Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Labeling Others

Wednesday September 20th
 – Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, Paul chong Hasang, and companions, martyrs

Luke 7:31-35

Too often when I read this passage I automatically write it off as dealing only with those of that time period. When Jesus says “men of this generation” I unconsciously think, “yeah, let them have it Lord.” Yet I realize that He is speaking to me as well.

Today He would probably say, “I can’t win with you guys or damned if I do and damned if I don’t.” However, Jesus refuses to be boxed in, categorized, and labeled. Basically, the liberals of that day were labeling John as “ultra-conservative” and the conservatives were labeling Jesus as a “flaming liberal.” John was too strict for those who wanted to have more license in their way of life. Jesus was too loose in His behavior for those who were teetotalers.

Yet, as Jesus states, the wisdom of both styles of behavior is acceptable and necessary. It is necessary not only for groups of people but individuals as well. There is a time when one should fast and a time when one should feast. Partaking in either to the exclusion of the other is dangerous and
clinging to only one set of ideas can blind a person.

This is a perfect example of how I know that the Church is the one true Church founded by Jesus Christ. I can see this because generation after generation has treated the Church in much the same way. One side says the Church is too puritanical in the area of sexual relations while the other states that the Church has sexualized theology. One group shouts at the Church in anger because it will not “allow” women’s ordination while another group claims that none of the men currently ordained as priests are validly ordained. Yet the Church never wavers and never falters. It stands firm on the foundation of Jesus Christ. All the while, she continues to call all, liberal and conservative, moral and immoral, pagan and traditionalist, back to Her bosom. Wisdom is vindicated by her children and the Church hers', the saints!

- “One great piece of mischief has been done by the modern restriction of the word Temperance to the question of drink. It helps people to forget that you can be just as intemperate about lots of other things…Of course, it does not show on the outside so easily: bridge-mania or golf-mania do not make you fall down in the middle of the road. But God is not deceived by externals.”C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

Have you entered our October Rosary-A-Day Giveaway?  Register and get the details here!

Monday, September 18, 2017

2017 Rosary-A-Day Giveaway!!

That's right!  For the month of October we will be giving away one of our handcrafted cord knot rosaries each day during the month of October, the month of the Rosary.

For your chance to win, simply visit our Rosary-A-Day page and complete the entry form. Each day we'll randomly pick a name to win a free "surprise me" (our choice of colors) rosary.  

In addition, we've placed four coupon codes in four random boxes.  Each code allows the winner to take $20 off of any purchase!!  

One winner per household. You may enter only once, repeat entries will be eliminated.  Daily winners will be listed on the blog (First Name, First Initial of Last Name).  Daily winners will also be notified via email.

When you enter you will be added to our mailing list but we don't send out many emails.  You will also be invited to create a free account on our site.  You don't have to do so but it gives you an instant $5 off and the opportunity to accumulate points for huge discounts.

Winners must be US residents unless the winner is willing to pay $15 International Shipping.  No purchase necessary.  Please contact us if you have any questions.
Make sure to not be selfish, share the love, and let others know!  Good luck!

The number of entries and the winners will be listed below...
Entries as of 9/19/2017 (updated daily not instantly) = 90

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Oct 1, 2018 COULD BE YOU!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Are Ya'll Going to Heaven Tomorrow?

Have you ever been on vacation and tried to find information for Sunday Mass?  Usually the Mass times are listed somewhere in the hotel literature along with all of the other “religious services” in the area.  But is the Mass just one “religious service” among so many others?  Far from it!

The Mass is no mere “religious service”.  At the Mass earth reaches up to Heaven and Heaven comes down to earth.  The Mass is the one place on earth where Heaven and earth meet.  That brief one hour or so is literally Heaven on earth!  Now trust me, when there are kids screaming, microphone and light problems, and heating or cooling problems, I realize that it doesn’t always “feel” like Heaven on earth but it truly is.
If we were to close our eyes and imagine what the throne room of Heaven might look like, what would we see?  Scripture and tradition tell us that we would see holy men and women, saints.  We would see angels, we would see martyrs.  There would be hymns and songs, incense, lampstands, and an altar.  There would books or scrolls, elders, musical instruments, and the Lamb.  Now open your eyes!

Throughout the centuries the Church has given us a way to see that at Mass we are in Heaven while standing on earth.  As we look around at Mass we see holy men and women, not only the ones in the pews, but through the stained glass windows and statues.  As St. Paul says, “..we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.”  (Hebrews 12:1).   We also see the angels.

