Luminous Mysteries

How the Rosary Illuminates the Summer of Dreams

Luminous MysteriesThis morning I was in the perpetual adoration chapel at my parish and praying the Rosary.  Since it’s Thursday, I prayed the Luminous Mysteries.  As I prayed, I realized how much these particular mysteries shed light on what this summer is about for me, and more importantly, what that means for others.

What are the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary?

The Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary come from Scripture and they focus on significant events in Jesus’ ministry.  They aren’t representative of all the important events of His ministry, but they illuminate in ways that others may not.

The 1st Luminous Mystery – Jesus’ Baptism in the Jordan River (Mt 3:1-17)

Reflecting on John the Baptist, I imagine it must have been quite a thing to finally see Jesus coming his way.  He prepared for that day by training himself in asceticism and preparing the way for the Lord by preaching repentance to crowds of people.  His life was a mission.  He had no illusions about his purpose.  John took his role seriously.  He embraced it and got to work.  We remember him for it.

God and a Dog

A Semordnilap Like No Other

God and a dog... similar?The words, “God” and “Dog” are a semordnilap (there’s a trivia nugget for you!), which occurs when one word spells a completely different word backwards.  There’s really no comparison between God and a dog, and there never could be, but a trip to Confession yesterday got me thinking.

A little background…

My pastor sometimes brings his dog with him during Confession hours on Saturdays in the church.  Father’s joke never gets old, either… “The dog’s under the seal!”  For those who aren’t familiar, “the seal” is the seal of Confession, whereby a priest is obliged by the severest possible consequences to keep private those things which he hears confessed by the penitent.  Naturally, a dog repeating the sins of a penitent is an impossibility, but it’s still funny to hear him say it.  It’s one of the endearing things about our pastor.

When the dog is there, it’s excited to see each new penitent (or I assume so since it’s always excited to see me!).  It wags its tail vigorously and does all the things friendly dogs do, you know?  It’s well-behaved, so it never jumps on me or anything like that, but it sure seems pumped.  Inevitably, Father calls the obedient dog to his side and it lays down next to him.  It almost appear as if it’s listening, with its brows moving and ears perking as I speak.  The dog doesn’t judge or condemn.  It doesn’t get sad or angry.  The dog doesn’t lash out at me.  It silently allows the confession of my sins to fall upon it and then, guess what?  It’s over.  Father gives me my penance and absolution, and the dog wants to say goodbye as I leave.

Prevenient Grace and… Netflix?

Discovering What It Means to Walk in Mercy

The Prodigal SonAm I really sharing a post on prevenient grace and… Netflix?  You betcha.  Indulge me.

When a friend suggested a few days ago that he planned to begin a 33 Days to Morning Glory trek toward renewing his consecration to Mary this Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, I told him I would do the same.  Having done it using that method, as well as according to the traditional method given by St. Louis de Montfort, I opted for a third way in hopes of discovering some fresh insights.  That method is Totus Tuus: A Contemplative Approach to Total Consecration Through Mary.

The author of Totus Tuus is Father Nathan Cromly.  He’s something of a “rockstar” among my wife and her friends, as well as several other folks I know.  According to my wife, he gives amazing retreats.  She should know.  She’s been on two in consecutive years.  I hope she goes on more.  Shoot… I think we all should go on more retreats, especially ones led by the Holy Spirit and great priests.  That’s a bit of an aside, but the point remains that Father Nathan blazes a trail in the Church today, and when I recalled he put together a book on Marian consecration, I figured it would be very good.

Two days into the path to consecration, and the lessons blow me away.  That’s no easy feat, mind you.  With a Master’s degree in theology, a catechetical diploma endorsed by the Vatican, 15 years of experience teaching religion, and theological study as a hobby of choice, exposure to something entirely new to me is rare.  Oh, how I love it when I am, though!  It reminds me of those heady days in my 20s, when I felt like I was learning something new about God, His Church, and myself in relation to these things everyday.

What blows me away?  Prevenient grace.  Stick with me.  This is good stuff!

