Psalm 23, verse 4:
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will FEAR no
evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.
Saint Pope John
Paul II was an example of someone who walked through the valley of the shadow
of death and feared no evil. The Lord’s rod and staff sustained him through the
nightmare of the Nazis and the Communists. Both were evil empires devoted to
the destruction of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all except
for the few selected elite.
systematically replaced God with the rule of the chosen ones of the State.
People from both the Fatherland and the Motherland sat by and watched the evil
grow without taking decisive action, making the adage ‘All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil is that good men (or women) do nothing.
We must ‘Remember
to measure our nation and our politics with Gods
Rod (Rods were often used in ancient times to measure) and not the
political States or the media nor the opinion of the rich and the powerful. Let
us be ever ready to speak up for what is righteous using God’s rod, which are
His laws of justice and mercy, working tirelessly and remember Saint Pope John
Paul II words of encouragement,
“I plead with you – never, ever give up on hope,
never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.”
Let us also carry with us for the journey the Staff of God, which is
truth, not worldly truth but God’s truth. “The word of truth, publicly, indeed
almost liturgically, proclaimed was the antidote the Rhapsodic Theater sought
to apply to the violent lies of the Occupation. The tools for fighting evil
included speaking truth to power.” 
we honor the martyrdom of Saint Agnes, a God-fearing child of 12, when she
faced her death. Here is St. Ambrose’s account of her demise.
treatise has a favorable beginning, since it is the birthday of the holy Virgin
Agnes, of whose name, modesty, and martyrdom St. Ambrose speaks in
commendation, but more especially of her age, seeing that she, being but twelve
years old, was superior to terrors, promises, tortures, and death itself, with
a courage wholly worthy of a man.
my task begins favorably, that since today is the birthday of a virgin, I have
to speak of virgins, and the treatise has its beginning from this discourse. It
is the birthday of a martyr, let us offer the victim. It is the birthday of St.
Agnes, let men admire, let children take courage, let the married be astounded,
let the unmarried take an example. But what can I say worthy of her whose very
name was not devoid of bright praise? In devotion beyond her age, in virtue
above nature, she seems to me to have borne not so much a human name, as a
token of martyrdom, whereby she showed what she was to be.
I have that which may assist me. The name of virgin is a title of modesty. I
will call upon the martyr, I will proclaim the virgin. That panegyric is long
enough which needs no elaboration but is within our grasp. Let then labor
cease, eloquence be silent. One word is praise enough. This word old men and
young and boys chant. No one is more praiseworthy than he who can be praised by
all. There are as many heralds as there are men, who when they speak proclaim
is said to have suffered martyrdom when twelve years old. The more hateful was
the cruelty, which spared not so tender an age, the greater in truth was the
power of faith which found evidence even in that age. Was there room for a
wound in that small body? And she who had no room for the blow of the steel had
that wherewith to conquer the steel. But maidens of that age are unable to bear
even the angry looks of parents and are wont to cry at the pricks of a needle
as though they were wounds. She was fearless
under the cruel hands of the executioners, she was unmoved by the heavy weight
of the creaking chains, offering her whole body to the sword of the raging
soldier, as yet ignorant of death, but ready for it. Or if she were unwillingly
hurried to the altars, she was ready to stretch forth her hands to Christ at
the sacrificial fires, and at the sacrilegious altars themselves, to make the
sign of the Lord the Conqueror, or again to place her neck and both her hands
in the iron bands, but no band could enclose such slender limbs.
new kind of martyrdom! Not yet of fit age for punishment but already ripe for
victory, difficult to contend with but easy to be crowned, she filled the
office of teaching valor while having the disadvantage of youth. She would not
as a bride so hasten to the couch, as being a virgin, she joyfully went to the
place of punishment with hurrying step, her head not adorned with plaited hair,
but with Christ. All wept, she alone was without a tear. All wondered that she
was so readily prodigal of her life, which she had not yet enjoyed, and now
gave up as though she had gone through it. Everyone was astounded that there
was now one to bear witness to the Godhead, who as yet could not, because of
her age, dispose of herself. And she brought it to pass that she should be
believed concerning God, whose evidence concerning man would not be accepted.
