Thursday of the Second Week of Easter
Deuteronomy, Chapter 2, Verse 4
Command the people: You are now about to pass through the territory of your relatives, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. Though they are AFRAID of you, be very careful.
Those that are beloved by God are those who revere and follow His commandments. When we are infused with the Spirit of God others can see it because the spirit within us is reflected in our physical presence. When we receive the blessing of God; those who are not in the spirit can become afraid of you. Our Lord wants to remind us even those who are close to us, even those who are relatives will be afraid of us and we must be very vigilant and be able to see in them simultaneously the humanity of Christ; to have peace while waging a war with evil. This peace comes because while in the presence of the Holy Spirit we have heard things that cannot be put into words and we have experienced the truth mystically. By this truth we are compelled to follow Christ and at times we too must pass through the territory of our relatives; yet ever continuing our journey with Him. For in truth those who do His Fathers will are His brothers and sisters.
All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
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.
The Bible is a weapon and in the hands of the untrained, “You could shoot your eye out kid”. Therefore, the Bible should be handled with care. We should approach scripture reading in light of the liturgy and church Dogmas. “Dogma is by definition nothing other than an interpretation of Scripture.” (Pope Benedict XVI) Dogmas are the Church’s infallible interpretation of Scripture. In the 1970’s the Catholic Church revised its lectionary—the order of scriptural readings for the Mass. The readings now unfold in a three-year cycle and include almost all the books of both testaments of the Bible. The great thing about lectionary is that it presents the scriptures and also teaches us a method of understanding the Scriptures: Showing us a consistent pattern of promise and fulfillment. The New Testament is concealed in the Old, and the Old is revealed the New. Perhaps a good practice would be for us to read the daily scripture in the lectionary, maybe even before Mass.
"Lectio Divina", a Latin term, means "divine reading" and describes a way of reading the Scriptures whereby we gradually let go of our own agenda and open ourselves to what God wants to say to us. In the 12th century, a Carthusian monk called Guigo, described the stages which he saw as essential to the practice of Lectio Divina. There are various ways of practicing Lectio Divina either individually or in groups, but Guigo's description remains fundamental.
1. He said that the first stage is lectio (reading) where we read the Word of God, slowly and reflectively so that it sinks into us. Any passage of Scripture can be used for this way of prayer but the passage should not be too long.
2. The second stage is meditatio (reflection) where we think about the text we have chosen and ruminate upon it so that we take from it what God wants to give us.
3. The third stage is oratio (response) where we leave our thinking aside and simply let our hearts speak to God. This response is inspired by our reflection on the Word of God.
4. The final stage of Lectio Divina is contemplatio (rest) where we let go not only of our own ideas, plans and meditations but also of our holy words and thoughts. We simply rest in the Word of God. We listen at the deepest level of our being to God who speaks within us with a still small voice. As we listen, we are gradually transformed from within. Obviously this transformation will have a profound effect on the way we actually live and the way we live is the test of the authenticity of our prayer. We must take what we read in the Word of God into our daily lives.
These stages of Lectio Divina are not fixed rules of procedure but simply guidelines as to how the prayer normally develops. Its natural movement is towards greater simplicity, with less and less talking and more listening. Gradually the words of Scripture begin to dissolve, and the Word is revealed before the eyes of our heart. How much time should be given to each stage depends very much on whether it is used individually or in a group.
The practice of Lectio Divina as a way of praying the Scriptures has been a fruitful source of growing in relationship with Christ for many centuries and in our own day is being rediscovered by many individuals and groups. The Word of God is alive and active and will transform each of us if we open ourselves to receive what God wants to give us.
April 20 has become a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis. Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the legalization of cannabis. North American observances have been held at Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district, the University of Colorado's Boulder campus, Ottawa, Ontario, at Parliament Hill and Major's Hill Park, Montreal, Quebec at Mount Royal monument, Edmonton, Alberta at the Alberta Legislature Building, as well as Vancouver, British Columbia at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The growing size of the unofficial event at UC Santa Cruz caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: "The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community."
Up in Smoke
Q: I have a question regarding the use of marijuana and whether it is considered a sin to smoke it recreationally now that it is legal in Washington state. I have a Catholic friend who smokes it and doesn’t seem to think that there is anything wrong with doing so. What does the church teach about using marijuana recreationally — is it a sin?
A: During the period of continuing formation following my ordination, I was introduced to Stephen Covey’s well-known book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. The second habit has always stuck with me: “Begin with the end in mind.” It means that before we start something, we need to think it out and make sure our present actions will help us toward our future goals.
Covey’s second habit can be applied to the spiritual life. The goal of our spiritual lives is ultimately to love God and others to the fullest possible extent, and ultimately to make it to heaven. What we do in the present should assist us in these spiritual goals.
