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Sanctification in Daily Work
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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.

Prayer for Peace During Times of Civil Unrest

Daily Roman MissalOur crazy world just keeps showing more crazy. After the horrible event last week in our nation’s capitol and the aftermath which is still going on (arrests, blame, decisions which will further erode our freedoms by many companies and individuals and more) we need to pray even more.

Here’s a prayer that I like. Our Bishop William A Wack, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee said it during his FB Live video last week while he was on retreat.

O God, who arrange all things according to a wonderful design,
graciously receive the prayers
we pour out to you for our country (state),
that, through the wisdom of its leaders and the integrity of
its citizens,
harmony and justice may be assured
and lasting prosperity come with peace.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Roman Missal III
I found it in my Daily Roman Missal on page, 2126, For Civil Needs

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.

COVID-19 Stay at Home Effects

As we continue to live under stay at home orders of various kinds and locations I have been thinking more and more about the damage to people’s emotions, especially those who suffer from depression and anxiety. I’m concerned about our loss of jobs and liberties too.

But before you think I don’t care about every human life I can assure you nothing could be further from the truth. However, we live with death around us everywhere in the world. Abortion is the most extreme example. Terrorism, suicide, vehicle crashes and a variety of diseases like heart disease and cancer, are not new.

I don’t even pretend to be an “expert” on this COVID-19 virus as so many proclaim loudly on social media. But, the more and more data I see and hear make me doubt that our governments have made a good decision to essentially shut us down. Even experts who are doctors contradict each other.

I’m not afraid of the future though, because of my faith in Jesus. But besides the people who have died of this virus I am also concerned about all the people who are now un-employed, the businesses who are out of business or soon will be, the people who are shut in from their loved ones or not allowed to see them, the people sick with other diseases or injuries who are not allowed to see their family. I think we will look back on this as a very dark spot on the history of our country and culture.

I’d like to think more positive about “getting back to normal,” but I doubt that will happen. In some ways there might be some good that will come from what we’ve been through but that will only happen if people make real changes in their lives, permanent changes. You can probably think of a lot of examples for this. Will it happen? IDK. But I sure hope so.

Holy Mary, our hope and seat of wisdom, pray for us!

Pope Francis’ special Urbi et Orbi blessing

Pope Francis Urbi et OrbiIn case you missed seeing the ceremony in Rome last Friday in which Pope France read his Urbi et Orbi message and then provided a unique blessing at the end of Adoration you can still see it. You can also still receive a special plenary indulgence for doing this. Here’s some information about that.

You can watch the full ceremony on the Vatican Facebook Page here. You can read the full text of his meditation here. There is also a one minute version of the blessing on the Vatican channel here.

Public Mass Suspended – More Prayer Needed

Weekday MassBy now just about everywhere in the U.S. public Masses have been suspended during this pandemic virus situation. This photo is from the last public Mass at my church, Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel, Pensacola, last Thursday. To say it was emotional would be an understatement. Bishops have granted a dispensation from attending Sunday Mass while this suspension is in effect.

During this time of change, challenge, fear for many, worry, anxiety, stress, the Mass with our Lord Jesus Christ offered a haven of quiet, prayer and meditation for many, many people. Hopefully this will be a very short situation.

It is good to keep in mind that Masses will still be said every day throughout the world. In fact, I am going to be helping our pastor set up the ability to livestream the Sunday Mass this weekend at 9am central on Facebook.

This also presents us with an opportunity for additional personal reflection and prayer. So many people are now out of work or required to stay home. We need to pray for them and their need to care for their families.

You can find the statement from Most Reverend William Wack, Bishop, Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, here. Also included is a 14th century prayer to the Blessed Mother for protection from the Plague. This is in all our church missals and we started saying after each Mass just recently.

Here is that prayer, just to make it easier:

Star of Heaven,
who nourished the Lord
and rooted up the plague of death
which our first parents planted:
May that star now deign
to hold in check the constellations
whose strife causes in people
the sores of a terrible death.
O glorious star of the sea,
save us from infection.
Hear us: for your Son,
who honors you, denies you nothing.
Jesus, save us, for whom
the Virgin Mother prays to you.

