Regnum Christi

Kerrie Rivard

The Day After Christmas

For Tonight You are Mine by Helen Thomas RobsonHe saw it all.

He didn’t miss a thing.

Hours and days of planning and working and lovingly reflecting on how to welcome the Christ Child in your family… how to bring smiles to faces and memories to little hearts… Christmas shopping, menus, grocery lists, and hours of cooking dishes hoped to bring celebration and connection among family and friends. Always with a deep love, sometimes with a little stress and fatigue, stealing the precious moments of silence and prayer you can during this busy time, resolving to keep your heart and home centered on Christ and his coming.

The day comes, we celebrate with Him, in Mass, in each other. We laugh, we serve, we give, we receive.

He sees it all. And he smiles with love, with gratitude. The peace-creating smile of an infant, the deep and eternal smile of God who became a baby so we would know what that Divine smile looks like on a flesh-and-blood human face.

He was there, enjoying the family, friends, food, and most of all, your heart which gave itself in love and service to Him. He was there, giving through you, serving through you, loving through you. And the joy, the memories you hoped for, he made happen, through you.

He was there, praying in you. Gazing at you gazing at him in your heart. Grateful for the warm cradle of your love to welcome him.

We celebrate in gratitude for the coming of the Christ Child, and the Giver of all gifts looks at us in gratitude for the gift of love we give Him.

It’s enough to humble us into holy silence, the silence of the day after Christmas, when we can sit quietly with Mary, and ponder in our heart the miracle of yesterday and what it means for today and tomorrow.

We look at him in prayer, on this quiet morning, and ask him for one more gift. In our hearts we know he is asking us for the very same gift.

‘Stay with me,’ we beg. ‘Stay with Me,’ he asks in return.

Cradling the Christ child in our hearts, holding him who holds us, all we can say is thank you, and look forward to the days and years ahead, together. Because of Christmas.

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The Nativity by Gari Melchers

Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas

Oh, how glossy marketing campaigns and commercialism have conditioned us to expect a certain perfection during the Christmas season… We anticipate perfect piety, perfect Christmas cookies, perfect parties, perfect family meals, perfect décor, perfect gifts, perfect smiles of surprise, and perfect family pictures… Anything else? Whatever it is, it better be perfect…


We are so immersed in this culture of marketing that in glancing at the Gospel telling of the first Christmas, it can seem like a completely different event. It’s worth taking more than just a glance.


In the first Christmas, we see joy and perfection in the midst of a mess.

We see Mary’s transition from being “greatly troubled” to giving her perfect yes. Her exclamation of “How can this be?” followed by her complete “fiat!” is the model for all of us at every age. No one ever feels ready to be a parent. No one is ever wholly sure that things are going to go ok in any major life change, or even in day-to-day events. But Mary said yes to the plan of God that she could neither see nor control, and we can too.


We also see Joseph’s pain and the decision to divorce Mary quietly until God intervened in a dream. Imagine Mary seeing Joseph’s broken heart and hoping against hope that he would believe and understand the truth. Imagine Joseph’s inability to reconcile Mary’s gentle perfection and the situation he was confronted with. Only God could make sense of it, but he let them experience the mess before showing them the truth. How often in our relationships we don’t understand each other and are wounded by stressful situations. Only God can heal and give clarity and meaning to them.


We see joy shared between Mary and Elizabeth and their children, and we see long and arduous journeys. We see Mary and Joseph with nowhere to stay as Christ is born, and yet in their poverty they offer a warm welcome to the shepherds and kings. We see the perfect family relegated to staying in a cold, dirty stable. Jesus entered the world — the beautiful world He created — in a dark and dirty environment. Stables at this time were often caves with feeding troughs, or mangers, carved into the rock walls. This was not the clean and ornate royal birthplace people would have expected for the Messiah. Jesus’ birth reminds us that God is not limited by our expectations, but our expectations can limit our understanding of his plan.


We see the joy of the Christ Child’s birth followed immediately by the need to escape Herod and flee to Egypt during the night. Imagine Joseph’s frustration at being unable to provide Mary with a clean, warm place to give birth, or a safe place for Jesus to rest, and see the difficulty of families living in poverty, unable to provide for the basic needs of their children.


No human being would have planned God’s birth this way. In the first Christmas we can find no superficial perfection, but so much messy, profound and unexpected beauty. The Gospel was apparently not written byHollywood or by commercial marketers. What we’re inundated with on TV, in the flyers that flood our inboxes and mailboxes and on the internet is fake news.


Real life, even the life of the Holy Family, is messy. If you’re a parent, there’s a good chance that right now some area of your house is strewn with toys, books, cheerios and the odd sock. Even more than that, in our relationships and circumstances, sometimes life just feels like one big mess. In those times, Christmas reminds us that God isn’t afraid of a mess — that’s where he creates unexpected beauty and joy. That’s where he comes to be born in us. He chose to show us through his own birth that there is joy in the mess, peace in the simplicity, and love in the confusion and pain of life. Hallmark can’t market those gifts.