Bite-sized Sample

A Morsel from Food For Thought: An Appetizer

Bite-sized Sample Castle RestaurantOur family lived in Europe from 2012-2015.  We experienced some amazing things.  One of those was to eat at a 3-star Michelin-rated restaurant set in a former castle.  I fondly remember that meal for many reasons, not the least of which is that it was the first time the taste of food ever made me cry!  I digress, but one of the things I remember most clearly was the service of one bite-sized sample after another.

The chef at that castle restaurant was so proud of his art, and rightly so.  No doubt, he studied hard and honed his culinary gifts with years of experience before he produced such fine cuisine.  Reaching that level, he desired to share his gifts.  Not out of arrogance, but because gifts, by nature, are meant to be given – and received by others.  Our expressions of joy at tasting each bite-sized sample became our gift to him.

Am I a world-class chef?  No.  I’m not sure I’m a world-class anything!  I know this, though… I have studied hard and had experiences in my life that helped me earn a reputation for excellence, particularly in the fields of catechesis and theology.  Students, parents, parishioners, and even priests come to me when they don’t know how to answer certain questions regarding the Catholic faith or related issues.  It’s true.  When I’m at a loss, I dig and dig until I find those answers.  It’s my passion, just like our chef, and I need to share my gift with others.

With these things in mind, I offer just a bite-sized sample from my first booklet, Food For Thought: An Appetizer.  Of all the questions in the booklet, this is the only personal one.  I believe it’s a good insight into who I am, and I hope it will entice you to read the rest of the booklet and share it with your friends.  It’s available for sale by using the links on the sidebar – or get it for free by signing up for my newsletter!  Without further ado, I hope you enjoy what follows.

Forget Courtship…

...They don't even know how to date anymore!

CourtshipI’m old-fashioned.  I like the idea of courtship, even with a modern twist or two, but something happened recently that made me think, “Forget courtship.  Young people don’t even know how to date anymore!”

So what was it?

A teenage girl I know very well received a text from a boy the same age.  It was the first time the boy ever contacted her.  He asked her to be his girlfriend.  Let’s break that down a bit…

  • It was the first contact.
  • He asked her to be his girlfriend.
  • He did it via text.  Let me repeat that one.  He did it via text.

Lest you think I am too hard on the boy, I assure you I’m not.  He gets a pass for two reasons.  First, he’s a young man and likely prone to boneheaded decisions.  Second, his actions are a function of the culture around him and how they do things today.  That said, it caused me to reflect on how I can prepare my children appropriately.

Petitioning God

What My Nightly Petitions Look Like

Petitioning God in MarriageToday is my 16th wedding anniversary.  As such, I find myself reflecting with gratitude on the blessings God has bestowed on me.  They are too many to count, but I think the ones that matter most are found in how I am petitioning God on a daily basis.  It occurred to me that these petitions might be useful to others, either as a reminder to consider your own blessings or as a framework upon which to construct/re-construct your own petitions.  Without further ado, what follows is how I end prayer each night with the family… for all to hear.

I ask God to bless our family with the grace to get to Heaven and to bless our Church with truth and reverence.  I also ask that He would call at least one of our children to the priesthood and/or religious life.  I ask that He would bless any future spouses of our children, that He would bless our families, our friends, and their families.  Amen. 

Allow me to break it down for you…

3 Steps Toward Becoming a Friendlier Person

The Fleshing Out Carnegie Series - Part 1

Dale Carnegie - FriendlierIn this post, I offer you 3 steps toward becoming a friendlier person.  It is just part 1 of my “Fleshing Out Carnegie Series,” which is based on the major themes of Dale Carnegie’s writings as delineated in Dale Carnegie’s Golden Book.  To learn more about Dale Carnegie, who was perhaps only distantly related to steel mogul Andrew Carnegie, you can read his bio here.  Though there is no mention of his faith in the bio, he was a devout Christian and often referred to Jesus in his writings.

What This Series Is

This series contains my own personal reflections on how Carnegie’s major themes might be useful today.  In particular, I offer a Catholic spin on them whenever and wherever it seems appropriate.

