Archive for the ‘Spiritual Warfare’ Category

As fathers and as men, we have an obligation to live up to the responsibilities of our vocation.  Too often we, feel like “walking away from it all”.  Our vocation calls us to be men of strength and courage.  The Lord will challenge us but will never give us more than we can handle.  If we are responsible with little things, He will then be open to make us responsible for greater things.

As fathers, we are depended upon, by our wives and children. We must show attentiveness to the need of our spouse, our children.  One of the most powerful instructions we can give to our children as fathers is our example in fulfilling our daily responsibilities to our family.  We pray to Saint Joseph for his help so that we do not omit these responsibilities, that we won’t grow tired, that we won’t feel like “walking away from it all.”

Prayer To St. Joseph

Oh St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God, I place in you all my interest and desires.  Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.  Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart.  Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask Him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath.  St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls — Pray for me.

 

Responsibility … Response–Ability

  • The ability to respond to life with:
  • open eyes,
  • open heart,
  • open hands…
  • – to see life and the world with wonder and reverence
  • – to care about people because they matter
  • – to reach out to others and make a difference
  • Responsibility is a privilege, not a burden.
  • It is a bond we make in faith, a bridge of promise between the uniqueness of me and the uniqueness of you.
  • Responsibility means giving myself in a “yes” to you with a firmness you can trust, because we have come to know God, Who has first pledged Himself to us.
  • “I am there with you always”.

 

Scripture Reading Luke 6:43-49

When we are responsible to our vocation and realize that our strength as fathers lies in the gift of our vocation then we are in fact a man listening to the Lord’s words and acting on them.  We are men who are laying a strong foundation, a foundation for our family that does not conform to the world but is transformed in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is where the strength in our vocation comes from.  He is our strength, our courage. But if you don’t realize the gift of God, the gift, and responsibility of your vocation then we are simply a man calling Lord, Lord but not doing what He commands.  If we do not have the strength of Jesus with us, then the foundation is weak, it falls, and we want to walk away from it all.

  • Scripture Reading Sirach 27:4-7

As men of God we are responsible to our speech.  Our speech shows whether or not we are men of God.  Our speech is a dead giveaway and shows whether we have conformed to the world or have worked to transform ourselves in Jesus Christ.  The key word is “worked”.  It is work to transform our self in Christ.  If you don’t want to work at it then you have automatically conformed yourself to the world because that is all it takes is to do nothing. Our children notice our words more than we give them credit.  Think before we speak.  In our words we are tested.

Other questions to consider:

  • Does your house reflect your faith?
  • Does your check book reflect your faith?
  • If someone walked in your house would they know how important Jesus is in your life?
  • Do we get time alone with our spouse?
  • Do you take time to share accomplishments, hopes, dreams, concerns?
  • Do we involve ourselves in our children’s projects, sports?
  • Do we maintain strength and consistency as a disciplinarian?

Actions to Live By

  • Get your “honey-do” list and knock off an item a day or a week until they are done.
  • Next make a list of seven things that are great about each of your kids.     Affirm your child in those areas, once a day for a week.

 

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Strong

Posted: September 8, 2014 in Fatherhood, Physical, Prayer, Spiritual, Spiritual Warfare
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Men. Fatherhood is your vocation, your calling by God.  So many lay men think only the priesthood is a vocation.  They thought they had a vocation at one time but then decided to get married.  Then they are shocked when they find out marriage is not easy and the first time it gets tough they don’t know what to do, they run, they want to leave their marriage.  No!  Marriage and Fatherhood is our vocation.  It is not easy.  It isn’t supposed to be.  If it was easy God would not have made it a sacrament.  It is a sacrament because we cannot do it alone.  We need God’s help.  God knows we cannot do it alone.  We need God’s sacramental grace for strength. We become strong through our vocation, through Fatherhood. 

Our strength comes from being responsible.  We have great responsibility for the gifts and talents we have been given as fathers.  Show your strength to your children as a Father who helps clean, who helps with dinner and dishes.  Show your strength in being a servant to your family.  Jesus said the greatest is the one who serves.  We are accountable for producing the fruit from the talents      given us.

