by Fr Richard Heilman | July 1, 2016 12:19 PM
Venerable Fulton Sheen once said,
“The world’s greatest need is great men, someone who will understand that there is no greater conquest than victory over oneself; someone who will realize that the real worth is achieved, not so much by activity, as by silence; someone who will seek the Kingdom of God and His justice, and put into actual practice the law that it is only by dying to the life of the body that we ever live to the life of the spirit; someone who will brave the taunts of a Good Friday to win the joy of Easter Sunday; who will, like a lightning-flash, burn away the bonds of feeble interests which tie down our energies to the world; who, with a fearless voice, like John the Baptist, will arouse our enfeebled nature out of the sleek dream of unheroic repose; who will gain victories, not by stepping down from the Cross and compromising with the world, but who will suffer in order to conquer the world. In a word, what we need are saints, for saints are the truly great men … I assume without further ado that the grace of God is the one thing necessary, and that God will give that grace to those who do His will.”
The heroes of our faith are the warrior saints who have gone before us. God worked mightily and miraculously through them. Through humility, obedience, and trust (“Go weapons H.O.T.”), they remained in strong friendship with God, so that His river of supernatural grace could flow freely through them. In essence, they were “SEALS for Christ,” who practiced their faith with resolve and determination. So, how did these heroes of our faith become “Catholic Champions?”
“Pray with great confidence,” St. Louis de Montfort says, “with confidence based upon the goodness and infinite generosity of God and upon the promises of Jesus Christ. God is a spring of living water that flows unceasingly into the hearts of those who pray.”
Prayer is our outstanding supernatural resource for fighting the wiles of the enemy. St. Alphonsus said, “Prayer is, beyond doubt, the most powerful weapon the Lord gives us to conquer evil … but we must really put ourselves into the prayer, it is not enough just to say the words, it must come from the heart. And also prayer needs to be continuous, we must pray no matter what kind of situation we find ourselves in: the warfare we are engaged in is ongoing, so our prayer must be on-going also.”
The following are based in large part on Fr. John McCloskey’s Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People and include:
Seven Daily Habits of Prayer
Let’s consider two key points in these seven daily habits:
First, just like someone who is starting a daily exercise program, you don’t go out and run several miles on the first day. That would invite failure, and God wants to see you succeed. Take it easy on yourself as you incorporate these habits in your daily routine over time.
Second, while gradually implementing these habits, you still want to make a firm commitment, with the help of the Holy Spirit, to make them the priority in your life — more important than meals, sleep, work, and recreation.
Whether you like it or not, you are a member of the great army of God called the Communion of Saints. What is the Communion of Saints? It is the three states of the Church: The Church, the Mystical Body, exists on this earth and is called the Church Militant (Ecclesia Militans) because its members struggle against the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Church Penitent (Ecclesia Penitens) means the holy souls being purified in purgatory who long to be in heaven. The Church Triumphant (Ecclesia Triumphans) is the Church in heaven.
So, we are soldiers in the Church Militant. We know that, in the military, a promotion in rank corresponds to the confidence the military has in granting more responsibilities to the soldier. It is no different with God. The more you pour yourself into your faith life, the more God will entrust His missions to you and, therefore, the more grace He will pour into your efforts.
Using the imagery of military ranking, we can see who are those God can entrust with the most:
The Precepts of the Catholic Church are a description of the absolute minimum actions required of Catholics regarding the Church.
In his classic spiritual work, The Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales wrote:
In so far as divine love beautifies our souls, and makes us pleasing to His divine Majesty, it is called grace; in so far as it gives us strength to do good, it is called charity; but when it reaches such a degree of perfection, that it makes us not only do the good, but do so carefully, frequently and readily, then it is called devotion.
Always remember: the precepts of the Catholic Church are minimum levels of participation in the life of the Church. Out of love for Christ and a desire to advance in the spiritual life, you will normally try to do far more than they require.
First Precept: “You shall attend Mass on Sunday and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.”
Strive: Attend Mass at least one more time a week. (Most Church parishes celebrate Mass every day of the year!)
Second Precept: “You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”
Strive: Go to confession at least once a month, and immediately after falling to mortal sin. Also, find a regular confessor so he can give you better guidance.
Third Precept: “You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.”
Strive: Receive the Holy Communion at every Mass if you meet the guidelines for reception (are free from mortal sin, etc.).
Fourth Precept: “You shall observe the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence.”
Strive: Make a habit of practicing penitential and charitable acts beyond those required by the precepts of the Catholic Church. Try to abstain from meat on Fridays throughout the year, for example.
Fifth Precept: “You shall provide for the material needs of the Church.”
Strive: Contribute as much as possible to the material needs of the Church. Consider working toward biblical tithing: 10% of your gross income.
The Catholic Champions are Catholic priests, deacons and laymen who have made a real commitment to know Jesus by practicing the faith, to become spiritual leaders and vigilant protectors of their families and to be the vanguard of a new evangelization of men in their parishes. Catholic Champions take a vow to strive to live the heroic life of a real Catholic man by practicing the faith.
Seven Daily Practices of Catholic Champions
1. Personal prayer (See Seven Daily Habits of Prayer) and lead the family in prayer (Usually a “Family Rosary”)
2. Be a “Positive, Life-giving Force” (PLF) – Smile, be gracious, listen, freely serve – build up, don’t tear down
3. Faithfully attend Sunday Mass and Holy Days of Obligation
4. Strive to go beyond the Precepts of the Church
5. Go to Confession*
6. Holy Hour of Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament*
7. Actively build Catholic fraternity and evangelize men through monthly parish gatherings*
*All of these (#5, #6, #7) are fulfilled in the monthly Holy League gatherings.
If you follow the above Catholic Champion’s Plan, you will, likely, gain a great deal of energy and hunger for “the more” of your faith. The “Force of Grace” will set your heart ablaze with an eagerness to go even further with the practice of your faith. The following are suggestions for those “Special Forces Catholic Champions:”
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