Thursday, December 29, 2011

Be an Authentic Catholic

We are coming to a close on the year of the catechism that I have posted about a few times. It has been very enlightening and coming on the heels of the year of the Bible I have learned more about our faith than I even dared to imagine and gained a ton of perspective through these exercises.

One thing that I have found that is evident through reading the entire Bible and the Catechism (what amounts to the catholic guide to the faith) is that there is no foundation for some of the political stereotypes that have evolved in the church. To the contrary, the authentic teachings of the Church transcend the American political landscape.

You know what I am talking about. We have Catholics that are conservative and we have Catholics that are liberal. There are others, I am sure but these are the ones I see the most and it seems that the people who fall into these stereotypes allow their American political views to shape their faith. It seems to me that they  make no attempt to reconcile their views and positions with authentic Church teaching as a whole. Rather, they get hold of a part of a valid teaching like social justice or Humanae Vitae and to them that becomes the whole faith.

For instance, the liberal Catholic might defend legalized abortion under the guise of social justice. After all, a poor woman has the right to abort a child she can't care for that would just worsen her economic condition. Or a rape victim shouldn't have to carry the product of the rape to term. More than that, we certainly can't tell them that it is wrong; after all we haven't experienced life as they have. But there is clearly no room for such a position in the faith.

By the same token, the conservative Catholic may make an argument against welfare. "Teach a man to fish" and all that. Again, while we should "teach a man to fish", there is no room in the faith to demand that the state not help those who cannot or will not help themselves. In fact, just the opposite. What the faith teaches is that the state has an obligation to facilitate that help.

Far worse than just having these opinions, when the Bishops remind us of where we should come down on a particular issue they are often dismissed with whatever rationalizations we can muster. In other words, we lift our own political ideology above the teachings of the successors of the Apostles.

Now, I am not immune to this and don't want to leave the impression that I am. I have a tendency to lean in the conservative direction. However, what reading the Catechism and the Bible has shown me is that being a Catholic is not as easy as being liberal or conservative.

I know the examples that I gave are simplistic and easy. The purpose isn't to render a full account of the problems of each groups reasoning. The purpose is to get you to test your own opinions and philosophies against the true and full teaching of the Church. In other words, I challenge you as I challenge myself, don't be a liberal Catholic. Don't be a conservative Catholic. Be an authentic Catholic.

If you aren't sure how to be an authentic Catholic, a good first step would be to turn off Fox, MSNBC, and NPR. Quit reading whatever left or right leaning blogs, newspapers or other information sources you may frequent. Instead, lift up your heart in prayer and open up the pages of the Catechism and Scripture.

By the way, next year at St. Joan of Arc, Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana,  is the Year of the Eucharist, I am pretty excited.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Inn Keeper: Advent

This Advent I have been thinking a lot about "the inn keeper". As we read in the Gospel of Luke and as most people are aware Jesus was born while Mary and Joseph were traveling to Bethlehem. At that time many people were traveling to the towns of their ancestors to comply with an order for a census. In other words, it was a very busy time.

Because of this busyness of the situation and all of the extra people that had to be accommodated no one had room for the Holy Family. Instead, Jesus, our Lord and our God made in human flesh, was born in a stable amid animals and filth. I guess that people relegated Him to the stable because they could not recognize Him. I guess they could not recognize Him because they were not looking for Him but instead they were preoccupied with everything going on around them.

I know that people are as familiar with that part of the story as I have always been. But I have never really considered the other people in the story until recently. For instance, if there was no room in the inn, then somebody had to turn Mary and Joseph away. They must have approached an inn and the inn keeper must have said "Sorry, we have no rooms available".

This advent I have been imaging this scene were an inn keeper who is preoccupied with the hustle and bustle of the current time completely misses who has come to him. This inn keeper didn't recognize that the most important thing that had ever happened was happening right in front of him. He could have been part of it; instead he sent his God away and said "I have no room left for you, all of my room is taken up with other things".

Now I contrast this inn keeper with  Elizabeth or Simeon who were awaiting the coming of the Lord. They were totally focused on God and as such God was an important part of whatever was going on in their lives. For the people in the Gospel who do recognize our Lord, He is always front and center. This being the case, they were able to recognized Him when he was in their midst.

I have been comparing these different events and their results with how I approach the Advent and Christmas seasons. Am I preoccupied with the commercial Christmas and putting all of my attention on the secular aspects of the current season? Am I so worried about Christmas parties and gifts and food, etc that I pull my attention away from God? In other words, am I like the inn keeper? Will I entirely miss the Lord and send him away saying "I have no room for you, I have all of these other things to do."

Or do I use this season of advent to refocus my spiritual life and anticipate the coming of Christ. Do I look for God and put my focus on the most important thing to ever happen? And as such, recognize the Lord when He does come and exult Him and experience the true joy of Christmas. I hope for the grace this advent season to be ever focused on the Lord even in the middle of all the craziness of the commercial Christmas.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Advent: Training for Christmas.

Advent is a great time to refocus attention on the spiritual life and growing in the Christian faith. As a runner, I can see a similarity between running and the spiritual life. When I am running and preparing for a race, I get very focused and am methodical in my training plan. I have a goal and I work toward that goal with intensity. However, when there is no race on the schedule, my training can become lax and unfocused.

That is kind of how I am seeing this advent as well, with the Christmas season being the finish line and advent the training season. It seems to me that like being well prepared for a race enables me to enjoy the race itself and reap the benefits of my training with the goal of the race being met by a new personal best time and finishing strong. In the same way, being well prepared for the Christmas season will allow me to experience more fully the joy of the season.

This Advent I plan, God Willing, to focus and prepare with intensity for the Christmas season and the coming of our Lord. As for the particular training program I will be using, I have decided on the program that has produced many champions (saints) over the last 2,000 years. I will be using the tried and true form of Christian training, the prayer, fasting, and alms-giving plan.

Is this a big commitment? You bet because I know that I will have to focus intently on my training and make sacrifices in other areas of my life, but I know it will be worth it when I am running strong into Christmas morning and throughout the Christmas season.

