Archive for February, 2013

February 21, 2013

One Practical Tip to Help Make You into a Saint

The Eucharist alone is our source of holiness. Only from it will you find the grace to become a saint.

The tip is simply this: Each day, strive to have absolutely no idea how many people were at Mass. (note: this is just a tip that will work for some and is impractical or inapplicable to others for miscellaneous reasons. No worries!)

How is this achieved?

By arriving early for prayerful preparation, sitting towards the front of the Church, keeping your eyes on the sanctuary – the Altar, the Tabernacle, the crucifix especially -, keeping your head down during Communion time, and remaining in prayer after Mass for a fervent thanksgiving. Do all this and you will not even be able to answer somebody who says to you “so how many people were at Mass today?

Arriving Early: At Medjugorje, Our Lady laments that if we had any idea what a grace Holy Mass truly was, we would always prepare for at least an hour. Angels tremble before what you are about to witness – it really is worth ten minutes to ready your soul for.

Sitting Towards the Front: This is obviously the main point that will not apply to many of you, and that is fine! But if you can, I would advise sitting near the front. The unfortunate fact is that many today have no desire to be reverent at Mass, and it is better to not have such people in our line of sight, which will distract us, or worse, tempt us to pass judgments on them.

Eucharist

Keeping Your Eyes on the Sanctuary: Of the thousands of Masses I have attended, I can think of only a few in which something has happened that has demanded action from me. I say this because it is extremely unlikely that there is any reason whatsoever for you to look at the noise that just came from the side or the back of the Church. Nor do you need to know who walked in late, nor do you need (except in extremely rare cases) to whisper something to your spouse or your friend with whom you are attending Mass. There is no better analogy for an aspiring saint than that of a soldier; we are indeed the Church Militant. Therefore let your focus be that of warrior.

Keeping your head down during Communion time: How much it must pain Our Lord when we use those few precious moments where His substantial presence remains in us (or those few moments leading up to that heavenly embrace) to entertain vain ponderings about other people at Mass; that is more lamentable than a newlywed couple watching television on their wedding night.

Remaining in prayer after Mass for a fervent thanksgiving:  Our Lord’s substantial (yes, that truly means physical) presence remains in us for approximately 15 minutes after receiving the Host – this is a simple theological/biological conclusion. It makes no sense to pray at all if we are not going to take full advantage of those 15 minutes, unparalleled in their power to sanctify. To desire sanctity but make a habit of leaving Church shortly after receiving and immediately concerning yourself with worldly affairs while He resides in you may not be an intrinsic evil, but it is at least incredibly foolish. It is like a student who wants an A, but sleeps through his examinations, hoping to increase his grade by meticulously completing his homework assignments later.

This is just one tip: the bottom line in the appropriation of the graces poured out upon you at Holy Mass is that you must be reverent, fervent, and focused – enraptured in so far as that is within the power of your will (wherein alone all merit lies) to accomplish. If ever a complaint about anything whatsoever – the world, other Catholics, your life – enters your mind as you are assisting at Mass, remember the words of Pope St. Pius X, where he attributed all the evil in the world to lukewarm Catholics; and there is no better way to be counted among this sorry group of souls than by neglecting to respond to the awesomeness of the Mass – nor is there any better way to be counted among the saints than by your faith, hope, love, and holy fear at Mass, and the wrapping of your entire being around the Eucharistic Lord you receive at it, that He alone may be the “source and summit” of your life.

February 9, 2013

My Engagement to Regina

Dear Friends,

With great joy, I would like to announce my engagement to Regina Marie Elizabeth Rose Wagner. She and I will be joined in Holy Matrimony this upcoming summer on July 13th!

Although I could go on for many pages expounding upon the joy, the inspiration, the contentment, the peace, and the spiritual growth I have been blessed with, by my relationship with her and the anticipation of my marriage to her, I will restrain myself and reserve this particular post to just giving a general idea of our relationship.

I had been striving with great effort, but not with great success, to discern God’s call in my life for years before meeting Regina, and she too was in a position of uncertainty and confusion as to what she was supposed to do next in her life. The time was August 2011, and it was in this setting that we both decided (before even knowing about each other), a mere few weeks before the beginning of the semester, that we would enroll in Holy Apostles College & Seminary right away. I did so having been given a clear sign from God (during a cross country voyage) that I was supposed to do that, and Regina did so also having a clear interior conviction that she was called to enroll, last minute, as a lay student at this same school. Up until this point we both had been quite settled on entirely different plans for the upcoming months and years in our life, but God had a different idea, rearranged our life circumstances to make it work, and made sure that we both followed it.

