40 Days – Reflections on the Holy Rosary
with Fr. Ivan Olmo

August 28th through October 7th,
The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

The following is a 40 part series with Fr. Ivan reflecting on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary. The reflections are divided into the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries each with 10 brief meditations. We invite you to join us as we seek to grow in a deeper and intimate love of Jesus Christ our Lord through the Immaculate Heart of our Mother Mary.

We will post a new reflection each day. Thank you for praying and reflecting with your Parish Community!

Introductory Reflection

“Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!” He got up, ate, and drank; then strengthened by that food,
he walked forty days and forty nights to the mountain of God, Horeb. (1 Kgs 19:7-8)

My brothers and sisters in Christ, the grace of God, the Father who loves us beyond all telling, the peace of his Beloved Son, Jesus given to us so freely on the Cross and the joy of the Holy Spirit that has been lavishly poured out into our hearts, be with you. I am most humbled and grateful that our Lord has graciously allowed us to journey together into the Sacred Heart of Jesus, into his Holy Presence, into this holy time. Our journey truly has begun. Praise God. The phrase, “forty days and forty nights” reminds us of a time of prayer and preparation, a dedicated time of retreat. It is an opportunity to silence our thoughts and to quiet our minds. To put ourselves in a place where God can find us, where he can minister to our hearts and prepare us for the sacred journey that lies ahead. It is meant to be a time of spiritual retreat. A time to retreat from the things that distract us from God and a time to retreat to those things that attract us to God. I invite you to consider over the next forty days and forty nights how will you prepare to truly and really encounter God Almighty on his Holy Mountain? What do you absolutely need for the journey? What do you absolutely need to leave behind? Things, situations, attitudes, bad memories, stuff? As we walk in the footsteps of Jesus and journey into the sacred places where God walked with his people and ministered to their needs, as we experience the amazing moments and the miraculous events that have transformed our own death into eternal life how will you prepare? Let us take some time to consider God’s gracious gifts, his amazing grace, his profound love, his divine mercy, his desire for you. Let us take these next “forty days and forty nights” as an opportunity to pray and prepare our hearts, minds, spirits, bodies and souls as we do at every Mass, by calling to mind our sins and preparing ourselves spiritually “to celebrate the sacred and holy mysteries.”

Joyful Mysteries

Rosary Reflection - 1

“The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” (LK 1:26-28)

Prayer is such an important part of who we are. It is how we communicate with God as Father, Brother and Friend. Prayer enables us to deepen our intimate and felt knowledge of the One who has created us and molded us in his image and likeness.  After we had tarnished our image through sin and self-absorption, prayer permitted us to restore the personal relationship with God through the One who suffered and died for us in order to recreate us into the beloved children of God we were meant to be. Prayer encourages and inspires us to go deeper into the scenes of the Bible and place ourselves into the scripture story, our story in order to more clearly hear the voice of God speaking to our hearts and inviting us to change and grow. One of my favorite scenes to visit is the Annunciation. Imagine placing yourself into the scene. Silence your heart. Quiet your mind. Take a deep breath and enter the scene. As you sit next to our Mother Mary, what do you want or need to say to her? What do you wish to tell her, share with her, ask her to pray for? What is she saying to you, teaching you, asking of you? What does the temperature outside feel like? Is it hot or cool, windy or breezeless, sunny or raining? Is the air fragrant with flowers, perfumes, fresh baked bread?  Are there any sounds of nature? Can you hear any birds in the background? What does Gabriel’s wings sound like, what does he look like, did he startle you? Did you pray with him when he said “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” Can you imagine being in Galilee where God decided to leave his throne in heaven and come down to ask Mary to be his his holy vessel and the Mother of his Beloved Son so that he can enter into our broken humanity, die to repair our sins and bring all God’s children safely back home to heaven? What is God saying to you right now? What do you want to say to God.  Tell him. He is listening.

Rosary Reflection - 2

[The Angel said to Mary,] “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” (LK 1:28-30)

Have you found favor with God? A profound yet wonderfully challenging question to consider. But before you attempt to answer the question, like Mary, let us take some time to ponder the question then take it to prayer. Let us give it some serious thought for a moment then thoroughly take it to contemplation. First, let us consider who God is, who we are and what is the difference. God is God and we are not. God is Creator and we are his creation. God is the Creator of Heaven and Earth, Creator of the Sun and Moon, Creator of the Planets and Stars, Creator of Time and Space, Creator of the Universe and Galaxies and everything contained in them. God is complete, perfect, pure, infinite, without need, unchangeable, the first cause of existence. God didn’t need us, never needed us, still doesn’t need us, will never need us. Yet he still chose to create us in the beauty of his image and likeness — not out of necessity, but simply out of love. Even when we disobeyed him and were banished from Eden, he still showed his great love to us by covering our shame with his tender love and divine mercy. Even when we said we will never sin again, we gave our attention and hearts to lifeless idols and still God pardoned our sins and accepted our offering of peace. Even when we lied and rejected the law of the Commandments and bore false witness against his Beloved Son, Jesus, who innocently became mortal for us and suffered greatly for our sins, was severely punished for our offenses and died a painful, shameful death because of our iniquities — God still loved us, desired us and forgave us — and even more amazing, God still loves us, still desires us and will forgive us every time we say we are sorry from our hearts. We have definitely found favor with God. Never be afraid to say it. We are the apple of his eye.

Rosary Reflection - 3
The angel said to [Mary] in reply, “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (LK 1:35)

Have you ever considered what makes a person or a place or an object holy? Perhaps a Holy Card or a Holy Rosary, Holy Water or Holy Oils, Holy Mary or the Holy Family, Holy Communion or the Holy Land? God is the One who makes everything holy for he is the source of all holiness. Through the power of the Holy Spirit and the mystery of the Holy Cross, God makes everything that is receptive to him and his grace holy. Mary is holy because God created her immaculate and without the stain of sin. She is perfected in holiness through the power of the Holy Spirit that consumed her in the fire of his Holy Love and in the Holy Child who is consumed in totality by Mary’s heart, mind, body and soul. Mary is most holy, since in all reality, she is the first to receive spiritually and physically the fullness of Holy Communion — the eternal and redemptive gift of God’s love — the precious Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of God’s dearly Beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. God has called us to be holy as he our Lord and God is holy. He invites us to be one with him in an unbreakable bound and covenant of unity and peace that is meant for ever. Would you desire holiness simply for the sake of loving God more perfectly? Meaning, freely loving God with all your heart, body, mind and soul? Holiness could seem like an impossibility but as we know, nothing is impossible for God. We must embrace the fact that we are in constant need of the Father’s merciful love and redeeming grace in order to live out more fully the call to holiness and to walk the Way of Jesus by living out his holy way of life. So let us pray for the grace to respond like Mary and allow God to overshadow us with the embrace of his Holy Love and make us holy. “Lord God, king of heaven and earth, direct our minds and bodies throughout this day, and make us holy. Keep us faithful to your law in thought, word and deed. Be our helper now and always, free us from sin, and bring us to salvation in that kingdom where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever.” Amen (prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours – Week III)

