Tuesday, November 29, 2016

St. Nicholas Day Gift Ideas

If you are like me, St. Nicolas Day, Advent, and Christmas all sneak up on me way too fast and I'm never prepared.  It often feels like it goes so fast that I don't get to enjoy it!

This year I'm working on doing little things that will help me keep my focus on Christ this year.  One thing that I'm doing and I'll invite you to do also is the Advent Scripture Challenge.  Over 200 of us in our Facebook group are reading the daily readings and sharing our thoughts and meditations.  We are using the book 4 Simple Steps for Better Meditations, which is free as a PDF download at this time.  You don't have to use the book but many find it very helpful with learning to focus.

Our family celebrates St. Nicolas Day, December 6th, each year by putting out our shoes in hope that St. Nicholas will fill them with goodies.  If your family does this as well, here's some things from Real Life Rosary that would be good shoe or stocking fillers...

Candy Rosary or Candy Rosary Kit - we often put candy in the kids shoes, usually in the form of "gold coins", gold foil wrapped chocolate coins.  Our Candy Rosaries and Kits can help kids stay focused for the rosary and reward them with a treat.

Single Decade Chaplets - these are extremely popular.  They are small, soft, and perfect for kids hands.  Available in 40 colors!

Necklaces and Bracelets - Our necklaces are beautiful and fun to wear.  They use a barrel clasp for easy removal.  Add a Saint Medal for only $1.  The bracelets are adjustable and will fit anyone.  Both are available in 40 colors!

A Visit to Church - although this may not fit in a shoe or stocking, this wonderful book will help children of all ages learn about the things they see in the Church and what they are used for in the Mass.

Key-chains make a nice gift for teens and young drivers.  The single decade chaplet is easily detachable for prayer time.  Available in 40 Colors.

Finally, any of our rosaries make great gifts for any occasion.  They are available in 40 colors or design your own tri-color rosary for endless combinations that may match a favorite sports team, school, or club.

I hope you make this the best Advent ever and I hope Real Life Rosary can help make that happen!

Don't forget to check out our shopping guide for dad!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Only Say the Word

Monday of the First Week of Advent - Matthew 8:5-11

"The prayer of the righteous man has great power in its effects." - James 5:16

This story, in the eighth chapter of Matthew's Gospel, is meant to show us both the authority of Jesus and the necessity of faith. Since Jesus' address in the synagogue in chapter 3 all the way through chapter 7, Jesus has been teaching. Chapter 7 ends with this verse, "And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes." This leads us to understand that the scribes were teaching in the name of Moses whereas Jesus is teaching of His own authority. In fact, He often says, "you have heard it said...but I say."

Matthew then moves on to show us that Jesus' authority is not contained merely in His teaching alone. He shows us that His words have the power to change hearts but also the power to heal. Sometimes His words are accompanied by a touch or action as with the leper at the beginning of chapter 8. At other times, like in today's Gospel, it is His word alone that heals.

However, these healings,and His words, come as His response to the faith of the person being healed or to the faith of one interceding for another.

The centurion is interceding on behalf of his servant. This tells us that the centurion was a man with compassion. He had a heart for his fellow man. He did not treat his servant as a possession but as a human person with worth. We can even guess that he loved this servant by the lengths that he goes to to approach Jesus asking for healing. The centurion certainly didn't approach Jesus under cover of darkness and he didn't hide his faith that Jesus was someone special, "Lord, I am not worthy."

The centurion, as a man in authority, also recognized the authority of Jesus. He recognizes the fact that if his own words have such power over those under his authority, how much more power resides in the words of this Jesus of Nazareth!

My favorite quote from this passage is, "When Jesus heard him, he marveled..." I pray that during this season of Advent my faith may increase and the Lord will "marvel" at my prayers as well. Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word and I shall be healed, only say the word and my loved ones will be healed, only say the word and this world will be healed.

Who, during this Advent season, can you bring to Christ in prayer? Who do you know that may be sick, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and is need of the healing power of Christ? Is it a relative? A friend? A politician? Is it the mailman? Is it the teen you saw at the mall this weekend? Is it someone you heard about on the news, a blog, or in the paper? Do you know someone that you are reasonably sure has no one to pray for them?

Be the centurion for that person over the next four weeks. During this time of Advent bring this person each day to Jesus in prayer. Trust in his healing power with the faith of that centurion and you too will amaze Jesus. Wouldn't that be a nice gift to give the King!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The End is Near! Again!