Have a blessed and fruitful advent!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Praying and Running.

I had a great 10 mile run this morning and even though it is the day after Thanksgiving I had an experience that I can truly be thankful for during that run. We are spending this Thanksgiving weekend with family in MI and even though many of us were participating in a Turkey Trot(5k race Thanksgiving morning) and even though I knew I would be running at least 1 or 2 other days while we were up here, I forgot to pack my polar running watch.

The watch gives me all of my stats in both real time and stores the results for analysis later. So while I am running I can keep an eye on my pace, heart rate, elapsed time etc. I have noticed lately that while I used to use my runs as a time to spend in prayerful contemplation, as my seriousness about competitive running grows the watch and stats are getting more and more of my attention during the run. I have noticed that run is no longer about the prayer, not even about the run. Rather the run has become about the stats. The pace, the distance, the aerobic output.

When I found distance running, I felt like God had drawn me to it to give me the time of solitude that I needed to grow in my relationship with Him through a deep prayer life. But, as I said for a while before this morning I had traded that time of prayer for a compulsion about my running stats. It had actually gotten to the point where I was beginning to feel like I was choosing running over prayer. And that didn't feel good at all.

But this morning I ran 10 miles with and average pace of 7:30. Given my hurt foot and going all out in a 5k yesterday, that is no better and no worse than I would have done had I obsessively watched my stats and ignored my Lord. As I write this post I can honestly say that I am thankful that I left my polar at home and re-discovered the time of quiet, prayerful contemplation during my run.

Oh yeah, this is where my run started and ended. The scene for me brings up all kinds of other things to be thankful for.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


One great thing about being  Catholic is there are a whole lot of cool words that you get to use. One of my favorites is doxology. The word doxology alone just sounds really neat. But doxology is itself also something pretty awesome when you think about it. After all, doxology is a hymn of praise usually directed toward the Holy Trinity and usually affirming the infinite quality of God.

Catholics will recognize a few standard doxologies like the "Glory be" and the "Through him, with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, almighty Father, for ever and ever." that the priest prays before the Great Amen of the Eucharistic Prayer during Mass.

But why do I think that doxologies are so great? As we learn from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 45, "Man is made to live in communion with God in whom he finds happiness".  Heaven is where we will be in communion with God fully. Heaven then, is what man was made for it would seem.

In the Bible we get several "glimpses" of Heaven. In most of these glimpses we see that the angles and saints are engaged in hymns of praise towards God. This is why I think that doxology is more than a really cool word that Catholics get to use. It is kind of like a rehearsal for Heaven, or an audition even. Now that is pretty cool if you ask me.

Monday, August 22, 2011

I Don't Get Anything out of Mass!

A homily that I heard once and some wisdom from an old friend I think really put the Mass and our participation in the Mass into perspective. I remember the homily began by the priest telling us that our parish had lost a family to a non-denominational church down the road. He said that this family actually came to him and said they were leaving and going to this other church for two reasons. The first was that the music was better. The second reason was because they didn't feel like they got anything out of Mass.

At this point I remembered something a friend once said that made a lasting impact on me. She said essentially, "I don't come to Mass for the music or for the homily or for anything other than Jesus. I come because Jesus is here in the Eucharist." I wish that those people had known my friend. Because there is no where that you can go to be so close to our Lord as you are when you receive Holy Communion at Mass.

The priest reiterated this sentiment and then he added that we shouldn't look at Mass as some form of entertainment. Worrying if it  lives up to our standards for keeping us excited. He said that we should not worry about what we get out of Mass because God will provide what we need from Mass if we let Him. Instead we should worry about what we bring to Mass. That we should bring everything, all of our hopes, all of our plans, all of our anxieties, all of our problems, our very lives to the alter at Mass and offer them up with the prayers of the Church and watch what God will do with them.

Isn't this really at the heart of being a Catholic? To offer up every part of our lives in union with the whole Church and in union with Christ's sacrifice on Calvary. And really, what more could you ask to get out of Mass than receiving our Eucharistic Lord and a participation in His Eternal Sacrifice in union with His Holy Church!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Sorrowful Mysteries, 5th, The Crucifixion

 Luke 23:33-34
When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left.[Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”] They divided his garments by casting lots.

One thing I have learned about praying the Rosary regularly is that you always have the chance of stumbling onto something so profound that it makes you think "Man, I really have to reassess my life with this in mind."

As I learned again the other night, sometimes this thing that you find that is so profound is something you have always heard, something you have know as long as you have known your own name. It is ingrained in you, you know that it is part of the faith. The problem is, it is so comfortable to you, it is so much a part of the landscape of your faith that you actually quit seeing it. You know it, but at the same time it is foreign and you never even think to apply it to your own life.

I say the Rosary daily. That being the case I have prayed the sorrowful mysteries countless time. I have bowed my head a little deeper on the 5th sorrowful mystery many times. If I have watched the crucifixion scene play out once, I have watched it a million times.

Still, the other night while praying the 5th Sorrowful mystery when the words "Father, forgive them, they know not what they do" ran through my mind, I just about fell over. It was almost like it was brand new to me. It finally hit me. Here is Innocence itself, Perfection, the most undeserving Victim. Here is our Lord being nailed to a cross to die a humiliating and most painful death. What does he say? "Forgive them."

All the while I have the audacity to hold a grudge against anyone for anything. All the while I can "hope they get whats coming to them". But I have never been treated anywhere near as unjust as He was treated. Still, I have the gall to hold it against someone when I think they have wronged me!

It is kind of hard to articulate these things. Like I said, the concept, the words themselves were not foreign to me. I know they aren't foreign to you either. The thing is, praying the Rosary gives me the time to come back to these fundamentals and see how much I am not practicing my faith. Praying the Rosary gives me the chance to rediscover these things that are so important in our faith and see where I need to apply them in my own life.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Catholic Home Coming

St. Joan of Arc in Kokomo, IN will be beginning another Catholic home coming program soon. Here is a link to info about the program including schedule, contact info etc. If you have been away for a while, the program will give you an opportunity to ask questions. You will get a refresher on the sacramental Catholic life. And you will get a walk through the Mass. You won't need to feel self conscience because you haven't been to Mass in so long and you won't have to wonder “should I go to communion”. In other words, you are not expected to just walk in and pick up where you left off 10, 20, or 30 years ago.