Our strength comes from always working.  If our work is for the Lord, we will not get tired.  We will be able to work past our own expectations.  If our work is not for the Lord, we will tire easily.

Our strength is in being trustworthy.  The Lord never gives us a cross that He has not already given us the strength and grace to handle.  Our strength comes from trusting and learning to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.  Listen and Learn!  Trust in God’s promise that He will not forsake you.

We must be strong against the abuse and inappropriate use of sex.  Unfortunately, our world views sexual promiscuity as the mark of a real man.  We need to set boundaries to protect ourselves against immoral relationships and pornography.  We need to protect ourselves from situations where women are exploited; from the near occasions of sin.  We need to be careful about the movies we choose, the magazines we look at, the TV shows we watch, the bars we attend. 

Saint James tells us, “Each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death” (James 1:14-15).  Don’t fall into the trap.  Avoid the near occasion of sin by getting rid of any pornography you have.  Just throw it away; the magazines, the cable channel, all of it.  The real man is the one that has strength and seeks the strength in God to rule his passions.

Following these guidelines will make us strong and confident in God.  Our strength must be “spent” on God’s vocation for us.  That way when we die, we enter into heaven as though we are truly coming home, head held high, confident.  We can truly say we did our best.

“The Lord is my strength and my shield.  In Him my heart trusts, and I find help.”  ()Psalm 28:7)

 In many families, the father may be called to courage in trying times. If the father offers bold faith in God and solid Scriptural leadership in the home, the entire family will benefit.

Actions to Live By

  • List all of the emotions you think your father had. Now list his behaviors. After making the two lists, evaluate yourself in the light of them.
  • Next list both his strengths and weaknesses. Now compare yourself with your lists.
  • Where have you imitated and where have you just followed his lead? What needs to be changed?
  • Take one area from the list that needs change and work on it until your actions match up to your new thinking.

Strength

Selfless

Posted: August 18, 2014 in Fatherhood, Spiritual, Spiritual Warfare

Men, this is where we lay down our life, die to self.  Our constant struggle will be with selfishness, our self-will and self-restraint.

Within this guideline we also discuss sexuality.  The most intimate union is between husband and wife.  Two become one and co-creators with God. Sexuality is a gift from God.  Many forget God created sex.

Two of the biggest lies the world has to offer is contraception and abortion.  In marriage we stand before God, two become one.  Marriage is to be a total gift of one to the other. We promise to give our whole self to each other and love each other until death.  We promise to accept children willingly.  But then in the most intimate single moment with our spouse we say “No” when we use a contraceptive.  We say no to the person we just vowed to.   We reject God’s word, we reject His gift of co-creator and from that point selfishness and lack of generosity seeps into every single part of our life.  If you have contraceptives, get rid of them.  Throw them in the garbage today.  As men of God we need to stand up against the lie of contraception in the world today.  We need to be open to life.  Don’t be part of a culture that says contraception is a good thing.  God condemned it in Genesis 38: 9-10 (Judah and Tamar) and Galatians 5 (Proper Use of Freedom).  God the Father is holy and pure and He is calling us to be His sons and be like Him.

Within this gift of sexuality, God gives us lasting pleasure.  When God gives, He gives in fullness.  Our union is blessed when we love sexually without contraception.  We love our spouses totally, without inhibition.  We respect them completely.  We respect God’s gift of “co-creator” without inhibition.  When we love in this way, God wraps his arms around our union, for this is the pure love that he intended and created.  Yes, we need to be responsible and prayerful.  But we need to be unselfish and generous with God.  And when we are, His blessing and protection are upon our marriage continually.

Sex outside of marriage or use of contraception leads to “destruction” of our persons, our relationship with each other and our relationship with God.  There is no “construction” in this type of relationship, only destruction.  We are asked to imitate God our Father and contraception is a sin directly against the Fatherhood that we are called to imitate.

