Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hooray! Tomorrow is Men of E5 day! Hooray! or A Valiant Attempt to Start a Rosary for Women Movement!

"Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her" Ephesians 5:25

Hooray! Tomorrow is Men of E5 day! Hooray!

Many of you have read what I've written about the Men of E5 fast that I do on Wednesdays, but as a quick refresher:

On Wednesdays (with a few exceptions) I fast, eating nothing but bread and water. It's part of something I found online called E5 Men. It is based on the above passage, where St. Paul implores us men to love our wives as Christ loved the church, sacrificing for her even up to handing ourselves over. E5 Men make this small sacrifice on the first Wednesday of every month, specifically as a sacrifice for their wives. I do it every Wednesday because I have a wife and two daughters (which is three Wednesdays) and since there are usually four in each month, the last Wednesday, I offer up for all women.

A couple of weeks ago I was putting my daughters to bed. Since my oldest had some night terrors a while back, my wife or I or whoever is watching them if we are out, sits with them in their room until they go to sleep. For me, I find it is usually a good time to say the rosary. It is quiet in the room (sometimes) and the soft, quiet meditation of the rosary makes for a good atmosphere for me and my two girls. So, as I was saying, a couple of weeks ago I was putting them to bed, sitting in their room, and saying the rosary. Because it was a Tuesday, I was thinking ahead to the next day's fast and I realized that on Tuesdays, the mysteries that we pray and reflect on with the rosary, are the Sorrowful Mysteries. And as I sat there reflecting on the mysteries of Christ's passion, I found that it linked together very well with the 'vigil' ,if you will, of my sacrifice for women. As I spoke the mysteries softly, I found myself dedicating each decade to a different intention for women.

Now I know I am not the only one of my fellow husbands, fathers, etc. that have taken on the E5 fast, nor am I the only one who says the rosary. So I thought I would share those intentions here so that perhaps other men, maybe every Tuesday, might be moved to say a rosary for our amazing wives, mothers, daughters, friends, and all the women of our world who may be struggling.

The first sorrowful mystery, The agony in the garden:

During the first mystery, we reflect on Jesus' suffering in the garden at Gethsemane. He is praying fervently, such that he is actually bleeding from his pores. The weight of all our sins is pushing down on him and he asks the Heavenly Father if this cup can pass by him. After struggling with his mission, of course, Jesus gives himself over to God's plan for our salvation.

The intention I pray is for all women struggling with an unintended pregnancy and the choice of abortion. Although obviously, I ultimately hope that they choose life for their little ones, I pray for their strength in making that decision and that they may find peace somewhere in the whirlwind of conflicting emotions they must be feeling. I pray that no matter what their choice, that they seek out the peace and love of God and His mercy.

The second sorrowful mystery, The scourging at the pillar:

We reflect on Jesus being tortured at the pillar and beaten until he was nearly dead. Tied to a post while the Roman guards beat him brutally and mercilessly, Jesus suffers physical agony and the sharp sting of anger and hatred.

The intention I pray is for all women who are victims of domestic abuse. I pray that they are protected and that they have the opening they need to escape their abusers. I pray that they find freedom and the resources to help them be unchained from their 'pillar'.

The third sorrowful mystery, The crowning with thorns:

We reflect on Jesus awaiting his execution. He is there, imprisoned and brutally beaten, and the guards continue to abuse him. They mock him by dressing him in a 'royal' cloak and by forcing on his head, a crown of thorns. During this twisted coronation, as the thorns pierce into his flesh, the soldiers kneel before him, honoring him with mock adoration. Enjoying themselves at his expense.

The intention I pray is for all women who are exploited. Whether it is in strip clubs, pornography, prostitution or just letting themselves be used under the false pretense that it empowers them. I pray that they see their beauty not as an asset to be flaunted so that others can enjoy themselves at their expense, but as a beauty that is inherent in them as a child of God. I pray that they see their value is more than external and that they do not deserve to be 'honored' with what amounts to mock adoration and dollar bills.