For that which is beyond nature is from the Author of nature.
threats the executioner used to make her fear him, what allurements to persuade
her, how many desired that she would come to them in marriage! But she
answered: It would be an injury to my spouse to look on any one as likely to
please me. He who chose me first for Himself shall receive me. Why are you
delaying, executioner? Let this body perish which can be loved by eyes which I
would not. She stood, she prayed, she bent down her neck. You could see the
executioner tremble, as though he himself had been condemned, and his
right-hand shake, his face grow pale, as he feared
the peril of another, while the maiden feared
not for her own. You have then in one victim a twofold martyrdom, of modesty
and of religion. She both remained a virgin and she obtained martyrdom.
that we may emulate Agnes who was martyred rather than forsake her betrothal to
Christ and exhibited the traits of a true marriage.
Life First 9 Days for Life
9 Days for Life is a "digital
pilgrimage" of prayer and action focused on cherishing the gift of every
person's life. A multi-faceted novena highlighting a different intention each
day provides reflections, bonus information, and suggested actions. Join
to receive the novena through the 9 Days for Life app, daily emails, or daily
texts. See below for information on how else you can get involved! #9DaysforLife #OurPrayersMatter
Intercession: May all who have experienced sexual abuse receive justice, healing, and God’s peace.
Prayers: Our Father, 3 Hail Mary’s, Glory Be
reports have once again exposed the terrible abuses that many have suffered at
the hands of a member of the Catholic clergy. Our hearts ache for the grave
harm that has been inflicted on our brothers and sisters. Words alone cannot
express our sorrow, shame and disappointment that such affronts to human
dignity have been carried out within our Church. It is our prayer and hope that
all who have experienced abuse will find the healing and justice they so
rightly deserve, knowing that they are never alone. For, “only by confronting
our own failure in the face of crimes against those we are charged to protect
can the Church resurrect a culture of life where the culture of death has
of Reparation (Choose one.)
from one meal today.
the intercession of Our Lady by praying a Rosary for Healing and Protection.
some other sacrifice, prayer, or act of penance that you feel called to do for
Is Chocolate Good for You?
The Health Benefits of Chocolate
Theobroma Cacao, the Latin name for chocolate, means “Food of the Gods”
for a reason. It’s a heavenly way to lift your performance. There are also some
major health benefits of chocolate.
We’re not talking about junk chocolate in candy bars and sweet desserts;
dark chocolate has a long history as a healing plant, a mood enhancer, and even
an aphrodisiac. So, you’re in luck: you can indeed use high-quality chocolate
to take delicious control of your biology.
7 health benefits of
You’ve probably read that chocolate affects your brain by causing the
release of the “happiness neurotransmitters” serotonin, dopamine, and
endorphins. Like coffee, chocolate is also a potent source of polyphenol
antioxidants, which can fight damaging free radicals and protect your
But experienced chocolate hackers also know chocolate to be a useful tool
for improving performance in lesser-known ways. In fact, cacao exerts a
systemic effect on the body, with benefits ranging from improved blood flow and
cognition to beneficial alterations in gut bacteria! Here are some of the most
important benefits of chocolate (besides taste…).
for a better mood
Chocolate can improve your mood, especially in high-pressure or stressful
situations. Participants were asked to complete serial subtraction tasks of
threes and sevens (counting down by 3s and 7s), and a rapid visual
information-processing task to test sustained attention. Those who consumed cocoa
flavanol drinks prior to the trial had overall better cognitive performance and
reported less mental fatigue than the control group.
makes you eat less
One of my favorite effects of chocolate consumption is a reduction in
appetite. One study quantified this by giving participants a 100 g serving of
either milk or dark chocolate two hours before being served an all-you-can-eat
lunch. Ingestion of dark chocolate was correlated with a 17% lower calorie
intake at the following meal, compared to the milk chocolate group. (I’d
imagine that it’s because the casein in milk binds to the polyphenols in
chocolate, making them unavailable to your body.)
