Your Help is Urgently Needed!

On the morning of Wednesday, October 7th, the U.S. Headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King suffered a devastating fire. Your prayers and support are needed more than ever to help with our recovery efforts.

Past Monthly Meditations

October 2016: Renewed but Not Brand New

He’s back! The Infant King’s newly restored statue has come back home to His Shrine. During the restoration process, we learned that this historic statue is even older than we thought, dating back to the 17th century, around the year 1680 or so.

The statue has been freshly restored, but it has not been made brand new. The statue still contains the evidence of the trauma it has endured. Small traces and colored markings remain in the once pristine face of the Infant Jesus, almost like little scars. His arms and legs contain thin dark lines, like the wrinkles of age. His cheeks are a little less rosy; his hair, a little less golden.

This Infant has endured fire, water and smoke while, remaining standing in his place above the altar, as the roof and ceiling collapsed around him. He has preserved his home from demolition. He has taken care of all of us, His children, in extraordinary ways. He is working hard to rebuild His house.

This statue is not the same Infant He was before. His childhood has endured many growing pains. The lessons of the past year have made Him mature. Each time we gaze upon His statue, we have a sense of that advanced age of the Infant King and a sense of the wisdom and power of this divine Child. Renewed, but not brand new.

This analogy of the renewed Infant King statue is also a lesson for us.

Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that to be saints we need to become brand new people--completely different from who we are now. However, our patron saints correct this mistaken notion of sanctity. “Be who you are, but be it well,” says St. Francis de Sales. That is, we should not eliminate and obliterate our particular temperament, our gifts and talents of human nature. Rather, we must learn with the help of grace to turn all of these to good purpose for God and neighbor.

Grace is not a substitute for human nature. However, grace can correct the excesses and strengthen the weaknesses present in our humanity and in the humanity of those people around us. Grace renews, but grace does not make brand new. Rather, as St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, “Grace builds upon human nature.” Grace does not eliminate our human nature, but works over time and with our cooperation to better and to perfect this human nature. The spiritual scars of our past falls can become transformed by grace into lessons for our amendment.

Let us not try to become brand new people. Let us not expect that other people become brand new either. Rather, by the grace of each Mass and Sacrament, by the grace of devotion to our Holy Infant King, let us ask God to renew our minds, hearts, and bodies, so that in every thought, word, and deed, we may become less selfish children and more mature adults in virtue and the practice of charity. Let us ask our Infant King to help us cooperate more fully with God’s grace as we cope with the growing pains of the daily life of our soul. May He bless our continual efforts to be better people for His glory!

The Infant King has returned with the gilded rays emanating from behind Him in symbolic representation of His rising from the ashes. So also may our persevering efforts to grow in virtue and to build upon the lessons learned from our past sins make us worthy by the grace of God to receive the heavenly crown of eternal life in the celestial Kingdom of our Infant King.

October 2015: Opposites Attract

There is an important law in the scientific world of magnetics and electricity. That’s why the balloon which you rub on your head will make your hair stand on end. The opposite electrical charges attract. We see something similar in human relationships. Very different people can be attracted to each other because they mutually find in the other person a quality which they themselves are lacking. Friends often complement each other… because, opposites attract.

This is also true for the spiritual realm. Humanity suffered the evils of violence, sickness, and greed because of Original Sin. But, this great misery of man attracted the mercy of our loving God. The 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity came down from Heaven. God became man in order to heal humanity by grace, so that by grace, man would be attracted to love God in return. Opposites attract.

This law of spiritual attraction is most apparent in the stable of Bethlehem. The Kingship of God does not overwhelm us by a mighty display of force… But rather, the Almighty comes to us as a small Child; a Babe so adorable; an Infant so charming. So that, we would understand the beauty and benefit of His truth for our good, and thus, our hearts would be attracted to love and serve Him in return.

The appealing example of our Infant King attracts our hearts to the beauty of virtue and frees us from the harms of vice. When we see Him poor in the stable, how can we be absorbed by greed and self-indulgence in material goods? How can we not be content with a simple sufficiency of the necessities of life? When we see Him humble in the manger with the lowly ox and donkey, how can we remain up on our high horse of pride? How can we look down upon others with critical judgements?

When we see Him despised and unknown in the stable, how can we have vain desires to be popular and the center of attention? How can we complain that we Catholics are also outcasts for our Faith in a hostile world?

To attract our often selfish hearts to the love of God and to the desire for Heaven, Divine might and severity would only drive us away in fear. But, the goodness and simplicity shown by our Infant King have a much more effective attraction upon our hearts than any threatening force ever could. Opposites really do attract.

An Attractive Devotion

The Infant King thus inspired St. Francis de Sales, our patron, in developing his method for the spiritual life can be called a spirituality of attraction. He tells us that in our homes and families, we should try to attract others to God by showing them the beauty and goodness of the devout life in our words and example. The sick will love your piety if your charitable words bring them consolation. Your family will love it if it makes you more attentive to their good, milder in the face of life’s trials, and overall, more amiable.

Your spouse will love your piety to the extent to which your devotion makes you warmer and more affectionate. If your parents and friends see in you a greater frankness, helpfulness, and readiness to bend to their wills in those things that are not contrary to the will of God, they too will find your life of devotion attractive. And this, as much as possible, should be your aim.” Words of St. Francis de Sales

Attractive Souls

Let us then imitate our Infant King by making our souls attractive. Comfort the sorrowful with holy words of encouragement. Bear wrongs patiently. Forgive offenses willingly. Give edifying instruct and advice to those who do not know better. May the smile of the Infant King be reflected on your own smiling face. Then, you will see that, in good time, the beauty of charity and the joy of kindness will often attract those people who are discouraged, agitated, and stubborn, inviting them gradually and inspiring them eventually to conversion of heart and soul.

To keep this good resolution of charity, let us be vigilant over the things which we ourselves are attracted to. In what we read, watch and listen to, do we foster attractions which are healthy and pleasing to God? Or do we feed attractions which are selfish and unedifying? Do we waste time with useless attractions on the internet? Do we allow attractions to persons or to habits which may be harmful to us? Our soul cannot be attractive to God or to others if its own attractions are unhealthy or scandalous.

Nourish this holy attraction

The Infant King comes down to purify us, so that our hearts will be attracted to love Him more and more. Feed that holy attraction in your soul each day by a little spiritual reading, and by a few minutes of prayer and spiritual communion with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.

Feed that holy attraction in your soul each day, and then exercise it by an extra act of kindness to a soul in need. The charity you show to your neighbor will then attract the blessing of our Infant King down upon you and your loved ones in this life, so that, after death, He may bring you all to Himself in that happy home of Heaven.

December 2014: The Infant King for All Seasons — In the Footsteps of Our Infant King

Our Creator, our Lord, in His Wisdom willed that this world be configured in such a way that we can logically divide the year according to the changes in the weather, and depending on our position on this planet, we can experience between 2 to 4 seasons. We are blessed to experience changes between these seasons. Currently, we are experiencing the summer months, and we automatically think of warm weather, going to sandy beaches, grilling food at the barbeque, camping in the woods, going to pilgrimages, etc. But it would not be likely to think especially during this month of activities that would be associated with the winter season, for example, skating at an ice rink, making a snowman, or even sipping hot chocolate.

Glory to the newborn Infant King

However, we are blessed at the Shrine of Christ the King to celebrate a feast that we normally celebrate during the Christmas season. Moreover, we are fortunate that we can celebrate the Nativity of our Lord each and every month, no matter what season we are in. We reconnect ourselves to the stable in Bethlehem and discover again the generosity of the Newborn King for the salvation of our souls. We are able, with the help of the monthly novena to the Holy Infant, to transport our body and soul to the heart of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, and the center of our being, the governor of the times and seasons. Let us remember that the Word was made Flesh for our salvation and happiness. But primarily, God is made Incarnate for His Glory, to glorify His infinite goodness. We can say that we creatures and the rest of creation glorify God in His wisdom and omnipotence and that the Incarnation of Christ glorifies Him in His charity. As God could not manifest greater mercy and charity than by giving His only begotten Son for our Salvation, so none of His works can give Him greater glory than the Incarnation of the Word. Let us recall in Sacred Scripture of the Hymn that the Angels sang at the birth of Christ the King, “Glory to God in the Highest”, which is also sung at Mass for each feast day throughout the whole year. “We praise thee, we bless thee, we glorify thee, we give thee thanks for thy great glory.” Just like at Christmas do we feel the greater need to repeat this glorious hymn of the angels, let us also sing “Glory to God” in our hearts each and every 25th day of each month. May our souls be inclined each and every day to praise our Lord, who is so immense, so great, so beautiful, but also so good, so merciful, so full of charity.

The Novena to the Infant King

The special honor and adoration that we render to the Divine Infant King today is a devotion that we all cherish and look forward to every 25th of the month. We remember that each candle that is lit and each flower that decorates the right and left side of the Main Altar represent a special intention of a soul, whether it be a request for peace in the family, or for continued physical and spiritual healing, or for the conversion of a sinner, for an increase of vocations to the religious life and priesthood, or as a sign of thanksgiving for graces received. These intentions are like little Glories to God for the Incarnate Word. From the 17th to the 25th, these candles and flowers remain here and the prayers and intentions represented by these visible signs are offered in today’s Holy Mass. To know more about this great Novena to the Infant King, please visit InfantKingOffering.org, where you will find a way to submit your own intentions as well as looking at the beautiful array of Glories to God, filled with praises and thanksgivings for the many blessings that the Infant King has given to so many souls.

Our Lives for the Glory of God

We remember Saint Paul’s teaching that we have been predestined in Christ that we may be unto the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:11-12). As pilgrims in this journey on earth to the Heavens, we can certainly say that we are proof of Christ’s glory, because the supreme end of our elevation to a supernatural state in the life of grace, our sanctification, and our eternal happiness is the glory of Christ who has redeemed us. We should then, my dear faithful, act always in such a good way that all our works and life may be a constant praise of glory to the Blessed and Holy Trinity and to Christ our Infant King, who smiles sweetly to us each and every day we enter this Holy sanctuary. Every day should be filled with praise and thanksgiving for our Lord for He has made reparation for sin by dying on the Cross and has reconciled us with Our Creator, so that we may continue to be sons and daughter to our Abba Pater. Let us render him the Honor and Glory that is due by fulfilling His will and to surrender ourselves completely to Him. Let us do this, not just simply for each 25th day of each month, but each and every day of every month of every season. To the King of Ages immortal and invisible, the only God be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

November 2014: Spiritual Poverty — Key to Heavenly Riches

God wants us all to be rich. Yes, it’s true! God wants us all to be rich, but not with the kind of wealth which comes from winning the lottery. Jesus told us: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume… where thieves break in and steal. But rather, lay up treasures in heaven: for there… where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” Mt 6:20-21

We are living in an age where material prosperity is the standard of human progress. In our society wealth is admired, and the wealthy are idolized. However, money cannot buy happiness. The human heart can never be fully satisfied by the treasure of this earth.

