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 2, 2014

May 2nd Fast

"Particularly today, the Christian family has a special vocation to witness to the paschal covenant of Christ by constantly radiating the joy of love and the certainty of the hope for which it must give an account: 'The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come.'" 
(Familiaris Consortio, No. 52, St. John Paul II)
Traditionally, Christians have been a people of hope - the martyrs clung to it in times of persecution but people also held to it in peaceful periods as well.  Faithful followers of Christ were cherished the gift of hope in part because of the constant suffering that daily attended their lives and reminded them of the passing nature of this world and the blessed eternity that awaited.  Yet, in our present age, suffering has been limited due to incredible medical, agricultural, and technological advances.  

Hope is often forgotten or neglected because it has been deemed unnecessary by those who desire a narrow focus on the pleasures to be sought and easily enjoyed in this world.  As such, it can be difficult to retain it in the midst of such intense pressure, but let it not be so! 

The Catechism defines hope as:
". . . the theological virtue by which we desire the Kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ's promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit."   (CCC, No. 1817)
The virtue of hope responds to the aspirations to happiness which God has placed in the heart of every man; it takes up the hopes that inspire men's activities and purifies them so as to order them to the Kingdom of heaven; it keeps men from discouragement; it sustains him during times of abandonment; it opens his heart in expectation of eternal beatitude.  Buoyed by hope, he is preserved from selfishness and led to the happiness that flows from charity. (CCC, No. 1818)
 Christian spouses have a duty to be a witness to the hope of the Resurrection, that is, the reality and joy of eternal life.  Each should seek to lift the other up, being attentive to another's fragile heart, for a sensitive soul in a tempest may turn to despair if not "buoyed by hope."  Hope should animate and excite us, prompting us to discernment: what will bring us closer to heaven?  If we have our hearts anchored in heaven, though our lives lead us from here to there, our hope will remain firm and steadfast in the midst of any storm, great or small.

During this month of May, let us especially turn to Mary, Our Lady of Hope.  She, whose heart was pierced by the sword on Calvary, still clung ardently to the hope of the Resurrection.  Though all was not explained to her, she alone, believed His Word.  She will fortify us, encourage us, and lift us up in times of distress. Just as she supported the early Church so she too will help us in our fragile faith.  Let us be unafraid as she was, and place our trust in her Son.
In this way you saw the growing power of hostility and rejection which built up around Jesus until the hour of the Cross, when you had to look upon the Saviour of the world, the heir of David, the Son of God dying like a failure, exposed to mockery, between criminals. Then you received the word of Jesus: “Woman, behold, your Son!” (Jn 19:26). From the Cross you received a new mission. From the Cross you became a mother in a new way: the mother of all those who believe in your Son Jesus and wish to follow him. The sword of sorrow pierced your heart. 
Did hope die? Did the world remain definitively without light, and life without purpose? At that moment, deep down, you probably listened again to the word spoken by the angel in answer to your fear at the time of the Annunciation: “Do not be afraid, Mary!” (Lk 1:30). How many times had the Lord, your Son, said the same thing to his disciples: do not be afraid! In your heart, you heard this word again during the night of Golgotha. Before the hour of his betrayal he had said to his disciples: “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (Jn16:33). “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (Jn 14:27). “Do not be afraid, Mary!” 
In that hour at Nazareth the angel had also said to you: “Of his kingdom there will be no end” (Lk 1:33). Could it have ended before it began? No, at the foot of the Cross, on the strength of Jesus's own word, you became the mother of believers. In this faith, which even in the darkness of Holy Saturday bore the certitude of hope, you made your way towards Easter morning.  (Spe Salvi, No. 50, Pope Benedict XVI)