Sunday, September 30, 2012

St. Michael (Day 27)

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

by Pope Leo XIII

O Glorious St. Michael the Archangel, Prince of the heavenly host, be our defense in the terrible warfare which we carry on against principalities and power, against the rulers of this world of darkness, spirits of evil. Come to the aid of man, whom God created immortal, made in His own image and likeness and redeemed at a grate price from the tyranny of the devil.

Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there place for them any longer in Heaven. That cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with his angels. Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of men has taken courage. Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of His Christ, to seize upon, slay, and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory. This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of very vice and iniquity.

These most craft enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most holy Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.

Arise then, O invincible Prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and give them the victory. They venerate thee as their protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious power of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude. Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church. Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do though again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.

V. Behold the Cross of the Lord; be scattered ye hostile powers. R. The Lord of the tribe of Juda has conquered, the root of David. V. Let thy mercies be upon us, O Lord. R. As we have hoped in Thee. V. O Lord, hear my prayer. R. And let my cry come unto thee.

Let us pray. O God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we call upon Thy holy name, and as supplicants we implore Thy clemency, that by the intercession of Mary, ever Virgin Immaculate and our Mother, and of the glorious Archangel Saint Michael, thou wouldst deign to help us against Satan and all other unclean spirits, who wander about the world for thin injury of the human race and the ruin of souls. Amen.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Plague of Porn (Day 26)

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death, I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone. Amen - Thomas Merton

Friday, September 28, 2012

The Great BOTH/AND (Day 25)

Recently, I have befriended some neighbors from Saudi Arabia. I'm not typically the most outgoing person when it comes to approaching strangers, but I'm trying to practice acts of charity. So my wife and I took a shot, and we welcomed some Muslim newcomers into our home. Our hospitality to them has made them open to talk about Christianity. We even found them a New Testament in Arabic- they were excited to read it. They are refreshing to be around. They are not tainted by American relativism- which makes for straight forward conversations about life and especially about religion. We live in a Western society where there is not an objective truth. But instead a motto of, "What’s good for you might not be good for me." We live in a culture where moral relativism is the law of the land. This relativism has crept into Christianity as well. My Muslim friends are not jaded by this political correctness. I, like them, see it as illogical for us to say, "Well, we both can be right." No, no we can't. And while we totally disagree and least we know where the other stands: I believe in extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. It is a Latin phrase that means: "outside the church there is no salvation." The most recent Catholic Catechism interpreted this to mean that "all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body." Sound arrogant? Well that is because salvation is a very touchy subject for most. What does 'No salvation outside the Church' really mean?

The majority of Christians consider that a person who believes in Jesus to the extent of giving up everything, who literally "loses his life" for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and who perseveres in his call to the end of his life, is assured salvation . All Christians are called to believe and spread the good news of the gospels to those who do not know about or believe in Jesus Christ. But what about the salvation of those who belong to other religions? Most are quick to judge damnation upon them, but the Bible makes no firm judgment about their salvation.

The truth is God has not told us what his arrangements about other people are. We do know that no man can be saved except through Christ and His Church; we do not know that only those who know Him can be saved though him.We do not know that only those that are visibly connected with His Church can be saved through His Church. The Bible leaves open the possibility that God may save some persons who, though no fault of their own, have not accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ. Belief in Jesus is not mentioned in Matthew 25, but yet salvation is granted to the "nations" because of their charity. Romans 2:12-16 says that "gentiles without the law" will be judged according God's law "written in their hearts" or "conscience". Remember, judgment comes from God alone. Paul warns about judging others many times in his letters. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul goes to the extent of warning about the judging of ones own soul. I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am no thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the purposes of the heart. Then every man will receive his commendation from God (1 Cor. 4:3-5). Knowledge of the bible leads to better evangelization, but it also helps to have a general knowledge of other religions. Most Christians are willingly uneducated in regards to "other" Christian denominations, and other religions of the world. This ignorance causes misunderstandings, which leads to fear, which turns into hate. If you are a Christian, you do not have to believe that all the other religions are simply wrong. You are free to think that all those religions, even the queerest ones, contain at least some hint of the truth. Many prophecies from other religions foretold the coming of Christ. Confucius said he was expecting some great wise man from the east. Buddha said he was not the wise man, someone else was to come. Plato said a just man was to come who would tell us how we are to conduct ourselves before God and men. In the genealogy of Jesus, a reader will find saints, but will also find sinners. Gentile women like Ruth or a public sinner like Rahab were typical examples of the humanity Christ assumed into himself when he became incarnate. Every single human being that would ever be born until the end of time was incorporated into this humanity. Therefore, there is not a Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, communist, sinner, or saint who is not in this human nature of Christ. We are all in it. Our neighbor next door is in it. Every persecutor of Christianity is too. When we are puzzled about how other people are saved, we need only realize that implicitly, all salvation, all men, are in Christ. They may not recognize their incorporation in Christ, but in a certain sense every person in the world is implicitly a Christian in his human nature.

It’s not about one way of "worshiping God" being better than another; it’s about one giving a clearer picture of God-the truth. It’s an objective fact: if one religion claims one thing about Jesus and another religion claims the opposite, one of them has to be right and the other wrong. Why does this matter? It matters because we shape our lives on how we view the truth. We live our lives based on the way that we view Jesus. How we live our lives determines our eternity. "Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’" (John 14:6). Jesus said that he is the truth. THE TRUTH.

The best thing Christian's can do for people of other religions, (and themselves) is to pray for them, and to live moral lives that reflect Christian teaching. Christians need to start practicing what they preach in order to draw people to Christianity. People from other religions do not get "saved" by bombarding strangers asking questions, "Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior? Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior? Do you know Jesus Christ as you personal savior?" Handing people pamphlets through drive-thru windows is not fulfilling any call of evangelization. I am not saying that every person in the world is granted heaven regardless of what they believe, but change starts with commonalities, charity, and logical conversation.

I’m convinced that through intellectually truthful dialogue there is hope for unity. My hope is based most fundamentally on the fact that the most passionate truthful dialoguing ecumenist in all of existence is Jesus Christ. "That they may be one even as Thou the Father art in me and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe" (John 17:22-23 ). I think that better knowledge leads to better evangelization. Most Christians are willingly uneducated in regards to "other" Christian denominations, and other religions of the world. This ignorance causes misunderstandings, which leads to fear, which turns into hate. Only with knowledge can people make up their own opinions and truly shake off all preconceived notions. Ignorance is the worst feature a person can acquire. If a person really looks at things, it is evident that all hatred comes from ignorance. People are more prone to hate what they do not comprehend.

Jesus asked the disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" This question applies to us today, "Who do we say Jesus is?" That is the most fundamental question and there can only be one right answer- BUT we have to keep in mind that God is God and is not bound to our limited conclusions.The Holy Spirit blows where He wills. The great Catholic: BOTH/AND.

SOOOO if you have read this far, you may be wondering how this applies to your battle with pornography? It's this: Don't judge. Don't judge others battle. Don't judge your own. Let Paul be your example. Surrender to God's Will. Get the facts, fight but be open minded. God is bigger than your battle and preconceived notions- about purity- and other religions.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bible Context = Purity Context (Day 24)

A troubled man was pondering his existence. His life had seemed to hit rock bottom and he did not know where to turn. He remembered being told in his youth to always look in the Bible for answers to life’s hard questions. He then took a dusty Bible off a shelf and said a little prayer, “Please show me what I need to do.” He closed his eyes, opened the book, put his finger on the page, opened his eyes and began reading at a random place. Matthew 27:5 “Judas…then hung himself.” The young man shook his head and thought, “Surely this can’t be right.” So he randomly picked another verse the same way that he picked the first. It was Luke 10:37 “And Jesus said, “You go, and do likewise.”