Rosary Reflection - 4

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.” (LK 1:30)

To know the Lord, to love him and to serve him is at the heart of our Catholic faith and our Christian duty – it is our salvation. It is simply who we are, what we are about and what we must do to more fully realize our identity as beloved children of God. God invites us to more fully live out our call to become holy by becoming faithful witnesses of God’s love, evangelizers of the gospel and missionaries of mercy in the world and in our families.  We are invited to deepen our knowledge of God by understanding his divine plan and living in his holy will. We are invited to deepen our love of God in the Mass, through personal prayer and with deep devotion. We are asked to serve him in faith, in joy and in ministry through random acts of kindness and intentional works of mercy.  We can do this by spending more quality time with sacred scripture, by more fully entering into silent prayer, by more faithfully celebrating the Sacraments of God’s infinite love and divine mercy and by simply living every moment, every action, every thought, every situation, every conversation in accordance with God’s divine plan and his holy will. Mary is certainly our humble role model, our faithful example, our spiritual guide.  She abandoned herself, her thoughts, her will according to God’s Way, his Word, his Will. Mary loves us, intercedes for us, prays unceasingly for us.  Perhaps this is a good time to ask Mary for assistance with your preparation in all things. Ask Mary to spend some quiet time with you in prayer. Ask her for the grace to help you to more intimately and personally know God. Ask her to help you understand all the ways God has blessed you, your work, your family, your ministry. Ask her for the courage to know God’s plan for you and for the strength to entirely surrender to his holy will by saying yes to God from your heart, “May it be done to me according to your word.”

Rosary Reflection - 5

[Elizabeth said,] Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb… Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled. And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (LK 1:42,45-47)

In the eyes of the Church and in the souls of so many believers, the name Mary calls to mind so many splendid images of a special person who seems to always be available to us, especially in moments of great need; of a kind woman who is always willing to walk the distance with us no matter how long the journey might be; of a gentle soul who prays for us unceasingly even when we don’t have the energy or the desire to pray for ourselves; of a humble mother who is always so willing to come to our aid no matter what the circumstance might be. She simply wants to help us poor sinners, poor children of God, poor children of Mary. Mary’s name also invokes in us so many stories of how God uses her as an instrument to share the Good News of our salvation; to deliver us important signs and warnings when we drift too far away from God’s presence; to offer us motherly advice at the crossroads of life or in moments of deep discernment; to give us a gentle correction when we choose the wrong rather than choose the right or when we do the bad rather than the good; to provide us with loving inspiration when we are afraid and unable to move forward and to offer us help in moments of darkness, bleak situations or moments of dire need. The mere mention of Mary’s name brings strength to those who are weary, comfort to the sorrowing, hope to the despairing, faith to the unbelieving, something to brighten our day when everything else seems so heavy or everyone around us seems so gray. It brings to heart so many joyful memories that describe our awesome relationship with God, our awesome relationship with Mary, the Mother of God. Some immediate images that come to mind and heart are: Mother, Beloved, Immaculate, Blessed, Beautiful, Virgin, Star, Perfect, Holy, Pure, Vessel, Temple, Tabernacle, Grace, Intercessor, Mystical Rose and the one that might help us during this season to more fully anticipate the gift we desire to more purely celebrate is joy. The Church calls Mary the “Cause of our Joy.” What is the cause of your joy? Not what makes you happy for a brief moment but that which fills you with everlasting joy? For Mary, it is Jesus – God’s Love. Let us pray to our Lord that he would fill us with his love so that like Mary we may perpetually sing for joy.

Rosary Reflection - 6
“The time came for [Mary] to have her child, and she gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”  (LK 2:6-7)

Sometimes, after all the planning, coordinating, preparing and anticipating – things just don’t always go as we had hoped for or as we had planned. They just don’t. We anticipate things will come to pass as planned, promised or expected. However, we are often left disappointed or even angered when things don’t meet our expectations or bring us a desired result. How would you respond if your food order wasn’t correct? It is too hot or too cold or it’s not even what you ordered or exactly how you ordered it. How would you respond? What if someone else is in your seat or the reservation record can not be found on the day of your departure? How would you respond to these situations? Will it be helpful or hurtful?  Please keep in mind God will provide more food, he will find you another seat and he will offer you another room perhaps in another inn. I can only imagine what it must be like traveling with our Mother Mary and Father Joseph on their journey to Bethlehem. What must they be thinking about? How do they feel about the unknown? What are they thinking about the precious cargo they are carrying and have been entrusted to care for?  When they finally arrive, things don’t seem to be going as planned. There is no reservation, no room, no food, not even a place to sit. But they trust that God will provide, he always does. God always provides. God decides a cave, in all its simplicity is the best and natural place for the Son of God to enter into this world.  It is a poor but simple and humble setting – almost as if God is recreating in nature preparing once again to say, “let there be light.” Do you sense the peace Mary and Joseph are experiencing in total submission to God’s will?  The peace they are enjoying even in a moment of urgency? What if there is a change required in your life? Perhaps that change is happening now. Ask Mary and Joseph to accompany to help you and to pray for you in your moment of need.

Rosary Reflection - 7

The angel said to [the shepherds], “Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord. (LK 2:10-11)

I often wonder and am really surprised how often God, an angel, prophet or Jesus approaches someone in the Bible and begins the conversation by saying, “do not be afraid.” Why be afraid of God when he loves us so much and wants to help us so much? When the Angel Gabriel first appeared to Zechariah in the Temple, and to Mary in her home, and to Joseph in a dream, and to the Shepherds in the field, he greeted them by saying, “do not be afraid.” There are many other scenes in the New Testament with similar greetings. For example, when Jesus calls the disciples he says to Peter, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” Or when the disciples were caught in a storm and Jesus came to them walking on the water and said, “Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!” There is also the beautiful scene of the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. As God spoke to the disciples, they hid. Then Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and do not be afraid.” Or how about the time when Jesus heard that Jairus’ daughter died. He said to him, “Do not be afraid; just have faith and she will be saved.” Or the women who were heading to the tomb on Easter morning to bring spices for the body of Jesus but were surprised by an angel that said them, “Do not be afraid! I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified. He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.” And finally, in the Book of Revelation, when John experienced Jesus in a vision, Jesus told him, “Do not be afraid. I am the first and the last, the one who lives. Once I was dead, but now I am alive forever and ever.” Jesus reminds us, we have nothing to be afraid of any more. God loves us and sent his Son Jesus to save us – not to condemn us.  So do not be afraid, but rather be loved.

