Regnum Christi

Kerrie Rivard

3 Lenten Sacrifices I’m Not Stopping

Lent is a traditional time of making sacrifices in order to shed attachments to the world and come closer to Christ.  The paradox of the cross, however, can reveal that what seemed to be a sacrifice is actually a gift.  This is true of my experience with three sacrifices I have made during lent over the past several years which have become sources of joy and companions on my journey into the celebration of the Resurrection.

 

1. Sacrificing negative thoughts and being offended

 

As a sanguine-choleric personality type, I don’t naturally tend toward the negative. However, the world wears on all of us.  Just before Lent I happened upon a video by Fr. Mike Schmitz of Ascension Presents:

Our culture incessantly demands that we take offense and rage against something or someone.  This wears all of us down, even those born with rose-colored glasses.  The angst of the culture can seep into our own relationships, making us overly sensitive to people in our lives and suspicious of the intentions of those around us, whether or not they meant to offend us.  Examining myself, I saw this at times in subtle ways that I reacted to my spouse, to other people, and even to myself. 

 

So for lent, I gave up being offended and harbouring negative thoughts about anyone.  In the first few days, when I caught that sneaky irritation rising up in my thoughts, I immediately stopped it and simply told myself (literally in these words… but silently;-)) ” Nope. I gave up being offended for Lent.  I gave up negative thoughts. I am dropping this at the cross. It’s Jesus’ problem.”

 

It was incredibly liberating.  Sometimes I almost felt a physical relief, like letting go of something that was suffocating me so I could breathe again.  Whatever was offending me was in God’s hands. It became his problem, not mine, and I was free to choose to love and be happy.

 

Was this simplistic and naive?  I don’t think so.  It’s not that I didn’t recognize problems, and some of them were BIG problems… but instead of letting them generate bitterness and resentment, I exercised the discipline of releasing them to God’s loving care.  For me, it was an experience of being child-like.  And now that it’s Easter, I don’t want to grow up and grow out of that.

 

2. Sacrificing the use of my cell phone when I am with other people

 

The first time I really noticed how cell phones isolate us was during a papal audience in St Peter’s Square a few years back. I had the gift of being there among thousands of enthusiastic Catholics on a warm sunny morning as the Holy Father rode through the crowds in the pope-mobile.  Everyone had their phones outstretched, and as he rode past them, literally a few feet away, their eyes were on their phones and the pictures they were getting, instead of on the pope himself.  Pope Francis was practically the only person who was truly present to those around him in that moment, with no screen as a barrier between those he was greeting and himself.

 

Over the next few years, I’d notice this in other places.  The line at the grocery store.  The subway.  My kids’ soccer games.  Even my own kitchen. 

 

This lent I decided I would no longer let my cell phone take my attention away from the people who were physically in front of me.   I resolved not to use my phone when I was in the presence of other people that I could be paying attention to.  As soon as I made the resolution I learned what an addictive habit I had.  The urge to check texts, email and social media at the first hint of downtime was really strong.  I also became more aware of people using their phones in front of me and how it made me feel (good thing for lenten resolution #1… see above).  Even if I was only around people I didn’t know, the black hole of my iPhone was still sucking my connection with the world around me into a digital void. 

 

When I put my phone away, I noticed more details about the people around me. I smiled at them more, I anticipated their needs better, and I discovered things I would have missed if I wasn’t paying attention.

 

Since Christ used Lent to break this chain, I’m going to stay free, and continue to enjoy the real world and my present company!

 

3. Slowing down and sacrificing the need to rush

 

This is a sacrifice that was given to me, not one I chose.  Several years ago, as Lent began I had to have a surgical procedure done – nothing serious or life-threatening, but something that needed to be attended to. I had never had surgery before, and my doctor told me that I would need a six-week recovery. I think I actually laughed out loud when she said this.  I mean, I have 6 kids, an international student from China, a full-time job, and a crazy Goldendoodle at home (Chester- as in Chesterton).  I told my doctor I was sure I’d bounce back well, and took 3 weeks off work instead.  I should have known what was behind the little smile she responded with, but again, good thing for lenten sacrifice #1….

 

The surgery went well, but I reacted badly to the anesthesia and pain medications- getting really sick.  This kept me in the hospital for a longer stretch, and in bed at home when I had expected to be back up and out.  I slowed down–a lot. Thanks to friends who helped with meals and teenage children who helped with driving and grocery shopping, Paul and I were able to keep life moving, but it was slower.

 

For the first couple of weeks, I was frustrated. I realized 3 weeks off work wasn’t going to cut it; I ended up being out just over a month.  The more I tried to speed things up, the more tired I got.  When I felt a surge of energy and used it to do something crazy like go grocery shopping, I was laid up for the next 2 days.

 

As time went on, I got the picture. God wanted me to slow down.  And he wanted me to slow down peacefully, not with bitterness and frustration.  It was a really big adjustment for me.  I realized how much of my energy I had been putting into doing more in less time, so I would have more time to do even more. 

 

When I accepted the need to slow down, I was pretty sure things were going to fall apart at the seams.  They didn’t.  I learned that though I could usually do things quite well at the pace I had been used to, when I slowed down, when I paused, I made space for God to act in ways that my rushing had prevented before. 

 

I had feared that slowing down would mean I was doing less for Christ in my life, but I realized that some of the people I know who have the greatest impact on others, who share their faith most generously, and who transmit Christ’s love most gracefully, do so at a calm and peaceful pace.  They are about being more than they are about doing, and that ‘being’ changes the world around them.  My slower lenten pace gave me the chance to correct my speed of living, and focus more on being present in the moment.  It’s a bit like the way I have experienced latin cultures, putting time at the service of living instead of shoving living into efficient and effective increments of time. 

 

All three of these sacrifices were transformed into gifts, but they require me to be diligent in not going back to my old habits.  I’m up for that challenge.  I’m also very grateful for a lent that is going to continue to bear fruit and help me grow and live in Christ’s love in new ways, resurrected through his transformative power.

