The Gospel reading from Luke 14:15-24 is about the master of the house inviting many to dinner, but his invitation was refused over and over again because the invited guests had other things to do. As such, the Master sent his servant to many parts of the land where he could invite the lame, the crippled, the beggar. It is these "lowly" people who accepted the masters invitation and tasted the fine meal. Pope Francis remarks on this saying that God will not open our hearts if we refuse him. Why? Because "he respects our hearts," the Pope says. It is true, God gave us free will and respect our decisions, even if that decision neglects Him who gave us life. Don't get me wrong, God wants us; but he loves us so much that he respects us.
I haven't blogged in a while. I gave birth to my third child. Andrew Paul was born three weeks early, has Down Syndrome and spent 23 days in the NICU. Having been named for Christ's first and last Apostles, Baby Andrew is now a thriving 4 month old! St. Andrew and St. Paul were both evangelists; they drew others to Christ. My husband and I knew prenatally that our baby would be born with Down Syndrome. We were advised many times to terminate the pregnancy. We declined the invitation from Satan to kill our child and accepted the invitation from Christ to love our child. We turned our hearts against the Evil One and opened them in ways we never thought possible to the Almighty Risen Savior.
People with Down Syndrome are always loving and joyful. I first met a child with Down Syndrome when I was a teenager. The young child came up and gave my dad a big hug in the back of church. My dad looked and me and said, "You know Erin, people with Down Syndrome really are angels on Earth." As a mother to a child with Down Syndrome, I am so glad that this was my first encounter and that my dad reacted in such a loving and welcoming manner. I was able to draw on that experience when I found out during pregnancy that Andrew would have Down Syndrome. My dad showed me his openness of heart by accepting Christ's invitation and extending our Saviors love.
Baby Andrew is named for St. Andrew and St. Paul. St. Andrew was the first Apostle and introduced his brother, St. Peter to Christ. St. Paul wrote most of the New Testament and was thus a major evangelizer. My prayer for Andrew is that he will use his infectious, happy personality to draw others to Christ. People with Down Syndrome have very open hearts and genuinely express great love. This love comes from Christ and it is easy to see why they are considered to be angels who walk the earth.
May our love of Christ always reverberate in the way that we raise our children. May it be central to our hopes and dreams for the generations that come after us. Don't be so busy in life that you refuse acts of charity that are a nudge from the Holy Spirit. Always accept Christ's invitation to love and care for others.
As I studied Economics in undergrad, I fell in love with the question “why.” This question allows for us to dig deeper into various revelations in life. As a mom and a teacher, I love it when children ask “why.” It shows me their curiosity and as adults, we have an obligation to embrace their curiosity, not shun it. When I study Theology, it is because I want to know why we do what we do in our faith so that I can better answer others questions when they ask why we do something as Catholics. But there is a line that I refuse to cross.
I will not ask God “why.” I will not ask Him “why this” or “why that.” Given the sufferings that I have seen or borne, I have never felt a need to ask God “why.” From witnessing death and tragedy in the Air Force as a result of 9/11, to having loved ones pass away very quickly and unexpectedly, to nearly succumbing to this life a mere four years ago, and now being 7 months pregnant with a baby who has been diagnosed prenatally with Down Syndrome- I have never felt compelled to question our Almighty Risen Savior.
Why, you may ask? It all comes down to faith and trust. Who am I, little me, to question the God who created the Earth in seven days, parted the Red Sea, rose people from the dead and who has blessed me with a loving and supportive family with beautiful, intelligent children and an amazing awe-inspiring husband. I don’t feel the need to question the God who has continually provided me with many great and small miracles and has allowed me to witness the miracles in others lives.
In the study of Catholicism, we study the marriage of faith and reason. As children of God, we have been given the gift of intelligence. This intelligence, or reason, drives our faith, and in return, our faith feeds into our sense of reason. We use this reason to prove the existence of our faith in God. Reason is logic. Therefore, it is logical to put 110% trust in God who has tirelessly made known to us the depth of His love and mercy.
