Friday, May 9, 2014

Going to War the Catholic Way

The world is a pretty scary place right now. Wars are breaking out on all sides, government corruption is rampant and growing, violence increases by the day, Christians are being persecuted, our enemies surround us like a pack of wolves, and our own country is losing its moral anchor as it drifts further out into the secular seas. We can either moan this state of affairs or take up arms against it. No, I'm not talking about going out and buying yourself a gun.  I'm talking about pulling out the simplest and most effective weapon in our arsenal, the rosary, and praying it like we mean it.

We have an incredible power available to us in the rosary.  It's not antiquated superstition, or vain repetition, and it has nothing to do with the beads themselves.  The beads are just an aid in calling to mind the prayers and keeping track of our place.  The power of the rosary is what it represents and what it contains. Hidden in the rosary is the greatest catechism ever written on Christian living and a shortcut to memorization of the Gospels.  If tomorrow they ordered every Bible to be burned and every printing press to be destroyed, so long as there was one person left who knew how to recite the rosary, we could pass down our Christian faith to the next generation.  We don't even need the beads.  They could stop manufacturing rosaries, and we could still pray the rosary as long as people continue to have 10 fingers or 10 toes. That's how powerful the rosary really is.

Each mystery of the rosary is a reflection on either an event in Christ's life or a promise made to us by Him. We trace the footsteps of Christ from his very first moment to his very last breath and then follow Him all the way to Heaven to watch Him greet the very first Christian with the very first crown of glory.  Everything that Christ underwent, everything that He did, and everything that takes place in the rosary is something we will encounter during our own walk of faith.  All of it helps us to learn what to expect and how to respond to the challenges we know we must face when we take up the cross.

Meditating on the Finding in the Temple, for example, you come to a place where you realize that there will be moments in your walk of faith when you lose sight of Christ no matter how holy you are or how faithful you are. His parents were extremely pious Jews who were well loved by God and faithful to His commandments, but they lost sight of the child Jesus for three whole days. I can only imagine the near panic induced by the thought of having lost the savior or the world. The most important part of the message, though, is where they found Him.  He was teaching in the temple. In meditating on this mystery, I realized that the key to getting over any period of spiritual dryness is to continue going to Church.  It may take you days, like it did for Mary and Joseph, or it may take you years, but one day you'll find Him right where you left Him, there in the Church.

That knowledge kept me from drifting too far away from the church during the past two years when I underwent the worst spiritual dryness I had undergone in years. I knew that what I needed was to force myself to do what I didn't feel like doing - to go to Church, join organizations that would keep me connected to Church and challenge me to grow in my faith.  I knew that if I kept it up long enough, I would eventually find my faith coming back to life.  I was right. It happened during the last few weeks of Lent, and I can feel the winds of change sweeping through my soul and tending all the little corners that were long neglected.  However, if not for the rosary, I would have seen this dryness as a sign of abandonment by God and might well have quit going to church altogether.

I have known for a long time that I needed to pray the rosary daily. I have known about Fatima, Lourdes, and the other apparitions of Our Lady practically screaming for us to pray the rosary daily. However, I must confess that I was lax in my prayers. I would pray it every now and again when I really needed something, but without any consistency. This past week, God has brought my failings to my attention in a way that I can't ignore. He has given me a mission to bring awareness to the rosary.  He has promised me that this mission will, as it has so many times before, change the course of history in our favor.

I'm an unlikely soldier for Him to recruit into His army. I'm soft, undisciplined, and unfocused in many regards. I'm not famous, or wealthy, or powerful.  I'm terribly flawed and broken, but I think these things are exactly why He has chosen me. I'm relatable, approachable, and available. Maybe the being available part is actually the more important of those three qualities. If there's any glory that comes out of what I am setting out to do for Him, it will all belong to Him and not a drop of it to me.

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