Luke 21:5-11

I have a melancholic temperament so this time of the liturgical year is my favorite. The readings are all about the end. They speak to us of the final act and the return of Our Lord. Not only do I like the readings because they are filled with a WCSS's dreams but it helps me get my focus back to living every moment as if it were my last.

At the beginning of today's Gospel folks are admiring the Temple. From all historic accounts it really was something to be admired. Jesus here shows us His melancholic side and says, "All that you see here–the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." This must have been a shock to His hearers. It would be like me saying the same thing about a major city. In fact, it must have been such a shock that it was one of the things that stuck with them, because they all high-tailed it out of town when Rome destroyed the city as He had predicted.

However, I think the Gospel message goes deeper than a prophecy and deeper than a great real estate tip. You and I can look up from our computer screen right now and basically repeat the words of Christ, "all that I see here - the days will come when it will all be gone." This will be the case for either one of two reasons: our personal death or the return of Christ. Either option leads us to a face to face encounter with the Almighty. So our thought process should probably be one of working towards detachment. If option #1 arises, I hope I'm not on my death bed dreading the loss of all my worldly goods. If it's option #2, I hope that I'm not clinging to my ipod while the trumpet blasts are going. You and I must be ready at a moments notice to meet the Lord. This is something to keep in mind especially if we have unrepented sin upon our souls!

As for the rest of the Gospel, again we have two choices. We can either live in fear of the end and constantly dread its beginning or we can live as though the end is very near, which it is, and not be concerned by "wars and rumors of wars" for those too will pass away.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Giving God our Leftovers

Luke 21:1-4
Feast of the Presentation of the Virgin Mary

"And what I have leftover, I give unto you O Lord!" Of course I would never pray that privately or out loud. Yet, that is often the way I live. I often give the Lord leftovers. I give money that I can part with. I give my time in prayer when I can fit it in. I seek to help others when I am not busy with my own cares. Leftovers.

What if I did that with my other personal relationships? What would my life be like if I gave my family the money I have leftover after spending all that I wanted to spend? How would my children behave if I gave them the time I had leftover after doing all that I want to do first? What would my marriage look like if I helped my wife with household chores only after I completed my pet projects?

In today's Gospel Jesus shows me two ways of living my life. I can be like the "wealthy" and give from my abundance, what I have extra, leftovers. Or, I can be like the "poor widow" and give what I have from my heart even sacrificing my own needs and desires out of love for God and others.

In this Gospel, Jesus is not looking at the amount given but the heart behind it. He tells me that the widow gave more, not because of the amount, but because she gave with a generous heart. She made a sacrifice out of love for God whereas the others gave leftovers.

Lord, help me to keep the leftovers for myself and give You and others the best of my time, talent, and treasure. Show me this day one opportunity for me to have leftovers and give the best to others in my life, friends, family, co-workers, and strangers. Give me the grace to give from my needs and not from what I have leftover!

FROM THE SAINTS - "The Lord does not look at the amount offered but at the affection with which it is offered." - Saint John Chrysostom

Friday, November 11, 2016

Taken or Left Behind?

Luke 17:26-37

In recent years there has been a deluge of Apocalyptic literature produced in the Christian world. The Left Behind series comes to mind. In these books we are shown what happens to those who are "left behind" after the "rapture" (a recent theory that reared its head in the 19th century) which proposes that Jesus will return, take the good and leave the bad to be ruled by the anti-Christ for a period of time before the end of the world.

Often, those who believe in the Rapture will point to today's Gospel as a proof-text to support their idea - "I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed;one will be taken, the other left. And there will be two women grinding meal together;one will be taken, the other left."

The question is, however, is it better to be taken or to be "left behind?" Jesus points us back to the days of Noah and Lot. In the days of Noah who was taken? That evil generation that "the Lord was sorry he had made..." (Genesis 6:6). Who, in the days of Noah, was left behind? Scripture tells us that only 8 people were "left behind": Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives.

In the case of Lot, his wife disobeyed the instructions of the Lord and was taken (turned into a pillar of salt) while Lot was "left behind." (See Genesis 19)

When Korah and his family rebel against Moses the ground opens up, swallows them and then closes again.  Moses and those obedient to the Lord are "left behind."  (See Numbers 16)

In Scripture, it seems that it is the good guys that are "left behind" while the evil are wiped from the earth.

