Something to truly ponder this Advent and in these times, especially since it seems to be such a cliche most of the time.
If we assisted at/celebrated each Mass like it was our last, how much piety would we have? How much attention would we pay to beautiful Missal and its rubrics the Church has given us? How deep in prayer would we be? How thoroughly would we examine our consciences when the priest says “let us acknowledge our sins”? How ardently would we adore the One we receive?
If we made each decision like it was our last, how sincerely would we pray for wisdom? How open would we be to what the Holy Spirit is really telling us rather than what we want Him to tell us? How much would we care about being popular or politically correct or living in financial and social prosperity? Would we truly vote based on our Faith rather than on our personal preferences, family opinion, economy, or issues less important than the ones that directly affect the morality of our nation? Would we continue to put our own will above that of God spoken through the Church Magisterium while rationalizing our choices to ourselves? How quickly would we race to Confession after messing up? How hard would we try to avoid the near occasion of sin? How hard would we try to resist temptation and put our love for God above our silly and selfish wants? How often and how sincerely would we take a moment to pray to the one who loved us enough to die the most brutal death in history for us? How well would we watch our language and keep the Lord’s name holy? How hard would we try to make it to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation if at all possible? How often would we Confess? Would we take a little time now and then to read that all too dusty Bible of ours? How often would we spend at least a few seconds in Eucharistic Adoration? How dedicated would we be to the apostolates we’ve committed to? How much time would we put into serving the parish that does so much for us? How faithful would we be to the vocation we feel called to/have been called to? How much of an effort would we make to evangelize with your words and not just your example when you have the opportunity (since it could be their last day as well)? How well would we endure the sufferings sent our way that are so small compared to Our Lord’s Passion? How hard would we try to offer up our crosses without turning them into pity parties and dragging others into them? How much effort would we put into making sacrifices and acts of penance, however small?
If we treated each person and family member like he/she was the last one we’d encounter, how sincerely would we ask “How are you?” and listen to their answer? How honest would we be? How much would we try to see the best in others? How hard would we try to keep our temper and hold back that mean word just itching to spit itself out? How readily would we forgive with or without an apology? How well would we bite our tongues and refrain from gossip? How respectful and obedient would we be to those in authority over us even when they don’t deserve it? How truthful would we be with the cop who rightfully pulls us over when we drive carelessly and how respectfully would we speak of him when he’s out of earshot? How much time would we spend making really good memories with our loved ones? Would we really do to others as we would have them do to us? How faithful would we be to our present or future spouse and how hard would we try to show him/her our love? How hard would we try to reconcile damaged relationships within reason? How often would we offer a bit of food and kindness to the homeless person on the street corner? Would we exchange first names with him/her? How much would we pray for others?
If we spent each dollar like it was the last one we’d get to spend, how many of them would we give to our parish and to charities? How would we invest them in our friends and family’s happiness? How much would we consider whether the things we buy and invest in really matter? Would we discontinue purchases from and other support to the companies who we know will spend our money on destroying the Faith we claim to love above all else?
If we wrote/read each social media post like it was our last, how kind to others would we be whether or not they deserve it? How much attention would we give to the One who created us with so much intelligence and talent? How much care would take to make sure our humor is clean and pure rather than crude and foul? How hard would we try to remember that our phones and computers are tools and not toys and that they like everything else in our lives are meant to be used for God’s glory? How often would we pause our busy-ness to spend time with God and family? How prudent would we be about how much time is spent?
No one can live a perfect day, not even on their last, but we sure can try (relying on God’s grace)! Happy Advent and let us pray for one another that we live this examen as well as possible!
Cardinal Burke video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pnvGWzSsNg
A message from our Holy Father: http://www.churchmilitant.com/news/article/pope-prepare-for-martyrdom
“Verily, there is no happiness but in the cross.” — St. John Vianney
“What a cross, to be without a cross!” — St. Louis De Montfort
“I do not fear trials sent by Jesus, for even in the most bitter suffering we can see that it is His loving hand which causes it. When we are expecting nothing but suffering, we are quite surprised at the least joy; but then suffering itself becomes the greatest of joys when we seek it as a precious treasure.” — St. Therese of Lisieux
We all know that an age is coming, the “last age”, when a great persecution will afflict the Church preceding the return of Christ. In this age, Revelation tells us, many will be martyred. Whether this age will come upon us in the near future or not, this world is certainly entering into some sort of battle against the Church and we need to be ready for whatever sacrifice may be required of us as Confirmed soldiers of Christ (be it small or great). Even if the “last age” isn’t coming any time soon, even if another age of martyrdom doesn’t come upon us (like that of ancient Rome, the Reign of Terror, or the Elizabethan Persecution), it is good for us to prepare anyway for two reasons: 1) If such sacrifice is required of us, we do not want to be caught completely unprepared. 2) This degree of the love of God is something every Catholic should strive for as he or she works toward sainthood. Even though St. Therese never suffered red martyrdom, she was ready. Here are her words: “But above all, my Beloved Savior, I would like to shed my blood for You until the last drop….Martyrdom: That is the dream of my youth. That dream has grown within me under the cloisters of Carmel….But there again I feel that my dream is foolishness, because I would not know how to limit myself to one type of martyrdom….To satisfy me I would have to have all of them….Like You, my Beloved Bridegroom, I would like to be scourged and crucified….I would like to die by being skinned alive like St. Bartholomew….Like St. John, I would like to plunged into boiling oil. I would like to undergo all the tortures inflicted on the Martyrs….With St. Agnes and St. Cecilia, I would like to present my neck to the sword, and like Joan of Arc, my dear sister, I would like to be burned at the stake, murmuring your name, Jesus….When I think about all the torments that will be the lot Christians at the time of the Antichrist, I feel my heart leap, and I would like for those torments to be reserved for me….Jesus, Jesus, if I wanted to write down all my desires, I would have to borrow Your book of life [Rev. 20:12]. In it are the records of the actions of all the Saints, and those actions, I would like to have accomplished them for You….Oh, my Jesus! To all my foolishness, what are You going to reply?….Is there a soul that is smaller and more powerless than mine!….However, even because of my weakness, You were pleased, Lord, to fulfill my little childish desires, and You now want to fulfill other desires that are bigger than the universe….” Some of the excellent resources Jesus and His Church provide for us as we prepare for the times ahead include: The Most Holy Eucharist, Devotion to the Blessed Mother (especially St. Louis De Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary), meditation on the Passion, study of and devotion to the holy martyrs, the little crosses of day to day life, the cord of St. Philomena, the Brown Scapular, mortification and sacrifice, sanctification, and the various spiritual warfare resources. And of course, we must pray, for only God can give us the graces we seek.
In light of this, I will dedicate each of my future posts to one of the holy martyrs.
This post is dedicated to St. Cecilia.
“The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians!” — Tertullian
“There is a baptism [His Passion] with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” — Jesus (Luke 12:50 NAB)
“We must declare the truth and not keep silence out of fear, but be ready generously to give our life for Holy Church.” — St. Catherine of Siena
“But now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem. What will happen to me there I do not know, except that in one city after another the Holy Spirit has been warning me that imprisonment and hardships await me. Yet I consider life of no importance to me, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s grace.” — From today’s first Mass reading.
As today’s world rapidly grows more and more anti-Catholic, it would do well for us to prepare for whatever price (big or small) we may soon have to pay for our love of Jesus Christ.
This post is dedicated to St. Paul Miki.