So pray well, throw (and attend) great parties, make delicious cookies and meals, and celebrate with thoughtful gifts and lovely decorations, but don’t worry about perfection. Find and give the perfect joy, peace, and love that Christ makes present in the midst of us, whether life is messy or beautiful. At Christmas, it can be both, because God chooses to be present in that imperfect mix.

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Advent and the Art of Living Dangerously

Advent and the Art of Living Dangerously

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”

-Robert Frost

We have two roads to choose from in Advent.

 

The first is the safe road. It’s the most obvious; the cozy, comfortable, much-traveled road of busy Christmas preparation with just a touch (ok, maybe more) of fragmentation.  The roadmap is a checklist of ways we plan to make this the #BestAdventEver by accomplishing all of our goals and making our homes look Instagram worthy for the holidays ✨. 

 

Many of us have been traveling this road every December for our whole lives.  We’re used to it, we look forward to it and the many lovely things along its path, even though we are also slightly exhausted by it…and we also long for something more – or perhaps more accurately, for something ‘less.’  This time-worn and well-travelled road lets us chart out and accomplish our own comfortable spiritual and social plans and goals for advent- what we want to accomplish in our own souls and circles before December 25th, making ourselves the cartographers, navigators, and captains of our own journeys.  We may work hard on some important virtues, and try to keep our eyes on Christ and service to those he loves, but our focus is often a bit lost in the plans, checklists, and work we plunge into as we prepare for Christmas.

 

We also have the less traveled road, a dangerous road, an unknown but beautiful road, on which we abandon our well-laid plans and built in GPS, and simply follow Christ’s voice.  Our map is the liturgy of the Church, and Christ is the navigator who leads us along it’s paths, telling us in prayer where we must go.  We simply ask our Lord to guide us as he sees fit, to create in us a pure heart to welcome the Christ-Child, and then take one step at a time with him.  The chaos of the first road still exists on this path, but in a way that is more distant and muted because we are intensely focused on listening to the voice of the Shepherd leading us, not getting distracted by the flashing billboards along the way. It’s the Advent road of the prophets who for centuries waited for the Messiah and gave us those incredible ‘O Antiphons.’ We join them in their longing for our Savior, and like them, bravely invite God’s pure and burning light in our souls to illuminate us in ways that we can’t plan or control. We walk with the prophets and like them, experience both God’s extreme tenderness and his powerful purification.

 

This is the road that truly leads us to Christ in Advent, but it’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because we are guaranteed to be challenged and purified on the journey, often in ways we wouldn’t choose for ourselves.

 

The love that descended to Bethlehem is not the easy sympathy of an avuncular God, but a burning fire whose light chases away every shadow floods every corner and turns midnight into noon.  This love reveals sin and overcomes it.  It conquers darkness with such forcefulness and intensity that it scatters the proud, humbles the mighty, feeds the hungry and send the rich away emptyhanded (Luke 1:51-53) –Watch for the Light, Plough publications, xvi

 

A dangerous advent is purifying, and filled with extraordinary love. God invites us to open ourselves to his light, to let him bare our hearts and souls, and heal the sin and wounds there.   If we desire him to scatter our pride, we must let him bring it to the light.  If we want him fill our poverty, we allow him to first take away what riches we hold in his place.  If we ask him to feed us, he will first make us hungry.

 

A dangerous Advent is uncomfortable, in a beautiful way that promises lasting joy. God draws us close to himself and changes us with his love.  He carves, purifies and prepares the “God-shaped hole in our hearts” to be filled completely by him in his nativity.

 

Seeing Mary’s Advent, we gain new insights into our blessed mother and watching her, we gain courage to live our own advent dangerously.  The handmaid of the Lord walked God’s path and not her own. She began her advent open to the light and will of God, not knowing what it would be.  She just said YES.  Her serene smile confounds our fearful self-sufficiency when we see that this peaceful mother went forward with courage and perfect trust even though she was afraid (Luke 1:29), and confused (Luke 1:34). She was young, pregnant, and on the verge of divorce as she walked in trusting darkness (Matthew 1:19), hoping in the promise of God.  About to give birth, God’s plan was still hidden from her. As they went from inn to inn during the cold night, looking for a place to welcome the Child, they discovered their Son’s deep humility in choosing to be born in a barn despite all of their efforts (Luke 2:7).

 

In our dangerous advent, the obstacles may be similar or different.  We may have difficulties with our marriages, our children, our temporal needs.  Or we may be pulled in many directions by circumstances that send us not on a road to Bethlehem, but to the grocery store, to kids activities and social events.  The important thing is to listen to the still small voice of God leading us at all moments.  If we live these circumstances and walk these roads like Mary did, we find the purpose of Christ in all of them. We find what he wants to change in us, we recognize the gaze of love he fixes on us in each moment, and we gain trust to say FIAT to the ways he wants us to serve and love others whom we find along our advent path. Mary lived an Advent of challenges and unknowns with unconquerable peace and brave love.  This allowed God to give His son a warm, welcoming heart that said yes to Him and not her own plans, and soft hands to hold him, empty of any attachments, simply ready to embrace the Christ Child.