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The Confidence of Being Catholic

The Confidence of Being Catholic

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” Mt 7:24-27 

 

How do we build our lives on the rock instead of the shifting sands of the culture around us?  How do we keep our compass straight in a world where “north” is declared “south” and even truths and teachings of the Church are skewed to fit peoples’ pet projects? 

 

Msgr. Romano Guardini, the great twentieth century theologian, mentor to Pope Benedict XVI and prolific writer, prophetically summarized the danger of being lost in the modern world while he wrote about the importance of forming and living by a Catholic world view. If we don’t, he says, “We find ourselves, first of all, with a tendency to consider the world—that is, the context of what can be immediately experienced—as the entirety of what is real and relevant, and proceed, exclusively from this presupposition, to respond to the problems of life” 

 

Politics, terrorism, gender ideology, the economy, the media, jobs, decay of the family, school, work challenges, depression, ADHD, aging parents, addiction, failing health, technology and an ever-changing world with threats that reach us from thousands of miles away with one click.  Not to mention the ever present media and the 24 hour news cycle. New agendas, marketing and cultural shifts pressure us daily to adjust our living and thinking. To live based in responses to these things is very much building a house on shifting sands.

 

Instead, all of these screaming realities that demand our reaction and fragment our peace become context instead of foundation when we choose to see the world through Christ’s eyes. They are properly seen as events and elements of our world that we can respond to wisely, instead of letting them reign as the domineering drivers of our thoughts, actions and reactions.

 

The antidote to modern frenetic group-think is to take a pause, know Christ and learn to see through his eyes, to shape ourselves with an integral Catholic formation and to act from that as our solid rock, as a simple, peaceful and strong sign of contradiction in this domineering culture. This is a Catholic worldview. 

 

Guardini rooted all of this in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament as the healing and blessed experience of Christ where “… things fall into true perspective. Vision sharpens. Much that troubles us rights itself.” 

 

He brought that experience of prayer and closeness to Our Lord into concrete life by insisting on the sacredness of human beings even in the midst of their annoying or even catastrophic cruelties to each other.  That means the person who disagrees with you on Facebook, the adolescent obsessed with how many likes their picture got, the politician who threatens all you hold dear, the spouse who irritates, the neighbor who annoys, the person who disappoints you and the expectations you have of them. 

 

The view we have of them, our thoughts towards them and our course of action stem from this reality instead of from a transient response to something they have done- positive or negative. 

 

This doesn’t make life easy. But it makes it peaceful. Our world is not perfect. It won’t be perfect. But it must be redeemed. Redemption can be in fact, a more beautiful perfection than something that looks the way we wanted it to from the very beginning.  That’s the mystery of the cross. That’s the source of mercy. And redemption happens one person at a time.

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3 Steps to Discerning your Mission in Life

Whether they know it or not, everyone around us is discerning the will of God in their lives.  Some may confuse it with seeking pleasure and accomplishment, but they are really looking for fulfillment – to accomplish what they were created for.

 

 

Even if we have already found our primary vocation and state in life, we continue to seek the way we are called to live God’s will on a daily basis.  We are constantly asking Christ to show us how he calls us to serve him and others as a gift of self — our mission.

 

 

How do we find our mission and live it? Here are 3 simple signs that point to the God-given mission Our Lord has for you.

 

 

Step 1 “What is the greatest path of love for you?”

 

 

 “At last I have found my vocation. In the heart of the Church, I will be Love!” -St Thérèse de Liseux

 

St. Thérèse de Liseux’s discovery of her vocation and mission proclaims the vocation and mission of all of us. We are all called to be apostles, and finding your mission as an apostle is synonymous with finding the way that Jesus calls you to love.

 

 

“For you were called for freedom, brothers. But do not use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh; rather, serve one another through love.” -Galatians 5:13

 

Love is not about following your desires or warm and fuzzy feelings.  To love is to the will the good of the other.  So discovering your mission is not so much seeking answers in what makes you feel good and fulfilled. You find it in asking what way you can best concretely give of yourself for the most good of others? That is your call to love. That is your God-given mission.  Bishop Robert Barron explains your mission as the answer to the question, “What is the greatest path of love for you?”

 

 

Step 2: What makes the fruits of the Spirit flourish in you?

 

Maybe step one narrows it down a bit for you, but still leaves you with a list of possibilities.  Look at what your skills and gifts are.  Then take a look at what you do to love others – your actions that will (and do) the most for their good — that brings out the fruits of the Holy Spirit in you.

 

 

“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” -Galatians 5: 22-23

 

Among these, pay particular attention to the gifts of joy and peace.  What gives you a deep joy and an abiding sense of peace?  This is different from superficial fun, happiness, accomplishment, or pride.  A “deep joy” shares deep joy with others through your mission.

 

 

“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep joy and the world’s deep hunger meet” – Frederick Buechner

 

Step 3: Live a perpetual discernment

 

This set of guidelines applies not only to discerning your vocation and apostolic work but also to seeking and living the will of God day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

 

 

What is my greatest path of love this morning?  In this meeting? In this task? In this relationship? In this conversation? Learn to live in a constant state of discerning the mission of love before you, and you’ll find you are allowing God to love through you and bring you along on the adventure he has wanted to share with you from the moment he created you.

 

 

If you are a young woman who is interested in discernment, click the button below!

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Love and Lent

Love and Lent

Ash Wednesday falls on Valentine’s Day this year. While many couples have decided to celebrate their love by going out for a romantic dinner earlier, over the past weekend, or on Mardi Gras, there is another solution sweeping social media:

 

 

love and lent

 

 

For those who are more inclined to ‘marry’ the two events which share the calendar, and are willing to look a little more deeply at what our human love relationships and the beginning of lent have in common, the vistas are broader than it first seems.

 

Marriage, and other relationships based on real love are made of more than just candlelight, gourmet dinners, and chocolate.  Lent is about more than fasting.  Both are rooted in a love that is willing, in fact, committed, to self-sacrifice for the beloved.

