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Sanctification in Daily Work
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Praying for Russia and Ukraine to Jesus through Mary

Pope Francis - Courtesy of VaticanToday Pope Francis consecrated Russia and Ukraine to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary. You can find the consecration prayer here. It was a beautiful ceremony which was live streamed by the Vatican through various channels.

You can watch the full video on the Vatican Youtube channel.

There is a lot of blame, finger pointing, misinformation and more about this sudden war. However, real people, including children, are homeless and dying. This is a horrible situation that will have impacts for a long time to come. And it is not over yet. IMO satan is at work and what we’re seeing plenty of examples of that all over the world. It is very clear that we need prayer and to turn to faith in God more than ever. I see encouraging signs and I have hope for the future.

Merry Christmas

The Miracle of ChristmasI love this picture of my grandchildren.

Here is a short meditation from St. Josemaria Escriva.

Christmas time. You write: “Together with the holy expectation of Mary and Joseph, I also impatiently await the Child. How happy I shall feel at Bethlehem! I have a feeling that I won’t be able to contain this joy without bounds. Yes! but, with Him, I also want to be born anew.” —I hope you really mean what you say! (Furrow, 62)

Preparing for Christmas

There are many options for finding excellent spiritual reading during Advent. One I recommend is Scepter Publishers. Besides the many books they offer, you can find a “Daily Quote to Contemplate.” You can subscribe to it here. Here is an example from 11/30/21:

“Healing power pours forth unceasingly from the sacred Eucharistic Heart of Jesus, but in order for this power to be received, it must meet with a certain receptivity. This receptivity consists in the theological virtues.” From The Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle by St. Manuel Gonzalez Garcia.

Memento Mori. Know what that means? Remember your death. Sounds kind of morbid doesn’t it? However, it is an old spiritual practice. Here’s more information:

Memento mori or “remember your death” is a phrase that has been long associated with the practice of remembering the unpredictable and inevitable end of one’s life. The spiritual practice of memento mori and the symbols and sayings associated with it were particularly popular in the medieval church. But the tradition of remembering one’s death stretches back to the very beginning of salvation history.

I have found a treasure trove of information and aids to this practice by Sr. Theresa Altheia Noble, who is a former atheist who is now a religious sister of the Daughters of Saint Paul. You can find lots of information here.

Since we’re on our way to death even as we’re born this practice is an excellent way to prepare yourself for when that time comes.

Memento Mori during November

Memento Mori Prayer BookIt is that time in the Catholic liturgical year when we pray for the holy souls in purgatory. In fact, the whole month of November is devoted to this.

This makes it the perfect time to reflect on our death and how we should be preparing for it when that time comes (which we know not the day or hour). My daughter suggested Memento Mori. I didn’t even know what it meant which is Remember Your Death. I have used this ancient Catholic tradition to reflect on my death and it has been a big help in my spiritual life. The last almost two years had really affected me more than I at first realized. However, after reflecting on my own death regularly I am much more at peace.

An excellent aid to the understanding and contemplation of Memento Mori are resources you can purchase that are produced by Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP. She is a former atheist who is now a religious sister with the Daughters of St. Paul. You can find out more and purchase a variety of aids like the Memento Mori prayer book, pictured here. I have also purchased the Memento Mori Advent Companion book.

It sounds like a very dark topic. In reality it is the opposite.

Some of My Thoughts on the COVID Debacle

This week my Knights of Columbus council held its monthly meeting. I am currently the Lecturer for the council. So, I provide information for the good of the order on a variety of topics. This week my conscience required me to say the following as my report. This is an edited version, and we had a good discussion following it. So, here it goes.

I must point out the obvious first, which is that the devil is alive and well in the world and he is causing some of the worst atrocities we’ve ever seen.

So firstly, let’s start with abortion. It is a major issue we as Knights work on. That is to save the unborn. Don’t dwell on it and how many have been murdered because it will just drive you crazy.

That leads us to the main thing I want to bring up which is the vaccines for this Covid virus. I have been traveling quite a bit lately and have had many people asking me lots of questions about this topic. Many of those conversations were uncomfortable because people are so emotional about the issue.

My wife, Cindy and I are trained journalists by college and career. We’ve done lots of research since March, 2020 on this topic. We’ve never seen such a convoluted mess of misinformation and lies. And what really rankles us as Catholics is how the vaccines have been created, tested, and produced. All of them have used fetal tissue from what was originally tissue from an aborted baby. A long time ago at this point. They basically clone it to make it simple to explain how they continue that “line” of tissue. Only one uses fetal tissue in the actual production process and that is the J&J one regardless of what you may have heard. That’s why the bishops have had a real problem with that one. However, all the vaccines we have come about because of an aborted baby’s tissue. The fact that it was ever used encourages other researchers to use that kind of tissue and that should be illegal everywhere in the world.

