Knights of Columbus

One year ago, I became a first-degree Knight of Columbus.  This past Saturday (12/06), right before the Vigil Mass for the 2nd Sunday of Advent, I entered the fourth-degree.  I’ve come to learn a lot more about the organization, and I plan to make a series of posts on my Facebook Page to share what I now know.  For this post, I want to share some thoughts on how God is leading me to grow within His Church.

We cannot become holy — the best-version-of-ourselves — in isolation.  Holiness is achieved in community; it is achieved through the Church.  I was reading the early chapters of Cardinal Ratzinger’s (a.k.a. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) Principles of Catholic Theology: Building Stones for a Fundamental Theology, when this truth about holiness resonated in me.  I felt like God was leading me more into the Church, to see the mystery of Christ’s Body.  Imperfect people make up the divine, holy Mystical Body of Christ.  The source and summit of our faith is the Eucharist.  Prayer is the foundation of all my Christian movement – I cannot hope to dance with the Holy Spirit without growing in prayer.  And, as my prayer life grows (a solitary activity), I am led to be more active in the Church (a very social activity).

Knights of Columbus Logo
Knights of Columbus Logo

My involvement in Church itself is a form of prayer.  This is what is different, now.  Before, I saw my Church commitments as, well… commitments.  Was it a burden?  No.  But, commitments are something you keep regardless of how you might feel about it.  I happen to feel good about my commitment to the Church, but still….  Now, the feeling is different.  Being involved with the Church is now infused with a different meaning.  It’s like a red blood cell that suddenly gained individual awareness.  I’m a tiny, tiny thing in the scheme of the whole body, but I play a role in bringing oxygen to the various body parts.  I return to the heart for communion and rejuvenation, and then go out again to fulfill my duties.  Whereas before, it’s what I did as a red blood cell, now I see that I’m part of a very special body.  It’s not just any body.  It’s Jesus Christ.  And to be a red blood cell in the body of Jesus Christ is an incredible privilege.  This is what it means to be active in the Church: I’m a red blood cell in the body of Jesus Christ.  By virtue of our Baptism, we all are.

So, the Knights of Columbus has a special charism that attracts certain types of people.  I never gave it much thought until now, but I guess its charism appeals to me.  God knows I’ve been trying to find a group (an organ) within His Church where I could attach myself and grow.  I looked into Opus Dei.  I thought about the various Third Orders.  Maybe my Good Shepherd has led me to this particular pasture, where I can fatten up and be a fragrant offering when the time comes?

Oh, Lord, I love you.  It is always such an adventure with you.  I trust in you and I know you won’t lead me where I ought not go.  May I persist in prayer, and may I have greater fervor for your Body & Blood with every Communion.  Help me grow in charity; help me bring my family along with me.  Show me my weaknesses so that I can offer them to you, and depend more on you.  Shame me so I can strengthen the bedrock of humility, and build a temple worthy of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t let me slip in my prayer, but help me make everything I do a form of prayer.  As my daughters desire me to be ever-present in their daily lives, so I desire you to be ever-present, watching me, teaching me, smiling at me, and awaken my spiritual imagination.  God, you are my Father; Christ, you are my Lord and brother; Holy Spirit, you are my love.

Novena for Conception and Healthy Pregnancy

Dear Lord,

Remember how I prayed for the couples who were trying to conceive?  Glory be to God, many of them now are parents.  Since that post, many visitors come to this website to see that post (web analytics for your greater glory!)  It inspired me to start a novena for this Advent Season and pray for those people who are praying to have a baby, or praying for a smooth and healthy pregnancy.

I started a Facebook event for this novena.  No one but me plans on going to this event.  That’s okay.  Only a few grains of salt are needed to change the taste of a bite of food.  Let me be that grain of salt.  You know the couples whom I hold in my heart who are still trying to conceive.  If I may be so bold, may I ask the first fruits of these novena prayers go to them?  Including the Vigil Mass that I offered for these intentions this past Saturday?