 

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

– John 13:15

What if, this Valentine’s Day, and this Lent, we looked past what we are giving up by fasting and abstinence, and instead, took the plunge to love our beloved as Christ loves us.  A little less steak and chocolate, a lot more patience and forgiveness.  Less presents, more presence.  Giving less jewels but more joy.

 

“There is no greater love within a marriage and a family than for the spouses and children to lay down their lives for one another. This is the heart of the vocation of marriage, the heart of the call to become holy”  -USCCB, Pastoral letter: Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan

40 days of laying down our lives in love for Christ and for our beloved here on earth… 40 days of learning to love like God desires us to.

 

“If a person really loves another, that is, really desires the total good of the other person, then such a person is committed by the very nature of love to give of himself or of herself for the sake, the good, of that other person. Giving of oneself involves sacrifice; it means that I make the other person a priority; it demands dying to self in order to live for the other.” -Bishop of Arlington, Paul Loverde

What if we took this lent, beginning on Ash Wednesday/Valentines’ Day to recommit to our vocation- our path to holiness, our marriages, and relationships, in seeking the good of others with love, even when it costs us?

 

What if, by bringing the two days together, God is asking us to love more, and to love more like He does?  If part of the lay vocation is to sanctify the secular world, then this only makes sense. We have a magnificent opportunity this Wednesday- to reclaim human love to be in the image and likeness of God’s love for us.  It’s a chance to reset our selfish fantasies about love and reorder our expectations and commitments to be what they should be, a free and joyful self-giving for the good of the other.

 

“What some people love is not a person but the experience of being in love. The first is irreplaceable; the second is not.”  ― Fulton J. SheenThree to Get Married

What if we really took this radical plunge during Lent?  Perhaps we would understand better the depth of Christ’s love as the bridegroom for us as his bride?  Perhaps we would see God, the often overlooked “3rd person” in our marriages, more clearly?

 

“How can one love self without being selfish? How can one love others without losing self? The answer is: By loving both self and neighbor in God. It is His Love that makes us love both self and neighbor rightly.” ― Fulton J. SheenThree to Get Married

Perhaps our relationships would become richer and more precious to us, celebrated more deeply by loving sacrifice than by sharing steak and chocolates…

 

Speaking of chocolate (which is another of my loves) I recently had the double surprise of indulging not only in a delicious treat but in the strikingly wise poetry on the back of the wrapper… God is awesome in his generosity that way.

 

The full poem is:

 

Oh, No – Not E’en When First We Loved.

by Thomas Moore

 

Oh! no — not e’en when first we loved,
Wert thou as dear as now thou art;
Thy beauty then my senses moved,
But now thy virtues bind my heart.

 

What was but Passion’s sigh before,
Has since been turned to Reason’s vow;
And, though I then might love thee more,
Trust me, I love thee better now.

 

Although my heart in earlier youth
Might kindle with more wild desire,
Believe me, it has gained in truth
Much more than it has lost in fire.

 

The flame now warms my inmost core,
That then but sparkled o’er my brow;
And, though I seem’d to love thee more,
Yet, oh! I love thee better now.

 

This Ash Wednesday, and this whole Lent, let’s let God lead us and our marriages in a deeper and stronger love that discovers its true worth, and the depth of its fire and joy, in self-giving.  And, 40 days later, may we rejoice in the triumph of resurrection of Christ over death, and in our relationships as well.

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Sacred Ordinary Time

January comes and with it an end to the Christmas festivities.  The short days and cold temperatures begin to wear on us.  As we put away the Christmas decorations and settle in for a few more months of winter, the Church changes seasons, to ordinary time. The ordinary days of winter feel barren, boring, and a bit dreary. We instinctively look forward to spring, or plan getaways to sunny climates to escape the cold.  There doesn’t seem to be much to appreciate in the here and now.

 

If ordinary time is so inconsequential, why do we have so much of it in the Church?  Is it a placeholder between the more exciting seasons of our faith?  Or is it something more?

 

The drab days of January chafe against the grand new year’s resolutions we have just made. Our valient plans and virtuous ambitions are met with the monotonous routine of winter days that do not celebrate our good intentions, but rather seem to try to fold them into the flow of time that continues within our routines and daily duties.  January refuses to be our cheerleader, and we are left to fight against the current of daily life, or find a way to adjust our perspective so that we have a reality that is coherent with the world around us.

 

Ordinary time has a hiddenness to it.  Like the 30 years Jesus spent in ‘ordinary life,’ there is a value below the surface of the daily routine and cold winter days.  Ordinary time teaches us to find the sacred the God has woven into each moment of our lives instead of trying to fabricate it ourselves.

 

“If we wish to be united to God we should value all the operations of his grace, but we should cling only to the duties of the present moment. The duties of each moment are the shadows beneath which hides the divine operation.”  – Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Abandonment to Divine Providence

 

January is full of the duties of the present moment that begin before the sun rises.  The gift of winter is hidden in those moments.  It’s seeing God below the surface, before the dawn.  He comes to meet us in sacred ordinary time, and in those moments, we don’t go out to join him in celebrating the mysteries of his incarnation like we do in other liturgical seasons.  Instead, he comes into the dark and ordinary moments of our incarnation to reveal his presence in our realities, to share our lives with us.

 

In winter we learn to live the maxim of St. Theresa of Calcutta to do little things with great love, discovering Love himself who is in those little things.

 

“True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life.” -Pope St. John Paul II

 

The Gospel lives in the midst of our routines- in the midst of the life God gives us with all the duties and sometimes monotonous circumstances it presents.  Discovering Christ active in those moments unites us with him. In January we can, like Christ, rise before dawn to spend time with the Father.

 

We can examine our hearts to see if the soil he sows Himself in is rocky or thorny, and perhaps needs to be tended to welcome him more receptively.

We can let him heal through us by means of a smile at the office, a loving word to a child, an effort to ease someone else’s burden.

We can feed the 5000 (or however many children you have) with him, making grocery shopping, cooking and clean-up sacred, an imitation of the Gospel moment.

We can bear the insults and crosses that come with a burdened people, slugging through the winter, and respond with love and graciousness.