Rosary Reflection - 8

[Simeon took the child Jesus] into his arms and blessed God, saying: “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (LK 28:32)

On the eighth day, Mary and Joseph took the child Jesus into the Temple to present him to the Lord as prescribed by the law. In the darkness of a world covered over by sin, Christ enters humanity as “a light for revelation.” Once again we can reflect on the great moment when God brings order by giving the order, “let there be light.” Jesus comes into our world as the face of God, the face of Divine Mercy to make visible the Father’s face of infinite love and to show the world how much God desires us. God’s love for us is real. Light reveals, it makes known what is hidden and unveils what we are unable to see. However, our spiritual vision needs to be corrected, our gaze needs to be purified in order to behold God’s gracious gift of self and to see his light and to experience his glory. Simeon and Anna were both spirit filled people. They were filled with the hope that their eyes would personally behold the “Light of the World.” They longed for the anticipated Messiah. When Jesus revealed his light, his love, his life, Simeon and Anna saw it, rejoiced in it and drew others to it. Sadly, it was not seen by all but only by some. Why? Let’s take a moment to consider how they might have prepared to encounter the Christ, the One sent by the Father. The people who were not prepared for the coming of the Lord did not see him even though he was in their midst talking to them face to face. They could not see him. This will repeat itself many times with the Pharisees and Scribes who were unable to see Jesus because their own darkness prevented them from seeing his glorious light.  Simeon and Anna’s actions are helpful for our own spiritual journey as we search for the Light in our desperate times especially in bleak moments covered with despair, confusion and desolation. We hear that Simeon was a righteous, devout and holy man filled with the Holy Spirit and that Anna was a woman dedicated to the Temple and lived a life of fasting and prayer. These beautiful, spiritual disciplines are so beneficial to our spiritual senses for “blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.” Let us pray that our Lord will prepare our hearts and light our way so we may see him in our hearts and encounter him personally and intimately in our prayer.

Rosary Reflection - 9
“After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers.” (LK 2:46-47)

Have you ever stopped to consider how easy it is for us to change our mind but how difficult it is to change our hearts? Have you ever set your mind on purchasing a particular item online or in a store and have decided it’s the best, it’s the fastest, it’s on sale, it’s 50% off, it’s the greatest discount ever only to end up buying something different? We might have experienced a moment when there were so many choices to choose from that it was difficult to make a final decision. Research says on average we make about 35,000 decisions a day. That’s a lot of decisions. Have you asked God for help? Imagine being in the Temple hearing Jesus speak for the first time in a public setting. All those who heard him speaking in the Temple were astounded. They were amazed at the profound wisdom that came from the heart of this 12-year-old boy who spoke the truth with such eloquence and confidence that they couldn’t stop listening to him. Imagine listening to the voice of this sweet young boy speak with so much love about God, Moses, the prophets and the One who was to come into the world to redeem the house of Israel. Why did they change their minds so quickly about who Jesus was? He never changed his message. He consistently preached the Good News of forgiveness, God’s love for humanity and the mission of our salvation. How sad to consider that those who heard Jesus speak when he was twelve were probably the same teachers, scribes and elders who later questioned his relationship with the Father, diminished his authority, did not believe he was the chosen Messiah and would not accept he was the Son of God. He would and could only be in their minds the Carpenter’s son and the son of Mary, his mother. What an amazing thing to simply be a member of the Holy Family. To be a child of Mary and a child of Joseph. God, as we know is unchanging – he remains without change.  God is loving, kind and merciful. God has always been loving, kind and merciful. He will never change. He will always love us. He will always be merciful and kind to us. Have you ever thought about how easy it is for us to change our minds about God in moments of trial? In difficult situations, we tend to question or doubt God’s presence or his love for us yet he never stops loving us. He remains with us in every moment, even in moments of trial. Let us pray for the grace that our relationship with God may be strengthen and that we may come to know and believe without a doubt in every moment and circumstance, that God truly loves us and he will never leave our side. God will never change his mind and he will never change his heart. He will love us forever.

Rosary Reflection - 10
“He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart.” (LK 2:51-52)

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyal provide a great opportunity to seriously detach oneself from the world for thirty days and enter into sacred silence and into God’s presence to contemplate the depth of his particular love for us and to pray for the grace to more intimately know Jesus, love him more freely and follow him more faithfully. In the first week of the Exercises, a person has the opportunity to review their life in light of God’s profound love. Openness to God’s holy love, sheds light on how selfishly we respond to God’s gifts and helps identify the ways, the excuses and the sins that have prevented us from loving Christ and being loved by him. From following him without hesitation or reservation. In the second week, the retreatant reflects on how to better imitate Christ and follow him as a faithful disciple by learning where Jesus worshiped, when he prayed, how he served and who he ministered to. In the third week, one meditates on the Passion and death of Christ. In Christ’s suffering, we experience God’s unconditional love for us and in the Eucharist we share in it. On the last week of the Exercises, the person experiences the Joy of the Resurrection and walks with the risen Christ as he dispels fear from the disciples hearts and shares the fulfillment of the Father’s peace. This new life inspires a disciple to make a total offering of self and encourages them to respond more generously to the call to love and serve Christ more faithfully.  There is also an opportunity during the Exercises to learn different forms of prayer and different ways to experience God in prayer. One of those ways is using the imagination to experience God by placing ourselves into scripture scenes to hear what people are listening to, see what they are seeing, smell what they are cooking, taste what they are eating, feel what they are sensing. The object of this form of prayer is to use our spiritual senses to become more attentive to God’s voice, more open to his presence, and more responsive to his holy will. Try it. Disconnect and detached yourself from the world and from noise for a while and enter into silence.  Imagine Jesus in the quiet, hidden years of his early life. Enter the scene. What might a school day with Jesus be like? What might a conversation with his friends sound like? How did Mary and Joseph feel living with God, caring for him, feeding him, bathing him? What must having God obedient to them fell like? What if God was obedient to you? How different would the world be?

Luminous Mysteries

Rosary Reflection - 11

It happened in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John. On coming up out of the water he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit, like a dove, descending upon him. And a voice came from the heavens, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” (MK 1:9-11)

Our baptism is an important day in our spiritual life and an important part of our spiritual journey. It is the entryway into the Father’s heart, the gateway into heaven, the doorway into eternal life. It is then we become beloved Children of God, members of his Holy Family, heirs to his Kingdom. We share in the blessings of Christ, the graces of the Holy Spirit, the mercy of God. Do you know the date of your baptism? Have you celebrated it? Let us take a moment to reflect on the gift of your special day. Once again, invite yourself into sacred quiet and peaceful prayer. Detach yourself from all possible noise and distractions. Enter into the prayer then enter into scene. Use your spiritual imagination to imagine what the church of your baptism looks like? Do you know the name of the church? Have you prayed to that Saint? When the priest asks, “what name do you give this child?” What name did they give you? Have you ever traced the Cross on your forehead given to you at baptism as you were claimed for Christ? Can you still feel the warm sensation and soothing effect of the Oil of Salvation applied to your chest to heal the wounds caused by sin? Have you embraced your baptismal promises to believe in God and to reject Satan and all his works and all his empty promises? Do you believe in God? Do you reject sin?  Spend a moment reflecting on the prayer used to bless the water that brought you forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life. “We ask you, Father, with your Son to send the Holy Spirit upon the water of this font. May all who are buried with Christ in the death of baptism rise also with him to newness of life.”  Reflect also for a moment on the prayer used to anoint you with the Sacred Chrism. “The God of power and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has freed you from sin, given you a new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, and welcomed you into his holy people. He now anoints you with the chrism of salvation. As Christ was anointed Priest, Prophet, and King, so may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life.” God has truly blessed us. Have you thank God for saving you?

