Tag Archives: prayer

Miserere Nobis!: My Thoughts on the Fall of Roe

Blessed feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to one and all!

I was awakened this morning to the joyous news that Roe and Casey have fallen.

Let that sink in.

We’ve Fought Side by Side for Many Years

I suspect you and I have been in the same trenches on this one for a long time. Remember how we were armed with prayers and tears?

Perhaps you and I crossed paths in the many, many years of bitter cold January days when we marched up Pennsylvania Avenue to peacefully ask our government for a redress of this grave evil. There were millions of us during those days. We’d get to the top of Capitol Hill and turn around to see the throngs streaming up behind us like ants and take comfort that we weren’t alone in an insane world.

Perhaps we crossed paths in the Spirit of Truth as we knelt before the Lord in Adoration and at the Holy Sacrifice begging Him to hear our voices since the tiny victims were denied speech.

Altar in honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus,
St Lucy’s Catholic Church, Newark, NJ

Perhaps we crossed paths simply, humbly, and marvelously on our knees at night as we said our prayers and thought of our own kids – how they came into the world in love and how we would die for them out of love – and then thought of those snuffed out because the evil one demands child sacrifice and men choose to turn from love and the opposite of love is indifference.

Perhaps we crossed paths teaching the faith and trying – sometimes with facility and often against great resistance – to convince a few teenagers in a high school theology class that a human child in the womb is 1) human and 2) can’t be anything other than human.

Maybe we said the same things in our prayers. “Jesus, Mary, I love you! Save souls and unborn babies!”

Our politicians didn’t help, except to say they were on our side when they needed our votes. One man promised us justices who would overturn Roe. He gave us those justices. Despite how he pushed a deadly vaccine (and continues to do so), I give thanks for his actions here and pray for him.

Our bishops didn’t help much. In truth, some were more vocal than others; but we totally could have ended this decades ago if they had stood up.

“God is sooooooo good.”

Is this perfect news? Far from it. In my home state killing a baby up to birth is now codified in law. In my new home state abortion is now essentially illegal altogether.

I’ll admit this is not how I imagined this day would go down. I’m genuinely shedding tears as I write this post. So many years… Did any of us believe that evil decision would be overturned? I bet Nellie Gray believed it, and Phyllis Schlafly too. I think my late dad probably thought this day would come. My widowed mom sent me a text. “God is sooooooo good.” She concluded it with a heart emoji because she’s 85 and texts. He is sooooooo good.

Stay Confessed

I know it’s far from over. Satanist groups are planning violence. We must pray harder now and be prepared to protect and defend ourselves and our churches.

Window of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Lucy’s Catholic Church, Newark, NJ

As for me? I went to confession. Then I went to mass with my daughter. Meditating on the mystery of Our Lord’s Sacred Heart is so powerful. Lord Jesus, cleanse us with the water from Thy Wounded Side and then bathe us in They Precious Blood! Friends, stay confessed. Go to mass. Pray your rosaries.

And celebrate this moment for what it’s worth. You had better believe there’s a bottle of gin on my bar to be opened tonight. It calms the shellshocked nerves. Brothers and sisters, but especially my fellow Catholic men, NEVER give up this fight.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us!

St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

Imitation of Christ: The Most Sincere Form of Flattery

On my nightstand sits a tiny leather-bound book. This book was first published sometime around the year 1418. It features print appropriately small enough to match the 3″ X 5″ dimensions of the book itself (and just small enough for my aging eyes to strain each time I look at it). The size of the book is useful, though, in this one regard. It can easily be taken wherever one goes as it fits in most pockets.

The book, of course, is the classic Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis.

I first came across this book for use in my own spiritual reading about three years ago. I had just recently started attending the traditional mass when a student of mine mentioned that he had been given a copy of the book for his birthday. He thought I would find it insightful. I’m very grateful he suggested it.