 

He wants to do the same with us.  Are we ready to say yes? This advent, under the surface of all of the external preparations and celebrations, let’s ask God to give us the simplicity, courage, and trust to live advent in a real and dangerous way, the way Mary did. 

Pope St. John Paul II wrote that we are an Easter People, and ‘Alleluia!’ is our song. We are also an Advent people this December, and ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’ is our song.

 

Could but thy soul, O man,
Become a silent night!
God would be born in thee
And set all things aright.

-Angelus Silenius, 1657

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Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: November 26 – December 3, 2023

THE WEEKLY DIGEST
OF REGNUM CHRISTI
DAILY MEDITATIONS

Sunday, November 26, 2023 -Sheep and Goats

Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

Matthew 25:31-46

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.’ Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’ He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’ And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this chance to spend time with you in prayer. You are the Prince of Peace and the Lord of Mercy. I trust in your goodness and love. I love you and earnestly long to love you more each day.

 

Petition: Lord, help me to translate my faith in you into good deeds done for others.

 

  1. Judgment Day: All of our life is, in a sense, a preparation for the judgment we face at life’s end. That is when we go before Our Lord and give account for everything we have done or failed to do. No excuses will be accepted, no more “second chances” given. Jesus’ mercy doesn’t mean he ignores justice. “Mercy differs from justice, but is not in opposition to it,” wrote Pope Saint John Paul II in his 1980 encyclical, Dives in Misericordia (Rich in Mercy). Would I be ready to face the Lord this very day? If not, why not? What facet of my life do I need to change right now?

 

  1. The Sheep: The sheep to be saved are the people who helped others, who showed mercy, who didn’t turn a cold shoulder to someone in need. Our Lord doesn’t praise them for their many prayers so much as for their good deeds. Prayer is important, of course. But it’s not enough. Christ wants our love for him to be reflected in our love for others. Oddly, many of those to be saved will not have realized that it was really Christ they were helping. Do I see Christ in those who need help? Do I see Christ in my family members? My co-workers? The demanding boss? The unpopular classmate? The smelly beggar?

 

  1. The Goats: It’s scary to think that those who will be lost were not necessarily “bad people.” In this passage Our Lord doesn’t chide them for doing wicked things. He doesn’t accuse them of starting wars or peddling drugs or committing acts of terrorism. Rather, he faults them for the sin of omission, for things they didn’t do. “You gave me no food… You gave me no clothing.” We may think ourselves good Christians because we don’t cheat on our taxes or look at pornography or miss Mass on Sundays. But acts of charity are key, too. We should do these without neglecting the others.

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I don’t want to end up with the goats at the Last Judgment. That’s why I want to take my faith seriously. I want to have a generous heart. But do I limit my generosity? Why can’t I see you in my neighbor? You have loved me unconditionally. Help me to respond to your love by loving others unconditionally.

 

Resolution: Before noon, I will perform one small act of charity for someone close to me.

Monday, November 27, 2023 - The Richest Gift

Monday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:1-4

 

When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, “I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have blessed me with life and with a vibrant faith. Thank you. I dedicate this time and prayer to you. I love you, and I offer you all that I am and all that I have with the desire of becoming a joyful gift to you.

 

Petition: Lord, teach me to share joyfully all that I have received!

 

  1. Some Wealthy People: Jesus sat before the temple treasury. What did Jesus see as he looked on? He saw more than we do. He saw the heart. Wealth tends to captivate us with desire and enslave us with concerns and worries. Jesus saw many hearts squeeze out just a couple drops of their abundant security, a gesture that was neither painful nor difficult. The act of fulfilling, or thinking they were fulfilling a duty to God, caused them to glow with self-satisfaction. Some were even bloated with pride for having given so much, and yet their act was empty of real self-giving. They gave with routine indifference. Their giving lacked love. What does Jesus see in my daily or weekly gifts? Do I generously give God my all when I see him on the altar? Do I generously give him my all when I am on my knees in prayer? Do I give him my all on my feet at work?

 

  1. A Poor Widow: Only Jesus could have seen that this widow was now reduced to total dependence on family or friends. She gave more because she gave herself with a heart full of surrender. Is there anything we can give God that he has not already given us? We can give God our trustful surrender. The poor widow gave to God with trust since she knew that he would continue to care for her. She had no other real desire but to be with him and be enriched by him. Her giving was serene and resigned, not despairing, but rather full of hope. She had the hope of one who knows deep down how much God loves her. How much do I trust and depend on him, particularly when other securities begin to disappear?

 

  1. Offering My Whole Life: Jesus shows the great importance of how we give—not only of what we give. What we have—our possessions and those, which in some way we have made our own—are not for us. We have them so that we might give them, and we should give them back to God, for they are his. We give them as an expression of our love for God. I give my life when I work diligently, practice charity, pray, or sacrifice for love of Christ. All these acts of love, if not made explicit before, are made into an intentional gift to Jesus, when I mentally place them upon the paten along with the hosts to be consecrated during the Offertory at Mass. Do I give him my whole life?