When you take away the “self”, you receive the gift and blessing in its purest form.  When you take away lust and selfishness from sex, you will have an intimate, pleasurable, fulfilling union.

Our sexuality is a gift from our Father.  He created it.  When we receive it as a gift, we treasure it. We desire to make our relationship holy because it is meant to be.  This is everlasting happiness.  This union with our spouse and God is Matrimony, a sacrament.  Our goal is that we love our wives in twenty, thirty or forty years more than the day we were married.  God knew marriage was not easy.   He knew we would need His special grace.  He gave us marriage as a sacrament because He knew we cannot do it alone. We need His sacramental grace and through this sacrament you become a channel of God’s love to your wife and your wife becomes a channel of His love back to you.

“What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?”  (Mark 8:36)

Actions to Live By

  • Search your data banks. Where have you been dishonest in the way you live?  Take that to God and ask for His forgiveness.  The next stop is to start making some changes.  Your wife and kids want the honest and real you.
  • A lot of us struggle with seeing ourselves correctly. Remember, we may not be able to see our faults, weaknesses and hypocrisies, but our kids can.  Pick    out one area that needs some work and start on that one.  Make it an easy    one so you can see some quick results.  Then try another.

Selfless

LECTIO DIVINIA
Lectio Divinia is a way of praying with Scripture that St. Ambrose taught to St. Augustine back in the 3rd century. It is a way of prayer that is to be followed in 4 phases, that leads one to a deeper understanding of what Scripure means.
PHASE 1 :  LECTIO (reading)
Reading the text slowly, try to figure out what the text is saying, what in particular jumps out at you and speaks to your heart?
PHASE 2 : MEDITATIO (meditation)
Take one word or phrase and repeat it, allowing yourself to engage in the text to see what images or thoughts come to you, to spark a dialogue with God. What bis this text saying to me directly?
PHASE 3 : ORATIO (prayer)
Speak to God. What experience does the text conjure that leads you to speak openly and honestly to God. Be silent at times too, to allow God the opportunity to speak back.
PHASE 4 : CONTEMPLATIO (contemplation)
While being still and resting in the presence of the Lord, allow God to work on your heart. Allow your mind to be rest peacefully with where the Holy Spirit leads you.
 
CHOOSE a text of the Scriptures that you wish to pray. Many Christians use in their daily lectio divina one of the readings from the Eucharistic liturgy for the day; others prefer to slowly work through a particular book of the Bible. It makes no difference which text is chosen, as long as one has no set goal of “covering” a certain amount of text: the amount of text “covered” is in God’s hands, not yours.

PLACE YOURSELF in a comfortable position and allow yourself to become silent. Some Christians focus for a few moments on their breathing; other have a beloved “prayer word” or “prayer phrase” they gently recite in order to become interiorly silent. For some the practice known as “centering prayer” makes a good, brief introduction to lectio divina. Use whatever method is best for you and allow yourself to enjoy silence for a few moments.

THEN TURN to the text and read it slowly, gently. Savor each portion of the reading, constantly listening for the “still, small voice” of a word or phrase that somehow says, “I am for you today.” Do not expect lightening or ecstasies. In lectio divina God is teaching us to listen to Him, to seek Him in silence. He does not reach out and grab us; rather, He softly, gently invites us ever more deeply into His presence.

NEXT TAKE the word or phrase into yourself. Memorize it and slowly repeat it to yourself, allowing it to interact with your inner world of concerns, memories and ideas. Do not be afraid of “distractions.” Memories or thoughts are simply parts of yourself which, when they rise up during lectio divina, are asking to be given to God along with the rest of your inner self. Allow this inner pondering, this rumination, to invite you into dialogue with God.

THEN, SPEAK to God. Whether you use words or ideas or images or all three is not important. Interact with God as you would with one who you know loves and accepts you. And give to Him what you have discovered in yourself during your experience of meditatio. Experience yourself as the priest that you are. Experience God using the word or phrase that He has given you as a means of blessing, of transforming the ideas and memories, which your pondering on His word has awakened. Give to God what you have found within your heart.