The point of this story is to show that the Bible isn’t a Magic Eight Ball! Do not get me wrong, the Bible should shape our lives but we have to approach it and use it in the right way. You don’t use a TV remote to unstop a toilet. Why, because a TV remote is bad? No, because a TV remote was meant to serve another purpose. The Bibles purpose is the share divine truths to mankind about his creator not to be a magic book, almanac, or a scientific explanation of the universe. The better we understand the Bible, the better we will understand Gods message to us. Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.When we approach scripture, we have to approach it with the right context. If I were to say, “Put the kitty on the table.” You would need to know in what context I was speaking. If I was in Vegas and said “Put the kitty on the table” you would be able to conclude what I was gambling. But the meaning of “Put the kitty on the table” changes if I were at a pet store. Context is key! (Remember this, when a verse is taken out of context to be used as a proof text- that’s really a pretext.)

So what are some context tips for reading Scripture?

  • Get a good study Bible, commentary, and concordance.
  • Learn the history of the Bible and how it came into existence.
  • Learn not to read the Bible as one volume but as a library of genres.
  • Realize that The New Testament did not come before the Church but from the Church.
  • Remember that Holy Scripture is a stream in which the elephant may swim and the lamb may wade.-Pope St. Gregory

I was raised Baptist. As a Baptist I was taught that the Bible was the most important “tool” I had as a Christian. If it could not be found in the Bible, then it obviously was not important. This view is called “Sola Scriptura,” or “by Scripture alone.” Ever since Martin Luther, Protestants have believed that the Bible alone is the sole teacher of truth and therefore the reason for faith. Ironically though, this is not found anywhere in the Bible. Scripture never says that the Bible alone is the sole rule of truth, but on the contrary it gives that authority to Christ’s Church , “…the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.” (1Tim. 3:16) “And if he will not hear the Church, let him be to thee as the heathen and the publican.” (Matt. 18:17) The idea of the “Bible alone” is not Biblical. Sola Scriptura falls apart with logic because the printing press was not invented until the sixteenth century. Therefore people could not afford a Bible and even if they could, the vast majority were illiterate. Christians heard the Bible at every Sunday Mass because the Church is the mother of the Bible and not vice versa. The New Testament did not come before the Church but from the Church. Jesus did not hand a Bible over to his apostles. Jesus wrote nothing and as far as we know, He never asked His disciples to write anything. His significant command to them was “do this,” not “write this” ; and “this” referred to the Church-forming sacraments. Only five of the twelve apostles wrote any thing down at all. The first generation of Christians had no new testament. Nine years past after Christ’s death before even one piece of the New Testament was written. It was sixty-four years before the last Gospel was completed. So there were sixty-four years without the twenty seven books of the New Testament. The New Testament, as we know it, was not gathered into one book and added to the existing Bible, the Old Testament, Until 393 A.D. at the Council of Hippo. The Bishops of the Catholic Church, gathered in council, prayed to the Holy Spirit for guidance, decided on those twenty-seven and excluded other writings. They said these books and these books alone are the Word of God. Who decided that? Catholic Bishops. Form then on, it was definitely referred to as the New Testament and as part of the Bible. The Church that canonized the Scriptures was the very Church that had produced them. During that four-hundred-year gap, before the New Testament was considered a part of the Bible, Christians relied on the traditions of the apostles for the truth. “Therefore, brothers, stand firm and hold fast to the traditions that you were taught, either by an oral statement or by a letter of ours.” (2 Thes 2:15).

Here is a short video I made about how Bible study can change your life:

The Holy Bible is with out question the most popular book of all times but that does not mean that it is the most read or most understood. Some Christians see the Bible as one big book. It is not A BOOK. Its huge collection of books, a library, that took thousands years to put together. When you go to the library, you do not read every book the same way. You do not read every book literally because there are many types of genres. It is the same for the Bible because it is made up of many types of literary genres. The Bible is made up of Jewish history, poems, political onion, mythology, letters, parables, and theologically rich narratives. The Bible’s complexity throw’s personal interpretation out the window. “Know this first of all, that there is no prophecy of scripture that is a matter of personal interpretation…”(2 Peter 1:20). “ Phillip ran up and herd him reading Isaiah the prophet and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?” He replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” (Acts 8: 30-31). Martin Luther, the original spokesman for personal interpretation, later admitted its absurdity, “There is no rustic so rude but that, if he dreams or fancies anything, it must be the whisper of the Holy Spirit and he himself is a prophet.” It’s the scandal of Christianity that Protestantism has divided into thousands of rival sects each teaching its own set of doctrines while claiming to follow the Bible alone. My conversion to Catholicism did not weaken my view of the Bible; it reinforced it with two thousand years of tradition. The Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation states the following, “It is clear, therefore, that sacred tradition, sacred scripture, and the teaching authority of the church, in accord with God’s most wise design, are linked and joined together that one cannot stand without the others, and that all together and each in its own way under the action of the Holy Spirit contribute effectively to the salvation of souls.” The Church that produced and canonized the Scriptures in the past, is the same church that interrupts the Scriptures today.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Retreat (Day 23)

When I was in high school I played football. Well I say  "played football" - technically I was on the football team, but most of the time I watched the game from the sideline. At any rate, every halftime our coach would give us a speech to pump us up and encourage us to get back out on the field AND WIN THE GAME! His speech was short, sweet, and "Brave Heart" in style- maybe 5 minuets long. His words really moved us boys, but he did something more effective than just give us a war time speech- he left us with 20 minuets of silence. Time to think. Time to reflect. Time to redirect. My coach would leave us with a personal locker room retreat. Retreat is also recommend and necessary in this battle.

Well my brothers, it is past halftime for us- just 10 days left. Go ahead and take a look at the scoreboard of your own personal battle. Are you ahead, or are you behind? What needs to happen to have victory in this game? Take time to  think. Time to reflect. Time to redirect. Take  a personal retreat. Retreat is necessary in this battle.

Retreat is a time to go into the wilderness. Jesus started his public ministry by a 40 day wilderness retreat. What does "going into the the wilderness" mean in your life? In the wilderness, Jesus was "tested" by Satan. What demons do you need to battle? What demons have you yet to slay? In the eerie quiet of the wilderness, there is nowhere to hide. Nowhere to hide from your demons. Nowhere to hide from your God. How are you going to get to the desert? How are you going to make time to retreat? What distractions do you need to retreat from in order to more clearly hear the Father whisper His will to you? Let this scripture be your model:

Luke 4:1-2

And Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan, and was led by the Spirit for forty days in the wilderness, tempted by the devil. And he ate nothing in those days; and when they were ended, he was hungry.

The scriptures say that the Spirit LED Jesus into the wilderness. That same Spirit wants to lead you to the same place. Spend the rest of this Boot Camp in your own personal wilderness of prayer, fasting, study, alms giving, and physical mortification. At the end of the 40 days Jesus was strengthened and ready for his public ministry. You, by virtue of your baptism, have a public ministry. You've been baptized into the eternal ministry of priest, profit, and king. God has a plan for you- you just have to be quiet enough, patient enough, and disciplined enough to hear it.

I have spent the last couple days in the woods. Praying and thinking in the silence. I've come to the conclusion that if we do not surrender to pride/oblations and decide to go on a retreat- we will eventually surrender with a white flag and retreat the battle for purity. Two different ways to surrender and two different ways to retreat. You pick.

