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.

Friday, May 31, 2013

May 31st Fast

"Mary, in the delicacy of her charity, has such a profound sense of the needs of others, that as soon as she hears of them, she acts spontaneously and decisively to bring help.  Having learned from the Angel Gabriel that her cousin was about to become a mother, she goes immediately to offer her humble services.  If we consider the difficulty of traveling in those days, when the poor, such as Mary, had to go on foot over difficult roads, or at best, by means of some rude conveyance, and also the fact that Mary remained three months with Elizabeth, we can readily understand that she had to face many hardships in performing this act of charity.  However, she was in no way disturbed; charity urged her, making her wholly forgetful of herself, for as St. Paul says, " Charity seeketh not her own" (1 Cor 13:5). . . Charity makes Mary forget not only her hardships but also her own dignity, which was greater than that given to any other creature.  Elizabeth is advanced in years, but Mary is the Mother of God; Elizabeth is about to give birth to a man, but Mary will give birth to the Son of God.  Nevertheless, before her cousin as before the Angel, Mary continues to look upon herself as the humble handmaid of the Lord, and nothing more.  Precisely because she considers herself a handmaid, she comports herself as such. . .Mary's dignity approaches the infinite, yet she considers herself and behaves as if she were the least of all creatures."
(Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, O.C.D)

Mary is our model and our mother. She teaches us how to live holy Christian lives, but is also our recourse when we falter in the pursuit of virtue.  Immediately after the Angel Gabriel took leave of her, Scripture says Mary "arose and with haste to the hill country of Judea".  Mary did not wait to be asked, she did not wait for a convenient time, but went with all sense of urgency to where there was a great need of her.  The Blessed Mother practices charity in the midst of difficulties that often prevent us from doing the same.

Mary is the seat of wisdom, but is not Wisdom itself and was unaware of what the future held.  She was just told that she would be the Mother of the Redeemer, but was given no further instructions beyond that: how was she to tell Joseph, how was she to raise this child, what would her role be, etc.  But Mary does not give in to thoughts of anxiety.  We may have been paralyzed by fear, and so refused to think of any other besides ourself at that moment; yet, Mary does not yield to these temptations, she does not focus on her own need but that of another.

It also does well for us to remember that Mary stayed with Elizabeth during the first three months of her pregnancy; the most difficult of the months.  Mary does not indulge her own physical needs, but instead attends to those of one in greater need: Elizabeth who most likely had a difficult time carrying and bearing a child being advanced in age.  Opportunities for charity never present themselves at convenient times, occasions for love do not wait for when we are well rested, well prepared.  Even though many of the saints lived very poor lives, they always gladly shared what little they had with someone even poorer than themselves.  In the same way, there is always someone in greater need than we are; we may be tired and worn out but perhaps our spouse is even more so.  Our cross may be great, but perhaps our neighbor has an even greater one.  True charity, true love is selfless not self-seeking, it seeks to give without gain.  It is not done to serve our ego, but to serve another.  Let us look to Mary, and ask her to help us practice true charity with great humility.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

May 24th Fast

"Finally, God in these times wishes His Blessed Mother to more known, loved,, and honored than she has ever been. . . They [the elect] will perceive the splendors of this Queen and will consecrate themselves entirely to her service as subjects and slaves of love. They will experience her motherly kindness and affection for her children.  They will love her tenderly and will appreciate how full of compassion she is and how much they stand in need of her help. . . But what will they be like, these servants, these slaves, these children of Mary? . . . They will carry the gold of love in their heart, the frankincense of prayer in their mind and the myrrh of mortification in their body. . . Lastly, they will be true disciples of Jesus Christ, imitating His poverty, His humility, His contempt of the world and His love. . . . They will carry the crucifix in their right hand and the rosary in their left, and the holy names of Jesus and Mary on their heart. . . Such are the great men to come." 
( True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, St. Louis de Montfort, no. 55-56, 59)
To have joy in our vocations and peace in our families, we must learn to love as Christ loves.  We must seek a way to His Most Sacred Heart, there to abide forever.  Who knows Him better than the one who felt His heart beat along with hers for nine months?  She, who carried Him in her most blessed womb, knows Him more intimately than any being ever could.  Mary is the perfect model for family life: she is the Queen of Peace, yet also the Mother of Sorrows.  She understands our difficulties, has experienced our joys and suffered our sadness.  Just as a little child clings to his mother so must we cling to our Mother, Mary most Holy.  She will guide us, she will comfort us, she will show us the path to Her Divine Son.

