Tuesday, August 16, 2016

How to Pray the Rosary - Walking Through the Rosary Excerpt

Did you ever wonder how to pray the Rosary? Here it is.

How to Pray the Rosary

Begin with the Sign of the Cross. Few people realize that the Sign of the Cross is a prayer, and there is a partial indulgence for those who devoutly cross themselves while saying the words.

Sign of the Cross

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

After the sign of the cross, say the Apostle's Creed. This is how we declare our Catholic faith, by stating our beliefs. The Apostle's Creed was compiled from the teachings of the apostles.

Apostle's Creed (New Translation)

I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried; he descended into hell; on the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty; from there he will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

Say one Our Father.

Our Father

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

Say three Hail Mary prayers (for an increase in faith, hope, and charity.)

Hail Mary

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed are Thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of Thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Say the Glory Be.

Glory Be

Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Now it's time to delve into the heart of your meditation!

·         Announce the first mystery for the current day. For example, if you are praying the Joyful Mysteries, the first mystery is The Annunciation.
·         Say one Our Father.
·         Say ten Hail Mary prayers while meditating on the mystery.
·         Say one Glory Be.
·         Repeat this sequence for remaining mysteries.

Once you are finished, you can say the Concluding Prayers. Typically, these consist of a Hail, Holy Queen and a prayer that seems to be known only as the Let Us Pray.  At the very end, finish your prayer time with the Sign of the Cross.

Hail, Holy Queen

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, Our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sorrows, weeping and mourning in this vale* of tears. Turn then, O Gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us. And after this, our exile, show unto us the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary, Pray for us Oh Mother of God, that we may be made worth of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Let Us Pray

 Let Us Pray.

 O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life. Grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Optional but highly suggested prayers!

There are additional prayers that are often said throughout and at the end of the Rosary.  Usually the Fatima prayer is prayed after every Glory Be. There is a second Fatima Prayer that the Blessed Mother gave to the three children at Fatima, and this can be said at the end of the Rosary.  The Memorare is also an important prayer to include when your Rosary is finished. Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, more popularly known as Mother Teresa, used to say three Memorare prayers when she didn't have time to say the Rosary but had an important request. For a big finish, requesting St. Michael's protection is always a good idea.

Fatima Prayer

Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy. Amen.


Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Fatima Prayer #2

"My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I beg pardon of You for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You."

Prayer to St. Michael

 Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host - by the Divine Power of God - cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits, who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Finally, many Catholics pray an Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be for the pope.

The Mysteries

Joyful (Say on Monday and Saturday)
·                     The Annunciation
·                     The Visitation
·                     The Nativity
·                     The Presentation of Our Lord
·                     Finding Jesus in the Temple
Sorrowful (Say on Tuesday and Friday)
·                     The Agony in the Garden
·                     The Scourging at the Pillar
·                     The Crowning with Thorns
·                     The Carrying of the Cross
·                     The Crucifixion
Glorious (Say on Wednesday and Sunday)
·                     The Resurrection
·                     The Ascension
·                     The Descent of the Holy Ghost
·                     The Assumption
·                     The Coronation of Mary
Luminous (Say on Thursday)
·                     The Baptism of Jesus
·                     The Wedding at Cana
·                     Proclamation of the Gospel
·                     The Transfiguration
·                     Institution of the Eucharist

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Priest(s) for Life Takes St. Kateri Parish by Storm

Fr. Stephen, St. Kateri Respect Life Ministry Leader Donna B.,
a volunteer, and a parishioner, eager to learn more.

Though there wasn't anything confrontational about Father Stephen Imbarrato as he gave the weekend homilies and a special presentation on Sunday afternoon, his words carried through the parish with the force of a tropical storm. Tropical Storm Stephen. It fit.

His words were powerful not because they revealed something most of us didn't already  know deep inside. They rocked because they carried the Truth. And people heard them. I've since spoken with several woman who experienced "Aha!" moments during those homilies.

