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, March 28, 2013

Good Friday Fast

"There is no place beneath the Cross for the wordling, the slave of pleasure, or the votary of ambition.  The things of earth are not there.  All the earth is dark and created light has gone out.  Sensuality in its lowest claims would be a fearful mockery before the emaciated form, the dislocated limbs, the agonized features of the divine Sufferer.  And there no laurel of ambition awaits the wearied soul.  No earthly crown is won among the skulls and noisome sights of Golgotha.  He who would venture to come here and be enveloped in the shadow of this eclipse must have left behind, at least in heart and wish, the scenes of time with all that time can give.  The concupiscence of the flesh must die with the convulsions of that cause the rocks to tremble; the concupiscence of the eyes must be killed before the gaze of infinite love and infinite agony that crowns the awful sight; and in the caves of the guilty earth, where the precious blood runs down, the pride of life must sink for ever.  Who else would draw near the deep chilling shadows that utterly eclipse all created light and cause both flesh and heart to fear?  It is the nearness of God; it is more - it is the nearness of God in suffering, making bare His mighty arm and fighting for the world's redemption."
(The Watch on Calvary, Msgr. T.S. Preston, pp.14-15)
The Sign of the Cross is the essential symbol of our Faith: it is and must be everywhere not only as a sign of our salvation but as a continual reminder that we must stand ever before it.  If we stand before it, all earthly desires crumble beneath it.  Perhaps that is why so many run from it:
"For they reasoned unsoundly, saying to themselves, 'Short and sorrowful is our life, and there is no remedy when a man comes to his end. . . Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.  Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let no flower of spring pass by us.  Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before they wither.  Let none of us fail to share in revelry, everywhere let us leave signs of enjoyment, because this is our portion, and this our lot. . .  Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because He is inconvenient and opposes our actions. . .He became a reproof of our thoughts; the very sight of Him is a burden to us. . ." (Wis. 2:1, 6-9, 12, 14-15)
 How many decisions would be made differently if we stood by the Cross daily with Mary and St. John?  Pride, anger, lust, greed, gluttony, envy, and sloth cannot stand beneath the living image of our suffering and merciful Lord.  He sees us, nailed to the Cross on Calvary, when we choose to sin.  He allows Himself to be nailed because He is not there to reproach us with His wrath, to condemn us with His words; no, He looks sorrowfully and silently into our hearts, asking us to sin no more.  The sword pierces His Mother's heart as she too sees our deliberate offenses: her heart aches for Her Son, and for those we hurt.  Our Lord cries out in anguish for our soul and the souls of others who we wound so deeply by our obstinacy and pride.  Can we really continue to hurt Him if we think of Him always, hanging on the cross, pouring out His love for us?  Even if we continue to fail, let us never be tempted to runaway from Calvary.  Let us strive once more to love as He loves when we love our spouses, our children, our neighbors, our coworkers, and our enemies.  Lord Jesus Crucified, have mercy on us!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 22nd Fast


"A large crowd of people followed Jesus, including many women who mourned and lamented him. Jesus turned to them and said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep instead for yourselves and for your children. . ." (Luke 23: 27-28)
"Hearing Jesus reproach the women of Jerusalem who follow him and weep for him ought to make us reflect. How should we understand his words? Are they not directed at a piety which is purely sentimental, one which fails to lead to conversion and living faith? It is no use to lament the sufferings of this world if our life goes on as usual. And so the Lord warns us of the danger in which we find ourselves. He shows us both the seriousness of sin and the seriousness of judgement. Can it be that, despite all our expressions of consternation in the face of evil and innocent suffering, we are all too prepared to trivialize the mystery of evil? Have we accepted only the gentleness and love of God and Jesus, and quietly set aside the word of judgement? "How can God be so concerned with our weaknesses?", we say. "We are only human!" Yet as we contemplate the sufferings of the Son, we see more clearly the seriousness of sin, and how it needs to be fully atoned if it is to be overcome. Before the image of the suffering Lord, evil can no longer be trivialized. To us too, he says: "Do not weep for me, weep for yourselves... if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?"     (Blessed John Paul II, Meditation on the Eighth Station)
"Ecce Homo": Behold the Man, Pilate cries out before the bloodthirsty crowd on Good Friday. In the suffering Christ we encounter the ugliness of sin, the reality of evil:  ". . .there is no beauty in Him, nor comeliness: and we have seen Him, no sightliness that we should be desirous of Him. . ." (Is. 53:2) If we truly realized the ugliness of sin, would we not make every effort to make reparation for it?  Would we not, like Veronica seek to wipe the face of Jesus, if only with our poor sacrifices as a veil?  

It is easy to wring our hands over the state of society, to allow our minds to embrace anxiety rather than embrace the cross.  Pilate too was hesitant as to how to ameliorate a seemingly unsolvable situation, and so he washed His hands, despairing of a good solution and thereby ensuring a most sorrowful conclusion.  We must not give into despair or anxiety as we witness the crumbling of families, and foundational principles once held by all and now held by few.  We cannot weep for "our children", for the next generation, as a simple gesture of lament: a nostalgic exercise, wishing the next generation would not have to suffer, that they could live without fear as we did.  Instead, God calls us to action: "Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted" (Mt. 5:4).  God asks us to beg for His mercy, to atone for the sins that cause us to weep.  Not just to lament the offenses that sins cause, but to make reparation for them. 