As we begin our approach toward Advent our daily Scripture readings and Sunday Mass readings focus on the coming of Christ. In the early part of Advent we are reminded to be ever ready, we know not the day or hour that the Master will return.

Being ready for His return is what is important, not only during any certain season, but everyday. How much different our world would be if we all lived as though the Lord may return any second, before our next breath! This is not to say that we would be standing idly around, bible and rosary in hand. Rather, it means that, as St. Paul says, "whether we live or die, we are the Lord's." You and I must be ready, our souls must be in a state of grace, for He is coming back and He is both Our Savior and Our Judge.

A good practice for today or for Advent would be for us to constantly stop throughout the day, maybe at the striking of each hour, and ask ourselves if we would be ready if the Lord arrived right now. Would we be comfortable having Him look upon us in our present state? Would He find me doing little acts of love or speaking unkind words? Would he find me busy with my duties or entertaining worthless or sinful thoughts? I must be ready. He is coming back just as He said He would!

Two good books that explain the Church's teachings regarding the End Times and being "left behind" are Will Catholics Be Left Behind: A Critique of the Rapture and Today's Prophecy Preachers (Modern Apologetics Library) and The Rapture Trap: A Catholic Response to .*

*(This is an affiliate link which means I may receive a financial benefit if you were to purchase this item. I only recommend items that my family has personally used and owned.)

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Living like a Healed Leper

What if you spent your entire life believing a lie about yourself?  What if, at every turn, there was someone there whispering to you things like, "you aren't good enough", "you stink", "you'll always be this way", "you are a loser you know", "shut up, no one wants to hear your stupid ideas", "you can't change, it's just who you are?"  What would that habit, over time, do to anyone?  It's brainwashing but far worse because it is we who utter, or at least repeat, those words day after day.

We all have that voice, to some extent or another, whispering in our mind and poisoning our hearts.  Too often that voice is our own even if the words are not ours.  We know that if we were to step outside ourselves for just a moment and take a listen, we'd be shocked.  We would see ourselves as robots, cadets in a sadistic school of self-hate, repeating self-hate mantras over and over..."I'll always be this way, I'll always be this way, I'll always be this way."

As we've discussed before, those words are never the words of a loving father, the Loving Father.  They are always the words of the Father of Lies, always.  He repeats them over and over until you and I begin to adopt them as our own. They are the slow steady erosion of the soul.  The river, over time, is more powerful and effective than dynamite on the rock and the rock doesn't realize it's being changed.

Thankfully, we can change.  We don't have to believe those lies.  We no longer have to be trained in that school of self-hate. We can change our brains, ways of thinking, our lives, and those around us.  It does take time and practice.  You and I didn't develop the self-hate habit overnight and it won't go away overnight either.  However, it is possible.

Simple things like dedicated times of meditation and prayer are a good place to start.  Simply smiling makes a huge difference.  Studies have shown that the very action of smiling, real or not, for extended times, a minute or so, has a positive mental effect.  I know it's true from my own life.  Regular exercise can also have a great effect on our positive mental health.  There are many great books on the science of retraining your brain.  My favorite is The Happiness Advantage* by Shawn Achor.

God wants us to be happy and full of joy.  You cannot be a saint without a smile.  If those internal voices are making you miserable, stop right now, realize that it's not from your Heavenly Father, and ask Him and others for help retraining your brain.  It is possible.  I'm living proof and I can introduce you to others.

So, you may ask yourself, what has this to do with today's readings.  Maybe nothing but today's Gospel really made this idea jump out to me today (hopefully it was the Holy Spirit).

The passage that jumped off the page was this, "And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him."  More specifically - "...realizing he had been healed..."  

It made me think of the other 9 lepers.  For so long they had experienced this terrible disease that even though God had healed them, they continued to live as though they were lepers.  How many of us are walking around like that today?  How many of us have been healed, baptized, confirmed, received countless graces, yet we continue to believe the lie that we are sick?

Jesus didn't suffer and die on the cross for you and me only to have us walk around saying, "I'm sick, I'll always be this way, I can't change, I'm a terrible person."  If the voice in your head, your voice-the liars words, continue to haunt you, run to confession, run to the Eucharist.  Go to those sacraments, receive the healing (often), believe you are healed (every day), and return "to give thanks to God" then "Stand up and go" tell those other 9 they too are healed!!