So, to your question, with the understanding that marijuana is a legally prescribed therapeutic drug for certain mental and physical conditions: Does recreational marijuana use help or hinder us in reaching this goal of our Christian life?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, quoting Vatican II, says the following: “God willed that man should be ‘left in the hand of his own counsel,’ so that he might of his own accord seek his Creator and freely attain his full and blessed perfection by cleaving to him.” (1730) God doesn’t force us to seek and love him; it is something that he has left us free to do.
Marijuana affects the limbic system of the brain, which deals with emotion, behavior, motivation, long-term memory, and sense of smell and time. Using this substance, as many studies show, causes both physical and psychological effects in the user, including heightened heart rates, short-term memory loss, delayed reaction, depression and even anxiety. When a person smokes marijuana, they are placing chemicals in their nervous system that alter their consciousness and have the potential to produce future emotional and physical damage.
Marijuana certainly is not beneficial to the spiritual life, and if it becomes a serious impediment to growth in the spiritual life and drawing closer to God and our ultimate goal, heaven, the church would consider its recreational use a sin. It’s important to remember that there is a big difference between recreational and therapeutic drug use and this understanding does not apply only to marijuana.
YouCat, the youth catechism of the Catholic Church, says: “Every time a person loses or forgets himself by becoming intoxicated, which can also include excessive eating and drinking, indulgence in sexual activity, or speeding with an automobile, he loses some of his human dignity and freedom and therefore sins against God. This should be distinguished from the reasonable, conscious, and moderate use of enjoyable things.” (389)
When we forget ourselves in this way through “intoxication” of any kind, we run the risk of forgetting what the purpose and goal of our lives are, and certainly are not considering this ultimate goal in the present.
St. Paul says, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) We were created to be good and responsible stewards of God’s creation, including our bodies, which are sacred. Recreational marijuana use can be an impediment to the fullness of life that God wants to share with us and so can become a hindrance to being a good steward of what God has created. Do you want to be a Dude or a Dud?
Catechism of the Catholic Church
PART FOUR: CHRISTIAN PRAYER
SECTION ONE-PRAYER IN THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
CHAPTER THREE-THE LIFE OF PRAYER
SECTION TWO-THE LORD'S PRAYER
I. "OUR FATHER!"
2759 Jesus "was praying at a certain place, and when he ceased, one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'" In response to this request the Lord entrusts to his disciples and to his Church the fundamental Christian prayer. St. Luke presents a brief text of five petitions, while St. Matthew gives a more developed version of seven petitions. The liturgical tradition of the Church has retained St. Matthew's text:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
2760 Very early on, liturgical usage concluded the Lord's
Prayer with a doxology. In the Didache, we find, "For yours are the power
and the glory for ever." The Apostolic Constitutions add to the
beginning: "the kingdom," and this is the formula retained to our day
in ecumenical prayer.
The Byzantine tradition adds after "the glory" the words "Father, Son, and Holy Spirit." the Roman Missal develops the last petition in the explicit perspective of "awaiting our blessed hope" and of the Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then comes the assembly's acclamation or the repetition of the doxology from the Apostolic Constitutions.
PRAYERS AND TEACHINGS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
Consecration to the Blessed Mother
O Mary, Virgin most powerful and Mother of mercy, Queen of Heaven and Refuge of sinners, we consecrate ourselves to thine Immaculate Heart.
We consecrate to thee our very being and our whole life; all that we have, all that we love, all that we are. To thee we give our bodies, our hearts and our souls; to thee we give our homes, our families, our country.
We desire that all that is in us and around us may belong to thee, and may share in the benefits of thy motherly benediction. And that this act of consecration may be truly efficacious and lasting, we renew this day at thy feet the promises of our Baptism and our first Holy Communion.
We pledge ourselves to profess courageously and at all times the truths of our holy Faith, and to live as befits Catholics who are duly submissive to all the directions of the Pope and the Bishops in communion with him.
We pledge ourselves to keep the commandments of God and His Church, in particular to keep holy the Lord's Day.
We likewise pledge ourselves to make the consoling practices of the Christian religion, and above all, Holy Communion, an integral part of our lives, in so far as we shall be able so to do.
Finally, we promise thee, O glorious Mother of God and loving Mother of men, to devote ourselves whole-heartedly to the service of thy blessed cult, in order to hasten and assure, through the sovereignty of thine Immaculate Heart, the coming of the kingdom of the Sacred Heart of thine adorable Son, in our own hearts and in those of all men, in our country and in all the world, as in heaven. so, on earth. Amen.
Porters of St. Joseph by joining them in fasting: Today's Fast: Reparations for offenses and blasphemies against God and the Blessed Virgin MaryUnite in the work of the
· Litany of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus
 Hahn, Scott, Signs of Life; 40 Catholic Customs and their biblical roots. Chap. 16. Bible Study.