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, awaken me to all you are for me, and let me realize all that you have given me. May I never cease to thank you through my own self-giving. You are my living and constant invitation to be more generous, to give more often and with more love. Open my heart, Lord, to your work!

 

Resolution: In prayer, I will make a list of all that I can do for Jesus this week and offer this to him. Then, on Sunday during the Offertory, I will mentally place before him on the paten all the sacrifices I have made during the week—my real gift to him, given with faith and love.

 

Tuesday, November 28, 2023 - Why so Glum?

Tuesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:5-11

 

While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, “All that you see here—the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down.” Then they asked him, “Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?” He answered, “See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he,’ and ‘The time has come.’ Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end.” Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky.”

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this special time I have with you. It’s one of the few calm moments of the day. Your presence reassures me that I don’t have to endure the trials of the day alone. You are my strength and my peace. I wish to abide in your love.

 

Petition: Jesus, help me to keep hoping despite the crises in my life.

 

  1. Temple of Doom: For the Jews, the Temple in Jerusalem was the center of religious and cultural life. It contained the Holy of Holies, the sanctuary that once housed the Ark of the Covenant. The people were proud of the Temple, but Jesus warns them that the day will arrive when it will be destroyed (as indeed it was, in A.D. 70). Yet the end of the Temple will not be the end of religion. Jesus himself will remain with us, as he does to this day, in the Eucharist. Likewise, no matter what else passes away—our house, our office, our school—Christ remains. Does that belief fill me with confidence?

 

  1. Be Not Deceived: Jesus doesn’t directly answer the question about when the Temple will be destroyed. Rather, he tries to get his listeners to focus on what is really important: their faith. Our Lord warns them not to listen to the wrong people. Throughout the course of a normal day, to whom do we listen? Whose voices are on our radios, our TV sets? Who really has our ear day by day? Worldly talk-show hosts? The news media’s “instant experts”? Hollywood stars? Jesus cautions us that the people we listen to might affect the quality of our lives—and the quality of our eternity. Do I judge carefully, then, the voices I listen to?

 

  1. Do Not Be Terrified: Terrorist attacks, wars, abortion, euthanasia, natural disasters—is the world a nicer place today than in Jesus’ time? Our Lord was no stranger to bad news. He knew about the tower in Siloam that killed 18 people (cf. Lk 13:4)—and he knew what awaited him on Good Friday. Yet he always remained hopeful and encouraged the best in people. As his followers, we too must be witnesses to hope. We need to brighten the lives of those around us. More importantly, we need to remind others that God will win in the end. “Good, not evil, has the last word,” Pope Saint John Paul II told the general audience of Oct. 17, 2001, “God triumphs over the hostile powers, even when they seem great and invincible.”

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, I know in my mind that you will win in the end. If only my heart would believe that, too! Grant me this grace. Grant that my life will show that kind of optimism at every moment.

 

Resolution: I will make a small sacrifice or offer up a special prayer for someone suffering today.

 

Wednesday, November 29, 2023 - Costly Catholicism

Wednesday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:12-19

 

Jesus said to the crowd: “They will seize and persecute you, they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons, and they will have you led before kings and governors because of my name. It will lead to your giving testimony. Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will put some of you to death. You will be hated by all because of my name, but not a hair on your head will be destroyed. By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Jesus my Savior, thank you for another day and another chance to grow in holiness with your grace. I love you and wish to make you the true center of my thoughts, desires, and actions.

 

Petition: Lord, help me face the difficulties of practicing my faith day-to-day.

 

  1. Persecution: Opposition from the world is the price we pay for following Christ. No pain, no gain. Why should that surprise us? If living the Gospel were easy, all the world would be saints. But the Gospel is demanding. It rubs against our fallen human nature. It demands of us—and even makes us unpopular. Why? Because people who do good are a thorny reminder to those who don’t. It shouldn’t surprise us that the neighbors look down on us for having so many kids. Or that the guys in the dorm snicker at us for living chastely. Or that the boss overlooks us for a promotion because we wouldn’t donate to that pro-abortion group last Christmas during the company fund drive. Do I realize that to be a Christian is to be persecuted?

 

  1. No Defense: When Christ tells us not to prepare our defense, he’s not telling us to sit back and do nothing. Rather, he wants us to use our talents for the Kingdom. Christ is inviting us to trust that ultimately the victory of good over evil belongs to him. God has his time and place for everything. In the meantime, we are called to build the Kingdom wherever we can—in our families, our offices, our schools, our communities. How am I building the Kingdom in the areas around me?

 

  1. Wisdom from Above: “I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking…” When we stay close to Christ in prayer and deed, he takes over our lives little by little. And that’s good. Our selfishness fades. Our heart grows. We die to ourselves. “He must increase; I must decrease” (Jn 3:30). But we have to ask ourselves: Do we really believe in the Gospel? Do we believe in it enough to use Christ’s words when we have to respond to the nonbelievers around us? How often do we identify ourselves as Catholic in public?