I already knew that most women who have abortions are coerced into them, but Father Stephen explained so clearly how that happens and why. "I'll support you whatever you decide." Sounds innocuous, doesn't it? But behind the words is a clear message: "It's all on you. It would be more convenient if you decided to get rid of this child, but if you choose to keep it, I guess I'll have to support your decision, though I'd prefer it if you got rid of the problem." In other words, women have abortions because they believe they DON'T have a choice.

Why do women allow these seemingly benign words to convince them to commit an act that goes against every natural instinct? Because we are intuitive, and we can sense the real message behind the facade.

Father Stephen came with a plan. 

He said there was a way to end abortion in five years. FIVE YEARS. That's five years too long, but it's a heck of a site better than someday. So, how does this priest think we can win this war? With fortitude.

If, during the reelection year of a first-term president, Catholics, Protestants, Atheists, and all pro-life people went on strike until the murder stopped, the country would come to a standstill, and politicians would be forced to act. Following the example of Poland's peaceful Solidarity movement led by Lech Walesa, we too could accomplish our goal.

That, combined with the peaceful protests of Martin Luther King, Jr., could allow us to change this country. Father Stephen wondered aloud how many people might become more aware if they saw two people on a street corner holding signs that said things such as I love babies! I'm pro-life! or I love women! I'm pro-life! And again on another corner. And another.

Surely, if 1/3 of the Polish workers were able to take on the evil of communist rule and win, we can take back our own country from the politicians and movements that promote a culture of death.

An alternative plan came up at the Sunday talk. If all parishes would join the Gabriel Project, women would have true choice. The Gabriel Project is a national parish-based pregnancy assistance resource. They "seek to serve all pregnant mothers in need regardless of their personal situation, the size of their family, their age or their baby’s gestational stage." Imagine all the women who would keep their child if they saw a way to do it?

This means we must put our intentional discipleship into action. Too often, we think that throwing money at an issue is enough. Jesus didn't ask us to pay for social change. He asked us to go out and be social change.

Here's where I make a confession. I was at one time pro-choice (years ago, when I was away from God), and the biggest stumbling block for me was that standing out front of a clinic with a sign didn't help these women. I imagined that once protesters convinced a woman not to abort her child, they would be satisfied and she would still be alone facing an abusive boyfriend, homelessness, or poverty. The Gabriel Project addresses this very real concern. 

In fact, the more I learn about the abortion industry and the mindset behind it, the more I realize how it is a coordinated attack on women. 

What are some steps we can take now?

Prayer, fasting and alms giving.

Jesus told his apostles that "some demons require prayer and fasting."  Pray and fast. Don't stop eating solid foods. Start slow. Give up snacks in-between your meals. Drink water instead of coffee or soda for a day.  Fasting from food is traditional and effective, but what if you can't do it because of a medical condition or your pregnant or elderly? Fast from Candy Crush or watching television and pray instead. Every sacrifice of a worldly pleasure counts. And don't worry if you fail. Just get back up and try again. Your effort will please God, and maybe more so than if it were easy.

Another interesting point made by Father Stephen was that abortion is a sin of convenience. We can make our prayer a prayer of inconvenience to counter it. How?

If it is inconvenient to get up early to pray, do it anyway. If you're tired at the end of the day and don't feel like taking ten minutes to talk to the Lord, do it anyway. Maybe a friend has asked for a ride to Mass, and that would cut into your morning coffee time. Do it, and offer it up. It makes perfect sense.

The third step is alms giving. Support Priests for Life or 40 Days for Life or any other pro-life organization. Make sure you do your homework, because some pro-abortion organizations use confusing names deliberately. Take Planned Parenthood. Who would guess that it's all about eliminating the necessary element of parenthood--a child?

Don't Take on the World 

It's easy to get depressed or angry over the big picture. When you hear Hillary Clinton praise Margaret Sanger, a racist of the top order who admired Hitler's eugenics program, and then realize she has a very real chance of becoming our next president, it's easy to want to give up. But Jesus is in charge of the world, not us. Stay humble and trust that He's got it covered.