Yesterday I mentioned that I would be looking more in-depth at seminary formation over the past few decades. I figure this is as good a place as any to start. In my own time in seminary, the devotional life was never discussed. I recall that things of this nature were understood to be between the seminarian and his spiritual director. In fact, the then-prevailing thought was (at least it was understood to be) that devotions as such were gifts giving by the Holy Ghost to each Christian. In other words, if you didn’t have a particular devotion, it probably wasn’t a devotion meant for you and that was apparently fine. And while I am sure someone with a much higher intellect like, say, a Fr. Ripperger, could expound upon that statement and parse its meaning in such a way that it might line up with a traditional Catholic understanding of charism, the statement itself is misleading. Devotion itself is a hallmark of the Catholic faith. More to the point, the devotional life must be fostered. How can anyone be expected to have any devotions at all if they are not taught, nourished, and fostered? I still remember my parents teaching me the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be as a four year-old child on our front porch one summer evening. Guess what three prayers are still my go-to for every moment in life? And that’s because the people I love and trust taught me to love and to trust in this manner.

But that’s how it was.

And for a long time after leaving the seminary I did not give it much thought. I knew what my own particular devotions were and I saw them as gifts from God. My dad taught me by example to go to mass every day. We had our family rosary. I have a strong devotion to St. Rita of Cascia. To each his own, I thought.

Then I began to meet some truly holy priests – mean who love their spiritual sons and daughters.

Statue of the Blessed Mother giving the rosary to St. Dominic, St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, San Francisco

Through the proliferation of materials online in videos of conferences and sermons and retreats and of course through exposure to traditional devotions and classics of spiritual reading, I was exposed to a kind of piety I had only rarely encountered before. I do not mean to imply that only traditional priests possess this piety at all as I do know some truly holy priests who have not yet discovered the great blessing of the ancient mass. But it became obvious to me that the priests of tradition had been formed differently certainly than I had been.

Then I came across the following from the New York Times from 1977. A mere decade after the close of the Council and the effects were clearly being seen in how priests were being trained. The article is about the seminary I would come to attend. For context, in 1977 the seminary was on a beautiful country estate. A few years later, due in part to dwindling numbers, the seminary moved to the main campus of the diocesan university. Then-rector Fr. Ed Ciuba, is quoted here breathlessly exuding his joy that men were no longer trained as they had been in the “dark ages”.

“To dramatize the change in preparing men for the priesthood, Father Ciuba cited two books, “Imitation of Christ,” which was used when the “rugged individuals” of the 1920’s and 1930’s were seminarians, and “Spiritual Renewal of the American Priesthood,” which is used today.

“Imitation of Christ” stressed “a very strong personal relationship with God,” Father Ciuba said, while the current text takes into account “how culture influences our spirituality, how the seminarian finds his relationship to God in and through his relationship to his fellow priests, his relationship to his friends and to lay people.”

“Mahwah Seminary Marks 50 Years, James Lynch, NYT, 1977”

Folks, if you want to know anything at all about many of the priests ordained from the 1970’s onward, just re-read that quote. Their formators decided it would be better for these young men that they develop social skills than develop a “very strong personal relationship with God”. And because God knows how to work even with these worst of intentions, some solid men still made it through. Perhaps they were reading one of these tiny copies of Imitation of Christ on the sly. They do, as mentioned, easily slip into one’s pocket.

I am happy to have been exposed to such devotion myself. I’m happy that kid told me to get a copy of Imitation of Christ. I’m happy my parish priests tend to the devotional life of our parish, for devotion is nothing more than an outward display of love, and love for God is the first commandment.

In the seminary, devotions were not taught. They were not nourished. They were not fostered.

Don’t even get me started on the optional once-weekly rosary. Not kidding in the least. Today, many years later, I have learned once again to carry my beads in my pocket at all times so that this symbol of my love for the Blessed Mother and her love for me is always on my person.

It’s almost as if this was all but one pillar in a larger plan to destroy the priesthood and then the Church radically transform the faith to make it more accessible to the modern world (and less in love with God).

Life with Sister: Tales from the Great Texas Blizzard & Blackout of ’21 – Part 7

It’s been, as the kids say, a minute.

I’m on a plane. I paid for the WiFi. I’m taking advantage of it and writing another installment. I think we left off with a priest showing up through a priest hole in my closet, like Narnia but in reverse. And without the goat-man.