I just doesn’t make sense to ask God “why,” especially when it comes to suffering. Doesn’t it make more sense to offer up our sufferings for the souls in Purgatory, for the forgiveness of sins and for the conversion of sinners? Offering up our sufferings for others takes the focus off of you and gives you a reason or purpose for suffering. It makes suffering worthwhile and purposeful.
Choices... they run our lives every day. According to multiple sources on the internet, the average person makes around 35,000 choices a day. What time to wake up, what to eat, what to wear, which kid to dress first, backing into a parking spot or driving in front first, to accept the call or to decline it. Each day we face choices and we must acknowledge the consequences of each and every choice.
Let’s discuss that call that we must decide to accept or decline. I’m talking about what God calls you to. A few months ago, my husband and I learned that we were pregnant with baby #3! Around two months ago, we learned that with 99% accuracy, our baby has Down Syndrome. We have met with countless doctors. All of them have advised us to terminate the pregnancy. Being the staunch, Pro-Life activists that we are, we declined (and sometimes lectured) each doctor that advised termination. It’s our choice and we choose life. I will be 20 weeks pregnant this week and the baby is kicking/punching/rolling more and more every day. My husband, my 7 year old son and 5 year old daughter love to feel the baby move! We will always choose life, despite the scary news and the uncertainty that will come with having a child who has Down Syndrome.
Up until this point I have been in denial and filled with fear of the unknown. I always tell my children that fear is the Devil’s greatest tool because it means that you have lost your trust in God. I have finally decided to take my own advice. Instead of fear, I choose love. Instead of sadness, I choose joy. Instead of despair, I choose trust. Instead of myself, I choose God.
Yes, choices do have consequences. We chose life for our children. We will be more than happy to welcome a joyful and loving child into this world who has Down Syndrome- that is, after all, what these children are known for; joy and love. Not all consequences are bad. Some consequences are the enlightenment that only the Holy Spirit can provide. This is a consequence that my family and I are are more than willing to accept.
God’s got this.
”Pray and do not lose heart.” -Luke 18:1
St. Valentine was a martyr. He was a priest during the second century who preached that marriage was between one man and one woman. Because of his belief and preaching, Emperor Claudius II had him arrested. While he was in prison, he befriended a prison guard whose daughter was blind. Legend says that through his prayers the young girl was cured of her blindness. Valentine exchanged letters with the young lady and the last letter was signed, “from your Valentine,” just before he was tortured and eventually beheaded. St. Valentine defended and lived for his faith to the point of death. This is a romantic story.
Where’s the romance, you may ask? The romance lies within St. Valentine’s heart and his strong mind. St. Valentine combined his faith with powerful reasoning skills and stood up for what he knew was right in the eyes of God. It is his intense love for God that we learn the true meaning of romance. St. Valentine would rather lose his life than lose his beloved God. This love was shown by his prayers by another of God’s children, the young blind girl. For it is in loving others that we permeate the world with Christ’s abundant love.
This year, Valentine’s Day falls on Ash Wednesday; a day commonly known as the beginning of Lent. There are strong similarities between Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. At the core, both days are messages of love. It is because Christ sacrificed Himself out of love for us that St. Valentine was able to sacrifice himself out of love for Christ.
This year, I will be happy to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day on Ash Wednesday with my husband, my two young children and my 152 students. Valentine’s Day is a known for the flowers, chocolate and sweet sentiments. It’s the only martyrs feast day that we celebrate in such a way. Perhaps it’s better that we return to our origin and remember that we came from dust and it is to dust that we will return.
St. Valentine is known as the patron saint of lovers. With St. Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday being on the same day, we will be reminded of the sacrificial love of Christ by going to church and receiving ashes on our forehead. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate a holiday about love than to reflect on the merciful love of Christ.
The Museum of the Bible is huge; the Museum cost over $500 Million to build it and many people donated a lot of financial gifts to have this multi-sensory museum built. The museum is six, entrancing stories of architectural beauty. My husband and I took our 7 year old and our 4 year old for a family outing.
