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, June 27, 2013

June 28th Fast

"I'll tell you a secret, an open secret: these world crises are crises of saints.  God wants a handful of men "of his own" in every human activity.  Then. . . "pax Christi in regno Christi" - "the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ."  (St. JosemarĂ­a Escrivá, The WayNo. 301)
We live in difficult times but this does not mitigate our call to be saints.  What will we say to God when we are judged?  "It was too hard to prayerful, I lived in a time of numerous distractions." "It was too hard to be faithful, I lived in a time of numerous temptations." "It was too hard to raise my children, I lived in a time when there where suffocating evil influences." It is easy to give in to despair in these days of trial, but to despair would be to excuse oneself of further action, of increased effort.  When Christ ascended into heaven, the world was not a Christian one; far from it.  He left a very small band of followers to do His will and spread His Gospel.  Followers who preached despite the overwhelming influence of pagans, followers who soldiered on despite the apostates that fell away.

The surest path to heaven is the one the Apostles lived and preached: taking up our cross daily.  Recently, the Holy Father reminded Christians, that for most, they will not be called to a bloody martyrdom:
"However, there is also daily martyrdom, which may not entail death but is still a “loss of life” for Christ, by doing one’s duty with love, according to the logic of Jesus, the logic of gift, of sacrifice."
As the world around us spirals into confusion and chaos, we need to continue to lead lives worthy of the name Christian.  By doing this, we sanctify ourselves and those nearest to us.  Some of the saints were blessed with intellect, others with great strength, others with mystical and miraculous powers, and still others with incredible oratorical skill.   Yet all armed themselves with two powerful weapons: prayer and penance.

To be a saint is to live an ordinary life in an extraordinary way.  As with our Lord, we must live a life of contradiction.  There has never been an easy time to be a saint. Human weakness will prevail if we allow it, fear and sloth will reside habitually if we do not squelch them, love will die quickly if we do not stoke its fire with the kindling of sacrifice.

Fulton Sheen once said that when a child is born a crown is fashioned for him in heaven.  God does not just hope that we become saints, the angels have made crowns for us because He, and all of heaven, expect us to become saints.  Are we to let all our heavenly friends down by failing to fulfill our calling as Christians?  Are we to let our spouses, our families down by failing to love them with a holy and unselfish love?  This age is not a time for sinners and sloth; it is a time for saints and sacrifice.

There is no better school for saints and sacrificial love than the family.  Its very nature lends itself to learning the way of the cross.  By our prayers and patient witness let us teach our children and others to love the Cross and to love the One who died upon it for us.  As John Paul II said," Do not be satisfied with mediocrity." 

Friday, June 21, 2013

June 21st Fast

". . . St. Thomas maintains: "Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers." To recoil before an enemy, or to keep silence when from all sides such clamors are raised against truth, is the part of a man either devoid of character or who entertains doubt as to the truth of what he professes to believe. In both cases such mode of behaving is base and is insulting to God, and both are incompatible with the salvation of mankind. This kind of conduct is profitable only to the enemies of the faith, for nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good. Moreover, want of vigor on the part of Christians is so much the more blameworthy, as not seldom little would be needed on their part to bring to naught false charges and refute erroneous opinions, and by always exerting themselves more strenuously they might reckon upon being successful. After all, no one can be prevented from putting forth that strength of soul which is the characteristic of true Christians, and very frequently by such display of courage our enemies lose heart and their designs are thwarted. Christians are, moreover, born for combat. . . " 
(Pope Leo XIII, Sapientiae Christianae, "On Christians as Citizens", No.14, 1890)
In the old rite of the Sacrament of Confirmation, Catholic candidates were given a gentle tap on the cheek to remind them that they would endure sufferings for Christ as one of his soldiers.  Today begins the Fortnight for Freedom, an initiative started by the US Bishops to bring awareness to the threats to religious liberty in our country.  But why should we care about our country?  What prompts us to be concerned about the welfare of our nation?  It is the same commandment that requires us to care for others: Love thy neighbor.  Soldiers do not fight to preserve their life, or just the life of the men in their company; rather, they lay down their lives for the preservation of their country, for its freedom and its ideals.  Just as bullets or planes or tanks do not win a physical war, so too, words and speeches cannot win this spiritual battle.  In any war, noble action and great sacrifice are required to defeat the enemy.