*(This is an affiliate link which means I may receive a financial benefit if you were to purchase this item. I only recommend items that my family has personally used and owned.)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Being Unprofitable Servants

Today's Gospel may sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to our modern ears. This message is directly opposed to the culture in which we have been reared. The world tells us to seek recognition for our efforts, even if it was something we were supposed to do anyway.

Our society, with it's twisted sense of fairness, reads this Gospel passage with arrogance and places it aside. We might hear our society say, "This must have been what it was like back then, cruel, heartless, and demanding but no so in our day. This servant should have rights too. The fair thing is for the master to serve the servant after his hard day of labor in the field." And thus the message is lost.

The Lord is telling us that we must seek to serve and not count the cost or look for a reward. He is not placing an unrealistic deman...[He] rose from supper, laid aside his garments and girded himself with a towel." He took the form of a servant saying, "I have come not to be served but to serve." If we are to be like Him, we must serve and not hunt for laurels. The Lord has done so much for us, how can we say anything but, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."
d upon us. He himself showed us what he meant by these words. "

Take Two

With this in mind, I believe the 1st Reading is appropriate for today, Election Day in the United States.  Our country would do well to re-read this passage over and over before the next presidential election.  Jesus' words, through St. Paul, give us a guide and model for the type of people we should be asking to lead us!

Beloved:  You must say what is consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that older men should be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love, and endurance.  Similarly, older women should be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good homemakers, under the control of their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

Urge the younger men, similarly, to control themselves, showing yourself as a model of good deeds in every respect, with integrity in your teaching, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be criticized, so that the opponent will be put to shame without anything bad to say about us.

For the grace of God has appeared, saving all and training us to reject godless ways and worldly desires and to live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age, as we await the blessed hope, the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good.  (Titus 2:1-8, 11-14)

"A clear sign that you are seeking holiness is what I might call "the healthy psychological prejudice" of thinking usually about others (while forgetting yourself) so as to bring them closer to God." - St. Josemaria Escriva - The Forge #861*

*(This is an affiliate link which means I may receive a financial benefit if you were to purchase this item. I only recommend items that my family has personally used and owned.)

Monday, November 07, 2016

Shutting down the Millstone factory.

Luke 17:1-6

Wow! There goes the "hug-me-Jesus" idea right out the window again! But I guess when it comes to sin Jesus gets pretty serious. Sin is a terrible thing. It has the power to destroy a soul for eternity. Here Jesus says that it is better that one should suffer that fate than two. It is better that the one who leads others into sin should die than for them to live and bring others down with them. The "millstone" of sin will drag to the bottom anyone who hangs onto it!

I think we have been conditioned to think of this passage as speaking of leading children into sin because Jesus uses the term "little ones." However, it is a serious offense at any age. I am just as capable of leading my family and friends into sin as I am of leading my children. In fact, I am probably more likely to lead the adults in my life to sin than I am to lead my children. I am around adults more than my children and I may say or do things in the presence of adults that I may not do in the presence of my children.

Lest we start a millstone factory and begin ringing everyone's necks with them, Jesus balances this serious warning with the call to forgiveness. If we are scandalized, or "sinned against" we have the duty to lovingly rebuke our brother in the Lord. If this correction is done in love and is effective we have saved our souls and the soul of our brother(cf. James 5:19-20). He even takes it a step further and tells us that even if it happens over and over, we must forgive. This isn't too hard when I think of my "repeated" sins and the times when God has forgiven me again and again.

Increase our faith! What an awesome prayer! I should seek to pray this prayer every day!!

Going Deeper

Today let us pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for someone who in our life we feel has led us into sin.  Maybe it was a friend, neighbor, or relative.  Let us pray for their conversion and healing as well as out own, "for the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world."

Sunday, November 06, 2016

Welcome Becket James!!

The Hahn family welcomed the newest little rosary maker early Friday morning.  Becket James was born at 3:18 AM and everyone is doing great.

To celebrate we're having a little giveaway.  To enter, simply comment below.  We'll choose one winner from the comments to win a Newborn Rosary and a signed copy of Rosary Meditations for Real Life.

Thank you for your prayers and support of our family and little ministry.  God bless you, Jim & Nicole, Anthony, Christopher, William, Samuel, Catherine, Daniel, Isabella, and Becket!