We emerged into the dining room to find a folding table set up against the front window of the house. Our house faces north of that means anything. I never did tell you Fr.‘s name. And I cannot remember it now. We’ll call him Fr. Chad. Upon Fr.’s request my wife produced alter linens ala table cloths. But linens alone do not an altar make. “Fr.,” I asked, “I’m no expert but I sort of am but don’t you need like a chalice or some other things for mass?” At this moment Sister walked past me with a crate of “mass supplies”, set them down, and silently returned to a chair at the back of the room.

“I gotch-u, baby,” said Fr. with all the air and confidence of a 1970’s street pimp.

Yes, it was at this precise moment that I gave up and decided simply to go along with all that almighty God had planned for me. Clearly I have no clue.

“Introibo ad altare Dei.” *”I will go unto the altar of God.”

With these words, Fr. began the holy sacrifice of the mass. As he continued on through the Confiteor, I glanced beyond him and out the large picture window over the “altar”. The snow was now coming down heavily. It really was a beautiful sight. Reminded me so much of my childhood growing up in New Jersey. the only difference here is that elm and split leaf maples are swapped with crepe myrtles. But the fresh-fallen powder on the barren branches is still magnificent.I

I have always loved the snow. I think it has something to do with the peacefulness of it all. Even the noises of the atmosphere are dampened by a blanket of snow. Everything is almost silent when it falls. People can’t venture far past their streets. Families “huddle” together. And then there’s the child-like sense of wonder in me. As a kid, I loved seeing something fall from the sky that was so beautiful. As a man, I can’t help but think back to my boyhood and the true happiness I felt when we’d get a significant snowfall. Imagine if you will the combination of a picturesque scene out the window and the eternal, super-beautiful reality taking place just below it.

“Ite, missa est.” *”Go, the mass is over.”

We prayed the Leonine prayers, took a few moments to offer our thanks to God, and headed to the kitchen for lunch. Even Sister looked pious while kneeling to pray.

By now (after our meal) it was getting to be later in the afternoon. I stepped onto the porch to see how much had fallen. It was 12 degrees. I know this is Texas and the weather is schizophrenic but this is truly crazy. I noticed about six inches on the ground. The little kid in me got real giddy. I can’t help it. I’ve been in Texas almost a decade. We never see this. I went back inside to find that Fr. had vanished. I asked him to use the door but I think he went back through the priest hole. In fact I know he did due to the presence of a draft in my house. The re-pointing of hose bricks won’t be cheap. But Sister was at least still with us. And she had set up a board game at our kitchen counter.

We rounded out our afternoon in the typical fashion. We played Yahtzee and I shotgunned a gin and tonic. Sister played the oboe (did I neglect that detail?) and the children danced. It was “Flight of the Bumblebees”. Stupendous.

Home altar. Take that, Notre Dame!”

We all drifted off to sleep this peaceful night with no clue of what lie/lay/lain ahead of us. Yeah, I couldn’t figure the correct form. Whatevs, shuge.

In our next installment we enter the darkness. Hope you’re ready.

Life with Sister: Tales from the Great Texas Blizzard & Blackout of ’21 – Part 6

We did not stay awake for Sister. No, my own sister, my wife, and I all went to sleep around 1 AM after the following text exchange with Sister.

–Would love to stay up and watch Dallas but we’re all beat. Use the code “XXX-XXX” to turn off the alarm when you come in.
–I know your alarm code.

Sunday February 14, 2021

I rose extra early this morning. Part of me just wanted to be prepared for the snow and to assess whether or not I would actually be able to drive my sister to the airport or would have to call her an Uber. The other part of me, for there are only two parts and neither is very impressive, wanted to arrange the few Valentine’s surprises I had purchased for the family on our kitchen counter. I’ve been trying to be more attentive to little details. By this I mean I’ve been trying to shop for gifts and generally be better in the thoughtfulness department lately. Let’s face it. If anything ever happens to my wife, I’m screwed. Better get on board now with trying to copy her moves so it doesn’t resemble a complete disaster. So there was a large box of chocolates for her and smaller boxes for the kids, one for my niece who lives with us, one for my sister, one for Sister, and some Valentine’s cards I had picked up.

