Faith for the Journey of Life

My Thoughts on Faith, Life, and 2,000+ Years of Catholicism / Christianity

28 November 2006

Who's Who in the Rosary (Part Two - Mary)

“Hail Mary, full of grace…” the words spoken by the Angel Gabriel resound through the recitation of the Rosary and honor our Blessed Mother as she honors God through her life. Mary was chosen by God for the most important mission ever undertaken by a mortal human: being the Mother of the Saviour of the World. She shared in his life and was with him through his great trials and his greater triumphs. So as we travel through the life of Jesus in the Rosary we also travel through the life of Mary because his life was her life.

After Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Mary ever Virgin, Our Heavenly Mother, participates in the Rosary in the most prominent way. Mary appears in all five Joyous Mysteries. In the Second Luminous Mystery (the Wedding at Cana), Mary instructs “Do whatever he tells you.” Since Mary accompanied Jesus during part of his ministry, it is logical to say that she appears in the Third Luminous Mystery as well. Mary meets Jesus on the Way of the Cross (Fourth Sorrowful Mystery) and stays with him beneath his Cross at the Crucifixion (Fifth Sorrowful Mystery). Then Mary appears in all five Glorious Mysteries, from Jesus’s Resurrection to her crowning in Heaven.

The Church has long recognized the important role in human salvation that Mary performs. The Church teaches that through Mary we know Jesus.

“Mary is "blessed" because - totally, in body and soul and for ever -she became the Lord's dwelling place,” stated Pope Benedict XVI in his Homily for the Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (2006). “If this is true, Mary does not merely invite our admiration and veneration, but she guides us, shows us the way of life, shows us how we can become blessed, how to find the path of happiness.”

“Everything about Mary directs us to her Son, our only Savior, in anticipation of whose merits she was immaculate and full of grace. Everything about Mary raises us to the praise of the adorable Trinity; and so it was that Bernadette, praying her rosary before the grotto, learned from the words and bearing of the Blessed Virgin how she should give glory to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” wrote Pope Pius XII in his encyclical Le Pelerinage de Lourdes (1957).

In praying the Rosary, we honor Mary and in honoring Mary we honor her Glorious Son.

23 November 2006

Thanksgiving to God!!

"Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name;
make known among the peoples his deeds!
Sing praise, play music;
proclaim all his wondrous deeds!
Glory in his holy name;
rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!
Rely on the mighty Lord;
constantly seek His face.
Recall the wondrous deeds he has done,
his signs and his words of judgment,
You descendants of Abraham his servant,
offspring of Jacob, the chosen one!
The Lord is our God
who rules the whole earth."
(Psalm 105:1-7)

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday and reflect upon the state of the world today, it is very easy to become discouraged by the evils and misfortunes that are plaguing humanity.

The rogue states of Iran and North Korea are actively seeking weapons of mass destruction.

Israel lives under the constant threat of terrorists and renewed attacks launched by Hamas and Hezbollah and sponsored by Iran and Syria.

Americans are fighting and dying to establish peace and democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Scientists are daily pushing the envelope of God's patience by attempting to usurp His creative role through cloning.

Babies continue to be killed in the wombs of their mothers in the name of 'choice.'

The victims of natural disasters are struggling to recover and re-establish their lives and livelihoods.

I could go on and on and on but you get the picture.

Yet through this all we have much to be faithful and at the top of that list is Jesus Christ.

In Christ Jesus, we have God made man to save us from our sins. In Christ Jesus, we have a God who so loved us that He sent His only Son into the world to suffer and die for us that we may have eternal life with Him in Heaven and live in continual Thanksgiving with our Creator.

So when we despair of this world and its troubles, let us take comfort in the truths stated by St. Paul so eloquently, "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39)."

The Lord's blessings be upon you! Happy Thanksgiving!!

22 November 2006

Abraham Lincoln and Thanksgiving

In honor of tomorrow's Thanksgiving holiday, I offer an excerpt from President Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation from October 1863. The full proclamation may be found at

Before perusing this, I wish to offer some historical context to this Proclamation. In October 1863, the United States was in the grips of a disastrous Civil War. At various times during the preceding years of war, President Lincoln had publicly beseeched God and offered National Fasting Daysfor an end to the war. The first couple years had not gone well for the Union as they suffered a series of military defeats in the Eastern Theater. In 1863, fortunes seemed to be improving for the North. At the beginning of the year, Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation, proclaiming freedom to the slaves being held in the Confederate States. A Confederate invasion had been decisively thwarted by Major General Meade at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Another Union Army under Major General U.S. Grant had captured Vicksburg, Mississippi, thus cutting the Confederacy in half along the Mississippi River. Finally after over two years of unrelenting strife, Lincoln and the Northern States had something to be thankful for.

"It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union." -- President Abraham Lincoln

14 November 2006

Who's Who in the Rosary (Part One - The Trinity)

Among the devotions to our Lord Jesus and his most Blessed Mother, the Rosary is the most powerful and most pious way to honor them. Prayerful reflection upon the Mysteries of the Rosary immerses us in the life of our Saviour and his Mother and in the story of salvation.

