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, 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.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

June 2nd Fast

"Give not over your attempts to serve God, though you see nothing come of them. Watch and pray, and obey your conscience, though you cannot perceive your own progress in holiness. Go on, and you cannot but go forward; believe it, though you do not see it. Do the duties of your calling, though they are distasteful to you. Educate your children carefully in the good way, though you cannot tell how far God's grace has touched their hearts. Let your life shine before men, and praise God by a consistent life, even though others do not seem to glorify their Father on account of it, or to be benefited by your example." (Blessed John Henry Newman)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

May 5 Fast


"But he said in reply to the one who told him, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said,"Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother." (Mt. 12:48-50)

Marriage is one of the vocations of service, and after Our Lord, no one models selfless servitude better than Our Blessed Mother. One can easily excuse himself from admiration for Mary because she cared for God, Himself, and so surely had no difficulties?    Of course Our Lady's life was filled with an abundance of blessings.  What a joy to shelter Christ inside of her for nine months!  What a privilege she enjoyed to nurse him, clothe him, feed him, speak to Him, and just adore and observe Him for thirty years! 

Yet, before Our Lady endured the sacrifice of Her Son on the cross, she first suffered their parting when He began His public ministry.  What pain her pure heart must have felt at their first separation!  She, who had so tenderly cared for all His needs now must share Him with the rest of the world.  Mary shows us that to have a true servant's heart we must be willing to serve in unexpected and uncomfortable ways.  She said, "Yes" to sharing her greatest joy with others.  She said ,"yes" to  being in the background and following at a distance.  She said, "yes" to allowing other women to minister to His needs.  After His Resurrection and Ascension, she said,"Yes" to now serving as Mother of His Apostles, guiding her Son's infant Church. Her Firstborn Son is Divine, but she has had to endure many heartaches with the imperfect sons and daughters that followed.

Our Blessed Mother knew Her Son's voice in all that was asked of her, and though one cannot hear it as distinctly as she, when he is called upon to serve in marriage and family life, he must know that it is the voice of His Savior asking Him to do this.  Many times it will go against our immediate desire, and sometimes it will require extraordinary effort, but He is always there with the supernatural grace to aid us in the daily grind.  We, too, can be models for others close to us if we serve with peaceful acceptance and gentleness.