Having been a “fallen away” Catholic myself, I think this is a great thing. I was away from the church for about 15 years. There was no formal program when I came home. But my children went to the local Catholic school and so I had somewhat of a connection. As students, they went to Mass twice a week and knew all of the “rules”. Even still, it was hard to go back. I can't imagine not having had my children to ease the transition. Without this and without a formal program, I don't know what would have happened. So I am very happy to see our parish is running this program.

I have no official part of the program. I have no official position to speak for the parish. I am but a parishioner who went through coming back on my own. I am just a man who has felt the call to come back to the church. It was uncomfortable and I thank God for giving me the grace to get through it

I just think this program is great and I wanted to share it. I'll go even further, if you are in Kokomo and want to come back to the church and having someone come with you to the program will make you more comfortable, contact me and I will be happy to come with you. If you are not in Kokomo and just having someone just to communicate with and help you get back to your own parish would be beneficial, contact me and I will do whatever I can to help you. It is that important.

Above all, during this time in particular, if you are a “fallen away” Catholic, know that the people and priests of St. Joan of Arc parish in the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana are praying for you!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Frequent Confession: My Hesitations

About a year ago I made a commitment to receive the the sacrament of reconciliation on a monthly basis as a way to grow closer to God. I didn't make this commitment without some hesitation however. One thing in particular kept me from it for a while; it felt silly. What I mean by that is that I don't go around breaking commandments in big ways anymore. That being the case, I was afraid that I would sound like a second grader to the priest and instead of making a good confession and feeling the Mercy of God that I would merely be reciting a list of the various and unexciting ways that I had "sinned". There are a couple of things that have gotten me past this.

First, I spoke to a priest and told the him that I wanted to receive reconciliation monthly but that I felt like I would sound like a child with "small and petty" sins. His response was two-fold. First, he said that if a person wishes to truly be close to God than no matter how "small" a sin may be it should seem as a great blight to that person. This put my "small and petty" sins into perspective. The second part of his response was to tell me that nuns go to confession every other week. In other words, women who have dedicated their lives to being holy find reason to frequent the sacrament even more than I wished to. So if the nuns can be holy women and not sound childish in the confessional then surely I will be alright.

Another thing I have found is that a long and through examination of conscience really helps me to prepare myself for a confession that is anything but childish. When I move beyond "I lied twice, I didn't pray enough, I lost my temper once", to truly examining what separates me from God, my sins no longer sound or seem childish. For instance, with a thorough examination "I lied" becomes "I lied out of pride to make myself seem better and superior to another. This is in direct violation of the command to love my neighbor as myself because I wanted to make him feel inferior to me." Now instead of sounding childish, I have gotten to the root of my sin. Now I and the priest can see it for what it is and what it is is the illnesses in a dying man. What it is is something that needs to be cured! And that is exactly what confession is for!

Sometimes even a year later I still have these hesitations. When it is coming up on the time of the month that I go to confession, I will being thinking that surely this time my confession will sound silly. However, I have never once left the confessional anything but very happy that I was there.

The very incident that prompted this post however happens to be that I was really struggling with these hesitations before my last confession. Even though I have been through this at least 12 times, it was happening again. I will leave you with a link to the chapter in "An Introduction to the Devout Life" which solved this problem for me for what I feel like may be the final time. Happy reading. 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Luminous Mysteries: 5th, Our LORD, Jesus Christ, Establishes the Eucharist

John 6:53-69
Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever" These things he said while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. Then many of his disciples who were listening said, "This saying is hard; who can accept it?" Since Jesus knew that his disciples were murmuring about this, he said to them, "Does this shock you? What if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe." Jesus knew from the beginning the ones who would not believe and the one who would betray him. And he said, "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."

Matthew 26:26-28
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, "Take and eat; this is my Body"
Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you,
for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins."

While these 2 passages are seperated by maybe 100 pages or more, I think reading them this close together and in light of each other really helps to bring out the wonder of the Eucharist.

The thing that stands out to me while contemplating the 5th Luminous Mystery is how Jesus seems to give us something that we don't know if we can bring ourselves to do or even if we could, how we would go about doing it. Then He provides a way for us to do this thing that we never could have imagined.  

In the first passage many disciples leave him when he says that He is giving His own Body and Blood for food an drink. These disciples had presumably left everything behind to follow Him and learn from Him. But this was to much because they couldn't fathom how they could accomplish this thing that He told them to do. And so, they "returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him."

But in the second passage, He does what He has always done even from the beginning of time. He gives us what we need, in the way that we need it. The Eucharist is truly the Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. For our sake, He is veiled under the appearance of bread and wine, that we might be able to do as he said "eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood".

The 5th Luminous Mystery makes me think "What a GOD we have!"

Monday, June 6, 2011

Read the Catechism in a Year

At the beginning of this year the priests at our parish challenged us to "read the Catechism in a year." Much like their challenge that we "Read the Bible in a year" the previous year, I have found this practice to yield much fruit. Many times I have finished a paragraph or a section and thought to myself "where has this book been all my life?"

Tonight as I was reading through part 4 "The Revelation of Prayer" Section 1 "Christian Prayer" and paragraph 2729 in particular struck me and provided a "where has this book been all of my life?" moment.

"The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve"

While the content of the paragraph seems obvious sometimes having something articulated makes it much easier to use. As I read this paragraph, I could remember many times struggling against distraction or worse yet finishing a time of prayer and looking back on it and seeing that the whole time was distraction. I could also foresee many times to come of distraction in prayer and remembering this paragraph, turning back to my heart and choosing which master to serve. In other words, as I read this paragraph, I could already begin to see the fruit it would produce.
This is just one example of what I have gotten out of it reading the Catechism. That being said, I know that it is already June, but if you wanted to join us at this point you could easily catch up by doubling up on the reading. The standard reading takes literally 5 minutes or so a day. So if you started from the beginning today or tomorrow it would take 10 minutes a day.

