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 20, 2014

March 21st Fast

"These are the reasons why men of every rank and country should fly to the trust and guard of the blessed Joseph. Fathers of families find in Joseph the best personification of paternal solicitude and vigilance; spouses a perfect example of love, of peace, and of conjugal fidelity; virgins at the same time find in him the model and protector of virginal integrity. The noble of birth will [l]earn of Joseph how to guard their dignity even in misfortune; the rich will understand, by his lessons, what are the goods most to be desired and won at the price of their labour. As to workmen, artisans, and persons of lesser degree, their recourse to Joseph is a special right, and his example is for their particular imitation. " (Quamquam Pluries, On Devotion to St. Joseph, Pope Leo XIII, 1889)

Though there are many virtues that St. Joseph exemplifies, one which brilliantly shines forth is his desire for holiness.  His eagerness to do the will of God is not only evident in His prompt obedience to the messages of the angel, but also in his closeness to Jesus and Mary.  It is easy to think that anyone would have been happy to gaze at the Face of God each day and to serve His Mother.  Yet, it took a great amount of humility to be in the constant presence of God.  Joseph accepted his weaknesses as a man, but did not fall on them as a crutch and readily sought to learn from Mary and Her Son.  

St. Joseph is without pretense; living in the home of Nazareth, he was not found with a defensive attitude or insecure manner.  Rather, he possessed a peaceful spirit and true humility, recognizing his necessary role as head of the Holy Family.  Joseph had found the greatest of treasures in his adopted Son, and perfect wife, and protected them both with utmost care.  We would do well to heed the example of Joseph, eagerly seeking to be near all that is good and holy, and jealously guarding the great treasure that is our family life and marriage from anything that may even slightly taint them.
"We see that at the beginning of the New Testament, as at the beginning of the Old, there is a married couple. But whereas Adam and Eve were the source of evil which was unleashed on the world, Joseph and Mary arc the summit from which holiness spreads all over the earth. The Savior began the work of salvation by this virginal and holy union, wherein is manifested his all-powerful will to purify and sanctify the family - that sanctuary of love and cradle of life." (Redemptoris Custos, No. 7, 1989, Bl. John Paul II)

Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 14th Fast

"When I look into the future, I am frightened
But why plunge into the future?
Only the present moment is precious to me,
As the future may never enter my soul at all. 
It is no longer in my power,
To change, correct, or add to the past
For neither sages nor prophets could to that
And so, what the past embraced I must entrust to God. 
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire.
I desire to use you as best I can.
And although I am weak and small,
You grant me the grace of Your omnipotence. 
And so, trusting in your mercy,
I walk through life like a little child,
Offering You each day this heart
Burning with love for Your greater glory." 
(Diary of St. Faustina, Para. 2)

The Prince of Darkness seeks to upset the followers of the Prince of Peace by disturbing the peace of their hearts, and consequently their homes.  Anxious thoughts constantly creep into one's mind, creating havoc.  Yet, anxiety is caused not only by a fear of suffering but also a distrust in the grace and mercy of God.  The vulnerability which comes with a situation out of one's control is a source of grief and distress.  By forgetting to yoke oneself to Christ through prayer and trust, one finds himself burdened with a heavy cross, bereft of comfort or consolation.

Too often the Psalmist describes our weakness:
"I said to myself in my good fortune:Nothing will ever disturb me.Your favor had set me on a mountain fastness,then you hid your face and I was put to confusion."  (Ps. 30: 6-7)
We are like Peter, happy to walk on water when it is calm but soon terrified when any tempest arises.   And sometimes, it need not be the storm itself but only the prospect of one which plants seeds of fear.  It is then, we must become like little children who confidently depend upon their parents.  Little babes come into this world completely vulnerable, and so completely trusting.  Perhaps if we recognize the still vulnerable state we are in, it might be easier to trust and so have peace.  

Living a life of gratitude helps one meditate on the awesomeness of God's mercy, and recollect the many instances of His providential protection.  We remember that we have nothing by right but only by mercy; that we are adopted children of God.  Trusting in His Mercy we must trust in His Way.  And so we must learn His Way: of self-denial, self-abandonment.  We must remember the words of Christ to the rich young man: "Go and sell all that you have and come and follow Me."  To abandon oneself to Christ means to detach oneself from material riches but also personal weaknesses and fears.  Let us learn to say the beautiful prayer of Divine Mercy many, many times: Jesus I trust in You!

