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, November 2, 2017

November 3 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.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

October 6 Fast


"Oh, let us love our vocation and strive to persevere in it! Then everything will be all right with us." (Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos)

The call of each vocation is the summons to service, and so to love one's vocation, one must learn to love service.  Long after being swept away by the romantic ideals of a specific vocation, one must resolutely embrace the realties that he encounters each day.  He must allow God to work on his heart so that whereas he formerly took pleasure in receiving the approbation and attentions of others, he now places pride aside and happily humbles himself to fulfill the needs of those dearest to him.  His felicity no longer depends upon his own wants being met, but only in the privilege of serving others, even in the most mundane or unseemly tasks. 

Too often one can hear in a home the familiar phrase-"I am not your servant!" Yet, that is just what we are meant to be.  Our Lord not only became a servant but a slave:
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but [also] everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:3-8)
 We can never be truly happy until we discover the contentment that is treasure of a devoted servant.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

September 1 Fast


"Ours is the spirit of the Eucharist- the total gift of self."
(St. Katharine Drexel)
In the Sacrament of Divine Love, Our Lord provides a daily reminder of the self-emptying love of the Cross: "This is my body which will be given up for you."  Christ not only desires men to partake of the heavenly banquet He so generously offers daily at Holy Mass but also summons His disciples to discover the truth about love contained in the sacrifice of the altar: the total gift of self.

The Eucharist is not a saccharine symbol but is the actual flesh and blood of Christ Himself.  So, too, the gift of self cannot be some charming notion bereft of tangible realities.  The great commandment that Christ gave at the Last Supper-"To love one another as I have loved you"- demands not just spiritual assent but bodily as well.  We are called to give our bodies in every act of sacrifice.  

One gives his tired eyes, staring at the screen to make a deadline, to keep his job and provide for his family.  Another gives his ears to patiently listen to the endless questions of a curious toddler. Perhaps another gives her tongue to converse though she wishes to be silent, or to be silent when she wishes to criticize or complain.  Still another gives her hands to clean and keep a welcoming home.  Or it could be that one gives his smile, relinquishing his preference in trivial matters.

The complete and total surrender of our will is the invitation that Our Lord asks of us. Sacrifices will often go unnoticed, deeds will rarely be praised; one must be content to remain hidden as He does in the Sacrament of Love.  

Thursday, August 3, 2017

August 4 Fast

"On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful.  Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for, whatever we do, the cross holds us tight- we cannot escape from it. What then have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to get to heaven?" (St. John Vianney)
One of the consequences that resulted from the Fall was the introduction of fear into the filial relationship between God and man.  Sin ruptured the bond and uncertainty replaced confidence in God's divine providence.  Anxiety is like a stubborn weed that chokes a serene soul and banishes peace from a tranquil heart.  It is such an attractive activity, especially for the restless, because it occupies the mind with ceaseless distractions from the silence of needed prayer.  Anxiety indulges one's selfish tendencies by its narrow focus on how an impending situation will cause that individual to  suffer.  To worry is an easy task because it excites one's imagination, offering innumerable scenarios to be played out, and always that self-pitying that assuages the ego.

However, St. John Vianney said:

" God commands you to pray, He forbids you to worry."
 Rather than endure the emotional exhaustion of worrying, one need only to accept his cross and constantly pray for the perseverance to carry it with love.  Worry eminates from a lack of trust in God, and a lack of confidence in our own gifts to shoulder a particular burden.

One forgets too often that, through Baptism, he has become an adopted child of God.  Our God is not a distant being, indifferent to our fate.  No, He is a father, deeply invested in our lives, deeply desirous for our good, ever so willing to send His graces when we ask for them in prayer.  Crosses will surely come, for we cannot attain heaven without them, but He wants us not to fear the pain and sorrow that accompany them but instead have confidence in the hope of heaven that they promise when endured willingly.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

July 7 Fast


"The greatest grace that a man can have under Heaven is to know how to live well with those among whom he dwells." (Brother Giles, companion to St. Francis)
In her book describing cloistered life, Mother Mary Francis recounted a story about a group of local women who were conjecturing as to the austere penances of their newest neighbors, a monastery of Poor Clare nuns, when one of their group interjected with an astute observation:
"Penances, nothing! If they didn't do anything but stay cooped up in there all their lives, that would be enough."
Certainly, all those subject to communal living can attest to the veracity of this poignant remark.  Man was not created to be a solitary being, and is meant to exist with and for others.  Both monastic and domestic life pose this challenge: to abide with others peacefully.  It requires setting aside personal preferences, relinquishing control, and being content to yield in inconsequential matters so that harmony may reign.  This demands great patience, self-denial, and an abundance of mercy, for peace cannot dwell in an abode where forgiveness is not easily attained.

It does not suffice to simply tolerate another's faults, but all the while allowing the roots of resentment to run deep, eventually producing the bitter fruits of cynicism and judgment.  Rather, it is imperative to love the other in his weakness, being mindful of our own need to grow in the lacking virtue.  St. Teresa of Avila said,"Nothing ever shocks me."

 "The true proof of charity is never to be shocked but only to redouble our efforts to practice the virtue opposed to the fault we have seen." (A Right to Be Merry)
Yet these efforts must not be performed in an ostentatious manner; one must shed the self-soothing habit of seeking moments to subtly broadcast the endless litany of sacrificing deeds he has hitherto compiled.  One who truly loves the other will be determined to hide, not highlight, the other's faults, especially in front of others.  He will strive for the heroic virtue that characterized the saints- silent sanctity.