We can meet our friends who have wounds they would only show Christ through us, at the well (or over lunch or at the coffee shop) and offer them Him who will heal them and quench their soul’s thirst like the Samaritan woman.

We can follow Christ in casting our nets, whatever nets he gives us, and seeing the surprising bounty he brings through it.

We can wash the feet of those around us with Jesus, serving them in ways that honor their dignity and show them that they are loved.

 

In sacred ordinary time, the Gospel meets us in our lives.  Each moment, when we are docile to what God asks of us, becomes an encounter with Christ in which we live our day together with him. Sacred Ordinary time is an extraordinary gift. It’s a time to learn to listen to and follow the rhythm of the silent music of the Holy Spirit in our lives and to live the holiness of each moment joyfully, knowing Christ is here, living it with us.

 

To be a good dancer,
with you as with anyone else, it’s not necessary
That we know where it will lead.
We only need to follow,
To be cheerful,
To be light,
And above all not to be stiff.

We don’t have to ask you for explanations
About the steps that you choose to take.
We need to be like an extension of yourself,
Quick and alive,
And pick up the rhythm of the music through you.

We must not desire to push ahead at all costs,
But allow ourselves to be spun, to be moved to the side.
We have to know how to pause and slide, and not walk.
And the steps would be rather clumsy
If they were not in harmony with the music.
But we tend to forget the music of your spirit,
And we turn our life into a gymnastic exercise;
We forget that, in your arms, life is something to be danced,
That your Holy Will
Is inconceivably creative

And all monotony and boredom
Is left to the old souls
Who play the wallflower
In the joyful ball of your love.

Lord, ask us to dance.
We’re ready to dance this errand for you,
These accounts to do, this dinner to prepare, this vigil to keep-
When we would prefer to sleep.

We’re ready to dance for you the dance of work,
The dance of heat, and later the dance of cold.

If certain melodies are often played in the minor key, we won’t tell you
That they’re sad;
If others leave us a little breathless, we won’t tell you
That they knock the wind out of us.
And if other people bump into us, we’ll take it with a good laugh,
Knowing well that that’s the sort of thing that happens when you’re dancing.

– Servant of God Madeleine Delbrel, from “We, the Ordinary People of the Streets”

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The Day After Christmas

For Tonight You are Mine by Helen Thomas RobsonHe saw it all.

He didn’t miss a thing.

Hours and days of planning and working and lovingly reflecting on how to welcome the Christ Child in your family… how to bring smiles to faces and memories to little hearts… Christmas shopping, menus, grocery lists, and hours of cooking dishes hoped to bring celebration and connection among family and friends. Always with a deep love, sometimes with a little stress and fatigue, stealing the precious moments of silence and prayer you can during this busy time, resolving to keep your heart and home centered on Christ and his coming.

The day comes, we celebrate with Him, in Mass, in each other. We laugh, we serve, we give, we receive.

He sees it all. And he smiles with love, with gratitude. The peace-creating smile of an infant, the deep and eternal smile of God who became a baby so we would know what that Divine smile looks like on a flesh-and-blood human face.

He was there, enjoying the family, friends, food, and most of all, your heart which gave itself in love and service to Him. He was there, giving through you, serving through you, loving through you. And the joy, the memories you hoped for, he made happen, through you.

He was there, praying in you. Gazing at you gazing at him in your heart. Grateful for the warm cradle of your love to welcome him.

We celebrate in gratitude for the coming of the Christ Child, and the Giver of all gifts looks at us in gratitude for the gift of love we give Him.

It’s enough to humble us into holy silence, the silence of the day after Christmas, when we can sit quietly with Mary, and ponder in our heart the miracle of yesterday and what it means for today and tomorrow.

We look at him in prayer, on this quiet morning, and ask him for one more gift. In our hearts we know he is asking us for the very same gift.

‘Stay with me,’ we beg. ‘Stay with Me,’ he asks in return.

Cradling the Christ child in our hearts, holding him who holds us, all we can say is thank you, and look forward to the days and years ahead, together. Because of Christmas.

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The Nativity by Gari Melchers

Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas

Oh, how glossy marketing campaigns and commercialism have conditioned us to expect a certain perfection during the Christmas season… We anticipate perfect piety, perfect Christmas cookies, perfect parties, perfect family meals, perfect décor, perfect gifts, perfect smiles of surprise, and perfect family pictures… Anything else? Whatever it is, it better be perfect…


We are so immersed in this culture of marketing that in glancing at the Gospel telling of the first Christmas, it can seem like a completely different event. It’s worth taking more than just a glance.


In the first Christmas, we see joy and perfection in the midst of a mess.

We see Mary’s transition from being “greatly troubled” to giving her perfect yes. Her exclamation of “How can this be?” followed by her complete “fiat!” is the model for all of us at every age. No one ever feels ready to be a parent. No one is ever wholly sure that things are going to go ok in any major life change, or even in day-to-day events. But Mary said yes to the plan of God that she could neither see nor control, and we can too.


We also see Joseph’s pain and the decision to divorce Mary quietly until God intervened in a dream. Imagine Mary seeing Joseph’s broken heart and hoping against hope that he would believe and understand the truth. Imagine Joseph’s inability to reconcile Mary’s gentle perfection and the situation he was confronted with. Only God could make sense of it, but he let them experience the mess before showing them the truth. How often in our relationships we don’t understand each other and are wounded by stressful situations. Only God can heal and give clarity and meaning to them.


We see joy shared between Mary and Elizabeth and their children, and we see long and arduous journeys. We see Mary and Joseph with nowhere to stay as Christ is born, and yet in their poverty they offer a warm welcome to the shepherds and kings. We see the perfect family relegated to staying in a cold, dirty stable. Jesus entered the world — the beautiful world He created — in a dark and dirty environment. Stables at this time were often caves with feeding troughs, or mangers, carved into the rock walls. This was not the clean and ornate royal birthplace people would have expected for the Messiah. Jesus’ birth reminds us that God is not limited by our expectations, but our expectations can limit our understanding of his plan.