This is the schedule we are following, jump in!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Christian High: Parishioner

Christian High : Parishioner St Joan of Arc, Catholic Church, Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana. this is just one of my many titles in life. We all have them, titles that signify our relationships and roles in life; husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, employee, boss, etc.

Our titles and roles dictate how we live our lives. Our titles and roles provide us with motivation to get out of bed in the morning. Our titles and roles guide where we go and what we do with our days. Our titles and roles are always before us. Yet it dawned on me the other day that if someone were to ask me to list all of the titles and roles that apply to me I might not think to add parishioner to the list.

I feel like I try pretty hard to keep faith at the forefront of my life. Even still, I didn't immediately recognize this title as applicable to me. But it is and thank GOD that it is. Because in this title is reflected my membership in the Church. Which is to say my membership in the Body of Christ. It is in this membership that I can draw the strength, wisdom and motivation to live my other titles and roles as I should.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Feeling Disconnected from GOD?

I heard in a homily once something like this; “If you feel like you are disconnected from GOD don’t think that GOD has left you because he is always right there. Instead, look for and put in their proper place the things that you have replaced HIM with. Then you can feel HIS presence in your life again.”
From my own experience these “things” don’t have to be big, bright or shiny. These “things” can just be “life” accompanied by a sort of spiritual sloth, neglecting to make time for the LORD.
This advice came in handy for me lately and I thought I would share it in case it might come on handy for you someday as well.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Man is religious.

Think about this. Man is by nature religious. You cannot find a people or culture anywhere under the sun that does not have religion. Man is religious because he is made to be by his Maker for his Maker and religion is man's expression of a desire to know his Maker.

Now think about this. Christianity is spread across the globe. In every culture at every time and in every place where Christianity has been introduced it has taken root. Under every circumstance imaginable, it has thrived. It has thrived in times when it was illegal and punishable by cruel death. It has thrived when and where people had nothing and it has grown and thrived when and where people have wanted for nothing. Christianity seems to be the most indiscrimnate force on the face of the earth. Willing to allow us to avail ourselves of it's truths and beauties regardless of who we are or where we are.

I have to think that this seemingly universal call of Christianity owes to the fact that it is the fullest and truest expression of our desire to know GOD and GOD'S desire for us to seek Him. In other words, Christianity fits all of us, universally like nothing else on the face of the earth, because it is made for us by the Maker who knows how to make something that fits us.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sorrowful Mysteries, 2nd, The Scourging at the Pillar

Luke 23 13-16
Pilate then summoned the chief priests, the rulers, and the people
and said to them, "You brought this man to me and accused him of inciting the people to revolt. I have conducted my investigation in your presence and have not found this man guilty of the charges you have brought against him,
nor did Herod, for he sent him back to us. So no capital crime has been committed by him.
Therefore I shall have him flogged and then release him."

In the 2nd Sorrowful mystery we pray to bear our earthly pain and suffering with Christian fortitude.

One the thing that struck me while contemplating this mystery is the question, how often to I act like Pilate. What I mean by that is that Pilate knew that our Lord was innocent. He knew that jealousy drove the chief priest and elders to bring Christ before him with the outrageous charges they were making. But, he feared their disapproval of him more than he feared accusing and punishing an innocent person.

While contemplating this mystery, I must recognize the times in my life where I have acted likewise. How often do I let others around me be treated unjustly because I fear the disapproval of the one(s) treating that person wrong.

As an example, in childhood I may have been a Pilate while another kid was being bullied. I went along with it and even encouraged it because I feared the bully tuning his attention to me. More so as an adult, have I ever stood by while a problem or situation was unfairly blamed on a co-worker. Do I ever sit by and watch and even encourage and participate in gossip and backbiting about the faults of someone else because I fear that my own faults will be exposed?

A lesson I have learned from this mystery is that, even though Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent and that the only thing the Jewish leaders had against him really was their own jealousy and their own wounded pride, he had our Lord scourged because he feared what they would do if he didn't go along with the injustice. So, I must be careful not to make decisions, especially ones that may result in an injustice done to another, out of the fear that my own faults may be exposed or people that I want to like me may turn against me.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Rosary; Making Time

The Rosary is a powerful prayer which offers a great deal in the way of spiritual growth. However, as with anything that is worth doing, committing to pray the Rosary on a daily basis is not without its difficulties. The Rosary is a long prayer of contemplation. To pray a full Rosary takes about an hour. For this reason many of people pray just one chaplet a day.Still, this is a 15 to 20 minute commitment.

Most of us are very busy with work and school to attend to and kids and houses to care for. Finding a solid hour for prayer is very difficult. Even finding 20 minutes may take some creativity and/or sacrifice. Whatever it takes, you will be rewarded with the spiritual growth and closeness to God that we all seek as is our nature.

So, what are some ways that we can find the time we need to pray the Rosary on a daily basis?

I am a morning person so the first thing that comes to mind for me is getting up 20 minutes early. I have been doing this for a while and it works very well for me. The house is quite so there is little to distract me from my contemplation and I meet my commitment to God first thing and my day is blessed because of it. I have started my day in prayer to God and I hope that the prayer and time with God guides my day and helps me to more fully live the Christian life.

Praying a full Rosary all at once is even more difficult to do, mostly because we have to carve out an hour from an already overloaded day. That being said, I have found the practice of praying a full Rosary to be very rewarding. That being the case I would ask, how many of us find an hour to commute to work? How many of us find an hour to exercise? Is there something that you are doing for an hour that does not require your full metal attention? If there is, then you have time to pray a full Rosary.

I am an avid runner. About a year ago, I put up the ipod and began praying a full Rosary on my runs. Again, this works very well for me. I don't know that I would always make my runs, but committing to pray the Rosary while I run gives me an extra boost to get out there when my inspiration to run wains.