Lesson from Bethlehem: Poverty of Spirit

That’s why our Infant King chose to be born in the poverty of a stable. His first visitors were shepherds, people of simplicity and poverty. In Bethlehem, Jesus is teaching us that to have treasure in Heaven, to be rich in grace, we must first be poor in spirit here on earth. Such is the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:3. Poor in spirit, rich in grace.

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

To be poor in spirit does not mean necessarily that we have an empty bank account. Someone can be economically poor, but His mind can be so engrossed in the little money he has, or that poor person can be so jealous of the material possessions of others, that, in reality, that economically poor person is by no means poor in spirit. It is neither a sin nor a virtue to be economically rich. However, everyone, shepherd & king alike, is called to be poor in spirit regardless of how much we materially own or have.

Here is how St. Francis de Sales describes this poverty of spirit: “He is poor in spirit whose heart is not filled with the love of riches, whose mind is not set upon them. If you have riches, keep your heart from attaching itself to them. Act with your riches as though you had none, raise your mind above them. Your heart should be open only to heaven, while remaining impenetrable to treasures of this earth.” To illustrate this poverty of spirit, our saint points to the poverty and sacrifice endured by the Child Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, especially during their flight and exile in Egypt.

St. Francis de Sales’ advice on how to become poor in spirit

In that same chapter of Introduction to the Devout Life Book 3, chap 14, St. Francis de Sales offers advice on how to practice poverty in spirit. He says: “Nothing brings so much temporal prosperity as alms given freely, even if you become economically poorer because of what you give. Truly that is a holy and rich poverty which results from almsgiving.”

Almsgiving

To be poor in spirit, we must imitate the shepherds and the Magi kings. They all gave to the Infant Jesus the best of what they had. The quality of the gift, be it large or small, does not matter nearly so much, as the love and cheerfulness of the giver. Thus, let us guard against stinginess with one another, because God expects us to share with others the gifts, great or small, which He has freely entrusted to us. Let’s be on the lookout for simple ways in which we can give a little something to someone in need.

It is not just a matter of money or material goods. We can always give spiritual alms to people we meet each day, if we give the gift of our time, a listening ear, a smile, a kind word.

This generosity of our heart will keep us poor in spirit and deserving of heavenly treasure. Poor in spirit, rich in grace.

Holy Resignation in times of loss

Here is another way to be poor in spirit according to our Saint: “If you are impoverished much or little by unforeseen events, such as storm or drought, flood or fire, theft or lawsuit; then is the real time to practice poverty, accepting the loss quietly, and adapting yourself patiently to your altered circumstances. Accept such misfortunes cheerfully… rejoice in them, bear them willingly. Do not grieve at the losses which may happen to you.”

Gratitude instead of covetousness

And finally, to be poor in spirit, St. Francis de Sales tells us that while we should not become engrossed in what we do have, we should neither fix our desires and longing on anything which we do not possess. If, like the Holy Family, if we follow their example of humble gratitude and simple sufficiency, we will indeed be spiritually rich even in economic poverty. We will thus avoid the burning fever of greed and jealousy, as well as the unhappy cancer of complaining and discontent. Poor in spirit, rich in grace.

December 2014: The Infant King for All Seasons — In the Footsteps of Our Infant King

Our Creator, our Lord, in His Wisdom willed that this world be configured in such a way that we can logically divide the year according to the changes in the weather, and depending on our position on this planet, we can experience between 2 to 4 seasons. We are blessed to experience changes between these seasons. Currently, we are experiencing the summer months, and we automatically think of warm weather, going to sandy beaches, grilling food at the barbeque, camping in the woods, going to pilgrimages, etc. But it would not be likely to think especially during this month of activities that would be associated with the winter season, for example, skating at an ice rink, making a snowman, or even sipping hot chocolate.

Glory to the newborn Infant King

However, we are blessed at the Shrine of Christ the King to celebrate a feast that we normally celebrate during the Christmas season. Moreover, we are fortunate that we can celebrate the Nativity of our Lord each and every month, no matter what season we are in. We reconnect ourselves to the stable in Bethlehem and discover again the generosity of the Newborn King for the salvation of our souls. We are able, with the help of the monthly novena to the Holy Infant, to transport our body and soul to the heart of Jesus Christ, the Word made Flesh, and the center of our being, the governor of the times and seasons. Let us remember that the Word was made Flesh for our salvation and happiness. But primarily, God is made Incarnate for His Glory, to glorify His infinite goodness. We can say that we creatures and the rest of creation glorify God in His wisdom and omnipotence and that the Incarnation of Christ glorifies Him in His charity. As God could not manifest greater mercy and charity than by giving His only begotten Son for our Salvation, so none of His works can give Him greater glory than the Incarnation of the Word. Let us recall in Sacred Scripture of the Hymn that the Angels sang at the birth of Christ the King, “Glory to God in the Highest”, which is also sung at Mass for each feast day throughout the whole year. “We praise thee, we bless thee, we glorify thee, we give thee thanks for thy great glory.” Just like at Christmas do we feel the greater need to repeat this glorious hymn of the angels, let us also sing “Glory to God” in our hearts each and every 25th day of each month. May our souls be inclined each and every day to praise our Lord, who is so immense, so great, so beautiful, but also so good, so merciful, so full of charity.

The Novena to the Infant King

The special honor and adoration that we render to the Divine Infant King today is a devotion that we all cherish and look forward to every 25th of the month. We remember that each candle that is lit and each flower that decorates the right and left side of the Main Altar represent a special intention of a soul, whether it be a request for peace in the family, or for continued physical and spiritual healing, or for the conversion of a sinner, for an increase of vocations to the religious life and priesthood, or as a sign of thanksgiving for graces received. These intentions are like little Glories to God for the Incarnate Word. From the 17th to the 25th, these candles and flowers remain here and the prayers and intentions represented by these visible signs are offered in today’s Holy Mass. To know more about this great Novena to the Infant King, please visit InfantKingOffering.org, where you will find a way to submit your own intentions as well as looking at the beautiful array of Glories to God, filled with praises and thanksgivings for the many blessings that the Infant King has given to so many souls.

Our Lives for the Glory of God

We remember Saint Paul’s teaching that we have been predestined in Christ that we may be unto the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:11-12). As pilgrims in this journey on earth to the Heavens, we can certainly say that we are proof of Christ’s glory, because the supreme end of our elevation to a supernatural state in the life of grace, our sanctification, and our eternal happiness is the glory of Christ who has redeemed us. We should then, my dear faithful, act always in such a good way that all our works and life may be a constant praise of glory to the Blessed and Holy Trinity and to Christ our Infant King, who smiles sweetly to us each and every day we enter this Holy sanctuary. Every day should be filled with praise and thanksgiving for our Lord for He has made reparation for sin by dying on the Cross and has reconciled us with Our Creator, so that we may continue to be sons and daughter to our Abba Pater. Let us render him the Honor and Glory that is due by fulfilling His will and to surrender ourselves completely to Him. Let us do this, not just simply for each 25th day of each month, but each and every day of every month of every season. To the King of Ages immortal and invisible, the only God be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

November 2014: Spiritual Poverty — Key to Heavenly Riches

God wants us all to be rich. Yes, it’s true! God wants us all to be rich, but not with the kind of wealth which comes from winning the lottery. Jesus told us: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth: where the rust and moth consume… where thieves break in and steal. But rather, lay up treasures in heaven: for there… where your treasure is, there is your heart also.” Mt 6:20-21

We are living in an age where material prosperity is the standard of human progress. In our society wealth is admired, and the wealthy are idolized. However, money cannot buy happiness. The human heart can never be fully satisfied by the treasure of this earth.

Lesson from Bethlehem: Poverty of Spirit

That’s why our Infant King chose to be born in the poverty of a stable. His first visitors were shepherds, people of simplicity and poverty. In Bethlehem, Jesus is teaching us that to have treasure in Heaven, to be rich in grace, we must first be poor in spirit here on earth. Such is the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:3. Poor in spirit, rich in grace.

What does it mean to be poor in spirit?

To be poor in spirit does not mean necessarily that we have an empty bank account. Someone can be economically poor, but His mind can be so engrossed in the little money he has, or that poor person can be so jealous of the material possessions of others, that, in reality, that economically poor person is by no means poor in spirit. It is neither a sin nor a virtue to be economically rich. However, everyone, shepherd & king alike, is called to be poor in spirit regardless of how much we materially own or have.

Here is how St. Francis de Sales describes this poverty of spirit: “He is poor in spirit whose heart is not filled with the love of riches, whose mind is not set upon them. If you have riches, keep your heart from attaching itself to them. Act with your riches as though you had none, raise your mind above them. Your heart should be open only to heaven, while remaining impenetrable to treasures of this earth.” To illustrate this poverty of spirit, our saint points to the poverty and sacrifice endured by the Child Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, especially during their flight and exile in Egypt.

St. Francis de Sales’ advice on how to become poor in spirit

In that same chapter of Introduction to the Devout Life Book 3, chap 14, St. Francis de Sales offers advice on how to practice poverty in spirit. He says: “Nothing brings so much temporal prosperity as alms given freely, even if you become economically poorer because of what you give. Truly that is a holy and rich poverty which results from almsgiving.”

Almsgiving

To be poor in spirit, we must imitate the shepherds and the Magi kings. They all gave to the Infant Jesus the best of what they had. The quality of the gift, be it large or small, does not matter nearly so much, as the love and cheerfulness of the giver. Thus, let us guard against stinginess with one another, because God expects us to share with others the gifts, great or small, which He has freely entrusted to us. Let’s be on the lookout for simple ways in which we can give a little something to someone in need.

It is not just a matter of money or material goods. We can always give spiritual alms to people we meet each day, if we give the gift of our time, a listening ear, a smile, a kind word.

This generosity of our heart will keep us poor in spirit and deserving of heavenly treasure. Poor in spirit, rich in grace.

Holy Resignation in times of loss

Here is another way to be poor in spirit according to our Saint: “If you are impoverished much or little by unforeseen events, such as storm or drought, flood or fire, theft or lawsuit; then is the real time to practice poverty, accepting the loss quietly, and adapting yourself patiently to your altered circumstances. Accept such misfortunes cheerfully… rejoice in them, bear them willingly. Do not grieve at the losses which may happen to you.”

Gratitude instead of covetousness

And finally, to be poor in spirit, St. Francis de Sales tells us that while we should not become engrossed in what we do have, we should neither fix our desires and longing on anything which we do not possess. If, like the Holy Family, if we follow their example of humble gratitude and simple sufficiency, we will indeed be spiritually rich even in economic poverty. We will thus avoid the burning fever of greed and jealousy, as well as the unhappy cancer of complaining and discontent. Poor in spirit, rich in grace.