The saints and martyrs are also present to us in a unique way in the fact that there are relics embedded into the altar. “…I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered because of the witness they bore to the word of God.” (Revelation 6:9)

On earth as it is in Heaven, we have the hymns and songs. “…and day and night they never cease to sing, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Revelation 4:8)

Incense, though not used at every Mass, is often present. – “…and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God.” (Revelation 8:4)  

Lampstands or candles are present on or around the altar. – “…I saw seven golden lampstands.” (Revelation 1:12)  The Altar of sacrifice is there as well as the “…Lamb standing as though it had been slain.”– (Revelation 6:9, 5:6)

As you may have noticed by now, the majority of these items, these bells and smells, can be found in the book of Revelation.  John’s book of Revelation does exactly that, it “reveals” the hidden mysteries of the Mass.   The early Church Fathers have held this interpretation since the very beginning but it has become lost over the past few centuries.

The book of Revelation is an unveiling, a revealing of the Heavenly Liturgy.  Although there are other elements involved, a great majority of the book concerns Heavenly worship.  We get to pull back the curtain to see how those in Heaven worship the Lord and the Church models the Mass on that.  Furthermore, at Mass we are not merely peeking through a curtain, we are invited in.  We are invited to “lift up our hearts to the Lord” and sing with the angels.  We are invited to take part in the Heavenly Liturgy, the “feast” of Heaven and earth.

In the 22nd chapter of Matthew, Jesus gives a parable explaining Heaven as a marriage feast.  The servants are told to call those who are invited, basically everyone.  The responses?  I’m too busy.  It doesn’t make sense.  It’s outdated and silly.  What is our response to the invitation to the wedding feast of the Lamb?

Today, being faithful to God and to the Church takes heroic virtue.  So, I’d like to offer a few simple steps to help you more fully enter into the Heavenly liturgy while you are standing in your pew.  First, read the readings of the Mass at least once before coming to Mass or arrive early and read them there.  This simple act will help you to focus on the words of Scripture when they are read.  Second, participate in Eucharistic adoration when it is available.  This time spent with our Lord outside of the Mass helps you to more easily recognize Him in the Mass.   Finally, take time to feed your hunger for God by reading good books.  To get more out of the Mass I would highly recommend The Lamb’s Supper by Dr. Scott Hahn and A Biblical Walk Through the Mass by Dr. Edward Sri.  Both books are easy to read and easy to understand.

As you can see, the Mass is not simply one more religious service among so many others.  The Mass is the place where we can experience Heaven with our feet still on earth.  How blessed are we to be Catholic!  How “blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb!!” (Revelation 19:9)

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Seven Sorrows of Mary - Poem

Friday September 15th – Our Lady of Sorrows
Devotion to Our Lady of Sorrows

John 19:25-27


The Prophecy of Simeon

The Mother stands with infant child,
And in her mind thoughts run wild,
A prophecy he dared to say.
The first sword to pierce the day

The Flight into Egypt

Leave house and home and all you see,
Into the desert three must flee,
Death a king does cast your way.
The second sword to pierce the day.

The Loss of the boy Jesus in the Temple

The fear of loss does pierce thy heart,
You know not if the child did start,
Nor if he stayed or pulled away.
The third sword to pierce the day.

Meeting Jesus on the Way of the Cross

The eyes of Him now meets your own,
As He walks that road alone,
What can you do, what can you say?
The fourth sword to pierce the day.

The Crucifixion of Jesus

Your flesh and blood your only child,
Pierced by - a crowd gone wild,
All have left, they’ve run away.
The fifth sword to pierce the day.

The taking down of Jesus from the Cross

Into your arms, His life is spent,
His garments and his body rent,
You had hoped for some other way.
The sixth sword to pierce the day.

The burial of Jesus

The ground receives him dank and dark,
Yet still within pierced heart - a spark,
With head bowed down you went away.
The final sword to pierce the day.

The Chaplet of Seven Sorrows and a meditative pamphlet (free PDF) may be obtained here.

More poetry by James M. Hahn available in The Last Dragon and other Poems, available November 2017

Thursday, September 14, 2017

The Serpent and the Cross

Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross
John 3:13-17

It seems as though snakes or serpents have gotten a bad rap throughout history, most especially in scripture.  Yet, maybe it is with good reason.  Out of all of God’s land animals it is probably the least like man.  It slithers on the ground without limbs.  It lays eggs and abandons the nest.  It depends on external sources for body heat.  They are very different than us and this may be the reason they have been so maligned.

In Genesis the very face of evil is on a serpent.  We must note that the use of the word serpent in this instance really does not denote a simple snake.  The image in the original language would connote to the reader the image of a large, dangerous, dragon-like creature.  This would also more readily explain Adam’s reluctance to protect the garden and his wife.

In today’s first reading we once again see the serpent.  In fact, this creature is shown as not only the inflictor of pain but as a punishment for the sins of God’s people, “With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses.

What does God do when the people cry out for mercy?  He doesn't demand sacrifice.  He doesn't demand penance.  What does God do?  He had them make a bronze serpent, attach it to a pole, and place it in the midst of the people as a cure.  The very image of that thing which was a moment before the curse of the people, now becomes the cure.