You can see Him at work when Hillary Clinton broke rhetoric by referring to a fetus as an unborn child, something she was blasted for by the president of Planned Parenthood. Sometimes the victories are subtle, but they are sweet.

If you want to find out more about what inspired the Solidarity Movement, here is some suggested reading:

St. Pope John Paul II "On Human Work"

Leszek Kołakowski's 1971 essay "Theses on Hope and Hopelessness"

Friday, June 10, 2016

Walking Through the Rosary

Sometimes, it can be difficult to meditate on the Rosary as you pray it. You should be thinking about each Mystery: The Agony in the Garden, The Visitation, etc. Though it's easy to bring up a familiar image from religious art, the question still remains - how does this Mystery apply to me, personally?

I've written two meditation guides on to help: Walking Through the Rosary and Walking Through the Rosary for the Childless. These are both available on Amazon and other places as both ebook and paperback. However, the purpose behind these books was to get people more involved with  this beautiful, deep, Scriptural prayer, and so I decided to make the book available, chapter by chapter, here on Bad Martha. I'll being with the chapter, "Why Pray the Rosary?"

I hope that it brings you many hours of fruitful prayer.

Why Pray the Rosary?

The Rosary is a weapon for peace.

What if you knew there was a weapon available that could end war? That would put an end to violence on the streets? That would eliminate hate? There is, and it's not the latest bomb from the military but a simple recitation of prayers that's been around in various forms for over a thousand years.

Well, you ask, why hasn't anyone ever told us about this? Why don't the popes recommend it to us? They have, even back to Pope Urban IV in the 1200s. The Rosary was the favorite prayer of St. Pope John Paul II. In an address given to the crowds in St. Peter's Square on October 7,2007, as reported on Zenit.org, Pope Benedict XVI said, "...the Rosary is a means given by the Virgin for contemplating Jesus and, meditating on His life, for loving and following Him always more faithfully." In a Vatican News story on May 4, 2015, Pope Francis told the Swiss Guard to arm themselves with the Gospel and the Rosary. It would be safe to say that the popes are behind the Rosary.

If we want peace in the world, we need to pray the Rosary. Never lose hope. Here are some examples of how the Rosary changed the outcomes of some dire situations.

  • Battle of Lepanto, 1571 - Ottoman Turks outnumbered Christians by three to one, but when the Christian soldiers prayed the Rosary, they miraculously defeated the Turks.

  • Russians Pull Out of Austria - After World War II, the Allies turned Austria over to communist Russia, and the citizens were subject to the atrocities of communism. Father Petrus, a Franciscan priest, began a Rosary rally, and 70,000 Austrians pledged to pray the Rosary every day for Russia to leave the country. Although Austria was a strategic location rich with mineral and oil deposits, Russia inexplicably and peacefully left the country in 1955.

  • Russian Missile Launch Fails - In 1960, Nikita Khrushchev, after promising to "bury" the United States, went home for a final test launch of a nuclear missile. Pope John XXIII called for the world's Catholics to pray the Rosary. On the night of October 12 - 13, about 1,000,000 pilgrims prayed the Rosary at Fatima. At least 300 dioceses around the world joined them. When it came time to test the missile, it didn't leave the launch pad. After about fifteen minutes, government officials and scientists left the safety of the shelter, and the missile exploded, killing over 300 people.

  • A Promise to Defeat Boko Haram- In a recent news story, Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme from Nigeria tells that he was praying the Rosary in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus appeared to him and held out a sword. When the bishop reached for the sword, it turned into a Rosary, and then Jesus said three times, "Boko Haram is gone." Boko Haram, the Islamic terrorist group that captured 300 schoolgirls in 2014 and murdered 54 people in 2015, is a scourge in the bishop's country. Bishop Doeme understood this apparition to mean that praying the Rosary would rid his country of the terrorist threat of Boko Haram.