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord, you know it’s not easy to be seen as your friend. People laugh at us—if they don’t feel sorry for us. They don’t understand where we are coming from. Help me understand some of the loneliness you must have felt when you went against the world’s standards. Help me be faithful to you regardless of the cost.

 

Resolution: In conversation or in an email or text I will use a line of Christ’s wisdom from the Gospel.

 

Thursday, November 30, 2023 - A Decisive Response

Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle

Matthew 4:18-22

 

As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe that you have called me to follow you more closely today. I trust that in this prayer, you will help me see the concrete implications of following your will. I love you and want to respond to all that you ask of me, today and always. Thank you for watching over me and guiding me home to heaven.

 

Petition: Make me a fisher of men, here and now, Lord!

 

  1. As Jesus Walked By: One summer afternoon a priest just happened to be in the area and visited my home. Within three years, two of my brothers and I were following Christ on the road to the priesthood. Jesus didn’t just happen to walk by these two pairs of brothers! He had every intention of inviting those brothers to become “fishers of men.” How much happens in my life, prepared and intended by God, to help me follow him more closely? And all I see is an accident, a coincidence? Ask him when was the last time he just happened by.

 

  1. At Once They Followed Him: Jesus never calls someone when it’s perfectly convenient, when that person has nothing better to do. No, he calls precisely when we are in the middle of living our life, doing what we do best, what we do most, “casting or mending our nets.” “What a losing formula!” we are tempted to conclude. Yet what is it he really wants of us when he calls? He wants a response—a reply of love. Love is all about preference and priority. If I love him more than myself, I can follow him “at once.” If I prefer him over my own activities and life, I can follow him “immediately.” What is the response of love I am giving or want to give Jesus today in my life?

 

  1. They Left Something Behind: God created us with free will. He wants us to choose our actions, but he is not indifferent to what we choose. Every choice implies the rejection of other options. We cannot follow someone somewhere without leaving something and someone else behind. Peter and Andrew left their nets behind. James and John left their boat and their father behind. This was possible only with Jesus before them. Yet we, too, often try to follow Christ without leaving things and others behind: the world, comforts, my preferences… We think that we can have it all. We can’t. We are in danger of “taming our faith,” bending to the demands of our passions and the world’s insistence. Love requires a choice, a choice for the real, complete Jesus. It asks me to reject everything in me that is not him. How wholehearted is my following of Christ?

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, you have called me and continue to call me throughout this day. Help me to respond with love, a love that trumps all my other loves, likes, and desires. I don’t want you to have to wait for me, Lord. Just show me what you want and give me the courage and generosity to give it to you, no matter the cost.

 

Resolution: I will give up something today that diminishes the attention that I give to my spouse, family, or friends.

Friday, December 1, 2023 - The Kingdom is Near

Friday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:29-33

 

Jesus told his disciples a parable. “Consider the fig tree and all the other trees. When their buds burst open, you see for yourselves and know that summer is now near; in the same way, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near. Amen, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

 

Petition: Thy Kingdom come, both now and forever!

 

  1. See for Yourselves: In today’s Gospel, Jesus is responding to the disciples’ anxious plea for a “when” and a “with what warning” the end will come (Lk 21:7). He tells them some signs that will precede the imminent fall of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man “on the clouds.” But these will all be very apparent, like the coming of summer. So, don’t be obsessed with figuring out the “when.” Focus on living and knowing the Kingdom of God now. How easily we are distracted with all that happens around us, yet how difficult it is to be aware of the Kingdom and its demands in my heart and my relations to others in my life! What efforts do I make to discover and to know the present demands of his Kingdom in my life?

 

  1. The Kingdom of God Will Come: Jesus has used many images to describe the Kingdom of God. Like the mustard seed, it is hard to recognize at first. It begins small and grows slowly. But it will come, and this must be our daily prayer of desire: “Thy Kingdom Come!” We must resist a very real temptation. Almost unconsciously we want it to be a worldly Kingdom that will come during our lifetime. We work and pray as though we will soon arrive at our goals and rest from all our spiritual labors. This leads us to get easily discouraged at our lack of progress in prayer and virtue, no less than with the problems that surround us. No, we must live with hope, pushing forward with growing confidence that the Lord will bring his Kingdom to fulfillment, both in us and in the world—when the time is right. Whose kingdom am I seeking?

 

  1. My Words Will Not Pass Away: Another temptation in awaiting the Kingdom is to despair of the times of trial through which we must pass. But in the words of St. Theresa of Jesus, “all things pass,” only God remains. Nothing we suffer will remain as the Kingdom approaches. And yet all these “trials” are the most valuable and powerful means to bring about the Kingdom in our own souls and in the lives of others, especially in those who wander. Use the tools of the Kingdom: Suffer trials with faith and respond with a love that gives them an eternal value. May we never lose a moment in which to merit graces and to build the Kingdom that comes. In the end, only what we have done for God and for our brothers and sisters remains.

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, give me a greater faith and confidence that every cross and burden, no matter how trivial or small, is a means to love. I want to build your Kingdom with you. Keep me focused on the opportunities and demands of the present moment.

