The Benedict Option Without Benedict

The Technologically Backward and Cold Romans

“Saint Benedict did not peacefully live out his life in the wilderness detached from society. He never did write off decadent Rome.”

Many conservatives are facing the brutal reality of a culture that undermines their Faith and destroys their values. Not a few have made the logical comparison to the Christians facing both the Roman Empire’s decadent “establishment” and the ruthlessly aggressive ways of the barbarians who threatened to destroy what remained of civilization.

And so, the tendency of modern Christians is to write off today’s establishment and neo-barbarians. Our decadent establishment has facilitated the culture of death by supporting abortion laws and other modern evils. Today’s wired neo-barbarians in their turn have departed from Christian norms and adopted aggressive attitudes and lifestyles that threaten our own, which can be especially seen from the constant attacks on the traditional family.

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That is why many say the only thing to be done is to admit defeat and strategically retreat into close-knit communities in which they might intensify their Christian Faith. Writer Rod Dreher has called such retreats the Benedict Option since it seems to imitate the strategy of Saint Benedict of Nursia who in the sixth century withdrew to live an intensely liturgical life in isolated communities far from both decadent Rome and raging barbarians.

It is true that Saint Benedict did gather together monks and established a rule centered on the liturgy. As the founder of Western monasticism, he laid the foundation of Christendom. But if there was someone who did not exercise the Benedict Option, it was Saint Benedict himself.

Saint Benedict did not peacefully live out his life in the wilderness detached from society. He never did write off decadent Rome.

It must be admitted that in the beginning, he did try to flee civilization. He became a hermit and gradually attracted followers from which he established small monasteries in the rocky and inaccessible valley of Subiaco.

Saint Benedict learned the hard way that he could not isolate himself from the decadent culture, which would not leave him alone. The horrors from which he fled followed him to the isolated valley. Some of his monks rebelled and tried to poison him. A group of impure women entered to tempt the monks. Saint Benedict exercised another option and returned to civilization.

He soon established his main monastery in Monte Cassino, which was on one of the great highways to southern Italy. This brought the place into frequent communication with the outside pagan world. Saint Benedict confronted and actively engaged the culture. In fact, he himself overthrew the idols in the region and converted the population to the Faith. He built Monte Cassino on the site of a pagan temple, and composed there his famous Rule to govern his communities.

His monasteries not only defied the dominant decadent culture but actually became centers of influence and culture themselves wherever they were established. Even in Benedict’s time, the monks established schools for the poor, developed agriculture and preached to the people. At the same time, however, Benedictine monasteries, including Monte Cassino, never lived happily ever after in peace since they had to ward off the constant attacks of barbarians and adversaries.

The lessons we can learn from this are many.

The first is that there is nothing wrong with living in a rural area or developing an intense spiritual life. Vibrant and faith-filled families and communities are much needed in the fight against our decadent culture.

However, the focus of our actions should be outward not just inward. All these measures should be seen as means toward securing the goal of our salvation and the building of a culture that facilitates, not conspires against, our sanctification.

The second lesson is that we cannot escape from our decadent culture. Like Saint Benedict, evil influences will always come looking for us. We must always defend ourselves against the evils of the day, resigned to the fact that good Christians will never be left in peace. The best defense is a well-planned offense.

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

Finally, we need the “neo-barbarians” that so persecute us. Many fervent Christians today are those who were once “neo-barbarians” in the sense that they formerly embraced the culture of death. They saw the futility of our postmodernity and enthusiastically entered the Faith. Indeed, the Church never wrote off “barbarians” but went out in search of them. We should do the same. It is in the clash of the cultures that we can expect the conversion of many of them and the strengthening of our own Faith.

We can thank God that Saint Benedict did not exercise the so-called Benedict Option. Had he done so, history could well have been different.

As seen on cnsnews.com

 

God and the Double BBQ Sandwich

God and the Double BBQ SandwichIt is no secret that America is polarized. This is a fact that is manifested in so many different ways. Traveling down the highway to Chicago, for example, I came upon two successive billboards that I thought were striking examples of our divided culture.

The first billboard caught me by surprise: it consisted of an electrocardiogram of a heart that suddenly stops beating. The caption read: When you die, you will meet God.

