Far too often I begin to realize, towards the end of praying the Rosary, that I have done anything but meditate on the mysteries of it or even focus on the words I was saying; but rather, that I have allowed my mind to wander from one distraction to the next almost without intermission throughout the duration of this most sublime devotion.
When this happens, I do not become disheartened or discouraged. Rather, I ask God’s forgiveness, resolve to try harder next time, and I then strive to at least pray the very last Hail Mary with the greatest attention and great devotion — truly from the heart.
I believe this is a powerful practice.
As 50 Hail Mary’s adorn the Holy Rosary, so too 50 weeks comprise this Holy Year of Mercy. And we now are on the cusp of entering the last.
If, like me, you did not come close to living this Year of Mercy as you had hoped you would, then do not despair. Rather, join me in striving to make fruitful and faithful this last week (which begins Sunday, November 13th and ends Sunday, November 20th with the closing of the Holy Door of Mercy), like the Last Hail Mary of an otherwise distracted Rosary.
I abhor using myself as an example, for I know full well that I am anything but worth imitating. However, in order to be as practical, concrete, and genuine as possible with the encouragements that follow, I will simply share what I plan to do this upcoming week. Prayerfully consider what you yourself can do next week as well.
- I will continue to fulfill the duties of my state in life as usual. For indeed, honorably fulfilling these duties is more important than any pious practices above and beyond those of obligation. However, I will strive to better compartmentalize my work instead of allowing it to overflow into hours of the day and week that it need not. I will strive to cease pretending that I need to be thinking about my various worries and plans and strategies while not actively engaged in working on them. I will strive to cease imposing frantic rushes on myself regarding jobs and projects and ToDos that I feel urgently need to get done when, in fact, they could easily wait.
- I will begin the week; in its vigil on Saturday afternoon, with a heartfelt confession so that I may be as pure as possible for the task ahead, satisfy Our Lady’s request at Fatima for the First Five Saturdays Devotion (as tomorrow is still within 8 days of the First Saturday; and I highly recommend that anyone serious about hastening the Triumph of her Immaculate Heart as she promised at Fatima do a perpetual First Saturday Devotion instead of only five), and be ready to receive a Plenary Indulgence each day of the week ahead.
- I will try to be more devoted to the Divine Will Missionary of Mercy regimen.
- I will take care to, before I go out in the world either for work, errands, recreation, or anything of the sort, make sure I have Divine Mercy Evangelization Cards in my breast pocket and keep on the lookout for opportunities to hand them out or place them in good spots as the Holy Spirit directs. If you would like some of these (or a replenishment), you can still request them here. I still have a few more boxes full of them and will happily send then out for free as long as I can afford to do so! I will also try to more often wear a Divine Mercy Pin as I go out.
- I will try to do a better job with Wednesday and Friday fasting. Let us not mistakenly call ourselves prayer warriors if we do not in some way fast — those who do not fast are, at best, sunshine patriots and fair weather friends! Your own manner of fasting is a question I leave to you to discern for yourself, but I will share a fasting regimen I have found fruitful: Wednesdays and Fridays, “bread and water,” loosely speaking. I still have dinner as usual with my family, but before dinner I stick to plain white bread with some peanut butter on it and black coffee. If I do a more severe fast; such as only plain bread and not even black coffee — midnight to midnight — then I find I am more distracted by the fast than I am empowered by it (although there are certainly times where this or a more strict fast are called for). If I do a less severe fast; I find the sacrifice is too minimal to notice and therefore be powerful.
- At least once I will visit a cemetery to walk through it and pray for the repose of the souls of those buried there — as well as the repose of all of the Holy Souls — while reciting a Rosary and/or Divine Mercy Chaplet.
- I will strive to receive a Plenary Indulgence each and every day, also offered for the repose of the Holy Souls in Purgatory. Though the most neglected Work of Mercy, this is indeed among the most powerful and important.