June 2014: The Virtue of Temperance — Finding the Right Measure in the Good, the True, and the Beautiful

Baking in the kitchen, taking care of plants, running a marathon, in all of these activities too much water, or too little water, is never a good thing. Just the right measure of water is needed.

Finding the right measure applies especially to the virtue of temperance. Temperance is self-control to find the correct measure in our thoughts, words, and actions, thus regulating any excesses and deficiencies in our behavior.

During the forty days of this Lenten season, we accompany Our Lord who is fasting in the desert. His example encourages us to practice the virtue of temperance so that our passions and movements are moderated according to the right measure known by our human reason enlightened by Faith. St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, shall be our guide in understanding this important Lenten virtue.

Why do we need Temperance?

Temperance is necessary for us, because our human nature has been wounded by Original Sin. Our fallen nature is drawn to whatever pleases us, regardless of whether or not what we desire is morally good.

We certainly need food and drink, clothing and shelter, sleep and rest for the body. In order to survive, the human race needs to reproduce itself. On the mental level, we need to acquire knowledge. On the social level we need acceptance, companionship, and understanding love.

However, our wants tend to exceed our needs, and our needs do not always correspond to our wants. There is often excess and imbalance. There is a struggle between reason and the spontaneous desire of passion. Reason tells us to stop eating because we have had enough. Reason tells us to calm down so that anger does not boil over. Reason tells us to restrain from lust and selfish love which is hurtful to others. Reason is supposed to guide us toward things which are high and worthy. However, we can become inebriated with the overpowering movements of sensual pleasure and unreasonable passion.

Temperance: Mother of many virtues

Temperance is among the four cardinal, or pivotal, virtues which form the foundation upon which all the other moral virtues can build. Mother of sobriety and fasting, temperance seeks to control our appetite for food and drink so that we avoid the vices of gluttony and drunkenness, which are at the root of many evils. Protector of the virtue of chastity, temperance curbs the desires of the flesh in order to overcome lust and incontinence.

Furthermore, temperance also subdues the desires of the spirit. Temperance in the form of modesty overcomes pride and vanity. Promoter of studious diligence, temperance regulates curiosity by the exercise of moderation in knowledge about ourselves and about others. Humility is a form of temperance which preserves us from the prideful self-deception which often seeks to exaggerate who we think we are.

The Mechanics of Temperance: Natural and Supernatural Perspectives

Temperance is at once a brake and an accelerator. As a brake, it keeps our desires from getting out of control. It tempers our urges in order to ensure that these correspond to what reason and faith tells us is really, and not only apparently, good for us. As an accelerator, temperance can motivate us to want what we should truly desire, rousing ourselves from laziness to seek out the good, the true, and the beautiful.

Throughout the Gospel, Christ is encouraging His followers to temperance and self-control which safeguard the practice of charity for God and neighbor. By His grace Jesus made available supernatural means to subdue our irrational drives so that the virtue of temperance helps us to imitate the virtues of His own Most Sacred Heart.

Thus, to inspire us to Christian abstinence and sobriety, Jesus has given us the Holy Eucharist so that this divine Bread of Angels may awaken our hunger and thirst for the heavenly Banquet. To foster the true beauty of human love, Jesus has promoted the natural institution of marriage to the dignity of a sacrament and has encouraged by word and example the holy practice of celibacy and virginity for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. To uplift our minds to Christian diligence and studiousness, Jesus has given us His teaching in the Gospel which, through the authentic interpretation of Holy Mother Church, raises our minds to the splendor of divine truth. Natural virtue for our moral life, temperance is elevated by grace so that we can participate in the ultimate measure of goodness, truth, and beauty as perfections in God.

Temperance at the Service of Truth

Temperance of life must go hand in hand with the truth which we believe. If we do not live as we believe, we will end up believing as we live. How many heresies have begun; how many conversions have tragically never happened; how many people have lost the faith they once believed; because Catholics did not conform their lives and manner of living to the truth they recognize with their reason!

How can we profess to embrace Church teaching and tradition, if we make no effort to measure our words and actions in accordance with the Will of God? How can we say that we truly love God, but that we want to keep His morality out of our bedrooms? Christian morals are inspired by faith, but also help to safeguard this faith. That is why St. Paul tells us that he practiced temperance to the point of mortification, so that he might not lose the Faith he preached. "I chastise my body, and bring it into subjection: lest perhaps when I have preached to others, I myself should become a castaway." 1 Cor 9:27

Temperance: Virtue of Spiritual Beauty

Indeed, temperance is a most necessary virtue for Catholics today. The good example of temperate behavior in our words and actions will attract others to the beauty of the truths we believe. For St. Thomas Aquinas, temperance itself brings about a spiritual beauty in a person which he calls it "honesty" or decorum. It is the beauty of an unselfish heart, which recoils from the disgrace of intemperance. Such beauty can in many ways overflow into the body, especially into the face of a person. Temperance can give a finer beauty which outshines make-up or hair coloring. Indeed, like the moon pales in comparison to the sun which outshines it, so does natural beauty pale in comparison to the divine beauty of grace.

Intemperance: the Childish Vice

But if we do not turn from our intemperance, what shall be the consequences? For St. Thomas intemperance is a childish vice. Intemperate people behave like spoiled children. But left unchecked, intemperance can lead us even further down, since it is about pleasures that are common to man and brute animal. The intemperate man, as he moves away from reason, approaches the bestial level. The light of reason becomes increasingly dimmed. The result is a loss of interest in things spiritual and intellectual. The mind descends further into the realm of the sensual, such as, for example, films that require little thinking and are dotted at regular intervals with scenes of violence, revenge, and indecent material.

Intemperance can easily ruin a marriage. Intemperance hinders the development of kindness, generosity, and a gentle spirit, which imply an awareness of another's suffering and needs.

How to be Temperate: Identify our excesses and why we do them

During this season of Lent, let us ask ourselves which are the excesses in our life. How can we identify them? Sometimes they are readily apparent. I eat too much, I waste time on mindless things, I lack purity of heart.

However, what is not always so apparent, is why we do these things. Why do I eat too much? Is it because I worry? Why do I waste so much time on the internet or why do I indulge in so much mindless entertainment. Am I trying to escape from something which I must courageously work to overcome?

Helpful Means to Temperance

As we work to unmask the excesses in life and why we commit them, let us have recourse to the Sacrament of Penance, which will give us the grace to regulate our excesses. Each Holy Communion will provide us the grace to overcome our sluggishness and to seek out with energy the goodness, the truth, and the beauty of the things of God. Then, inspired by good spiritual reading of Holy Scripture and writings of the Saints, our minds may rise more freely to the contemplation of truth, in order that we may learn just how to love God and neighbor more than ourselves.

Cultivate a spirit of thanksgiving for all of God's gifts in your life. Prayerfully count those many blessings, even those which are more simple and subtle, so that nothing is ever taken for granted. Gratitude will help us and our children to maintain temperance in daily life.

To be temperate, learn to do without the superfluous. Be satisfied with a simple sufficiency in the things of life. Although you may be limited in your time, means, or energy, always be ready to give what you can to someone else in need.

Finally, frequent meditation on the impending reality of our death and our judgment before God, as well as the everlasting pains of hell and the eternal joys of Heaven, will motivate us to persevere in a life of temperance for the loving service of God and neighbor.

Do not bank on the passing things of this world. Let us rather set our hearts on the heavenly treasure which Jesus has promised to those good and faithful servants who seek the glory of God and the well-being of neighbor in all things!

February, 2014: Holy Simplicity — How to Solve the Needless Complications of Life

Life is complicated. Whether you are filing your taxes, filling out a job application, or going to a family reunion, life is complicated. However, many times we complicate situations needlessly. How many times we allow ourselves to become complicated, only to make matters worse. To find peace of soul in a complicated world, we need that holy virtue so dear to St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Institute. We need the virtue of holy simplicity.

Holiness through the "little virtues"

St. Francis de Sales emphasizes that holiness is to be found in what he calls the "little virtues." These virtues are well within our reach to practice every day such as charity, gentleness, humility, patience, as well as simplicity. Of these little virtues, simplicity might be the one that we don't understand so well. For this reason, simplicity is perhaps overlooked, but it is so very important for the complicated world in which we live.

Christ the Infant King: Model of Simplicity

For St. Francis de Sales, simplicity begins with the Infant Child in Bethlehem. God comes to us in the most simple, unpretentious manner possible. God becomes man as a little Child born in a stable. God lives as a young boy under the direction of a mother and a father in a workshop. Through His Childhood, Jesus is teaching us an admirable lesson in simplicity.

Simplicity: Honest Transparency Resulting from Love of God

Just as children think, speak, and act sincerely and openly, without any evil intent, so should we adults speak and act in a straightforward, simple manner. To be simple is really to be transparent like a glass window which lets in the light. This simple transparency means that in our words and actions, there is no pretense, no show, no acting out a role to impress others. People with the virtue of simplicity are clear and truthful. Their relationships are honest and solid. There is no secret agenda or self-interest, no hidden intentions. Simple people are never two-faced; but they are sincere and straight, with nothing to hide.

St. Francis de Sales said, "Be who you are, and be it well." There is no need to add any frills. Simple people are noted for treating others in a thoughtful way. They rejoice in their neighbor's achievements. They spontaneously praise others for their qualities, without exaggerating. They do not need to be the center of attention, but they are content with the things they have without needing to compare themselves to others or to feel superior to them. Simple people know how to forgive others, because they have the simplicity to acknowledge their own faults and to ask for forgiveness themselves.

Ultimately, simplicity is really a form of love. It's love which forgets self-interest, love which does not care what the crowd might say. Simplicity is love which has only God for its aim and purpose. Be who you are, but be it well, and be it, for God alone.

Simplicity in Conversation: Tactful Charity

St. Francis de Sales often promoted simplicity in conversation. Simplicity does not mean that we must be straightforward to the point of being abrupt or blunt. Neither should we say immediately the first thing that comes to mind. Rather, simplicity is founded upon charity. Charity excludes flattery and deceit, as well as thoughtless insensitivity. So also, simplicity involves tact and consideration so that we can find just the right word and tone while speaking to someone in distress.

Holy Simplicity is not Simplistic

Now, the virtue of simplicity is not simplistic. Far from denying that reality is complex and full of distinctions, simplicity gives us the insight to understand clearly what seems at first difficult. For example, if you read the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, another patron of the Institute, you will see that to explain profound truths, he is making distinctions and nuances all the time. However, his writing style is simple and straightforward without being pedantic or overly sophisticated. Not one word of his explanation is superfluous. He leads you along to understand what seems complex in a simple, orderly way. He does not lead you to himself, but he leads you to the truth... to the truth which is God. That's why St. Thomas is a genius of straightforward simplicity.