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As we were passing through the snowy night, I was unable to catch more details of this billboard. I do not know who put it out or what I was expected to do. It really did not matter because for a brief moment I thought about what the Catholic Church calls the “Four Last Things” – Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Think of these things, Scriptures says, and you will not be lost eternally. The simple phrase served to trigger in me a gentle yet fleeting reflection upon the meaning of life. I am sure I was not the only one to make this quick reflection.


The billboard is clearly polarizing since it is directed toward that strong vein inside the American public that is turned toward things religious, spiritual and eternal. It is a sector of the American public that lives amid the fast, superficial and materialistic aspects of our pop culture yet is not entirely comfortable with them. These Americans are drawn by God, family, honor and country. On the other hand, this billboard would not appeal to other Americans who would tend to disparage the message as backward and unenlightened.

BBQ_sandwichThe second billboard came immediately afterwards and struck me by how contrary it was to the former. It consisted of a massive BBQ sandwich with the caption: Happiness is a double BBQ sandwich.

There is nothing wrong with a double BBQ sandwich or even deriving pleasure from eating one. However, the message behind this billboard is clearly materialistic yet more subtly polarizing. There is no invitation to profound reflection. Rather there is the quick insinuation that happiness can be easily bought by obtaining the immediate object of our desires. In this case, gratification equals happiness. According to the same logic, life should be a long succession of gratifications.

This billboard represents a second, more commercial, vein found in America that I call in the book, Return to Order, the perception of the nation as a co-op. This perspective holds that individuals unite themselves together in society as a means to facilitate each one’s inebriating pursuit of happiness.

How Do We Return to OrderUnder this view, an appreciation of America is tied to its ability to make everything fun and everyone happy. Like a co-op, those who hold this position expect returns on their social union in the form of constant and instant gratification. Happiness consists of participating in the excitement of a party economy that they hope will keep on going.

Of course, we cannot generalize and say that all Americans fit neatly into one category or the other. Sometimes the two can be found in differing proportions inside the same person. Other times, the same person might gravitate toward one or later the other. We might also observe collective swings of the national mood towards one or the other category.

As our crisis deepens, this fascinating interplay of perspectives, this dramatic clash of mentalities becomes the material for a great debate now taking place in America over our future. This discussion is found everywhere—even on highway billboards.

There are many categories that people have used to characterize the nation’s polarization. There is red and blue, conservative and liberal, or retro and metro. Perhaps it is the case to add yet another: God and the double BBQ sandwich.

 

Pro-Life Ladies Offer Alternative to Feminist ‘Day Without Women’ Strike

Pro-Life Ladies Offer Alternative to Feminist 'Day Without Women' Strike

Hundreds of small groups of pro-life ladies are gearing up to celebrate the purity and goodness of true womanhood on Wednesday, March 8th.

For Immediate Release

Contact: Maria Ritchie, 717-309-1990

SPRING GROVE, Penn., March 6, 2017

“The level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Lady Day started as an idea posted on the Catholic Lady Blog by Colette Zimmerman.

She wanted to offer pro-life women an alternative to the March 8th general strike called “A Day Without Women,” which urges women to stay home from work in support for radical causes like Planned Parenthood, abortion, and same-sex “marriage.”

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These are the same pro-abortion feminists who marched on Washington, D.C. in the shockingly vulgar March for Women.

Colette Zimmerman’s post went viral, and a national event was born. It’s called Lady Day.

Hundreds of small groups of pro-life ladies are gearing up to celebrate the purity and goodness of true womanhood on Wednesday, March 8th.

They plan to go to work in an especially ladylike manner, in elegant and modest dresses, to go out to tea with friends, and to do works of charity.

These inspirited ladies are rallying around the slogan: “Pure Goodness at Work.”

Moriah Webinger from Chardon, OH comments: “What a wonderful idea! I have 15 women already signed up for tea – it is a treat really! We are also informing the local paper too.”

“I want my daughters to be truly feminine; pure and good,” said Brenda Asso a mother of nine from Lancaster, PA. “Abortion! Never! Don’t even think about it. It’s contrary to our maternal instinct,” she said.