And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.”  Here Jesus does something fascinating that should not be lost on us.  He shows us that first of all, he is the new Moses who will intercede for God’s people.  He is the new Moses who is leading God’s people out of slavery, out of the desert, and into the Promised Land.

Secondly, he is showing us that He will take upon himself the very image of that which is causing our death, sin.  Here, Our Lord and Savior, in speaking of the desert serpent story, most closely associates himself with the serpent, with the cause of our death.  How can this be?  The second reading of the Mass today gives the answer, “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.  Rather, he emptied himself taking the form of a slave and coming in human likeness; and found in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.

God in his humility and mercy took upon himself the venom of the ancient serpent.  He allowed himself to be bitten for our offences.  He lifted Himself up on the Cross so as to affect a cure for his people.  In one swift move at the Crucifixion, Jesus becomes Moses interceding for us.  He becomes sin for us in order to put sin to death – “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”2 Cor 5:21

As today we celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross let us look upon the source of our salvation.  Let us look upon the Crucifix and see how the ancient venom was destroyed.  Let us look at the Holy Cross and see the death of sin and the beginning of a new and everlasting life.

For more meditations on the Crucifix click here for a free (today only, regularly $2.99) PDF download of James M. Hahn's booklet - They Shall Look Upon Him Whom they have Pierced: Meditations on the Crucifix.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blessed Are You

Wednesday September 13th - Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church
Luke 6:20-26

Blessed are you who are poor

He who has but little,
In gift or in desire,
Surely shall inherit all,
When body moves up higher.
His life will have been spent,
In loving not the earth,
But in God alone his peace,
In God alone his worth.

Blessed are you who hunger

The man who seeks for justice,
And for his daily bread,
Will find a heavenly reward,
In being justly fed.
The stomach and the mind,
Groan to seek their fill,
On earth the quest is all for nought,
But eternity both fulfill.

Blessed are you who are now weeping

The tears of man flow down,
In a never ending stream,
Longing for a peace,
That with eyes of faith is seen.
The terror of the night,
And death that walks the land,
Shall disappear in our true home,
Never again to haunt a man.

Blessed are you when people hate you

The wrath of men unmoved,
By grace or thought or deed,
Cast insult and hate,
Blood spilled becomes the seed.
The beast or the gallows,
Mockery before a crowd,
Will all be blessing in the end,
So rejoice in your reward.

"The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, in cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of our goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world's threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good."
- Saint John Chrysostom

More poetry by James M. Hahn available in The Last Dragon and other Poems, available November 2017

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

How to get better at prayer.

Luke 6: 12-19

In today's Gospel we read that Jesus spent the night in prayer.  When was the last time you or I spent the night in prayer?  I'm doing great if I spend 10 minutes in prayer.  Maybe a few times a week I'll spend 20-30 minutes in prayer with the rosary.  Once a month, if I remember, I'll spend maybe an hour in prayer in Adoration but even much of that is time spent trying to rein in my wandering mind.

How does Jesus spend the night in prayer?  I mean, what does He do during that time?  The question sounds silly when I say it out loud, especially when I also say the answer, "He prayed."

In our technology driven world our attention spans have become shorter and shorter.  We have conditioned ourselves to be entertained.  Our cell phones, news, politics, web surfing, and television viewing are all just varying degrees of entertainment.  If you don't believe me, just ask an advertising executive; an honest one.

Today, making time for prayer is a sacrifice.  In a world where most folks check their Facebook page no less than 14 times per day for an average of 32 minutes per day, it's no wonder a prayer life is lacking for many of us.  Did you check Facebook today?  Did you pray today?  Today I can answer "yes" to both but Facebook and email are winning in the time allotted category...

After Jesus' night in prayer He does great things, important things.  Jesus comes down from the mountain and chooses His twelve closest followers.  Judas was part of that group.  Maybe that's why it was an all night time of prayer.  Then, after choosing His team, He goes out an heals diseases and casts out unclean spirits.  Do you see the connection?  Do you see a pattern with the Lord?  Prayer is the foundation for all that the Lord does.  It should be that way for me and for you too.  What could the Lord do through you and me if we spent more time with Him in prayer and less time "liking" the latest meme?

A large number of people from all over came to hear Him?  How?  Why?  Simon Peter didn't create a Facebook event to let everyone know.  Bartholomew didn't send out an email blast with directions and a meeting time. Philip didn't provide a massive text message to everyone who had texted "fishandchips" to 70809.

They came because "power came forth from him" and that power came from prayer.  Jesus said that we too will do great things but the the power has to come forth from Him through us.  This power can only come from Him through us if we are connected to Him, connected in prayer.

How to get better at prayer.

  1. Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
  2. Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go.  Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
  3. Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days.  Mark off the days on your calendar.  If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
  4. Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him.  I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development.  God is the same way.  Spend time praying as best you can.  Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation.  Don't forget to listen
  5. Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life.  It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
  6. Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer Primer, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, Time for God, The Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.

Labeling Others