Perfectionism: Enemy of Simplicity

In people of good will, the great enemy of simplicity is perfectionism. Perfectionists always want everything to be just right. Thus they spend enormous amounts of time and energy on one small detail. They lack the simplicity to be content with doing the best they can according to the circumstances. People who lack simplicity will never do much of anything because the complications of life will bog them down. They must learn to let go of all that is not of God.

They must look a little more at Christ the Infant King who loves them and a little less at themselves in their own spiritual mirror, sacrificing their desire for spiritual self-satisfaction in order to allow their thoughts and actions to be focused on God and His Will for them. Learning to accept their own human limits while entrusting to God all of their actions and endeavors is a marvelous practice in the virtue of holy simplicity: "Jesus, I trust in You."

Practical Advice to Holy Simplicity

Realize that God alone really matters. This earth is not our home, but we are merely passing through on our way to Heaven, our true and lasting home. Thus everything of this world, such as material goods, the opinions of others, and even our own sense of self-satisfaction, is all nothing in comparison to the good God. God alone matters, and something only has importance inasmuch as it relates to God and our loving service to Him.

Learn to rely upon God in that little prayer, "Jesus I trust in You." Do not be overly fearful. Trust in God and do your best according to the order of priority in your life. His grace will correct you when you need it. He will never allow anything to happen to you unless it can in some way be a helpful lesson for you. "Jesus, I trust in You."

Simplicity is contrary to that anxious care of ourselves. Simple people do not second-guess themselves. They avoid the trap of self-analysis which results in scrupulosity.

Do not worry about tomorrow. But, with confidence, have the best intention to please God today, "Jesus, I trust in You."

Simple people do not shy away from asking for advice. So, have the good sense to seek out counsel to your questions. You will most often be rewarded for your humility with helpful answers.

Conclusion: Little Virtue of Simplicity Will Carry You a Long Way

Yes, Life is complicated. However, you can learn to live it in an uncomplicated manner with the virtue of simplicity. "Be who you are, but be it well, and be it for God alone." If you read the writings of St. Francis de Sales and if you pray for his intercession, he will teach you how the little virtue of simplicity can carry you a very long way. From the stable of Bethlehem, the virtue of simplicity will guide the ship of your soul away from the dangerous waters of self-intent, and protect you from the reefs of perfectionist complications and simplistic sophistries, so that, with the humility of deference to your neighbor, with the charity of tactful but candid speech, and with confident trust in the grace of God, you will arrive safe and sound in that blessed harbor of Heaven.

January, 2014: Dependence on God — Cornerstone of Virtue

We human beings like to be independent. Indeed, there is a legitimate independence which can motivate us to accomplish important duties for the good by industrious work and diligence. However, it is in our fallen human nature to want to push our independence to the extreme. For example, how easy it is for that self-reliant work ethic to become stubborn self-will, despite even our best intentions.

Dependency from the Human Perspective

Somehow not having to ask anyone for anything, doing it all by ourselves, has become a great virtue. The more we can do for ourselves without assistance, the more successful we feel, the more confident we are in our abilities and the more valuable we become to others. Consequently, we see dependence is a sign of inadequacy. Dependence seems to imply neediness, lack of resources or ability, poverty, fragility, even failure. Thus, our human nature does not like to be dependent.

Dependency from God's Perspective

However, dependence, when seen from God's perspective, relates more to virtue than to vice. Having created us from nothing and having given us every good thing we have, God continues to hold us in existence at every moment. It is God who is in charge of us. His Divine Providence is always at work in our lives. Thus it is God who has actually enabled whatever achievements we so eagerly claim as our own. Truly, we are not independent and self-sufficient as we often think. Rather, we depend totally on God.

Dependency of our Infant King: Salutary Lesson for us

So that we would better understand this simple but profound truth, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity became a little Child in the stable of Bethlehem. Just like our Infant King was dependent on Mary and Joseph for everything necessary in his human life as a child, so also are we children of God to be dependent on our heavenly Father for everything we are and have, as well as for everything we want to be. Jesus spoke of this spiritual dependence on God again and again in the Gospels: "Unless you become as little children, you will not enter into the Kingdom of Heaven." (Mt 18:3) Like Jesus our Infant King, we must become spiritually child-like, relying upon God and His Providence in our lives more than upon ourselves and our own strength.

How Can We Grow to Depend More on God?

The realization of our dependence on God is the essential cornerstone to building the edifice of a virtuous life. We may be aware of this intellectually. However, how are we to grow in this realization in order to make progress in virtue?

The Lord's Prayer: Help to Humility

Pride is the source of great illusion, but humility is quite simply truth: the truth that we are children of God our Father who created us, the truth that without God we can do nothing, the truth that we rely upon God for our daily bread, the truth that we are imperfect creatures who need God's merciful love, the truth that God is calling us each day to deeper conformity of our heart to His own Sacred Heart. No matter what may be our talents, our energy, no matter the great capacity we think we have, on our own we will always fall short. We need God for absolutely everything. "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves: but our sufficiency is from God." (2 Cor 3:5) Each time we pray the Our Father, God will make us His children to grow in humility.

Dependence upon God begins with that very simple, poignant truth: we must be convinced deep down of our own inadequacy. Sometimes God may allow trials and troubles to come upon us so that we better realize our own inadequacy. In feeling our weakness, we are moved to reach up prayerfully to God our Father for help. For this Jesus has given us that perfect prayer which is the "Our Father." Daily recitation of the Lord's prayer, together with meditation on the profound meaning of its every phrase, will be a powerful means to spiritual dependency on God. Let us often repeat those holy words: "Thy Will Be Done" so that, by accepting our daily trials in a spirit of patient resignation to the Will of our Heavenly Father, the troubles of life can be used by God's Providence to teach us lessons in humility. Each time we pray the Our Father, we learn to let go of our own spirit of independence and to embrace God's Will, which alone can bring us strength and peace of soul.

Frequent Confession Teaches Us to Depend on God

An honest examination of conscience will allow us to be open to the divine light of grace, which will dispel the illusions which we so easily make about ourselves and our own independence. Our human pride wants us to overestimate our strength and our abilities. However, the humble and frequent admission of our faults and failings in the confessional helps us to see progressively that we can do nothing on our own and that we depend entirely on the help of God. Confession is humility in action.

The Holy Eucharist: Humility Blossoms into Confidence

Humility brings us low so that we may have confidence not in ourselves, but rather in the God who loves us more than we can possibly imagine. The Infant King who humbled

Himself to be born in Bethlehem's manger, where He was dependent on Mary and Joseph, likewise humbles Himself to come into the tabernacles of our churches, where He is dependent on the ministry of His priests in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Jesus has lowered Himself to dwelling really and truly under these humble species of bread and wine in order to inspire our confidence in His goodness.

Just as we depend on food and drink for the life of our body, so also do we depend on the Holy Eucharist for the spiritual life of our soul. Frequent reception of Holy Communion will give us divine grace and inspiration to be truly dependent on God in all of our thoughts, words, and actions. Since we depend on so loving a God who comes to be with us as our Eucharistic nourishment, we can then be confident that in His love for us He will fulfill our every need.

Conclusion

If dependence on God is the cornerstone of the edifice of a virtuous life, humility is the foundation upon which confidence can then build. Dependence on God our Father in Heaven will ultimately bring us the peaceful reassurance that He will take care of us. To depend more on God and less upon ourselves, frequent Confession, daily recitation and meditation on the "Our Father" prayer will be effective means. In this way, we will grow in the virtues of humility and confidence so that, even in the most trying circumstances of life, Divine Providence and our cooperation with grace may lead us children to the heavenly home of God our Father.

December, 2013: Longanimity — The Virtue of Waiting with Courage

In our world of fast food and high-speed electronics, we people of the 21st century do not like to wait. How impatient we easily become, if we have to wait a couple of minutes at a traffic light, or if our computer is a few seconds too slow. Despite all of the time saving advantages which technology has made possible, people today are more in a hurry than ever before, especially as we near the holiday rush before Christmas. No one wants to wait.

God's Wisdom of Waiting

However, the liturgical season of Advent is all about waiting. These four weeks of Advent symbolize thousands of years of waiting for the most important event in history, the birth of the Son of God. After the Original Sin of our first parents in the Garden, God promised a Redeemer to save humanity from sin. However, in order for humanity to understand the consequences of sin and thus to appreciate the extraordinary gift of Redemption, God waited thousands of years before sending His only Son as our Redeemer. This careful preparation shows us that God wisely knows how to wait. God has the right time for everything. Good things come to those who patiently wait.

Waiting is Not Wasted

When we think of waiting, in today's world, we may perhaps think of a crowded doctor's office, or of a long line at the supermarket, or of rush hour traffic. Waiting may seem like wasted time—idle moments of waiting which we simply have to kill somehow.

However, for the Christian, no time is ever to be wasted because even in trying times of trial and hardship, the Christian is awaiting a reality which is beyond this present world.

Faith gives us patience to await the supernatural. To await something means to look forward with expectation, as we say in the Creed: I await the resurrection of the dead, I look forward to the life of the world to come. As we wait with patient virtue during these moments of our earthly existence, we can ultimately deserve to receive a reward in Heaven, our true and lasting home.

Longanimity: Virtue of patient waiting

Waiting itself is not a virtue, but it is the essential part of the virtue which Christian tradition calls longanimity. We find this virtue listed by St. Paul as one of the 12 Fruits of the Holy Ghost. (Gal 5:22-23)

St. Thomas explains in detail that longanimity is the fruit of patience which holds strong over time. Sometimes called long-suffering, longanimity refers to patience insofar as waiting causes difficulty, suffering, and sorrow. Longanimity is pro-longed patience. It is prolonged endurance of arduous difficulties over a protracted period of time for the sake of the good. (Summa Theologica IIa IIae q. 136, art. 5)

St. Francis de Sales had special esteem for this virtue of knowing how to wait with courage amid the most trying circumstances: "I have greater esteem for a person who knows how to bear suffering patiently than for one who receives magnificent projects."

Benefits of longanimity

In times of trial we must learn to await God's good time. In the language of the Bible, to wait upon God means to persevere in prayer, to invoke God's help without ceasing. If God keeps us waiting, as He did for the prophets of old, certainly there must be a lesson to learn. Perhaps He wants us to understand that we truly do need Him because on our own, we can do nothing.

Sometimes God waits to help us until we are in our hour of greatest need, so that we can come closer to Him through prayer, so that we will better appreciate what we ask for, or so that we can make up for our past faults. The longer God keeps us waiting, the more His divine help will surpass all our expectations. We must be confident that He will answer our prayers when He thinks the time is right.

