It’s 11:45 p.m. on a Sunday night, and you just laid down to go to sleep. You had planned on going to bed before 10:00 p.m., but there were some things that came up that prevented you from following through on your plan. You’re exhausted and anxious because you have to get up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare for an important meeting that is scheduled for 8:00 a.m.
During the 1980s, I purchased several sets of cassette tapes of talks that had been given by the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. At the time, I had a small battery-operated cassette tape player that I used to listen to tapes while I was shaving and getting ready for work, while I was driving, and while I was getting ready for bed.
My wife and I were married in June 1980, which was a month after I finished my first year in law school. One of the weekly television shows that we watched together during the first year of our marriage was the prime-time soap opera, Dallas. We’ve come a long way since then. Today, there’s no way we would waste our time on that type of show.
During the mid-1980s, I had a good friend — I’ll call him “James” — who I periodically had conversations with about life, politics, family, and religion. I was five years younger than James, and he was a lot smarter than I was. He breezed through elementary school, high school, and college, without any problems. He was quick to grasp new concepts and was a great problem solver.
While I was preparing to write this article, I went to YouTube and watched the opening theme of a weekly TV show that aired on NBC from 1966 to 1968. When the show began in 1966, I was nine years old. I’m referring to Tarzan, a TV show that I watched with my younger brothers every Friday night.
I ordinarily attend daily Mass at Sacred Heart Church in downtown Peoria. Last Monday (March 25), I saw my parents at noon Mass and talked to them after the Mass. My mom told me that it was the 58th anniversary of her consecration to the Mother of God. I knew that she had made her consecration years ago, but I was not aware of the actual date.
At that time, the Craftsman brand was owned by Sears, and Craftsman tools and accessories we’re known worldwide for their quality and lifetime guarantee. During the summer following my 18th birthday, I worked for my dad’s construction company. Most of what I earned went into my savings account to pay for college, but I did set aside a percentage of every paycheck for tool purchases. The only tools that I purchased were Craftsman tools. During that summer, I got into the habit of going to Sears every few weeks to roam around the tool department and purchase at least one tool that I needed.
I followed the same routine during each of the summers that I was in college and law school. During those summers, in addition to working for my dad’s company, I also did home repair and remodeling projects for homeowners. Each time that I was paid for a project, I went to Sears and purchased whatever additional tools that I needed at the time. I acquired so many hand tools that I eventually purchased a second Craftsman toolbox. Both of my toolboxes are still in good shape and are currently sitting on a shelf in my garage, filled with many of the tools that I acquired during the years that I was in college and law school.
Last year, because Sears was in desperate need of cash, it sold its iconic Craftsman brand to Stanley Black and Decker for $900 million. In October of this year, Lowes and Stanley Black and Decker announced that Craftsmen tools were going to be available for sale at Lowe’s, a direct competitor of Sears. Within days of the announcement, Sears filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. At that time, Sears announced that it was closing 142 unprofitable stores. A month later, it announced the closure of 40 more stores. Last week, it announced plans to close 80 additional stores, bringing the total number of closures to more than 260 (which is more than a third of its 700 stores).
It’s only a matter of time before Sears finally crashes and burns, which will leave the 125-year-old company and its more than 68,000 employees in the trash bin of history.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the Boy Scouts of America was considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The purpose of the bankruptcy would be to put a halt to the numerous lawsuits that are pending against the organization for the allegedly inappropriate behavior of several of its employees. In addition, there has been a massive exodus from the ranks of the boy scouts over the past few years, because of changes that have been made to allow for the acceptance of girls and openly gay individuals into the organization. The Boy Scouts of America was founded 108 years ago.
What is happening to Sears and the Boy Scouts proves that nothing is permanent in this world. There will be a day when Wal-Mart dies and goes out of business. There will also be a day when Amazon.com dies and goes out of business. The same will eventually occur for General Motors, AT&T, Google, and Apple.
While there are currently several billionaires who are funding medical research that is expected to allow humans to live forever, there will never be a day when that happens. Original sin put an end to men and women living forever on Earth. While we will continue to hear predictions of future immortality, it will never happen.
As a result of original sin, we were all born to die. And just as every human faces certain death, every plant, animal, organism, institution, business, and government face certain death … except for one organization — the Catholic Church, which has already been in existence for more than 2,000 years.
Nothing on this earth is permanent, except for the Catholic Church. When we die and our souls enter into eternity, everything will then be permanent for us. If we’re fortunate enough to make it into Heaven, we will enjoy a permanent and perfect relationship with our Lord, our Lady, and all the other saints in Heaven. (The horror of Hell is that those who end up there will experience a permanent and painful eternal relationship with Lucifer, his agents, and the other unfortunate souls who will forever suffer from the same fate.)
Why is the Catholic Church a permanent institution? Because it was founded by our Savior with the promise that it would never die. The permanency of the Catholic Church will endure until the end of time, at which time it will be merged with the Heavenly Kingdom.
In a spiritual sense, the Catholic Church is perfect because its heart is the Holy Spirit. While there will inevitably come a time when every human heart stops beating, the Divine Heart of the Church will never stop beating. The Catholic Church is the only conduit by which souls reach Heaven, regardless of whether some of those souls were never aware that the Catholic Church is the one true Church.
Unfortunately, because the Catholic Church is managed by imperfect humans, there will always be scandals that flare up and disrupt the faithful operation of the Church. But those scandals will never deliver a death blow to the Catholic Church. We have that guarantee from our Lord.
As you and I conclude the Christmas season and begin a new year, we need to carefully consider what rituals and activities we engage in each day to enhance our permanent relationship with God. Then we need to work at increasing those daily rituals and activities. For most of us, if we were to write down everything we do each day, we would come to realize that most of our activities are geared toward our temporary existence on Earth, rather than our permanent relationship with God.