UPDATE: By the end of April 2015, CNA/EWTN had reported that Nigerian troops had rescued over 400 women and children from Boko Haram in separate operations. This is after Bishop Doeme began his crusade to get people to pray the Rosary for peace. Coincidence? I don't believe it is.

 We are called to pray it, so it must be important!

Over and over again, the Blessed Mother has urged us to pray the Rosary in her apparitions.

  • At Lourdes, Mary emphasized the Rosary and prayed it many times with Bernadette.

  • At Fatima, Mary told the children, "Pray the Rosary every day in honor of Our Lady of the Rosary to obtain peace in the world . . . for she alone can save it." (Our Lady, July 13, 1917)

  • In Kibeho, Rwanda, our Lady asked that the entire student body of Kibeho High School pray the Rosary for her, and she asked one of the visionaries, Marie-Claire Mukangango, to reintroduce the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows to the world. (Instructions for how to pray the Rosary of the Seven Sorrows appear at the end of this book.)

Archbishop Fulton Sheen summed up the Rosary with these words:

"The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description."

There are benefits to praying the Rosary

The Catholic Church has attached indulgences to praying the Rosary. Catholic Answers gives this explanation from The Handbook of Indulgences:

  • A plenary indulgence is granted when the Rosary is recited in a church or oratory or when it is recited in a family, a religious community, or a pious association. A partial indulgence is granted for its recitation in all other circumstances.

  • It has become customary to call [one set of mysteries] the "Rosary" also. Concerning this customary usage then, the following norms are given regards a plenary indulgence.

  • The recitation of [one set of mysteries] is sufficient for obtaining the plenary indulgence, but these five decades must be recited without interruption.

  • Devout meditation on the mysteries is to be added to the vocal prayer.

  • In its public recitation the mysteries must be announced in accord with approved local custom, but in its private recitation it is sufficient for the Christian faithful simply to join meditation on the mysteries to the vocal prayer.
  • In the Eastern Churches where recitation of the Marian Rosary as a devotional practice is not found, the patriarchs can establish other prayers in honor of the blessed Virgin Mary which will have the same indulgences as those attached to the rosary, (e.g., in the Byzantine churches, the Akathist hymn, or the office Paraclisis). (79-80)

What is an indulgence? According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1471, "An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven."

Partial indulgences are the partial remission of temporal (not eternal!) punishment for sins. Plenary indulgences are the full remission of temporal punishment for sin.

Finally, Mary made 15 Promises to those who recite the Rosary. She gave these promises first to St. Dominic and later to Blessed Alan de la Roche, and each promise bestows great favors on those who regularly pray the Rosary with devotion.

The Fifteen Promises

1.       Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces. (Signal graces are signs from God to help us make the right decisions.)
2.       My special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3.       The Rosary will be a powerful armor against hell. It will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
4.       It will cause virtue and good works to flourish; obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things.
5.       Those who recommend themselves to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
6.       Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred Mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune.
7.       God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death, if he be just, he shall remain in the grace of God and become worthy of eternal life.
8.       During their life and at their death, the light of God and the plentitude of His graces; at the moment of death, they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
9.       I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10.   The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
11.   You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
12.   All those who propagate the holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13.   All who recite the Rosary are my sons, and the brothers of my only son, Jesus Christ.
14.   I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
15.   Devotion (to the Rosary) is a great sign of predestination.

(Predestination is the doctrine that God, in consequence of His foreknowledge of all events, infallibly guides those who are destined for salvation. Definition by Merriam-Webster.)


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Exorcist: A Beautiful Movie

I didn't see The Exorcist until I was well into my twenties. Maybe even my thirties. I had no desire to see pea soup sprayed all over actor Jason Miller, as I have a low threshold for gross. Part of me, even when I wasn't following Jesus, thought the idea of possession was too scary to sit through. So I passed until one Halloween, when the hubby convinced me it was a good film.