Famous Catholic writer, Dorothy Day, wrote this about retreats in her life:

"I made this retreat many times. The first time brought with it a shock of recognition that this was what I was looking for in the way of an explanation of the mystery of the Christian Life, the plan of God for us all. Though still I saw through a glass darkly, I saw things as a whole for the first time with a delight, a joy, an excitement, which is hard to describe. This is what I expected when I became a Catholic. This is what all my reading had led me to expect in the way of teaching and guidance in the spiritual life. I came away with what I can only consider to be an increased knowledge of the supernatural life, the feeling that I had grown in faith, hope, and charity, that I had been fed the strong meat of the Gospel and was now prepared to run the race, to journey onward with that food which would sustain me for forty days in any wilderness. I felt prepared for deserts and underground tunnels, for the dark night of the senses and of the soul. And I knew too that this strong light would dim with the ensuing months and that the next year I would again have to make the retreat, to adjust my visionto the blazing truthwhich was set before us, to get things into perspective once again."


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Purity Boot Camp...a Woman’s Perspective (Day 22)

My husband is away on business and has asked me to guest write on his blog today. When he asked me last night, I was honored! He is such a perfectionist, without admittance, and hates to be watched! I am not sure how he deals with me (an over analyzer people watcher and nitpicker) but by the grace of God he does! I am writing today with a woman’s perspective on porn and P.O. R. N.
I currently write at this blog about faith, infertility, and everything that comes to mind, so feel free to snoop around my blog anytime! As I wrote this post, I realized that with every stroke of the key, I was speaking to myself. You can ask any good writer, we speak from experience, not from judgment.
To the women on the outside looking in:
As women we take everything so very personally and never really understand how to effectively reach our husbands. When you find out your husband is addicted to porn and not P.O.R.N you feel crushed. You feel betrayed. You feel un-beautiful. You completely shut down and either eat your way out of it, or starve your way out of it. When you discover the secret stash, you are disgusted at what you realize your husband finds attractive. You think, I thought he told me I was beautiful, yet I do not look like any of these airbrushed actresses. Your reactive behavior of venting to your girl friends doesn’t proactively let your husband know how hurt and betrayed you really are. You feel stuck because society says porn is natural and okay, but it isn’t. Porn isn’t any more natural than cheating. That’s right, cheating. If you wouldn’t do it in front of your spouse, don’t do it.  Those feelings, left unaided, eventually turn into you feeling resentment, anger, and hatred. You start picking yourself apart and your marriage begins to suffer.  You eventually become what you fear the most.
To the women on the inside:
Women are human beings.  They suffer with addiction just like anyone would, be it shopping, alcohol, food, or lust. To say that pornography is a man’s addiction is completely and utterly crazy.  Women might not sit behind the computer like a man and hide shamefully in the walls of their office, but they, just as men, can be deceived by the devil and his lustful down spiral. Women like to feel beautiful. Society says beauty is in porn. When we act like porn stars and dress like porn stars, we drown in lustfulness and sex as well- we tell our daughters it’s okay to dress and act the way TV and society acknowledge as okay- we give our daughters a false sense of beauty and our sons a fasle sense of love. Here is my problem with it all: women don’t hold themselves to the same standard as they do their husbands. They don’t want their husbands supporting the porn industry, but they do nothing to stop it! They are sitting in the parent pick up line at school reading 50 Shades of Grey, planning girls’ trips to see Magic Mike, and laughing at the fact that weekends include drinking with your husband and friends at the strip club. Women on the inside of this industry: when you support porn and not P.O. R. N. you are sending mixed signals of mediocrity to your husbands. You are setting up your self-esteem for failure. You are setting up your relationships, your children, and your family for failure. You send a message to your relationships, children, and family, that you do not value your body as a temple of the Lord. Your thinking of what society says is okay turns into a downward spiral of lust and acceptance through other men.  You become your worst nightmare—you eventually become unfaithful in life and you justify that with the addiction and actions of your husband.
To all women: 

What we fail to realize though, is that when we are speaking about any addiction, we aren’t speaking on the attack ofthe opposite spouse. That is, your spouse isn’t looking at porn because you aren’t good enough; your spouse is looking at porn because they are addicted. You don’t eat, shop, or gamble because you want to make your spouse mad, you eat, shop, or gamble because that is how you cope with your frustration.
Women, it is time that we take a stand. Stop settling for porn and start using P.O.R. N. Not only will your marriage grow, but you will see a change in your husband. If your husband is addicted to porn and acknowledges it as normal, pray for him, fast for him, and go to counseling without him (because I am sure he will not want to do that either at this point). If your husband is addicted to porn and wants to change, pray with him, fast with him, and go to counseling with him. The purity boot camp on P.O.R.N. Militia is so very powerful because it allows God to be first in your life and marriage.

I am posting a link to my blog post about women (here) the message on this particular post is a wonderful message to women everywhere.
Also, If you do not know who Leah Darrow is, check her out (here). She has a wonderful dvd about women getting out of the industry and into a life of faith-- you can read more about her on
If we want to change society for our children, we have to acknowledge that pornography is taking over. We have to take a stand—we have to become the industry’s worst nightmare. We have to be reverent, modest, and faithful.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Marraige Bed (Day 21)

The Sanctity of the Marriage Bed.
By St. Francis De Sales:

THE marriage bed should be undefiled, as the Apostle tells us, i.e. pure, as it was when it was first instituted in the earthly Paradise, wherein no unruly desires or impure thought might enter. All that is merely earthly must be treated as means to fulfil the end God sets before His creatures. Thus we eat in order to preserve life, moderately, voluntarily, and without seeking an undue, unworthy satisfaction therefrom. "The time is short," says S. Paul; "it remaineth that both they that have wives be as though they had not, and they that use this world, as not abusing it."

Let every one, then, use this world according to his vocation, but so as not to entangle himself with its love, that he may be as free and ready to serve God as though he used it not. S. Augustine says that it is the great fault of men to want to enjoy things which they are only meant to use, and to use those which they are only meant to enjoy. We ought to enjoy spiritual things, and only use those which are material; but when we turn the use of these latter into enjoyment, the reasonable soul becomes degraded to a mere brutish level.

On Purity:

PURITY is the lily among virtues--by it men approach to the Angels. There is no beauty without purity, and human purity is chastity. We speak of the chaste as honest, and of the loss of purity as dishonour; purity is an intact thing, its converse is corruption. In a word, its special glory is in the spotless whiteness of soul and body.

No unlawful pleasures are compatible with chastity; the pure heart is like the mother of pearl which admits no drop of water save that which comes from Heaven,--it is closed to every attraction save such as are sanctified by holy matrimony. Close your heart to every questionable tenderness or delight, guard against all that is unprofitable though it may be lawful, and strive to avoid unduly fixing your heart even on that which in itself is right and good.

Every one has great need of this virtue: those living in widowhood need a brave chastity not only to forego present and future delights, but to resist the memories of the past, with which a happy married life naturally fills the imagination, softening and weakening the will. Saint Augustine lauds the purity of his beloved Alipius, who had altogether forgotten and despised the carnal pleasures in which his youth was passed. While fruits are whole, you may store them up securely, some in straw, some in sand or amid their own foliage, but once bruised there is no means of preserving them save with sugar or honey. Even so the purity which has never been tampered with may well be preserved to the end, but when once that has ceased to exist nothing can ensure its existence but the genuine devotion, which, as I have often said, is the very honey and sugar of the mind.