Marie Sallinger from Lafayette, LA says the idea of celebrating true womanhood is “inspired.” She adds: “I understand the evils of feminism and want to do something about it. I have many good Christian lady friends. And I’m so happy to celebrate this day as a lady.”

The prayers and the participation of hundreds of women in Lady Day aim to celebrate true womanhood, which in turn, fosters higher moral standards in society and among children.

For more information on Lady Day celebrations, please visit:
www.returntoorder.org/2017/02/pure-goodness-work

For phone interviews call 717-309-1990.

Considerations on the Conversion of Saint Paul

As Saint Paul was struck off his horse, he was shaken by the turn of events when Our Lord asked him the question “Why persecutest thou Me?” In other words, open your eyes! Examine your conscience!

Realize the fact that you are doing something which, if you make an upright examination of conscience, you will find that it is wrong.

Our Lord’s question was reminiscent of one Our Lord Himself asked the man who hit Him during His Passion:
“If I have spoken evil, give testimony of the evil; but if well, why strikest thou Me?”

 

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In fact, Saint Paul gave no answer to Him because he had none to give. He simply responded: “Who art Thou,Lord?” And he said “Lord” right away because he sensed Who it really was. Our Lord answered: “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”

By saying “Whom thou persecutest,” Our Lord made clear Who He is. He was telling Saint Paul: See Who I am.See Who you are persecuting, and therefore measure how hideous your crime is.

After this, Our Lord adds a somewhat mysterious statement: “It is hard for thee to kick against the goad.” The goad is the wind. He was saying that it is hard to oppose the wind. In this case, the wind is the blowing wind of grace that for a while had been calling Paul to conversion, but he resisted it. The context at least leads to this hypothesis.

Saint Paul answered in his own radical way. He wasted no time. He saw that he was wrong and placed himself at the service of God. He asked: “Lord, what wilt Thou have me do?” The Acts of the Apostles say that he was trembling and astonished as he asked the question. In other words, the blow had hit home. He was disoriented and afraid. He was shaken as he went through a short ordeal of a few minutes which completely changed him and shook his soul. Our Lord then said to him: “Arise, and go into the city, and there it shall be told thee what thou must do.

Why did Our Lord not tell him what to do right away? The whole dialogue took place while Saint Paul was blinded and prostrated on the ground. He was told to arise and go to the city and find out what he must do. In other words, he must receive Our Lord’s orders slowly, subjecting himself with humility like a child who takes orders from his superior.

Our Lord was telling him: Go, therefore, groping and advancing step by step, to find out what I want, because I am your Lord and command you as a servant, who is under his Lord’s orders and can do nothing else.

Thus, Saint Paul did not know what God wanted of him. He did not even know if God might want him to remain blind for his whole life. He, the great Paul, the excellent and illustrious Pharisee, was now going to enter the city of Damascus like a child, led by the hand. In other words, it was the complete breakdown of his pride. The text of the Acts ends thus: “But they leading him by the hands, brought him to Damascus.”

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

In other words, he entered Damascus as a blind man. There he would be blind for a few days, until the scales would fall from his eyes.

The preceding text is taken from an informal lecture Professor Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira gave on January 24, 1966. It has been translated and adapted for publication without his revision. –Ed.

Sunday is a Day of Rest Isn’t It?

The Charm of the Medieval TownThere is the mistaken impression that for a modern economy to work efficiently, everything must be 24/7. Missing a beat is considered fatal to good business and economic productivity. All must be frenzied and hurried if one is to compete in today’s globalized economy.

Such assumptions go against the necessities of human nature. People are not machines. They need to stop and rest. If society is to return to some kind of order, people must be convinced that things can stop. Things should stop. Things must stop.

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This is not some wistful desire for simpler times of the past. Stopping can be done today and a good example is found in Germany. They call it “sonntagsruhe” which in German means “Sunday rest.” Germany, the world’s fourth largest economic power, stops on Sunday.

It should be emphasized that stopping on Sunday is not optional in Germany: one must stop on Sunday. The “sonntagsruhe” is not just casually staying away from work. Rather, the long-established custom keeps most shops closed and noise levels down. Even lawnmowers and leaf blowers must fall silent so that all might enjoy their rest. Loud music is restricted.  Heavy trucks are banned from the highways to prevent unnecessary noise – and give truckers a much needed break. The system is set up so that one has to stop and get some rest after an uber-efficient workweek.