Some other suggestions that may work for you would be to pray the Rosary as you lie down to sleep at night. That wouldn't work for me because I would fall asleep, but it might work for you. How long is you drive to work? Is it long enough to pray a chaplet of the Rosary on your way? What about while you grocery shop? What do you do on your lunch hour? Would you consider praying the Rosary during that time? I am sure you can think of other times when you can find 20 minutes to contemplate the Life of our Lord in the Rosary. I would just encourage you to consider seeing if you can find time to take up the Rosary.

As always, I would be interested to hear about your experiences with this pray. Use the comment box below.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sorrowful Mysteries, 4th, The LORD Carries His Cross

John 19:16-17
Then he handed him over to them to be crucified. So they took Jesus,
and carrying the cross himself he went out to what is called the Place of the Skull, in Hebrew, Golgotha.

In the 4th Sorrowful Mystery we pray for the grace to bear our trials with patients.

The 4th Sorrowful Mystery has, as I find many times, obliterated what I thought was just a cliche and through the contemplation of this mystery I have seen the truth in the old saying "everyone has their cross to bear".

First of all I am brought back to Mark 8:34 where our LORD says "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me." As a Christian my only goal in life should be to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. In order to do that I don't need a bunch of stuff. My goal shouldn't be a better job, a bigger house, a "picture perfect" family. If I somehow end up with these things, then so be it. But my purpose should be to be a disciple. To be a disciple, I don't need an easy life. What I need is my cross.

However, in this life the LORD has blessed me tremendously. I have a good job. I have a decent house and cars that run. I have a little money in the bank. I don't want for food. If someone gets sick we go to the doctor. I could go on and on with the good things that the LORD my GOD has blessed me with. But that is not the point of this particular post.

My blessings are many, so even if I am willing to seek out my cross, I sometimes have a hard time finding it because I have it so good. so I pray
LORD, I want to be your disciple. You have blessed me abundantly and I do not see my Cross. Jesus, Son of David, Have pity on me(Luke 18:38). Let me see(my cross).

This is a scary thing to pray. The fact is, I want to be a good disciple and carry my cross as Christ carried His. But, I fear that when He does show me my cross, I will lack the courage to pick it up (the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak Mathew 26:41). So I pray, LORD strengthen me and grant me the courage to pick up my cross.

But, I know that even if I see my cross and even if the LORD gives me the courage to pick it up and carry it that I cannot carry it by myself (because without me you can do nothing. John 15:5). So I pray, Help me, LORD I cannot carry this cross by myself. I am too weak.

Far from being cliche the Cross is central to the Christian life. A lesson I have learned meditating on the 4th Sorrowful Mystery is that my focus in life should be to be a disciple of Our LORD. To be a disciple I must pick up my cross and follow Him. If I don't see my Cross then I need to pray that GOD will grant me sight. That if I fear The Cross, I should pray for the grace to embrace my Cross. Finally, that I will not carry The Cross on only on my own shoulders but if I ask, the LORD will help me under the weight of The Cross.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Rosary and Some Common Objections

I would very much like to encourage Protestants to take up the practice of praying the Holy Rosary and also to strengthen Catholics in the prayer. The Rosary is a very rich prayer that can be prayed by the Christian who is very young in the faith as a way to growing in the prayer traditions of Orthodox Christianity. The Rosary can also be prayed by those who have already developed a deep prayer life as a way of nurturing the life of faith.

I know, however, that there are some major obstacles for Protestants to begin this prayer. I believe that these obstacles are the result of a gross misrepresentation of the prayer and/or simple misunderstanding. First and foremost, I know that most Protestants have an aversion to the Hail Mary. I have covered that in a separate post.

Following that, the three most common objections to the Rosary that I know of are that it is mistaken as a form of worship of Mary. Second is that it is a direct violation of our LORD'S command to not "babble on like the pagans" and finally, that the Rosary is strictly a Marian prayer and Marian prayer is pointless because there is only one Mediator, Christ Jesus.

Not only do I wish to answer these objection for the Protestant, as well, I fear that weakly formed Catholics may be caught off guard by these propositions and thereby hampered in taking up the practice.

First and foremost, no Catholic worships Mary. It  is that simple. Catholics do not worship Mary. We worship only GOD, period. I believe, by and large, that most people who think this are caught up in a misunderstanding. It seems to me that the cause of this misunderstanding is a fundamental difference between Protestants and Catholics in the understanding of prayer.

Prayer can be worship, but it isn't necessarily worship. We have prayers of worship directed toward GOD. We also have prayers of intercession directed toward those who's help we seek.

Our prayers asking for intercession are comparable to asking a friend for a favor. An even more accurate comparison may be that prayers for intercession are like asking a mentor at work for help and guidance.

We understand that as the mother of Jesus, Mary holds a unique place of honor among GOD'S creation. That not withstanding, whether it is Mary, or St. Joseph, or St. Michael or any other saint, we understand that their ability to intercede on our behalf comes from GOD, not from themselves. We do not ask anything of Mary other than that she intercede for us.With regards to worship, this is no different than asking a friend or family member to pray for you. You are not worshiping them are you?

In addressing the second objection, namely that the Rosary is babbling on like the pagans we must look at what the Rosary actually is. The prayer of the Rosary is really found in the contemplation of the mysteries. The vocal, repetitive prayers are meant to time and move the contemplative prayers. Since the Rosary requires more than mere repetition of words, it is not a "vain repetition".

More to the point, when you really look at what the Rosary is, it is not just repeating the same prayers time and again. Rather it is more akin to what a person might call "Bible Study". It is an in-depth look at certain events in the life of Christ. In looking at these events we try to learn how to become better Christians from the virtues extolled and lived by our Savior and His Mother (who was the first and model Christian).

Therefore, in the Rosary, and this is important, we are contemplating the Gospel. When we pray the Rosary, we are looking at the Life of Christ with Mary, his Mother. Who would be better to study the Gospel with than Mary?

This leaves us with the final objection, that there is but one Mediator. I don't think that anything in the Bible is superfluous. Do you? In other words, I think that every story in the Old and New Testaments are there for us to learn from. For instance in 1 Kings 2 we see that King Solomon's mother was asked to interceded for one of the King's subjects. She did and King Solomon assured her before she even asked that he would not refuse her.