We see the joy of the Christ Child’s birth followed immediately by the need to escape Herod and flee to Egypt during the night. Imagine Joseph’s frustration at being unable to provide Mary with a clean, warm place to give birth, or a safe place for Jesus to rest, and see the difficulty of families living in poverty, unable to provide for the basic needs of their children.


No human being would have planned God’s birth this way. In the first Christmas we can find no superficial perfection, but so much messy, profound and unexpected beauty. The Gospel was apparently not written byHollywood or by commercial marketers. What we’re inundated with on TV, in the flyers that flood our inboxes and mailboxes and on the internet is fake news.


Real life, even the life of the Holy Family, is messy. If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance that right now some area of your house is strewn with toys, books, cheerios and the odd sock. Even more than that, in our relationships and circumstances, sometimes life just feels like one big mess. In those times, Christmas reminds us that God isn’t afraid of a mess — that’s where he creates unexpected beauty and joy. That’s where he comes to be born in us. He chose to show us through his own birth that there is joy in the mess, peace in the simplicity, and love in the confusion and pain of life. Hallmark can’t market those gifts.


So pray well, throw (and attend) great parties, make delicious cookies and meals, and celebrate with thoughtful gifts and lovely decorations, but don’t worry about perfection. Find and give the perfect joy, peace, and love that Christ makes present in the midst of us, whether life is messy or beautiful. At Christmas, it can be both, because God chooses to be present in that imperfect mix.

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Advent and the Art of Living Dangerously

Advent and the Art of Living Dangerously

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost

We have two roads to choose from in Advent.

 

The first is the safe road. It’s the most obvious; the cozy, comfortable, much-traveled road of busy Christmas preparation with just a touch (ok, maybe more) of fragmentation.  The roadmap is a checklist of ways we plan to make this the #BestAdventEver by accomplishing all of our goals and making our homes look Instagram worthy for the holidays ✨. 

 

Many of us have been traveling this road every December for our whole lives.  We’re used to it, we look forward to it and the many lovely things along its path, even though we are also slightly exhausted by it…and we also long for something more – or perhaps more accurately, for something ‘less.’  This time-worn and well-travelled road lets us chart out and accomplish our own comfortable spiritual and social plans and goals for advent- what we want to accomplish in our own souls and circles before December 25th, making ourselves the cartographers, navigators, and captains of our own journeys.  We may work hard on some important virtues, and try to keep our eyes on Christ and service to those he loves, but our focus is often a bit lost in the plans, checklists, and work we plunge into as we prepare for Christmas.

 

We also have the less traveled road, a dangerous road, an unknown but beautiful road, on which we abandon our well-laid plans and built in GPS, and simply follow Christ’s voice.  Our map is the liturgy of the Church, and Christ is the navigator who leads us along it’s paths, telling us in prayer where we must go.  We simply ask our Lord to guide us as he sees fit, to create in us a pure heart to welcome the Christ-Child, and then take one step at a time with him.  The chaos of the first road still exists on this path, but in a way that is more distant and muted because we are intensely focused on listening to the voice of the Shepherd leading us, not getting distracted by the flashing billboards along the way. It’s the Advent road of the prophets who for centuries waited for the Messiah and gave us those incredible ‘O Antiphons.’ We join them in their longing for our Savior, and like them, bravely invite God’s pure and burning light in our souls to illuminate us in ways that we can’t plan or control. We walk with the prophets and like them, experience both God’s extreme tenderness and his powerful purification.

 

This is the road that truly leads us to Christ in Advent, but it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because we are guaranteed to be challenged and purified on the journey, often in ways we wouldn’t choose for ourselves.

 

The love that descended to Bethlehem is not the easy sympathy of an avuncular God, but a burning fire whose light chases away every shadow floods every corner and turns midnight into noon.  This love reveals sin and overcomes it.  It conquers darkness with such forcefulness and intensity that it scatters the proud, humbles the mighty, feeds the hungry and send the rich away emptyhanded (Luke 1:51-53) –Watch for the Light, Plough publications, xvi

 

A dangerous advent is purifying, and filled with extraordinary love. God invites us to open ourselves to his light, to let him bare our hearts and souls, and heal the sin and wounds there.   If we desire him to scatter our pride, we must let him bring it to the light.  If we want him fill our poverty, we allow him to first take away what riches we hold in his place.  If we ask him to feed us, he will first make us hungry.

 

A dangerous Advent is uncomfortable, in a beautiful way that promises lasting joy. God draws us close to himself and changes us with his love.  He carves, purifies and prepares the “God-shaped hole in our hearts” to be filled completely by him in his nativity.

 

Seeing Mary’s Advent, we gain new insights into our blessed mother and watching her, we gain courage to live our own advent dangerously.  The handmaid of the Lord walked God’s path and not her own. She began her advent open to the light and will of God, not knowing what it would be.  She just said YES.  Her serene smile confounds our fearful self-sufficiency when we see that this peaceful mother went forward with courage and perfect trust even though she was afraid (Luke 1:29), and confused (Luke 1:34). She was young, pregnant, and on the verge of divorce as she walked in trusting darkness (Matthew 1:19), hoping in the promise of God.  About to give birth, God’s plan was still hidden from her. As they went from inn to inn during the cold night, looking for a place to welcome the Child, they discovered their Son’s deep humility in choosing to be born in a barn despite all of their efforts (Luke 2:7).

 

In our dangerous advent, the obstacles may be similar or different.  We may have difficulties with our marriages, our children, our temporal needs.  Or we may be pulled in many directions by circumstances that send us not on a road to Bethlehem, but to the grocery store, to kids activities and social events.  The important thing is to listen to the still small voice of God leading us at all moments.  If we live these circumstances and walk these roads like Mary did, we find the purpose of Christ in all of them. We find what he wants to change in us, we recognize the gaze of love he fixes on us in each moment, and we gain trust to say FIAT to the ways he wants us to serve and love others whom we find along our advent path. Mary lived an Advent of challenges and unknowns with unconquerable peace and brave love.  This allowed God to give His son a warm, welcoming heart that said yes to Him and not her own plans, and soft hands to hold him, empty of any attachments, simply ready to embrace the Christ Child.