The hard-working Germans on their part enjoy the weekly respite. It provides an opportunity for them to concentrate on unwinding, indulge in neighborly considerations or enjoy a good stein of beer. During their Sunday rest, Germans take to the outdoors, visit family and friends or (unfortunately, less frequently) attend church.


So enshrined is the national appetite for Sunday rest that repeated efforts by retailers and businesses to loosen the rules have ended up in failure. Some German states allow occasional Sunday openings for special shopping events and seasons, but most commercial Sunday activity is restricted by law… but also by choice, since the Sunday rest appears to enjoy widespread popular support. Such stopping has not jeopardized the national economy as Germany is the enviable economic powerhouse of Europe.

Of course, America is not Germany. While it can be admitted that most people still have Sunday off, it has become much more a day of shopping and activity than of rest or spiritual edification. Indeed, it was not too long ago that America had its own “Sunday rest.” Things simply shut down so people could be with their families. A few essential services stayed open, as they should. Back then, the seventh day was generally dedicated to God and those relationships that really matter.

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

The key to some kind of return to order is not to legislate some kind of “sonntagsruhe” upon the American populace. Rather it consists of understanding what happened that changed mentalities so drastically and then questioning the prevailing attitude.

Over the last decades, what went wrong was that a great agitation entered into the national psyche whereby people became impatient with anything that might impede their own gratification—sexual or otherwise. This led to the acceleration of the frenetic intemperance of modern times where everyone must have everything instantly—even on Sunday. In his book, 24/7, author Jonathan Crary calls it “the absoluteness of availability, and hence the ceaselessness of needs and their incitement.”

The result is an anything-anywhere-anytime economy where all can be had at the click of a mouse or the swipe of a card. It is a frustratingly frantic system, in which people forever want more, yet never feel fulfilled. Indeed, all might be had in such a world, but much has been lost.

What must be questioned is if this world where people are always connected to frenzy is desirable. Tethered as they are to their electronic devices, people no longer free themselves from the stressful demands of daily life that follow them everywhere. They no longer have or take the time to consider what Notre Dame Professor Brad Gregory calls those important “Life Questions” where the meaning and purpose of life are considered in silence and peace.

This same connected world keeps individuals disconnected from the necessary links to Subscribe to Return to Orderfamily, community and faith that keep a society in balance and support individuals in their journey through life. It favors a collection of extreme individualists who are terrifyingly alone together. It is no wonder that there is so much anxiety in modern society.

What needs to be done is to challenge the myths that say things cannot stop and a return to order is not possible. Things can stop and it is time to have the courage to challenge the frenzy. Indeed, today’s stressful 24/7 world is in dire need of a Sunday rest.

As seen on speronews.com

Where Did Lawyers Come From?

Where Did Lawyers Come From?

“In fact, they are the fruit of the organic development of law in Christian civilization.”

Lawyers did not always exist in history. In fact, they are the fruit of the organic development of law in Christian civilization. No other civilization proved capable of giving rise to a profession to deal with a systematized body of laws or legal principles.

Legal historian Harold Berman describes the situation well. He claims that before 1000 A.D., professional legal scholarship or textbooks on law did not exist. One could not find a class of trained lawyers to act as judges or advocates. Worst of all, there did not exist the concept of the need for a body of legal principles that would reconcile contradictory customs and laws.

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Anything that did exist at that time consisted of folk laws or “incomplete collections of specific customs, or specific rules, elliptical in character, without definitions of principles or concepts.” No nation at the time had a corps of people that specifically trained for the task of practicing law.



It was only Christian civilization, led by the Church, that a little later developed a legal system as something consciously articulated and systematized. If lawyers exist today, it is only because they developed as a profession in the Middle Ages.

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

Why We Stop for Christmas

“God manifested Himself to us in a marvelous manner.”

It is Christmas time, and the world stops for a brief moment. It does not stop long because there are too many important things to be done to waste on festive and unproductive folly. It can only be a short pause on Christmas day before the world must almost immediately return to the frenetic intemperance of the daily hustle and bustle. But this quick respite is enough to give a most necessary and calm reprieve of sanity, peace and order to our burdened souls.