V. Pray for us O Holy Mother of God.
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray. God of mercy and forgiveness, moved to pity at the affliction of your people, you commanded the destroying Angel to stay his arm for the love of that glorious Star, at whose precious breast you sweetly drank the remedy for the poison of our sins: come to our help with your divine grace so that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary your Mother and Blessed Bartholomew your beloved Apostle, preserve us from all contagion and untimely death, and mercifully save us from the danger of perdition. Through Jesus Christ, King of glory and Savior of the World, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

Getting Motivated When You Don’t Feel Like It

Ever felt like you have lots of things to do but you just can’t seem to bring yourself to make a decision and take action? Or wake up feeling overwhelmed by all kinds of things and not being able to get back to sleep? Yeah, me too.

In fact, I’ve been going through a stage of this. It has happened at other times in my life and I learned a number of ways to combat these feelings. I say feelings because there is always some level of stress when you have a job or in my case, have my own business. Stress itself isn’t the only thing that causes a lack of motivation. How you feel also plays a big role.

I’ve read lots of self help books on this subject, especially ones related to dealing with anxiety and fear. Some have been helpful. However, I believe the number one help for me has been my conversion. I was raised Catholic but it wasn’t until adulthood, after having to leave my first business, that I had a St. Paul moment of clarity and my life was changed forever.

So, back to motivation and overcoming feelings of being overwhelmed and afraid of the future. When I wake up and can’t go back to sleep I usually find myself thinking and worrying about all kinds of things. An example would be the sinus surgery I had last week or the surgery my wife, Cindy, will have tomorrow. Another might be why I have so many people I work with not returning my calls or emails. I think I could make a pretty big list of these.

Many years ago now I realized that perhaps not being able to go back to sleep was a call from my guardian angel that it was time to pray. So, I started saying my rosary. I found out that I usually don’t make it all the way through five decades before I fall asleep! It doesn’t always happen this way but more often than not by a big margin.

So, there is one of my main go-to solutions for a lack of motivation. Prayer. After a time of prayer most of the things leading me to a lack of motivation, feelings of helplessness and more just seem to go away.

All Souls Day Prayer Ceremony

This past Friday evening at St. Michael’s Cemetery in Pensacola, FL our Bishop William Wack provided a homily during an annual ecumenical prayer ceremony attended by 82 people. We had a beautiful sunset and setting on “Priest’s Hill” in the cemetery.

Cindy and I assisted in the setup for the ceremony with the Women’s Sodality at the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel and my Knights of Columbus council. This is what I’d like to be able to do more of. My travel schedule for our business takes me to many interesting places in the U.S. and many other countries but it also makes it difficult to attend church activities and even write here, which is painfully obvious.

This month let’s pray for the faithfully departed and gain a plenary indulgence for them. Here’s more information:

The Church offers an Indulgence for a Cemetery Visit that is available as a partial indulgence all year round, but from November 1 through November 8, this indulgence is plenary. Like the All Souls Day indulgence, it is applicable only to the souls in Purgatory. As a plenary indulgence, it remits all punishment due to sin, which means that simply by performing the requirements of the indulgence, you can obtain the entrance into Heaven of a soul who is currently suffering in Purgatory.

Extraordinary Year of Mercy Much Needed

Pope FrancisIf there has ever been more of a need for people to show mercy to each other it sure hasn’t happened in my lifetime. At least it seems that way to me. Of course we’re seeing men and women committing atrocities against other men and women in the Middle East, Africa and other parts of the world but how about right here in the good old U.S.A.?

I don’t even have to look outside Pensacola, FL to see it. There are murders here that just make you shake your head in wonder and they never make national news. But there is plenty of it in the national news from places like Ferguson, MO.

So, I’m thrilled that Pope Francis has announced an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy:

Vatican City, 14 March 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday, 13 March 2015, in St. Peter’s Basilica, Pope Francis declared the celebration of an extraordinary Holy year. The Jubilee announcement was made during the homily of the penitential celebration with which he opened the “24 Hours for the Lord” initiative. This “Jubilee of Mercy” will commence with the opening of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, 8 December, and will conclude on November 20, 2016 with the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe.

