The attack on marriage is really an attack on the human person, and his dignity, for the devil seeks to pervert our true purpose, to pervert God's holy design. For many of us, we cannot march in protests or write dozens of letters or call numerous times to urge legislators to vote for the Truth. But one thing we can all do is pray and fast. We have designated one day each week to fast for these intentions:

1. That marriage may be preserved, promoted, and understood as God's plan for creation.

2. For all marriages that they may reflect the love of the Trinity.

3. For broken marriages that Christ bring healing and conversion to the spouses' souls.

4. For those who are married, for the sanctification of their marriage and their spouse. For those who are single, for their future spouse and vocation.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

May 4th Fast


"Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but take thought of what is noble in the sight of all." (Romans 12:14-18)
The characteristic that must define a Christian, and reveal his faith to others is the merciful love he practices in the manner of His Master.  This love can be witnessed in many exterior deeds of selfless charity, but to truly radiate from the soul, it needs to be cultivated interiorly as well. 

Sometimes it can be easier to help those in want rather than be happy for those in plenty. St. Paul's exhortation is too easily perverted when one rejoices at another's misery, and weeps at another's gain.  Frequently forgotten is our kinship with our brethren through the Mystical Body of Christ, and subsequently the truth that all is in God's Providence.  To envy another's good fortune is to begrudge the generosity of Our Heavenly Father, and question the wisdom of His will.   

She, who bore Wisdom Incarnate, gives us the supreme example of a compassionate heart, devoid of all bitterness.  Though He belonged to her for thirty years, she peacefully accepted His departure and allowed others to attend to His needs.  Mary intimately knew Her Son, gladly giving her whole self to Him, but was not jealous nor selfish when she saw He would now give His whole self to the world.  We can imitate her by willfully choosing generosity over jealousy, gratitude over self-pitying.  

It was revealed to St. Gertrude that when she thanked God for the blessings given to another, she was given many more graces than if she had received those particular blessings herself. Let us praise God for His gifts for us and for others.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

March 2 Fast


"My most beloved Jesus, I embrace all the sufferings You have destined for me until death.  I beg You, by all you have suffered in carrying out Your cross to help me to carry mine with Your perfect peace and resignation." (Meditation on the 2nd Station of the Cross by St. Alphonsus Liguori)
Patience: the elusive yet most desirable virtue.  As with any virtue, it remains unattainable if it is only to be wistfully gazed at a height we do not really wish to mount.  The climb is too tedious and difficult, and we believe ourselves too entrenched in disabling habits.  Fr. John Hardon, in his work "The Catholic Family in the Modern World", clarified the struggle with this fruit of the Holy Spirit when he noted that the word patience comes from the Latin verb pati which means "to suffer". He goes on to say:
"It is impossible to practice patience unless you suffer."
Patience necessitates bearing faults quietly, not critically; yielding tranquilly to events outside one's control; and suffering inconveniences, bereft of bitterness.  Yet, above all, patience demands "the perfect peace and resignation" that comes with accepting our cross.  In the second Station of the Cross, we meditate on Our Savior's acceptance of the cup of suffering that He must drink for our salvation.  Acceptance must be done with loving trust, not accompanied by petulancy or fruitless anxiety. It must be an act of the will to say, "not my will but thine be done."  The cross may not lighten, but our load will be easier to carry when we relinquish the burdensome bitterness and angst that parasitically drained our strength to shoulder it.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

January 5 Fast


"The heart down- discouraged at the constant failure in good resolution; so soon disturbed by trifles; so little interior recollection and forgetfulness of His constant presence. The reproaches of disobedience to the little ones much more applicable to myself. So many Communions and confessions with so little fruit often suggest the idea of lessening them- to fly from the fountain while in danger of dying from thirst! But, in a moment, He lifts up the soul from the dust." (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)
Each January brings the fresh hope of a more determined resolve to begin anew one's interior conversion.  With a heart still light from the joy of Christmas and the reminder that his Redemption has been won, he strives to smooth the rough edges.  Alas, failure greets him all too soon, and he is quickly disheartened by the lack of marked improvement. 

Observing the flooded dike, whose holes are too numerous to count, it is tempting to tackle all weaknesses at once.  Yet, of course, this is impossible.  It is necessary to prayerfully discern the largest aperture; for often, the other fissures in the wall can follow their line back to the initial opening, and so by sealing the primary one, the secondary ones may more easily be mended as well.