We went to Saturday Vigil Mass so that we could have our Sunday morning free to tour the Museum. I’m glad that it worked out- having obtained our timed-entry tickets online the week before, we arrived before the crowd. The Museum of the Bible does not charge an entry fee; instead, they ask for donations. We arrived at 10:30am. After going through the high-tech security, we found the coat check. Traveling with young children, one must always know where the restrooms are! We found the restrooms by the coat check and near all of the elevators. Speaking of which, the elevators alone deserve a shout-out; each elevator is equipped with three screens that change landscape views of various locations in Egypt, Israel, etc. If this much detail was put into the elevators, then imagine the detail for the rest of the Museum!
We spent 4 hours in the Museum and only viewed floors 3, 4 and the Manna Restaurant. One thing that initially struck me is the peace as we entered the building. Unlike most museums in DC, the Museum of the Bible is so new that the public isn’t an “expert” on it, yet. I looked at the faces of my children and the other patrons to find expressions of awe and wonder. My daughter was especially entranced with the ceiling of the main entrance.
There is a “Children’s Experience” section of the Museum on the first floor. It boasts of a large handful of biblical-themed games, best for ages 10 and younger. There is also a climbing zone and slide that allow children to run and play. In the center of the “Children’s Experience” is a large sculpture of the Bible. My children played here for 15 minutes before we went to tour other places in the Museum. My husband and I used this time to look at the map and figure out a “game plan” for the highlights that we wanted to focus on. We made a bargain with our kids- if they were on their best behavior while we toured the museum, then they would be rewarded with more time in the “Children’s Experience” at the end of our tour.
After playing in the “Children’s Experience,” we went on to tour the items on loan from the Vatican Library and then onto “The World of Jesus of Nazareth” and the stories of the Old and New Testament on the 3rd floor. In Sacred Scripture , the Old Testament and the New Testament are related because the Old Testament prophecies about events that will happen in the New Testament and the New Testament answers the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Part of the third floor was made to resemble Nazareth in its entirety. It was definitely the high-point of our visit. There were a couple of period-dressed actors who represented occupations in Nazareth such as a person working in a synagogue and a young lady who cooked for her family. We experienced a model of the tree of Nazareth- that is still alive today, and a “room” that had a film about the parables. We saw a vineyard and an olive press, and a well (think, “woman at the well”). My son had fun “building” with the stone builders in Galilee.
The rest of the third floor was divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. My family visited to New Testament. The waiting room for this film was clean and modern while displaying posters of major biblical figures from the New Testament, such as Paul, Jesus and Mary. The film that we viewed was a 12 minute film of the making of the New Testament from the perspective of the Apostle John. It started with the birth of Jesus and went straight to the Resurrection and Pentecost. It had no mention of the life of or the teachings of Jesus, the man who is the nucleus of the New Testament. There was a lot of focus on Saul of Tarsus, also known as St. Paul. I appreciated this emphasis on St. Paul; after all, he did write most of the New Testament. That being said, the lack of mentioning Jesus left me more than a little disappointed. I realize that this is a 12 minute, animated film about how the New Testament was assimilated, but how can you not emphasize Jesus’ name? The film was enjoyable and my children were entertained by it. I was left a little baffled.
From there, we went to grab lunch at the Manna Restaurant by Chef Todd Gray. The price for lunch is competitive with the other museums in the DC area. I forgot to bring water bottles and we paid $2.50 each for 3 boxes of water (yes, water that comes in a box.) Next time, I will remember to pack water bottles that we can refill at the many water fountains. The food at Manna Restaurant was fresh and flavorful, but expensive.
After lunch, we ventured to the 4th floor where we watched yet another film on the drive-thru history of the making of the Bible. One of the greatest parts of this floor was the Illuminations showcase of the multitude of translations of the Bible. There was a Rabbi who was copying Hebrew scrolls. He allowed my daughter to come under the roped off section so that she could obtain a better, closeup view of the Hebrew letters that he was writing. This section of the museum required more time to tour, but our children were starting to get tired from all of the walking. As such, we took them back to the “Children’s Experience” as their reward and wrapped up our tour of the museum. In order to exit the museum, you must walk through the gift shop. *smart* I had a pack of gummy bears in my purse and told my children that if they could walk through the gift shop without asking for anything, then I would give them gummy bears when they got to the car. It was hard for them, but they did it!