 

He wants to do the same with us.  Are we ready to say yes? This advent, under the surface of all of the external preparations and celebrations, let’s ask God to give us the simplicity, courage, and trust to live advent in a real and dangerous way, the way Mary did. 

Pope St. John Paul II wrote that we are an Easter People, and ‘Alleluia!’ is our song. We are also an Advent people this December, and ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ is our song.

 

Could but thy soul, O man,
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.

-Angelus Silenius, 1657

Advent and the Art of Living Dangerously Read More »

Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: November 26 – December 3, 2023

THE WEEKLY DIGEST
OF REGNUM CHRISTI
DAILY MEDITATIONS

Sunday, November 26, 2023 -Sheep and Goats

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Matthew 25:31-46

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this chance to spend time with you in prayer. You are the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Mercy. I trust in your goodness and love. I love you and earnestly long to love you more each day.

 

Petition: Lord, help me to translate my faith in you into good deeds done for others.

 

  1. Judgment Day: All of our life is, in a sense, a preparation for the judgment we face at life’s end. That is when we go before Our Lord and give account for everything we have done or failed to do. No excuses will be accepted, no more “second chances” given. Jesus’ mercy doesn’t mean he ignores justice. “Mercy differs from justice, but is not in opposition to it,” wrote Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1980 encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy). Would I be ready to face the Lord this very day? If not, why not? What facet of my life do I need to change right now?

 

  1. The Sheep: The sheep to be saved are the people who helped others, who showed mercy, who didn’t turn a cold shoulder to someone in need. Our Lord doesn’t praise them for their many prayers so much as for their good deeds. Prayer is important, of course. But it’s not enough. Christ wants our love for him to be reflected in our love for others. Oddly, many of those to be saved will not have realized that it was really Christ they were helping. Do I see Christ in those who need help? Do I see Christ in my family members? My co-workers? The demanding boss? The unpopular classmate? The smelly beggar?

 

  1. The Goats: It’s scary to think that those who will be lost were not necessarily “bad people.” In this passage Our Lord doesn’t chide them for doing wicked things. He doesn’t accuse them of starting wars or peddling drugs or committing acts of terrorism. Rather, he faults them for the sin of omission, for things they didn’t do. “You gave me no food… You gave me no clothing.” We may think ourselves good Christians because we don’t cheat on our taxes or look at pornography or miss Mass on Sundays. But acts of charity are key, too. We should do these without neglecting the others.

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I don’t want to end up with the goats at the Last Judgment. That’s why I want to take my faith seriously. I want to have a generous heart. But do I limit my generosity? Why can’t I see you in my neighbor? You have loved me unconditionally. Help me to respond to your love by loving others unconditionally.

 

Resolution: Before noon, I will perform one small act of charity for someone close to me.

Monday, November 27, 2023 - The Richest Gift

Monday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:1-4

 

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have blessed me with life and with a vibrant faith. Thank you. I dedicate this time and prayer to you. I love you, and I offer you all that I am and all that I have with the desire of becoming a joyful gift to you.

 

Petition: Lord, teach me to share joyfully all that I have received!

 

  1. Some Wealthy People: Jesus sat before the temple treasury. What did Jesus see as he looked on? He saw more than we do. He saw the heart. Wealth tends to captivate us with desire and enslave us with concerns and worries. Jesus saw many hearts squeeze out just a couple drops of their abundant security, a gesture that was neither painful nor difficult. The act of fulfilling, or thinking they were fulfilling a duty to God, caused them to glow with self-satisfaction. Some were even bloated with pride for having given so much, and yet their act was empty of real self-giving. They gave with routine indifference. Their giving lacked love. What does Jesus see in my daily or weekly gifts? Do I generously give God my all when I see him on the altar? Do I generously give him my all when I am on my knees in prayer? Do I give him my all on my feet at work?

 

  1. A Poor Widow: Only Jesus could have seen that this widow was now reduced to total dependence on family or friends. She gave more because she gave herself with a heart full of surrender. Is there anything we can give God that he has not already given us? We can give God our trustful surrender. The poor widow gave to God with trust since she knew that he would continue to care for her. She had no other real desire but to be with him and be enriched by him. Her giving was serene and resigned, not despairing, but rather full of hope. She had the hope of one who knows deep down how much God loves her. How much do I trust and depend on him, particularly when other securities begin to disappear?

 

  1. Offering My Whole Life: Jesus shows the great importance of how we give—not only of what we give. What we have—our possessions and those, which in some way we have made our own—are not for us. We have them so that we might give them, and we should give them back to God, for they are his. We give them as an expression of our love for God. I give my life when I work diligently, practice charity, pray, or sacrifice for love of Christ. All these acts of love, if not made explicit before, are made into an intentional gift to Jesus, when I mentally place them upon the paten along with the hosts to be consecrated during the Offertory at Mass. Do I give him my whole life?

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, awaken me to all you are for me, and let me realize all that you have given me. May I never cease to thank you through my own self-giving. You are my living and constant invitation to be more generous, to give more often and with more love. Open my heart, Lord, to your work!

 

Resolution: In prayer, I will make a list of all that I can do for Jesus this week and offer this to him. Then, on Sunday during the Offertory, I will mentally place before him on the paten all the sacrifices I have made during the week—my real gift to him, given with faith and love.

 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 - Why so Glum?

Tuesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:5-11

 

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this special time I have with you. It’s one of the few calm moments of the day. Your presence reassures me that I don’t have to endure the trials of the day alone. You are my strength and my peace. I wish to abide in your love.

 

Petition: Jesus, help me to keep hoping despite the crises in my life.

 

  1. Temple of Doom: For the Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem was the center of religious and cultural life. It contained the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. The people were proud of the Temple, but Jesus warns them that the day will arrive when it will be destroyed (as indeed it was, in A.D. 70). Yet the end of the Temple will not be the end of religion. Jesus himself will remain with us, as he does to this day, in the Eucharist. Likewise, no matter what else passes away—our house, our office, our school—Christ remains. Does that belief fill me with confidence?