We know what the Pope and bishops have said. Many bishops will not endorse any of their use. But the majority have told us we can feel okay to get the shots. If you’re familiar with the term remote cooperation, then you might understand how they can allow this. Look it up if you don’t know.

Read the rest of this post…

Meditating in the Woods

Morning in the WoodsLast weekend was the nicest weather for the opening days of the Georgia deer season I can remember. The days were clear and sunny and the evenings were cool. Most of the members of our Crystal Pig Hunt Club harvested deer! Some of it will go direct to the freezer, some of it has been donated and mine will include giving business to a small local processor to make cube steaks and summer sausage. Mmm, mmm.

Most of the “action” when you’re in the woods is over in a matter of minutes. The rest of the time is quiet time in your stand. It is the most relaxing time for meditating on life and all kinds of things. Since I started deer hunting about 30 years ago I’ve always made it a practice to say my rosary as soon as I get in my stand in the morning.

Most of the noise you hear are birds, squirrels, wind in the trees and sometimes I can even hear a deer walking near me. While keeping my eyes open waiting to see a deer there is a lot of time to have a conversation with God. Sometimes it’s me asking Him for help and guidance. Sometimes it’s just “listening” and letting Him talk to me. This may not be a retreat but in a way there are similarities. It is a very calming time with no internet, tv, phone calls or meetings. Although, we do send each other texts when necessary.

I never know if I’ll have the chance to do this again. And if that is the case, I have a lifetime of memories that include the most beautiful sunrises or sunsets. And then there is the time with family and friends, relaxing at camp, making and eating some good food. I can’t thank God enough for the opportunity.

The True Story of Christopher Columbus

True Story of Christopher ColumbusIt is Columbus Day and a good time to learn more about Christopher Columbus. There is certainly a lot of misinformation about this man and the times he lived in. As a member of the Knights of Columbus I’ve learned a lot more about him and am glad that the organization has gone to considerable effort to chronicle why we have Columbus Day.

Here’s a good example of where you can learn more about Christopher Columbus. It is documentary you can watch on the Knights of Columbus website:

COURAGE AND CONVICTION: THE TRUE STORY OF COLUMBUS

The voyages of Christopher Columbus were a watershed moment in the history of human civilization. Like every encounter, or new day, they offered a world of possibilities.

Narrated by actor Chazz Palminteri, Courage and Conviction is a 30 min. documentary that offers insight into Christopher Columbus’ remarkable journey, facts on the encounter of civilizations, details on the origins of Columbus Day and context behind the affinity many immigrants have for Columbus. Finally, the film addresses elements of cancel culture and currents that would prefer to rewrite history based on false accusations. Courage and Conviction shows why Christopher Columbus remains not only a man worthy of admiration, but a noble icon of what it means to be a Catholic and an American.

A Dark Time and What To Do About It

I recently listened to a friend who is very strong in her faith, very well spoken and always seems cheerful and calm. She has a beautiful family, farms and is a writer and public speaker. Even when she references the dark time in our country and in our world she goes to scripture and finds great quotes that apply to the bad that is happening while providing encouragement to face persecution and to keep the focus on the ultimate goal – to go to Heaven. I only wish I was as eloquent.

I’m posting this because we sure seem to be in a “dark time” here in America but also around the world. It is easy to bring up the pandemic and the divisiveness, misinformation, lies and flat out ignorance of people. As I’ve been seeing and talking to people face to face this is the top subject that comes up. I’ve rarely seen this have a positive outcome. Just like how a virus affects people differently so does talking about it and the opinions people have. I’m fine with different opinions. But I am not fine when it turns into accusations and anger.

But we’ve got a whole list of other issues that easily make it feel like we’re in a very dark time. These include abortion, the removal or “canceling” of God in our governments and schools. Persecution of Christians is not just a problem in other countries. It is happening right here in America. And it is probably going to get worse.

All you have to do is scan through a social media feed (take your pick) or supposed news outlets to not only see this in action but to see what it is doing to people who are suffering terribly from fear, anxiety, depression, unemployment, loss of businesses. The government’s attempts to just give billions and billions of dollars away is not an attempt to help people but to control them. Kind of like the vaccination mandates. Take a look at the Nuremberg Code if you want some historical perspective on what is happening and how that document is pertinent.

So, we’re living in dark times. What do we do? Turn to God. Talk to Him, pray to him, spend time with Him instead of the distractors that are contributing to your fears and anxieties. Talk openly to family and friends who are probably suffering as much as you might be. We’re not here to see how much money or possessions we can accumulate. We’re here to store up treasure in Heaven. That doesn’t mean it will be easy. But with trust in God the rewards will be a hundredfold what you could ever do on your own in this world. Embrace the cross of Jesus because it is there that you will find your way to reach that ultimate goal.