So if the Queen of Israel was not refused by her son, the King of Israel, why would Jesus Christ, King of Heaven and Earth, refuse His Mother? He wouldn't and we can know this from John's Gospel. When Mary does intercede on behalf of someone she is not refused. In John 2 when Christ and Mary are at the wedding at Canna, she comes to Him because the host has run out of wine. He does not refuse her, rather he performs His first public miracle.

Finally, it seems to me that the "One Mediator" objection is a syntactical matter. We can only be reconciled and saved through the eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Holy Roman Catholic Church teaches nothing else and the prayer of the Rosary presumes nothing else. It is only through this Sacrifice that salvation can be won.

However, that doesn't mean that we cannot ask the Queen to recommend our intentions to the King. Mary can intercede on our behalf with her Son and He can remain the "One Mediator". If Mary can intercede on our behalf as she did in Canna, then Marian prayer is not useless, rather, it is powerful.

When it is all said and done, the Rosary is a great prayer to nurture spiritual growth. I know many people neglect this prayer because of some basic objections. I hope that if you had any or all of these objections to the Rosary that you might consider what I have said here. I also know that I may not have completely convinced you.If this is the case I would be happy to explore any remaining objections you may have.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sorrowful Mysteries: 3rd, Crowning with Thorns

Matthew 27:27-31
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus inside the praetorium and gathered the whole cohort around him.
They stripped off his clothes and threw a scarlet military cloak about him.
Weaving a crown out of thorns, they placed it on his head, and a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!"
They spat upon him and took the reed and kept striking him on the head.
And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the cloak, dressed him in his own clothes, and led him off to crucify him.

The 3rd Sorrowful Mystery is the "Crowning with Thorns". This Mystery recalls the time after Christ was scourged at the pillar. The roman soldiers mock Jesus by calling Him "King of the Jews" and then treating Him badly. The soldiers give Him all of the symbols of a King in a way that hurts Him. In other words they are just making sport of Him.

The soldiers call Christ King and then go on to act as if He is anything but King. I think this is what struck me so strongly. As a Christian, I claim that Jesus Christ is King of Heaven and Earth and that I am under His dominion.

I have claimed Jesus Christ as King and one lesson I have learned from the 3rd Sorrowful Mystery is that every time I make a decision to act contrary to the word and example of Jesus, every time I disregard His law and teaching, I am joining with the roman soldiers and mocking our LORD. When I call Jesus King and go on to act as if His Kingship makes no difference in my life, I am just making sport of Him. This lesson brings to light the severity of my own sins, especially the ones that seem innocuous on the surface.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Rosary: Staying Focused

There are several obstacles that someone who has committed to pray the Rosary will face. Since the Rosary is a long prayer one of the biggest challenges I face is staying focused. If you have read my other posts or if you are just familiar with the prayer, you know that the mental contemplation of the Mysteries is the main focus of the prayer. So getting distracted really detracts from the prayer.

Even if I am only praying 1 chaplet of the Rosary, it still takes about 20 minutes. In that amount of time your mind is bound to wander some. I have found several different things to help me when my mind begins to drift off to the worries of everyday life.

The first is to understand that this is going to happen and be watching for it. If I am not vigilant I can get through a whole decade and realize I have not thought one single time about the Mystery that I should have been contemplating. So before I begin the prayer I make a conscious determination to be watchful of my wandering mind. One tactic that I employ is to try to refocus my mind at the beginning of every Hail Mary.

Another helpful strategy for staying focused is actually a very old one and uses an addition to the "blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus" part of the Hail Mary depending on what Mystery you are contemplating. For instance, if you are on the 3rd Joyful Mystery you might add "who took on human flesh" or "who was born in Bethlehem". There is no right or wrong addition, but the addition should remind you of the Mystery.

Another strategy is very similar. Find a phrase or idea from each mystery that strikes you and repeat it and visualize it. For instance if I am contemplating the 1st Luminous Mystery I may repeat and visualize John proclaiming "Behold, the Lamb of GOD who takes away the sin of the world". Sometimes when I am having a very hard time focusing I may rely on this method very heavily.

The very, very best method that I have found to keep my mind from wandering is being familiar with Sacred Scripture. First and foremost, you should be familiar with the specific passages that describe the Mysteries of the Rosary. There are any number of resources to help you find the book, chapter, and verses related to each Mystery. The Scriptural Rosary that can be found at Rosary Army is a good place to start. If you are very familiar with these verses you can call them to mind at the beginning of each Hail Mary.

Although I never make it through an entire chaplet or Rosary without my mind wandering some the tactics above help me to stay as focused as possible and refocus when necessary. The Rosary is a long prayer and my mind will wander to some degree. Still, since the Rosary is a prayer of contemplation I need to fight as hard as I can any distraction so that I might benefit as much as possible from my time contemplating the life of Christ with the Blessed Virgin.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Hail Mary Explained for Protestants

I want very badly for my protestant friends to take up the practice of the Rosary because when we pray the Rosary it is like we are at the wedding at Cana. We petition Mary and she points to her Son and says "Do whatever HE tells you".

You don't have to be Catholic to pray the Rosary. But there are a few things that prevent protestants, by and large, from the practice of praying the Holy Rosary. Chief among them I would say is an aversion to the Hail Mary, the central prayer of the Rosary.

Now, one thing most protestants have in common is a profound belief in the doctrine of Sola Scriptura. In other words, most protestants would argue that the Bible alone is the sole source of GOD's word. With that in mind, I will point out in this post where the Hail Mary comes from and why it is a treasured prayer of Catholics. We will go verse by verse and explore the biblical roots.

Our prayer begins "Hail Mary full of Grace the LORD is with you". In Luke 1:28(NAB) we see that the Angel Gabriel comes to Mary to Announce the Birth of Christ to her and greets her in this way, ""Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." So, already we are establishing a biblical basis for the prayer.