Of course, the world does not stop willingly. It even tries to secure some advantage from this unnecessary break by making frantic attempts to commercialize and secularize the feast. Despite it all, the peace of Christmas somehow prevails.

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Stopping for Christmas challenges the modern world. To those enmeshed in our secular society, the birth of the Christ Child interrupts their lives with moral considerations that they would prefer not to consider. To practical atheists, Christmas is a curiosity that provokes painful memories of innocence long lost. Shallow Christians find the feast to be a sentimental time for some vague joy that they prefer not to make more profound. All these are somehow threatened by the date; yet all are forced, willing and unwilling, to stop to observe it.

However, faithful Christians everywhere are not threatened but strengthened by Christmas. We stop because Christmas reminds us that we are called to live in the presence of an Almighty God of infinite grandeur and majesty. This fact provokes in us a sense of wonder at the immense gulf between the Creator and His creatures.

Seeing our wonder and our desire to understand Him, God manifested Himself to us in a marvelous manner. He incites in us great aspirations or dreams for a better world to come. He bridged the gulf by presenting to us that which Catholic thinker Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira called the “most striking, indisputable, and audacious dream imaginable.”

That dream was the fact that the Word was made Flesh and dwelt amongst us. On Christmas night, we hear the antiphon that proclaims this daring reality: Puer natus est nobis, Et filius datus est nobis, “For a child is born to us, and a son is given to us.”(Is. 9:6)

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?

On that ineffable night when our Savior was born to Mary Ever Virgin, an immense impossibility became possible: the God-Man was born and revealed Himself to us. On that holy and silent night, one can sense the sweetness and perfection that emanated from the Divine Infant in the manger in Bethlehem. He who seemed so inaccessible suddenly became accessible to all, kings and shepherds. He who appears so weak became powerful enough to stop the whole world for centuries to come.

To honor the grandeur of that sublime moment, we must stop not just once but every year to marvel at this fact that only increases our wonder at this good God that gave to us His only Begotten Son.



However, there is yet a greater reason for us to stop and marvel. The Birth of Christ also signaled the coming of a Redeemer who, for love of us, would reestablish the link broken by our first parents. In that marvelous and joyful Birth, we find foreshadowed the sorrows of His Passion. We stop and adore He who was born so that we might be redeemed, saved and united with Him for all eternity.

Finally, we stop because Christmas means much more than just our personal salvation. Christ made possible a civilization we call Christian. From the poverty of the manger in Bethlehem, an immensely rich channel of grace was opened for us. From Heaven descended torrents of blessings, which paved the way for the most audacious dreams and the immense possibilities of a world centered on the sublime principles, virtues and teachings of the Gospel. In Christendom, it became possible to practice the Commandments and evangelical counsels, inside an order that the pagan world then judged (and today’s neo-pagan nightmare still judges) impossible.

That is why everyone stops for Christmas. The powerful image of the Christ Child still has the capacity of capturing the modern imagination if only for a brief moment, amidst a world of sin and distractions. During the blessed season, the grace of God still reaches out and draws all men of good will toward Him despite so much rejection.

Others stop for the wrong reasons. Sadly, some atheists or rationalists stop merely to smirk at such considerations. They do not realize that, by limiting themselves to their sterile musings, they embrace the narrow vision of a soulless and pragmatic world, bereft of wonder.

But for those of us who celebrate a Merry Christmas (and not unhappy holidays), we stop at this time every year to recreate a marvelous wonder world visibly expressed by decorated trees, Nativity scenes and joyous caroling that reflect this joyful reality of Christ’s coming. More importantly, we gather inside our souls the peace of the Christ Child that calls us to return to order by realigning ourselves to live in function of a world created by God, turned toward God, and where God shows Himself actively intervening out of love for us.

Those Who Claim Christianity Harms Society Are Wrong!

What the State Should Be—the Protector of the General Order

“the beneficent action of Christianity upon society”

So many liberals claim that Christianity is backward and harmful to the general welfare of society and the State. Such “modern” ideas are woeful wrong and outdated.