Wait for God because God waits for us

The next time you find yourself impatient in those everyday moments when you have to wait, think about how often God waits for us. Jesus waits for us in the tabernacle. He awaits us in the confessional. Jesus awaits us in that unpopular person among us whom everyone neglects to speak with. Jesus is waiting us in those unpleasant chores of daily life. In the work place, in our offices, workshops, and kitchens, Jesus is waiting for us. He is inviting us to love Him by fidelity to daily duty, By acts of charity accomplished for our neighbor.

Sometimes we may wonder why God keeps us waiting . . . For an answer to our prayer, or for giving us the help we need . . . But it is rather we ourselves who have so often left Jesus to wait for us and our own convenience.

Advent Resolution: Cultivate Longanimity by Fervent Morning Prayer

This Advent, let us not leave Jesus to wait any longer. Let us have recourse to prayer, especially during the morning hours of each day before we begin our daily routine. Advent is the morning time of the Church's liturgical year. If we are faithful to some minutes of prayer in the morning, if we take a few extra morning moments in the presence of God at the start of our day, we will then most assuredly be more patient throughout the rest of the day.

This Advent, await the Lord's coming with patience. Persevere in prayer. Spend your morning moments in the presence of the Lord who waits for your love. Then, you will see that good things come to those who wait. The coming of Christ at Christmas will be a small foretaste of the blessed eternity which awaits us all in Heaven.

November, 2013: Gratitude is the Best Attitude—Growing in the God-like Virtue

Gratitude is the best attitude! Such is the lesson taught to us by Christ our King. Throughout His life on earth, Jesus continually expressed gratitude toward His Father: "Father, I give Thee thanks because Thou hast heard me." (Jn 11:41) As He multiplied the loaves and fish (Mt 15:36), as He instituted the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper (Mt 26:27), the Gospels note that Jesus gave thanks to God the Father, thus giving us an example which we should follow. Gratitude is the best attitude!

Gratitude: Natural Virtue which must be elevated to the Supernatural

In society gratitude is seen as the highest form of courtesy and common good manners. However, gratitude also has a supernatural role. It's the secret to spiritual progress and peace of soul. If we wonder why God does not answer our prayers, if we become discouraged, frustrated, depressed, or if we are sometimes jealous, impatient, resentful, it is sometimes because we are a little self-centered. Sometimes we are lacking in gratitude.

Gratitude: Expression of Faith, Hope and Charity

First of all, gratitude is a duty. Everything we have is a gift freely given by God our Father. Life, loved ones, talents, everything without exception is a free gift. When we thank God, we acknowledge that we depend upon Him, like little children depend on their Father. It is not us, but it is God who is the source of every good thing. Gratitude thus becomes an act of Faith and an expression of humility. Gratitude is truly great.

Secondly, Gratitude gives us great hope and confidence in God. Do you want to obtain a special favor from God? Well then, show Him how grateful you are for His past blessings. How can God give you future gifts, if you are not grateful enough for what He has already given you? If God has helped us so many times in the past, then we can count on His help in the future. Each evening be sure to count God's blessings one by one throughout the previous day. Gratitude will chase away all dark thoughts of worry and despair because it is a source of confidence and trust in God our Father. Gratitude to God will make you spiritually strong.

Besides Faith and Hope, Charity is also an expression of gratitude. If we are truly grateful to God, we will also be grateful to our neighbor. If there are difficult people in your life, if there are past differences, if you find it hard to overcome impatience and anger, then try to show gratitude to others. Grateful goodness disarms hostility and bitterness.

St. Thomas Aquinas says that expressing a kind word or doing a thoughtful deed in gratitude or appreciation for some good thing would be a good start to cure any hard feelings: "He that bestows a favor must not at once act the part of a punisher of ingratitude, but rather that of a kindly physician, by healing the ingratitude with repeated favors… He that bestows a favor on an ungrateful person offers him an occasion not of sin but of gratitude and love." (Summa Theologica IIa IIae q. 107, art.4)

Gratitude is God-like: Example of the Infant King

But what if someone is ungrateful to you? St. Thomas Aquinas, patron of the Institute of Christ the King, says that on principle, we should not refuse a favor to a person who has proved himself ungrateful. Are we all not children of God? Isn't God a Father who continues to give us to His children grace upon grace despite our own sins and ingratitude? "The Most High is kind to the unthankful, and to the evil." (Lc 6:35)

St. Thomas says that gratitude is truly great. Greatness consists in repaying evil with goodness, because in this way man imitates God, who is good even to the ungrateful. In this way gratitude is God-like. Even though the Infant Jesus was rejected in the inns of Bethlehem, did He not choose to be born anyway in order to save those very people who rejected Him?

However, St. Thomas does mention that if the more we repeat favors, the more ungrateful and evil the other person becomes, then we should cease from going out of our way to bestow favors upon him. (Summa Theologica IIa IIae q. 107, art.4)

Nevertheless, the general rule remains: gratitude is God-like. Thus, gratitude is the best attitude. When we gratefully give a little, God gives us a lot more in return.

Gratitude in the Family toward the Living and the Deceased

Husbands and wives! There would be more joy in married life and there would be more peace in the home, if you would only say thank you to each other more often. What a great example that would be for the children! Gratitude is an essential ingredient to spiritual progress in the family. Don't take each other for granted, but give back to each other in gratitude! Let us waste no time in expressing gratitude to others in our words, but more importantly by our actions.

Let us also not forget to show gratitude toward our departed family and friends, to those whose places are empty at our Thanksgiving table. Perhaps you never had the chance to say thank you to your loved ones before their death. However, it is not too late to show gratitude. It is still possible to say thank you. It may be that they are now suffering in Purgatory. They may be undergoing painful purification, making up for sins committed during life before they can enter Heaven. It's possible that our beloved departed may now be in their hour of greatest need. That's why there is no greater way you can say thank you to them, then to offer prayers and sacrifices for their release from Purgatory. Your grateful prayers for them can hasten their entrance into Heaven.

Highest Form of Gratitude: Devotion to the Holy Eucharist

The best way of all to give thanks is to honor the Holy Eucharist. The word, Eucharist, comes from the Greek word for "Thanksgiving."

Give thanks to God by your efforts to make a worthy Communion. Prepare your soul by frequently receiving the Sacrament of Penance. Spend a few quiet minutes before Mass in preparation. Stay a little after Mass in thanksgiving for the gift of the Eucharist. Keep silent reverence in the church. Pray for those people to whom you owe a debt of thanks. These efforts are good practices for growing in the virtue of gratitude through devotion to the Holy Eucharist.

In each Holy Communion we receive He who on earth was perfectly grateful to His Heavenly Father. Thus in each Communion Christ our Infant King will help us to grow in that gratitude which makes us spiritually God-like. If we are then truly grateful on earth, we shall be forever happy in Heaven at the banquet of eternal Thanksgiving in the Kingdom of God our Father.

October, 2013: How Perseverance Can Pay Off for You

Why Perseverance?

Why do so many Catholics fall away from practice of the Faith? Why do so many marriages end in divorce? Why so many broken friendships?

In our modern world, we often lack the virtue of perseverance. Today's society is attracted by novelty—the idea that everything will be better if only we start over again with something new. Instead of fixing something, we simply throw it away and get a new one. It is often more cost-effective that way.

However, human relationships, ideals and values, cannot be treated as disposable appliances or as used cars. Experience tells us that truly anything worthwhile in life can only be accomplished by perseverance. You have to keep working at it without giving up, as any couple who has been married for 50 years would tell you. Perseverance pays off.

What is the virtue of perseverance?

The patron saint of the Institute of Christ the King, St. Thomas Aquinas, says that this virtue of perseverance is a type of fortitude, the virtue of spiritual strength. Perseverance is the virtue which disposes a person to hold steadily to a good purpose. While keeping the goal steadily in view, the persevering person stands firm and strong despite hardships, delays, fatigue, and temptations to give up.

The life of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is a model of perseverance for us. From the years of exile in Egypt and the years of hidden life in the home of Nazareth to the sorrowful Way of the Cross up Mount Calvary, Jesus, Mary and Joseph show us that we must continually practice perseverance at all times and in all places.

Perseverance: stronger than fainthearted pusillanimity

In medio stat virtus. As indicated in this adage, perseverance is to be found in the middle between excesses. On the one hand, there is a lack of strength which makes us soft and fainthearted, or pusillanimous, as St. Thomas says. This is a culpable disposition to refuse to face up to situations of difficulty that one might well handle and overcome. It's a refusal to do what one reasonably can, like the servant in the Gospel who buried his Master's talent of gold in the ground because he was too fainthearted to use it.

Unlike this pusillanimous servant, St. Joseph was not afraid of failure. In Bethlehem the best accommodations he could find was a mere stable. Exiled in the foreign land of Egypt, St. Joseph was barely able to earn a living for the Holy Family. And yet, despite adverse circumstances and his own limitations, St. Joseph never gave up despite the very mediocre results of his best efforts.

True perseverance does not blame God for failure. Rather, this virtue helps us to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us in our failures. Perseverance gives us the strength to make a better try next time.

Perseverance: gentler than prideful presumption

The Holy Family did not lack strength, but their strength was not an excessive, brute force either.

Strength which is too great lacks prudence and charity. This is not perseverance, but it is rather prideful presumption, or pertinacity, as St. Thomas calls it. Presumption appears in headstrong, stubborn, self-righteous people who want their own way rather than what is right and who wish to humiliate and defeat their opponents. Pride is the chief enemy of perseverance. Prideful people give up once their stubbornness wears off.

On the contrary, the Immaculate Virgin shows how perseverance is humble strength. It's the power of charity. Standing for hours at the foot of the Cross, Mary persevered in praying for the cruel crowd of brutal executioners, jealous leaders, and indifferent onlookers as they participated in the murder of her Son an her God. The Immaculate Virgin remains the Mother of compassion because she is humble. Desiring their conversion, Mary endures suffering for the good of these souls rather than seeking vengeful retribution.

3 Points to Perseverance: How it can pay off for you?

How can we practice true perseverance while avoiding the opposite extremes of pusillanimity and presumption?

1. Do not limit yourself to mere human expectations. First of all, we must not give up because God does not fulfill our human expectations. One might think that God would grant success to the Holy Family. However, the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph was one of continual hardship, poverty, and persecution. Just because we do God's Will virtuously does not mean that we shall always have successful results in this world. In His wisdom, God may perhaps surpass our human expectations by allowing an apparent failure for a higher spiritual reason. The apostles had thought that Jesus' promising career ended in failure on the cross of Calvary. However, this apparent failure was necessary so that He could rise again in glory on Easter Sunday.

By the grace of God, failure can become fruitful, if we try our very best to cooperate with divine Providence. In our failures, we must continually pray. Perseverance means trusting that God our Father will provide for us His children a good solution in His own time.