The unmarried need a very simple sensitive purity, which will drive away all over-curious thoughts, and teach them to despise all merely sensual satisfactions. The young are apt to imagine that of which they are ignorant to be wondrous sweet, and as the foolish moth hovers around a light, and, persisting in coming too near, perishes in its inquisitive folly, so they perish through their unwise approach to forbidden pleasures. And married people need a watchful purity whereby to keep God ever before them, and to seek all earthly happiness and delight through Him Alone, ever remembering that He has sanctified the state of holy matrimony by making it the type of His own union with the Church.

The Apostle says, "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:" by which holiness he means purity. Of a truth, my son , without purity no one can ever see God; nor can any hope to dwell in His tabernacle except he lead an uncorrupt life; and our Blessed Lord Himself has promised the special blessing of beholding Him to those that are pure in heart.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Infestation (Day20)

Now that we are nearly through this 33 Day Purity Camp, you may feel like you're in a rut; for many this last stretch will be harder than it was at the beginning. It’s a good time to take your spiritual pulse and see if you are still working on developing a devotion (or devotions) that will help bring more Graces into your life!  Maybe you've tried really hard to live virtuously for these 20 days but it feels like you have not grown at all. It fact, it has seemed to bring out the worst in you! How can prayer, fasting, study, exercise and alms giving make you worse of a person? It can't and it's not. You have an infestation. A sin infestation. Think about it: in your house you see one or two roaches. Nasty, but no big deal -right? WRONG. So you spray...then ALL HELL breaks loose! Roaches are everywhere! Infestation! Did the bug spray cause the multiplication of critters? No. They were really always there nested deep within. The same applies to your new found bad behavior. Purity Boot Camp didn't cause your vices but exposed them. Don't despair! Satan, the world, and your flesh want you to give up- they will not be exterminated without a fight. It's time to amplify the spiritual pest control: sacraments (especially confession), fasting, Bible study, corporal works of mercy, self mortification, prayer (especially Eucharistic adoration), holy water etc. Just like a good trip to the gym- those things if done right-HURT. Boot Camp, done right -HURTS. Increased fasting and exercise help us to gain more self-discipline. With more self-discipline over our bodies, we can also gain self-discipline to resist sin. If your Boot Camp experience has not exposed a sin infestation- GREAT! But....just to be safe, you might want to get with your bug-man and make sure he's not just spraying sugar-water.

Remember, Christ does all these things through us, but He does ask us to cooperate! So, keep it up guys! Look first to the Lord and then strive to get closer to Him! Being pure IS a daily struggle, but one well worth the effort! Ask God to search you and begin to shine a light on all the dark corners of your heart. Ask Him to use this last part of this Boot Camp to refine you and cleanse you for the battles to come. We can do this! Keep up the good fight! It is time to be roach free!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Prayer for Inner Healing (Day 19)


Lord Jesus, you came to heal our wounded and trouble hearts. I beg you to heal the torments that cause anxiety in my heart; I beg you, in a particular way, to heal all who are the cause of sin. I beg you to come into my life and heal me of the psychological harms that struck me in my early years and from the injuries that they caused throughout my life.

Lord Jesus, you know my burdens. I lay them all on your Good Shepherd’s Heart. I beseech you - by the merits of the great, open wound in your heart - to heal the small wounds that are in mine. Heal the pain of my memories, so that nothing that has happened to me will cause me to remain in pain and anguish, filled with anxiety.

Heal, O Lord, all those wounds that have been the cause of all the evil that is rooted in my life. I want to forgive all those who have offended me. Look to those inner sores that make me unable to forgive. You who came to forgive the afflicted of heart, please, heal my own heart.

Heal, my Lord Jesus, those intimate wounds that cause me physical illness. I offer you my heart. Accept it, Lord, purify it and give me the sentiments of your Divine Heart. Help me to be meek and humble.

Heal me, O Lord, from the pain caused by the death of my loved ones, which is oppressing me. Grant me to regain peace and joy in the knowledge that you are the Resurrection and the Life. Make me an authentic witness to your Resurrection, your victory over sin and death, your living presence among us. Amen.

Sex Advice From Jack (Day 18)

C.S. Lewis is my favorite modern Christian writer. He had a lot of neat wisdom to share regarding sexuality. This chapter from Mere Christianity puts a lot in perspective for us:

