Saturday, October 29, 2011

Sunday Snippets October 30

Here are my posts of the week for Sunday Snippets, a Catholic community of bloggers sharing their posts from the last week, check it out.

This is about me and one of my teammates sitting at  high traffic area on campus with a huge Divine Mercy Image. Tip of the Devil's Hat

And this is about Beards for Breath an idea I came up with last year with the help of a few others. Maybe you've heard of No Shave November, this a cause for No Shave November. Last year over 700 people indicated that they attended the event on Facebook, it was really neat to see people unite for the right to life.

Have a great week.


Beards for Breath Year 2

Here is a link to my blog from last year when I first introduced Beards for Breath.

Beards for Breath 2010 Blog

Here is a link to the Facebook page to join the cause this year.

Beards for Breath Facebook page

And here is what Beards for Breath is all about:

For the 2nd straight year, through the power of beards and fasting we are uniting to pray for the sanctity of life.

Most of us are familiar with what has become known as "No Shave November" a great time for men everywhere to join uniting in hairy faces. Each year I am asked to join friends in this shaveless endeavor and each year I am hesitant to commit. There are a few reasons I am hesitant, 1. I have symmetrical bald spots o...n my face preventing the growth of a full and natural beard. And 2. What is the reason for not shaving, is there a cause or what?

So this November I again invite you to join a cause for “No Shave November” and that is “Beards for Breath”. Some of you know that October is/was pro-life month, but why should it end in October? So instead of just not shaving I invite you to FAST from shaving, thus an opportunity to offer something up in prayer for the protection and sanctity of life at all stages.

Last year several women told me of penances they offered up in conjunction with men growing beards. Several told me of not shaving their legs and some even went as far as not dying there hair for the entire month! Thank you ladies!

So every time you itch your face or are running your hands through your beard and think how much it is driving you crazy, offer it up and say a prayer for those little ones that have yet to take a breath, for those who were never given a chance to breathe, or for those whose life was unjustly ended.

Now I understand that some of you may be hesitant to commit to this due to a female influence; girlfriend, wife, mother, daughter, etc. Well invite them to join you. Not to stop shaving, but to offer up how bad you might look or how much they might hate your facial hair in prayer that the unborn might have the chance to breath.

So many men & women are contracepting or considering an abortion - most have never even considered the life they have created.

Have you thought of your beard as a weapon? Well this month it can be. Just think, each time someone asks you why you're growing out your facial hair you have a great opportunity to witness to the pro-life cause. And each day you look in the mirror know how angry the devil is at the choice you've made to stand up for life.

So men (and women) let us sharpen our razors one last time this Monday the 31st and then let us unite in prayer and hairy faces as we pray for an end to abortion and for all to have the right to life!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tip of the Devil's hat

This past weekend I had the joy of attending a men's retreat in Newark that was put on by the CFR's. The main speaker was John LaBriola (definitely worth Googling). He presented and challenged us a men in a real and great way to be the men of God that we were created to be.

He also presented us with some truths that we often fail to recognize, or choose not to recognize. The idea he presented which stands out to me is the realness of the devil. I've talked about it before in other posts, but somehow I'm always surprised to think about how real and present the devil is. But it makes sense because I'm pretty sure what the devil wants. What helped me to realize the realness of the devil is this idea that John shared that the devil looks to establish a toehold on your life. Slowly that toehold becomes a foothold and before you know it the foothold becomes a stronghold - or a waist hold. Meaning that sin and evil slowly or in a small way enter your life, but if you allow it (sin/evil) to it will consume and take over your life. Another idea he shared is how often our thoughts when not good can be evil and even from the devil. Which really makes sense to me. I know that when I'm confronted with sin and a decision to make so often the thought enters in my mind "its ok, do it, you can go to confession." And confession is great and beautiful but not meant to be used as a service, but really as an experience and tool to help you grow and experience a grace that you do not deserve. And then after I choose to sin I have the thought, "you are such a bad Catholic, how can you do that and now walk into a Church or be in presence of Jesus?" Devil alert, devil alert! Man he's sneaky! He is someone and something we must be aware of, combat, and avoid.

On Monday the FOCUS missionaries at Seton Hall prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in the campus chapel at 3. Once a month we try to invite students to pray with us, we call it "Divine Mercy Monday". Last month we did some active inviting, distributing and posting fliers. This time the approach was much more laid back with word of mouth invites and some passive advertising. I brought our rather large Divine Mercy image to campus. The image usually hangs on our wall and was kindly given to us by a Seton Hall seminarian.

So at 2pm, an hour before we would begin the Chaplet I sat around "the seal" at Seton Hall. In the middle of the campus "green", this is just a large open area on campus that gets a lot of foot traffic. I saw on a bench with the image, some rosaries, and Divine Mercy prayer cards. I decided that if some people stopped I would tell them about what was going on, but wasn't looking to actively engage, just let Jesus do the work.