 

Resolution: I will make one small sacrifice at a meal today for someone I wish I could help more.

Saturday, December 2, 2023 - Ready or Not

Saturday of the Thirty-Fourth Week in Ordinary Time

Luke 21:34-36

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Beware that your hearts do not become drowsy from carousing and drunkenness and the anxieties of daily life, and that day catch you by surprise like a trap. For that day will assault everyone who lives on the face of the earth. Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”

 

Introductory Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe in you and in the Kingdom you are building in and through me. I believe in the value of my sacrifice and struggles united to yours. I hope to arrive to heaven when you say it is time. I wish to spend myself for those I should love the most.

 

Petition: Rouse my heart, Lord, to live in you!

 

  1. Drowsy Hearts: Our life is a time of preparation, not only for an eternal friendship with God, but for the “assault” of the “tribulations” that must come first. The spiritual battle is real, whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we want it. We fight each day and in many ways, but the battle is ultimately won in the depths of our hearts. All that puts our hearts to sleep and gives us a false sense of security that must be avoided. I may not “carouse and get drunk” in the typical fashion, but do I wander about seeking satisfaction from the world? Am I superficial in my judgments? Do I become so engrossed and absorbed in material matters, works, and worries that I am unable to pursue my spiritual life and vocation with a clear and focused attention?

 

  1. That Day: It seems that none of us will escape the trial of that last day. For some it will be sudden and painful; for others it will be prolonged and difficult. But we are all mortal creatures. The great saints all lived with their end in mind. Death was a healthy meditation that moved them to live the present day to the full. Death is the door to my real life. The anticipation of that day need not rob us of joy; rather, it must call us to love. How I live this day determines how I will live “that day” and the everlasting day of eternal life with God. How do I want to live that day?

 

  1. Vigilance and Prayer: This is how Jesus invited his closest friends, the Apostles, to live “that day” of his Passion: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Mt 26:41). The final words of the Our Father must find resonance with how we live. Vigilance requires awareness not only of the enemies and threats that surround us, but also of the weaknesses within us. These elements are at work each day, and so we must be on guard each day to check their influence. This must be the simple and serene priority in our life. But it must always lead us to Christ, to stand before him sincerely and trustingly in prayer. Prayer and vigilance lead to each other. If we do not make prayer the air we breathe, we will suffocate in a polluted world. How much importance am I giving to my habits and life of prayer?

 

Conversation with Christ: Grant me, dear Jesus, a sense of urgency. Wake me up from any drowsiness or spiritual carelessness. Allow me to see both the threats and opportunities for my life of grace. Keep before my eyes the real meaning of my life and the limited time I have to conquer and to grow in love.

 

Resolution: I will pray today for the soul in purgatory who was most distracted or least prepared for “that day” of his death.

 

 

Sunday, December 3, 2023 - Always on the Watch

First Sunday of Advent

Mark 13:33-37

 

Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come. It is like a man traveling abroad. He leaves home and places his servants in charge, each with his own work, and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch. Watch, therefore; you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming, whether in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning. May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: ‘Watch!’”

 

Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, I all too easily forget that you deserve the first spot in my life. In this moment, though, I recognize you as my King and Master. I know you are present with me now and that you wish to fill me with your grace. Thank you for your friendship; I offer my weak love in return. I love you, Lord, and wish you to reign in my life.

 

Petition: Lord Jesus, help me to stay vigilant and attentive to your holy inspirations.

 

  1. “You Do Not Know When the Master of the House Will Come”: Lord Jesus, I am not the master of my life; you are. I therefore ought not to fritter away my time simply doing as I please. I will need to render you an account of my stewardship over my life, which really belongs to you, my Creator and Redeemer. What will you ask of me when you come for my soul? Do my daily actions demonstrate your ownership of my life?

 

  1. Keep Alert: Lord Jesus, this Gospel may sound a bit harsh, but I thank you for its message. You’re reminding me how important it is to live my Christian life in a state of healthy tension—a tension that doesn’t imply frustration or anxiety of any sort, but rather is a constant desire to draw closer to you and be more like you. Just as a lover is exquisitely attentive to fulfill the every desire of the beloved, I should be watchful for the least occasion to please you.

 

  1. When He Comes, Will I Be Asleep? This Gospel makes me reflect on my need to receive pardon in the sacrament of reconciliation. The definitive moment of my death, that very special face-to-face encounter with you, Lord, might come when I am not expecting it. I must be ready for that moment. I want to be able to look you fully in the eye. I have sought to please you in my actions, and when I have failed, I have turned to you through confession to be washed of my sins. I want to hear you say to me: “Well done, my good and faithful servant… Come, share your master’s joy” (Mt 25:23).

 

Conversation with Christ: Lord Jesus, help me to “stay awake” in my daily life, keeping heaven as my true goal in all that I do. Help me to be ready in every moment of my life to be called into your presence.

 

Resolution: I will set a regular time to receive the sacrament of reconciliation frequently, when possible.

