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  • Writer's pictureCofComCat

“When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don't, they don't.”

Updated: Mar 25

Last week, Rigel and I discussed the logical incongruity of the diversity, equity and inclusion ideology, which is commonly referred to as “DEI” and more happily referred to by me as “DIE” 😊. We touched on the work of Dr. Matthew Petrusek (check out his short lecture series covering the woke worldview), how one would apply the (il)logic of the DIE ideology to my godchildren and nephews, and where DIE has gone wrong in the workplace. If you haven’t listened to last week’s episode yet, find it here.

On this week’s episode we’re joined by our friend Ian Doll, a recently retired engineer, husband, father, committed Catholic Christian, and member of Opus Dei. Readers of Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code (or watchers of the 2006 movie starring Tom Hanks) might think of Opus Dei as the Christian villains hiding the “truth” of Christ’s life.... LOL! In reality, Opus Dei (Latin for “work of God”) is a Catholic organization of lay men and women and priests whose mission is to promote the universal call to holiness through their ordinary everyday work in the world. Rigel and I discuss with Ian the Christian’s call to holiness.

What is “holiness” exactly?


In the Old Testament, holy meant being separated from the secular or profane, or dedication to God’s service. In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas defined holiness as that virtue by which we make all our acts subservient to God. And in the document Lumen Gentium from the Second Vatican Council of the Catholic Church in 1965 (V.40), we read as follows:


“[A]ll the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status, are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity; by this holiness as such a more human manner of living is promoted in this earthly society. In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it, as a gift from Christ. They must follow in His footsteps and conform themselves to His image seeking the will of the Father in all things. They must devote themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor. In this way, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good....”


What this looks like for the Christian in his or her daily life is what we chat about this week!


And on the topic of “this week”...


Holy Week starts today (Sunday, March 24, 2024). It is the most sacred week in the Christian year. It begins with the commemoration of Jesus’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (i.e., today), marks the betrayal of Jesus by His Apostle and friend Judas on Spy Wednesday, and then climaxes with the commemoration of the Last Supper (i.e., the final meal Jesus shared with His Apostles) on Maundy Thursday and the Passion and crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday. It concludes with remembering Jesus’s rest in death and descent into hell on Holy Saturday, before we rejoice on Easter (Resurrection Sunday) and celebrate the defining moment in all of human history (and the single event the Christian religion hinges on): Jesus rising from the dead.


It’s a big deal for us Christians. And it is a busy week.


But this blog entry is really about another busy week my wife and I just had...


I’m Canadian. In 1625, Joseph (i.e., the adoptive earthly father of Jesus) was declared Patron of Canada, so this year marks four centuries of patronage of Saint Joseph in my native country. From March 10 to 18, Catholic Christians across Canada took part in the novena to Saint Joseph and then on March 19 celebrated his feast day.


This was my first novena. Non-Catholics likely have no idea what it is. I sure didn’t!


Novena comes from the Latin novem (i.e., nine) and typically refers to nine days of prayer, asking God for a specific intention and often through a specific saint’s intercession. Praying for the intercession of the saints is a historic practice dating to the earliest Christians. Saints are those who lived heroically virtuous lives, offered their life for others, or were martyred for the faith, and who are thus worthy of imitation. They lived in holiness, dedicated to serving God. They remind us that this life will end and that only what was done for Christ will have a lasting reward. Today, they serve as examples for all Christians, showing us how to lead a more spiritual life in communion with our Lord and Savior. And all Christians are called to be saints. Intercession is simply when we Christians ask our departed brothers and sisters in Christ, who we believe are in Heaven, to add their prayers to our prayers to God (just as we ask our friends and family members to pray for us).


Novenas are a way to grow more purposeful, consistent, and persistent in daily prayer. We pray for the same petition, devotion or intention during the novena.


Why nine days? A couple reasons. First, as outlined in the Bible, Jesus told His disciples to gather and pray after His Ascension into Heaven and the Church’s Tradition tells us the Apostles and the Virgin Mary prayed together for the nine days between His Ascension and Pentecost. Second, nine for the months Mary carried Jesus in her womb. During the Middle Ages, Christians traditionally spent nine days praying before Christmas for this very reason.


