My interview with actor John Rhys-Davies and his personal admiration of Saint Patrick

Check out my interview with John Rhys-Davies at Aleteia:

Award winning actor John Rhys-Davies, best known for his role as the dwarf Gimli in the highly successful Lord of the Rings trilogy, recently shared with Aleteia his admiration for Saint Patrick after working on the audio drama, The Trials of Saint Patrick.

He explained how for him, “[Saint] Patrick is giant. I am honored to have had a little part of bringing him to life.”

Far from being an outdated life that has no relevance, Rhys-Davies believes Saint Patrick’s story is an inspiration and can teach us many things in the 21st century.

“I think that what [he] teaches us is resolution and courage. The discovery of that little fire of belief in oneself. By study, by intention, by prayer, by the blessing of the Holy Spirit; it can change a man’s life into such a positive agent for the common good.”

“Of course, [at first] Patrick has ego, yes. But what Patrick does is, through being a slave, he becomes a master of men. He leads those in the darkness to light. Perhaps in our own, maybe smaller way the demons and the idols that he overthrows are some of the demons and the idols we all have to find a way of confronting and overthrowing ourselves.”

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Want to draw closer to the Blessed Virgin Mary? Then this manual is for you

There is a rich history in the Catholic Church of pious devotions to the Blessed Virgin Mary. These devotions were all born out of a deep love of our Blessed Mother and were aimed at helping the faithful draw close to Mary so as to draw closer to Christ.

However, during the past 50 years most of these devotions fell out of style and children attending catechism classes were barely taught how to pray the rosary. This has led to a void in the Catholic Church that is not easily filled and a person who wants to explore these various Marian traditions typically has to scour old book stores to find an ancient book of devotions.

That is, until now.

5 practical ways to pray more in the New Year

Start the New Year off right in your spiritual life! Check out my latest article at Aleteia:

As the New Year approaches many of us will pledge ourselves to numerous “New Year’s Resolutions” –typically these involve such goals as losing weight or exercising more. If we’re really feeling inspired we may pledge to visit the Tabernacle every day or even read the entire Bible cover to cover.

Unfortunately, as with most New Year’s Resolutions, our spiritual stamina only lasts for about a week and we find ourselves right back where we started, feeling like failures and wondering “Is it possible to commit to praying more in the New Year? Should I just give up now and get it over with?”

Incorporating more time for prayer is not easy task, so to help you get closer to your spiritual goals, here are five practical tips that can give you a head-start on making 2017 your best spiritual year ever:

1) Believe in your goal and in God

This first step might sound obvious, but we usually miss it. Often when we think about getting “serious” about prayer, we say something like “I know I will fail. I could never do it. I will never be holy enough.” In all honesty, these thoughts come straight from the Deceiver, who will do everything he can to dissuade you from starting a program of prayer. He will try to convince you that you are “not holy enough,” or “too busy,” or someone who “never follows through.” Satan is hell-bent on preventing you from praying every day and will fill your mind with numerous lies that all revolve on the idea that “you don’t have what it takes.” Don’t listen to him!

You are a son or daughter of God and he is with you at your side. You can do it! If we open ourselves to God, he will guide us and give us the strength we need. We need to have faith that God will be there for us and that we can do the impossible. Above all else, faith is a gift given by God. So like all gifts, ask for it! Ask God to increase your devotional fervor.

“For, amen I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, Remove from hence hither, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.” (Matthew 17:19)

2) Recall what has worked and what hasn’t

In the spiritual life, there are bound to be highs and lows; times when you felt fully alive and times when you felt dead in the water. Look back at the past and see what worked and when you felt “fully alive.” You may notice some patterns that may be useful or that you may want to replicate in the present.

Additionally, we all have different habits. This could be the way we get ready in the morning to the particular way we fold our laundry. Prayer also needs to be a habit. When thinking about the other habits you engage in, what is a common thread? Most likely it is something you learned when you were little and continued to do every day of your life. It then became ingrained into your life and you barely think about it. Making prayer a habit is extremely important if you want to add more prayer in the New Year.

And don’t be afraid to start small. Even as small as beginning and ending the day with a Sign of the Cross and a “Glory Be.” Of such small beginnings, have saints arisen.

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The beauty of a forgotten Advent tradition: the “Rorate Mass”

The Rorate Mass is a beautiful tradiation worth preserving for future generations. Here is my article at Aleteia:

The season of Advent falls each year in the dark month of December and it is a month when we see the general theme of the liturgical season being echoed in nature. Darkness has crept over the world, and is increasing each day. Yet, there is hope for soon the days will begin to lengthen and the sun will conquer the night. The earth reveals that there is a light in this dark place and that Light reigns victorious.

The Church makes this truth more visible with an ancient tradition (often forgotten) called the “Rorate” Mass. This votive Mass during Advent in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary receives its name from the first words of the opening chant in Latin, Rorate caeli, or in English “Shower, O heavens.”

The Mass is most often celebrated in communities devoted to the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (aka, the “Latin Mass”), but is also an option for parishes that celebrate Mass in the vernacular.

What is peculiar to this celebration of the Eucharist is that it is traditionally celebrated in the dark, only illuminated by candlelight and typically just before dawn. The symbolism of this Mass abounds and is a supreme expression of the Advent season.

First of all, since the Mass is normally celebrated right before dawn, the warm rays of the winter sun slowly light up the church. If timed correctly, by the end of Mass the entire church is filled with light by the sun. This speaks of the general theme of Advent, a time of expectation eagerly awaiting the arrival of the Son of God, the Light of the World. In the early Church Jesus was often depicted as Sol Invictus, the “Unconquered Sun,” and December 25 was known in the pagan world as the Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (Birthday of the Unconquered Sun). Saint Augustine makes reference to this symbolism in one of his sermons, “Let us celebrate this day as a feast not for the sake of this sun, which is beheld by believers as much as by ourselves, but for the sake of him who created the sun.”

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Why We Need Rose Vestments

On one Sunday each Advent and Lent, the priest will come out of the sacristy wearing rose vestments and inevitably makes some sort of comment about how the color of his vestments should not be classified as “pink,” but rose.  Often the priest is somewhat embarrassed, especially when his parishioners give their pastor a hard time.

Photo by Brett Crandall (Wikipedia)

Yet, the use of rose vestments during the sacred liturgy of the third Sunday of Advent has been a part of the Church’s tradition for many centuries and is a tradition we must hold onto. Rose gives us joy and a promise of hope; our world is in need of both.