 

Weekly Digest of the Regnum Christi Daily Meditations: November 26 – December 3, 2023 Read More »

The Gift of a (Gr)Attitude Adjustment Present with a bow

The Gift of a (Gr)Attitude Adjustment

“I never met a bitter person who was thankful. Or a thankful person who was bitter.”  —Nick Vujicic

 

Gratitude is not just a polite obligation ingrained into us by our parents as we learn our manners. It’s a powerful and transformative gift from God, an attitude adjustment we all need multiple times daily.

 

Focusing on what we can be grateful for in any situation lets us experience our daily reality in a different way. It’s like going from treading water in the ocean waves to scuba diving below the surface and discovering a world of beauty that exists all around us, just out of sight. When we are grateful, we see more deeply into our lives, the world around us, and other people’s hearts, getting past the superficial and circumstantial. We discover hidden treasures that only gratitude can dig up. 

 

Here are five of them.

 

1.Something in us changes when we are grateful. A sense of gratitude, especially gratitude to God, gives us a peace and contentment that shifts our perspective on our lives. Gratitude is a powerful cure for when you’re irritated with someone or in a bad mood. Reframing our mindset to focus on what we are grateful for in the situation lifts our perspective and attitude. It calms us and helps us see things (and people) in a more positive light.

 

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4:6-7

 

2. Being grateful implies an essential truth: I am not alone. To be grateful means I am grateful to someone else, someone who has impacted me with goodness. I am connected to God and others, and I know it deep inside, no matter how alone I may feel in my daily circumstances.

 

 “To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything He has given us — and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him.” – Thomas Merton

 

3. I am grateful for what I am given, not for something I have accomplished. Gratitude shows me that I need the help of God and others. I am not self-sufficient, no matter how I may be tempted by pride to see myself as the author of all the good that is in my life or as the sole accomplisher of all my achievements. Gratitude gently reminds my heart that this is not true and that I am loved for who I am, not for what I do.

 

 “If only everyone weak and imperfect like me felt as I do, no one would despair of reaching the heights of love, for Jesus does not ask for glorious deeds. He asks only for self-surrender and for gratitude.” – St. Therese of Lisieux

 

4. Being grateful means I am free. I am free to be thankful and to see the good around me regardless of any other circumstances in my life. Nothing can stop gratitude. It’s a prayer that breaks chains and allows us to lift our hearts to God no matter what situation we find ourselves in – joyful or sorrowful. Gratitude raises us above current events to be more present to the giver of all gifts.

 

 “Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.” – Henri Nouwen

 

5. Being grateful builds hope in us. Taking a break for a ‘gratitude adjustment’ during my day often brings a smile to my face. If not always to my face, then at least to my heart. And the smile is the promise of hope. I am loved by God, who reaches into me, into my life, into the world around me, and makes all things work for good. And I can confidently trust that he isn’t going to stop doing that.

 

“Remember the past with gratitude. Live the present with enthusiasm. Look forward to the future with confidence.” – Pope St. John Paul II

The Gift of a (Gr)Attitude Adjustment Read More »

Pray a Day Calendar for November

November Prayer-a-Day Calendar for Souls in Purgatory

Today it seems there are apps for everything, ways to streamline activities, hack our daily work, help us remember important things and keep us connected to friends and family.

 

A few years ago, a friend and fellow Regnum Christi member, CC Christopherson of Ohio, shared a way she and her family make the most of the month of November with a calendar on which each day is assigned to a deceased person whom they pray for on that day.

 

It’s kind of like an app, since it makes things so simple and organized, just not so hi-tech. It’s a Calendar printout you can keep on your fridge to remind everyone of their holy November mission.  You write the name of a deceased loved one on each day of the calendar, reminding you to dedicate your prayers and sacrifices for them on that day.  At the end of November, you will have brought 30 souls a bit closer to their eternal reward!

 

Adults and those without little ones can simply use the calendar as a way to organize their efforts to offer their daily prayers and sacrifices for the souls of their loved ones.

 

Families can take it a step further, making treat bags or boxes with 30 pieces of candy in them (left-over Halloween candy is perfect!). Each day, after a child has prayed for the person on the calendar, they can take a treat to remind them of the ‘reward of Heaven’ they have asked God to give this person. Or, they can make a sacrifice and not eat the candy that day, giving their prayers an extra push!

 

CC and her family have taken this great way to participate in the communion of saints to another level. She shares the Christopherson family tradition and some of the ways they have encouraged others to live this holy November mission:

 

“Our family has been utilizing the November calendar for years.  We make it a family mission to give out ‘packets’ containing the calendar, printed prayers and little bags to anyone who will take them.

 

This year we took it a step further.  Unfortunately, we had a very special 19-year-old man at our parish named Cullen pass away in September from a car accident.  It was a shock to our whole community.  The students at our parish school were especially close to Cullen because he helped to train the new altar servers.