There is SO MUCH to see at this museum! I’ve heard that if you stopped to read everything there, that it would take over 2 days to do so. It’s an easy place to take the kids, but the fact that my husband and I want to return on a “date night” to view the museum from an intellectual point of view, speaks to the museums versatility. I’m glad that we took the time today to tour a part of the Museum of the Bible and look forward to making many more visits there!
One thing to keep in mind is that this is NOT a museum of Christianity. If one walks in expecting to see a prevalence of Christianity, then they will be disappointed. That being said, mere elements of Christianity can be noticed throughout the museum. This IS a museum about a book- the greatest book ever written!! Keep that perspective in mind and I can ensure you that you will enjoy visiting the Museum of the Bible.
“We answer to God because we fight for the grace of God.” This is one of the opening lines of the History Channel’s “Knightfall,” a series about the Knights Templar. I really liked this line for many reasons; most of all, the reality of the Spiritual Battle that we are all a part of. In previous blogs, I have addressed the spiritual weapons that we Catholics have at our side. The foremost weapon being that of prayer.
It is a Catholic tradition to choose a patron saint for your family. The family will pray for the intercession of the chosen saint and will usually have a statue of that saint in a prominent place in their home throughout the year. 2017 closed out our year with the Guardian Angels. In 2018, we welcome St. Paul as my families patron saint.
One of my favorite radio hosts, Jennifer Fulwiler, created a random saints name generator if you get stuck on choosing a patron saint for your family. http://saintsnamegenerator.com/ I have my own random saint generator at home; my 7 year old son, Alexander. This is his big year. He will be receiving the sacrament of First Reconciliation in February and his First Holy Communion in May. Because he will be receiving this sacraments in 2018, we let him pick our families patron saint for the year. His usual favorite saints are St. Alexander of Jerusalem and St. Michael. I was pleasantly surprised when he chose St. Paul as our families patron saint- and he did so with certainty and without hesitation. In fact, my child looked at me with an expression and a tone of voice that suggested the thoughts going through his mind were, “Duh, Mom! St. Paul, of course!” Now, this particular child of mine, would never actually say, “Duh, Mom.” His little sister, however, I’m not so sure....
Saints come into our lives for many different reasons. So many of those reasons we may never understand. St. Paul wrote most of the New Testament and travelled to many countries spreading the Good News about Jesus Christ. St. Paul is the patron saint of writers, theologians, missionaries, evangelists and authors. I have many reasons why St. Paul would be a good patron saint for me and for my husband. For my children, however, the reasons are less obvious. It may be that St. Paul is good patron saint for my children because they lack any fear when telling people about how they love Jesus more than anything. Just as St. Paul did.
Another tradition for the new year is to choose a word for the year. I used Jennifer Fulwiler’s Word for the Year Generator and got “Jump” as my word for the year. http://www.wordoftheyear.me/ This word resonates with me. I have a great, big project on the back burner that has been lost in the business of life. A book that is waiting to be written about God’s grace through suffering and the power and beauty of suffering. Perhaps, I can find the time and prioritize this endeavor and “jump” in with the same certainty that my son displayed when choosing our patron saint for 2018.
It is with the same conviction, certainty and fortitude that we step forward onto the spiritual battlefield. We fight for the grace of God as we work to maintain holiness in our simple works, in our prayers and in following God’s holy will at every turn.
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” -Col. 3:23 (NASB)
Who is your patron saint for this new year? What is your word for 2018?
Stay awake, stay vigilant, be prepared, don’t be caught sleeping! Get ready!
Elf on the Shelf. The Elf spies on you during the day and travels back to the North Pole at night to report to Santa about your behavior. Let’s look at that from a theological viewpoint. God created these awesome heavenly beings called angels.
Understand that God is omnipotent. That means that He knows everything. However, the angels are His heavenly messengers that He has sent to guard you, guide you and watch over you. These heavenly beings will help you to be at your best at all times. In a way, the Elf on the Shelf who spies on us in the weeks before Christmas reminds me of how we should always be on our best behavior, relying on our angels to watch over us.