And the title… Fleshing Out Carnegie?  It’s a play on words.  Carn = Latin for flesh.  Sorry, I’m a geek for that kind of stuff.

What This Series Is Not

This series is not a summary or analysis of Carnegie’s own understanding of each of his major themes.  Interested in learning more about those?  Simply go to the first link above and read his books.  By all accounts, they are classics and very worthwhile.

As promised, what follows are three steps toward becoming a friendlier person.

Why Tolerance?

There's Something So Much Better

Tolerance or Love?In layman’s terms, tolerance is putting up with something undesirable.  Now consider that tolerance might conceivably be current society’s most highly-esteemed value.  Think about that.  People of sound reason should ask, “Why tolerance?”

The meaning of tolerance today is not what it always was.  Today, it has more of a connotation of appreciation and embrace.  What does it appreciate?  Anything.  What does it embrace?  Everything.  People of faith know that’s not entirely accurate, though.  Those who most strongly espouse the modern notion of tolerance are prone to be quite intolerant of those who hold to the original meaning of the term.

Take their attitude toward Christians, for instance.  Christians work hard to eradicate social evils such as abortion, euthanasia, and so-called gay marriage, while simultaneously admitting that as long as this fallen world exists, evil of every kind will continue.  When certain evils are out of one’s personal control, a Christian tolerates them, but never accepts or embraces them.  They neither could nor should.  This position, held by the vast majority of people who ever lived, is found intolerable by so many today.  Modern “tolerators” even go so far as to call people like the Christians described above as ignorant, backward bigots.  Ironic.  Christians may be intolerant of actions, but those who espouse modern tolerance are actually intolerant of  and attack persons.

So what can you and I do in the face of what can only be described as something sinister?  I have a suggestion.

4 Sources For Making A Change in Your Life

And It Ultimately Comes Down To You

Time For ChangeAs creatures in time, change is no stranger to us.  Time, after all, is a measurement of change.  Yet for all that, change can be one of the most railed against and dreaded things in our lives.  The reasons are complex, but one of them is surely because some changes are huge… life-altering even.  In this post, a result of my own prayers and introspection today, I offer four sources that seem, to me anyway, necessary for making lasting change in one’s life.

God

This one seems obvious, but many overlook God today.  God is the One Who constantly holds existence in the proverbial palm of His hand.  He sustains creation from moment to moment and providentially provides for all our needs.  He is the primary source and inspiration for any changes we could ever hope to make.

In order to make a change that lasts, we must begin with gratitude.  Gratitude, in turn, leads to a desire to please God with a sacrificial offering of one’s life.  We can even get specific here, and offer a particular aspect of life that needs change.  God will see our changes through to the end, provided we turn to Him regularly in prayer.  Finally, we come to Him full circle with grateful hearts for the change He works in us.

3 Keys to a (Mostly) Happy Marriage

Prayer, Sacrifice, and Dropping Your Drawers

Wedding Picture in IrelandJust as no person is perfect, no marriage is perfect either.  That doesn’t mean that a marriage can’t be a happy one, at least most of the time!

Here are three keys that I’ve found helpful in my own marriage, in hopes that they might bring some happiness to yours.

Pray Together – Stay Together

We don’t necessarily have a hand-holding, off-the-cuff daily routine of praying together.  We have prayed that way before, though, and it’s commendable.  Rather, my wife and I say our mealtime prayers together, our nightly prayers together, and we go to Mass together every Sunday.  From time to time, we’ve had a habit of praying an Our Father together in the mornings before work, offering it for a daily intention that each of us has.  Likewise, we invite each other to go to Confession when our hectic Saturday schedules allow us to go together.  On special occasions, we go to devotional prayer services offered at local parishes, praise and worship gatherings, and concerts of our favorite Christian artists and bands.  All of this speaks of a life immersed in prayer, and we are not alone.

I am blessed to know many couples who share similar habits.  While none of our relationships are without challenges, I firmly believe that prayerful communion with God is the ultimate tie that binds a married couple.