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.
Last September, Weight Watchers announced that it was changing its name from Weight Watchers to WW. The announcement stated that the new name was a reflection of the company’s current focus on overall health and wellness. The CEO of Weight Watchers, Mindy Grossman, said that the company remained “committed to always being the best weight management program on the planet,” but she emphasized that they were committed to focusing more on healthier eating, exercising, and meditation.
Her name is Meredith Golden. She’s 43 years old and lives in New York with her husband and two sons. She has a master’s degree in social work from New York University. According to a recent article in The New York Times, Golden is a professional dating app ghostwriter. The article provided the following summary of what services Golden offers to her clients:
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.
I believe that one of the biggest shocks we’re going to experience immediately after our deaths will be when God reveals to us what we could have achieved if we had followed His plan for us. The disparity between what we actually achieved on Earth and what He planned for us will be so enormous that we will be completely flabbergasted. What will be most obvious to us is how selfish we were and how most of our thoughts and actions were focused on what we could do for ourselves rather than what we could do for God and our neighbor.
In order to close the gap between who we actually are and what God intended for us to be, we must focus daily on managing and eliminating our pride and our primary fault. We must freely choose to actively resist the tendencies and temptations that favor our pride and our primary fault. At the same time, we must also choose to practice the actions and virtues that are contrary to our sinful tendencies and faults. By doing this, we will be imitating our Savior in a minor but important way.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, while our Lord was praying and anguishing over the suffering and death he was about to endure, He could have easily chosen to flee and never return to Jerusalem or any of the cities surrounding Jerusalem. He had a free will just like you and me. He had the freedom to choose to disappear into the wilderness, or to accept and embrace the suffering and death that His Almighty Father had planned for Him. By freely choosing to follow His Father’s plan, He opened the gates of Heaven for all of us.
Unfortunately, most people don’t think about what God’s plan is for them. They don’t think about or realize that before they can successfully follow God’s plan, they must first diligently work on eliminating their faults. They behave as though they will never have to answer to God for their behavior. Yet they wonder why their lives are so empty. And they blame others for their inability to improve themselves.
If you have read about some of the lives of the saints, you know that they had a daily regimen in which they prayed and assessed where they were in life and where they thought God wanted them to be. They knew the importance of self-management. They also knew that if they were to live up to God’s expectations, they had to develop certain habits and rituals that forced them to regularly review and manage themselves. They weren’t perfect at this, but they were at least 10 times better at it than most people are at managing their lives.
One of the techniques Saint Ignatius of Loyola taught to his students was for them to set aside time each day — early in the morning and again at around noon — to determine how well they had done since the last time they had reflected on how they were spending their time. They were taught to reflect on: (1) how well they had done in managing and overcoming their faults, (2) how well they had done in following God’s plan and the plan they had prepared for themselves, and (3) what God’s plan for them was for the next half day.
In reviewing how well they had done in overcoming their faults, Saint Ignatius’s students were instructed to review what each of them had done to manage and correct their pride and their primary fault. Had they freely chosen to give up the traits that were associated with their faults? Had they freely chosen to practice the virtues that were contrary to their faults?
I want to suggest to you that you immediately incorporate Saint Ignatius’s exercise into your daily regimen. I’m going to provide you with a cheat sheet that you can use to review — in the morning and at around noon of each day — to determine what sinful tendencies you engaged in, and what virtues and virtuous actions you engaged in. Here’s the cheat sheet:
Pride – Defiance, intolerance, vanity, boastfulness, disdainfulness, revengefulness, impatience, unforgiveness, self-centeredness, stubbornness, unbridled ambition, self-aggrandizement, dishonesty, hypersensitivity, conceitedness, haughtiness, touchiness, and blindness to advice.
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.
The lawsuit was filed because the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission launched an investigation after a complaint was filed by a transgender woman who was denied access to the Hope Center. The lawsuit is asking a federal judge to overturn a city ordinance as unconstitutional because it violates the religious beliefs of the individuals who run the shelter.
Here’s how the Hope Center described its dilemma in the lawsuit that was filed with the court:
It would not only be dangerous and against common sense, but it would violate the Hope Center’s sincerely held religious beliefs to admit biological men into its shelter and allow them to sleep side by side and disrobe next to women, some of whom have been assaulted by men and fear for their safety.
Three years after the Donny and Marie show ended (1982), Marie married her first husband. The two divorced in 1985, and she married her second husband a year later. She divorced her second husband in 2007. During her two marriages, Marie had three biological children and adopted five children. On February 26, 2010, her 18-year-old son, Michael, committed suicide by jumping off the eighth-floor balcony of his apartment in Los Angeles.
During an interview several months after Michael’s death, Marie disclosed that Michael struggled from depression and had previously attempted to take his own life. She said that after his initial failed suicide attempt, he promised her that he would “never do anything like that again.” She also lamented, “People say things like, ‘Well, at least you have seven more children.’ No, I have eight children. My heart will never put anybody else in that place but Michael.”
I previously wrote about the suicide of the 27-year-old son of Rick and Kay Warren, the co-founders of Saddleback Church, an evangelical church in California. Their son had suffered from mental illness for most of his life. On April 5, 2013, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Kay later told a reporter, “A lot of it’s a blur. I just know I hit the ground and laid on the ground for hours, sobbing… I will never get over losing my son. I will never stop missing him.”
There is nothing more devastating to a mother than the suicide of a son or a daughter.