Now I had entered as a self-funded seminarian (not wanting to experiment on my diocese’ dollar), as the sign I was given made it clear this was what I was supposed to do, despite at that time having no more conviction of a calling from God to the priesthood than I had in the preceding years. Nevertheless, I entered the seminary with a general intention of becoming a priest, but also with a great openness to a different vocational direction if He showed that to me.

Holy Apostles is a college and seminary, so Regina and I had several classes together. Being a seminarian at the time, I of course had to strictly maintain a friendship with her and no more, but through getting to know her, constant prayer to God for guidance (especially after receiving Communion each day), and discerning the call on my heart, it became completely clear to me that I was meant for her. And since we began our courtship (after I had finished my semester as a seminarian), the joy that I have been given through her has been evident to all of my friends who knew me through my discernment process, and they unhesitatingly congratulate me for finding what so clearly is my calling. I now know to thank God for all the struggle I went through in discernment for years, because by it I now rest with such peace in the anticipation of my vocation: to soon be sacramentally united to her, as one flesh before God. In that peace all of the fears and anxieties that once assailed me regarding my calling, simply melt away; as they had begun to even from my first conversation with Regina. There is so much more I want to say about Regina; how I felt so clearly drawn to everything about her, but I will have to save any more for another time.

We began our courtship on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception: December 8th, 2011. The year of courtship that followed was truly blessed, and through it we both grew so much closer to God and to each other. Prayer served as our foundation and our strength. The daily reception of Jesus in the Eucharist was the source and summit of this prayer life, and whenever possible we would attend Mass together. Along with her Son, Our Lady was at the center of our relationship from the start, and the daily Rosary was our anchor. Spiritual reading directed us, as we always concurrently read three pages of the same spiritual book each day, and St. Faustina’s diary was our greatest joy in this regard. The daily 3 o’clock Divine Mercy Chaplet was indispensable to the formation of our relationship, and our weekly prayers outside the local abortion mill grounded us in love of neighbor. Frequent confession was our remedy for weakness, which we, like all, indeed suffer from.

Through all of this I truly found myself growing closer to God in a way that I had previously been incapable of, and this was yet another confirmation to me that Regina indeed is my vocation. Prayer, fasting, and works of mercy come more readily and easily thanks to my relationship with her, and I had a new-found desire and strength to rid my life of vices to which I had previously adopted a far too complacent attitude.
I would like to share the following prayer, which I wrote for both Regina and me to pray each day, towards the beginning of our courtship.

Mother most Pure, to whose fiat “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word,” humanity owes its salvation, I beseech thee to present my petition to thy Divine Son Jesus; that we may always properly see and treat each other as children of God to be loved and served, and never as objects to be used for pleasure; that we may love each other with a perfect, pure, and disinterested love. Please send thy Divine Spouse, the Holy Spirit, upon
us, that we may rightly discern the will of thy Son, and incline our hearts unto it so that, whatever it may be, we shall follow it with joy. Help us to be in love with thy Son first and above all, knowing that any good thing we see in each other is a mere diminished reflection of the glory of Him who created us both, and that the love we hold for each other is nothing but a small flame next to the consuming fire of love coming forth from His most Sacred Heart, this love that he passionately holds for each of us so far exceeding any passionate love we feel for each other.

Immaculate Mother of Mercy, we place all of these petitions in thy hands with complete trust and confidence.

*Memorare…*
*Reading…* (our spiritual reading for the day)

On December 8th, 2012, Regina and I were engaged to be married. I proposed to Regina in the Our Lady Queen of Apostles Chapel at school, and immediately afterwards we completed our 33 day consecration to Our Lady, and did a Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament, laying our engagement and our lives at the feet of Mary, and Jesus in the Eucharist. Feel free to watch the YouTube video below, where Regina gives more details on the proposal itself!

I would also like to share this consecration prayer which I wrote for Regina and me to pray together on our knees before the statue of Our Lady, immediately following our engagement. I desired to, as the first act of our engagement, give it all to Mary:

     Dear Mother Mary, the Immaculate Conception, we kneel before you today and lay at your feet, as the first act of our engagement, our selves, our relationship, our betrothal, and our future marriage. All of our trust is in you and in your Son, Jesus. We earnestly give all that we have and all that we are to you, and with absolute confidence in the Mercy of your Son, we humbly beseech you to do as you will with this offering, whatever that may entail.
We lay our engagement on your altar and beg of you to use it for your own intentions; the salvation of souls, the deliverance of the holy souls in Purgatory, peace in the world, the consolation of the Two Hearts of Love, and the hastening of the Triumph of Your Immaculate Heart.
O Immaculate Mary, Mother of Mercy, free from any stain of sin, grant that we too may be without sin, especially at the hour of our death. Our only fear is that we may fail to flee to your protection, for we wish to be nothing but your devoted children.
Mary, we love you. Take us as your own.

Happy 22nd birthday, Regina. I love you with all of my heart!