Rosary Reflection - 12
“Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and when they were over he was hungry.” (LK 4:1-2)

Usually, we don’t appreciate being told what to do. We simply don’t care for someone telling us what we can and cannot do or what we can and cannot say. Even if someone asks nicely, it bothers us. Even if we know it is the right thing to do, we just don’t care for it. Even though it’s something within reason, it still doesn’t matter. Even though it’s something we have to do – let’s face it, we just don’t like being told what to do. The cause of our resentment can vary. Sometimes it’s simply our pride that gets in the way (nobody tells me what to do!) or we don’t know the messenger (who does he think he is!) or we simply dislike the person giving the order (I can’t stand her!). We simply prefer not having anyone tell us what to do. Then, why are we so easily prone to be led by evil and do what Satan tells us to do? Didn’t we promise to reject him and all his works and all his empty promises? One of the things that should cause us to have a deep and genuine admiration for Jesus is that even though no one has the right or the authority to tell Jesus what to do, he still listened to Mary and Joseph and remained ever faithful to the Father’s Divine Will. What perfect humility even to the point of dying on the Cross. This inspires me, as Mary said, to do what ever Jesus tells me to do. Another reason is that Jesus, who is our Lord and King, never asks us to do something he himself has not done. He lived and died, loved and gave, prayed and obeyed, forgave and shared, blessed and believed and now he invites us to do the same. Jesus, though ever pure and sinless, undefiled and innocent, holy and without stain, allowed himself to receive a baptism of repentance so we could receive a baptism of salvation – a baptism of eternal life. This amazing example of Jesus’ deep love and profound humility should inspire us to happily imitate him in listening to Mary and Joseph and simply do whatever the Father asks us to do. When the Devil told Adam and Eve what to do, they listened and died. When the Devil told Jesus what to do, Jesus simply told him, “You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve” and “You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.” So my brothers and sisters, listen to Jesus and live for ever.

Rosary Reflection - 13

As he 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. (MT 4:18-20)

People who have experienced a similar situation than we have or have undergone a similar circumstance seem to better understand us, they get us. They can better relate to what we have been through. They seem to better understand our struggles, our hurts, our pains, our impatience, our sorrows.  They understand our hardships, our illnesses, our exhaustion, our heartaches, our losses, our frustration. They understand it because they have been there and have personally suffered through it. That’s what I love about Jesus. He gets us, he understands us.  Having been born into our human weakness and frailty, Jesus understands our challenges and limitations, our temptations and frustrations, our shocks and surprises, our fears and our needs. He knows our bodies, our particular circumstance, the problems we face in life, the tough moments we have to face alone. He knows this because he has personally experienced the effects of our fallen and sinful state. Jesus knows the challenges we have gone through. He understands what we are going through right now and everything we will have to face later in life. He understands our lives are busy, our minds are restless, our time is over occupied. In order to help us, he graciously meets us where we are and invites us to follow him to a better place, a better life, a better frame of mind. Jesus will come and meet us at work or school. He will come and visit us in our lives and in our homes. He will come and meet us in our jobs and our occupations. He will come and meet us in any situation and in every circumstance. Don’t you just love that Jesus comes to meet us where we are? That’s what he did when he called the disciples. He met them where they where. It didn’t matter their particular state of life. Although we can learn and grow from the way the Apostles were called, the image of the fishermen leaves us with a beautiful Christ encounter to personally consider and take to prayer. Fishing was their livelihood. It’s what they knew. Their lives were dependent on it. However, we hear that sometimes they were unsuccessful at a catch.  But all that changes when Jesus comes to meet them where they are and fishes for them. He casts a wide net of confidence and joy. He lures them with words of truth, encouragement and everlasting life. Who can resist the sweet fragrance of his goodness, the voice of purity and truth, the beauty of holiness? They are “hooked”. They drop everything and follow Jesus. They become true fishermen. What about you? Are you hooked on Christ? Are you hooked on Jesus?

Rosary Reflection - 14

“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.”  Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” [And] Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.” (JN 2:5)

A wedding is a joyous occasion. It is a new beginning, a grand celebration, a happy feast. It’s just a great day. We know a wedding involves lots of coordination, preparation, planning, prayer. When the big day arrives, all the invited guest, relatives and family, friends and neighbors, peers and coworkers come together, they gather, they come to share in this happy day. Throughout our lives, we have many opportunities to celebrate joyous moments and happy occasions like birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, baptisms. retirements. The question is, did we remember to invite everyone? Was Mary part of your coordinating, preparing, planning, prayer? How about Jesus?  Did you remember to invite him, to ask him for help, support, encouragement, prayer? We tend to forget to invite the members of the Holy Family to our events, family gatherings, daily prayer.  They love when we call upon them – they are happy to join us, intercede for us, to be with us in all stages of life, in every happy occasion and in every sad moment. They are happy to help. One of the prayers I recite often, especially when I am about to embark or start something new, like a new project, a new assignment, a new meeting, a new gathering is to say, “Lord, may everything I do begin with your loving inspiration, continue with your help and come to perfection under your guidance through Christ our Lord.” In other words, Lord, I invite you to join me before starting anything and to help me see it through. It is important that we understand before undertaking anything, especially something new, to ask Mary and Jesus to please accompany us along the way. To please come into this moment, into this idea, into this plan, into this celebration, into this situation, into this project – come so that everything begins, continues and finishes with the support of the Holy Family. The scene of the Wedding at Cana tells us that the couple took the time to invite Jesus and Mary to their special day. It was important for them to have Jesus and Mary there and share in their joy. As Mary so graciously does, she anticipates a need and asks Jesus to help.  Although Jesus says, “Woman, how does your concern affect me?” Jesus remains lovingly obedient to his Mother because she loves us. She is our Mother of Perpetual Help.  Have you invited Jesus and Mary into the planning and preparation of your life? Have you involved them in every decision, in every situation, every aspect of your life?  Have you invited them to be a part of your life because they certainly are a part of you.

Rosary Reflection - 15
“Why do the disciples of John and the disciples of the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered them, “Can the wedding guests fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast on that day.” (MK 2:18-20)

Why do we fast? Well, at times we need to fast for medical reasons like when we have blood work done or when we prepare for a routine checkup or undergo a surgical procedure. We also fast for health reasons, to care for certain dietary concerns that can reduce health risks and to improve our overall wellness and wellbeing. We also fast for spiritual reasons. In ancient times, the People of God would fast in preparation to encounter God on his holy mountain and enter into God’s Holy presence. This ritual of purification was required to wash their bodies, purify their hearts and cleanse their minds in order to more fully enter into the Glory of God. For three days, God’s people would fast from certain foods, refrain from sin and avoid sinful activity in order to be holy before the Holy of Holies. They were to be purified in order to behold the Purity of God.  We more often than not attribute fasting to food similar to the observances and practices of the Lenten Season. But fasting is much more than refraining or abstaining from food since we are much more than body. We are also heart, spirit, mind, and soul. All these can uniquely contribute to or hinder our spiritual health and wellbeing. For example, to cleanse our minds in order to more fully enter into the Glory and Holiness of God, we can fast from impure and graven images. We can refrain from living and playing out fantasies. We can keep from judgmental and hurtful thoughts. We can stop worrying and begin to trust in God more fully. To consecrate our hearts in order to more intimately experience the Mercy of God, we can refrain from anger, get rid of malice, avoid hatred, eliminate envy and simply love more and forgive more often. To wash our bodies clean in order to be the Temple of God which we were created to be, we can fast from inappropriate touching, from obscene gestures, from impure acts, from bad language and from eating fast food in order to more fully become the Body of Christ.  To sanctify our spirits in order to more fully enter into the Kingdom of the Divine Will, we can fast from pride, from ego, from selfishness and from ambition in order to become more like Jesus who is meek and humble of heart. To purify our souls in order to be with God, we need to fast from blasphemies, idolatries, all mortal and grave sin and desire more the  road to saintliness, sanctity and holiness in order to make a full and faithful return to innocence and to the sacred.