We know from the Gospel of Mark that during our Lord’s public life, He was approached by a synagogue leader who told Him that the leader’s 12-year-old daughter was “at the point of death.” He then said to our Lord, “Please come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live.” Mark 5:21-24
Prior to arriving at the synagogue leader’s house, our Lord was told that the girl had already died. He still went to the house with some of His apostles and the girl’s father. When they arrived at the house, our Lord entered the dead girl’s room, held her hand, and told her to rise. The girl immediately woke up and started walking around. Our Lord told the girl’s father to give her something to eat. He then gave strict orders to everyone who was present not to tell anyone what had happened. Mark 5:35-43
Raising the young girl from the dead was not our Lord’s first miracle. His first public miracle was described in the Gospel of John:
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
That power would be the ability to see right through a person, directly into his or her soul. If I had that ability, I would be able to immediately determine whether the person was honest or dishonest, sane or insane, pure or evil. I wouldn’t have to rely on my limited human abilities to determine whether it was prudent to develop a personal or business relationship with the person.
This superpower would probably be more of a curse than a blessing because I would be able to see all the faults and defects of everyone I came into contact with, which would likely cause me great distress.
I thought about that particular superpower a couple of weeks ago when I read some comments that were related to my article about the contractor (“Ray”) who had used gaslighting in an attempt to get me to agree to pay for additional services. After I wrote the article, I received comments from two men who wanted to know why I decided to do business with someone who used questionable methods on me to try to sell me additional services.
There was a time in America when you could generally trust most of the people you came into contact with. The time I’m referring to was when most Americans were raised on the Judeo-Christian values that our country was founded upon. Prior to the 1960s, children who were enrolled in the public school system were taught the Ten Commandments.
They were also taught the Christian virtues of honesty, humility, temperance, respect, moderation, self-control, discipline, integrity, compassion, gratitude, kindness, patience, perseverance, contentment, confidence, self-respect, loyalty, self-reliance, resourcefulness, order, frugality, sincerity, cleanliness, chastity, and purity.
Unfortunately, because of the secularization of our culture and the complete abandonment of the teaching of Christian virtues, there is now a high probability that a majority of people you come into contact with do not believe in or practice the same morals and virtues that you and I believe in and practice.
When President Reagan was elected in 1980, he was the first president in the history of our country who had been divorced and remarried. Thirty-six years later, the American people elected a president who had been divorced twice and was on his third marriage. Until 1980, it was impossible for a divorced person to be elected president of the United States, because the majority of voters felt that such a man lacked the moral character to lead our great nation.
Unfortunately, we can no longer assume that the people we meet are honorable, trustworthy, or in possession of high moral standards. To protect ourselves, we must at least keep in mind that when we meet a person, he or she cannot be trusted. But if we decide to adopt this attitude toward everyone we meet, we can easily become cynical and paranoid, which could easily end up influencing the way we treat the people we currently have relationships with.
Last year, when I found out that my roof had been damaged by hail, I called four roofing companies for estimates. The four men who came to my house to do estimates appeared to be knowledgeable and honest. Three of the men provided straightforward estimates that were based on replacing the shingles on my roof with the same type of shingles that had been previously used.
When the fourth man came to my house, he noticed that there were fields on the north and east sides of my house. He asked if we had problems with high winds coming across the fields. I answered yes and told him that we previously had some shingles replaced because of wind damage. He then proceeded to tell me that the only way he would do the job was if I was willing to invest in higher-quality, wind-resistant shingles that are manufactured by Owens Corning Corporation.
Ray warned me that his price was going to be higher than what the insurance company was willing to pay. He said that if I insisted on choosing the same type of shingles that were on my house, he was not willing to do the job, because it could harm the reputation of his company. He didn’t want to be blamed at a later time for using the wrong shingles on the house.
Ray also insisted that I replace the gutters on my house with wider, deeper gutters. He pointed out an area on my patio that had settled because rainwater had repeatedly flowed over on one of the gutters, which caused pooling on the concrete. Over time, the pooling caused the concrete to settle a couple of inches.
After meeting with Ray, I read the online reviews for his company. I also checked out some of the work his company had done for other homeowners. From the best that I could tell, his company had a good reputation and did high-quality work.*
I did lose some confidence in him when he pulled the gaslighting routine on me, but I wasn’t surprised at how aggressive he was, because he was aggressive with me from the beginning when he insisted that I use different shingles and replace the gutters.
My decision to hire Ray’s company was not difficult, because I was confident that I had found the right company to do the job. But he did end up hurting himself when he engaged in what I considered unethical behavior. If he had not used his gaslighting methods on me, I would have been willing to post a favorable online review and recommend his company to other people.
I will say that over the years, I have developed a high level of confidence in my ability to make the right decisions when it comes to dealing with various individuals I may not be able to completely trust. I can be confident because I know from faith and experience that the Mother of God always guides me in all my decisions.
She consistently watches over me because I pray her Rosary every day. And I mentally call out to her several times each day and ask for her assistance in helping me with my decisions and my work. I still make mistakes, but ever since I started praying the daily Rosary — more than 40 years ago — I’ve never made a mistake that has been so severe that it caused me to suffer from any grave consequences. I’ve always been able to recover from and benefit from my mistakes.
Most people don’t think about or understand how important it is to develop and maintain a daily, dynamic relationship with the Mother of God. They don’t realize that she actually does have the power to see through people, directly into their souls. She knows exactly what I’m up against when I’m dealing with someone, and she is willing and able to give me the guidance that I need to make the right decisions.
None of us will ever have the power to see directly into people’s souls. But we do have access to someone who not only has that power, but loves us and has a burning desire to help us in everything that we do. Before she can help us, though, we have to reach out to her every day with her preferred method of communication — the holy Rosary.
*Ray’s company completed the job last week and did a great job on the shingles and the gutters.