The papal Bull will be made public on Divine Mercy Sunday, 12 April, the Feast day instituted by St. John Paul II and celebrated on the Sunday after Easter.

Let us pray that this coming Jubilee Year will be observed with much prayer throughout the world.

A Pro-life Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

Fr. Frank PavoneThanks to Fr. Frank Pavone for this Thanksgiving Day prayer.

Father of mercies, God of all creation, Source of life and of every blessing, We thank you today, and every day of our lives, For all that you give us!

Our thanksgiving is not only a duty, But a joy and a source of strength, Because it reminds us of your faithful love, And inspires us with the hope of a future filled with blessings!

Lord, we thank you for guiding our fathers, Who, inspired by the prophets And by the saving work of your Son, Founded a nation where all might live as one, Acknowledging their dependence on you As the source of their right to life.

We thank you for your blessings in the past, And for all that, with your help, we must yet achieve.

We ask you to bless us as we thank you, That our giving thanks may be accompanied by our firm resolve To proclaim, celebrate, and serve The gift of human life, born and unborn.

We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Immaculate Conception Prayer Program

Immaculate Conception IconToday at the conclusion of Mass we held a short Immaculate Conception prayer program. This is a program of the Knights of Columbus which includes this traveling icon. Several of us processed to the altar where we placed the icon and then said a prayer.

The Knights of Columbus Immaculate Conception Marian Prayer Program honors the central place the Blessed Virgin Mary holds in the life of our Order and the historic devotion that has been afforded to the Immaculate Conception by the Church in North America. The first cathedral in the New World north of Mexico was named for the Immaculate Conception, and the bishops of the United States named Mary under her title of the Immaculate Conception as the patroness of the nation.

The image used for this prayer program is a reproduction of a painting of Mary as the Immaculate Conception that hangs above the main altar of the Basilica-Cathedral of Notre- Dame de Québec. It was painted in 1925 by Sister Mary of the Eucharist, a Sister of Charity of Québec, to replace the 18th-century painting destroyed during a fire at the cathedral in 1922.

At the bottom of the image it says, “His Holiness Pope Francis cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing. From the Vatican June 29, 2013.”

Put iBreviary on Your Website

iBreviaryWelcome to the new iBreviary website. My favorite app now has a very robust set of website features that includes being able to put it on your website.

iBreviary for your website:

Do you want to put IBreviary on your website or blog? Do you want to give your visitors the chance to pray on your site? iBreviary can be inserted through a simple window (installation of additional software is not required) within your website.

In this way you offer your visitors the opportunity to pray online and spread the beauty of Catholic Prayer through your website / blog.
You can also use your site for your daily prayer online http://www.wildstarplatinums.com.

Total Consecration Time

I just completed my annual Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary and thought I’d suggest once again that you consider it for yourself. This 33 day effort is well worth your time, especially if you’re looking for a good series of meditations that let you focus on what’s important.

The preparation for consecration booklet is currently available for $5 from Montfort Publishing. I would recommend you first read “True Devotion To The Blessed Virgin Mary.” You can also find these in the iPieta app for iOS or Android smartphones.

I’ve been using this “spiritual journey” for quite a few years and have come to look forward to it. The 33 days of preparation are broken up into series of reflections on your self, Mary and Jesus. We should all be doing daily meditation, especially with a particular examen. However, several weeks of extra contemplation time are really useful in our fast paced world. I also have been able to start out this devotion each year deer hunting. So I’ve been able to do the daily readings, prayers and reflections while sitting in a tree or on the ground in the woods. It just doesn’t get much better than that!

Feel free to email me if you’ve got questions about this devotion.

Learning How To Pray

What does praying really mean? This short video clip is a new addition to the St. Josemaria Escriva YouTube channel. In it a young woman talks about what she has learned about praying from St. Josemaria. It is becoming friends with Christ. In The Way, St. Josmaria says, “Prayer is the foundation of the spiritual edifice.”

If you don’t know how to pray then he recommends, “Put yourself in the presence of God, and once you have said, “Lord, I don’t know how to pray!” rest assured that you have begun to do so.” This is advice that I love because it is so simple and easy to understand. But it means taking time for prayer, something that has to be a priority of our day no matter what is going on in our life.