The Church has faced such accusations from the very beginning of Her existence. One of the best replies to this empty claim comes from Saint Augustine. He magnificently describes the beneficent action of Christianity upon society in the following way:

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“Let those who say that the teachings of Christ are harmful to the State find armies with soldiers who live up to the standards of the teachings of Jesus. Let them provide governors, husbands and wives, parents and children, masters and servants, kings, judges, taxpayers and tax collectors who can compare to those who take Christian teachings to heart. Then let them dare to say that such teaching is contrary to the welfare of the State! Indeed, under no circumstances can they fail to realize that this teaching is the greatest safeguard of the State when faithfully observed.” (“Epist. 138 ad Marcellinum,” [Chap. 2, no. 15]) in Opera Omnia, vol. 2, in J.P. Migne, Patrologia Latina, col. 532). (American TFP translation.)

What Does Saint Thomas Say About Immigration?


Christmas Novena

Christmas Novena banner
Christmas Novena Opening Prayer

(To be recited each day)

Hail, and blessed be the hour and moment

In which the Son of God was born

Of the most pure Virgin Mary

At midnight, in Bethlehem

In piercing cold.

In that hour, vouchsafe I beseech Thee, O my God,

To hear my prayers and grant my petitions

Through the merits of Jesus Christ and of His most blessed Mother. Amen.

(Mention your intentions here)

 

 

Day 1
Christmas Novena Day 1
Prayer: O Great Son of God, you have become man in order to make yourself loved by men. But where is the love that men give you in return? You have given your life blood to save our souls.

Why then are we so hard-hearted, repaying your love with our ingratitude? More than others, I have myself ill-treated you in this manner, Lord.

But your Passion is my hope. For the sake of that love which led you to take upon yourself our human nature and to die for me on the cross, forgive me all the offenses I have committed against you.

I love you, O Word Incarnate. I love you, O infinite goodness. Contrite and repentant, out of love for you, I could die of grief for these offenses. Give me, O Jesus, your love. Let me no longer live in ungrateful forgetfulness of the love you bear me. I wish to love you always. Grant that I may always persevere in this holy desire.

O Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, pray for me that your Son may give me the grace to love Him always. Amen.

 

Day 2
Christmas Novena Day 2
Prayer: O Dearest Infant! Tell me, what have you come on earth to do? Tell me, whom do you seek? Yes, I already know. You have come to die for me, to save me from hell. You have come seeking me, your lost sheep, so that, instead of fleeing from you, my gentle shepherd, I may rest in the protection of loving arms. O my Jesus, my treasure, my life, my love and my all!  Whom will I love, if not you?  Where can I find a father, a friend, a spouse more loving and more lovable than yourself?

I love you, O my God; I love you, my only good.  I regret the many years when I have not loved you as I ought, but rather spurned and offended you. Forgive me, O my beloved Redeemer; I am heartedly sorry for having treated you so coldly.

Pardon me, and give me the grace never more to withdraw from you, but constantly to love you in all the years that still lie before me in this life.  My love, I give myself entirely to you; accept me, and do not reject me as I deserve.

O Mary, my advocate, by your prayers you can obtain whatever you will from your Son. Beseech Him, then, to forgive me, and to grant me holy perseverance until death. Amen.

 

Day 3
Christmas Novena Day 3
Prayer: O Dear Infant Jesus, would I have been so ungrateful and offended you so often, if I had realized how much you have suffered for me? But these tears which you shed, this poverty which you embrace for love of me, fill me with the hope that you will pardon all the offenses I have committed against you.

My Jesus, I am sorry for having so often turned my back on you. But now I love you above all else. “My God and my all!” From this moment forward, O my God, you shall be my only treasure and my only good. With Saint Ignatius of Loyola I will say to you, “Give me the grace to love you; that is enough for me.” I long for nothing else; I want nothing else. You alone are enough for me, my Jesus, my life, my love.

O Mary, my Mother, obtain for me the grace that I may always love Jesus and always be loved by Him. Amen.

 

Day 4
Christmas Novena Day 4
Prayer: O Dearest Savior, you have embraced so many outrages for love of me, yet I am incapable of bearing a single insult without immediately being filled with resentful thoughts, I who have so often deserved to be trodden underfoot by the demons in hell! I am ashamed to appear before you, sinful and proud as I am. Yet, do not drive me from your presence, O Lord, even though that is what I deserve. You have said that you will not spurn a contrite and humbled heart. I am sorry for the offenses I have committed against you. Forgive me, O Jesus. I will not offend you again.

