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Ember Saturday AUTUMNAL EQUINOX 1 Corinthians, Chapter 14, Verse 32-33 32 Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prop...

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Monday of the Third Week of Lent

Sirach, Chapter 50, Verse 28-29
28 Happy those who meditate upon these things; wise those who take them to heart! 29 If they put them into practice, they can cope with anything, for the fear of the LORD is their lamp.

The human heart is the seat of the human will. May He illuminate our hearts to serve Him.

What is meant by serving God? Doing the will of God in all things which He requires of us, in whatever state of life we may be placed, and doing this with fidelity, with unwearied zeal, and out of love for Him. (Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896) When we are bored and familiar with routine work, let us generously offer ourselves to the Lord for He indeed knows our needs and will take care of our well-being.

Let us remember Christ’s words to us on service, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.” (Mk. 8:34-35) Life seen as mere self-centered earthly existence and lived in denial of Christ ends in destruction, but when lived in loyalty to Christ, despite earthly death, it arrives at fullness of life. True discipleship is total commitment to Christ through self-renunciation and acceptance of the cross of suffering, even to the sacrifice of life itself.

Monday of the Third Week of Lent[1]

Prayer.

POUR forth, in Thy mercy, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts, that, as we abstain from flesh, we may also restrain our senses from hurtful excesses.

EPISTLE, iv. Kings v. 1 15.

In those days: Naaman, general of the army of the king of Syria, was a great man with his master, and honorable: for by him the Lord gave deliverance to Syria: and he was a valiant man and rich, but a leper. Now there had gone out robbers from Syria, and had led away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid, and she waited upon Naaman’s wife. And she said to her mistress: I wish my master had been with the prophet, that is in Samaria: he would certainly have healed him of the leprosy which he hath. Then Naaman went into his lord, and told him, saying: Thus, and thus said the girl from the land of Israel. And the king of Syria said to him: Go, and I will send a letter to the king of Israel. And he departed, and took with him ten talents of silver, and six thousand pieces of gold, and ten changes of raiment, and brought the letter to the king of Israel, in these words: When thou shalt receive this letter, know that I have sent to thee Naaman my servant, that thou mayest heal him of his leprosy. And when the king of Israel had read the letter, he rent his garments, and said : Am I God, to be able to kill and give life, that this man hath sent to me, to heal a man of his leprosy? mark, and see how he seeketh occasions against me. And when Eliseus the man of God had heard this, to wit, that the king of Israel had rent his garments, he sent to him, saying: Why hast thou rent thy garments? let him come to me, and let him know that there is a prophet in Israel. So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and stood at the door of the house of Eliseus: and Eliseus sent a messenger to him saying: Go, and wash seven times in the Jordan, and thy flesh shall recover health, and thou shalt be clean. Naaman was angry and went away, saying: I thought he would have come out to me, and standing- would have invoked the name of the Lord his God, and touched with his hand the place of the leprosy, and healed me. Are not the Abana and the Pharphar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel, that I may wash in them, arid be made clean? So as he turned, and was going away with indignation, his servants came to him, and said to him : Father, if the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, surely thou shouldst have done it : how much rather what he now hath said to thee: Wash, and thou shalt be clean? Then he went down, and washed in the Jordan seven times: according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored, like the flesh of a little child, and he was made clean. And returning to the man of God with all his train, he came, and stood before him, and said: In truth, I know there is no other God in all the earth, but only in Israel.

GOSPEL. Luke iv. 23-30.

At that time Jesus said to the Pharisees: Doubtless you will say to Me this similitude: Physician, heal Thyself: as great things as we have heard done in Capharnaum, do also here in Thy own country. And He said: Amen I say to you, that no prophet is accepted in his own country. In truth I say to you, there were many widows in the days of Elias in Israel, when heaven was shut up three years and six months, when there was a great famine throughout all the earth. And to none of them was Elias sent, but to Sarepta of Sidon, to a widow woman. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet: and none of them was cleansed but Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, hearing these things, were filled with anger. And they rose up and thrust Him out of the city: and they brought Him to the brow of the hill, where on their city was built, that they might cast Him down headlong. But He passes through the midst of them, went His way.

The Practices of a Committed Catholic Man[2]

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

6.      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[3]

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)

7.      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.


Aids in Battle[4] 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.

Daily Devotions
·         Ask for the Prayers and assistance of the Angels
·         Nineveh 90-Total Consecration to Mary-Day 9
·         Manhood of the Master-week 6 day 1
·         Drops of Christ’s Blood
·         Universal Man Plan




[1] Goffine’s Devout Instructions, 1896.
*Let us be faithful to these practices as Naaman was faithful to wash himself seven times in the Jordan to cleanse himself of leprosy at the instruction of the prophet Elias.

[3] Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 28. Confession.
[4]Thigpen, Paul. Manual for Spiritual Warfare. TAN Books.



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