Chocolate may also have a significant effect on mood, as one double-blind
study recorded that subjects were able to subjectively discriminate the effects
of theobromine at doses as low as 100-560 mg.
for a healthy heart
Regular chocolate consumption can improve your cardiovascular health.
Notably, the polyphenols in cacao increase HDL cholesterol (often thought of as
the protective kind of cholesterol), which in turns leads to decreased oxidized
LDL cholesterol. Other effects include higher levels of circulating nitric
oxide, and reduced platelet adhesion,, resulting in improved circulation benefits
One study even found the cacao flavanol epicatechin to be responsible for
the rise in nitric oxide, which is essential for vascular health. Bioavailability
of nitric oxide is an essential determinate of vascular health as it regulates
dilation tone, signals cell growth and inflammatory response, and protects
blood vessels from clotting.
Vascular function is also really important for insulin-regulated glucose
uptake. That’s why dark chocolate can also improve/
“Healthy levels of insulin sensitivity.
for glowing skin and sun protection
Chocolate can help you maintain healthy skin by modulating healthy blood
flow. In one study, two groups of women consumed either a high flavanol or low
flavanol cocoa powder for a period of 12 weeks. While the low flavanol group
showed no change in markers of skin health, subjects in the high flavanol group
had on average 25% reduction in UV-induced erythema (sunburn) after exposure to
a solar simulator.
The high flavanol group also recorded increased skin density and
thickness, as well as better hydration and less transepidermal water loss.
may lower inflammation
Chocolate has inflammation-modulating properties. In one study, obese
mice supplemented with cocoa powder had healthier levels of inflammation and
insulin. These mice also had a 30% reduction in plasma levels of the major
pro-inflammatory mediator interleukin 6. Additionally, a cross-sectional study
of an Italian cohort discovered an inverse relationship between dark chocolate
consumption and serum C-reactive protein.
is a prebiotic
While many studies assume that it is the cacao polyphenols acting
directly to modulate biomarkers, it is most likely the case that at least some
of the effect is indirect, and works through interaction with our gut
microbiome. Research suggests that low molecular weight cocoa flavanols such as
epicatechin and catechin can be absorbed directly into blood circulation,
(unless you mix them with milk) but this is not so for the larger polyphenols. In
this case, microflora in the colon work to break down high molecular weight
polyphenols, so that the smaller secondary metabolites may circulate throughout
the body. Cocoa flavanols are processed by gut microbiota, and secondary
metabolites can enter circulation.
benefits of chocolate and effects of cocoa on the immune system
If gut bacteria are feeding on the larger cocoa polyphenols, then it
follows that they can also change the composition of the intestinal microbiome.
In fact, one study did discover a beneficial prebiotic effect of high flavanol
chocolate consumption. After a period of 4 weeks of consuming a high flavanol
cocoa powder, subjects had a significant increase in bifidobacteria and
lactobacilli populations, as well as significantly decreased clostridia levels.
This was accompanied by significantly decreased C-reactive protein (which
correlates to inflammation reduction in the body), which was associated
particularly with changes in lactobacilli.
Last, but certainly not least, cacao can enhance mitochondrial
biogenesis, or, the creation of new mitochondria! If you’ve read about Unfair
Advantage, you know how important it is to have healthy mitochondria, and more
of them. It is the flavanol epicatechin in chocolate which is responsible for
mitogenesis. In one study, oral administration of epicatechin to senile mice
shifted numerous biomarkers towards those of young mice, including sirtuin 1, a
well-recognized regulator of mitochondrial biogenesis. In another mouse study,
treatment with epicatechin improved exercise performance by ~50% compared to
controls, and enhanced muscle fatigue resistance by ~30%. The epicatechin group
also recorded significant increases in mitochondrial volume in hindlimb and
Does chocolate have caffeine?