Friday, March 7, 2014

March 7th, First Friday Fast

". . . The day of their victory dawned, and they marched from the prison to the amphitheatre joyfully as though they were going to heaven, with calm faces, trembling, if at all, with joy rather than fear. Perpetua went along with shining countenance and calm step, as the beloved of God, as a wife of Christ, putting down everyone's stare by her own intense gaze. With them also was Felicitas, glad that she had safely given birth so that now she could fight the beasts, going from one blood bath to another, from the midwife to the gladiator, ready to wash after childbirth in a second baptism.
They were then led up to the gates and the men were forced to put on the robes of priests of Saturn, the women the dress of the priestesses of Ceres. But the noble Perpetua strenuously resisted this to the end.
'We came to this of our own free will, that our freedom should not be violated. We agreed to pledge our lives provided that we would do no such thing. You agreed with us to do this.'
Even injustice recognized justice. The military tribune agreed. They were to be brought into the arena just as they were. Perpetua then began to sing a psalm: she was already treading on the head of the Egyptian. Revocatus, Saturninus, and Saturus began to warn the on looking mob. Then when they came within sight of Hilarianus, they suggested by their motions and gestures: 'You have condemned us, but God will condemn you' was what they were saying.
At this the crowds became enraged and demanded that they be scourged before a line of gladiators. And they rejoiced at this that they had obtained a share in the Lord's sufferings.
. . .There Perpetua was held up by a man named Rusticus who was at the time a catechumen and kept close to her. She awoke from a kind of sleep (so absorbed had she been in ecstasy in the Spirit) and she began to look about her. Then to the amazement of all she said: 'When are we going to be thrown to that heifer or whatever it is?'When told that this had already happened, she refused to believe it until she noticed the marks of her rough experience on her person and her dress. Then she called for her brother and spoke to him together with the catechumens and said: 'You must all stand fast in the faith and love one another, and do not be weakened by what we have gone through.'

. . .Ah, most valiant and blessed martyrs! Truly are you called and chosen for the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord! And any man who exalts, honours, and worships his glory should read for the consolation of the Church these new deeds of heroism which are no less significant than the tales of old. For these new manifestations of virtue will bear witness to one and the same Spirit who still operates, and to God the Father almighty, to his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom is splendour and immeasurable power for all the ages. Amen."
(The Martyrdom of SS. Felicity & Perpetua, from the Acts of the Christian Martyrs)

While awaiting execution, the Japanese martyr, St. Paul Miki, spoke to the onlookers:
“As I come to this supreme moment of my life, I am sure none of you would suppose I want to deceive you. And so I tell you plainly: there is no way to be saved except the Christian way. . ."
 What is the Christian way? It is the way of Christ, the way of the Cross.  The Church teaches that there are two types of martyrdom: red and white, the former pertaining to a bloody death endured due to persecution, the latter pertaining to the daily martyrdom of living a life in communion with Christ.  

Though a Christian would never believe that a red martyr's death was unnecessary suffering, he might be tempted to think a white martyr experiences senseless suffering because his crown of glory is so far from being won.  Especially in our time, when we are so accustomed to immediacy, it can be a difficult and arduous task to patiently suffer each day.

The words of St. Faustina can give great encouragement to those who can grow weary:
"O life so dull and monotonous, how many treasures you contain!  When I look at everything with the eyes of faith, no two hours are alike, and the dullness and monotony disapear.  The grace, which is given me in this hour will not be repeated in the next.  It may be given me again, but it will not be the same grace.  Time goes on, never to return again.  Whatever is enclosed in it will never change; it seals with a seal for eternity.

Our Lord said to not be afraid of those who can kill the body, but those who can kill the soul.  To faithfully live our vocation takes much courage, prayer, sacrifice and above all, grace- which can be so readily attained through living a sacramental life.  If we desire heaven, there is no other way.  The martyrs for marriage are not just those scourged and skewered in the public eye, but also those who faithfully live their vows, those who live the sign of contradiction: the sign of the Cross.

We must choose martyrdom each day.  As the red martyrs refused to deny their faith in the public square we must refuse to deny it in the private of our homes.  As their fidelity was rewarded, so ours will be as well.