Anxiety is driven by fear of suffering.  But, as Christians we must accept the fact that our way is the way of the Cross: "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. . . " (Jn 15: 20) How easy it is to be anxious, to play out various fears in our minds.  How much harder to persevere in prayer, to physically deny ourselves in order to atone for the evil that surrounds us, to sacrifice for our children so that they too may be given the perseverance to overcome temptation and to walk the way of the cross with courage.  
"When we walk without the Cross. . . and when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord." (Pope Francis)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March 15th Fast

A clear rejection of the law of God, engraved in our hearts, is in jeopardy. . .  Here, the envy of the Devil, through which sin entered the world, is also present, and deceitfully intends to destroy the image of God: man and woman, who receive the mandate to grow, multiply, and conquer the earth. 
 Let us not be naive: it is not a simple political struggle; it is an intention [which is] destructive of the plan of God. It is not a mere legislative project (this is a mere instrument), but rather a "move" of the father of lies who wishes to confuse and deceive the children of God. 
Jesus tells us that, in order to defend us from this lying accuser, he will send us the Spirit of Truth. Today, the Nation [patria], before this situation, needs the special assistance of the Holy Ghost that may place the light of Truth amid the shadows of error. . .That is why I turn to you and ask from you prayer and sacrifice, the two invincible weapons which Saint Thérèse confessed to have. " 
(Letter of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio to the Carmelite Nuns of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, June 22, 2010)

Nothing more profoundly reflects the image of God than the unity of man and woman in holy matrimony; subsequently, nothing mirrors the love of the triune God so well as the family.  It is precisely the reason that the devil is intent on its destruction.  A marriage faithfully and fruitfully lived not only leads the spouses but those around them closer to God, and is meant to cultivate worship of Him whose image it reflects.  When this sacramental and natural union is attacked, the image is obscured and distorted.  It no longer bears the reflection of the light of Truth, but instead projects the dark abyss of evil.  Man is not moved to worship the all-loving triune God, instead he worships the distortions the devil offers: lust, power, avarice, envy.

As our Holy Father, Pope Francis (then Cardinal Bergoglio), wrote, our most powerful weapons against these attacks are those which the devil cannot defeat: prayer and sacrifice. As St. Francis deSales said, "although we may be able to do but little, the enemy nevertheless stands more in awe of those whom he knows can fast".

Marriage is not simply important for the stability of society; it is vital to the health of the Body of Christ, essential to the evangelization and salvation of souls.  If we believe in its supernatural importance, then surely the devil must know he must eradicate it in order to catch more souls in his snares.

Let us pray for perseverance in prayer, and fortitude in fasting.  No evil design is overcome without these.    Do not let him deceive us into thinking these "invincible weapons" are useless.  God shows His might through the weak and so will use us if we are humble enough to allow Him.  In times of trial, let us especially remember our recourse to the most humble, and yet most powerful of intercessors, our Blessed Mother:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

March 8th Fast

"Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.Weaving a crown out of thorns,  they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"They spat upon him  and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.  And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him."  (Matthew 27: 27-31)
 The Crowning of Thorns: a Passion passage that is familiar to all Christians, but perhaps too familiar.  If and when we do meditate on it do we think to ourselves, "How ignorant the Roman soldiers were to think they were mocking the true of King of Kings?"  Or do we wonder, "why didn't Christ command legions of angels to silence the pompous pagans?"  Or do we delve deeper into this extraordinary scene of humility and ask if we are seeking to imitate it in our own lives?  Do we realize that Christ suffered this specific torture for our sins of pride?  

What is being a Christian if not one who declares he is a follower, and therefore imitator of Christ?  And if we are to imitate Him, we must first know him through Scripture and prayer.  In his classic work, Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales said:
"Prayer opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love--nothing can so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the will from its perverse affections. . .  But especially I commend earnest mental prayer to you, more particularly such as bears upon the Life and Passion of our Lord.
One may think he does not know how to meditate, but then he realizes that he is constantly meditating on his accomplishments, his anxieties, his frustrations, the faults of others, on the difficulty of his situation in life, etc.  His pride (and laziness) prevents him from meditating on anything other than himself, and all things related to him.  But as St. Francis de Sales said:
"If you contemplate [Christ] frequently in meditation, your whole soul will be filled with Him, you will grow in His Likeness, and your actions will be moulded on His."
 The greatest of sins is pride, and so the greatest of virtues is humility.  If pride be the poison then humility be the antidote.  Yet to grow in humility, one must, like Our Lord, (willingly) undergo humiliations.  Erosion of the ego is the only way to become a truly humble soul.  To be satisfied that only God knows we are doing His will is a worthy and necessary goal.  St. Josemaria Escriva said,"To truly love another is do something without expecting to be thanked."  Not only did Christ do the will of His heavenly Father without expecting gratitude in return, but also by accepting derision in its place.  Too often, we hear that people seek affirmation they need outside the home, outside their vocation.  But why do we search for affirmation beyond the peace that comes from doing God's will? 
 "It is better to be rebuked by a wise man, than to be deceived by the flattery of fools." (Eccl. 7:6)
We must be like our heavenly Father so that those we love never seek that fortifying love outside our families:
 "The Lord is sweet to all; and his tender mercies are over all His works. . . The Lord lifteth up all that fall and setteth up all that are cast down." (Ps. 144:9, 14)
But we also must be like His only Son, Our Lord and His beloved Mother, by saying yes to God's will each day, whether other's are aware or not.  Let us spend time with Our Lord and Our Lady in our thoughts, let us turn to them in our need, and so let us walk with them on the way to Calvary, crucifying our pride to the cross, and embracing the humble yet privileged vocation of a true Christian.