But, just because someone in the bible says something doesn't make it a prayer does it? An interesting thing about Gabriel, a few verses before in Luke 1:19 when Gabriel is speaking to Zechariah he says "I am Gabriel who stand before GOD". So, its not just someone who greets Mary in this way it is Gabriel "Who stands before GOD". He spends his time in the presence of Almighty. Still, he greets Mary in this way.

It is clear from the message that the angle delivers that GOD is pleased with Mary. After all, angle means "Messenger of GOD". So, Gabriel's message was from GOD. Do you doubt this? Then surely you don't doubt that the greeting also was from GOD.

Our prayer continues, "Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus". Later in the Gospel of Luke we see that Mary is going to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Elizabeth will be the mother of John the Baptist.In Luke 1:41-42(NAB) when Mary comes to Elizabeth, we are told that Elizabeth is "filled with the holy Spirit". As Elizabeth is "filled with the holy Spirit" she "cries out in a loud voice" and greets Mary in this way.

Again, just because a person says something in the Bible doesn't make it a prayer. But she says it while she is "filled with the holy Spirit". Do you doubt that if a person says something when they are filled with the "holy Spirit" that it is true?

Sure, anyone can claim to be filled with the "holy Spirit". It's easy enough to say. But we as Christians believe that what is in the Bible is GOD's unerring word. So when the Bible says that someone is "filled with the holy Spirit" we know that they are. When someone "filled with the holy Spirit" says something we can trust in that saying.

Up to this point we are simply reciting verses from the Gospel. What protestant on earth could have a problem with that? so our prayer concludes "Holy Mary, Mother of GOD, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."

You know as well as I do that we cannot find this exact saying in the Sacred Scriptures but we can find plenty to back it up. In Revelations we see that saints are presenting the petitions of the faithful to GOD. So we know those already in Heaven are able to plead for us to the Father. Do you doubt that Mary is in Heaven? If she isn't then no one is!

We also know that in the ancient Jewish culture that the queen was not the king's wife, rather the queen was the king's mother. Do you deny that Christ is King of Heaven and Earth?

We also know from the Old Testament that the queen was someone the king's subject relied on to interceded on their behalf. Why shouldn't we petition Mary on our behalf as poor sinners to plead for us with the King?

Do you object to calling Mary "Mother of GOD"? If Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity and If Jesus is true man and true GOD then you cannot deny that Mary is Mother of GOD. That being said, it makes no sense to object to calling her "Mother of GOD".

Is there an objection that you have to this prayer that I have missed or do my arguments not convince you? It is not my point here to be right for the sake of being right. I want to show you that your aversion to this prayer is not necessary. If I have missed anything, please let me know in the comment box below and I will do my best to answer it for you.

Still, I know that protestants have more objections to the Rosary than just the Hail Mary and I intend to present a defense for those objections in a future post or 2 so stay tuned.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Luminous Mysteries: 1st, The Baptism of the LORD

Mathew 3:13-17
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him.
John tried to prevent him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and yet you are coming to me?"
Jesus said to him in reply, "Allow it now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he allowed him.
After Jesus was baptized, he came up from the water and behold, the heavens were opened (for him), and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove (and) coming upon him.
And a voice came from the heavens, saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

One lesson I have learned while meditating on the Baptism of the LORD is that sometimes we must accept a mission or job or task from GOD that we don't think we are up to or worthy to preform. You see how John says, "Oh no, I am not worthy to baptize you. If anything I need to be baptized by you."

At this point our LORD wanted to do something. We all know that Christ was without sin and therefore had no need to be baptized. After all, John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. But He came to be baptized anyway. Why? What was He doing? He was sanctifying the waters of baptism for us. He was establishing for us the Sacrament of Baptism. He was fulfilling an Old Testament prophesy.

John had an important part to play here. But he didn't think he was worthy. He didn't think that he was capable of the task GOD had for him to preform. He tried to get out of it. And then what? No baptism. If our LORD hadn't entered into this baptism, what would our own baptism be worth?

We see this in a other places throughout Scripture. Its always the same thing. GOD wants someone to do something. They don't think they are worthy or capable. They try to get out of it. The LORD in the end wins their obedience and they play an important part in GOD's plan of Salvation.

Take the profit Jeremiah. The LORD tells him that he will be a profit but Jeremiah replies that he is too young and doesn't know how to speak. The same thing can be seen with Moses. The LORD tells him that he will use him to deliver the Israelites out of Egypt. But Moses replies that he can't go because he wouldn't know what to say and no one would listen to him anyway.

There are plenty of other examples of this throughout the Old and New Testament. The thing all of these people had in common was that GOD wanted them to preform a task to bring about His Will. They all felt that they were not worthy or capable of the task at hand. In each case GOD provided what they lacked. Of course John wasn't worthy to baptize the LORD. Who is? Moses didn't know what to say, GOD gave him the words. Jeremiah wasn't capable of being the LORD's profit. GOD provided what Jeremiah lacked. 

So one lesson I have learned from mediating on the first Luminous Mystery is that sometimes I have to dispense with my inclination to self doubt and when GOD assigns a task to me that I don't feel worthy or capable of doing I have to put my trust in Him that He will provide what I myself lack, that His Will might be accomplished.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Joyful Mysteries: 4th, The Presentation

Luke 2:22-40 The Presentation of Jesus

When the days were completed for their purification according to the law of Moses, Mary and Joseph took Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, just as it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord, and to offer the sacrifice of a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons, in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord. Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout, awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. He came in the Spirit into the temple; and when the parents brought in the Child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took Him into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, You may let your servant go in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for Your people Israel.” The Child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about Him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted ‘and you yourself a sword will pierce’ so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer. And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the Child to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. When they had fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The Child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favour of God was upon Him.

In the 4th Joyful Mystery we contemplate the presentation of Christ in the temple according to the law. According to the Mosaic law, every first born male child was to be consecrated to the Lord. To consecrate the child Mary and Joseph take Christ to the temple. The temple was filled with people who knew the Scriptures and studied the prophets endlessly. They would have known the prophesies about the Messiah inside and out.