A Holy Hour with Bishop Wack

Basilica of St. Michael the ArchangelFriday evening Most Rev. William Wack, Bishop of the Pensacola-Tallahassee Diocese, held a Holy Hour at the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, Pensacola, with adoration of the Eucharist, Evening Prayer, meditation on adoration and the Litany of Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney.

The Knights of Columbus worked with the Diocese for this event which was open to the public. We had an honor guard of the 4th Degree Knights, the State Deputy representing the national Knights of Columbus and other members of the Knights and their families. Our council at the Basilica provided assistance in putting together and distributing the handout for the prayers as well as being ushers.

It was a beautiful service and Bishop Wack’s remarks on adoration were great. The national Knights of Columbus had a tv crew their shooting video for a project that will be appearing on their website. They also interviewed several people including Bishop Wack and several Knights like myself. I look forward to seeing how they put the production together.

Distrust is Prevalent

I remember telling my daughters that once you lose trust it takes a long, long time to get it back. I still believe that today. These are some rambling thoughts I’ve had this morning. Actually, I’ve thought about it a lot over the last year plus.

Today, losing trust is prevalent everywhere. I’m mainly focused on what used to be media outlets that tried to be fair and impartial. Not any more. The same goes for most of our various forms of government. The social media companies are also top of the list. I don’t trust any of them. And let’s not forget the “scientific” companies that have developed medicines they’re calling vaccines even though they don’t prevent anyone from getting sick with COVID.

I don’t believe the complete lies being told by all these entities. Our government has given a few medical companies billions of dollars and plans to keep on doing so. The statistics that are quoted just don’t match up and the media/government will only report what they want you to know. They want to instill fear, significant fear. And they’ve done so.

I have friends who are scientists and doctors. It’s a mixed bag on what they believe and say. I don’t have any major problem with vaccinations. It worked well over decades for Smallpox for example. But you can’t compare this virus with that one. And, regardless of what scientists say about the current vaccines for COVID, many have been on record saying they really don’t know for sure what the long range effects of the drugs will be.

I’ve read way too much on the subject of COVID. I’ve also had it. I really don’t wish anyone to get this disease, regardless of their condition or beliefs. If the vaccines being pushed everywhere you look and are being forced on people were really safe like the government, media and many companies want us to believe, they would have taken a very different approach. Instead, they’ve pushed an agenda of fear and that has led to decisions that have forced companies out of business and millions out of jobs.

I predict that looking back on this we’ll realize that the impact of what has happened to our society is more devastating than all the actual deaths caused by the disease itself.

I’m sure there are people who really don’t like my thoughts on this. I don’t care. I have many friends, family and people I have worked with who have been made sick by this disease or have died.

This situation we’re in has been really depressing to me. But I’ve been able to find hope, trust and even joy because of my faith. I pray constantly for everyone struggling right now and wish I could tell them face to face to turn to God and not be afraid. Fear is a tactic of the devil and it doesn’t accomplish anything useful.

Overcoming the Anxieties of the World

Just when you think things can’t get more crazy in this world we have lots of new things to create anxiety and fear. What are they you might ask? Here’s a list from a good friend who just posted about this on her FB page.

Kids. Marriage. Jobs. Health. Family.

Politics. Inflation. Shortages. Disruptions. Civil unrest. Cyber hacks.

Geopolitical war games. Devastating weather events. Protecting our body sovereignty.

Division politics. Weaponized media. Censorship and the destruction of our first amendment rights.

Society turning away from God. Mocking God. Shunning God.

And everyday looks like a dumpster fire if you turn on the news. Your biggest fears manifest as you wonder and worry what this country and this world will look like for your kids and your grandkids.

It’s heavy. It’s hard. It’s exhausting.

It seems like things are so bad there is no way out of it. But there is. It is a firm belief and love of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. No matter what, He is always at our side and will deliver us from evil. IDK if you are having these kind of fears and anxieties but just know that you are not alone in it if you are. I’m hoping more people will turn to daily prayer and focus on their family and tune out the junk that is pervasive on social media and all other forms of “news.” We may not think we can affect change on a world wide scale but we can locally with our own school boards, city and county governments and our family and friends.

Officer Installation at Knights of Columbus Council #8589

Knights of Columbus Council OfficersI belong to the Knights of Columbus Council #8589, Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, Pensacola, FL. Last week we installed a new slate of officers. I volunteered for the position of Lecturer. My main responsibility is to provide information for the good of the order on topics that include our Catholic faith or encouragement to participate in council activities. I’ve been a member of the Knights of Columbus for many years but never volunteered for office, although I’ve always helped with activities and I started and ran a website for the council I belonged to in Missouri before moving back to Florida.