For love of me you have borne so many injuries; for love of you, I will bear all the injuries that are done to me. I love you, Jesus, who were despised for love of me. I love you above every other good. Give me the grace to love you always and to bear every insult for love of you.

O Mary, recommend me to your Son; pray to Jesus for me. Amen.

 

Day 5
Christmas Novena Day 5
Prayer: O Jesus, my sweet Love! I too have caused you to suffer during your life. Tell me, then, what I must do in order to win your forgiveness. I am ready to do all you ask of me. I am truly sorry, O sovereign Good, for all the offenses I have committed against you. I love you more than myself, or at least I feel a great desire to love you. Since it is you who have given me this desire, do you also give me the strength to love you exceedingly.

It is only right that I, who have offended you so much, should love you very much. Always remind me of the love you have borne me, so that my soul may ever burn with love of you and long to please you alone. O God of love, I, who was once a slave of hell, now give myself entirely to you. Graciously accept me and bind me to yourself with the bonds of your love. My Jesus, from this day and forever, I shall live loving you, and, in loving you, will I die.

O Mary, my Mother and my hope, help me to love your dear God and mine. This is the only favor I ask of you, and through you I hope to receive it. Amen.

 

Day 6
Christmas Novena Day 6
Prayer: O my Dear Redeemer! Where would I now be, if you had not borne with me so patiently, but had called me from this life while I was in the state of sin?

Since you have waited for me till now, forgive me quickly, O my Jesus, before death finds me still guilty of so many offenses that I have committed against you. I am so sorry for having despised you, my sovereign Good that I could die of grief. But you cannot abandon a soul that seeks you.

If hitherto I have forsaken you, I now seek you and love you. Yes, my God, I love you above all else; I love you more than myself.

Help me, Lord, to love Thee during the rest of my life. I seek nothing else of you. But this I beg of you, this I hope to receive from you.

Mary, my hope, pray for me. If you pray for me, I am sure of obtaining this grace. Amen.

 

Day 7
Christmas Novena Day 7
Prayer: Dear Infant Jesus, crying so bitterly! How much reason you have to weep in seeing yourself persecuted by men whom you have loved so much. I, too, O God, have persecuted you by my sins. But you know that now I love you more than myself, and that nothing pains me more than the thought that I have so often spurned you, my sovereign Good.

Forgive me, O Jesus, and let me bear you with me in my heart, during the remainder of my life’s journey, so that together with you, I may enter into eternity. How often have I driven you from my soul by my sins. But now I love you above all things, and more than all other misfortunes, I regret that I have offended you. I wish to leave you no more, my beloved Lord. But give me the strength to resist temptation. Never permit me to be separated from you again.  Let me rather die than ever again lose your good grace.

O Mary, my hope, obtain that I may always live in God’s love and then die in loving Him. Amen.

 

Day 8
Christmas Novena Day 8
Prayer: O Jesus, my Savior! When I consider how, for love of me, you spent thirty years of your life hidden and unknown in a poor workshop, how can I desire the pleasures, honors and riches of this world? Gladly do I renounce them, one and all, since I wish to be your companion on this earth, poor as you were, mortified and humble as you were, so that I may hope to be able one day to enjoy your companionship in heaven. What are all the treasures and kingdoms of this world? O Jesus, you are my only treasure, my only Good!

I keenly regret the many times in the past when I spurned your friendship in order to satisfy my foolish whims. I am sorry for them with all my heart. For the future I would rather lose my life a thousand times than lose your grace by sin. I desire never to offend you again, but always to love you. Help me to remain faithful to you until death.

O Mary, the sure refuge of sinners, you are my hope. Amen.

 

Day 9
Christmas Novena Day 9
Prayer: O Adorable Infant Jesus! I should not have the boldness to cast myself at your feet, if I did not know that you yourself invite me to draw near. It is I who by my sins have made you shed so many tears in the stable of Bethlehem. But since you have come on earth to pardon repentant sinners, forgive me also, now that I am heartily sorry for having spurned you, my Savior and my God, who are so good and who have loved me so much.