Sexual Morality

     We must now consider Christian morality as regards sex, what Christians call the virtue  of  chastity.  The Christian rule of  chastity must not  be confused with the social rule of "modesty" (in one sense of that word); i.e. propriety, or decency. The social rule of propriety lays  down  how much  of the human body should be displayed and what subjects can be referred to, and in what  words, according  to the  customs of a given social  circle.  Thus, while the rule of chastity is the same for all Christians at all  times, the rule of propriety  changes. A girl in the Pacific islands wearing hardly any clothes and a Victorian lady  completely covered in  clothes  might  both be equally "modest," proper, or decent, according to the standards of their own societies: and both, for all we  could tell by their dress, might be equally chaste  (or equally unchaste). Some  of the language which chaste women used in Shakespeare's time would have been used in the nineteenth century only by a  woman completely  abandoned.  When  people  break the rule  of  propriety current in their own time and place, if they  do so in order to excite  lust in themselves  or  others, then they are offending  against chastity. But if they break it through ignorance or carelessness they  are guilty only of bad manners. When, as often happens, they break  it defiantly in  order to shock or embarrass others,  they  are not necessarily being unchaste, but they are being uncharitable: for it is  uncharitable to take pleasure in making other people uncomfortable. I do not think that a very strict or fussy standard of
propriety is any proof of chastity or any help to it, and I therefore regard the great relaxation and simplifying of the rule which has taken place in my own  lifetime as a  good  thing.  At its present stage, however, it has this inconvenience, that people of different ages  and different types do not all
acknowledge the  same standard,  and we hardly know where we are. While this confusion  lasts I  think that old, or old-fashioned,  people should be very careful  not  to  assume  that  young  or  "emancipated"  people are corrupt whenever they are (by the old standard) improper; and, in return, that young people  should not call their elders  prudes or puritans because they do not easily adopt the new standard. A real desire to believe all the good you can of  others and to make others as comfortable as  you can  will solve most of the problems.
Chastity is the  most unpopular of  the Christian  virtues. There is no getting  away  from  it: the old  Christian rule is,  "Either marriage, with complete  faithfulness to your partner,  or else total abstinence." Now this is so  difficult  and  so  contrary to our instincts, that  obviously either
Christianity is wrong or our sexual instinct, as it  now is, has gone wrong. One or the other. Of course, being  a Christian, I think it  is the instinct which has gone wrong.
But I have other reasons for thinking so. The biological purpose of sex is children, just as the biological purpose of eating is to repair the body. Now  if we eat whenever we feel inclined  and just as much as we want, it is quite true that most of us will eat too much: but not terrifically too much.
One man  may  eat enough for two, but he does not  eat enough for  ten.  The appetite goes  a little beyond its biological purpose,  but  not enormously. But  if  a healthy  young man indulged his sexual  appetite whenever he felt inclined, and if each act produced a baby, then in ten years he might easily populate  a  small village. This appetite is  in  ludicrous and preposterous excess of its function.
Or  take it  another  way. You  can get a large audience together for a strip-tease act-that is,  to watch  a girl undress on the stage. Now suppose you came to a country  where you could fill a  theatre  by simply bringing a covered plate on to the stage and then slowly lifting the cover so as to let every one see, just before the lights went out, that  it  contained a mutton chop or a bit of bacon, would you  not think  that in that country something had  gone wrong  with the  appetite  for food? And would  not anyone who had grown up in  a different world think there was something equally queer about the state of the sex instinct among us?
One  critic said  that if he  found a  country in which such striptease acts  with  food  were  popular,  he would conclude that the people  of that country were starving. He meant, of course, to imply that such things as the strip-tease  act  resulted  not  from  sexual  corruption  but  from  sexual
starvation. I agree with him that if,  in  some strange land, we found  that similar  acts  with  mutton  chops  were   popular,  one   of  the  possible explanations  which would  occur to me  would  be famine. But the  next step would be to  test our hypothesis by finding out  whether,  in fact,  much or
little food was being consumed in that country. If the evidence showed  that a good deal was being eaten, then of  course we  should  have to abandon the hypothesis  of starvation and try to think of another one. In the same  way, before  accepting sexual starvation  as  the cause of  the  strip-tease,  we should  have  to  look  for  evidence  that  there is in  fact  more  sexual abstinence in our age  than in those ages when  things like  the strip-tease were unknown. But surely there is no such evidence. Contraceptives have made sexual  indulgence far less costly within marriage  and far safer outside it
than ever  before, and public opinion is  less hostile to illicit unions and even to perversion than it has been since Pagan times. Nor is the hypothesis of "starvation" the only one we can imagine. Everyone knows that  the sexual appetite, like our other  appetites, grows by indulgence.  Starving men  may
think much  about  food, but so  do gluttons;  the  gorged, as  well  as the famished, like titillations.
Here is a third  point. You find very few people who want to eat things that  really are not food or  to do other things with food instead of eating it.  In  other  words,  perversions  of  the food  appetite  are  rare.  But perversions of the sex instinct are numerous, hard to cure, and frightful. I
am sorry to have to go into all these details, but I must. The reason why  I must is  that you and  I,  for the last twenty years, have been  fed all day long on  good solid lies about  sex. We have been told,  till one is sick of hearing  it, that  sexual desire  is in the  same state as any  of our other natural desires and that if only we abandon  the silly old Victorian idea of hushing it up, everything in the garden will be lovely. It is not  true. The moment you look at the facts, and away  from the propaganda, you see that it is not.
They tell you sex  has become a  mess because it was hushed up. But for the last twenty years it has not been hushed up. It has been chattered about all day long. Yet it is still in a mess. If hushing up had been the cause of the trouble, ventilation would have set it right. But it has not. I think it is  the other way  round. I think  the  human race originally  hushed it  up because it had become such a mess.  Modern people are always saying, "Sex is nothing to be ashamed of." They may mean two things. They may mean "There is nothing to be ashamed of in  the fact  that the human race reproduces itself in a  certain way, nor  in the  fact that it  gives pleasure." If they  mean that, they are right. Christianity  says the same. It  is not the thing, nor the pleasure, that is the trouble. The old Christian teachers  said  that if man had never fallen, sexual pleasure, instead of being less than it is now, would actually have been greater. I  know some muddle-headed Christians have
talked as if Christianity thought that sex,  or the body,  or pleasure, were bad in themselves. But they were wrong. Christianity is  almost the only one of the great religions which thoroughly approves  of the body-which believes that matter is good, that God Himself once took on a  human body,  that some kind of body is going to be given to us even in Heaven and is going to be an essential  part of our happiness,  our beauty,  and our energy. Christianity has glorified marriage  more  than  any other religion: and  nearly  all the greatest love poetry in the world has been produced by Christians. If anyone says that sex, in itself, is bad, Christianity contradicts him at once. But, of course, when people say, "Sex is nothing to be ashamed of," they may mean "the  state into  which the sexual  instinct  has now  got is  nothing to be ashamed of."
If they mean that, I think they are wrong. I  think it is everything to be ashamed of. There is nothing  to be ashamed  of  in enjoying  your  food: there would  be everything  to be ashamed of if half the world made food the main  interest  of  their lives and spent their time looking at  pictures of food  and dribbling and  smacking their lips.  I do not say  you  and I  are individually  responsible  for the  present  situation. Our  ancestors  have handed over to us organisms which are warped in this respect: and we grow up surrounded by propaganda in favour of unchastity. There  are people who want to keep our sex instinct inflamed in order to make money out of us. Because, of  course,  a  man  with  an  obsession  is  a  man  who  has  very  little sales-resistance. God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to  overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them.
Before we can be cured we must want to be cured.  Those who really wish for help will get it; but for many modern people even the wish is difficult. It is easy to think that  we want something when we do not really want it. A famous Christian long ago  told us  that when he was a  young man  he prayed
constantly for chastity; but years later he realised that while his lips had been saying, "Oh Lord,  make me chaste," his heart had been secretly adding, "But please don't do  it just yet."  This may  happen in  prayers for  other virtues too; but there are three  reasons why  it is now specially difficult for us to desire-let alone to achieve-complete chastity.
 In the first place our warped natures, the devils who tempt us, and all the contemporary propaganda  for lust,  combine to  make us  feel  that  the desires we are resisting are so "natural," so  "healthy," and so reasonable, that it is almost perverse and abnormal to resist them. Poster after poster, film after film, novel after novel, associate the idea of sexual  indulgence with the ideas of health, normality, youth,  frankness, and good humour. Now this  association  is  a  lie.  Like all  powerful  lies, it is  based  on a truth-the  truth,  acknowledged  above, that  sex in  itself (apart from the excesses and obsessions that have grown round it) is "normal" and "healthy," and all the rest of it. The lie  consists in  the suggestion that any sexual act to which you are tempted at the moment  is also healthy  and normal. Now this, on  any conceivable  view, and quite apart from Christianity, must  be nonsense.  Surrender  to  all our  desires  obviously  leads  to  impotence, disease,  jealousies, lies, concealment, and everything that  is the reverse of  health, good  humour,  and frankness. For any happiness,  even  in  this world, quite a lot of restraint is going to be necessary; so  the claim made by every desire, when it is strong, to be healthy and reasonable, counts for nothing.  Every sane  and civilised man must have some  set of principles by which he chooses to reject some of his desires and to permit others. One man does  this on  Christian principles, another on hygienic principles, another on sociological principles.  The real  conflict is not between  Christianity and "nature," but between  Christian principle and other  principles in  the control of "nature." For "nature" (in the sense of natural desire) will have to be  controlled anyway, unless you are going to  ruin your whole life. The
Christian principles are, admittedly, stricter than the others;  but then we think you will get help towards obeying them which you will  not get towards obeying the others.
In the second place, many people are deterred from seriously attempting Christian chastity because they think (before trying) that it is impossible. But when a thing has to be attempted, one must never think about possibility or impossibility.  Faced with an optional question  in an examination paper,
one considers  whether  one  can  do  it or  not:  faced with  a  compulsory question, one  must do the best one can. You  may get some marks for  a very imperfect  answer:  you  will  certainly  get none  for leaving the question alone. Not  only in examinations  but  in  war,  in  mountain  climbing,  in
learning to skate, or  swim, or ride a bicycle,  even  in fastening a  stiff collar  with  cold  fingers, people  quite often do what  seemed  impossible before they did it. It is wonderful what you can do when you have to.
We may, indeed, be sure that perfect chastity-like perfect charity-will not  be attained by  any merely human efforts. You must ask for God's  help. Even when you have done so, it may seem to you for a long time that no help, or less help than you need, is being  given. Never mind. After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up,  and try again. Very often what God first helps  us towards is  not  the virtue  itself but just this  power of always trying  again. For however important chastity (or  courage, or truthfulness, or any other virtue) may be, this  process trains  us in habits  of the soul which are more important  still.  It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God. We learn, on the one hand, that we cannot trust ourselves  even  in our best moments, and, on  the  other, that we  need not despair even in  our  worst, for our failures are  forgiven. The  only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.
Thirdly,  people often  misunderstand  what  psychology  teaches  about "repressions."  It  teaches  us  that  "repressed"  sex  is  dangerous.  But "repressed" is here a technical term: it  does not mean "suppressed" in  the sense of "denied" or  "resisted." A repressed desire or thought is one which has been thrust  into the subconscious (usually at a very early age) and can now  come  before  the mind  only in  a disguised  and unrecognisable  form. Repressed sexuality  does not appear to the patient to be sexuality  at all. When an adolescent or  an adult is engaged in  resisting a conscious desire, he  is  not dealing with  a  repression nor  is he  in  the  least danger of creating a repression. On  the contrary, those  who are seriously attempting chastity are more conscious, and soon know a great deal more about their own sexuality than  anyone  else. They come to know  their desires as Wellington
knew Napoleon, or  as Sherlock Holmes knew Moriarty; as  a rat-catcher knows rats  or   a  plumber  knows   about  leaky  pipes.   Virtue-even  attempted virtue-brings light; indulgence brings fog.

Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as  I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard  unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite  wrong. The sins  of the  flesh are  bad, but they are the
least  bad  of all sins.  All the worst  pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of  putting other  people  in the wrong, of bossing and patronising and spoiling  sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing  with the human self which  I must
try  to  become. They  are the Animal self, and  the  Diabolical  self.  The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is  why a cold, self-righteous prig  who  goes  regularly  to church  may  be  far  nearer  to hell  than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Marian Supplication (Day 17)

Queen of the most holy Rosary, Help of Christians, refuge of the human race, victorious in all the battles of God, we prostrate ourselves in supplication before thy throne, in the sure hope of obtaining mercy and of receiving grace and timely aid in our present calamities, not through any merits of our own on which we do not rely, but only through the immense goodness of thy mother's Heart. In thee and in thy Immaculate Heart, at this grave hour of human history, do we put our trust; to thee we consecrate ourselves, not only with all of Holy Church, which is the mystical body of thy Son Jesus, and which is suffering in so many of her members, being subjected to manifold tribulations and persecutions, but also with the whole world, torn by discords, agitated with hatred, the victim of its own iniquities.

Be thou moved by the sight of such material and moral degradation, such sorrows, such anguish, so many tormented souls in danger of eternal loss! Do thou, O Mother of mercy, obtain for us from God a Christ-like reconciliation of the nations, as well as those graces which can convert the souls of men in an instant, those graces which prepare the way and make certain the long desired coming of peace on earth. O Queen of peace, pray for us, and grant peace unto the world in the truth, the justice, and the charity of Christ. Above all, give us peace in our hearts, so that the kingdom of God may spread its borders in the tranquillity of order. Accord thy protection to unbelievers and to all those who lie within the shadow of death; cause the Sun of Truth to rise upon them; may they be enabled to join with us in repeating before the Savior of the world:

"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men of good will."

Give peace to the nations that are separated from us by error or discord, and in a special manner to those peoples who profess a singular devotion toward thee; bring them back to Christ's one fold, under the one true Shepherd. Obtain full freedom for the holy Church of God; defend her from her enemies; check the ever-increasing torrent of immorality; arouse in the faithful a love of purity, a practical Christian life, and an apostolic zeal, so that the multitude of those who serve God may increase in merit and in number. Ask thy Son to send us holy priests and in numbers to serve the needs of the Catholic faithful. Be thou the mother of priests and seminarians, keeping them pure, devoted to thee and thy Son, maintain them as men set apart and exclusive for serving the Holy Trinity and thee. Do not let the torrents of worldly woes touch them. And give us a more tender love for thy Immaculate Heart so that we may draw closer to thee and to them by praying for them faithfully.

O Mary, Mother most pure, through whose compassion we have received the holiest of priests; O glorious Patriarch, St. Joseph, perfect model of cooperation with the Divine call; O holy priests, who in Heaven compose a choice choir about the Lamb of God: obtain for us many good vocations in order that the Lord's flock, through the support and government of vigilant shepherds, may attain you the enjoyment of the most delightful pastures of eternal happiness.

Finally, even as the Church and all mankind were once consecrated to the Heart of thy Son Jesus, because He was for all those who put their hope in Him an inexhaustible source of victory and salvation, so in like manner do we consecrate ourselves forever to thee also and to thy Immaculate Heart, O Mother of us and Queen of the world; may thy love and patronage hasten the day when the kingdom of God shall be victorious and all the nations, at peace with God and with one another, shall call thee blessed and intone with thee, from the rising of the sun to its going down, the everlasting "Magnificat" of glory, of love, of gratitude to the Heart of Jesus, in which alone we can find truth, life, and peace.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday (Day 16)


My Lord, you are all powerful, you are God, you are Father.

We beg you through the intercession and help of the archangels Michael, Raphael, and Gabriel for the deliverance of our brothers and sisters who are enslaved by the evil one. All saints of heaven , come to our aid.

From anxiety, sadness, and obsessions. We beg you. Free us, O Lord.

From hatred, fornication, envy. We beg you. Free us, O Lord.

From thoughts of jealousy, rage, and death. We beg you. Free us, O Lord.

From every though of suicide and abortion. We beg you. Free us, O Lord.

From every form of sinful sexuality. We beg you. Free us, O Lord.

From every division in our family, and every harmful friendship. We beg you. Free us, O Lord.

From every sort of spell, malefice, witchcraft, and every form of the occult. We beg you. Free us, O Lord.

Lord, you who said, “I leave you peace, my peace I give you”, grant that, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we may be liberated from every evil spell and enjoy your peace always. In the name of Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Live it - Share it (Day 15)

So far over the last 2 weeks we should have studied our faith for at least 280 minutes. We should be getting more knowledgeable about our beliefs. I tell you though- none of that matters unless we live it!  Fulton Sheen once said, “It is easy to find truth; it is hard to face it, and harder still to follow it.” I would like to focus living our faith when no one is watching but God. Matthew 6:6 says, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” We see clearly that what we do in secret matters to God. What are some things that we do negatively in secret? What do we lose sleep over? What haven’t we been able to come to grips with? Is it alcohol? Medication? Pornography? Anger? Over worrying about worldly things? Yelling at your children? Gambling? Purchasing things without telling your wife? Over eating? What is your secret vice? What are you ashamed of? What is it for the life of you that you cant you stop doing? I know you’re probably starting to get defensive right about now. Don’t worry it's natural. You’re thinking, “What business is it of yours what I struggle with? I go to mass, I tithe, I volunteer, I pray. I’m not hurting anyone. Back off.” This analogy might help: As law abounding drivers, we have to follow certain laws that apply to driving. If we break these laws, we could injury other drivers. If we choose to run a red light, we could crash into another vehicle. But in addition to following laws we also have to get our cars inspected once a year. We can follow the law all day long but it is to no avail if our own personal cars are not worthy of the highway. This is why we have to examining our own conscience and get it inspected at least once a year in the confessional. Personally, I struggle with lust and looking at things which I’m not supposed to. Hey I’m not here talking about it because it’s an enjoyable subject- in fact it’s a quite touchy subject- no pun intended. I’m here as your brother telling you its ok to admit your vices. It’s the only way we are going to beat them. We will either accuse ourselves or excuse ourselves. God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. Before we can be cured we must want to be cured. Those who really wish for help will get it. C.S. Lewis says, “I find a good many people have been bothered by Our Lord's words, "Be ye perfect." Some people seem to think this means "Unless you are perfect, I will not help you"; and as we cannot be perfect, then, if He meant that, our position is hopeless. But I do not think He did mean that. I think He meant "The only help I will give is help to become perfect. You may want something less: but I will give you nothing less."