Rosary Reflection - 16
“Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.” (MT 9:35)

“Do you ever wonder why we are here and say to yourself there has to be more to life than just this? Somehow we’re just not getting it.” These were the philosophical questions I asked that began a collision course between God’s Divine and Providential Plan and my limited and sad understanding of God, his love, his call, his will. The questions tore open a spiritual doorway into my heart that pushed me into the world of the discerning spirit and the opportunity to serve. The gateway that was opened to me that day, although neglected and ignored at times, could never be closed and certainly would never stop knocking until the call was answered and my heart was satisfied. These somewhat harmless but most profound and prophetic questions echo in the hearts of so many hungry souls and weary spirits who thirst and seek to respond to the possibility of entering into a deeper and more personal relationship with God by sharing in the mission and ministry of Christ. The mission and ministry of Christ seeks to bring about the happiness of individuals through the Teaching of the Law, the Preaching of the Gospel and the Healing of the hearts that are broken, the healing of the spirits that are wounded, the healing of the bodies that are aching, the healing of the souls that are hurting and the healing of the minds that have been tainted by sin. Jesus taught that the Son of Man would be mocked and rejected, persecuted and slapped, chained and scourged, crucified and killed but will be raised on the third day in order to bring out the salvation of souls and the restoration of the fallen humanity. We can help by sharing the truth. Jesus preached the Kingdom of God was at hand and that love and compassion, peace and joy, mercy and forgiveness would rule and reign forever. We can help by helping others to welcome God’s Kingdom into their hearts and homes. Jesus went from town to town casting out sin and Satan, healing division and illness and restoring people to good health and into a loving and intimate relationship with God. We can help by allowing Jesus to heal us first. By allowing Jesus to enter into the hurt, into our pain, into our own suffering, into our own wounds and woundedness. Sharing in this awesome mission and ministry of Christ will certainly bring about our healing and the healing of so many other people for we will understand why we are here and will come to understand our purpose and come to realize there is nothing more rewarding than assisting Jesus to bring about our own salvation and that of the whole world.

Rosary Reflection - 17

“At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town. Now a man there named Zacchaeus, who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man, was seeking to see who Jesus was; but he could not see him because of the crowd, for he was short in stature.” (LK 19:1-3)

My Lord, I beg you. I really beg you. From a body that wishes to bend its knees in humble adoration to praise you. From a spirit of profound humility that longs for an intimate encounter with you. From a restless mind tired of thinking, overburdened with temptation and just simply wanting to see you. From a heart that suffers spiritual homelessness when it’s unable to be united to you. From a soul overcome with a deluge of tears at the thought of you touching this innocence and seeing me, truly seeing me, as no one else can see me and sincerely gazing upon the beauty you created in me. So Lord, I beg you. I really beg you. Set your Holy gaze upon me right now, in this moment, please come in this instant, I’m begging you. Let your infinite vision gaze upon my finiteness and see me as I truly am in this moment, at this time, in this instance. Let your vision of Truth penetrate me to the core of my being as one who looks through a sheet of transparency paper and simply sees me, really sees me as I am. Please see me as I am. See me in my temptations, my tribulations, my frustrations. Look upon me with the gaze of your sweet Mercy and please see in me, way down deep in me the source of my impatience, my lack of understanding, my perceived shortcomings and even those shortcomings I tend to dwell on. Please be moved with such compassion and pity for me and heal me, please heal me. Bring your healing balm deep within me. Let the eyes of Wisdom and Divine Charity see in me the wounded, broken humanity given to me at birth as a cross which has been broken unmercifully by others and wounded unmercifully by me but still so mercifully treated and loved by you. O Lord, you know and feel the sense of my spiritual urgency and would never intentionally ignore me or ignore the cries of your poor lowly creatures. Our hearts are forever connected, fused in an ocean of your divine grace. We believe and we are certain that you know us. We believe and know you experience our longing for you. We know and believe you hear our cries. You even hear our tears and the sound of our restless heartbeats. Lord, we are searching for you. We are longing for you. We are looking for you. Lord, please come to our assistance but we know, and we are confident that you are already on your way.

Rosary Reflection - 18
“When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear. At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” (MT 14:26-27)

Pause for a moment and think about your worst fear. You know, that thing you fear the most. That thing that causes you to have sleepless nights, to over-eat, to weep uncontrollably. What if that thing really happened? What if the thing you fear the most came to pass? What is the worst that could happen? You lose your job, they find out you lied, you are embarrassed, you lose your life? Well, that could happen. But never forget that God loves you, he really loves you. God will never abandon you. God will save you. God’s plan is to have you with him in his heavenly Kingdom for all eternity. A place where there is no fear, no crying, no hurting, no pain, no dying. So even if your worst fear comes to pass, the Good News is that you will still end up with God. We fear hurt and pain and embarrassment and loss. That stuff really scares and disables us. But with God, there is endless love and mercy and consolation and peace even in moments of fear and hurt and embarrassment and loss. Especially in those moments. The moments when we need God the most. God’s gifts and God’s grace are more abundant than all our fears combined. Where there is fear, there is much more grace. When we are frightened, God’s arms hold us even tighter. When we are scared, know that we are never alone for God is with us, he will never abandon you. The things that should frighten us the most is our pride and our numbness to sin. These separate us from God’s gracious gifts, from his holy presence, from his amazing grace. And that should really scare us. We need God. We really need him. We can’t live without him. Holy Fear is our strength in moments of temptation, in moments of fear, in moments of pride and even moments of sin. In these moments, God’s grace floods us with the knowledge that he loves us, the understanding that God is greater than all our fears, the wisdom to overcome our sin and the strength to get over our prideful condition. But we must cooperate with God’s grace. We must become meek and humble of heart like Jesus and surrender to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Fear can disable us, imprison us, shut us down. Fear can cause fatigue and fill us with anxiety but only if we let it. Jesus says, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” God is always with us. He will never leave us alone. Plus, we must consider the fact that our greatest fear may never even come to pass. Jesus, we love you and we trust in you!