2. Learn to wait. The 2nd point to perseverance: we must learn to wait; we must teach our children what it means to wait. Modern man is always in a hurry, and so he easily gives up when immediate results are not obtained. Haste is the archenemy of perseverance. To persevere we must await God's time. We must learn to wait with Mary. She waited for years in exile in Egypt. On Holy Saturday, before Pentecost, Mary waited. She waited in prayer. Rosary in hand, we will learn to wait with Mary.

3. The joy of Liturgy and Culture will make you strong. The 3rd secret to perseverance: we will find the courage to persevere, if we are joyful. The Bible tells us: "Joy in the Lord shall be your strength." (Nehemiah 8:10) The source of our joy is to be found in the constant orientation of our life to the supernatural. Thus the celebration of the divine in the Holy Liturgy will bring us joy in life. This spiritual celebration then becomes the source of joy which expresses outwardly in so many ways such as music, art, and literature, as well as friendships, recreation, and even good food and drink. From Liturgy is born Catholic culture, and this culture helps to promote the Liturgy in our lives. In a world which is ever more sad because of selfishness and sin, we need to celebrate with joy our Catholic identity: true unity in the joy of charity. The joy of being together as one large Catholic family is powerful source of strength and inspiration for us to persevere in the daily crosses of your lives.

Persevering patience in prayer will be rewarded

Following the example of the Holy Family, let us persevere in the good, avoiding both discouragement and hasty presumption. Be patient with the petty things of life. Patience in the little things will make you strong in great undertakings. Be constant in prayer. Wait for God in patience. Trust His Providence no matter what happens. Smile because He loves you. Joy in the Lord shall be your strength.

Let us then rejoice that God wants us to be happy. That's why He created us for Heaven.

Hope in Heaven. Be hungry for Heaven. After this life of sorrow and trial, the hard work of Perseverance will pay off in the heavenly kingdom of Christ our King.

September, 2013: Yes, You Too Can Become Patient—and Here's How!

Patience! Patience is the essential virtue for life in today's furiously fast-paced world. Without patience, our agitated emotions dominate us. How many times our family members and friends have endured those irritable words and complaints which we have unleashed in our fits of impatience! As we struggle under the burden of life's cares and troubles, let us remember that Jesus Himself had to exercise this virtue of patience during His life on earth. "Come to me, all you who labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you" (Mt 11:28).

This month's Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross offers us the opportunity to reflect on the perfect patience of Christ our King. His divine patience was already practiced from Infancy. The Child Jesus remained patient as He suffered the cold and neglect in the exposed manger, and as He endured the persecution of enemies who sought to kill Him. Indeed, the wood of the stable in Bethlehem prefigures the wood of the Cross of Calvary.

Let us then strive for a better understanding of the virtue of patience and its fruits in order to walk in the little footsteps of our Infant King. He who admirably exercised sovereign patience throughout His life from the cradle to the Cross will help us to practice this virtue so necessary for our families and communities.

What is patience?

The word "patience" is derived from the Latin word pati, which means to suffer, to endure, to bear. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, patience is a kind of fortitude, since patience is the virtue by which a person uses his strength to bear up against the frustrations, disappointments, the misfortunes and hardships of life without losing his serenity and without becoming irritated or despondent. Ultimately, patience is a real control of self, of one's emotions and impulses so that a certain inner peace is maintained in adverse circumstances.

On the contrary, impatience is the lack of self-control, and leads to other and greater faults. It can easily grow into anger, irritability, harsh words, unpleasantness towards others, etc.

Supernatural Patience: Fruit of Faith and Charity

This natural virtue of patience can be elevated to the level of a supernatural virtue when it is practiced under the influence of Faith and Charity. Faith tells us that God cares for us as a loving Father who foresees and allows everything which happens in our life. His Divine Providence does not permit any trial that will not be a source of good for us and for our spiritual growth, if we endure this trial with patience in accordance with the grace which is given to us. "Your faith is put to the test in order to make you patient… that you may be perfect and entire, failing in nothing." (St. James 1:3-4) As our Faith in God grows into unshakable trust in His Providence, so does our patience become more perfect in difficult situations.

Fruit of Faith, patience is also a fruit of love or charity because it comes from the grace of friendship with God. Patience is possible only when the soul loves something good with a love strong enough to make it bear up under oppressing evils. Thus, patience is not to be confused with indifference or stoic passivity to all that happens. On the contrary, patience is a dynamic dimension of love. The patient person is able to endure much because he willingly accepts to suffer for the sake of the beloved. Remember that the word patience is linked to the word Passion. Our King suffered patiently the humiliation and pains of Calvary in loving obedience to His Father and in loving desire to spare humanity from the eternal death of sin. "Charity endures all things" (1 Cor 13:7).

On difficult days which severely try our patience, be sure to pray an Act of Faith and an Act of Charity. As we grow in these theological virtues, so also do we grow in patience to endure suffering without irritation and complaint.

Fruits of Patience: Peace, Freedom, Meekness

A fruit of Faith and Charity, patience produces fruits of its own; the greater the patience, the more ripe its fruits will be. Patience is a great source of peace. Patience preserves peace of mind in the face of injury, suffering, and sadness. It prevents us from being "discouraged" — from losing courage. "In your patience you shall possess your souls" (Lc 21:19).

The patient person, therefore, possesses a great freedom. He is free to stay on course with his life and fulfill his responsibilities, at least to some reasonable extent, even when bad things happen to him. The person lacking in patience is so overcome by his troubles in such manner he fails to live virtuously in his relationships with others.

Fruit of charity, patience ultimately blossoms into kindness which is expressed in thought, word, and action. Patient people attract others to God by the beauty of their meek example. Thus, the patience of Jesus on the cross brought the good thief to ask forgiveness. The patience of martyrs often moved the onlookers to conversion.

The Practical Meaning of Patience

While it obtains a certain peace, patience is not a passive virtue. It requires much inner strength not to be discouraged in the midst of great trials and sadness. Peace of soul can only be obtained at the price of courageous struggle and of uncompromising cooperation with grace.

Thus patience is not an idyllic tranquility. Patience does not mean that we will never feel our temper start to boil, or that we will never experience any sort of agitated emotion. We remain human, and thus continually subject to such restless feelings.

Rather, patience consists in taking hold of our soul, when we are troubled or agitated by some sort of inconvenience or nuisance, and placing our soul simply and gently before God. There we ask Him for the grace to heal our disturbed souls, and we spiritually unite our sufferings to those of our suffering Jesus.

Christ our King: Model of What Our Patience Should Be

Christ our King is our supreme model of patience. Even with those people who were closest to him, like his impetuous and inconstant Apostles, Jesus exercised at all times an untiring patience and gentleness of manner. Never was the patience of a King greater then when Jesus willingly delivered Himself up to death for the sake of His subjects. During Christ's Passion, they spit in His face. They struck him violently. They accused Him wrongly. However Our Lord held His peace and remained perfectly patient. In the anguish of the most terrible sufferings, He does not complain, but prays, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."

We should reflect often on the infinite patience which God has with us. Time and again we resolve to correct this or that fault — only to fall again. Each time Our Lord patiently awaits our return in order to pardon us again. In the same way, God expects us to be patient with the frailty of others without condoning their faults. We cannot expect an immediate and total conversion in them, for we ourselves are not perfect in the amendment of our own lives.

How to Obtain the Gifts of Grace Necessary to Be Patient

Weak human beings that we are, we have a constant need to ask the Sacred Heart of Jesus for this grace of being patient — we cannot be patient in and of ourselves. Patience is fundamentally a gift of grace, but a gift of grace which necessitates our full and uncompromising cooperation.

Morning prayer is key to growth in patience. St. Francis de Sales recommends that in the morning we foresee the upcoming situations and circumstances which try our patience. When made consistently and with true effort, the spiritual preparation of morning prayer will obtain for us the grace to remain calm throughout the day. Acts of Faith and Charity are a helpful part of this morning exercise.

Offer up your sufferings for a specific prayer intention such as a sick person, a fallen away Catholic, a person in trouble, or a soul in Purgatory. This offering made in union with the sufferings of Christ crucified is very valuable in the eyes of God and can move His Heart to grant many graces to souls who need them. When we suffer with a spiritual purpose, it makes that suffering easier to bear.

In the midst of your sufferings reach out to perform some small act of charity or mercy to another person. This helps you to see that the sufferings of others are often greater than your own. In helping another, you will also be helping yourself, and you will attract the mercy of God upon you.

Patience with others begins with patience with self. Do not make unreasonable expectations for yourself. Beware of a perfectionist attitude! Learn to let go of your self-will by making an act of self-surrender to God "Father into Thy hands I entrust my spirit" (Lc 23:46). Remember that God is in control, and not you.

Patience is a gift which is granted to those who love to meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Passion of Christ. Share your sufferings with our Sorrowful Mother in the daily Rosary. Just as, in the 5th and 6th Stations of the Cross, Simon of Cyrene and Veronica came to help Jesus immediately following Mary's visit in the 4th station, so also will Mary help you to endure those burdens which are beyond your mere human strength.

The most powerful source of patience on earth is to be found in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the altar. Jesus gave us the Holy Eucharist as a memorial to the Passion which he so patiently suffered for us. Thus this Sacrament of Christ's Charity for us will strengthen our love so that it can endure greater sufferings each day while maintaining a peace of soul which cannot be defeated by the evils of this life. A spiritual communion devoutly made can help us to recover our patience when it has faltered.

Finally, the secret to patience is to think often of Heaven, which will be the consoling reward for every earthly sorrow born with patience. All suffering, no matter how painful, will sooner or later come to an end. God alone remains forever! Remember these words of St. John Vianney in one of his many famous sermons, "Oh, if only we could spend one week in Heaven, we would understand the great value of our sufferings of this present moment. And then, no cross would seem heavy enough for us. We would have to become thieves. We would steal one another's crosses in our desire to gain more treasure in Heaven."

Yes, you too can become patient!

Through the Passion and Cross of Christ our King may you be brought to the glory of His Resurrection in the heavenly Kingdom!

August, 2013: Forgiveness—The Gift that Means Mission

Why forgive?

It has been said that "To err is human; to forgive, divine." At the end of His life, the Son of God made man forgave those who crucified Him, saying: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." In like manner, at the dawn of His life Christ the Infant King granted forgiveness to His enemies who cruelly sought His life, even while they forced Him from His homeland into exile in Egypt. Therefore, there is no better way for us to imitate our Divine King than to grant forgiveness to those who trespass against us.

Before the coming of Christ, many people of the ancient world often looked down upon forgiveness and mercy as signs of weakness. However, a few Greek and Latin thinkers saw forgiveness as something approaching the divine. For the Greek philosopher Aristotle, for example, forgiveness helps to preserve personal virtue. Thus, we should put aside the offense caused by the offender because it would be petty not to do so. The virtuous person forgives in order to maintain self-control, thus avoiding the ugly excesses of revenge and anger.