I thought it was one of the most beautiful films I had ever seen.

While moviegoers and critics focused on the special effects, I saw the story of a man's struggle with faith. Father Karras, who after years of counseling others through their pain, couldn't find his way out of the pain in his own life. This was a man who had given his life to God, and instead of receiving the accolades he deserved as a top psychiatrist, he watched helplessly - cash poor and working in another city -  as his elderly mother declined in health. He was reminded that if he had dedicated himself to the secular world, he would have been able to afford better care for her. Instead, he had to find out from others that she had died in her home, undiscovered for days.  

He lost his faith.

This is reality. There are uglies in each of our lives, and following Jesus won't make them go away.

Even as he walks into the room to assist Father Merrin with the exorcism, we still don't know if he believes, but when the moment comes to save the girl, Father Karras makes the ultimate sacrifice and gives his life for hers.

There are moments in the film that give me chills. The first is when Chris Mac Neil pulls out the Ouija board.  What many think of as a simple parlor game is an entryway for evil. Evil needs a doorway. An entrance. An invitation. And evil disguises itself as fun things. Pleasurable things. The character Regan thinks she is playing with a child-friendly spirit called Mr. Howdy. That's creepy.

When I moved to Los Angeles, it was the thing to go to tarot card readers and to have sessions with mediums. There was one medium who met with a group of us. I thought, "Another out-of-work actress." She allegedly channeled some spirit, and when she spoke of the current generation being born, she described them with pleasure. I remember I got a chill, thinking that what she described as  beautiful, I thought was horrible - selfish hedonists without moral sense. Years later, her "prediction" came true, and I wonder if there was really something in the room that night. I was lucky. And stupid.

The next is that famous image of the child Regan clawing at the sky while a statue representing evil looks on. Take off the blinders and look around. When you meet people who actively embrace sinful living, there isn't a lot of joy. There may be temporary satisfaction as the desire of the moment is met, but they are generally unhappy and in pain. As they claw their way through what the world has to offer in their search for meaning and joy, the devil looks on. I doubt that anything filled with hate can feel pleasure or satisfaction, but he must be feeling triumph, because God wants every soul, and anything the devil can do to keep that soul from finding God is a success.

The image on the front of the movie box (see above) brings me joy. Father Merrin, knowing what he will face, stands before the house and prepares to enter anyway. I've listened to many talks by exorcists, and these are men on the front line who stare evil right in the face. Full possession is rare, but they still deal with manifestations in their deliverance ministry. They see evil. They hear the taunts of Satan and his demons. Over and over I've heard them tell their fellow priests that there is nothing to be afraid of. These are the marines of the religious world (with all due deference to the Franciscans. They'll know what I mean.)

We all struggle with faith. It's hard to stay focused on God when there are difficulties, such as financial problems, illnesses and relationship problems. The character of Father Karras gives an example of one man, facing the ultimate test, who finds the strength to choose God. That's a beautiful story.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Connie Rossini on Centering Prayer

Connie Rossini gives whole families practical help to grow in holiness. She is the author of Trusting God with St. ThereseA Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child, and the free ebook Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life. She writes a spirituality column for The Prairie Catholicof the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, and blogs at Contemplative Homeschool. She is also a columnist for SpiritualDirection.com. She manages the Google+ Community Indie Catholic Authors. Connie and her husband Dan have four young sons.

I recently ran into Centering Prayer. There seemed to be something off about it. Fortunately, I ran into Connie Rossini's book "Is Centering Prayer Catholic?" at the same time, and I found the answers I was looking for. Connie has graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions here on the blog.

Welcome Connie!

Could you first briefly explain what Centering Prayer is?

In Centering Prayer, you begin with the intention to be present to God. Then you sit in silence, turning away from every thought, feeling, or impression. When you find yourself following a thought or emotion, you silently focus on a "sacred word" you have chosen ahead of time. This word is supposed to be only one or two syllables long. You do not think about the meaning of the word. Once your mind has quieted down, you drop the word and go back to silence. Then at the end of your 20 minutes of practicing this, you sit for a couple of minutes longer to transition back to your everyday life. 