Time after time I have stressed the importance of sharing the Gospel with our actions. In football terms: this is offensive. Evangelization is offensive. Apologetics is defensive. We are really familiar with the word Evangelization but sometimes the word apologetics slips under our radar. The standard scripture for apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15 “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence.” Are you prepared to make a defense of your faith? We will have a great opportunity to do just that on this 33 Day Purity Boot Camp. But remember it says do it with “gentleness.” We are Christ ambassadors, not his debate champions. It’s the Holy Spirit who converts souls.

I would like to leave you with a reading from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Paul was writing a community who were seeking to learn their faith, live their faith, and share their faith. We to are a community who are seeking to learn our faith, live our faith, and share our faith. Let’s for a second pretend like Paul is writing to only us:

In Colossians 3:1-17 Paul tells us:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming.* In these you once walked, when you lived in them. But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all. Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Know Your Faith, Live Your Faith, Share Your Faith

Monday, September 17, 2012

Imperishable Wreaths (Day 14)

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
According to Drug-Rehab's website,  exercise is an important part of any addiction recovery plan.  And it is crucial to the 33 Day Purity Boot Camp!  Exercise helps you cope with stress, develop self-discipline by sticking to your plan, increases  your focus because you have to plan your time and pay attention to your body, boost your confidence and fill your time with a positive activity. Exercise is powerful on it's own but it's strength intensifies when mixed with fasting, prayer, study, and acts of charity.
I like running- well I'm  stating too. Running helps me clear my mind and gives me  the mental and physical strength I need to overcome my addiction. I like running because it's painful. I can feel my addiction dying. My old worldly self is perishing with each gasp, step, mile, and drop of sweat.
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:24-25
Running with a partner is rewarding as well. It makes it seem less intense - almost like they are helping you bear the pain. I think that is a good example of how we are to be for each other as we run this race called life- running partners.
It feels great to set a goal and meet that expectation. My wife is a great example of that. She started running due to my new "fondness" for it. However, she has really taken to running like a fish to water. When she started,  she could hardly run for one minute without stopping, but now she's signed up for a 5k (me too by default). Check out her blog- she inspires me to be a better man. Here she is in her own words.
Here is her running advice:
get fitted for running shoes
buy running clothes that don't ride up
listen to music that calms your breathing pattern, the longer you can stay calm, the longer you can run
eat a pre run snack: my favs are a bagel with peanut butter or 1/2 turkey sammie
run outside as much as possible because that is where you will be running your race, not on a treadmill
repeat workouts as necessary before moving on to the next challenge
get a C25K app on your phone- it will tell you when to walk and when to run. It plays in the background so you can listen to music still.
don't eat junk like I did, it makes it so hard to run in the afternoons!
don't run in random shoes like I did, because your feet are not secure
don't skip having water all day and expect to run successfully- I love me some DIET COKE :/
don't skip workouts or whole weeks at a time without repeating some workouts again
don't run everyday until you think you can handle it
don't expect to keep up the pace with your husband, you have shorter legs! (You're gosh darn right LOL)
don't give up.
Our Father,
Accept our gratitude for the opportunity to participate in this race and in the larger race of life. We accept with thankfulness the wholeness and well being which running contributes to our living. As running brings pleasure to our lives so may our efforts on this day bring pleasure to you, our Creator. We give thanks for physical bodies wonderfully made. Help us to exercise good stewardship of the health, energy, and clarity of mind provided for our use. Bless our efforts in training to develop these gifts to their full potential. Give us the strength to endure and the passion to persevere. Protect us from injury and illness. May we possess courage and character in adequate supply to meet the challenge before us. Grant each of us the integrity to do our best in the quest to finish well. We can do no more and desire no less. Thank you for the sense of community created by our common commitment to run. As we seek to realize personal goals help us to also celebrate the accomplishments of others. Grant that we may find joy not only in competition but also in the privilege of running together. Remind us on this day and through all of life that we never run alone. Amen.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

How we Salute in the Militia (Day 13)

We do it before we eat. We do it as we walk into the sanctuary. We do it when we genuflect. We start Mass with it. We end Mass with it. We do it three consecutive times before we read the Gospel. We do it when we drive past a Catholic church. We do it before the game, before we go to sleep, and before we travel. In the west we do it with our right hand; in the East they do it with their left. Some do it with three fingers; some kiss it upon its completion. Martyrs did it as they were taken to their death. We are marked with it when we are baptized. You don’t have to be literate to do it because it requires no special knowledge or skill. It is our salute. In nómine Patris et Fílii et Spíritus Sancti. Amen. The sign of the cross. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It is our most simplistic prayer but it conveys and sums up the entire mystery of our faith. It’s a simple prayer but it is SO crucial to beat our battle with lust. Paul speaks of the cross in almost all his New Testament letters: “But far be it from me to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal 6:14). The earliest accounts suggest that Christians traced the cross with their thumb upon their forehead. My patron saint, Saint Francis de Sales explains it this way:

“We raise the hand to the forehead, saying ‘In the name of the Father’ to signify that the Father is the first person of the Most Holy Trinity, of whom the Son is begotten and from whom the Holy Spirit proceeds. Then saying, ‘And the Son,’ the hand is lowered to the breast, to express that the Son proceeds from the Father, who sent him down to the womb of the Virgin. The hand is moved from the left shoulder to the right, while saying, ‘and of the Holy Spirit’, as the third person of the Holy Trinity, proceeds from the Father and the Son, that he is the love that unites both, and that, through his grace, partake of the fruits of the passion. Accordingly the Sign of the Cross is brief declaration of our faith in the Blessed Trinity, in the passion of Christ, and in the forgiveness of sin, by which we pass from the left side of curse to the right side of blessing.”

There is no way of talking about the sign of the cross without talking about the Most Holy Trinity. Most catechists dread talking about this subject, and most priests only preach about it on Trinity Sunday. Why? Because as Saint Augustine says, “If you understand it, it’s not God.” No matter which way I go about this topic I’m sure to be a --heretic.

Once I went to a conference where it's theme was, “God is Love.” I believe that statement is what makes us Christians. A Jew or a Muslim would say God loves. The radical Christian difference is we say God IS Love. And I think that is the best way to explain the Trinity. If you say God is Love, then you have to mean that within the very being of God there is a play between a Lover, the Beloved, and the Love that they share. If God is not a Trinity, God is not love. For love requires three things: a lover, a beloved, and a relationship between them. One being- three persons. In the creed we say “We believe in one God.” That is our Catholic way of saying what the Jews have said for years “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God alone.” God is one but we know through the revelation of Jesus Christ that God has to shown himself to be One being three persons. The sender the sent and the love in which the sent was sent. Still think the sign of the cross is simple?

So how does this apply to us today? We are called to be men who invoke the Trinity. You say “sure I make the sign of the cross all the time”. But I tell you today that we have to be MEN of the triune God. Jesus gave us the perfect example. He held nothing back from the Father. That’s how we should love each other. That’s the principle for the Sacrament of Marriage. In marriage the two become one. So much so, that nine months later you have to name that love that was shared between the two. That is one reason why that Catholic Church condemns contraception (I didn’t say doesn’t like. I said condemn. Also note that contraception is the fule the porn industry runs on- no birthcontrol, no porn). It’s an anti-trinity mentality (Pornography is an anti-trinity mentality- it is selfish). The contraceptive mentality says “I’m going to give most but not all” but the mentality of the Trinity says “Have this mind among yourselves which was in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but EMPTIED himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:4-7). Imagine for a moment if Jesus on the cross had a contraceptive mentality. What if he held back- just a little back up there on the cross? What if he just appeared to have died? (You know that’s an ancient heresy BTW) If Jesus had a contraceptive mentality there would be no salvation for you and me.