Are we seeking to grow in virtue?  There is no example better than Mary to show us the way.  St. Louis de Montfort lists her ten principal virtues: profound humility, lively faith, blind obedience, unceasing prayer, constant self-denial, surpassing purity, ardent love, heroic patience, angelic sweetness, and heavenly wisdom.  Cannot all these to be practiced daily as we strive for holiness in our vocation, as we strive for peace in our home?  

As He offered His life for us on the cross, Christ also offered us the gift of His Beloved Mother.  She is ours, and we must be hers.  To spend time with her is to spend time with Him.  She loves us most tenderly, and, as any mother, desires only our happiness.  Go to her in times of rejoicing for she has been at Bethlehem. Go to her in times of sorrow for she has been at Calvary.  Go to her during the daily struggles of work and family life for she has lived at the home in Nazareth.  After Christ ascended into heaven, we can imagine the apostles going to Mary for guidance and comfort during the early days of the Church.  Should we not also go to her as we seek to build up our own domestic church?

In any vocation, we are called to be servants, and who better to show us than she who was the "handmaid of the Lord".  She, who was the first servant of the Master, will gladly help us to serve Him through serving others.  May Mary always cover you with her mantle and keep you close to her Immaculate Heart!

Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17th Fast

"By wisdom a house is built,
 and by understanding it is established
by knowledge the rooms are filled
with all precious and pleasant riches."
(Proverbs 24:3-4)
To discover our vocation we first seek and pray for the wisdom of God to enlighten us.  With this and His grace we are led to our calling in life.  Yet, after we discover it, after we say yes, it is still not certain that we will persevere and thrive in the life chosen for us.  In the marital or religious vocation, understanding is required to "establish" our life, to secure it firmly.  In Sirach, it says "a man of understanding will not grumble." (Sir. 10:25)  A patient and humble person will desire understanding  in all situations; he will seek to comprehend rather than to complain.  Do we desire to understand life's duties and crosses or do we grumble about them instead?

To be established in our house, is to be at peace in our vocation, to accept the responsibilities that come with it.  If we wish to firmly root the house God's wisdom has built for us, we must desire to understand God's providential designs.  In His wisdom, He placed us on the path to salvation, in our understanding we can discover the means He has given us to bring this loving plan to completion.  And what are the primary means?  The family: our spouse and our children have been generously given to us to lead us to eternal beatitude.  Many may say that they are already aware of these gifts, this means of sanctity.  Unfortunately, we can think of them as only a means, only a part, and never truly come to know who they are as persons, as beautifully created souls.  We look at our vocation in a vacuum of burdensome duties, thinking of endless obligations that tie us down to earth.  Rather, we should reflect on the love that binds us to our relations, and lifts us eternally to heaven.

In order to love our spouse and children, in order to fill the rooms of our vocation "with all precious and pleasant riches", we must have knowledge of them.  In Scripture, marital relations are described by a man "knowing" his wife.  Intimacy is equated with knowledge.  We can not truly love our spouse, or our children, without knowing who they have been created to be.  If we pray and desire to know them, we will see that these rooms are filled with bountiful treasure, joys will overflow abundantly as God reveals His wondrous designs in the people He has surrounded us by.

Let us constantly pray to understand the life God has given us. And pray, too, to know our spouse, our children, our family so as to fully love them and enjoy the riches God has prepared for us.   