Friday, November 04, 2016

Trying to become Dishonest Stewards

Not long ago Nicole and I started working on our Total Money Makeover*, a program from Mr. Dave Ramsey*. This program helps teach its "disciples" how to get completely out of debt and grow wealth. It is by no means a get-rich-quick program but rather a get-rich-slowly and permanently program.

Part of this program is realizing how damaging debt can be. After reading the book we realized that what we owed was really keeping us in bondage and would do so if we didn't act radically. We sat down and wrote a budget. We looked for ways to cut costs. We began searching the basement for items to sell that would help us pay down our debts quickly. We have a plan and it is slowly working and we are very excited about it.

Today's Gospel illustrates a hard lesson and it relates directly to what we are currently doing. We, like that dishonest steward, are wise enough to see what is happening to our finances and family to make drastic changes that will enable us to survive and perhaps thrive in the future. We, like him, see the signs around us and act accordingly to ensure our future. Like the dishonest steward, we have stopped the squandering of the gifts given to us. We have acted prudently and our family will be that much better off for us having done so.

So why is this a hard lesson? It is a hard lesson because Jesus is saying, "if you are wise enough to act in such a way with the things of this world that are passing, why do you not act similarly with eternal things? Why do you not sit down and work out a spiritual budget? Why do you not look for the things that waste your time, time you could spend with me? Why do you not rid yourself of the things in the basement of your soul that separate yourself from me? Why do you not examine your sins, what you owe, and have a Total Soul Makeover?"

A hard lesson indeed! Am I a child of this world or a child of light? Am I squandering my master's property? Lord, help me to act prudently and according to your will in all areas of my life.

Another program that we have not yet studied but one that is Catholic and highly recommended is  The Seven Steps to Becoming Financially Free* by Phil Lenahan.

*(This is an affiliate link which means I may receive a financial benefit if you were to purchase this item. I only recommend items that my family has personally used and owned.)

Thursday, November 03, 2016

Search and Rescue

Luke 15:1-10

Today's Gospel parable has always given me trouble. This parable about the lost sheep makes no sense to me, humanly speaking. Jesus asks this question to the Pharisees and scribes who were complaining about Him eating and hanging out with sinners - "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?"

I want to scream out the answer, as if from the back row of the crowd of people. "Not me, not anyone here. That makes no sense to leave the rest of your sheep defenseless out in the desert while searching for one that had not the sense to stick with the group. It makes no sense to chase after that one sheep while risking the loss of more to wild animals in the desert! Furthermore, having a party, if in fact you do find that one silly lamb, seems a bit much."

This answer, I realize, is the answer of a fallen man who places value more upon things than upon people. This is an answer that shows the difference between man's way of thinking and God's way of thinking. Man sees the risk involved, calculates the potential gain and / or loss, and decides to take a small loss rather than risking a larger one. God sees each lamb equally and loves each equally. It would be unthinkable for Him to leave even one behind.  My paradigm would change if I simply replaced the word "sheep" in the Gospel with the word "children".

"What man among you having a hundred [children] and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?"

We are expecting our 8th child any day now so we are nowhere near 100.  However, as a father, I can certainly see and think as God does.  I too would do all that I could to bring that one child back.

God loves you and me with this unbelievable love. He risks everything for each one of us, lost as we are. He knows that as He searches for us there is the possibility that it may be too late - the wild beasts may have found us first - but He searches anyway.

What if we replaced the word "sheep" with friends?  Most of us would do what we could to search and rescue.  How about relatives?  I know, it depends on which ones, but seriously, we'd go after them too. Co-workers?  Sure.  Neighbors or fellow parishioners?  Probably.  How about strangers or even enemies?  Maybe, not sure?

In our fallen nature we may be temtped to say, "they chose that path" or "I'll pray for them to return" or "they're good people, they'll come back eventually" but God wants us to imitate Him. He wants us to leave what we know, leave our comfort zone, and reach out to help those lost sheep return. Remember, they are not just people we don't know or like, they are our brothers and sisters.  They are God's children and he wants our help finding them and helping them find him.  When they do, it is just like the parable, it is surely time to party.