 

Our local Challenge club approached the principal of our parish school to ask if the club could put together packets for all the students, with Cullen listed on November 1st.  The principal loved the idea, and our priest asked for more packets for our PREP students (those students receiving religious education but who do not attend the Catholic school).  Our parish priest was able to speak to the students about this very special mission at their weekly school Mass.  The Challenge girls gave away over 250 packets to their parish students.”

 

 

November prayer calendar, prayer card, and candy bags the Christophersons use (and give out) to pray for the holy souls in purgatory.

 

 

I invite everyone – young, old, priest, consecrated, lay – to join me in this simple way to live the tradition of the church by praying for our brothers and sisters who have gone before us.

 

You can download the calendar here, as well as directions for the calendar/candy box and a file with prayer cards you can use or print to give out to other prayer warriors, Christopherson style.

 

 

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

  1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.

 

1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.606 The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:607

 

As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.608

1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture: “Therefore [Judas Maccabeus] made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”609 From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.610 The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead:

 

Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.611

 

 

November Prayer-a-Day Calendar for Souls in Purgatory Read More »

Letter from the General Directive College: Regnum Christi Joins the Holy Father in Praying for Peace in the Holy Land

Thy Kingdom Come!

 

DG-FRC 00226-2023 

Clas. II.3.B.8 

Rome, October 23, 2023

 

To all members of Regnum Christi:

 

Lay members, Consecrated Men, Consecrated Women, and Legionaries of Christ

 

Dear friends in Christ:

 

We wanted to reach out to you today at a time when we all share the concern and sadness caused by the war and violence in the Holy Land. A conflict that joins – in a dramatic way – the conflicts in Ukraine and other countries around the world. We have closely followed the initiatives that have arisen to pray for peace and to support all those who suffer and are affected by this situation, including refugees, the families of the personnel in our centers in the Holy Land, pilgrims, and the communities of volunteers, Consecrated Women, and Legionaries serving in Jerusalem and Galilee. 

 

This painful situation confronts us, and as apostles of Regnum Christi, we want to make our commitment concrete through “the struggle marked by perseverance and trust in the Lord in the face of the reality of evil and sin in one’s own life and in society, moved by the power of love to the extreme” (SRCF n. 10). 

 

The Legionary Fathers and the Consecrated Women of the communities of Jerusalem and Magdala have a message for us, “Do not stop praying for peace!” The Holy Father urged us again to pray, as prayer is “the gentle and holy strength we have to combat hatred.” His appeal, addressed to all believers, is to “take only one side in this conflict: that of peace.” (Pope Francis, October 18, 2023)

 

A hallmark of Regnum Christi is supporting the initiatives of our pastors and, with special love and affection, those of the bishops and the Holy Father. As the General Directive College, we invite you to offer prayer and sacrifices to ask the Lord for a change in the hearts of humanity, and the gift of peace.

 

We invite everyone to unite themselves with those who suffer today amid the scourge of war by supporting them “with our prayer, with total dedication” (Pope Francis, October 18, 2023) and by joining in the Day of Prayer, Fasting, and Penance for Peace that the Holy Father has called for on Friday, October 27, 2023.

 

We ask Christ, Prince of Peace, to bring his Kingdom into the midst of these circumstances, into our lives and hearts.

 

With our prayers and sacrifices for peace,

 

The General Directive College and the lay members who participate in it,

Link to Spanish Original

Letter from the General Directive College: Regnum Christi Joins the Holy Father in Praying for Peace in the Holy Land Read More »

10 Ways to Make a Spiritual Fresh Start this Fall

September’s here, the kids are back at school, and most of us are ready to move from the lazy-hazy chaos of summer to a bit of life-structure that helps us make the most of our time and energy. As we set up our fall routines, this is also a great time to make fresh starts in how we live our faith.

 

Here are ten suggestions of ways to make a fresh start this fall, in our spiritual lives, in our communion with others, and in our God-given mission. Choose your own adventure!  Pick one to start with, pick one a month for the ten months of the school year, or take some time to come up with your own spiritual fresh starts.

 

Caveat:  I firmly believe that God wants us to be proactive and plan the best use of the gifts he gives us.  However, I believe more even more firmly that somewhere along the way, he is going to change those plans.  Being sensitive to the ways he does this is critical.  You are not the master of the universe, or even your own schedule 24/7, 365.  Let God disrupt your plans, remove and add things, and change your goals. Holiness is found in following him, not your agenda.

10 Ways to Make a Spiritual Fresh Start this Fall Read More »

Happy lovers reading books together in a bench of a park

Great Reads for Catholic Book Lovers

For many book lovers, the hazy days of late summer and early fall bring the possibility of time spent relaxing with a good read.  The dilemma arises: what to choose?

 

A self-confessed bibliophile, I am blessed to have many friends whose souls and characters are enriched by being book lovers as well.  They come from all walks of life: priests, consecrated, lay Catholics, and other friends who have excellent taste in literature.

 

Reading can be more than an intellectual or entertaining pursuit. Good books of all genres are like mirrors held up to our souls and minds, helping us to understand ourselves, others and the world more deeply.

 

Great Reads for Catholic Book Lovers Read More »

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Alex Kucera

Atlanta

Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!