended” and “All who ever lived still live.”
 Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 39. Preparation for Death.
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