Friday, September 28, 2018

An Invitation

Recently in prayer an image came. It was of a young child swimming in the ocean. He moved along well. His destination was clearly ahead of him. It was an island. The child knew this was his home and he put all his effort into getting there. In prayer a scene began to unfold. Time was elapsing. The child was aging and growing older. As the child swam something took hold of his leg. It was much like sea weed. The weed was anchored to the bottom of the water. It seemed to make every effort to wrap itself around the boy’s leg. More of these weeds began to do the same thing.

The weeds not only stopped the progression of the swimming towards the island but also pulled the boy lower into the water. He struggled. But with so many weeds now around the boy he was pulled down below the surface of the water. Now imagine that the boy was able to remain under the water without perishing. As more weeds continued to take hold and others tightened, the boy was drawn deeper and deeper under the water. While at first the boy could see just beneath the surface of the water the light and at times he even could caught a glimpse of the island in the distance, however, as he sank lower he could see nothing. He began to forget which direction was the island. Was it in front or behind? He was disoriented. After a time he forgot about the island and even began to not notice the weeds. He became comfortable under the water. He began to enjoy some of the things that were around him. He no longer realized he was disoriented in his direction and was content where he was and made no effort to resist the weeds.

This general scene was something that seemed to come in prayer…prayer mixed with imagination perhaps. But the idea was something I rolled around in my head some weeks ago.

The idea came back this week in prayer and more unfolded. I thought of each of us..myself perhaps in the situation of the world. When we are born in our innocence we see things in simplicity more clearly. Our hearts are open to prayer and love. When exposed to prayer and God through our parents we move quickly along the spiritual journey toward the home we seek: union with God and eternity in heaven. As we grow the world tries to tie us down. If we are not careful, we begin to be drawn more toward the world then to God. We begin to have attachments in the world. We lose our direction and often do not even realize how many attachments have taken hold and how strong they have become. 

I thought of the young person in the story beneath the water. He certainly is not alone. Many may be under the water as well. I imagined Our Blessed Mother, always watching with concern for her children, wanting to help them, wanting to guide them. A safety line is lowered to the boy. It is a Rosary. It is moored to the island….to his true home. When he prays the line pulls him toward the correct direction. The more he prays and trusts the stronger the pull. With more prayer some of the newer weeds become loose and give way. The boy now begins to perceive the weeds and that he is tied down. This is an important step because an awareness of the weeds will help in breaking free. More prayer allows the tightness of some of the weeds to lessen and he moves higher. He begins to see the light. The pull of the line has now become very strong. As the intensity of the prayer and frequency of the prayer increases the boy can move more and he is beginning to be able to help in pulling free. 

Yet there may be some very strong weeds that have been there for so long and become so thick that they still resist. These may be things that are hard to give up. Areas we protect. Sometimes we do not even perceive the things that have the tightest hold on us.

One of the promises of the Rosary states: “it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things”. Indeed the Rosary has an incredible power to rip us from the attachment of the world. It is thus of great benefit for all souls especially young ones. 

There is something else that can help cut those thick weeds, especially the old ones that have a firm hold. It is fasting. 

Even Our Lord said in the Gospels that certain demons can only be expelled by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:21). For my own part, I have seen the fruits of the Rosary in my life…a drawing away from many distractions. Yet the world is strong and things are always trying to take hold even when you think you are free. Fasting has been of great benefit in my own life. While weekly fasting is good to help prevent new weeds from taking hold or remove newly attached weeds, longer fasts have the ability to break through the thick, toughest older weeds. Coupling prayer and fasting allows each to become more effective then one by itself. Imagine that through a longer fast the boy is able to break free of all the weeds. While praying his Rosary, he can follow the “life line” to the surface. The pull of the Rosary now has nothing holding it back. The boy moves quickly and without impediment to Our Lord. It is a direct way home. There is no getting lost. 

How many of us have things that weigh on us that hold us back. Things we struggle with interiorly and in our family. How good it would be to purify ourselves. 

It has been a yearly tradition within the Children’s Rosary to do 9 days of prayer and fasting in the fall. This year it will begin on September 29 and end on October 7th. We hope many will want to join us. Bread and water fasting is very effective. Some may not be able to fast on bread and this is okay. Prayerfully discern what is the best fasting for you. In the past, we have had adults and children join this fast. We do ask that you prayerfully consider what is safe and reasonable for you and your family. Some may be able to do a traditional bread and water fast. This is unlimited bread and water. Others may find another thing in their life that would be a great sacrifice to give up for that period. One of the most important things when one begins a fast is the disposition.  One must approach fasting as an act of love to God. 

Some may want to do this fast but have not fasted before and wonder if they could complete 9 days. What I have found is that the first two days are the hardest. There is this portion of each of us which I will call “self” that will complain and nag that you should give up. Do not listen to this. After several days that voice will lessen. I would like to give up some of the merit of my fast for those of you who would like to do this fast but who might at first be intimidated by the duration. I wish to ask Our Lord to grant souls the grace and the strength to say, yes. This is a humble invitation to each soul, an invitation to help to rid yourself of all the things holding you back spiritually. I will be praying for you.
The fast will begin on September 29th the Feast of the Archangels. 

1) Pray one Rosary each day meditating on the life of Christ

2) Fast for 9 days

Listed below are the intentions for this 9 days of prayer and fasting:

*Lord please purify our souls from the attachments of the world. Jesus we surrender all we have, please take control of our lives and our families. May Jesus be born in our hearts and may He renew us. May the Holy Spirit guide our thoughts and actions. May our hands be the extended hands of Mary and Jesus in this world. May the members of the Children’s Rosary also be the extended hands of Mary and Jesus in this world and gather a great many souls especially young people for Our Lord.

*Personal Intentions (      )

*May all that Our Lady wishes to accomplish through us and the Children’s Rosary be accomplished all for the glory of God.

*May the Children’s Rosary View from Heaven never go dark…may it always be illuminated in prayer.

*For a special Children’s Rosary intention.

*In thanksgiving

Popes Have Spoken Beautifully About the Value of Fasting 

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the value of fasting in his message for Lent on Feb 25th 2009:

The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord.
Fasting certainly bring benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a “therapy” to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God.
By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. 
Pope John Paul II spoke about fasting on Sunday Angelus March 10th 1996:

Fasting is to reaffirm to oneself what Jesus answered Satan when he tempted him at the end of his 40 days of fasting in the wilderness: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God" (Mt 4:4) 

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