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, February 28, 2014

Fenruary 28th Fast


“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shalt not kill’ ... But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be liable to council” (v. 21-22). In this way, Jesus reminds us that words can kill! When we say that a person has the tongue of a snake, what does that mean? That their words kill! Not only is it wrong to take the life of another, but it is also wrong to bestow the poison of anger upon him, strike him with slander, and speak ill of him. 
This brings us to gossip: gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person! It is so terrible to gossip! At first it may seem like a nice thing, even amusing, like enjoying a candy. But in the end, it fills the heart with bitterness, and even poisons us. What I am telling you is true, I am convinced that if each one of us decided to avoid gossiping, we would eventually become holy! What a beautiful path that is! Do we want to become holy? Yes or no? Do we want to be attached to the habit of gossip? Yes or no? So we agree then: no gossiping! Jesus offers the perfection of love to those who follow him: love is the only measure that has no measure, to move past judgements." 
(Pope Francis, Sunday Angelus Message, February 16, 2014)
 In times gone by, duels and feuds often settled disputes between factions and families.  Now, we no longer slay with the sword, but with the tongue.  Gossip is used in various ways: sometimes to avenge, other times to prop up one's pride, still other times it can be used as jocular banter, and frequently it is used as filler rather than accepting an awkward silence in conversation.  Advancement in technology has widened the "broad way".  Constant communication demands constant vigilance.  Voyeurism which is an inverted form of gossip can lead to either passing judgment or making unhealthy comparisons, which may cast doubt and anxiety in fragile or even healthy relationships. 

The constant judgment of others so permeates our thoughts and words, that we often do not recognize its presence.  We may temper it for a time, but still keep the poison in the medicine cabinet to be taken out in times of laziness, anger or pride.

Why the persistent need to analyze another's motives?  Why the curious and idle desire to spend time talking, thinking or reading about others?  The devil well knows the strong resistance to industry or discipline, meekness, and humility- antidotes to the weaknesses that prompt gossip.  He perverts our perspective on gossip, making us believe it can relieve our stress, lighten our hearts, or give us confidence in the way we are living.  He particularly preys on us when we are striving to live a righteous life, but our just cause does not give license to uncharitable thoughts, or unmerciful comments.

If others were privy to our conversations, or time on the Internet, would they be shocked to learn we were Christian?  If they could see into our hearts when we pass judgment on our spouse, would they surprised that we made a solemn vow to honor them?  Would they see our self-rightesouness or our self-reflection?  But wait.  There is One who does see.  And as the Pope says, He offers us His remedies of silence and charity:
"Jesus offers the perfection of love to those who follow him: love is the only measure that has no measure, to move past judgements."
During the upcoming season of Lent, the Church encourages us to learn the practice of fasting from innocuous pleasures in order to discipline our bodies; but more importantly, to prompt us, as the body and soul are connected, to learn to deny ourselves from sinful pleasures to discipline our souls.


Friday, February 7, 2014

February 7th, First Friday Fast

"Why are we not saints? Why is there so little progress in perfection, or rather, why are so many tepid, heavy, discouraged, and going along more like slaves in a workhouse than children in their own home and the house of their Father? Why? Because we do no watch over our interior, do not watch over the impulse of nature and grace in our actions, nor avoid the occasions of the habitual faults we live in when it is in our power, or keep a good guard on ourselves when it is not.  Frequent indulgence of useless thoughts, inconsiderate words, expressions of natural feelings and changes of temper, all stand at variance with our sweet interior life, and stop the operation of divine grace, too often indeed to grieving the divine Spirit and sending Him away."  (St. Elizabeth Ann Seton)

God created man to live in communion.  He said,"It is not good for man to be alone" and so He created a suitable partner, woman, for him.  But when original sin entered the world, division and distrust threatened this communion.  Man was now tempted to be alone, apart from others, and more detrimentally, apart from God.  Since the Fall, the devil has constantly fashioned new distractions and temptations to isolate man, as he knows it is easier to conquer him when he is alone.  

The business of life, the constant din of society propels one to seek solace in solitude.  Yet it must be solitude with God, not excluding Him.  The hermits in the desert sought separation from society but communion with Him.  It is can be difficult to maintain an interior life, but it is necessary so as to use its fruits in nourishing our souls, which are dependent upon the graces to strengthen our resolves against the battles of the day.

 St. Elizabeth Ann Seton said, "Our love of God is always opposed by our self-love."  One is tempted to indulge his emotions through intemperance, self-righteousness, and the like believing that he deserves some slack, or some credit, that if he is not to be praised from other quarters, he can at least win praise from himself.  Relief from fatigue is not done in accordance with God's ways, and so brings irritation not respite.  It is a good reminder that when we say 'yes' to ourselves, we say 'no' to God.  And to so to build a strong and healthy interior life, one must learn to often say no, even when it is something that is not detrimental to the soul.  At another time Mother Seton noted the dangers that come to a soul that does not practice mortification:
"How should we live an interior life until some of our natural rubbish is removed? How walk valiantly with Our Savior, dragging our foolish attachments after us, and ready to faint if the least weight of His cross presses on us? The less sensible we are of our misery the greater our evil is, for an immortified soul cannot bear to hear the truth nor to be reproved even for its evident faults; so it remains buried in its darkness, and the enemy tries to double its blindness, while, sick and weak, it scarcely struggles against its imperfections, much less thinks of entering the sanctuary of our interior life."
Our inward retreat will help us in our vocations as it guides our decisions, and lightens our burdens.  The light of Christ will reveal our failings but encourage us in our weakness.