Rosary Reflection - 19
“Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother John, and led them up a high mountain apart by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.” (Mk 9:2-3)

To be a Disciple of Christ is to follow him, to learn from him and ultimately to be like him. Every moment with Jesus was a teachable moment. An opportunity to learn, to listen, to obey, to grow. Jesus freely shared his thoughts, his knowledge, his heart, his wisdom with his disciples. He continues to do so with us. Jesus understands that we absorb instruction and knowledge differently. Not all in the same way or at the same rate or in the same capacity. Our upbringing plays a key role in our development. It affects how we learn, how we teach, how we experience, how we understand. This is an important lesson for all teachers. To understand that not all the students start from the same page or from the same place or from the same point of understanding. A good teacher understands the students; their abilities, their limitations, how they take in information, how they process it, how they learn and how they teach. Jesus understood this. He used different methods of learning. At times, the disciples listen to Jesus share prayers and beatitudes. At times, the disciples saw signs and wonders. Other times, the disciples experienced acts of mercy and healing. Other times, Jesus shared parables to engage the disciples’ imagination in order to contemplate what the Kingdom of God is like. Through the use of these different styles of teaching and learning, Jesus re-enforced the most important lesson of them all.  How to be loving, kind, compassionate, merciful, forgiving, charitable. How to be like Jesus. Some of the lessons were difficult to understand. Like why was it necessary for Jesus to be mocked, rejected, beaten and killed then rise on the third day? God forbid they said. But being the good, patient teacher that he was, Jesus helped the disciples to see, listen, experience, and imagine the importance of the lesson through the Transfiguration. They would come to learn and understand without a doubt the depth of God’s love and the power of his glory that would destroy death, forgive sin and restore life simply because God loves us.

Rosary Reflection - 20
On the night he was handed over, [Jesus] took bread, and, after he had given thanks, broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (1 Cor 11:24-25)

Our spiritual lives play out in the rhythm of the Liturgical Year. We live in concert with the changes of its Seasons as we welcome the birth of the Christ Child, celebrate new life through him, honor his Passion and Death, then celebrate the joy of his Resurrection. Our lives seem to follow a similar pattern. Christmas brings us the joy of something new. A new year, new possibilities, a fresh new start. The season of Ordinary Time brings us the opportunity to learn more, to grow more, to better develop and form our Catholic faith and Christian identity. Lent, on the other hand, is a season to slow down the pace. It is a time to detach more, to pray more, to reflect more and to reevaluate our lives.  It is a great opportunity to take an introspective look within our hearts and within our lives and to determine what is hurtful or not helpful to our spiritual lives. It is an opportunity to let go. To be stripped of the things that distract us, that harm our spiritual growth and that keep us from more fully living out our living and dying in Christ. It is the definitive time of the year to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus to Jerusalem. It is there where we mourn and suffer the hurt, the pain and the effects of our sin. It is a moment of joyous hope and joyful expectation at the thought of being transformed into the risen Christ through the help of God’s grace. Of being transformed into a new creation and into a new life in Christ. We conclude the year by taking a retrospective look back to measure how we did. We identify what needs to change and determine if we are better prepared for the moment when Christ comes again in glory. The entire year is certainly important and critical to our spiritual journey. But in a special way we hold Holy Week close to our hearts as a the most sacred part of the Liturgical Year and the Season of Grace. It is at the heart of our Christian faith. In the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, we come to understand the source and summit of our faith. Jesus literally becoming food for us. Not just spiritual food but “True Food and True Drink” that we simply cannot live without. Jesus said to them, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.”

Sorrowful Mysteries

Rosary Reflection - 21
When it was evening, he came with the Twelve. And as they reclined at table and were eating, Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” They began to be distressed and to say to him, one by one, “Surely it is not I?” (MK 14:17-19)

Every Passionist takes a special vow, a solemn promise, a sacred oath to spend their life honoring and promoting the remembrance of the Passion of Christ. They do this by remembering his suffering and death on the Cross as Jesus himself reminds us, “do this in memory of me.” This is at the heart of the charism of the Passionists. It is their pledge to keep the memory of the Cross alive deep within their hearts and to do whatever is in their power to remind others of the great love and sacrifice that has redeemed us and brought us the eternal gift of salvation. The habit of the Passionists is a constant reminder of the promise they professed as consecrated religious. The emblem on the habit is appropriately called the “Sign” a cross on top of a heart and within the heart are the words: “The Passion of Jesus Christ.” The vision of St. Paul of the Cross, founder of the Passionists, was that the Passion of Christ be remembered by all. That it would be always in our hearts. This way, we would never forget “that God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” The Cross is the ultimate sign and symbol, expression and realization of the profound love God has for us, his people.  The problem is that our hearts are easily disquieted, deceived, distracted. Our hearts are often divided, torn, separated. We easily forget the Cross, the sacrifice, the cost. We easily forget God, his love, his mercy. We easily forget all that God has done for us to save us, to love us, to heal us and to bring us home. We betray God’s love so easily in our thoughts, in our words, in what we have done and in what we have failed to do. We betray him when we use our words to curse another rather than to extend a blessing. We betray God when we use our thoughts to tear people down rather than to build them up. We betray God when we use our eyes for lusting rather than beholding. We betray God when we use our ears for gossip rather than listening to the sweet sounds of sacred silence. We betray God when we use our bodies for pleasure rather than using it for prayer and praise and worship. Let us keep our eyes securely fixed on the Cross and let our hearts be forever possessed by it. “May the Passion of Christ be always in our hearts.”

Rosary Reflection - 22

Then they came to a place named Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be troubled and distressed. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death. Remain here and keep watch.” (MK 14:32-34)

In the Agony in Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus invites us into a prolonged suffering. He welcomes us into his prayer, into his pains, into the depths of his sorrow, into the agony of his heart. We share the disciples lack of understanding. For this night is different than any other night. Jesus’ heart is heavy. His eyes sad. His face weary. Who could know a passion so pure? Who could understand a love so sacrificial? The disciples seem to be out of place, without words, without prayer, without sleep. They do not understand. Who could love this much? It is fear that keeps them and still keeps us from knowing this profound love. It is a lack of freely experiencing this profound love that prevents them and still prevents us from going deep into the Heart of Jesus. Deep into the place of Holy Love and Holy Communion. This is especially true when we know that it is our own sinfulness that caused Jesus’ affliction, his sadness, his concern. We are the cause of his great pain and intense suffering. It is our own fear of pain and sorrow that keeps us from asking Jesus, What is it? What’s wrong? Why are you troubled? Why are you trembling? Why do you look so frightened? Why are you so sad? At first, we do not want to know the answer because we feel it will involve something from us. Perhaps a change. Perhaps a sacrifice. Perhaps a choice. We don’t understand this kind of unconditional love that burns so intensely in our human body and in our human nature. We seem to oppose this kind of divine love. We seem to be habitually prone to selfishness, to self love, to making it about us and not about Jesus. But Jesus wants us to know that he wants to do this for love of us. He wants us to move pass the fear that cripples us and into the love that frees us. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus reflects his agony and the great love he has for us. He so freely suffers to bring us relief. The flames of Jesus’ heart burn so brightly for us; ever so intensely – purifying, freeing, cleansing, suffering for our sake, suffering because of us, suffering for love of us. Jesus’ heart cries out to us. It speaks to us from a profound silence and a place perhaps unfamiliar to us. It sends forth a whisper that echos inside of us. “I love you. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners.”