"And truly, from the frequent meditation on the Mysteries, the soul little by little and imperceptibly draws and absorbs the virtues they contain, and is wondrously enkindled with a longing for things immortal, and becomes strongly and easily impelled to follow the path which Christ Himself and His Mother have followed," wrote Pope Pius XII in his 1951 encyclical on the Rosary - Ingruentium Malorum.

In my previous posting, I offered up a Rosary for my fellow members of the Armed Forces and their families. While praying and reflecting upon the Rosary, I was amazed at the many people - both good and bad - who appear in the Rosary's twenty Mysteries. So in this first installment, I shall reflect upon the various people who appear in these Mysteries. I shall begin with the Trinity.

The Trinity - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - are present and prominent in all twenty Mysteries. In that Jesus is One in Being with both the Father and the Spirit as One God in Three Persons, wheresoever Jesus - God the Son - is, God the Father and God the Spirit are also present.

There are three Mysteries when God the Father participates in a very prominent way. In the First Luminous Mystery, after Jesus is baptized, God the Father speaks from Heaven saying, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). Then after Jesus is Transfigured in the Fourth Luminous Mystery, God the Father again speaks, saying to Saints Peter, John and James, "This is my beloved Son. Listen to him" (Luke 9:35). Lastly, in the Fifth Glorious Mystery, God the Father along with the Son and Spirit, crown Mary Queen of the Universe.

The Holy Spirit prominently appears in four Mysteries. The Holy Spirit first appears in the First Joyous Mystery when Mary conceives Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:26-38). Next the Holy Spirit appears in the First Luminous Mystery. "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," records Matthew's Gospel (3:16). In the Third Glorious Mystery, the Holy Spirit, sent by Jesus, descends upon the Apostles and Mary on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-41). Thus emboldened and inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Apostles begin to spread the good news about Jesus and preach boldly in his Name. Lastly in the Fifth Glorious Mystery, the Holy Spirit participates with God the Father and God the Son in crowning Mary Queen of the Universe.

Jesus is a primary participant in each of the Twenty Mysteries of the Rosary. Through the Rosary, we journey with Jesus through his earthly life and beyond. The Joyful Mysteries commemorate his early life: his conception, his mother's Visitation with Elizabeth, his glorious birth, his presentation and his finding in the Temple. In the Luminous Mysteries, Jesus is baptized, turns water into wine at the wedding in Cana, preaches, is transfigured and institutes the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. The Sorrowful Mysteries commemorate his Passion in the Garden of Gethsemane, his scourging and crowning with thrones, his carrying of the Cross and lastly his Crucifixion and death on the Cross. In the Glorious Mysteries, Jesus overcomes death and is resurrected. He ascends to Heaven, then sends the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary. The Fourth and Fifth Glorious Mysteries honor Mary's assumption into heaven and her crowning as Queen of the Universe by God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit.

Through the Holy Rosary, we draw closer to the Thrice Holy God and travel with Jesus during his earthly life. Next we shall focus upon our Blessed Mother, the Angels and St. Joseph and see how they participated in Jesus's life.

12 November 2006

I Prayed A Rosary for You...

This posting began as a light-hearted exchange Saturday afternoon between myself and a Navy corpsman friend of mine. I trained with my Reserve unit this weekend. We were just finishing our training for the day and I was heading off to the Vigil Mass at a nearby Church. My friend asked me to say a prayer for him at Mass and I replied that he needed more than just one.

Not long I waited for Mass to begin...I reflected upon my friend's request and upon the responsibilities that we as members of America's armed forces had voluntarily taken upon ourselves. Whether we are active duty or reserve or National Guard, we take an oath to defend our nation, with our own lives if necessary. We can be sent and are sent into harm's way anywhere and anytime that our leaders decide to do so. We risk everything for the freedom of our country and the defense of our way of life. In doing so, we place great burdens upon our families and loved ones, who oftentimes don't know where we are or if we are safe. And we don't always come home alive.

And again, remembering my friend's request, I pulled out my Rosary beads and implored my loving Father's assistance on behalf of my brothers and sisters in arms...

For my brothers and sisters in arms around the globe, I prayed for a Rosary for you...

for you sailing upon the seas or beneath the waves...

for you standing the watch upon a hilltop in Afghanistan or checkpoint in Iraq or a base gate in Texas or a guard tower in South Korea or a flight line in Turkey...

for you flying through friendly and unfriendly skies...

I prayed a Rosary for you - Chris, John, Don, and Hugh, my friends who have been mobilized and sent forward into harm's way in Iraq...

And I prayed for your families back home who wait in anxious worry...

I prayed for you who ride a HUMVEE or LAV or 7-ton down an Iraqi road expecting an IED at any moment...

for you who kick in doors looking for the enemy and often finding trouble...

for you who suffer from the blast of an explosive device or the fragment of rocket or a bullet, I prayed to God to spare your life and thanked Him when He did...

for you who treat the wounded, I prayed a Rosary for your skills and for your physical, spiritual and mental well-being in the midst of the ravages of war...

for you who are recovering from burns, wounds, loss of limbs and illnesses in Landstuhl, Walter Reed, Bethesda, Balad and other hospitals...