It’s so easy to get lost in the commercialism of Christmas in the secular world. But I challenge you to see through all of the chaos and business to prepare your heart to see God. Advent is a time of preparation in our Liturgical Calendar. As you prepare your homes for Christmas celebrations and hosting guests, reflect on who the main guest is in your heart.
As you dust off cobwebs on your Christmas decorations, what about the cobwebs in your own soul? Dust off those cobwebs with the Sacrament of Reconciliation! Frequently take part in the Eucharistic banquet to nourish you, body and soul, so that you can maintain and increase your stamina in order to get make it through this preparation season of Advent!
Preparation is always exciting; especially when you know that there is going to be a big event at the end of the preparation. At Christmas, we celebrate Jesus’ birth, at the heart of this celebration we are reminded of Jesus’ second coming. We never know when He will come again, so we don’t want to be caught sleeping- literally or figuratively. Don’t fall asleep in your faith. Stay awake in your faith! Stay alert in your faith! Keep up the stamina through everything that life throws at you so that you are always equipped to make the best decisions and to respond to everyone in love. In other words, get caught doing good!
The Elf on the Shelf is looking for you to do good things. But more importantly, Jesus is expecting you to do the best things. Get caught being your best at all times! Get caught praying on your knees to your Heavenly Father in thanksgiving for all that He has done for you! Get caught loving others more than yourself. Get caught serving the poor! But don’t do it for pride!
Pride is one of the seven deadly sins. Avoid it at all costs. Luke 14:14 says “you will be repaid with the kingdom of righteousness.” In other words, don’t boast or brag about yourself and your good deeds. God alone knows the good deeds that you do and the prayers that you say. It is enough to be satisfied knowing that our Living God knows all that you do. Let Him catch you! Get caught doing good!
What if you died today? Are you ready? Was every choice that you made firmly rooted in Christ? Have you prayed enough? Have you given of yourself more than you have ever received? Have you loved others more than things? Have you persevered in the Faith and fought the Spiritual Battle in our Lord’s Army? Have you participated in the Sacraments?
Jesus’ parable in Matthew 25:1-13 about the 10 virgins is a warning to us to be prepared. Yes, “Be Prepared” may be a Boy Scout motto, but it should be everybody’s motto. In this parable, the bridegroom was delayed and the virgins fell asleep while waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. 5 of the virgins in this parable did not bring enough oil for their lamps when they knew that the bridegroom was coming. These were the foolish virgins. The other 5 wise virgins did, in fact, bring enough oil for their lamps and were prepared to enter the wedding banquet once the bridegroom arrived.
The bridegroom is Jesus. The virgins are the faithful on Earth. The oil for the lamps that illuminate the darkness are our prayers and good works. The moral of the story is this: we never know when Jesus is coming; we never know when we will die. We must always be prepared by prayers, works of mercy, and offering all sufferings for others. When I was very sick a few years ago, I offered all of my excruciating suffering for the forgiveness of sins and the conversion of sinners.
We do not have to offer the worst of our sufferings. Any small inconvenience can be offered for the souls in Purgatory and/or for the souls on Earth. When we offer up our sufferings, God transforms them to help others through His grace. In my case, it gave my sufferings a purpose; it gave me a mission. My sufferings became a prayer.
We can never pray enough. Instead, you must pray always. “Pray without ceasing.” -1 Thessalonians 5:17. But how do we do this? We pray with everything that we do. I suggest to my children and my students to pray a Hail Mary every time they go up and downstairs. My mom taught this to me and now I am passing it on. Prayer, and faith, crosses the generations. Prayer has upheld each generation. As we enter into a post-Christian society, we will need to rely even more on prayers, works of mercy, and supporting each other through Christ’s Greatest Commandment, love of God and love of neighbor. When we pray without ceasing, we are praying with every ounce of our being through every decision and every action. When we do this, the decisions that we make in life will remain firmly rooted in Christ.
There has been a spiritual battle since the time of Adam and Eve. It is always God vs. Satan. The faithful on Earth are called the Church Militant when being referred to as a part of the Communion of Saints. As the Church Militant, we are the “boots on the ground.” Our strongest spiritual weapons that will truly take down Satan are our prayers and works of mercy. Or spiritual weapons that will always offer a serious blow to the Evil One are the Sacraments, the Holy Rosary, reading Sacred Scripture, Holy Water and discerning God’s directions. All of these aforementioned spiritual weapons unite us in Christ and strengthen us so that we are the Church on Earth.