Yes, our own salvation is paramount, but our own comfort is not.  A soldier goes to the trench to replenish his supplies, and wait patiently for the moment to strike; but he does not stay there forever, he must eventually face the enemy.  So too, we must fortify ourselves with the grace of the sacraments, and the consolation of family and friends; but eventually, we must stand up boldly, being unafraid to proclaim the truth. We must always act with charity and humility.  Charity incites us to sacrifice for others' salvation, and speak to them with gently but firmly.  Humility protects us from the pride that hinders us from sharing this Truth with others, thinking them unworthy or unlikely to accept it.  We have been given the great gift of faith, now it is incumbent upon us to defend it and spread it.  Christ commanded the apostles to "Go out into the whole word and spread the Good News"; He did not say "Go back into the upper room and wait until I come to get you".

In July of 1794, the whole of France was in the grips of the Reign of Terror.  Arrests were made without even the pretense of justice, and daily slaughter was routine at the guillotine.  Then on July 17, after previously making a vow of martyrdom to end the terror and save their country, sixteen Carmelite nuns died under the blade of the guillotine.  The Terror ended just eleven days later.  In offering their lives, these women saved the souls and lives of many of their fellow countrymen.  To despair of the state of our country would be to willingly surrender to the enemy, and prevent us from any sacrificial actions, thinking them fruitless.  Instead, let us continue to focus our energies on saving our families, and other families, in order to build back up the beautiful country God has so graciously given us.  As Pope Leo XIII, in the previously cited encyclical, said:
"The family may be regarded as the cradle of civil society, and it is in great measure within the circle of family life that the destiny of the States is fostered. . . If in their early years they find within the walls of their homes the rule of an upright life and the discipline of Christian virtues, the future welfare of society will in great measure be guaranteed." (No. 42)

Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14th Fast

"The first condition of harmony between husband and wife and of consequent domestic peace is a constant good will on both sides. . . Thus you will learn the sweetness of harmony between husband and wife. 'With three things,' says the Holy Book, 'my spirit is pleased, which are approved before God and men: the concord of brethren, the love of neighbors, and man and wife that agree well together' (Eccl. 25:1-2) Surely, dear newlyweds, with every means at your disposal you will protect this precious harmony against the perils of internal and external dissension - two perils above all: suspicions too quickly aroused and resentments too slowly allayed."  (Pope Pius XII Address to Newlyweds, November 22, 1939)
 The Father of Lies is also the sower of disorder.  God, our Father, created an ordered world, one where harmony reigned and unity of purpose pervaded.  The devil introduced discord and confusion, and he seeks to do this in the souls of men, in the place where God continues His creative actions: the domestic church.  Just as the marital embrace must be a unitive act with nothing to impede its natural harmony so must the daily lives of a couple be as one with no resentful thoughts or selfish acts that place obstacles in the way of harmony.  Their goals should be unitive and not separate; their salvation was forever linked on their wedding day, and every day after that they must draw closer together to attain it as one.

What does it mean to approach each situation, each disagreement with a "constant good will"? It means to desire to preserve peace rather than to preserve pride.  One must not just have good intention, but good will, a determination to do good for the other.  Be decisive in your love, be decisive in your growth of virtue.  Do not say, "I wish I was more patient, more generous, etc."  No, we must renounce our selfish spirit and ask Christ for His selfless spirit.

We must not yield to the disruptions of the devil, who actively seeks to upset harmonious living.  It is he who sows the seeds of discord and distrust in our hearts.  He plays upon our fatigue and whispers to us to be resentful of our duties, and suspicious of others' motives.  The devil is devious and deceptively tempts us in spiritual terms so we are unaware his subtle snares.  We come to think that only we are working for our salvation, only we have the family's interest at heart, only we suffer, only we sacrifice. A spouse may unknowingly begin to separate from the other because of the pervasive pride of his heart.  He sets himself up in a superior position, and his self-righteousness impedes unity.