FINALLY, SIMPLY rest in God’s embrace. And when He invites you to return to your pondering of His word or to your inner dialogue with Him, do so. Learn to use words when words are helpful, and to let go of words when they no longer are necessary. Rejoice in the knowledge that God is with you in both words and silence, in spiritual activity and inner receptivity.divina. It is not necessary to anxiously assess the quality of one’s lectio divina as if one were “performing” or seeking some goal: lectio divina has no goal other than that of being in the presence of God by praying the Scriptures.

 

The Lady Of All Nations
 
Our Blessed Mother, under the title, The Lady of All Nations, appeared to a visionary in Amsterdam back in the 1940’s. Her name was Ida Peredeman. The Lady extends Herself as a loving Mother to all mankind, just as She was given to us by Her son at the foot of the cross. The image and prayer that was given to Ida in 1951, was meant to reach all four corners of the globe to obtain the conversion of the world. It is truly a prayer for our times. It is simple, powerful and meant to be said slowly. We are asking the Lord to truly preserve us from degeneration, disaster and war. 
 
The image on the prayer card depicts Our Lady standing, arms outstretched in front of the cross. She is surrounded with sheep at Her feet. This image embodies the fifth and final dogma that will be proclaimed for Mary under the title:  Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. She is the Mother of all and of all nations.
 
 
The Lady Of All Nations Prayer
 
 
Our Lady of All Nations

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy

St. Faustina Kowalska, a recently canonized Polish nun, received messages from Jesus in the early 20th century. The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was given to her from Our Lord to promote Jesus’ attribute of unfathomable Mercy. Recited on Rosary beads, this devotion promises to bring salvation at the hour of death to those who trust in His  Divine Mercy, and to supplicate God the Father on our behalf.

How to Recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy

The Chaplet of Mercy is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades. At the National Shrine of Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts the Chaplet is preceded by two opening prayers from the Diary of Saint Faustina and followed by a closing prayer.

Optional Opening Prayers

You expired, Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, and the ocean of mercy opened up for the whole world. O Fount of Life, unfathomable Divine Mercy, envelop the whole world and empty Yourself out upon us.

O Blood and Water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus as a fountain of Mercy for us, I trust in You!

Begin with the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Apostle’s Creed:

Our Father
Our Father, Who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, Amen.

Hail Mary
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, Amen.

The Apostle’s Creed
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth; and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, Our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified; died, and was buried. He descended into Hell; the third day He arose again from the dead; He ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Then, on the large bead before each decade:

Eternal Father,
I offer you the Body and Blood,
Soul and Divinity,
of Your Dearly Beloved Son,
Our Lord, Jesus Christ,
in atonement for our sins
and those of the whole world.

On the ten small beads of each decade, say:

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion,
have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Conclude with (Say 3 Times):

Holy God,
Holy Mighty One,
Holy Immortal One,
have mercy on us
and on the whole world.

Optional Closing Prayer

Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase Your mercy in us, that in difficult moments we might not despair nor become despondent, but with great confidence submit ourselves to Your holy will, which is Love and Mercy itself.

Our Lord said to Saint Faustina:

Encourage souls to say the Chaplet which I have given you … Whoever will recite it will receive great mercy at the hour of death … When they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between my Father and the dying person, not as the Just Judge but as the Merciful Savior … Priests will recommend it to sinners as their last hope of salvation. Even if there were a sinner most hardened, if he were to recite this chaplet only once, he would receive grace from my infinite mercy. I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy … Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will.

St. Benedict Medal

St. Benedict was a monk living in Italy during the 6th century. He founded 12 religious communities in his lifetime, and has the honor of being the patron saint of Europe and students.

The St. Benedict of Nursia Medal, made in his name, is one of the most powerful Catholic Sacramental’s in existence. It’s purpose is to ward off evil and grant protection, but not in a superstitious way. Since the 17th century, wearers of this medal have sought and gained protection in spiritual warfare and in times of temptation. It may be attached to your Scapular or Rosary. Placing it above the entry doors to the house, also serves as protection. The medal has been known to convert sinners, alleviate bodily suffering and grant domesticated animals healing from illness.