According to the account in Luke 2, there is no mention of any of the priest, scribes, pharisees or scholars of the law who recognize Christ for who He is. A continuing theme throughout the Gospel is that these scribes, pharisees and priests aren't really focusing on God. They are focusing on themselves. The Gospel points out time and again that these people are more concerned with the power and prestige that comes to them because of their station than they are about serving God.

However, two people do recognize Him immediately. Simeon and Anna. It appears from the little that is said about them that they were not concerned with their own stations but rather they spent their lives focusing on God. Simeon was a righteous man who was "awaiting the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25). Anna, "never left the temple, but worshiped night and day" (Luke 2:37).

To be sure, the lesson here is not that it is bad to follow the regulations and rituals of our faith. Simeon did follow the Jewish law. The reading says  "The man was righteous and devout" which, in Bible speak, means he followed this law. The lesson is that we must practice our religion for the right reason. We must practice our religion out of love of the LORD not to build ourselves up as "Holy Rollers".

To put it into terms of Catholicism, maybe it would be fair to say that the scribes, the pharisees, Simeon and Anna all attended Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, said their prayers before meals, read the Bible and said the Rosary everyday. In other words, both followed  the practices of the religion. The scribes and pharisees did it so that others would look at them and say "oh, they are so holy". While Simeon and Anna did it out of genuine love of GOD understanding that he gave them the Church and her practices and regulations to draw them to Himself.

This is one thing that I have come to see over time contemplating the 4th Joyful Mystery, "The Presentation", and that is that those who focus on themselves are bound to miss it when God is present among them, while those who focus their attention on God will surely recognize Him when comes into their presence.

What lessons do you see in this mystery. Please use the comments area below to let me know.

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Calling of the Disciples

Today's (1/10/2011 Mark 1:14-20) Gospel reading has really stuck with me and developed in my mind over the course of the day. I wanted to share what I have been contemplating about today as a result of the reading. Believe me, I understand that this sounds cliche. I love it when the readings force me to see the the truth and beauty of what all to often gets written off as cliche.

The first thing that struck me was verse 1:15 “This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel.”  I love this. I think I am so attracted to this saying because it is the LORD Himself saying "Your time has not run out. You have another opportunity to come to me."  Think about it. This is Mercy. The day of the LORD has come. But you still have a chance to repent of the evil you have done and make amends with GOD. If this were not true I think Christ may have said something like "Too late, I am here and you are out of luck." Thank you, Jesus, for your Mercy.

Another thing that struck me was Jesus called the disciples from their ordinary everyday job. They were not holy men. They were not cloistered monks. They were not parish priests. They were just some hard working regular Joes so to speak. I don't know about you, but all too often I think "Man, if I were a recluse monk I would be some kinda prayer warrior." Or, "If only I could dedicate myself full time to helping 'the least among us' I would be all kinds of holy".

Well, I guess after today's reading I am out of excuses. Jesus called the Disciples from their everyday jobs. Guess where I will be tomorrow. You got it, at my everyday job. St. Peter, St Andrew, St James, and St. John pray for me that I might hear Jesus when he calls on me tomorrow at my everyday job and asks me to follow Him!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Rosary; An Introduction

When I first began praying the Rosary, I wasn't quite sure how it was done. Through the internet, I found instructions for praying the Rosary and a list of the Mysteries. I learned that to pray the full traditional Rosary you say 15 "decades". a decade is composed of an Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be. So in the end you have prayed 150 Hail Marys. While you are reciting the prayers you concentrate your mind on the Mysteries.

The Mysteries are an important part of praying the Rosary. In fact, they really are the prayer itself. In the Mysteries we contemplate specific parts of the life of Christ. The traditional mysteries are the Joyful, the Sorrowful and the Glorious Mysteries.

Because the full Rosary takes so long to pray, I also found that many people say only 1 "chaplet" a day. A chaplet is 5 "decades" and focuses on 1 of the 3 Mysteries. In this case there is a traditional pattern. Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays are the Glorious Mysteries, Mondays and Thursdays, are the Joyful Mysteries and Tuesdays and Fridays are the Sorrowful Mysteries.

So the Rosary is composed of the vocal prayers and the mental prayers of the Mysteries. The purpose of the vocal prayer is to direct the mental prayer of the Mysteries. In other words the vocal prayers help time and move the minds focus through each of the Mysteries.

I found it very helpful to pray a scriptural  Rosary when I was first beginning so that I knew what to contemplate. When praying a scriptural Rosary, you read a verse from Scripture to help your mind concentrate on the Mystery at hand and then pray a Hail Mary and repeat until finished. Here are links to a good scriptural reference ( Glorious, Joyful, Sorrowful).

The Rosary

I began praying the Rosary about 3 years ago. At the time I was attending Mass on Sundays. My prayer life consisted of saying the Our Father and prayers of my own words. I wasn't spending much time at all in prayer. I didn't really know how.

However, it felt like there should be more. I felt like I was cheating God, not giving Him anything more than the bare minimum. But, like I said, I didn't know how to pray more or pray better.

I knew about the Rosary. Or at least I thought I did. The Rosary is a plastic strand of beads that all Catholics have lying in some drawer in their home, right? Wrong. That is a rosary. The Rosary is a prayer. I remember from my youth in Catholic school that in order to pray the Rosary a person said some Hail Marys, some Glory be(s) and some Our Fathers. That is it. That was about the extent of what I knew of the Rosary.

Even though what I knew about this prayer was very limited; Even though what I did know about it made it seem very boring, I felt drawn to begin praying it. However, as I mentioned I wasn't quite sure how to pray it. I did some googling and found instructions. Here is a nice set of instructions that you can print for easy reference while you are first beginning.

I feel like I have been blessed with this prayer. I want to share with you my thoughts about the Rosary, the struggles of this prayer, and the lessons I have learned through praying it. A series of posts will follow, some on the lessons I have learned in the Mysteries, some in general about the prayer and how it works for me. In the end I hope that if you are already praying the Rosary that we can encourage each other in the practice. If you aren't praying the Rosary, that you will consider giving this great prayer a chance to be a part of your life. Finally, if you pray the Rosary from time to time, I hope that you will find inspiration to make it a more regular habit.