A spouse must trust that the other has the same goals for the marriage and family: eternal salvation.  One must thrust away petty suspicions and turn aside cynical assumptions, and cloak himself with confidence and trust.  A couple must communicate with one another in a confident manner, confident that there is unity of purpose.   And then, there must be patience and perseverance to reach understandings to achieve this.  Trust builds upon trust and peace cannot be obtained without it.  

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Friday Fast: Feast of the Sacred Heart

"Behold the Heart which has so loved men that it has spared nothing, even to exhausting and consuming Itself, in order to testify Its love; and in return, I receive from the greater part only ingratitude, by their irreverence and sacrilege, and by the coldness and contempt they have for Me in this Sacrament of Love. But what I feel most keenly is that it is hearts which are consecrated to Me, that treat Me thus. Therefore, I ask of you that the Friday after the Octave of Corpus Christi be set apart for a special Feast to honor My Heart, by communicating on that day, and making reparation to It by a solemn act, in order to make amends for the indignities which It has received during the time It has been exposed on the altars. I promise you that My Heart shall expand Itself to shed in abundance the influence of Its Divine Love upon those who shall thus honor It, and cause It to be honored." (Our Lord's Words to St. Margaret Mary, June 16, 1675)
Fulton Sheen once said that when Christ was pierced on the cross, it was the world's first open heart surgery.  In that moment, Christ's life-giving love literally flowed out from His side; His Sacred Heart was open for all to see and adore.  Many people in modern times are deists, those who believe God is a far-off deity who does not involve Himself in the affairs of men. This is a convenient belief which has an underlying denial that God became man to redeem us. Because when we acknowledge that the Word became flesh, when we accept Christ's human nature, we also must accept that in His humanity He can feel, He can love, but He can also be wounded.  In taking on our humanity, He was not fearful of the consequence of giving us His Sacred Heart.  He opened Himself to be despised and ignored, but also to be loved and adored.  

It is similar in marriage, and family life.  On his wedding day, one gives his heart freely and willingly to another, knowing it could be cherished or neglected.  And then, with each child, a parent gives his heart again not knowing whether it will be loved or wounded.  A child, in turn, gives his heart to his parents, trusting that they will safeguard and treasure it.  Christ gives His love freely without boundaries in an unconditional surrender.  Spouses, in turn, must withhold nothing in giving their heart, their love to one another.  A half cannot receive a whole, and in the same way, when one spouse withholds a part for fear of being hurt, he can never fully receive and be united to the other.

Families can learn much through devotion to the Sacred Heart, for from His Heart comes inspiration and consolation.  Blessed John Paul II said:
Always keep your eyes on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, King and Center of all hearts. From him you will learn the great lesson of love, goodness, of sacrifice, of piety, so necessary for every Christian family. From him you will obtain strength, serenity, authentic and profound happiness for your married life! You will draw down his blessing, if the image of his Heart -- besides being impressed on your mind -- is always exposed and honored on the wall of your home! (Blessed John Paul II)
Christ first loved in a family, He received love and returned it.  Our Lord teaches us how to love freely, generously, and selflessly.  His is a merciful love, His a forgiving Heart.  Jesus also consoles us in our sorrows; we know He has felt our pain, He has experienced our sufferings. What better way for families to learn to love than to turn to the Heart that eternally burns with love?  As Blessed John Paul II encouraged the faithful:
In this month of June, consecrated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it is natural and a pleasure for me to exhort you to recall to your minds your hope and your prayer to the Heart "which has loved men so much" and which continues to love us with his twofold love, divine and human, especially those who are more troubled, tearful and suffering. From the Heart of Christ, "full of goodness and love", you can obtain strength and comfort in your sufferings, peace in your heart and merit in all your pains!

Twelve Promises of Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
 for those who practice this devotion
(with receiving Holy Communion on Nine successive First Fridays)

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.
For more information about devotion to the Sacred Heart and Enthronement of the Home go to