Yes, but in much smaller amounts than coffee. So much less, you could
probably eat a square or two of dark chocoalte before bed without any trouble
falling asleep. The really cool energy-giving molecule in coffee is called
theobromine. Theobromin is the primary alkaloid found in cocoa that is
responsible for multiple positive effects, one of which is similar to the effects
of caffeine. Although theobromine is present in other plants, there’s a high
contentration in dark chocolate, with measures between 237-519 mg per 50g.
The benefits of theobromine
Promotes steady energy: Due to the molecular makeup of theobromine, while
it promotes energy in the body, it doesn’t exert its effects on the central
nervous system – so its effects are a more gentle, feel-good type of energy.
Also, due to its molecular makeup, theobromine takes longer to clear from your
body, which means this calm energy lasts longer.
Better cognitive function: The immediate cognitive effects of chocolate
are primarily accounted for by caffeine and theobromine. A study comparing the
effects of cocoa powder versus an equivalent caffeine and theobromine powder
found equivalent improvements in cognitive and mood assessments.
Addictive taste: It is said that dark chocolate is an “acquired taste,”
and research suggests that theobromine may be the component responsible for our
attraction to dark chocolate. One study demonstrated an increased liking for a
‘novel’ drink when it was mixed with theobromine.
The pitfalls of chocolate
Most chocolate contains sugar
By now you may be interested in picking up some chocolate, but be sure to
choose one with as little sugar as possible or even none.
While research shows that cocoa can have a beneficial effect with regards
to maintaining healthy vascular tone and insulin sensitivity, the reverse is
true for sugar. Eating sweetened chocolate is still not good for you. Beware of
chocolate marketed as “sugar-free” that may contain unhealthy artificial
sweeteners, which are found in the “kryptonite” zone of the Bulletproof Diet
Roadmap. The only recommended sweeteners are Stevia, erythritol from non-GMO
corn, and xylitol from hardwood.
In one study, rats fed a high-fat, high-sucrose diet for 4 weeks
displayed insulin resistance, and decreased endothelial nitric oxide synthase
(eNOS), which is responsible for creating nitric oxide in blood vessels.
Other studies have demonstrated that the detrimental effect of sugar on
vascular function is independent of obesity and insulin resistance, so sugar is
bad for you even if you are in otherwise good health.
Chocolate can contain mold
Unfortunately, due to intensive farming techniques and poor agricultural,
processing, and storage practices, much of the world’s chocolate supply is
contaminated with meaningful levels of mold toxins. One of the more insidious
and dangerous forms of mycotoxin, ochratoxin A, was present in 98% of samples
tested in one study. Of those contaminated with ochratoxin, the study found an
80% co-occurrence of aflatoxin as well. Mycotoxins amplify each other when more
than one is present.
Cacao trees are a tropical crop, making them highly susceptible to fungus
and mold. Roasting moldy beans destroys the actual fungi, but it doesn’t
destroy the fungi’s byproduct: harmful mold toxins. Beans aren’t just
susceptible when they’re on the tree. They can become host to mold and fungi
during pre-processing, so it’s important not to let them sit for long periods
of time. The good news is that one study found that the processing of cocoa
beans into a finished product resulted in a 93.6% decrease in ochratoxin A.
My experience is that mold toxins vary greatly from batch to batch and from
brand to brand, and a brand with “clean” chocolate this month may not be clean
the following month.
Keep the following in mind while selecting and eating chocolate:
Make sure your chocolate is at
least 85 percent dark chocolate
European chocolate tends to be
lower in mold toxins, as they have stricter government limits than the US
Take activated coconut charcoal
with chocolate to bind some of the mold toxins like I always do
How to get more chocolate into your day
Your options are almost limitless. Try these unique options to get more
chocolate into your diet:
Drink cacao tea
Make a Bulletproof Mocha: add
some high-quality chocolate powder to your morning BP coffee
Make Bulletproof Get Some Ice
Check out The Bulletproof Diet
book for Bulletproof dessert AND dinner recipes that use high-quality chocolate