Rosary Reflection - 23
“Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs who had come from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. His betrayer had arranged a signal with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him and lead him away securely.” (MK 14:43-44)

As I pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, I hear the marching of soldiers, the clanking of chains, the anger, the hate, the deception, the greed. My heart grows faint, my eyelids become heavy. I am weak but remain with Jesus. The sound of his sighs, the whisper of his cry leads me to uncontrollable tears. God gives me the grace to see beyond my own sinfulness and to see Jesus suffering in his humanity. He suffers for all of humanity. He suffers for you and for me. He suffers for everyone. He loves you and he loves me. He loves everyone. Rejection is hard for us. We take it so personal. We tend to make everything about us. We make it all about ourselves. Usually, rejection is a response to our lack of charity, our selfishness, our pride, our desire for power and control. But the rejection Jesus suffers is from hearts grown cold that have simply rejected love and mercy. The pain is unbearable. Rejected through a kiss. Betrayed by the kiss of peace. The sadness is unbearable. Jesus is rejected because he is good, innocent, pure, holy. He is rejected because of our own selfishness, stubbornness, pridefulness. We reject him because of guilt, shame, reluctance to ask for forgiveness and foolishness in receiving it. Every time we sin, we reject Jesus. We hurt and kill our Savior. But Jesus is kind and merciful. He invites us to follow him, to console him with his love. He invites us to see his humanity suffering and in the suffering of his humanity he wants to love us. O my Jesus, the thought of comforting you, even in the midst of so much noise and so many tears, moves me to say yes Lord, I will stay with you, I will come to you, I will pray with you, I will follow you. O my Jesus, how you love us and till this day feel the wounds we caused by our ingratitude, our childlessness, our greed, our ignorance. Our thoughts must be like daggers to your Divine Intellect, our inappropriate acts like a jack hammer to your Blessed Hands, our blasphemies like the sound of an atomic bomb to your Holy Ears, our pornographic vision like acid to your Precious Eyes and the hardness of our hearts like venom to your Most Sacred Heart. Forgive us Jesus. Forgive us our trespasses. Help us to use your Will, your Thoughts, your Words, your Body to atone for our sins and those of the whole world. Jesus, we believe in you, we love you, we trust in you.

Rosary Reflection - 24
They shouted, “Crucify him.” So Pilate, wishing to satisfy the crowd, released Barabbas to them and, after he had Jesus scourged, handed him over to be crucified. (MK 15:14-15)

Noise is just that, noise. Noise wants to drown out the sound of truth, the sound of sweetness, the sound of goodness. It chooses to overwhelm, it plans to overcome, it has to overtake silence. Noise wants to be seen. It wants to be heard. Noise draws all attention to itself. It is an unpleasant sound that seeks to confuse, to deafen, to silence the voice of faith, reason and truth. I am struck by the noise, the yelling, the screaming in the Passion of Christ. The crowds are angry, hostile, noisy.  They desire to drown out the truth of who Jesus is, why he came, all he did. The noise of the crowd wants to ensure the Word of God, the words of encouragement, all the miracles are hushed, quieted, silenced so that truth cannot be heard, so it can’t be seen. But truth always flows from the precious lips of Jesus. Truth is who he is. And although we are deaf to the truth, the truth never changes, it is relentless, it never gives up, it never ceases to exist or to be true. The truth sets us free. It moves us, challenges us to change. It makes us work at being good, at being holy, at being truthful. O my sweet Savior, how can anyone hear the racing of your heart beat or the pains of your body trembling or the moaning of your soul in agony or the sound of your tears and blood hitting the ground when there is so much hatred, so much yelling, so much rejection. They yell for your death. They yell out all the louder, “Crucify him!” “Crucify him!” The truth of your love is drowned out by pride and selfishness, greed and ignorance, fear and fearfulness.  Our hearts, our souls, our spirits want to hear you. They need to hear the truth that you love us. But our minds are plagued with darkness and temptation. They refuse to listen. Our minds oppose truth. They fail to understand that without you, we are nothing. Without you, we can do nothing. Without you, we cease to exist. Sin renders us helpless. It causes us to be hopeless, weak and pitiful. We lack wisdom, we lack knowledge, we lack understanding, we lack counsel, we lack strength. We become unholy, ungodly, noisy, fearful of everything except the one thing we should fear the most — being separated from you.

Rosary Reflection - 25
“The soldiers wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on his head, and clothed him in a purple cloak, and they came to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they struck him repeatedly. Once more Pilate went out and said to them, “Look, I am bringing him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And he said to them, “Behold, the man!” (JN 19:2-5)

Jesus is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. He is the actual Word uttered by God made visible. The mere sound of his Sacred Name causes all creatures in Heaven and Earth and below the Earth to bow and worship him unceasingly. One would think since he is the Divine Majesty, his crown would be made out of the purest gold and covered with the most precious stones and adorned with the rarest gems. But this king is a shepherd king, a servant king, a poor, meek and humble king. His crown is a Crown of Thorns – The crown of the Messiah, the King of the Jews. When we contemplate the Crown of Thorns, in addition to seeing the pain suffered by Christ, one should also see our gracious Savior praying, loving, repairing for the sins of all humanity. What an amazing grace it is to understand this. Not to look at the Cross in shame or as something shameful, but to see love, God’s love, how he loves. We needed Jesus to die. To die such a cruel death so as to melt the stubbornness of our hearts and dispel the wickedness from our minds that we might see, feel and experience the profundity of God’s love for humanity, his amazing patience, the intimate love he has for each one of us. Jesus had to die a horrific death for each one of us, to free each one of us. Our minds and hearts couldn’t possibly comprehend God’s love on their own. We need to understand that Jesus allowed himself to be mocked and humiliated and crowned with thorns to show us what unconditional love looks like. O Lord, our souls belong to you, long for you, thank you for granting us pardon and peace. Our bodies give you thanks for not destroying us but preserving us as instruments of your peace, cups of salvation, temples of your holy glory. O Lord, our hearts love you for you cleansed them, washed them, kissed them and made them your own. Our spirits rejoice in you. We love being with you, ministering with you, helping others through you, remaining in silence and in prayer with you. At times, our minds can be far from you. At times heavy, at times tired, at times sluggish. Our minds are always analyzing, always questioning, always suspicious. Sweet Savior, our gracious Lord and King. May your Crown of Thorns pierce our minds with your marvelous light and saving grace. May we be crowned in your glory.