I had just finished placing the last of the heart-shaped cardboard containers on the counter when my sister emerged from her bedroom. “What’s the situation?” she asked. I explained that I had been listening to the weather reports and had been outside already. It was definitely going to be bad. Already the temperature was in the teens and there was a strange feeling in the air that one knows by heart if one grew up in a northern latitude. Snow was at the doorstep. I scheduled an Uber and told my sister of my regret that I couldn’t drive her personally to the airport. She understood but still it didn’t feel right. I always make it a point, ever since I could drive, to personally pick up and drop off my guests at the airport. For starters, we’ve always lived relatively close to a major airport. I joke that I like to be able to make a quick exit if the need arises. Even as a kid, though, I was always fascinated with airports. It’s the five year-old boy in me. Not to mention, this is my sister. She deserved to be seen off with a personal touch.

Just as I informed her that I had scheduled the Uber – two hours out – the familiar sound of giant, clanking, wooden beads came down the hall. “Why Sister,” I exclaimed. “Nice to see you among the land of the living.” “Coffee,” came her reply. “How was the conference?” I asked. “Stand out of my way please,” were the six words I was not expecting; yet they were said in an almost helpless way. “Long night?” I asked, forgetting for a moment that I had awoken at 2:15 AM to the sounds of a sub-woofer dropping the beat to “The Sign” by Ace of Base in my driveway. Life really is demanding without understanding. “Listen,” she said, “I just need a hit of the wakey juice and I’ll be good.” Then, turning toward my sister, “Oh hey! Glad you’re still here! We have so much to catch up on.” I explained to Sister that the other sister would be taking leave of us soon. Sister agreed that they must arrange a get-together in the near-future. “It will be so much fun,” she said as she slipped back into the sign language that had been absent from my life for the weekend. And to be honest, I’m not sure how both hands raised as if holding steins is the proper sign for any of that. “I just love the way you tell a story and I’m dying to hear more about the hoes.” In case anyone has forgotten, that’s a reference to the Irish dance moms from the previous installment. “Definitely have to meet up again and,” turning to me, “also I’ve arranged a priest to come and say mass in your house if that’s OK. He’ll be here in a couple of hours. Figured it was the least I could do since I think all the local masses are canceled due to the storm rolling in.”

Well that was a surprise indeed! I wondered who this collared man of mystery would be. Someone I know? A priest from a religious order? Maybe a Carthusian! Maybe a bishop in disguise!! My morning had just gotten very interesting. I took a shower and got changed and then stood on the front porch. In those 30 minutes I was grooming, mostly trimming my beard, the flakes had materialized. And now there was a solid half-inch of packed snow on the road. The untreated road. The road that would not reveal its pavement for another week. Good bye, road. It was nice to see you. I stood there waiting for that Uber. In fact I had the app open and watched as the clock counted down for me.

Your Uber will arrive in five minutes.

It gave me similar messages for the next four minutes. And then… Nothing. The app went blank as though I had never scheduled a thing. Well that’s not good, I thought to myself. Let’s try just ordering one and see what happens. And… Nope. There’s the problem. There were absolutely zero Ubers on the road. It’s odd because so many of my fellow Texans own four wheel drive pick up trucks. Someone ought to be making a killing in this weather. But here we were. Looks like I would have to drive my sister after all. We checked one more time that her flight hadn’t been canceled, she said goodbye to my wife and kids, did some weird “up high, down low” high five with Sister, and we took off.

The airport terminals are fifteen minutes from my front door.

The drive took us an hour. It was bad out there. Slow going doesn’t begin to describe it. White knuckle driving is a bit more accurate. “I’m gonna’ need a Xanax” driving is probably best. I walked my sister into the terminal and discovered that she would be on the last flight out of this place today (and indeed for several days). We said our good bye’s and she slipped past security. As a parting gift, when we rebooked her flight, my wife put her in first class. As I walked away from the terminal I texted her.

If you don’t take that airline for all the free cocktails you can manage in a three hour flight, I will personally strangle you.