Our council has a number of projects to benefit our community which most recently included donating three wheelchairs to the Haven of Our Lady of Peace. It is a local nursing home that our parish supports. It is just one example of not just our council but all of the councils around the world! I’m proud to be a members and associated with great men doing good work out of the love for God and our fellow man.

Fear: Be Not Afraid

In more than a year I’ve seen people become more afraid than I can ever remember. I don’t mean being afraid of something like a lightning storm, a creepy bug or your shadow. It has been foremost a fear of COVID-19. But also included is a fear of all the violence that is happening all over our country and a fear that somehow the world is going to end due to climate change.

We literally have a society of fear going on that is being stoked by fake news, real news, non-stop opinion news. Advertising campaigns locally and nationally have essentially urged people to be afraid. Most of the fear is not rational. However, the volume of violent acts which include terrorist rallies, gun shootings, murders and governments letting criminals go without having to pay the penalty of their crimes, is something to be really concerned about.

I will confess to having irrational feelings of fear and anxiety this past year. It’s not fun. They have mostly become bothersome when I wake up at night and can’t go back to sleep. I’ve been working on letting go of my fear and anxieties and finding more and more spiritual material to help. This includes The Imitation of Christ, Thomas Kempis. Here’s an example of many lines that address this subject, “Lord, I willingly commit all things to You, for my anxiety can profit me little.” Yes, all the anxiety in the world will not solve anything. It only keeps us from focusing on what is important and making good decisions.

There are many more excerpts from the writing of saints and theologians. Just google for it. I follow @PadrepioSaint on Twitter and the tweets often are “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” “Be not afraid,” Saint John Paul II, Pope, is something I think about often.

When these kind of feelings happen I view them as an attack from the evil one. For that reason I always have my rosary and holy water which also helps tremendously.

Visiting with Family

ZimmermansAs my wife and I get older we are needing to spend more time with our parents. I’ve talked with a number of friends who are doing the same. In the last month Cindy has been able to spend time with her Mother who wasn’t feeling good. She’s much better now.

Neither of our parents live close to us so it is a long drive in opposite directions. I spent several days with my parents and other family members last weekend. They are pictured here after Sunday Mass.

We’re both finding out what we can and need to do for our parents. They are closing in on 90 and need help with house/yard maintenance, discussing end of life plans and I’ve been surprised that they are asking questions and looking to us to help find answers. Cindy and I are already making plans for our next visits.

On my trip last week I was able to visit my sister who is in assisted living due to several strokes. I had not seen her in more than a year and it just so happened that the week before we got there the facility started allowing people inside to visit. I went with my Mother and other sister. It was a wonderful and emotional time. I believe God answered my prayers that we would have a nice visit and be able to spend some time with her.

There are some challenges to overcome helping my parents like near total loss of hearing on my Dad’s part and just the physical shape they are in. As I’ve heard, “No one said it would be easy, but it would be worth it.”

It is easy to get caught up in my work or my own family which now includes grand children with a new one on the way. But I am making a commitment to help take care of my aging parents however I am able.

Annual Spiritual Retreat

ACTS MissionsIn 2020 I was not able to attend an annual retreat. However, I have had that opportunity this year. I have always gone to annual retreats that are put on by a local Opus Dei center. It is a silent retreat with a priest providing talks for spiritual meditation and daily Mass, Adoration and availability for confession or to talk to the priest in spiritual direction. This year, at the suggestion of spiritual advice, I decided to go on an ACTS Retreat that is managed by St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Pensacola, FL. It is a different kind of retreat in that we are able to not only talk to other participants but share thoughts and ideas after talks. We also had the sacraments the same as Opus Dei retreats.

I was somewhat hesitant at first to go on this retreat but felt like my reasons were not sufficient to make that decision. I’m glad I went! There were 14 of us as participants and the team that does all the work and a priest. I didn’t realize how much the ability to meet other men and be able to talk to them on a very personal, level which includes our faith, would mean to me in a very positive way. I now have a big group of men that I know locally and didn’t before and they are available to call anytime and that goes the same for me to them. So, I’m learning more about this ACTS Missions organization that is based out of San Antonio, TX. Some have told me it is like a Cursillo, which I have not participated in. You can find out more and see if your church would be interested in putting on one of these retreats here.

An ACTS Retreat is a parish-based event which offers parishioners an opportunity to experience the love of Jesus Christ. This in turn fosters a desire for intentional discipleship.

ACTS Retreats are given by parishioners for parishioners, and in this way, serve to build Christian community at the parish.