On the face of the medal is the image of Saint Benedict. In his right hand he holds the cross, the Christian’s symbol of salvation. The cross reminds us of the zealous work of evangelizing and civilizing England and Europe carried out mainly by the Benedictine monks and nuns, especially for the sixth to the ninth/tenth centuries.

Rule and Raven

In St. Benedict’s left hand is his Rule for Monasteries that could well be summed up in the words of the Prolog exhorting us to “walk in God’s ways, with the Gospel as our guide.”

On a pedestal to the right of St. Benedict is the poisoned cup, shattered when he made the sign of the cross over it. On a pedestal to the left is a raven about to carry away a loaf of poisoned bread that a jealous enemy had sent to St. Benedict.

C. S. P. B.

Above the cup and the raven are the Latin words: Crux s. patris Benedicti (The Cross of our holy father Benedict). On the margin of the medal, encircling the figure of Benedict, are the Latin words: Eius in obitu nostro praesentia muniamur! (May we be strengthened by his presence in the hour of our death!). Benedictines have always regarded St. Benedict as a special patron of a happy death. He himself died in the chapel at Montecassino while standing with his arms raised up to heaven, supported by the brothers of the monastery, shortly after St. Benedict had received Holy Communion.

Monte Cassino

Below Benedict we read: ex SM Casino MDCCCLXXX (from holy Monte Cassino, 1880). This is the medal struck to commemorate the 1400th anniversaryof the birth of Saint Benedict.

Reverse Side of the Medal

Crux mihi lux

On the back of the medal, the cross is dominant. On the arms of the cross are the initial letters of a rhythmic Latin prayer: Crux sacra sit mihi lux! Nunquam draco sit mihi dux! (May the holy cross be my light! May the dragon never be my guide!).

In the angles of the cross, the letters C S P B stand for Crux Sancti Patris Benedicti (The cross of our holy father Benedict).

Peace

Above the cross is the word pax (peace), that has been a Benedictine motto for centuries. Around the margin of the back of the medal, the letters V R S N S M V – S M Q L I V B are the initial letters, as mentioned above, of a Latin prayer of exorcism against Satan: Vade retro Satana! Nunquam suade mihi vana! Sunt mala quae libas. Ipse venena bibas! (Begone Satan! Never tempt me with your vanities! What you offer me is evil. Drink the poison yourself!)

Use of the Medal

There is no special way prescribed for carrying or wearing the Medal of St. Benedict. It can be worn on a chain around the neck, attached to one’s rosary, kept in one’s pocket or purse, or placed in one’s car or home. The medal is often put into the foundations of houses and building, on the walls of barns and sheds, or in one’s place of business.

The purpose of using the medal in any of the above ways is to call down God’s blessing and protection upon us, wherever we are, and upon our homes and possessions, especially through the intercession of St. Benedict. By the conscious and devout use of the medal, it becomes, as it were, a constant silent prayer and reminder to us of our dignity as followers of Christ.

The medal is a prayer of exorcism against Satan, a prayer for strength in time of temptation, a prayer for peace among ourselves and among the nations of the world, a prayer that the Cross of Christ be our light and guide, a prayer of firm rejection of all that is evil, a prayer of petition that we may with Christian courage “walk in God’s ways, with the Gospel as our guide,” as St. Benedict urges us.

A profitable spiritual experience can be ours if we but take the time to study the array of inscriptions and representations found on the two sides of the medal. The lessons found there can be pondered over and over to bring true peace of mind and heart into our lives as we struggle to overcome the weaknesses of our human nature and realize that our human condition is not perfect, but that with the help of God and the intercession of the saints our condition can become better.

The Medal of St. Benedict can serve as a constant reminder of the need for us to take up our cross daily and “follow the true King, Christ our Lord,” and thus learn “to share in his heavenly kingdom,” as St. Benedict urges us in the Prolog of his Rule.

St. Benedict Medal