Another hour later and I was slowly skidding my way back into the driveway. Sister was on my front porch smoking a Camel. I know, right? She stamped it out as I approached. “I didn’t know you smoke,” I said with an impish grin. “I don’t,” said Sister as serious as a heart attack. “Fr. will be here soon. I hope you don’t mind but he only says the Traditional Latin Mass.” “Don’t mind at all, Sister. That’s what we go to,” I said. “Also there are some quirks,” replied Sister. As she said this she raised both hands in front of her face and flung out all ten fingers like they were glitter or confetti or something. As she did this, she literally said, albeit in a whisper, “Poof.”

Snow. In Texas.

I noticed my daughter had made biscuits and gravy and they were warming on the stove. I can’t turn down good Southern cooking so I fixed myself a plate. Sister slapped the fork out of my hand just as it was about to enter my mouth. “Fr. will be here SOON,” she said excitedly. In my hunger I had almost forgotten about the pre-Communion fast. Then again, “soon” doesn’t specify a time and since he was coming to my house to say mass I figured he might be able to delay the start of the mass until we were all good and ready. “Also, wouldn’t we need to have time to set up an altar, chairs, an entire chapel,” I wondered? Reading my thoughts, Sister said calmly, “Fr. does all that. Do not worry.” Nevertheless I felt it incumbent to get changed into my suit. It matters not whether it’s at home (which is very rare) or in a gothic cathedral. Sunday mass is a cause for dressing up for the Lord. I walked into my bedroom and toward my closet. Opening the closet door I just about had a heart attack. A slightly-built man in a long black cassock and a biretta to match was just emerging from the other side. I’ve learned not to ask anymore. About anything. Ever. And it’s also good I had already disarmed myself when I walked in the door from the airport.

“You must be Father?” I said half stating the obvious and half out of genuine curiosity. The answer, the words that came back at me… I have a beautiful voice. I’ve long been told I should do voiceover acting. I’ve done some radio spots. I love to read to people. I sang in a choir. This voice? If Barry White and Perry Como had somehow spliced their genes, they couldn’t have made a more perfect voice. Deep, relaxing to the point of inducing torpor, spellbinding. And that voice said simple, “Yes.” So the obvious next question was “Why the closet when we have a front door, Father?” To this my closet cleric said simply, “These are dangerous times. Sister gave me a coded map. I followed it. It led to that opening over there.” He said this as he pointed to the daylight pouring in from behind my linen suits (for Summer). I walked over to inspect. Sliding the suits over on the bar I could see clearly what was taking place. “Father,” I asked somewhat hesitating, “Did Sister create a medieval ‘priest hole’ on the back wall of my house?” I completely ignored the questions of how she got in there and cut through plaster and brick as quickly as she had. By the way, kudos to her. The small 3’X3′ square was cut with such precision as to be easily placed back without any notice. And this is what Father and I did promptly. You know, because it was snowing and it was also a load bearing wall.

On our way out of the bedroom (I never did get changed into my suit) Father and I talked briefly. “What are these ‘dangerous times’ of which you speak?” Father, who appeared in the light to be somewhere between 40 and 85 years-old, leaned in close. “Masks,” he whispered. “I don’t wear one and the people who seek me out don’t either.” “So let me get this straight, Father,” I asked. “You’ve made a cottage industry catering to Traditional Catholics who wish to remain maskless?” “Oh my son, it’s more than that.” He had better be closer to 85 if he’s calling me “my son”. Father paused briefly before adding, “But mostly that, yeah.”

And that seems like a good place to leave off for now. Come back for part 7 where the Hill of Calvary and Elizabethan England somehow merge in my dining room in Texas.

Where Was I?

