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Sanctification in Daily Work
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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.

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.

Imitating Christ in our Daily Life

The Imitation of ChristI read “The Imitation of Christ”, by Thomas Kempis, many years ago and remember how much it meant to mean then. IDK why but I picked up this version of the book which I have had for a while and started from the beginning again. Amazingly, it speaks to me even more powerfully than I remember. It’s as if the thoughts and words in this book seem to talk about today, what is happening in the world and in my life.

Even in the forward I highlighted this: “But we forget that we are made up of body and soul and all this hyperactivity leaves no time for the soul to breathe.” The world today seems very frantic with an overwhelming urge to constantly be doing something, anything and at all times. Maybe by meditating on this little book you and I can change and slow down, be patient and enjoy the day and find ways to become more like Christ.

This book can be purchased on Catholic Book Publishing.

A Holy Week Reflection

Liturgy of the HoursDuring this season of Lent it is especially good to take time for personal examination and to meditate on the life of Jesus and what the coming Easter Triduum means. There are many good guides or prayer books for this time. I’ve been finding meaningful reading in my daily Liturgy of the Hours, especially Morning Prayer. This is a quote from yesterday’s Morning Prayer, Antiphon 1, Psalm 43, “Defend me, O God, and plead my cause against a godless nation. From deceitful and cunning men rescue me, O God.”

This immediately hit home with me emotionally. In my life I don’t ever remember seeing so much hatefulness, animosity, anger, lack of faith, and actual direct persecution of Christians. At least in my own country. We have elected leadership that I truly believe are working to tear our society apart and complete the ongoing effort to remove God from our our institutions and people. I find it truly heinous what is being done to children and including those unborn who have been aborted.

So, I have read and re-read more of the Psalm and it not only brings home the reality of what Jesus had to endure on our behalf but also provides hope that we will be saved from these “deceitful and cunning men.”

Let there be such oneness between you. . .

Let there be such oneness between you that when one weeps the other will taste saltI love this quote. I first saw it in my chiropractor’s office. I don’t know who the author is. I searched but found multiple different results. This one says “Anonymous.”

The quote: “Let there be such oneness between you that when one weeps the other will taste salt.

One of the places I found it was on a list of suggested quotes for the father of the bride at a wedding. This really has a lot of meaning for me. The first time I read it I immediately thought of my wife. I thought about how much I have loved her since I met her in college and I thought of how much I missed her when we were apart. I thought of the many rough spots we’ve had over the years when I would know that she was hurt and especially if she was crying. Having the feeling described here is very powerful and has been a topic of my meditations many times.

I think this can apply to other people and even to other things. A recent example would be what is happening in our country. I love our country and it is weeping through the millions of people who are suffering. I taste that sadness and it is salty. I can provide more examples but I just thought I’d share this quote in the hopes you may like it.

Year of St. Joseph and Prayers That Are Needed

St. Joseph the WorkerWe are well in to the Year of St. Joseph as proclaimed by Pope Francis. I think this is a very special opportunity to find time to meditate on such a marvelous saint about whom we know very little. That may be the case but his “silence” says so much as you can find in the writings of many theologians. There are also many St. Joseph prayers you can find that may have special meaning to you.

I decided to spend more time in prayer to this saint and just to ask for his strength, wisdom and patience as the craziness of what is going on in our world has not let up and I’m afraid we’re going to see much more of it. We need St. Joseph’s help to overcome the problems so many people are facing, especially in trying to keep their faith and to remain calm.

One of the prayers I’m using for the first time is the Seven Sundays Devotion to St. Joseph. This coming Sunday will be #5.

I keep this mini icon of St. Joseph the Worker on my desk as a constant reminder to think about him and perhaps utter a short prayer. When I am having trouble figuring out what to do with my business and my work I turn to St. Joseph and think about what his days and years taking care of Jesus and Mary might have been like and how he handled his business and work. He made it through some very tough times too.

I like this excerpt about St. Joseph: “He protects those who revere him and accompanies them on their journey through this life — just as he protected and accompanied Jesus when he was growing up. As you get to know him, you discover that the holy patriarch is also a master of the interior life — for he teaches us to know Jesus and share our life with him, and to realize that we are part of God’s family. St Joseph can teach us these lessons, because he is an ordinary man, a family man, a worker who earned his living by manual labour — all of which has great significance and is a source of happiness for us.”

St. Josemaria Escriva
Christ is Passing By, no. 39

Finding Peace in this Pandemic World of Fear

Preparation for Total ConsecrationI think this is my original book, “Preparation for Total Consecration” according to St. Louis de Montfort. It has been an annual companion for many years. I often sat in my deer blind in Missouri reading and saying my daily prayer because the season there was always scheduled right after I had started this incredible set of prayers. You can find the new version at Montfort Publications here.