I know I am weak and that my prayers are imperfect.  Look not on my sins, but on the perfect prayers of St. Gerard Majella.  I am joining my novena prayers to his and I will be asking for his intercessions on behalf of those who are trying to conceive or want a healthy pregnancy.  Thank you, Jesus, for the Communion of Saints.  How lonely would our prayers lives be without our saints praying beside (and for) us!

I humbly ask you, dear Jesus, to grant the prayers of St. Gerard Majella.  Bless those who visit this website, looking for someone to pray for them to conceive.  They have St. Gerard, St. Therese, St. Joseph, St. Thomas More, St. Jose Maria Escrivá and myself.  We pray for them.  Hear our prayers and grant them the joys of parenthood.  We ask this in your name, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with the Father, together with the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

My 5th Advent Season

“How is your prayer life?” is a question I often ask my spiritual friends.  The answer to that question is a good measure of how one has grown in the Christian life.  The quality and quantity of my prayer life is tied to my growth in the virtues, and I can measure my growth in the virtues from the twelve spiritual fruits I see in my interior life, my family life and my professional life.  This Sunday, November 30th, marks the first day of Advent.  It’s a time of waiting.  It’s also a good time to ask myself, how is my prayer life compared to last Advent?

It has improved.  Dramatically.  I pray the Rosary almost daily.  I go to the Sacrament of Confession almost weekly.  I no longer confess mortal or venial sins, but work with God in the confessional to address deep-rooted imperfections.  Although I’ve slipped away from praying the Liturgy of the Hours, my wife has taken the habit to pray the Morning Office, daily.  I’m more at ease in doing spontaneous prayers.  I find myself speaking to God in the morning when I wake up, and thinking about God and His teachings as I fall asleep.  I recently started praying for my Korean co-workers, and I find this a good way to integrate my professional life with my interior life with God.  I may never be U.S. Ambassador, but I can be God’s ambassador right now where I work, where I live.

Last Advent, I discovered my need for a spiritual director.  I’ve been using the same confessor since then.  I haven’t really asked him for spiritual direction since I was primarily trying to get rid of the boulders and rocks in the field of my soul.  Since these have been cleared away, I can see the True Vine of Christ growing in my field.  The tree of virtue is bearing fruit.

This is only my fifth Advent Season.  Oh, the fruits that come from dying to self!  Help me, Lord Jesus… strengthen me for the greater trials to come.  Lead me to die more for You, to die more deeply.  My dear Saints: St. Therese, St. Joseph, St. Thomas More, St. Jose Maria Escrivá, and my Guardian Angel, thank you for not giving up on me.  Thank you for your prayers and all that you’ve done to bring me to where I am, today.  It’s far from over, I know.  There is still so much to do.  You know my weaknesses, dear Saints.  Pray for me.  Help me grow in Charity.  Help me do God’s will.  Dear Holy Spirit, lead me deeper into the life of the Church.  Help me bring my family along with me.  Don’t let me be led astray by the Tempter, the Accuser.  Dear Blessed Mother Mary, help me persist in prayer.  Teach me through the Holy Mysteries of the Rosary how to conform more of my life to Christ.

Devotion to Our Lord’s Shoulder

The Shroud of Turin
The Shroud of Turin

One of the rich aspects of our faith is the great number of devotions available for Christians to exercise their gift of piety.  I was surprised to find this prayer to Our Lord’s Shoulder:

O Loving Jesus, meek Lamb of God, I a miserable sinner, salute and worship the most Sacred Wound of Thy Shoulder on which Thou didst bear Thy heavy Cross, which so tore Thy Flesh and laid bare Thy Bones as to inflict on Thee an anguish greater than any other Wound of Thy Most Blessed Body. I adore Thee, O Jesus most sorrowful; I praise and glorify Thee and give Thee thanks for this most sacred and painful Wound, beseeching Thee by that exceeding pain and by the crushing burden of Thy heavy Cross to be merciful to me, a sinner, to forgive me all my mortal and venial sins, and to lead me on towards Heaven along the Way of Thy Cross. Amen.

The origin of this prayer is Saint Bernard of Clairvaux who, in a moment of contemplative ecstasy, asked Jesus what was His greatest unrecorded suffering.  Jesus told St. Bernard of Clairvaux that it was His shoulder which bore the heaviness of the Cross.