Oh yes…

I think I was last writing about some existential crisis in my life or other. OK, you got me. It’s been a long time since I wrote anything on this page. Here’s the story in a nutshell for those who still follow…

In the past year I quit my job as a vice principal. Yes, it’s the same one I bitched about wanting for years. I did it because I wanted to teach my own kids and because COVID. I started another blog and a YouTube channel. Did that go anywhere? That’s a big fat NO but not for lack of trying. You see, just as things were heating up we had a death in the family. One of my brothers-in-law, a man who will forever be remembered by those who knew him for his extraordinary kindness, died three weeks ago after a long illness. Forgive me for taking some time off. Also, did I mention COVID? I think the last few times I posted on this page I was detailing how I had finally gotten in really good shape after years of struggling with my weight and lack of athleticism. COVID hurts. I think I had it at one point early on but who can say? But what I can say is that about a year ago I stopped doing anything physical and completely let my diet go to hell. I’m blaming COVID Try to stop me.

In a nutshell, I am now a homeschooling dad with a failing YouTube presence and a gut exceeding the size of the state of Montana. But as anyone who knows me can tell you, I do eventually get back up, get back on the proverbial horse, and strive to achieve some semblance of “not-suck” in my life.

A few days ago, following Thanksgiving and my 43rd birthday, I decided it was time to try something new. Or something old, who can really say? Back to writing? Perhaps. A renewed interest in my media presence? Possibly. Trying to shed 20 pounds of excess fat and get a few of my once-visible abs to pop again? BINGO!

Long time readers will remember a character I introduced years ago known simply as “the Trainer”. Trainer is a friend of mine who is the envy of every man half his age. He’s now 40 years-old and still in phenomenal shape. As he touts with the excitement and nervous embarrassment of a five year-old boy, “I have ab veins,” whatever they are (and don’t tell me you haven’t Googled that one.). He’ll hate me for writing this but it’s true and he should shut up and take the compliment. He is a very holy and very humble man who trains his body not for vanity’s sake but because it is a temple of the Holy Ghost. And boy is he good at it. He runs like a demon out of hell. He does all kinds of body weight exercises because he can. He’s inspiring. I am not him and have finally realized in the past few years that I never will be him. But I realized that I am me and with some determination I can be a pretty good me. Two years ago I started taking my fitness and health seriously and by one year ago I had gotten into the absolute best shape of my life. This was in part inspired by the Trainer. After years of hearing his words I finally understood them. He wanted me to forge my own path and discover the secrets of training for myself. I’m happy to say, that thanks to his inspiration, I essentially did just that. It’s never been a competition but if I had to compare I think I may have given him a run for his money (said with a wink). I was in my early 40’s and pretty well defined, conditioned, doing things I’d never dreamed of doing. And then I let it go. But it’s not as if I am an extremely insecure man who’s always doubted whether anyone actually loves me and you can all stop laughing now.

So who did I turn to when I wanted to get back in condition? You guessed it. Last week I reached out to the trainer the day after my birthday and asked him if he could write up a program for me to get back in relatively good condition. I was straight with him. I said I was really concerned mostly about good health and overall conditioning, not necessarily my physique, although I understood that if I followed any decent plan I would achieve that as well. And he showed up at my door the next night with a plan. Unfortunately that plan was heavy on the one thing that he knows I have hated doing since he first tried to train me years ago – running. Aside from the fact that I have to quit smoking, I just hate running. But I committed to it and I keep my commitments.

Last night I worked through Day 1 of his reconditioning plan. I died. This is my essence typing this post. It’s pretty on the other side and I thought that years or bitchy sneakiness about ALL my neighbors would have merited a more fiery afterlife. Tonight I texted him to let him know I was sticking with it, despite my recent death. Do you know that he texted back he was on his way to run it through with me? As in, no joke, he came over and did my workout with me! He is a good man and I appreciate his presence.

Tonight I found that I didn’t cough up a lung. It was still hard as hell but anything worth doing is. I wonder if he gets that part of why I want to do this – especially now that he’s involved – is to impress him. I really want to show him that I admire his dedication so much that I want to do well for his sake – so he can look and say, “I did this to this corpse of a man. I turned him into something resembling me.” That’s not a bad thing. And I hope he sees my admiration and affinity for him for what they are. He is dedicated. He is strong. He is in good condition and that didn’t happen by accident. And I hope to be that too.