I’m not bringing this up just to say you should try this spiritual exercise. Although I certainly recommend it. Rather I bring it up because I know so many people who are in depression and filled with anxiety and fear because of COVID-19. I see it in their social media writings and hear it in phone conversations and even Zoom meetings. I understand and I firmly believe this is a great tool to battle these negative feelings right now.

Even before the pandemic I have been struggling with frequent bouts of all the above. My wife and I have our own business that for many years has thrived on traveling to industry events throughout the year and around the world. That all ended in March and now we’re getting announcements of events going virtual only or completely cancelled all the way out to June, 2021.

With the agriculture industry already facing tough economic times before this year and then not even being able to travel, we have struggled and I have felt helpless at times. But I started re-dedicating myself to saying my morning prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours and I’m getting ready to add evening prayer back now. This brings me a lot of calm each morning. And then I started this annual consecration prayer and I have felt much more peaceful. Time and again this year my little business has found new types of work and new clients to work for. You might call it miraculous.

Besides these spiritual exercises I mention I have also payed more attention to the writings of various saints in them as well as daily reading a little bit of the New Testament. This has been a huge help in better understanding my faith in Jesus and acknowledging Him as my Lord and Savior. Somehow, the negative thoughts are much fewer and I’m even sleeping better. Of course there are other devotions that have played a big part in my ability to overcome fear that can paralyze you from thinking clearly and doing nothing. These include spending a weekly holy hour with the Blessed Sacrament and in my case, contributing to Sunday Mass by live streaming it on Facebook for our church and saying my rosary every day regardless of the time of day or night.

I will close by just saying that God loves you. Focus on that when you can. Maybe 5-10 minutes a day. Reach out to people you know just to chat with them. You’ll both feel better for it.

Morning Prayer Buddy

Prayer BuddyUntil March of this year I have traveled extensively for my work and business. But that all changed and other than family visits and a couple trips to my hunting club camp, I have only spent two days on the road for work. So, it has made for a much more regular home (office) schedule. One of those is my first cup of coffee with the Liturgy of the Hours and my little Maltese, Croix, by my side.

It is a very relaxing and quiet time to say my morning prayers and spend at least a few minutes in contemplation of the readings as well as examining my conscience. The changes to my business and ever changing rules about what we can and can’t do have made it difficult to concentrate at times. The uncertainty of what will happen next is very disconcerting. This time of prayer helps me collect my thoughts and make a plan for the day.

Still Live Streaming from the Basilica

Oboe String QuartetWay back in March when I started helping my parish, Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, by live streaming Mass on the church Facebook page I had no idea I would still be doing this today and with no end in sight. But I am not complaining. I consider it an honor to use a skill I have for this reason.

Besides Mass I also recently live streamed a very good oboe string quartet that performed on the altar in the church. It was a beautiful hour of music in front of the Blessed Sacrament in the Tabernacle. You can watch it here.

I have to add to this post how grateful I am for my faith, family and friends plus all the wonderful people who have provided my company with work during this very stressful time. Business has looked very bleak at times and then we have received a project to work on. It has seemed miraculous in light of the status of the agribusiness sector we work in.

For now I want to focus on being calm and patient. There is so much trouble in our society and country right now that it is easy to lose focus on what is important. I do pray for an end to abortion, violence, hatred, rioting and persecution.

Good News in a Crazy World

Basilica of St. Michael the ArchangelThere is so much for us to be anxious, fearful, depressed about that I’m trying to narrow my focus to what is really important and what eliminates these things. The most famous saying of Pope St. John Paul II is “Be not afraid.” His motto – Totus Tuus (Totally yours). These are powerful points for meditation and living, so necessary in a world of so much trouble (pandemic, racial strife, lawlessness, persecution).

At Mass this weekend we got to see the renovation work on our sanctuary. For weeks it has been full of scaffolding as the arch, columns and more have been painted. It is not finished and more is being done in the church pew sections. Basically, all areas of the church. We hope to be completed by the end of July.

Sitting in Mass, while live-streaming on our Facebook page, I was struck with how beautiful the work is. At the same time our Rector, Fr. Callipare, talked about the idea of not being afraid. I find it difficult to not become anxious about what is happening in our world and what is happening in my business. I don’t know what the future holds. But what I have found through meditation and prayer is that these things aren’t real in the sense of what is most important. That is our faith and our spiritual life. That’s what’s real! And nothing can keep us from it.

In order to come to this realization and to live it, daily meditation is necessary in my opinion. This means taking 5-10 minutes a couple times per day and shutting out the material world we live in and focusing on our relationship with God. Talking to Him one on one and putting ourselves completely in His hands. It isn’t always easy to do this but like so many things, practice makes perfect!