At the beginning of this post I named a lot of places that we invoked the Trinity. Some places I didn’t name were the bed room, computer room, office, and over a smart phone. And it’s a sad fact. Can you imagine what power would be released if we invoked God in the places where we fell often to lust? Can you imagine what power would be released into our marriages if we invoked God in the bedroom? You’re talking about a country that spends billions on pornographic material and millions on Viagra and other related medications. It’s food for thought-what if we prayed and called down the Trinity while we partook in the martial embrace – the very action that replicates the life of the Trinity? It’s no small thing we do when we make the Sign of the cross. It should take our breath away- but only so that we can be filled up with another breath: the spirit of God.


Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The PORN Effect (Day 12)

Sometimes, the only way I can keep my head above water in my own fight for purity is to help other men. So yesterday I brought some copies of "Taking Down Goliath" to my local parish. I really recommend anything that Matt Fradd puts out but especially this CD because he allows for you to burn and give away as many copies as physically possible. And you'll want to because his stuff is good! You cannot go wrong —from his blog, to his website, to his several talks on DVD and CD—  all great material. To be honest his site the Porn Effect is what inspired me to start this blog. And now hopefully many men are fighting the "porn effect" with the "P.O.R.N. Effect". Here is some great advice from Matt Fradd:

Step 1: Admit That There's A Problem
I recently heard that married men live from 5 to 10 years longer than those who don't marry. Apparently the reason is that their wives force them to go see a doctor when something is wrong. It seems that we as men can be so stubborn that we would rather lose a decade of our life than admit that we might not have it all together. But this first step is vital and if you are not willing to admit that you are not in control and that your lust, your use of porn, your masturbation is a problem then unfortunately this site has no more use for you.

Step 2: Set Yourself A Goal
If you own pornography, whether it be in the form of magazines, videos or websites. Trash them immediately. Don't just trash them so you can go back to them in a moment of weakness. Burn them, delete them, set up a porn filter on your computer. I know of one man, when he found out the truth of what porn was doing to him he took all his Porn DVD's and a sledge hammer and destroyed what was slowly destroying him. Set a realistic goal that you know you can reach, for me it began with "I will not look at porn or masturbate for 1 week". Once I made it through the week, I set another goal for myself.

Step 3: Prayer
I would fail in my mission if I did not address the nessecity of prayer, and by prayer I mean, repentance, surrender, trust. These are all exceptionally hard things to do, we don't like to repent because we don't like being wrong. We don't like to surrender because we have been taught to have complete control over our lives. We don't like to trust because we have been let down constantly by those we love and by those who have manipulated us. I can only speak from my own experience. You will not find a magical prayer, or a nice little list of rules to follow to become pure. Purity is not the destination, it is a lifestyle, a daily battle. Heaven is the destination and purity will help us get there. Personally I have found a devotion to the daily Rosary to be an incredibly powerful tool. After each Rosary I hold it up and say "Mary I have taken up your chain (the rosary), now take off my chains of lust"....

Step 4: Fasting
If I cannot say no to that next chip, chocolate bar, slice of pizza, beer, (fill in the blank). How will I be able to say no to the porn pop up site. Fasting strengthens our wills and our hearts. An alcoholic that cannot say no to his next beer is not free, he is enslaved. We need to deny our appetites not because food and drink and television are bad but so that we will be master of these things and not allow these things to have mastery over  us. It's easy to say that we are not enslaved by TV, but try giving it up for a week and see if you don't feel the burn! I would encourage you to join e5 men is an growing army of men who are sick of the lust and the lies they've believed and are now taking a day a month to fast for a woman in their life.

Step 5: Replacing The Habit
Fr Laurence Freeman OSB suggests that to defeat a bad habit, it's important to develop a good habit, in order to displace the bad one.  Sitting around the house continually focused on "not masturbating or looking at porn" will cause you to become inverted and scrupulous. Get up off your tail and get involved in some physical exercise, be it football, jogging, lifting weights, (I wouldn't recommend draughts).As Christians we are not called simply to avoid evil, we are called to do good! do something productive such as helping the poor, becoming a member of an apostolic group in the parish, joining a prayer group, forming a group of young newly wed couples to assist with marriage preparation in a parish, becoming a regular visitor to refugees, homeless, mentally ill people, etc.

Step 6: The Importance Of A Accountability Partner & Confessor
Sorry if I am the first one to break this to you but you cannot do this alone. Check out this accountability software that shows your friends EXACTLY what you've been viewing.You are going to need solid brothers to fight beside. Find a fellow man that you trust and share with each other your struggles, your falls & your victories. I cannot stress enough how important the sacrament of confession is. If you are a Catholic and you fall into sin through porn or masturbation it is vital for your healing that you seek a good and holy priest out that you can confess to. There is no sin that God cannot forgive.The only sin that God cannot forgive is the one that you will not ask forgiveness for. And don't priest hop, by this I mean go to a different priest each time so they're unaware of how often you fall. The Priest is not there to judge you, and he has heard it all before. Again this is not something I have discovered from a nice little Catholic book. I have experienced time and again that the Sacrament of confession not only frees us from our sin but it also brings healing.

Step 7: Know Your Battle Field
You know  where you are likely to fall into lust. For me it was late at night on the computer when everyone else was in bed. You must know you're battle field and act accordingly. Jesus said "If your eye causes you to sin, tear it out" What is Jesus saying? He's warning us not to pussy foot around with sin. Allow me to give you a modern day translation "If your computer causes you to sin, get rid of it!, if your Television causes you to sin, throw it away!" And yes it is that serious.

Step 8: Mastery Over The Eyes
Basically the eyes are the gate way to the soul and what you choose to let in will affect you for better or for worse. Let me give you an analogy: Imagine the temptation to lust as a sumo wrestler. If you get into the ring with him he is going to knock you flat on your back. So what do you do? You starve the sumo! You starve the eyes. This means making the choice to look away from the porn rack in the petrol station, not taking that second gawk and the cashier's cleavage as she bends over. Our minds are like sponges, and if you dip it into a cesspool of filth, or The pure (living) water of Christ it will affect how you reason and act.

Step 9: Do Not Become Scrupulous
An easy trap to fall into when breaking free from porn is to become scrupulous, constantly examining yourself to see if you sinned or not. I remember one teenage guy telling me recently that he just saw a beautiful woman, and he wondered if he was lusting or not. Let's get this straight. If you are a man and you are not attracted to a good looking woman, please don't make the mistake of thinking that you are pure! There is something wrong with you! Women are beautiful! Recognizing this is not lusting, it is in fact giving glory to her Creator. But after seeing this woman do you think about all of the things you could do to her sexually? There's a big difference.

Step 10: Do Not Despair
One thing I have come to understand is that Jesus Christ did not come to earth and die on a cross to kick us while we are down. He does not come to condemn but to raise up and save. The Lord humbles, the Devil humiliates. The Lord corrects, the Devil accuses. You are not the enemy of God, you are his beloved son (daughter) in whom he is well pleased, he sees all of you, even the parts your ashamed of and he loves you. This love is a cleansing love, it burns, breaks and liberates. God is more eager to rescue you from this sin than a mother, her child from a burning house. Healing is possible. Healing is possible. While we will never be free from temptation in this life please don't fall into the trap of thinking that all men masturbate and look at pornography. They don't. I don't. God delights in you. As a father is not satisfied with his son addicted to alcohol, God is not satisfied with your sin.