Is Centering Prayer "a Catholic thing", or do other Christian denominations use it?

Centering Prayer was created by three Trappist monks, Fathers William Meninger, Thomas Keating, and Basil Pennington. However, it is popular with some Protestants, especially Episcopalians.  Ecumenical Centering Prayer retreats are common.

What drew you to the subject of Centering Prayer?

I blog on the contemplative life, so people regularly ask me about prayer. I began looking into Centering Prayer in depth when my brother's friend asked me about it. The more I write about it, the more confusion I see among my readers about what prayer truly is for the Christian. I want my readers to grow in intimacy with God, which is impossible without prayer.

What is the difference between Centering Prayer and St. Teresa's infused contemplation?

Infused contemplation--which has been recognized since the early centuries, so long before St. Teresa--is a pure gift of God. Centering Prayer is a technique or method. Some methods can prepare us to receive infused contemplation, but none can make us contemplatives. Fr. Thomas Keating has said that Christian contemplation is really the same thing as eastern meditation. This is completely false. 

What do you see as the biggest danger to Centering Prayer?

There are two interconnected dangers. First, that people will be led off course, pursuing interior silence instead of pursuing intimacy with Jesus. Getting to know and love Jesus is the way we grow spiritually, and traditional Christian prayer methods help us do this. Centering Prayer, in contrast, rejects using the mind or the heart. You cannot get to know or love God by turning away from your thoughts and feelings about Him. 

Secondly, prayer and theology are intertwined. The theology taught by Fr. Thomas Keating is more influenced by eastern religions than by Christianity. For example, he teaches that there is no real difference between God and the human soul. That is pantheism, not Christianity. The practice of Centering Prayer supports and is supported by this bad theology. So people who start without considering the theology behind it can nevertheless be led towards unorthodoxy in their beliefs. I have seen this in conversations I have had with Centering Prayer practitioners.

 What would you tell someone who says that if three priests came up with it and Catholic retreat houses are teaching it, Centering Prayer must be alright?

 Unfortunately, many priests over the centuries have taught error. In fact, most of those whose teachings have been officially condemned by the Church have been priests. So being a priest is certainly no assurance of orthodoxy. The Church has not yet condemned Centering Prayer by name, but it has issued two documents on New Age errors that describe some of the very things taught and practiced by Centering Prayer proponents. When you compare these documents and the Catechism to Fr. Keating's teaching, as I have done, you see clearly that he is teaching error.

How can a person who wants greater union with God get started? What should be his or her goal?

 Greater union with God has a twofold component: prayer and virtue. If we want to advance in prayer, we must dedicate ourselves to resisting temptation and being obedient to God's will. Growth in prayer also gives us the grace to do this. Prayer and virtue support each other. My advice is to set aside time each day to prayerfully read the Gospels and talk to God about what you read. In addition, frequent the sacraments, work on avoiding even the smallest sin, and begin making small sacrifices out of love for Christ. Union with God is really an intimate love relationship with Him. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. He is the beginning and end of our faith.

I understand you will be coming out with a paperback edition of your book.  When can readers look for it to be available? 

I released the paperback a couple of weeks ago. It is now available through AmazonBarnes and Noble online, and Createspace, among other retailers.

Thank you Connie!  Please read on for a brief review of Connie's book. 

Is Centering Prayer Catholic?: Fr. Thomas Keating Meets Teresa of Avila and the CDF

by Connie Rossini
Four Waters Press
Paperback $9.95
ebook $2.99

Synchronicity in religion can be a dangerous thing. Catholics have been known to mix their beliefs with anything from  voodoo and witchcraft to New Age beliefs, which is like mixing oil and water. Unfortunately, when the person doing the mixing is a Catholic priest, Catholics can be fooled into believing that the outcome is okay, and that's what happened when Father Thomas Keating mixed Catholic meditation with Eastern meditation. The result was Centering Prayer. 