The fourth sorrowful mystery, The carrying of the cross:

As we say this decade, we meditate on Jesus carrying his cross through the streets of the city. He is jeered at, spit upon, berated and struck as he shoulders this tree toward his ultimate mission. He stumbles along the way, but perseveres despite his suffering and what his destination is.

The intention I pray is for all mothers. Mothers are often times the 'soul' of the family. They are the first teachers and daily loving examples for our children; teaching them their value and the value of others.
I pray especially for single mothers who must shoulder the full responsibility of their family by themselves. These women are heroes who never asked to be heroes. I pray that they find their way and that God gives them the incredible amount of strength that it must take to be both the nurturer and the disciplinarian; homemaker and the breadwinner; mom, and dad. And I pray that even as they stumble along the way, perhaps somewhere along the journey, they too may cross paths with a Simon the Cyrenian to give them a hand when they need it most.

The fifth sorrowful mystery, The Crucifixion:

This final decade of the Sorrowful mysteries focuses on Jesus' death on the cross. Jesus, after suffering brutal torture and a painful journey, is laid out and nailed to a cross. It is then raised so that he can hang there until he succumbs to an agonizing death; a death he suffered because of our sins; a death he suffered because of our evil.

The intention I pray is for women who are victims of violence. I pray for the souls of women who were killed, either by men they knew or were abducted and killed by predators they had never seen coming. I pray for women who have been raped, suffering the death of pieces of themselves because of another's evil act. I pray for women dealing with the scars of abuse when they were children, again, enduring the pain of someone else's sin. And I pray for the victims of abortion; those precious children, boys and girls, who will never have the chance to become; giving their lives because of somebody else's actions. I pray for their souls and for the peace of the women who had to battle with that choice through the fear and confusion and the possibility of lost hopes and dreams. I pray that all of these victims find peace.

So that is the rosary I pray as a vigil for my E5 fast day. I do hope that more men will sign on as Men of E5. I hope that this rosary for our women may catch on. But most importantly, I hope that my fellow men; husbands and fathers, single, old and young, will see the value of our wives, mothers, daughters, all of the women in our lives, and remember how amazing they are. I hope that we will continue to cherish them and hand ourselves over for them; sacrificing as Christ did for his bride, the church.

"Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God;
That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ."

God bless,

Monday, June 3, 2013

Daily Reading 06/04/2013: 'Repay to God What is God's' or No Receipt, No Refund, No Exchange...

Daily Reading 06/04/2013

"They brought one to him and he said to them,
“Whose image and inscription is this?”
They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”
So Jesus said to them,
“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar
and to God what belongs to God.”
They were utterly amazed at him." Mk. 12:16-17

So here we are with the holy roller power brokers again. (as I continue learning, I am frightened by how much Jesus' admonitions to them ring true of me too, by the way). And here they are again trying to trap Jesus, which is quickly becoming one of their favorite pastimes, and get him to trip up. They begin by sweet-talking him a bit, and then ask him if they should continue to pay the census tax. Perhaps feeling him out to see if he's a political activist or some kind of rebel. Either way, of course, Jesus is on to them and we end up with the passage above. "Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God."

By pointing out that the coins have Caesar's image on them, and thus should be repaid to him, Jesus points us toward the 'other side of the coin' (sorry, couldn't resist). What is it that is made in the image and likeness of God?

(insert Jeopardy! theme song here)

Okay, time's up. We are!

So we should be giving ourselves back to God. We are supposed to work toward being gifts back to our creator. But we don't do it, do we? We fret about having enough money, can we buy a house that's big enough? Can we get a car as nice as theirs? Can we go on vacation? Can we live the lifestyle we've ALWAYS DREAMED OF?

Can we....? Can we......? Can we........?

But the problem is, as we accumulate all of those things and live that fabulous life, we become slaves to it. In the end, all it leads to is more and more and more 'Can we?'s.