While showing appreciation for the insights of thinkers like Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas also shows how the forgiveness taught and lived by Jesus Christ is far above and beyond the type of forgiveness promoted by the philosophers. Since Christian forgiveness is founded on the virtue of charity, the focus of forgiveness is therefore on the good of the offender.

Forgiveness is one of the finest fruits of charity. The greatest of all virtues, charity moves us to care for our neighbor, even if he be our enemy, for that neighbor's own sake. This means that Christian forgiveness has no strings attached. It is not just about forgetting a wrongdoing, but of actively seeking out the enemy for his good. Think of Jesus the Good Shepherd who leaves the 99 and goes to seek out the one sheep which was lost. Think of the father of the Prodigal Son, who goes out from his house and runs to seek out his repentant son. Christian forgiveness is pro-active reconciliation. It's about seeking the good of the offender who hurts us, just as God our Father seeks out the good of us sinners who hurt Him when He invites us to ask for the forgiveness which He is always happy to grant.

To seek the good of those who hurt us means, at the very least, to pray for their spiritual conversion and for their eternal reward in Heaven. We may even practice acts of charity, such as good words and favors, so that their hearts may be moved if we repay them good for evil. In any case, good acts practiced in charity become a spiritual antidote. If we act with patience and charity rather than with vengeful retaliation, then the corrupting poison of evil will not penetrate our hearts.

Thus forgiveness is not only about the good of the offender. Forgiveness also brings much good to the forgiver. God never fails to reward those who freely and totally forgive. Because we ourselves are sinners, we are debtors to God. Because we have sinned, we owe God greater love. We owe Him a debt of suffering as punishment for offending the Divine Majesty. If we do not satisfy this debt now during life by prayer and penance, then we will have to suffer in Purgatory until we are purified.

However, in His mercy, God provides us, even now during life with countless opportunities for paying this debt by allowing others to sin against us. When we forgive others, we are freed from our own debt caused by our sins. Our patience in enduring their offenses, our kindness in bearing their coldness, our responding with love for them in return for their lack of love toward us--this is all part of God's providential plan of redeeming a sinful world.

There is a marvelous communication of grace at stake here. Sometimes God places difficult people into our lives in order that, by our loving patience with them, we might obtain from God the graces of conversion which they need. God may be inviting us to be instruments of His grace to others. This means that to be an effective instrument for some people, we may have to be the victim of their indifference, or even cruelty, so that we may obtain for them the gift of repentance to be reconciled with an offended God. May God help us to forgive others, so that our forgiveness may move them to seek forgiveness for themselves.

Indeed, this is a sublime mission which does not come easy, but which requires our daily fidelity to grace. When we find it difficult to forgive, let us then remember the words which Jesus Himself taught us: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. With each Our Father we pray for the strength to forgive especially when it is hard, so that we might be forgiven in return. If we are merciful, we shall receive mercy.

Thus the measure of our patience and forbearance with the faults and failings of our neighbor determines the degree of God's patient forgiveness for us ourselves. God will be tolerant and patient, indulgent and lenient, tender and compassionate, God will pardon and forgive us sinners, if we practice these qualities of mercy toward those whom God's Providence puts into our lives.

Forgive and you shall be forgiven.

Let us then be grateful to our Divine Infant King for offering the gift of forgiveness to us today in the Sacrament of Penance. Spiritual maturity requires that we become more like our Infant King. Let us then not lose any opportunity to serve as instruments of His divine mercy by forgiving those who have injured us, while patiently offering up to God the suffering which they inflict upon us. In this way we will be doing our part in the order of God's Providence so that hearts may be touched by the grace of conversion and souls may be moved to accept the divine gift of forgiveness.

Forgive today so that others may seek forgiveness tomorrow!

Such is the mission we receive each time we ourselves are forgiven. We cannot expect to receive that gift of forgiveness for ourselves unless we are willing to share it actively with others.

Long live Christ the King of forgiveness!

June-July, 2013: Generosity of Our Infant King

Generosity—in today's society the virtue of generosity comes in last place. Modern trends in today's media world overemphasize the self-seeking individual. We live in a day and age of self: self-image, self-assurance, self-gain. It is then no wonder then that our world becomes an increasingly violent place. There can be no peace in a society in which everyone only looks out for themselves, for their own pleasure or profit. Without generosity, there can be no true happiness of heart.

During this month of July, we contemplate the Precious Blood of Jesus, our Infant King. He is most generous with us! One cry from the shivering Christ Child in the stable of Bethlehem would have been enough to open wide the gates of Heaven and to save humanity from sin. However, Christ did not content Himself with doing only the bare minimum. He wanted to show the depths of His love by His suffering and death on the Cross. The pierced Heart of our crucified King shows us that generosity is love until the very end.

However, Christ's generosity did not end with His life on earth. The divine generosity becomes exponential when we consider the multitude of benefits which Jesus gives through His Church for these past 2000 years! In the confessional Jesus generously forgives sins time after time, even though His mercy is sometimes abused by selfish souls. In Holy Communion Jesus Himself comes down from heaven, even though He knew how many unworthy souls would treat Him sacrilegiously in the Blessed Sacrament down throughout the ages. Jesus generously comes to be with us in the Holy Eucharist nevertheless. He did not want to deprive we who are spiritually needy with this divine remedy.

Thus the generosity of Our Infant King is exponential. God is most generous with us. Are we generous towards God?

True generosity does not limit itself to material goods. St. Francis de Sales invites us to practice what he calls "Generosity of spirit." To be spiritually generous is to give God the first place in all things at all times. We should give the best moments possible in our day to prayer. We should make room for some daily spiritual reading. We should do our best to make that extra effort to attend Holy Mass on a day which is not obligatory or at least to make a spiritual communion.

We are encouraged not to be content with merely doing the bare minimum. If we do only what we are obliged to do, we will soon end up doing nothing at all. Daily acts of generosity, even in small things, are the key to progress and perseverance in the spiritual life.

If, even in the eyes of men, it is considered disgraceful to be stingy, let us not make the mistake to be stingy with God. The generosity of God is exponential. He then has a right to expect that we serve Him first.

We must also be generous with our neighbor, first and foremost with our spouses, our family members, and relatives.

How often, the people who are closest to us are the people whom we overlook. We forget that they must be given priority in the order of charity. Husbands and wives, don't let a day go by without an act of generosity accomplished with love for one another. Generosity keeps married love fresh and young. Generosity keeps us from getting old and cranky before our time.

Generosity also means that we overlook the petty demands of our human caprices. Let us learn to look beyond the limits of our own personal desires and interests in order to see those of others. Devote our time and attention to others by giving a kind word, a helping hand, a cheerful spirit and demeanor, or a simple smile. No matter how busy we may be, we can always find some way to give generously to our neighbor in a spiritual way.

True generosity also includes the suffering souls in Purgatory. The generous soul will not forget to have Masses offered for departed loved ones, to visit the cemetery, and to pray daily for those souls who cannot help themselves get to Heaven. The Church offers indulgences as the golden opportunity for the faithful to show generosity towards the deceased.

God will always provide for those who generously help others. Do you want God to answer your prayers and grant your petitions? Then perform some generous acts of charity for your neighbor. Since the generosity of God is exponential, He will not allow Himself to be outdone in generosity. Your generosity towards others will attract the divine generosity down upon you.

What is the key to a generous heart?

Do not attach a price to what you give. Give freely without expecting anything in return. Give without counting the cost. God loves a cheerful giver.

Generosity excludes complaint. Be more generous with complimenting others, rather than complaining to them.

Generosity excludes human calculations. We are afraid of not having enough. We can also be afraid to dedicate ourselves entirely to God's Will because of fear born of human pride. However, St. Francis de Sales tells us that the generous heart is full of confidence. God will provide for our every need, if we generously put Him first in all things. In His divine generosity God will not let us down.

And so, during this month dedicated to the Precious Blood of our Infant King, let us contemplate the generosity of the pierced Heart of Christ our King. Ask Him for the grace to be truly generous in all things. Ask for the courage and strength to love until the very end.

And ask yourself:

Be generous in what you give to God. Be generous in the service of your neighbor.

You will then be blessed in this life, and you will be generously rewarded in the blessed life to come in Heaven.

May, 2013: Magnanimity

In our world of jumbo jets, high-speed internet networks, advanced medical devices, greatness in technology allows us to achieve bigger and better things. But material greatness does not guarantee happiness. Rather it is greatness of soul and mind which is needed in order to put material things to good use for the benefit of everyone. We have a great need today for a virtue which ancient thinkers call magnanimity.

Our English word "magnanimity" comes from the Latin magna and anima meaning "a great soul." For philosophers such as Aristotle, magnanimity is noble dignity of soul. It's greatness of mind, heart, and character which rises above all adversity. The magnanimous soul performs heroic actions for noble purposes, takes risks in the face of danger, stands firm in hardship, overlooks human pettiness, and does favors for others with generosity.

Building upon the Aristotelian notion of magnanimity, St. Thomas Aquinas teaches that the virtue of magnanimity must be practiced also in a higher way, that is, in the sphere of the supernatural. The Christian soul is called to be magnanimous so that through virtuous behavior the greatness of God may shine forth in our world. Magnanimity is a noble and generous disposition to take on great things for God and neighbor, for example, the martyrs who gave their lives for the Faith and forgave their executioners, the missionaries who preach Christ in faraway lands despite all dangers, the servants of God who left behind all things in order to practice works of mercy serve the poor, the sick, and the uneducated. This is magnanimity to its highest degree. The greatness of God shines forth in the objective good which the Catholic Church has accomplished throughout so many centuries.

The greatest human example of the virtue of magnanimity is to be found in the Blessed Virgin Mary. She spoke the beautiful hymn of God's greatness which we call the "Magnificat" from the first word of this canticle in Latin. Mary said: "My soul "magnifies" the Lord, that is, my soul "proclaims the greatness" of the Lord."

In his sermon for the feast of the Assumption 2005, Pope Benedict XVI comments on how Mary magnified God's greatness: "Mary wanted God to be great in the world and great in her life. She was not afraid that God might be a "rival" in life, that God with his greatness might encroach on our freedom, our vital space. Mary knew that if God is great, then we too are great. Our life is not oppressed, but raised and expanded: it becomes great in the splendor of God."

Pope Benedict remarks that the great temptation of the modern age is the fear that the greatness of God takes something away from our life. The people are tempted to say: "God does not give us our freedom; with all his commandments, He restricts the space in our lives. God must disappear, so that we can be free and independent. When we are without God, then we can truly do as we please."

The Pope remarks that those people who give in to this temptation to be rid of God end up enslaving themselves, like the Prodigal Son. He only found peace and freedom by returning to the house of his father. When God disappears, men and women do not become greater; indeed, they lose their divine dignity as children of God. They lose common human dignity in the eyes of each other. Without God men and women are easily used and abused by each other. The weak and innocent become prey for the violent caprices of the stronger.