Author Connie Rossini, a 3rd order Carmelite for seventeen years, uses the prayer practices of Teresa of Avila to demonstrate where the practice of Centering Prayer leaves the path of Christianity and enters dangerous territory. 

Her writing style is conversational, and she includes comments and  exchanges from her various social media sites as well as from her blog at the beginning of each chapter, which clearly shows the confusion that people have about this prayer technique. 

The author lays out Father Keating's philosophy on Centering Prayer as a counterpoint to the wisdom of St. Teresa of Avila, a Doctor of the Church for her writings and teachings on prayer as well as  the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on New Age spirituality. By the end of the book, the differences between Centering Prayer and Catholic prayer are clear. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Sticktoitiveness of Saint Monica

Today we celebrate Saint Monica, mother of St. Augustine. When Augustine was a young lad, he was not a nice Catholic boy. He dabbled in heresy (the Manichean heresy), drinking and carousing. He lived with a woman and had a child out of wedlock. He was extremely smart, but he was a pain in the side to poor Monica.

And so Monica prayed. And prayed. And prayed. She prayed for 17 years.

By her example, we can see that our petitions to the Lord should not be one-offs. We shouldn't give the Lord or ourselves deadlines. I'll pray for five years and if nothing happens, it must be God's will. We shouldn't give up, ever.

Most people acknowledge her example of perseverance, but she exemplifies several other virtues as well.


She offered her prayers and petitions to the Lord knowing that He will* act in His own time. It was her job to pray. The rest was up to Him.


She stayed close to St. Augustine, closer than he wanted, so one night he ditched her and took a boat to Rome. She followed, but found he had gone to Milan. She followed. This was at a time when boat travel was perilous and difficult. She had the courage of a marine!


Monica, though a Christian, was given to a pagan in marriage. The man had a violent temper, and he came with a cranky mother. Most people would have packed it in and figured that this was a cross to bear.  Monica prayed, and before they died, both her mother-in-law and husband converted to Christianity!

She also gives us an example of expectant prayer, something that we are sorely short of in our culture. We should have faith that God will answer our prayers.

In our instant gratification culture, Saint Monica serves to remind us that God's gifts are not "on demand", and that He always hears our prayers.

Saint Monica, pray for us!

* (No. That's not a grammatical error. God is always in the present.)

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Miraculous Church

As Catholics, we tend to forget that our Church is the Church of miracles. I can't tell you how many times I've had someone (even priests) downplay the supernatural aspects of the Church.

"We can pray for healing, but it will be a spiritual healing. God will help us through our suffering."

No, no, NO!

Jesus didn't tell lepers just to be strong and bear their leprosy with dignity.  He didn't tell them to offer it up. He healed them, but he always asked them what they wanted first.

And He always credited the faith of the person who was being healed. As Dr. Margaret Schlientz explains it, it was His power that did the healing, but it was the person's faith that manifested the healing.

At St. Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic parish this weekend, we are honored to host "The Eucharistic Miracles of the World", a Vatican approved exhibition. Time after time, Jesus has reached out to give us the proof we, as flawed humans, need that the Eucharist is the Real Presence, the actual Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ. And the Eucharist is the ultimate healer.

The miracles include Lanciano, where the bread and wine turned into actual Body and Blood. Modern scientists evaluated the samples without knowing where they came from. They said the samples came from a heat muscle, and they wanted to know how the doctor took a sample from a man who was still alive.

When the later miracle at Buenos Aires occurred, samples from Lanciano and Buenos Aires were compared, and scientists said they came from the same person.

And still we doubt.

If we want to see more miracles in this modern world, then we need to have expectant faith. Expect miracles. Expect healing. Expect a huge, active God to take part in your daily life. He wants to, but He won't circumvent our free will.

What miracles have you seen in your own life?