This blessed night, during which you bestow great graces on so many souls, grant your heavenly consolation to this poor soul of mine. All that I ask of you is the grace to love you always, from this day forward, with all my heart. Set me all on fire with your holy love. I love Thee, O my God, who became a Babe for love of me. Never let me cease loving you ever more.

O Mary, Mother of Jesus and my Mother, you can obtain everything from your Son by your prayers. This is the only favor I ask of you: pray to Jesus for me. Amen.

 

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Did God Give America a Great Reprieve?

Did God Give America a Great Reprieve?To those Americans concerned about the moral state of the nation, the immediate reaction to the November 8 elections was one of enormous relief. It was as if a colossal amount of pressure was suddenly released. There was the thrill of something entirely unexpected. People were overjoyed beyond words.

Adding to the intense drama, there was the sensation that a great danger was taken from our path. We had averted a dead-end situation for which there were no human solutions. We were somehow saved from a terrible calamity that had seemed so imminent.

Two main elements contributed to this perception of inevitable disaster. The first was that so much was at stake—the Supreme Court, anti-abortion laws, socialist big government programs, massive regulations and even the specter of persecution for the Faith. The candidate that represented all these things enjoyed all the prestige of the media and the favor of the pollsters. The foreboding of a sinister outcome could not have been greater.

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The second element was the lack of a moral solution proportional to the level of the crisis. Moral conservatives were faced with a candidate that was universally acknowledged as flawed and many considered as merely the lesser of two evils. This was an election of desperation not enthusiasm because the alternative was just too awful to fathom. Significant sectors of the electorate, however, did not feel they could unite around a candidate that did not share many of their values.

And then it happened. A startled electorate watched the results come in and saw the numbers slowly shift in their favor with a sweep of the White House, both houses of Congress, and a record number of state houses.

Analysts are still scrambling to explain the unexpected results of the elections. They point to abstract categories like the blue-collar vote, the white vote or the Catholic vote. For them, all elections are number games and media shows. They believe the outcome depends on who plays the game best and spends the most.

There was, however, another factor outside the game that should not be underestimated. In the face of an impending disaster, many Americans did something that they do not often do in political situations like these. They prayed.

Prayer is not something that can be measured by polls or political observers. And since it cannot be quantified, those without faith treat them as something quaint and childish hardly worthy of consideration. But in an election where all the rules of the game were broken, there is no reason to rule out the influence of prayer. The fact is many Americans did pray in the weeks and days leading up to that fateful November day when the course of the nation was decided.

Not only did they pray, but it appears they prayed hard. All across America, there were prayer vigils, rosaries, novenas and benediction services that were mentioned on social media or announced in church bulletins. Some fasted for the nation. Thousands gathered and prayed in the public square. Others simply poured out their souls to God in almost biblical manner asking for His aid in their moments of affliction. And as is common with such prayers, there was an implicit promise that if we were delivered from this trial, we would turn back to God.

Of course, to suggest that this prayer might have had something to do with the final results of an election is anathema. None dare whisper it for it is so politically incorrect.

But in this election that broke all the rules, why not break one more rule and shout it about? The fact is countless Americans who woke up on the morning of November 9 after the election sensed their prayers had been answered beyond all expectations. They sensed unexplainable Christian joy and hope in seeing a calamity had been averted. They were convinced in the depths of their souls that God had heard their prayers. They were energized by the results, and are determined to turn back to God.

This is not to say that God endorsed the winning candidate (he lost the popular vote) only that He heard the cries of those who were afflicted and found a way to deliver them from a catastrophic future. The victory may have been due much more to those who called it forth with their prayers than the efforts of its flawed victor.

God also did not grant total victory. However, many feel He has given America a great reprieve, a second chance, to get it right with Him.

If we have been given this reprieve, then we should use it to turn back to God. We should keep our part of the bargain and turn back to Him and His law. There is no time to be complacent or delve into purely economic solutions that sidestep the moral crisis in America. The fervent prayers must continue. Above all, we must also make sure our elected officials follow through on their promises of a platform that puts God first and thus will truly make America great.

Indeed, we have a little time, a short reprieve. We would do well to use this time wisely. This election has shown what can be done. If we uphold God’s law, we can count on Him to break all the rules.