Thursday, May 9, 2013

May 10th Fast


"Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times, especially when you make some sacrifice: O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary." (Words of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, July 13, 1917)
 When we look upon our crosses do we know that they are not only a means for our salvation, but others' salvation as well?  It is easy to offer sacrifices for those we love, but  we must remember to sacrifice for others who also need the graces gained from our offerings of suffering.  There are so many who do not know how to pray for themselves, and do not know that they even need prayers.  Many live in a state of confusion, in a realm of virtual reality: they believe that a life of sin is reality, when we know that the life of grace is the only reality.  We must call for God's mercy upon sinners (not excluding ourselves), for God to shed His light upon their crooked paths.  This is a great work of charity, to pray not just for ourselves and our loved ones, but to also pray and suffer for those we do not know.  In this way we imitate our Lord in His Passion as He suffered for those whom He knew but who did not know Him.

We should not just desire for our marriage, our vocation to succeed, but for all vocations to succeed.  For all peoples to be faithful in their state of life.  Peace will come to the world when peace comes to all families.  So many offenses are committed, so much repair must be done to the wounds inflicted on the Body of Christ.  We recall the intense suffering of Our Lord in the Garden when He thought of the egregious sins which would be committed against His loving heart: 
And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. . . . He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground. (Lk 22: 43-44) 
St. Theresa of Avila advised her readers to meditate on the Agony during an examination of conscience each night.  We would do well to follow this advice as often as we can to encourage us to make sacrifices for our sins, and the conversion of sinners.  The perversion of love has birthed many offenses.  There are men and women, and little innocent children who suffer from the destruction of marriage, from the perversion of God's Holy plan for sexuality.

We must heed Our Lady's pleadings, and sacrifice in reparation for these sins, and the conversion of sinners.  We can bring comfort to our Lord and His Sorrowful Mother by our small offerings.  We show our devotion to our vocation, to our spouses and children by our sacrifices.  Is it too much to ask that we sacrifice a small thing in order to preserve the innocence of our children, the integrity of our spouse?  Could we not also sacrifice for the integrity of all marriages?  For the preservation of innocence for all children?   Let us sacrifice for our vocations, for our families, but also for those that are broken, so that more souls may be saved, and peace may come to all.
"Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them." (Words of the Blessed Mother at Fatima, August, 1917)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

May 3rd Fast

You formed my inmost being; 
you knit me in my mother's womb.
I praise you for I am wonderfully made; 
wonderful are your works! 
My very self you know. 
My bones are not hidden from you, 
When I was being made in secret, 
fashioned in the depths of the earth. 
Your eyes saw me unformed; 
in your book all are written down; 
my days were shaped, before one came to be."
(Psalm 139: 13-16) 

We did not happen upon this earth nor did any other person in our lives. God knew us and formed us in our mother's womb.  He created us for a specific purpose, intended us for a specific vocation, and gave us the desire to save our souls.  His merciful love was with us from the beginning, when out of His mercy he decided to give us life so that we could experience the unutterable joys of heaven.  He calls us to be saints, not necessarily raised to the heights of the altars, but certainly raised to the heights of heaven.  He calls us to be missionaries, not necessarily to far off lands, but certainly to our family and those we meet.

Our way of evangelizing may not be what we anticipated, but there will be peace in our souls because it is God's way.  And God's way, is the way of the cross.  It is love through suffering, love through sacrifice.  And is this not the way of marital life, of family life, of religious life?  Every vocation is a call to love, which necessarily involves a call to sacrifice.  But it is not just sacrificing material possessions; no, God call us to a greater love than that. It is a call to sacrifice our wants, our needs, and even our fears, so as to place our complete trust in God.  It is a complete abandonment to Divine Providence in all things.  

We must remember that God's instrument of evangelization and mercy are the same: the cross.   Christ suffered to open the joys of heaven, and in doing so invited all men to experience them: "When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself." (Jn 12:32)  When God asks us to sacrifice, when He allows us (or those we love) to suffer, He is asking us to trust in His merciful love.  He, who formed us, who knows us, has a greater plan than we can fathom, and knows that this cross (if we accept it willingly) will bring us closer to the joys of eternal salvation.  And through our acceptance of the cross, through our sacrificial love, we can bring other souls to those joys as well.