A few minutes passed and someone from across the seal (15-20 yards or so) took a picture with their phone. So I moved to another bench and left Jesus alone. I then put a sign that said "come pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3pm." I then watched as people walked by and looked at the image. I wondered what they were thinking. For some people it was very clear what they were thinking. Most were just surprised. There were a few double takes, which I couldn't help but laugh at. One of my teammates and I, Eric, got into a few conversations where we were able to give out a few rosaries, talk about the devotion, and how to pray with it!

My favorite response to the image was a young man wearing a straight brimmed hat. I saw him as he approached the image, he was very aware of it, and it really caught his attention. He started at almost the entire time it was in his sight. As he came directly across from it, he looked sort of he needed to do something. He never broke stride, but he slightly turned his body toward the image and pulled the brim of his cap as if to acknowledge Jesus. As he pulled the brim I looked and laughed as I read "New Jersey Devils".

Thank you Jesus.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pure Joy

As usual, the last few weeks have been busy, crazy, and for the most part joy filled – certainly I’ve had times of despair, struggle, and sadness; but as a Catholic, as a Christian how can I be anything but filled with joy?

“You ask me whether I am in good spirits. How could I not be, so long as my trust in God gives me strength. We must always be cheerful. Sadness should be banished from all Christian souls. For suffering is a far different thing from sadness, which is the worst disease of all. It is almost always caused by lack of Faith. But the purpose for which we have been created shows us the path along which we should go, perhaps strewn with many thorns, but not a sad path. Even in the midst of intense suffering it is one of joy." Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Godcidentally enough, the saint I have mentioned most often on this blog, was the namesake of the retreat I went on last weekend, the Frassati Fellowship Retreat. The retreat was put on by the CFRs and the Sisters of Life, talk about some holy and humble people! They are not only incredible lovers of Christ, but great imitators!

The retreat was filled with inspiring talks, beautiful music, new friendships, great fellowship, and experiencing Jesus through the sacraments. There are so many wonderful memories that stand out to me, but the one that I have thought about several times since is what happened on Saturday night, the retreat was from Friday evening through Sunday afternoon. Both Friday and Saturday night ended with Eucharistic Adoration, but Saturday night stands out to me.

Saturday night Adoration began with exposition, singing of the Salutaris, and incensing. Then the deacon read from the Gospel of Matthew 9:18-22. Which is when a woman suffering with hemorrhages for 12 years touched a part of Jesus’ cloak. She did so thinking that if she touched it, she would be healed. When she touched His cloak, Jesus turned to her and said, “Courage daughter! Your faith has saved you.” And the woman was cured.

Then the deacon explained that we would have the opportunity to experience healing just like the woman did. The deacon then put on the humeral veil. The humeral veil is made of silk and about 8 foot by 18 inches. The humeral veil is worn to cover the back and shoulders — hence its name — and its two ends hang down in front. To prevent its falling from the shoulders, it is fastened across the breast with clasps or ribbons attached to the border. The deacon then placed his hands, which were covered by the veil on the monstrance, thus his hands were not directly touching it. The monstrance of course was holding Jesus, who is present in the Eucharist. Then the deacon walked toward the front of the altar where retreatants were kneeling waiting to touch the veil…which was in contact with the monstrance, which was holding Jesus.

As I anxiously awaited my turn, I prayed for Jesus to heal me and I prayed to be open to whatever He desired for me in that moment and that I would also desire it. I walked up, kneeled, and waited for the deacon and for Jesus. I gently held the veil with both of my hands and looked up into the Eucharist. And I thought, “Jesus, You are real and You are here. You told us You are the Bread of Life and I believe You. Thank You Jesus”. I closed my eyes and imagined the face of Jesus and let go of the veil. What an experience and encounter with the Lord!

I went back to my seat and wept tears of joy and sorrow all in thanksgiving for what Jesus did. The fact that Jesus not only was nailed to a cross for my sins, but that He left Himself to be with us, to be with us always as He says in Matthew 28:20. What a gift!

What an opportunity to demonstrate our faith each time that we enter a Church, to genuflect in front of the tabernacle, to in that moment, that action to say, Jesus I believe you are here in that tabernacle. Or when we receive Communion and respond “Amen” (I believe) to the priest’s offering and statement of “the Body of Christ”. And how can we even think about denying the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist when he orders us to believe that He truly is present again and again in the 6th chapter of the Gospel of John? Even when some of His followers question the teaching because they cannot believe what Jesus is saying, Jesus does not change what He says, He says it again. And some of His follower at that time leave and return to their former way of life. John 6:65 "For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by my Father." - Jesus

Something that I’ve been doing since the retreat is after I receive Communion I go back to the pew, kneel, and imagine the face of Jesus and I pray in thanks for the opportunity and privilege to receive Jesus.

As I’ve mentioned before in earlier posts, the book Visits to the Blessed Sacrament by St. Alphonsus Liguori changed the way that I pray during adoration. Although I have finished the 30 day devotional I have still been using it daily in prayer. I started back at day 1 and read all that I highlighted or things I made note of the first time that I used the book. Once again it has proved to be an effective tool and aid to my prayer.

My prayer is that we all, Catholic or not, may one day experience the joy of adoring, celebrating and receiving the Eucharist.