So, for nine straight days starting March 10 my wife and I gathered with our friends I&H and their beautiful children (ML, GM, JI and DM) to pray. Before we started, ML (she is 6 years old) asked what she should write down as my intention or petition. I told her (in Spanglish):


  • patience to await the results of the annulment process I’m currently experiencing, as I seek to have my first marriage (which ended in divorce) declared invalid (i.e., a decision of the Catholic Church acknowledging marriage was never established); and

  • humility to accept whatever judgment comes back, whenever it comes back.

She wrote down “patience and humble acceptance” as a 6-year-old might ❤


I can be very impatient. I am also prone to the sin of pride. Practicing patience with humility, especially when it comes to something entirely out of my control, is very challenging for me. This is particularly true when it is required due to my own past mistakes.


After a multi-year personal journey I finally admitted in August or September of 2022 that I believe(d) Catholicism is true. This journey included, among other things: my painful and reluctant admission that life felt meaningless; my equally painful and reluctant admission that I had never lived a Christian life even when I said I had; the realization that I have done awful things and then subsequently performed mental gymnastics to feel better; my eventual light conversion from longtime selfish materialism and practical atheism to Anglican Christianity; and studying in an Anglican seminary at the University of Toronto. My lone remaining objection to Catholicism was the fact that I’m divorced. But I believe(d) the Catholic Church’s teachings on marriage, and I admitted Flannery O’Connor was right:


“The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it.”


I realized that if Catholicism is true then it demands my adherence. This is obvious. To believe something is true and then live as if it isn’t true is crazy. I am a lot of things, but I don’t think crazy is one of those things.


I knew I had to be Catholic and a committed Catholic at that. I also knew this would be incredibly difficult practically (because I am divorced) and that I might lose jobs, family relationships, friends, and potentially my wife because of it. (Indeed, there have been losses.) In October 2022 I found the courage to tell my wife. I said to her, “Catholicism is true. I think I need to become Catholic. I can’t do this without you.” God bless her. She is much braver than I am.


For eighteen months we’ve been working toward coming into the Catholic Church. This includes, critically, the petition to have my first marriage declared invalid by the Church, without which we can’t become Catholic as husband and wife. This entails living without physical intimacy. This requires more patience and humility (which I naturally lack) than I can explain.


Hence “patience” and “humble acceptance” when ML asked for my intention or petition...


From March 10-18 we prayed the Saint Joseph novena daily with I&H, ML, GM, JI and DM.


On March 19, Saint Joseph’s feast day, we went to Mass and had dinner with them.


And on March 20 I learned the judgment on my annulment will arrive “in the coming days”.


Some will say this is a random coincidence. Some will say this would have happened anyway. Some will say I’m looking for meaning in a meaningless universe and then claiming to have found meaning when something I want coincidentally happens.


Maybe.


But for many years I cynically said those exact things when I heard about such happenings. I confidently claimed pure coincidence (without any proof of it). I was miserable. And I had no rebuttal to what former (Anglican) Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple once said:


“When I pray, coincidences happen, and when I don’t, they don’t.”


When I told H (ML’s mother) about the annulment judgment coming soon, she simply said: “San José haciendo su trabajo”.


In English: Saint Joseph doing his work.


Praise God!


May He bless my wife for joining me on this arduous but beautiful path when the easy, understandable and advisable thing to do (in the eyes of our culture and of many people we love) would have been to say “no.” May He bless the priests at our churches (Fr. Bengry, Fr. Sean-Patrick, Fr. Adrian, Fr. Shibu and Fr. Shaiju) for their prayers and guidance in confusing times. May He bless the priests who are personal friends, mentors and professors (Fr. Cristino, Fr. Tom and Fr. Kevin) for their practical advice and moral perspective. And may He bless my committed Catholic friends (especially R&S, O&J, A&S, B&K, G&M, L&A, and I&H+ML+GM+JI+DM) for loving the way our Lord wants us all to love, proving that the vast majority of what we’d been told about Catholicism when we were Protestants and pagans was a misunderstanding or a lie, and showing us how to “come to Rome” is indeed to come home.


God bless,


Travis


Novena to Saint Joseph
From our friends' house as we prayed the novena to Saint Joseph

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idoll
3月25日

A very beautiful testimony Travis. Count on my prayers and friendship for your intentions and loads of spiritual fruit from the Coffee, Commerce, and Catechesis blog and podcast. Deo omnis gloria!

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