- I will spend more time with the Blessed Sacrament, either by way of going out of my way to do Holy Hours or Holy Half Hours with Our Lord, or at least by arriving at daily Mass early and only leaving after I have spent plenty of silent time following Mass giving thanks to our Eucharistic Lord who remains inside us in His Real Presence for at least 15 minutes after we receive Him. (And yes, as I have yet to find a Church with a daily Mass that is not dominated by chatter both before and after, I will be sure to bring an mp3 player and earbud headphones so I can drown out the chatter with Gregorian Chant or other Holy Hymns).
- At least once I will pray and sidewalk counsel outside of a Planned Parenthood.
- At least once I will visit a nursing home and pray with the residents there.
- Above all, I will strive to do all of this — and, indeed, spend every waking moment — Living in and Acting in the Divine Will, so that all of my finite acts may be elevated into the eternal realm, and thereby gain an infinite value before God. Therefore I will strive to do a better job of being faithful and attentive to the means Jesus gave us through Luisa to these ends; especially the daily meditation on the Hours of the Passion and allowing Our Lady to lead me to the Divine Will of her Son through her own words.
Therefore, join me, brethren, in whatever of these endeavors or similar ones you feel called to. Let us not allow this “Last Hail Mary” to pass us by distracted! We do not know how many, if any, more chances we will have. Do not forget how truly Extraordinary this Holy Year that is now passing both is and was.And let us be attentive to those most important Words — those spoken to us at Mass — as this Year comes to a close:
- In today’s Gospel reading, Our Lord instructs us that the “day” of His Coming — which we are on the verge of, for while we are not on the verge of the actual end of time and Final Judgement, we are indeed on the verge of a series of events which, together, comprise His Second Coming — will be like the day of the Flood or the day of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. In speaking last year with a very special priest well known around the world for his orthodoxy and holiness (whose name I withhold because I do not know if he wants this observation of his to be publicly known at this point), shortly after the passage of same-sex “marriage” in this country by Judicial Fiat of the “Supreme” Court, he told me that the days immediately preceding the flood consisted in (and we know this from ancient Jewish texts) the society of that day doing just what we now have done: blessing same-sex unions. It was then that God said “enough” and told Noah to get in the Ark.
- In tomorrow’s Gospel, we read Jesus pondering aloud to us “When the Son of Man comes, will He find Faith on earth?” One can be a blind optimist and look at the fact that most people still believe in God today and thus think that this does not refer to our times, or one can be realistic and realize that true supernatural Catholic Faith is almost completely dead today and thus realize that we are precisely in the days to which Our Lord refers.
- Finally, in the Gospel of the day after tomorrow– the Sunday ushering in this “Last Hail Mary” week– Our Lord gives us a description of what will immediately precede, and what will go along with, this “day” of His Coming.
Whoever cannot see that this all refers to our times is either incredibly ignorant or willfully blind. Therefore, we must be on vigil right now as never before. As Mark Mallett profoundly observed in a post yesterday, many are saying “peace and security” now that Donald Trump has been elected. For years I have wondered how 1 Thessalonians 5:3 would be fulfilled. Now we know.
When people are saying, “Peace and security,” then sudden disaster comes upon them, like labor pains upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)
I, too, rejoice in the defeat of Hillary Clinton; my wife and I prayed a novena precisely for that end. But this election’s outcome will not give us peace. The election of a lesser of two evils will barely alter the course of events that must come; although we might have a brief reprieve, thanks be to God. Or, perhaps not. Perhaps somehow this will even hasten the events to come. God knows; we do not. What we do know is our battle orders. Let us therefore be more vigilant, more zealous, and more attentive to them than ever before. Keep oil in your lamps, friends.
As those of you know who attended the Divine Will conference in Tampa in September, I could not finish my talk in the time available and therefore promised to publish the transcript of it in its entirety. I finally have that ready. Here it is: Sure Ways of Living in the Divine Will.
I had the honor of speaking on the Divine Will Missionaries of Mercy at a conference in Denver last month. Here is the audio of that