It is a challenge to persevere in the Faith, most especially in today’s post-Christian era. But we must never give up. We must not be like the foolish virgins who fell asleep while waiting for the bridegroom and found themselves unprepared. We must not fall asleep in the faith; instead we must remain awake and alert. Let us choose to be like the wise virgins who had more than enough oil for their lamps and who were welcomed into the wedding banquet. For the wedding banquet is a soul being welcomed into Heaven and it is a purely joyous occasion. So, are you ready? Do you have enough oil for your lamps?
We woke up this morning to no water in our house. We couldn't use the sinks, toilets or hose. We checked the sump pump and the breakers. (I was very glad this morning that I had prepped the coffee maker the night before.) Finally, it occurred to us that we should call the water company. It turns out that there was a water main break on the next road over. As such, I rushed to the store to buy many gallons of water so that we could at least brush our teeth and flush the toilets. Did you know that it takes 1 gallon of water to flush the toilet only once? That's a lot of water!
We got ourselves as ready as we could for the day and took the kids to dance class, Tae Kwon Do and a soccer game. We grabbed lunch while we were out and were gone for 4 hours. After sitting in 80+ degree heat at the soccer field, we were hoping for the best when we returned home. We really needed showers, to do the laundry, to clean the house, to clean the fish tank and water the plants. As we turned down the road toward our house, we saw water bubbling up from the street. Our hearts sank. However, we when we came home and turned on the kitchen faucet, we were pleasantly surprised to see that we finally had our water restored after 12 hours without water! I immediately yelled, "Quick! Everyone take a shower, wash the dishes and start the laundry in case we lose the water again!" Without a doubt, we realized how much we relied on water as a natural resource.
Of course, this lack of water situation got me thinking. What about the spiritual water from our baptism? What about the blood and water that spilled forth from the side of Christ so that His mercy could flow out into the world?
Every Sacrament must have a form and a matter. The form for the Sacrament of Baptism is "I baptize you in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." The matter of the Sacrament of Baptism is the immersion or sprinkling of water. The baptismal promises that we make out that we reject Satan and all his promises. We also vow to follow Christ by invoking the Holy Spirit.
Let's look at the baptism of Jesus. We see that when John baptized Jesus it was the beginning of Christ's public ministry. During the Jesus' baptism, St. John was declaring to all that this man that he was baptizing was Son of the One True God; that he was the one, the Messiah, that the Israelites had been waiting for. Of course, we remember that the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove and announced, "This is my Son with whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:16-17) These announcements by St. John and the Holy Spirit are important because they "set the stage" before Jesus begins his most important public ministry.
Let's fast forward a few years to when Jesus is on the Cross and his side is pierced by a Roman soldier (centurion) by the name of Longinus. Longinus was nearly blind but was ordered to thrust a spear into the side of Christ to ensure that our Lord was truly dead. The blood and water that flowed from the side of Christ instantly healed Longinus' blindness. At once, Longinus declared, "Indeed, this was the Son of God!" (Mark 15:39) Longinus, immediately converted, left the army, took instructions from the Apostles and became a Monk. Longinus was later arrested, tortured and beheaded. He was a martyr and was canonized to become St. Longinus.
In the 21st century, it is a first world problem to take advantage of the natural resource of water. We don't realize how much we need and rely on it until it's gone. But do we realize how much we need and rely on our baptismal promises? Do we reflect on if we are keeping our promises? Are we truly rejecting Satan and all of his empty promises? Or are we slaves to money and material needs that never satisfy our hunger and thirst for true life-giving joy?
The following prayer is part of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy that St. Faustia communicated in her diary as a result of her conversation with Christ. This prayer is known as the 3 o'clock prayer as 3 o'clock is the time that we acknowledge that Christ died on the Cross. As Christ died on the Cross for our sins, may we die to this world and live in the holiness of Christ!
O Blood and Water which gushed forth from the heart of Jesus as a fountain of mercy for us, I trust in you! Amen.
