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Saturday of the First Week of Lent-Ember Day

Deuteronomy, Chapter 31, Verse 8
It is the LORD who goes before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Lord our God calls us to His service. This is the message of St. Therese of Lisieux that we are all called, and we should have great confidence and humility seeking to bring the kingdom in small ways and asking our Lord to multiply our efforts.  The greatest way we can bring about the Kingdom is in our own families. This is the reason Pope Francis made such efforts to attend the family symposium in Philadelphia in 2015. Yes, families are under attack from a secular world, a media that continually pushes instant gratification and sensuality and of course Satan and his followers.

The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family. Don’t be afraid because Our Lady has already crushed his head and anyone who works for the sanctity of marriage and the family will always be fought and opposed in every way. (Sister Lucia of Fatima)


Our Lord will not abandon us and tells us to trust in him.

Entrust everything to Me and do nothing on your own, and you will always have great freedom of spirit. No circumstances or events will ever be able to upset you. Set little store on what people say. Let everyone judge you as they like. Do not make excuses for yourself, it will do you no harm. (Diary of Sister Faustina, 1685)

The Practices of a Committed Catholic Man[1]


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!

Daily

1.      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.

2.      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.

3.      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.

4.      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.

5.      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.

Monthly

1.      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!

Confession[2]

In the beginning God asks Adam, where are you? Adam had sinned and so he hid from God? After Cain killed Able God asked him, “Where is your brother? Yet again according to catholic tradition Saint Peter was fleeing from crucifixion in Rome at the hands of the government, and along the road outside the city he meets the risen Jesus and this time it is Peter who asks the question in Latin "Quo vadis?" “Where are you going?” to which Jesus replies, "Romam eo iterum crucifigi" ("I am going to Rome to be crucified again"). Peter thereby gains the courage to continue his ministry and returns to the city, to eventually be martyred by being crucified upside-down. Confession is our own turning like Peter around to walk with our Lord: to carry our cross with Him and to suffer with Him if need be. Confession is something you do with your mouth and with your mind, heart and actions. Confession should always be individual, spoken and specific. It is customary for devout Catholics to go to confession frequently and the saints have recommended that we go at least once a month. Yet in recent years some parishes have seen a decline in the number of confessions. It is not that we are having a decline in sin; it is because our hearts have become worldly. Will we have the hearts to see our Lord as He passes us by and even say to Him “Quo Vadis”: have we become so worldly that we have lost a sense of sin? Has our no-fault culture convinced us to keep walking in the opposite direction of our Lord thinking “I’m OK, you’re OK, no matter what choices we have made. Yes, God loves us just the way we are, but he loves us too much to keep us fat, dumb and happy. We need to experience his forgiveness so that we can heal and grow. “It is better to confess one’s sins than to harden one’s heart.” (Pope St. Clement I)

In Sedona there is a statue that is called “Quo Vadis” (Where are you going?) that is located in the garden of the St. John Vianney Catholic Church. 180 St. John Vianney Lane, Sedona AZ

2.      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.

Saturday of the First Week of Lent-Ember Day[3]


EPISTLE, i. Thess. v. 14-23.

BRETHREN: We beseech you, rebuke the unquiet, comfort the feeble-minded, support the weak, be patient towards all men. See that none render evil for evil to any man: but ever follow that which is good towards each other, and towards all men. Always rejoice. Pray without ceasing. In all things give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concern ing you all. Extinguish not the spirit. Despise not prophecies. But prove all things: hold fast that which is good. From all appearance of evil refrain yourselves. And may the God of peace Himself sanctify you in all things: that your whole spirit, and soul, and body, may be preserved blameless in the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ember Saturday[4]

After experiencing our Lord for forty days after the resurrection and seeing him leave again and without the Holy Spirits presence the disciples were heartbroken, but He promised them that He would send the Holy Spirit saying it is better for us that He leave us, so we may receive power from on high. The first gift of the Holy Spirit is the gift of Holy fear; to respond to Gods love as a son or daughter rather than a servant. This is end of Paschaltide (after the office of None on Saturday afternoon).

We have, through God's great mercy, access through faith in Christ, to grace. The gospel of Luke 4:38-44 tells us how that grace is put to work, by God, in our hearts, to heal us. In this, Simon's mother-in-law is a picture of the church. St. Ambrose makes it clear that the fever of Simon's mother-in-law is an expression of the weakness and the vulnerability that we know so well.

Lenten Calendar

Read: St. Patrick. . . ’s feast day is tomorrow but will not be celebrated by the Church this year as his feast day falls on a Sunday. 

Reflect: On March 16, 2016, Pope Francis said in his general audience of St. Patrick: “May his spiritual strength inspire you, dear young people, to be consistent in your faith; may his faith in Christ the Savior sustain you, dear sick people, at the most difficult times; and may his missionary devotion remind you, dear newlyweds, of the importance of Christian education for your children.”

Pray: In honor of St. Patrick, who was once captured and sold into slavery, pray for all victims of human trafficking today.

Act Visit the Anti-Trafficking Program webpage on USCCB.org to find out more about what the US bishops are doing to combat human trafficking.

Meditation - The Faults of Our Neighbor

In disagreements between you and your neighbor, you must always remember that to be in the right is the consideration that influences a Christian the least. The philosopher may indulge such a satisfaction. But to be in the right and to act as if one were not, to allow one's opponent to triumph on the side of injustice, -this means to overcome evil by good, and to secure peace for one's soul. No more convincing argument for your own vindication is required than the silent exterior acknowledgment that you are in the wrong. He who edifies does more for the truth than he who is zealous for the combat. Instead of trying to refute those that are in the wrong, it is better to pray for them. A stream flows much more rapidly when nothing is done to hold it back. Pray for those who are prejudiced against you, never become embittered against them, pity them, await their return to better feelings, and help to free them from their prejudices. One would not be human if he does not feel how easy it is to stray, and how much it costs to acknowledge this. The spirit of meekness, of indulgence, of patience and humility in examining the behavior of others toward us, secures us that peace of mind which is not compatible with the jealous, suspicious sensibilities of self-love. FĂ©nelon

Things to Do:
Read this thought-provoking article by George Rutler, Why We Need Lent, to understand why such a season of mortification is necessary for us to become saints.

Aids in Battle[5] The Word of God useful for our warfare with evil

These biblical passages provide aids in warfare for those who will ponder and act upon the truths they teach us. Recite them as battle cries in the heat of the conflict. Call on Jesus Christ, our Champion when the battle is fierce, turn your eyes to our victorious commander and place your confidence in Him.

·         To this end the Son of God appeared that He might destroy the works of the Devil. 1 Jn 3: 8
·         Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.
·         That at the name of Jesus every knee should bend of those in heaven, on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that the Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.
·         Disarming the Principalities and Powers, He displayed them openly, leading them away in triumph by force of [the Cross]. Col 2: 15
·         Now has come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God

The Way[6] Resolutions

"Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won't tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul."

Do your duty 'now', without looking back on 'yesterday', which has already passed, or worrying over 'to-morrow', which may never come for you.

Daily Devotions
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Universal Man Plan
·         Nivevah 90 day 53
·         Manhood of Christ Day 4, Second Week.
·         comment on your “Coffee with Christ”



[2] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 28. Confession.
[3]Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896
[5]Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.
[6]http://www.escrivaworks.org/book/the_way-point-1.htm

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