Let's search after the lost sheep in our lives and if we are lost, let's meet the Good Shepherd as He is searching for us. Let's not hide from Him. That would be baaaaaaaaaaaaaad. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

If you want to flee from God, flee to Him instead. Flee to Him by confessing to Him; don't flee from Him by trying to hide. For you can't hide, but you can confess. . . . In failing to confess, Lord, I would only hide myself from myself, not myself from You. - St. Augustine

Going Deeper

As we head into the Advent & Christmas season, many of us will be seeing friends and relatives that are lost.  You and I (and God) want so much for these beloved friends to experience the Mercy of God but we're not sure how to help that process along.  There is a right way and a wrong way to mount a search and rescue effort.  In his wonderful book, Search and Rescue: How to bring your family and friends into-or back into- the Catholic Church*, Patrick Madrid shows us how to do just that using effective, tested methods of winning souls for Christ.
*(This is an affiliate link which means I may receive a financial benefit if you were to purchase this item. I only recommend items that my family has personally used and owned.)

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

What will Purgatory be like?

What will Purgatory be like?  I've often wondered about this very question and I think it's one worth pondering today, the Feast of All Souls.

From the Daily Roman Missal - "The Church, after celebrating the feast of All Saints, today prays for all who, in the purifying suffering of purgatory, await the day when they will join in their company.  The celebration of the Mass, which re-enacts the sacrifice of Calvary, has always been the principal means by which the Church fulfills the great commandment of charity toward the dead.  We can also relieve their sufferings through our prayers, suffrages, and penances.  Even after death, links with our fellow travelers are not broken."

For this reflection on purgatory, we may do well to meditate on Heaven and Hell first.

In Heaven, we are told, we will spend eternity with God.  In my own mind it is a never-ending Sunday.  It is an eternal day of warmth and beauty.  It is a time of great rejoicing and fellowship with those we loved on this earth and those we never knew but will.  We may meet or be welcomed by those who, while we were on earth, we never expected to be there for God's mercy is boundless.

In Hell, we are told, we will spend eternity without God.  Yet, not wholly without Him for that is part of the torment that we have chosen for ourselves.  His loving presence will forever be there but out of our reach.  In my own mind it is a never-ending night.  It is a night of cold and lonesomeness.  It is a night that absorbs all the senses.  One may cry out but the sound will go nowhere.  One may cry out a second time not remembering if he last cried out a mere second before or thousands of years ago.

In Purgatory, we are told, we will spend time being purified, our sins will be expurgated, separated from our souls.  In my own mind it is a never-ending early morning.  The sun has not yet risen but the pale light is beginning to grow over the distant horizon.  It is both a place of great sorrow for sin and great joy at the promise to come.  It contains, in a sense, Heaven and Hell.  Joy and Sadness.  Hope and Despair.  Warmth and Coldness.  Light and Darkness.  In Purgatory we are like St. Peter in that time between the cock crow on Good Friday and the breakfast of fish with the Lord by the sea, by that charcoal fire (a subtle reminder).  Purgatory is like that time between a sickness and recovery when the worst has passed, the suffering remains, but hope and healing grow.

The Feast of All Souls should not be a focus on death and darkness.  Rather, it should be a focus on the Merciful Love of God.  In his great goodness he allows those in Heaven to intercede for those of us still on pilgrimage through this "vale of tears."  Their intercession strengthens and sustains us.  In his great goodness he allows us to do the same for those in Purgatory.

Think of that!  We have the ability to help those in Purgatory be released from that cold pre-dawn into the eternal light of Heaven.  There are so many ways to help those who have gone before us like our friends, relatives, and even enemies.  We can pray for them, offer our sacrifices for them and most importantly, as mentioned above, have Masses offered for them.  Even after death, links with our fellow travelers are not broken.

Think of that! Those souls soaring into the eternal day then interceding for you and me before the throne of God.  Those souls who are eternally thankful for our charity asking God for the graces we need to join them.

Yesterday we asked all of the Holy Angels and Saints to, pray for us!  Today, the souls in purgatory echo that request!  The cry out to you and me, "Pray for us!"

Today's Prayer after Communion from the Daily Roman Missal - Lord, in this sacrament you give us your crucified and risen Son.  Bring to the glory of the resurrection our departed brothers and sisters who have been purified by this holy mystery.  Grant this through Christ our Lord.  AMEN!!!

Novena for the Souls in Purgatory

Tuesday, November 01, 2016

The Be-Attitudes of the Saints

Matthew 5:1-12a, Solemnity of All Saints

Every week I challenge my children to listen or watch for a particular thing at Mass.  If they pay attention, and can answer my related question, I give out a prize.  Usually I ask them to fill in the blank from the Gospel, tell me what book a reading is from, or otherwise tell me something about the Gospel or Mass readings.