 

  1. Be Not Deceived: Jesus doesn’t directly answer the question about when the Temple will be destroyed. Rather, he tries to get his listeners to focus on what is really important: their faith. Our Lord warns them not to listen to the wrong people. Throughout the course of a normal day, to whom do we listen? Whose voices are on our radios, our TV sets? Who really has our ear day by day? Worldly talk-show hosts? The news media’s “instant experts”? Hollywood stars? Jesus cautions us that the people we listen to might affect the quality of our lives—and the quality of our eternity. Do I judge carefully, then, the voices I listen to?

 

  1. Do Not Be Terrified: Terrorist attacks, wars, abortion, euthanasia, natural disasters—is the world a nicer place today than in Jesus’ time? Our Lord was no stranger to bad news. He knew about the tower in Siloam that killed 18 people (cf. Lk 13:4)—and he knew what awaited him on Good Friday. Yet he always remained hopeful and encouraged the best in people. As his followers, we too must be witnesses to hope. We need to brighten the lives of those around us. More importantly, we need to remind others that God will win in the end. “Good, not evil, has the last word,” Pope Saint John Paul II told the general audience of Oct. 17, 2001, “God triumphs over the hostile powers, even when they seem great and invincible.”

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know in my mind that you will win in the end. If only my heart would believe that, too! Grant me this grace. Grant that my life will show that kind of optimism at every moment.

 

Resolution: I will make a small sacrifice or offer up a special prayer for someone suffering today.

 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 - Costly Catholicism

Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:12-19

 

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires, and actions.

 

Petition: Lord, help me face the difficulties of practicing my faith day-to-day.

 

  1. Persecution: Opposition from the world is the price we pay for following Christ. No pain, no gain. Why should that surprise us? If living the Gospel were easy, all the world would be saints. But the Gospel is demanding. It rubs against our fallen human nature. It demands of us—and even makes us unpopular. Why? Because people who do good are a thorny reminder to those who don’t. It shouldn’t surprise us that the neighbors look down on us for having so many kids. Or that the guys in the dorm snicker at us for living chastely. Or that the boss overlooks us for a promotion because we wouldn’t donate to that pro-abortion group last Christmas during the company fund drive. Do I realize that to be a Christian is to be persecuted?

 

  1. No Defense: When Christ tells us not to prepare our defense, he’s not telling us to sit back and do nothing. Rather, he wants us to use our talents for the Kingdom. Christ is inviting us to trust that ultimately the victory of good over evil belongs to him. God has his time and place for everything. In the meantime, we are called to build the Kingdom wherever we can—in our families, our offices, our schools, our communities. How am I building the Kingdom in the areas around me?

 

  1. Wisdom from Above: “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking…” When we stay close to Christ in prayer and deed, he takes over our lives little by little. And that’s good. Our selfishness fades. Our heart grows. We die to ourselves. “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). But we have to ask ourselves: Do we really believe in the Gospel? Do we believe in it enough to use Christ’s words when we have to respond to the nonbelievers around us? How often do we identify ourselves as Catholic in public?

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know it’s not easy to be seen as your friend. People laugh at us—if they don’t feel sorry for us. They don’t understand where we are coming from. Help me understand some of the loneliness you must have felt when you went against the world’s standards. Help me be faithful to you regardless of the cost.

 

Resolution: In conversation or in an email or text I will use a line of Christ’s wisdom from the Gospel.

 

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - A Decisive Response

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Matthew 4:18-22

 

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have called me to follow you more closely today. I trust that in this prayer, you will help me see the concrete implications of following your will. I love you and want to respond to all that you ask of me, today and always. Thank you for watching over me and guiding me home to heaven.

 

Petition: Make me a fisher of men, here and now, Lord!

 

  1. As Jesus Walked By: One summer afternoon a priest just happened to be in the area and visited my home. Within three years, two of my brothers and I were following Christ on the road to the priesthood. Jesus didn’t just happen to walk by these two pairs of brothers! He had every intention of inviting those brothers to become “fishers of men.” How much happens in my life, prepared and intended by God, to help me follow him more closely? And all I see is an accident, a coincidence? Ask him when was the last time he just happened by.

 

  1. At Once They Followed Him: Jesus never calls someone when it’s perfectly convenient, when that person has nothing better to do. No, he calls precisely when we are in the middle of living our life, doing what we do best, what we do most, “casting or mending our nets.” “What a losing formula!” we are tempted to conclude. Yet what is it he really wants of us when he calls? He wants a response—a reply of love. Love is all about preference and priority. If I love him more than myself, I can follow him “at once.” If I prefer him over my own activities and life, I can follow him “immediately.” What is the response of love I am giving or want to give Jesus today in my life?

 

  1. They Left Something Behind: God created us with free will. He wants us to choose our actions, but he is not indifferent to what we choose. Every choice implies the rejection of other options. We cannot follow someone somewhere without leaving something and someone else behind. Peter and Andrew left their nets behind. James and John left their boat and their father behind. This was possible only with Jesus before them. Yet we, too, often try to follow Christ without leaving things and others behind: the world, comforts, my preferences… We think that we can have it all. We can’t. We are in danger of “taming our faith,” bending to the demands of our passions and the world’s insistence. Love requires a choice, a choice for the real, complete Jesus. It asks me to reject everything in me that is not him. How wholehearted is my following of Christ?

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you have called me and continue to call me throughout this day. Help me to respond with love, a love that trumps all my other loves, likes, and desires. I don’t want you to have to wait for me, Lord. Just show me what you want and give me the courage and generosity to give it to you, no matter the cost.

 

Resolution: I will give up something today that diminishes the attention that I give to my spouse, family, or friends.

Friday, December 1, 2023 - The Kingdom is Near

Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:29-33

 

Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

 

Petition: Thy Kingdom come, both now and forever!