It's back-to-school time! As an incoming new teacher of 7th and 8th grade Religion, I have been spending considerable time cleaning and organizing my new classroom. I want my classroom to be neat and orderly. But most importantly, I want the classroom theme and environment to be tools in which the Gospel permeates to bring joy and warmth to my students.
As a mother of an incoming 2nd grader and an incoming Pre-K'r, I am ordering school uniforms, finding good deals on school supplies, making sure the shoes are within the uniform guidelines and making sure that we are practicing a good morning routine.
And then there's the solar eclipse. There are many people who are running out to snatch up the latest solar eclipse eyewear and social media is buzzing with eclipse shadow boxes. It has been 100 years since America's last coast-to-coast eclipse. It has also been 100 years since Our Lady's visit to the shepherd children in Fatima. Coincidence? I think not. The world will most likely not end on August 21 with the Solar Eclipse. But all of this preparation begs a question.
If everyone prepared for the second coming of Christ like they are preparing for back-to-school and the eclipse, wouldn't the world be a much better place?
Let's shift our attention on the recent tragedies in Charlottesville and Barcelona. The great Russian novelist, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn made an astute observation when he said that "the battle of good and evil crosses every human heart." The battle that he is referring to is the spiritual battle. Mr. Solzhenitsyn spent 50 years studying the Russian Revolution. The conclusion that he came to was that "Men have forgotten God." Is that still happening? In 1917, a year before Mr. Solzhenitsyn was born, Our Lady of Fatima made her appearance to the shepherd children, in part asking for the consecration of Russia, the home country of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Both Our Lady and Mr. Solzhenitsyn had taken notice that Russia had forgotten God. Now, it appears, the rest of the world is following suit. From the eugenics of Down Syndrome babies in Iceland (aborting babies who would have otherwise been born with Down Syndrome) to the hate crimes in Barcelona and Charlottesville, VA. Yes, the battle of good and evil does, in fact, cross every human heart.
In John 17:16, Jesus says, "They are not of this world even as I am not of the world." So again, I will ask the question. If everyone prepared for the second coming of Christ like they are preparing for back-to-school and the eclipse, wouldn't the world be a much better place?
If we know that the battle of good and evil crosses every human heart, then we must prepare ourselves with spiritual weapons. As you dust off the cobwebs in your classroom or your backpack, think about the cobwebs in your soul. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a powerful spiritual weapon. You can not only remove the cobwebs from your soul, but you can also arm yourself with the ability to choose good vs. evil. You will die to sin and walk the narrow path that leads to eternal salvation.
The Holy Eucharist is another spiritual weapon. Your body was created as a temple in which Christ resides. When we consume Him in the Holy Eucharist, we are nourishing our body and soul that will, again, aide us in choosing good vs. evil.
Eucharistic Adoration is a spiritual weapon that allows peace and calmness to permeate your soul and body. When you kneel before the Blessed Sacrament and focus on Christ's love and sacrifice, you will feel His love and peace wash over you. There's no script for Adoration. Just sit in the silence. Listen to God. We don't always need to have a list of demands to bring before our Risen Lord. Adoration is just that - Adoration. Let God know that you love Him and are thankful for Him. Listening to Our Risen Lord is far more important than talking at Him. When we thank God, our hearts and our eyes are opened more widely to His great mercy.
Yet another spiritual weapon is the Holy Rosary. St. Padre Pio called the Holy Rosary, "a glorious weapon against Satan." The Holy Rosary is a spiritual compendium of Jesus' life in the New Testament. When you cling to the Holy Rosary, you cling to Christ as you meditate on His life and resurrection. When you cling to Christ, you will turn away from evil.
As we examine the current events and prepare our schools and homes for back-to-school and as we prepare to view the extraordinary eclipse, let's not forget to prepare our souls. Dust off the cobwebs. As you take care of your home, family and loved ones, don't neglect yourself. Most especially, don't neglect your spiritual welfare.
So, if everyone prepared for the second coming of Christ like they are preparing for back-to-school and the eclipse, wouldn't the world be a much better place?
The eclipse will last only a few minutes; the school years will come and go; but your soul will live on forever.