I prayed for Navy 'Doc' Travis who lost his life to an IED while on foot patrol with Marines in Iraq...

for Marines Daniel and Carl who were killed by an IED in western Iraq last year and whose memorial service I attended shortly thereafter at our base - even though I had never met either of them...

for Chris, a National Guardsman from my hometown, who was killed by a bullet while on a convoy and for his wife and child that he left...

for Marine James who lost his life to a sniper's bullet, despite the best efforts of Navy doctors and the prayers of a Navy chaplain to save him...

for Gerald and Michael who were killed in a helicopter crash near Ramadi last year, I prayed a Rosary for you...

for all my friends and colleagues in Navy blue serving with Marine green, I prayed a Rosary for you.

I prayed a Rosary in Thanksgiving to our most merciful Father for bringing me home safely from Iraq and returning me to my fiancee and family.

I prayed a Rosary in Thanksgiving for all of us who have come home alive and for all of your families who have had to deal with the long months of endless worry and uncertainty.

For you did not come home alive, I prayed a Rosary for you and for your widows, your widowers, your sons and your daughters, your grandchildren, your mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and everyone else who mourned your death and pain because of your absence.

Serving our country in a time of war is a tremendous responsibility wrought with danger and sacrifice for both the service member and his/her family.

So for all of us who serve and have served and will serve and have died in the service of our country and for all of your families...

...I prayed a Rosary for you.

08 November 2006

A Critical Time for Our Nation

We have entered a critical time for our nation. Yesterday was certainly not a good day for supporters of life. Today, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two cases dealing with the Federal ban on partial birth abortion.

By the narrowest of margins, Missouri voters approved a highly controversial amendment to their state constitution to allow human cloning for research.

The Democrats won control of the House of Representatives and stand poised to win the Senate too if incumbent Republican Senator George Allen loses his hotly contested election battle. Throughout this year's electoral campaign, the Democrats have made it quite clear that they are friends of the abortion industry and not of the abortion industry's victims.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi is expected to be chosen Speaker of the House. This does not bode well because Pelosi - a Catholic in Name Only - diligently represents an ultra-liberal, pro-choice/anti-life district from California.

"When President Bush signed the so-called 'Partial-Birth Abortion Ban' into law, he became the first President in history to ban a safe and medically-accepted medical procedure. It was a deliberate attack on reproductive health care and a violation of women's privacy and their right to make their own decisions," said Congresswoman Pelosi back in June 2004. (See )

Under Pelosi's leadership, we can expect that Congress will not be friendly to the pre-born.

The pro-life movement lost one of its strongest champions when Pennsylvania voters failed to re-elect Republican Senator Rick Santorum. We can only pray that his successor, Bob Casey Jr., will emulate his esteemed late father and follow conscience instead of party line.

Many pro-life public officials did win their re-election battles, including New Jersey's own Congressmen Chris Smith and Mike Ferguson. Ferguson won despite his opponents dispicable attacks upon his defense of the pre-born. With anti-life Democrats in charge now, we will need strong pro-life leaders like Smith and Ferguson to defend life.

Today the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for two cases that deal with the Constitutionality of the Federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban: Gonzales v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood.

The Federal law banning partial birth abortions was thoroughly researched by Congress, strenuously debated and in the end, Congress made the right decision by enacting this ban. President George W. Bush signed the ban into law in November 2003. Subsequently courts in Nebraska and California declared the ban unconstitutional.

The Bush Administration has vigorously fought for life and for this partial birth abortion ban. The American Center for Law and Justice is just one of many organizations supporting this ban. The ACLJ has filed amicus curai briefs with the Court in support of the ban. See

Now it is for the U.S. Supreme Court to decide whether or not this monstrously barbaric procedure ought to be outlawed.

Our nation has entered a critical time. Anti-life forces have won control of the House and possibly the Senate too. The Supreme Court is now deciding the Constitutionality of the partial birth abortion ban. Now is the time for intensified pray and vocal defenses of life.

"Most merciful Father and Creator of life, we humbly beseech Thee in Thy greatness to enlighten all public leaders who hold responsibility for life issues. May Thine Holy Spirit guide them to the truth that all life is sacred from natural conception until natural death and at every single moment in between and inspire them to defend life against all attacks. In Jesus's Most Holy Name, Amen."

07 November 2006

Praying for and with the Pope

In spiritual solidarity with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, I am encouraging all to pray for his November intentions.

I ask you to pray for:

"That, everywhere in the world, an end be put to all forms of terrorism."

"That through the effort of believers, together with living forces of society, the new and old chains which prevent the development of the African continent may be broken."

I would also like to add that we pray for the safety and protection of our Pope during his upcoming journey to Turkey.

St. Michael defend the Pope in spiritual battle and be his protection against the forces of hatred and violence. May God rebuke the Prince of Lies and his minions and protect us all from their evil machinations. Vivat Jesus!