 

  1. See for Yourselves: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is responding to the disciples’ anxious plea for a “when” and a “with what warning” the end will come (Lk 21:7). He tells them some signs that will precede the imminent fall of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man “on the clouds.” But these will all be very apparent, like the coming of summer. So, don’t be obsessed with figuring out the “when.” Focus on living and knowing the Kingdom of God now. How easily we are distracted with all that happens around us, yet how difficult it is to be aware of the Kingdom and its demands in my heart and my relations to others in my life! What efforts do I make to discover and to know the present demands of his Kingdom in my life?

 

  1. The Kingdom of God Will Come: Jesus has used many images to describe the Kingdom of God. Like the mustard seed, it is hard to recognize at first. It begins small and grows slowly. But it will come, and this must be our daily prayer of desire: “Thy Kingdom Come!” We must resist a very real temptation. Almost unconsciously we want it to be a worldly Kingdom that will come during our lifetime. We work and pray as though we will soon arrive at our goals and rest from all our spiritual labors. This leads us to get easily discouraged at our lack of progress in prayer and virtue, no less than with the problems that surround us. No, we must live with hope, pushing forward with growing confidence that the Lord will bring his Kingdom to fulfillment, both in us and in the world—when the time is right. Whose kingdom am I seeking?

 

  1. My Words Will Not Pass Away: Another temptation in awaiting the Kingdom is to despair of the times of trial through which we must pass. But in the words of St. Theresa of Jesus, “all things pass,” only God remains. Nothing we suffer will remain as the Kingdom approaches. And yet all these “trials” are the most valuable and powerful means to bring about the Kingdom in our own souls and in the lives of others, especially in those who wander. Use the tools of the Kingdom: Suffer trials with faith and respond with a love that gives them an eternal value. May we never lose a moment in which to merit graces and to build the Kingdom that comes. In the end, only what we have done for God and for our brothers and sisters remains.

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me a greater faith and confidence that every cross and burden, no matter how trivial or small, is a means to love. I want to build your Kingdom with you. Keep me focused on the opportunities and demands of the present moment.

 

Resolution: I will make one small sacrifice at a meal today for someone I wish I could help more.

Saturday, December 2, 2023 - Ready or Not

Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:34-36

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

 

Petition: Rouse my heart, Lord, to live in you!

 

  1. Drowsy Hearts: Our life is a time of preparation, not only for an eternal friendship with God, but for the “assault” of the “tribulations” that must come first. The spiritual battle is real, whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we want it. We fight each day and in many ways, but the battle is ultimately won in the depths of our hearts. All that puts our hearts to sleep and gives us a false sense of security that must be avoided. I may not “carouse and get drunk” in the typical fashion, but do I wander about seeking satisfaction from the world? Am I superficial in my judgments? Do I become so engrossed and absorbed in material matters, works, and worries that I am unable to pursue my spiritual life and vocation with a clear and focused attention?

 

  1. That Day: It seems that none of us will escape the trial of that last day. For some it will be sudden and painful; for others it will be prolonged and difficult. But we are all mortal creatures. The great saints all lived with their end in mind. Death was a healthy meditation that moved them to live the present day to the full. Death is the door to my real life. The anticipation of that day need not rob us of joy; rather, it must call us to love. How I live this day determines how I will live “that day” and the everlasting day of eternal life with God. How do I want to live that day?

 

  1. Vigilance and Prayer: This is how Jesus invited his closest friends, the Apostles, to live “that day” of his Passion: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt 26:41). The final words of the Our Father must find resonance with how we live. Vigilance requires awareness not only of the enemies and threats that surround us, but also of the weaknesses within us. These elements are at work each day, and so we must be on guard each day to check their influence. This must be the simple and serene priority in our life. But it must always lead us to Christ, to stand before him sincerely and trustingly in prayer. Prayer and vigilance lead to each other. If we do not make prayer the air we breathe, we will suffocate in a polluted world. How much importance am I giving to my habits and life of prayer?

 

Conversation with Christ: Grant me, dear Jesus, a sense of urgency. Wake me up from any drowsiness or spiritual carelessness. Allow me to see both the threats and opportunities for my life of grace. Keep before my eyes the real meaning of my life and the limited time I have to conquer and to grow in love.

 

Resolution: I will pray today for the soul in purgatory who was most distracted or least prepared for “that day” of his death.

 

 

Sunday, December 3, 2023 - Always on the Watch

First Sunday of Advent

Mark 13:33-37

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I all too easily forget that you deserve the first spot in my life. In this moment, though, I recognize you as my King and Master. I know you are present with me now and that you wish to fill me with your grace. Thank you for your friendship; I offer my weak love in return. I love you, Lord, and wish you to reign in my life.

 

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to stay vigilant and attentive to your holy inspirations.

 

  1. “You Do Not Know When the Master of the House Will Come”: Lord Jesus, I am not the master of my life; you are. I therefore ought not to fritter away my time simply doing as I please. I will need to render you an account of my stewardship over my life, which really belongs to you, my Creator and Redeemer. What will you ask of me when you come for my soul? Do my daily actions demonstrate your ownership of my life?

 

  1. Keep Alert: Lord Jesus, this Gospel may sound a bit harsh, but I thank you for its message. You’re reminding me how important it is to live my Christian life in a state of healthy tension—a tension that doesn’t imply frustration or anxiety of any sort, but rather is a constant desire to draw closer to you and be more like you. Just as a lover is exquisitely attentive to fulfill the every desire of the beloved, I should be watchful for the least occasion to please you.

 

  1. When He Comes, Will I Be Asleep? This Gospel makes me reflect on my need to receive pardon in the sacrament of reconciliation. The definitive moment of my death, that very special face-to-face encounter with you, Lord, might come when I am not expecting it. I must be ready for that moment. I want to be able to look you fully in the eye. I have sought to please you in my actions, and when I have failed, I have turned to you through confession to be washed of my sins. I want to hear you say to me: “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Come, share your master’s joy” (Mt 25:23).

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to “stay awake” in my daily life, keeping heaven as my true goal in all that I do. Help me to be ready in every moment of my life to be called into your presence.

 

Resolution: I will set a regular time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation frequently, when possible.

 

Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: November 26 – December 3, 2023 Read More »

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!