In 9 weeks I’m supposed to be able to complete a “Murph Challenge” which is a one mile run followed by 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 squats, and another mile run. This guy thinks I can do it. Until last night I hadn’t run in four years and haven’t done a single pull up in at least a year. The push ups and squats were fine. It was humiliating to demonstrate these facts to him tonight but I showed him I wouldn’t give up. I’m grateful he thinks I can do it even if he did chastise me for having difficulty with the 1/4 mile sprint. Look I already died last night so it couldn’t possibly happen again, right?

Tomorrow it’s on for three sets of the same. I hope and pray it really does get easier. If not I’ll be completing this Murph from another realm.

Bottom line: I love this guy. He’s always been willing to lend his own time and experience trying to get the unseemly of this world like me to be more seemly. Prayers for increased lung capacity are always appreciated.

Image

Date Night

Tonight my wife and I head out for our first date night of the new decade. We’re going to see a movie called A Hidden Life about the anti-Nazi martyr Blessed Franz Jagerstatter. If you’re wondering who that is you clearly don’t remember when yours truly dressed as Bl. Franz for a Halloween party five years ago…

Joining the Army

I have far too much respect for the men and women of our armed forces to make this post comical (too much). Instead, I’ll keep it short and to the point.

“Suffer the Little Children”, stained glass window, Our Lady of Good Counsel, Newark, NJ

At the school where I work we have an army of sorts. You may have heard the term “prayer warrior”. It seems to me I hear that term quite often, especially here in Texas where every cashier at every convenience store finishes your sale by wishing you a “blessed day”. Basically a prayer warrior is one who is frequently called upon (usually as part of a larger group of such warriors) to pray for the specific needs of others in the group. Even my parish – a Catholic church that only offers the traditional Latin mass – routinely sends texts to my phone beginning with the phrase “Prayer Warriors, please pray for…” I myself have used the phrase in other places on this blog when requesting specific prayers from you my readers. Note how I did not say “both of you” at the end of that sentence.

This school-based army of which I speak is committed to one thing, namely praying for the success of our school. We call it the “Memorare Army” because we ask that each “soldier” pray three Memorares daily for one year with this intention in mind. My mother taught me this beautiful prayer when I was young. As I got older – by the way, I noticed I’m not keeping this short – as I got older and went through some particularly trying times; she asked me to pray the Memorare every day. “The Blessed Mother will protect you,” she told me, “if you honor her daily.” I have kept that promise. In fact, I’ve added to it. A few years ago I had occasion to be in the presence of a group of Missionaries of Charity. Apparently not interested in my stellar conversation skills, they began to pray. “Sister, did you hear about that new express lane they’re building on 183?” Sister (looking at me with a stare somewhere between wishing death upon me and mild befuddlement): “We pray now. Remember O Most Gracious Virgin Mary…” This prayer they repeated for a total of ten times. I am told Mother Teresa herself taught them to pray ten Memorares whenever they had free time. Nine of these are in petition (like a novena) and the tenth is in thanksgiving. Mother was always certain that God would grant her requests.

Flagg used his own face for the face of Uncle Sam. Who knew?

So I started praying ten Memorares.

Then my boss asked if I would join the Memorare Army. So I tacked on three more. I reached out to family and friends to ask them to join as well.

My enterprising youngest sister – a homeschooling mom of six – agreed to my three (for a total of 24 daily Memorares from her, her husband, and the kids) with a catch.

“You will, of course, prayer FOUR Memorares daily for my school.”

Of course.

So yours truly is up to seventeen Memorares daily.

I don’t write all of this to proudly proclaim my prayer habits. That would be the opposite of humility which, as we know, is something I must work on (see yesterday’s post). I write this to tell you that 1) it’s pretty easy to find short periods of time throughout your day to pray, 2) it’s never a bad idea to honor the Blessed Mother, 3) my sister is a conniving trickster, and 4) I want you, as J. M. Flagg’s famous poster proclaims, to join us. I’ll even go one further and throw in three more for the intentions of all my readers. Seventeen is such a boring number anyway. Why not make it twenty?

So friends, you’ve got your marching orders. The enemy is legion (literally). We can surely rely on the prayers of each of our brothers in arms. My sister will always get what she wants.