Now is the time to change all that.
One day while you are driving home from work, you notice a man on the side of the road who appears to be injured. You pull over and check to see if he is all right. You quickly realize that he is in bad shape and is dying. He appears to be in his 70s. He is able to tell you that he was walking on the side of the road and was hit by a large truck that swerved off the road and hit him. The truck then drove away without stopping.
You grab your cell phone from your car and call 911. While you are waiting for help to arrive, the man tells you that his name is Tony, and that he was raised as a Catholic. You quickly take off the Brown Scapular that you always wear around your neck and place it around his neck, fearing that he is going to die before he gets to the hospital. You tell him that you are going to pray an act of contrition with him. You then slowly recite the prayer out loud, so he can follow along with you.
After you’re finished with the prayer, Tony asks you to pass a loving message on to his elderly wife and family. He then tells you that he wants to share two very important secrets with you before he dies. He tells you that both secrets have miraculous attributes. The first secret is an earthly secret and the second is a spiritual secret.
The first secret is the location of what he calls a miraculous cave. The cave he is referring to is the underground cave that’s located in the park. He tells you that if you look in his pocket, you will find a map to the cave. He tells you that if you follow the map, you will find an unlimited supply of gold in the cave. He says that he’s known about the cave since he was a teenager. He found out about it from a man who was on his deathbed.
The miraculous part of the cave is that every time you remove gold, the next time you return to the cave, the gold that you removed has not only been replaced, but there’s an additional amount of gold that has been added to the supply that was previously there. For example, if you remove 10 pounds of gold from the cave, when you return there will be 12 pounds of gold in the place where you removed the 10 pounds.
Tony warns you that you will be tempted to share the secret with members of your family, knowing that the gold will never run out. He warns you that most people are not ready to handle the riches that they would be able to acquire from the cave. He also tells you that if too many people learn about the cave, the government will find out about it and close it down.
Tony then tells you the second secret, after which he asks you to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet with him. Before you are finished praying the chaplet, Tony passes away.
The day after Tony dies, you meet with his wife and family to pass on his message of love. You then get in your car and follow the map to the underground cave. You are shocked to find out that everything Tony told you was true. You load up your car with gold, take it home, and hide it in your basement.
The next day you go back to the cave and the gold that you took the previous day has been replaced with more gold than you loaded into your car. The only person you tell about the miraculous cave is your wife, who assures you that she will never tell anyone.
Over the course of the next five years, it’s as though you are living in paradise. You and your wife are able to provide your young children with everything that they could ever want. Each year, you take your family on a new “vacation of a lifetime.” On the five-year anniversary of the day that you learned the secret from the dying man, you are involved in the same type of accident that he was involved in. As a result of your injuries, both of your legs have to be amputated. You quickly realize that all the gold in the world cannot help you get your legs back.
You are angry, depressed, and resentful. How could this happen to you? You had everything going for you. You and your family were set for life. For the next year, you suffer under the torment of what could have been. You have nightmares of the accident that ruined your life.
Because of your despair, your wife insists that you begin attending daily Mass with her. The first day that you go to daily Mass, the priest announces that the day is October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Upon hearing the priest’s announcement, for the first time since Tony told you the two secrets, you remember the second secret. Tears start streaming down your face because when Tony told you the second secret, he emphasized that before you took advantage of the first secret, you were required to put the first secret into practice.
What was the second secret? It was what Tony called “the best-kept secret in the Catholic Church.” Tony started out by telling you about the miraculous power that the Blessed Mother was given to influence our daily lives, which is triggered by the recitation of the daily Rosary. He told you that if you remained in the state of grace and prayed the Rosary every day while doing your best to meditate on its mysteries, the Mother of God would arrange for an abundance of additional grace to flow to you every day from Almighty God.
He emphasized that the grace that you received would work the same way that the gold worked — that each time you received grace as a result of the intercession of the Blessed Mother, like the gold in the cave, the grace that was sent to you would be replaced with more grace than you received.
He said that each subsequent day, you would not only receive the same amount of grace that you received the previous day, but you would also receive the additional grace that was added when the previous day’s grace was replaced. He said that as the grace increased each day, it would begin to flow through you to your wife, your children, your parents, and your siblings. Tony emphasized the fact that the cumulative grace that you would receive each day would be far superior to the material gold that you would be able to collect from the cave.
After your experience at Mass and your recollection of the second miraculous secret, you make a promise to God that you will do your best to attend Mass every day and that you and your family will pray a Rosary every day. Over time, your anger, depression, and despair dissipate and you begin to have hope again for your future and the future of your family. You also begin to see the extraordinary effects of the great grace that flows to you and your family each day as a result of this new daily prayer ritual. You never get your legs back, but you end up with something much more valuable — a guarantee that you and your family will eventually spend eternity with God, His mother, and all the angels and saints.
Although there is no such thing as a miraculous cave, the secret of the Rosary is genuine and real. Miraculous graces really will descend upon you and through you to the members of your family when you develop a relationship with the Mother of God by praying her daily Rosary.
I was fortunate to have a mother who taught me the secret of the Rosary when I was a boy. Although I didn’t put the secret into practice until I was out of college, I can tell you from what I have observed in my own life and the lives of the members of my family who have implemented this secret, that it works exactly the way I just described it. If you are skeptical about this miraculous prayer, all I ask is that you suspend your disbelief for one year and follow the secret for the next 365 days. I can guarantee you that you will experience the great power of the Rosary as well as the Blessed Mother’s eagerness to assist you and your family.