When the lacking virtue is discovered, pray for it and practice it! As St. Francis de Sales advised, first detach from the comfort of the habitual sin; it is a disconcerting realization when one discovers that he is not so much attached to the sin, as the pleasure he derives from it. Then, one must go the Source of grace as often as possible in prayer and the Sacraments, and know that even when he does not notice growth in the targeted virtue, he is at least growing in the supreme virtue of humility by acknowledging his fault. If one truly desires to amend, surely Our Lord will grant his ardent prayer. 


Thursday, November 30, 2017

December 1st Fast


"Night was falling as they passed within the walls, but there was light enough to see that it was full, full to overflowing.  The better sort had long ago secured all that was to be had in the way of lodging. Poor people like themselves had little chance. Joseph searched diligently everywhere, but to no purpose.  Wherever he saw a door open he hastened towards it; he pointed to Mary and held out his hand with the few coins he had left. But all in vain; everywhere the same answer: 'No room.'
Up and down the streets they wandered that bitter night. No one would take her in. Joseph's tearful eyes looked up into her face. She was utterly worn out, but the smile on her lips told of a peace within that no trouble this world could disturb. What was he to do? It was no use trying anymore. He brushed his sleeve across his eyes and led the ass carefully down the hill again." (Jesus of Nazareth, Mother Mary Loyola)
It is easy to confuse our assumptions about God's will with His actual will for us when it involves an intrinsic good.  One has firm trust in Divine Providence but cannot help clinging to the permanent portrait of what he conceives that to be.  One's faith extends only halfway, for it trusts in God's Providence but not that His grace will be sufficient if His Plan does not align with his own. 

The search for lodging by St. Joseph reveals the Holy Family's model of resignation to God's will.  He knows he cannot provide a fitting place for the Holy Child to be born, and this he humbly accepts, but surely some small comforts, such as protection from the piercing cold, could be found for his beloved wife, and her Son?  Yet, he does not clamor all the more when his will is rejected with each innkeeper's rude slam of the door; instead, he, once more humbly accepts the divine will that God will provide but according to His plan.

In this technological world, the increased capability to control and know things easily threatens to weaken our trust in God's Divine Providence.  One either hesitates to commit because of numerous unknowable variables or is frustrated by unforeseen circumstances. The saints displayed heroic virtue because there is great valiance in accepting the unexpected will of God.  

Thursday, November 2, 2017

November 3rd Fast

"Jesus wants me to tell you again, how much love He has for each of you- beyond all you can imagine.  I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus- one on one- you and Jesus alone.  We may spend time in the chapel- but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks on you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus- not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace; He is longing to give it. . . . 
How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say "I love you"- impossible. . . Our soul needs that as much as the body needs air. . . Not only that He loves you, but even more- He longs for you. He misses you when you don't come close.  He thirsts for you. . . .My children, you don't have to be different for Jesus to love you. Only believe- You are precious to Him.  Bring all you are suffering to His feet- only open your heart to be loved by Him as you are. He will do the rest.  (St. Teresa of Kolkata)

In the parable of the Prodigal Son, one is always struck by the mercy of the father.  Yet more than his generous acts of forgiveness, the deep desire of the father for his son, revealed through the constant vigil he keeps, should gladden the hearts of all who hear.  Exhausted by the trials of life and consumed by endless tasks, one may easily forget the eager gaze of the Beloved, patiently waiting to be turned to.  One may suffer neglect, rejection, humiliation, or ingratitude by those he strives to please; his heart cries out in vain for human approbation and consolation but none does he receive.  It is then, that he must remember that there is One who sees, One who understands, One Who loves him so intimately that He is thirsting for him:
"He loves you always, even when you don't feel worthy. When not accepted by others- even by yourself sometimes- He is the one who always accepts you." (ibid)
Our Lord is not a stern judge who hands down arbitrary sentences for past transgressions; He is not a lofty personage, intimate with a chosen few, and distant from most.  No, Christ's love for us is ardent, and consuming: He loves us in loneliness, sorrow, frustration, rejection, confusion.  Too easily one can dismiss the ache in his heart for Him.  Awaken the dormant desire; spend time in front of the Sacrament of Love, pour forth your troubles, and receive the peace you seek.