We are taking ourselves away from God and giving ourselves to things. Material things, worldly things, addictions, lust, greed, and it never fills the hole inside. Because there are always bigger and better things to desire. The profiteers and marketers of the world makes sure of that. Look in the mirror and you look at the face of God. Tell Him why you haven't given yourself back to Him in love. Go ahead and explain to Him why you're repaying what is His to Caesar. I hope He understands when I do it.

God bless,

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Daily Readings 06/03/2013: Jesus, the chief priests, scribes and elders mixing with atheists and the Westboro Baptist Church or Heaven could be a Very Interesting Place

Daily Reading 06/03/2013

"He had one other to send, a beloved son.
He sent him to them last of all, thinking, ‘They will respect my son.’
But those tenants said to one another, ‘This is the heir.
Come, let us kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.’
So they seized him and killed him,
and threw him out of the vineyard." Mk. 12:6-8

In the parable of the tenant farmers, Jesus is foreshadowing his own death and telling the chief priests, scribes and the elders what will happen to them. They were supposed to be tending to God's vineyard, keeping His flock, but they did not. They became concerned with their own gain, those honored places at table and the esteem and notoriety that came with their positions were more important to them then the call of God in their lives to lead others to Him. And their major fear of Jesus was their loss of power and esteem.

But Jesus tells them what will happen to these bad tenants. They are put out of the vineyard and the rewards go to others. This message must have been very disturbing to men who were used to the best of everything. To think that their ultimate reward would go to someone else. The gentiles? Maybe even the Samaritans? How could he say that those heathens would get rewarded by God? Does any of this sound familiar to any of us? We all have moments when we think, "Well, THAT doesn't seem very Christian?"

We probably (read as DEFINITELY) have had these thoughts while we were in church, about our fellow parishioners!

"Our Father who art in Heaven (would you look at what she is wearing?) Hallowed be thy name. (I mean, this is church, not a night club!) Thy Kingdom come (oh, COME ON now, look at that guy...) Thy will be done, (I mean seriously, sweat pants?) On Earth as it is in Heaven, (hellllooooo people, this is the house of God..) Give us this day (and that guy cut me off in the parking lot, sheesh) our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses (yeah, I know that guy really well. God he REALLY needs you to forgive his trespasses.) as we forgive those who trespass against us (That old lady is a major close-talker, talk about trespassing!) and lead us not into temptation (Did you hear that missy over there with the low-cut dress???) but deliver us from evil. (I am the only one in this building going to Heaven, I know it!) Amen."

Now I know the Westboro Baptist Church folks are going to be unhappy to hear this, but we do not choose who goes to Hell. That is a decision made way above our pay grade by a being who can search and read every heart. And yes, that means that some people you may consider 'worse' sinners than you, might be in Heaven. To paraphrase Mother Angelica, when you get to Heaven you will see a lot of people you are surprised to see there. Well that means, there will also be a lot of people surprised to see you!

There was quite a kerfuffle a couple of weeks ago because Pope Francis said that Jesus died for everybody, even atheists. The atheists seemed really excited.... I'm still not sure why.

But the Pope is right. Jesus died to offer salvation to everyone. Anybody who seeks Him and makes a sincere effort to pursue salvation, gets it, through Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. It doesn't matter if yesterday you were an atheist, it doesn't matter if you go around protesting and blaspheming by carrying signs talking about who God hates, when God doesn't hate anyone. His salvation is open, available and waiting for everyone. Our job is just to accept it, put down the things keeping us from Him, and follow.

Now after this whole thing, I am not about to tell you that I know where the chief priests, scribes, and elders went when they died, nor will I offer an opinion as to where the Reverend Phelps and his Westboro Baptist congregation will end up. Even if they persecuted (or are persecuting) Christ, we need to remember some of His final words on the cross. "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do."

Jesus was praying for his murderers to be forgiven, even as he was dying. What further proof would we need that his mercy is open to everyone who is willing to accept it?

God bless,