St. Padre Pio

Unbelievers can chalk it up as pious fantasy.  That’s fine.  A devotion is simply that: a devotion, not a matter of dogma.  Nevertheless, it fascinates me!  And to read in this article by Pat Archibold that two other pieces of evidence confirm this wound makes this devotion that much more interesting.  According to a biography written by Stefano Campanella, a young priest by the name of Karol Wojtyla (the future St. John Paul II) had visited Padre Pio and asked him about his stigmata.  Padre Pio confided in the future Pope that it was a wound on his shoulder that was the most painful.  The other evidence was reported in the Vatican Insider.  In a new study, scientists confirm that the “Man of the Shroud”…

underwent an under glenoidal dislocation of the humerus on the right side and lowering of the shoulder, and has a flattened hand and enophthalmos; conditions that have not been described before, despite several studies on the subject. These injuries indicate that the Man suffered a violent blunt trauma to the neck, chest and shoulder from behind, causing neuromuscular damage and lesions of the entire brachial plexus.

Wow.  Whether one regards this information as true is a matter of faith.  I for one, think this is fruitful for meditation and contemplation.

St. John Paul II

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Easter 2014

My dear brothers & sisters in Christ, Happy Easter!  What a wonderful time to be alive!  How can I share my joy with you?

For the next 40 days, we will be celebrating the Resurrection of Our Lord.  On June 8th, Pentecost Sunday, we will remember how the Holy Spirit descended and gave power to the first apostles to proclaim the Good News.  Isn’t it amazing, my brethren, how the past 40 days of praying & fasting is now balanced with 40 days of thanksgiving & celebration?

Please share with me how the way you spent Lent is affecting how you will celebrate the next 40 days of Eastertide.  I think how we observe Lent is directly correlated to how we experience Easter.  Let’s see if my suspicion is true!

I can tell you, I will enjoy a nice glass or two of Scotch whisky, tonight.  There were many moments when I felt the temptation to break my resolution not to drink alcohol.  While I did drink a glass of beer on two social occasions, I trust I will have enough grace to be a better witness next time.  I didn’t really need to drink; people would have understood and respected my Lenten resolution.  I gave up coffee for Lent, but intend on not drinking it again.  I will enjoy coffee ice cream, though.  While I will try my best not to watch Netflix, again, at least I can look up documentary or shows that I can watch together with my wife.

Most importantly, I’ll get to pray the other Christian mysteries.  For the 40 days during Lent, I only mediated on the Sorrowful Mysteries (the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging, the Crowning of Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion).  Now, I get to reflect on Christ’s Joyful, Luminous and Glorious Mysteries.  I look forward to seeing how the Holy Spirit will speak to me as I meditate on these other mysteries.

Oh, my soul, I love the Lord so much I feel like bursting.  This, I know, is due to grace.  There is so much horror and tragedy in the world, right now.  I read a headline today of a man who raped a baby and videotaped it on his cell phone.  I prayed an Act of Contrition for the man, but that will not be enough to help him.  The poor baby, the poor parents… God give them solace.  That’s just one tragedy.  Christ saw all the horrors he was atoning for in the Garden.  He probably saw the human error and incompetency that led to the hundreds of high school deaths in South Korea when a ferry that was taking the children on a field trip capsized.  This accident happened right before Easter, too.  The school vice principal already committed suicide (which sounds a lot like the despair that led Judas to his own suicide).  I’m sure the devil is having a field day harvesting souls for Hell.

There are so many other tragedies and reasons to be sorrowful, but I’m shielded for a time to enjoy the Lord’s Resurrection.  For this, I’m grateful.  It’s good for me to remember that only the living can praise God.  Although I did not see the Risen Christ in the flesh as the first disciples did, I do feel Him in my heart and can see with my eyes of faith how He has worked (and continue to work) in my life.

My brothers & sisters in Christ, I pray and hope you are doing well and have much to be thankful for.  If you are suffering or have experienced tragedy recently, I will pray for you this evening.  I’m praying for you, right now.  God bless you.

O God, I love you with my whole heart above all things because you are infinitely good; for your sake I will love my neighbor as myself.  Amen.

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