Our Holy Father concludes "Only if God is great, is humankind also great. With Mary, we must begin to understand that this is so. We must not drift away from God, but we must ensure that God is great in our lives. Thus, we too will share in his Divinity through sanctifying grace the splendor of the divine dignity will then be ours.

"Let us make God great in public and in private life. This means making room for God in our lives every day, starting in the morning with prayers, and then dedicating time to God, giving Sundays to God. We do not waste our free time if we offer it to God. If God enters into our time, all time becomes greater and richer." Pope Benedict XVI (Sermon for the Assumption, August 15, 2005)

During this Marian month of May, let us then imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of our Infant King. Like Mary, we are called to make God great in our life by the practice of the virtue of magnanimity. We may not necessarily be called to be martyrs or missionaries to faraway lands, but we can be magnanimous in our everyday lives. In the face of unjust treatment, rise above revenge. Let go of grudges. Return good actions and words to those who do us evil. Do not give in to meanness, but delight in acts of kindness and benevolence to others. Do not hesitate to sacrifice personal ease and convenience in order to accomplish good deeds for the sake of others out of love of God.

Magnanimous people give themselves freely to serve the needs of others without self-interest. Magnanimity is the opposite of ambition. It excludes selfish behavior. Avoid petty arguments and complaining. It's not worth squabbling with our neighbor over little things. Since we are imperfect, let's not be surprised that others have faults too. Let us be generous in forgiving insult and injury, like God forgives us.

Magnanimity excludes human respect. Let's do what is right and just, no matter what our peers might think. Magnanimity excludes cowardly behavior. Excessive fear of failure can lead to hesitation, and ultimately to paralyzing inaction.

St. Thomas Aquinas reminds us that the magnanimous are full of confidence in God. His greatness will come to our aide. Magnanimity helps us to remember the "Big Picture." The Immaculate Heart of Mary will triumph in the end. The Reign of Our Divine Infant King will endure forever. If in our lives we magnify Christ as our King, if we allow the greatness of God to shine forth in virtuous behavior and good example, like Mary did in her life, then we shall follow our dear Blessed Mother to Heaven. There in the heavenly City of Christ our King we shall find repose after our work and joy after our sorrow.

April, 2013: The Virtue of Meekness

Meekness—it's the forgotten virtue. The Jesus who said, "Learn of Me, for I am meek and humble of heart" practiced meekness from his very Infancy. Threatened by the jealous anger of King Herod, our Infant King reacts with perfect meekness. He who created the universe and its legions of angels meekly chooses to go into hiding far from his native land. Our Infant King does nothing by force, but everything by love.

Scripture urges us time and time again to practice meekness and overcome anger. Angry words destroy families and friendships. Marriages have been ruined and homes have been broken because the passion of anger flares up like a blazing fire out of control. According to St. Thomas Aquinas, the virtue of meekness restrains anger. Meekness is the type of humility that keeps our temper under control.

Meekness preserves peace of soul. That's why Jesus said, "Learn of Me, because I am meek and humble of Heart and you shall find rest for your souls."

From teachers to parents, from businessmen to computer technicians, cooks to construction workers, and yes, even internet users, we must all practice the virtue of meekness . . . but how? What does it mean to be meek in our everyday life? St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Institute of Christ the King, gives us helpful advice. He says that to be meek we must be gentle.

Now, gentleness, like meekness, is virtue which is much misunderstood. The world says that meekness is weakness; gentleness, for cowards. Many people think that strength means aggressive force. To be strong, you have to fight back. One day when Jesus had been rejected by His enemies, the apostles said, "Lord, do you want us to call down fire from Heaven to destroy them?" But Jesus reprimanded them, saying: "You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of man came not to destroy souls, but to save."

Gentleness is not weakness; it's the power of self-control over passion; the power of love over hate. Gentleness is the power to forgive. Sometimes, the very reason God places difficult people into our lives is that by our gentle patience toward them, we might obtain from God the graces of conversion they need.

Some people might think that to be strong, you must go out and attack the enemy head-on. However, in speaking of the virtue of fortitude, the virtue of spiritual strength, St. Thomas says that the greatest act of this virtue is to endure, to bear with, to stand your ground in the midst of difficulty. Endurance is stronger than aggression. It takes courage to stand your ground in the face of criticism and ridicule. It takes courage to suffer with patience when treated unfairly; to stand up for the right thing when no one else is doing it. It takes courage to be gentle. It takes courage to keep self-control in the midst of all the evil surrounding us in this world.

But that's what Mary did. Our sorrowful Mother stood at the foot of the cross with a spiritual endurance greater than all the might of ancient Rome. This most gentle of all women endured the blasphemies, the blood, the brutality of Calvary, and she offered it all up with motherly gentleness for the salvation of all humanity.

Gentleness is not for the timid and weak-minded, but gentleness is true strength of character. To quote St. Francis de Sales, there is no strength which is greater than gentleness. There is nothing which is so gentle as true strength. Just like a trained horse, large and powerful, yields to the rider who directs it with the reins, so does, gentleness show strength under control." The gentleness of love is more powerful than any force on earth. Blessed are the meek, happy are the gentle.

Another misconception of gentleness: some people erroneously think that gentleness is a sort of tolerance for anything and everything. But our Mother most gentle tells us today, as she told the waiters at Cana 2000 years ago . . . "Do whatever my Son tells you." Gentleness never compromises the truth, but the gentle seek to make the truth better known and loved in all its fullness by the attractive manner in which this truth is presented.

Gentleness is the virtue for a happy home. How much better your family life would be if husbands and wives would be gentler toward each other. St. James gives good advice in the practice of gentleness. He says, "Be swift to listen, but slow to speak." Hasty words and impulsive talk will end in anger. However, good listeners will be able to calmly work out their problems with greater wisdom and gentleness.

The Evil Prince of this selfish world is always seeking to divide and conquer families by means of anger. If we are angry, we open the door of our home to the demon. However, the virtue of gentleness will be a powerful defense against the forces of hell.

If you want to teach your children a good lesson, you will accomplish much more by gentleness . . . than by severity. A firm, but loving correction will sink in far deeper and penetrate more effectively than an angry, stormy rebuke. Cheerful behavior, a warm smile, a positive attitude, gentleness has a greater effect on children than mere words. Kids will not always remember what you said, but they will always remember how you said it. Gentleness is the spoonful of sugar which makes the medicine go down. And that bitter flavor of discipline must have an aftertaste of gentleness. Never correct an evil without encouraging the good. Be quick to correct, but also to congratulate and to compliment.

It's not enough to teach children their prayers. It's not enough to have them memorize the catechism. That's good and necessary, but that's not enough. But, if you want your children to be faithful Catholics their lifelong, then make them understand that Catholic morality and lifestyle will make them happy people. When children see gentleness and joy in adults, then they will grow up as convinced Catholics. Children are great imitators. So give them something great to imitate. In just a little while, children will be grown up and gone. But if now you adults are truly gentle, your good example will remain with them their whole life through. Give them true gentleness, and the rest will follow.

Let us ask the Christ Child for the grace we need to imitate His gentle meekness. Nothing by force, but everything with love. Blessed are the meek, happy are the gentle.

March, 2013: Compassion and Its Daily Practice

The word compassion has become popular in today's world--so popular, that sometimes compassion can be disconnected from the truth about real virtue. In the name of compassion, some people try to justify abortion and euthanasia, which they advocate as "mercy-killing." They claim that . . . it is compassionate to end a person's life, if the intention is to end their misery.

It is most ironic that compassion is invoked for ending suffering since, in fact, the very word compassion means "to suffer with." True compassion is rooted in love. Love moves us to take on the pain of the sufferer in hopes that some positive good will emerge from this shared suffering.

This is what Jesus did in the Incarnation. God became man in in order to suffer with us. God came to share in human suffering so that, by His sufferings in the flesh, the damage caused by the sins of humanity could be fixed and restored. Already just 8 days after His birth Jesus is circumcised. Our God begins His life of suffering among us by shedding His Blood already as an Infant.

His divine example shows us then that true compassion does not mean "to end suffering." Rather it means to accept suffering with love. The compassionate willingly share in another's pain in hopes of reducing it. Therefore, compassion does not mean to kill a suffering person.

That's not compassion. That is inhumane.

For a Christian, compassion means to share in the suffering of another, to give our time, our effort to the suffering person, to bring light into the pain and misery of that person's life. Compassion is not always convenient. At times compassion requires courage. If we pray to the Infant Jesus who suffered already for as a Child, then we will receive divine grace and strength to bear with the sufferings of others and to find a supernatural meaning for our own suffering.

Look at the compassion shown by the Holy Family. Rejected by the inns of Bethlehem, persecuted and forced to flee for their lives into the foreign land of Egypt. Unknown, despised, looked down upon by others, the Holy Family had much to suffer. However, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph shared the burden of suffering together. They exercised acts of compassion toward one another--and so should we.

On a day to day basis, compassion is a very important virtue for married couples and for families. In daily family life, we must learn to listen to each other, even when we have heard our suffering spouse recount their troubles so many times before. Being a good listener, that's the first step to true compassion. We must then try to place ourselves in the shoes of the other person in order to offer expressions of understanding, words of comfort.

Hardship and suffering may perhaps soften the heart of someone who has gone astray on the path of life. Sometimes broken hearts become open to grace when they are first touched and opened up by a compassionate word or gesture. True guidance given with gentleness, correction given with love, advice given with goodness, such acts of compassion may be beneficial for the soul of the other person, if we make an honest effort to carry that burden of suffering together with them.

On a day to day basis, compassion will mean to forgive others for their daily faults. It will mean seeking out new ways to lessen the headaches and heartaches of others. Compassion will mean to give a smile in return for a frown. Compassion will mean not so much to think of ourselves as to think of others. It will mean looking beyond our own suffering to order to alleviate the sufferings of people who have it worse than we do.

Compassion implies giving another a second chance, building up one another by showing confidence in that person. Compassion often means the courageous communication of a positive attitude based upon faith in God's Providence, which will never let us down.

Good humor is the fine art of those souls who are truly compassionate. A nice remark, an honest compliment, a grateful word of appreciation, such charitable actions can bring a smile to the lips of someone who may even be in intense pain.

Let us not complain that we have done nothing to deserve our suffering. Rather, let us follow the example of the Divine Infant by accepting that suffering with love so that our patience can make us deserving of an eternal reward. Do not let a day go by without showing an act of compassion to a suffering person. The best way to reduce your own suffering is to lessen the sufferings of someone else. If we have been compassionate with others, then we can be sure that, in the day of our own Judgment, we shall receive the loving compassion of our Holy Infant King as our eternal reward in heaven.