Today they were challenged to count how many times they heard the word "blessed" since the Gospel was focused on the Beatitudes or Blessings of Jesus.  Much to my surprise, the answers were all over the board.  I heard everything from 9 to 25.  One son answered 22.  "How did you get 22," I asked in disbelief after counting only 13 myself including the Responsorial Psalm.  He told me that not only had he counted the ones in the Psalm and the Gospel, he counted any in the homily and any in the songs.  I have to learn to be more specific with children.  I gave out a lot of prizes today!

In the Gospel we hear the word "blessed" 9 times but traditionally this Sermon on the Mount is known as the Eight Beatitudes.  I like the word "beatitude" because it has the answer to these often confusing sayings built right in.  They are the Be-Attitudes or the Attitudes of Being that help us to live lives that mirror Christ.  They are the Be-Attitudes that make us into saints!

"Blessed are the poor in spirit" - The Be-Attitude is a humble attitude.  With a humble attitude we realize that we need others and God.  We realize that we cannot do it all by ourselves but God made us to be interdependent.  That humble attitude is a huge step toward the Kingdom of Heaven.

"Blessed are they who mourn" - The Be-Attitude is a caring attitude.  With a caring attitude we see the plight of others and we are moved, often to tears, because of our desire to help them in their situation.  Jesus isn't saying that we are blessed if we go around crying like babies all the time.  Rather, He wants us to have a caring heart, an attitude of compassion, seeing Him in the least of our neighbors.  In comforting others, we ourselves are comforted.

"Blessed are the meek" - The Be-Attitude is a we-attitude.  With a we-attitude we realize that everyone has a role to play and none of the roles are more important than the others.  A we-attitude helps us to see that we are all part of the Body of Christ and each person, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is an important part of that Body.

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness" - The Be-attitude is a faithful attitude.  With an attitude of faithfulness to God we seek His will in all things.  We realize that if we are faithful, God will take care of the rest and His will will be done.  What was so great about Abraham that Paul tells us that he was credited with righteousness?  He trusted God, he was faithful and believed that God would do all He had promised.  It was that Be-attitude, one of faithfulness, that made Abraham so great.  He was hungry and thirsty for God's will to be done.

"Blessed are the merciful" - The Be-Attitude is a forgiving attitude.  I would guess, based on hundreds of conversations, that more people hold on to grudges than we could possibly imagine.  Yet over and over God tells us to be forgiving, to be merciful as He is merciful.  The Old Testament is full of God's mercy.  Jesus gives us parable after parable concerned with mercy.  Jesus shows us how to be merciful from the cross, forgiving those who were not even sorry for what they were doing.  Is it any wonder that this beatitude ends with, "for they will be shown mercy"?

"Blessed are the clean [pure] of heart" - The Be-Attitude is an attitude of honesty.  God requires us to be honest in our dealings with Him, with others, and with ourselves.  When we are honest in all our areas of life, we have integrity, we have a rightly ordered heart and soul.  It is only those who can see clearly, without the blurring effects of sin and dishonesty, who can see God.

"Blessed are the peacemakers" - The Be-Attitude is an attitude of patience.  With a patient attitude we can endure the trials and struggles of this world and help others to do the same.  By our very presence, with a patient attitude, we become a rock upon which others may lean to find peace in their own lives.

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness...you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me." - The Be-Attitude is an attitude of courage.  With an attitude of courage we can face a world that no longer believes in God and in some cases is directly opposed to him.  An attitude of courage does not mean we are striking out against all who are opposed to God.  Rather, a courageous attitude enables us to stand firm in the face of opposition knowing that no matter what happens, God holds our lives, and maybe even our deaths, in His hand.  This attitude of courage enables us to live our lives when the world makes fun of our faith and questions our beliefs.

So, today I want to encourage you to count your "blessings".  Maybe those blessings number among the 8 Be-Attitudes, maybe there are 22, or maybe they number in the hundreds.  No matter what, it is Jesus who gives us the prize for being able to count our blessings, for the Gospel reading today ends with these words, "Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven."  And that is what we are celebrating today.  We are celebrating those who lived the Attitudes of Being throughout their lives and now stand with the Lord cheering us on to do the same.  All you Holy Angels and Saints, pray for us!

Mother's Day Weekend.