Rosary Reflection - 26
“As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.” (LK 23:26)

The Cross remains for us the one definitive act in God’s love where he expresses unconditionally his love for all humanity. The Cross symbolizes God allowing himself in Jesus to be cursed and utterly humiliated for the sake of saving us. God proves his love to the point of death on a cross. Jesus would tell us no one has greater love than this. How does the Cross make you feel? What do you see when you look upon the Cross? Do you see Jesus dying because he chose not to disclose that you are the one, not he who is guilty of blasphemy? Jesus embraces the Cross for love of poor sinners. When given the Cross, he embraces it, kisses it and graciously carries the Cross to repair and atone for our sins and to pay the price for our sinfulness. He never complains. He remains silent not telling anyone how guilty we are. What if you were asked to take the place of Simon? How would you respond? Would you try to find an excuse to walk away? Would you look at Jesus with contempt as Simon did? He was concerned for himself wanting everyone to know that unlike Jesus, he was innocent of any crime and not a criminal. Simon has to be forced to assist Jesus. Do you have to be forced to assist Jesus? As Simon helps carry the Cross, he encounters the God who loves him. One look into Jesus’ eyes and Simon sees humility, innocence, vulnerability, love, patience, peace. Simon cries for he realizes the truth about who Jesus is. He is not a criminal. He is innocent. He is the Messiah who has allowed himself to be bruised, beaten and broken for the salvation of souls. For the salvation of Simon’s soul. For the salvation of our souls. Simon now understands he is a poor sinner in need of redemption. He is a poor sinner in need of this cross. He understands that he is not helping to carry Jesus’ Cross but that Jesus is helping him to carry his cross. What do you see when you gaze upon the Cross? Can you see God pouring out all his love until it hurts? Can you see God giving everything until it can hurt no more? Do you understand that no one loves you more than this or can ever love you more than this? As Jesus carries the Cross, that is, as Jesus carries your cross, he is loving you in every step, in every fall, to the point of death – death on a cross.

Rosary Reflection - 27
Now two others, both criminals, were led away with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him and the criminals there, one on his right, the other on his left. (LK 23:32-33)

Who can really understand the depths of your love O Lord, or the profound humility of your Sacred Heart or your Sacred Way? When we look upon the Cross, our hearts should bow down in extreme contriteness in order to see the meekness and humbleness of our God and ask you to make our hearts like yours. Sweet Savior, inspire us to retreat from the world and to seek your face this day. Encourage us to take a moment to put ourselves in sacred silence. To hold the Cross, look upon it and contemplate who could love us this much. Help us to hold you, Our Savior, the Savior of the world in our hands and to look into your eyes that have been pierced by hatred. O my Jesus, we need to experience the depth of your love for us. A love that has been pour out, completely spent, broken and beaten down for us. You lowered yourself from the heights of the heavenly realm with all its perfection and all its glory and all its beauty to come into complete darkness and desolation and despair. Why don’t we know how amazing your love is? You left the security and the peacefulness and the comfort of your glorious home to enter into our sinful humanity. You entered this world that is suffocating, fading, ending. Who would do such a thing? Your own people refused to listen to you. We belittled you. We doubted you. And still, you remained – you stayed with us. You ate with sinners, you touched the unclean, you spoke to the unholy, you fed the hungry, you restored what was lost. And still, your own people jeered at you, we questioned you, we did not believe in you. Our blindness is severe. Our hatred is deep. Our own sinfulness has hardened our hearts, corrupted our thoughts, shut down our ability to forgive. Our sinfulness has numbed our sensitivity to be loved, to be compassionate, to be merciful. O Lord, dispel our darkness to see the depth of your love on the Cross. Defrost the coldness of our hearts that we may experience the great love you have for humanity. Melt away our pride and stubbornness so that we can truly fear “the lost of heaven and the pains of hell.” Help us with the grace to be moved to meekness and to be humbled by your humility. Like the other thief, may we turn to you on the Cross, acknowledge your innocence and repent from our sinfulness and asked you to remember us when you come into your Kingdom.

Rosary Reflection - 28
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (JN 19:25-27)

The word “behold” signifies an action whereby one draws all their energy, all their attention, to recollect themselves and see, really see without distortion or distraction that which our undivided attention has been requested to gaze upon. To see something as it is. To see it as it really is or to see someone as they really are. That is to say: to see clearly what or who is set before us. To see without judgement, without comment, without rush. Jesus asks us to behold his mother, to “behold, your mother.” What do you see when you set your gaze upon Mary? Do you, “behold, your mother” or do you only see the mother of Jesus? To behold Mary, is to have a personal, intimate relationship with her – that is, to understand that Mary is truly the Mother of Jesus and our beloved mother, the Mother of God. We must realize, accept and rejoice in the fact that we are beloved sons and daughters of God, our Father and beloved sons and daughters of Mary, our mother. Jesus loves his mother. He loves her with a great and perfect affection and Mary loves her son with her whole undivided heart, with her whole undivided body, with her whole undivided mind, with her whole undivided soul. Mary loves Jesus in her lowliness and in her joyfulness, in her poverty and in her holiness, with all her heart and with all her strength. She loves Jesus with her entire being. It is a mother’s perfect love for her God and for her child. Jesus loves Mary as he loves us. That is to the point of death, death on a cross. Jesus’ concern at the foot of the Cross is that his Mother would be loved and looked after in his absence as he returns to the right hand of the Father. Jesus wants you to behold, your mother, Mary. Will you spend some time in prayer with her this week at the foot of the Cross to comfort her in her great sorrow? Imagine how Mary feels at the foot of the Cross to see her poor child, innocent of the crimes he was accused of, rejected for believing in God, mocked with unspeakable blasphemies, beaten to the point of being unrecognizable, murdered by excruciating pain and torture, then dying on a cross. Mary could use some comfort. Mary could use your undivided attention, a commitment to prayer and your loving presence. It would bring great consolation to our Mother Mary. It would bring great comfort to our Beloved Savior. Know that when Mary is asked to behold her child she draws all her attention to us. She draws all the attention of her Son to us. Mary loves us. We are her beloved children. So behold your mother for she has already set her gaze upon you.

Rosary Reflection - 29
Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.” They divided his garments by casting lots. The people stood by and watched; the rulers, meanwhile, sneered at him and said, “He saved others, let him save himself if he is the chosen one, the Messiah of God.” (LK 23:35-36)

The Cross is a great school for us. We learn about infinite love and divine mercy. And Jesus, our teacher and our master teaches us by example that God is truly love and that God is most merciful. After all the rejection, harsh words, hate and anger, Jesus remains on the Cross to show us what true love looks like and what Divine Mercy sounds like when he prays to the Father to forgive those who have offended him, rejected him, abused him, neglected him. Doesn’t that include us? Aren’t we guilty of offending Jesus? Our merciful God has sent his Only-Begotten Son into this world to save us, to love us, to forgive us. But this requires that we seek forgiveness with a contrite heart and desire to mend our ways, to change our life and sin no more. The Examen Prayer from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius is a great tool in examining our minds and testing our hearts in ways we might have offended God and failed to love one another. The format is easy to follow and can easily be used in daily prayer. First place yourself in silence and ask God to set his gaze upon your heart. Be mindful of God’s presence. Then Give thanks to God for the graces and blessings received throughout the day. Then ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to know your sins and to reveal to you the ways you have offended God, family, friends, neighbor, enemy, self. Then review your thoughts, your actions, your feelings, your conversations throughout the day.  Then with a contrite heart, ask God to forgive you. With the help of God’s grace, desire to change your heart and to amend your life and your ways. Finish your prayer of examination with an “Our Father.” The more contrite your heart can be, the more you will come to see and experience the God who loves you.