Tag Archives: lent

Our sweet Bread of Life — never take it for granted

This year we experienced a true Lent! I don’t think many of us have prayed, fasted, and practiced almsgiving during any other Lent in the same way we did this year.

I join with you all in prayer for the pandemic’s end, and look forward to the Easter victory of our Good Friday. I am sure you have done whatever you can to help each other through loving acts of kindness in the safest way possible.

One thing is for sure: for many, not being able to receive the Eucharist has been a fast they never thought would happen. It is a fast that will have a greater impact on the spiritual lives of many, even more than those things thought up by people at the beginning of Lent. Most of us will likely never again take for granted that the Eucharist will be there for us whenever we feel like receiving it.

As Our Lord always reminds us, we should “be not afraid” as we pray for healing and recovery, so that what we have experienced in this Lent may allow us to emerge as Easter people more renewed than ever before, with a spirit of love, mercy, and respect for one another — and for life itself!

My prayer for healing and recovery: Eternal Father, You made the whole world stop spinning for a while. You silenced the noise that we all have created. You made us bend our knees again and ask for a miracle. You closed Your churches so we will realize how dark our world is without You in it. You humble the proud and powerful. The economy is crashing, businesses are closing. We were very proud; we thought that everything we have, everything we possess was the result of our hard work. We have forgotten that it was always Your grace and mercy that made us who we are.

We are running in circles looking for some cure to this disease, but in fact it takes humility to ask for Your wisdom. We’ve been living our lives like we will be here on earth forever, like there’s no heaven. Maybe these trials are Your mercy in disguise. Maybe this virus is actually Your way of purifying us, cleansing our soul, and bringing us back to You. 

In the past, You serenaded us with Hosea’s song: “Come back to me with all your heart Don’t let fear keep us apart Trees do bend though straight and tall So must we to others call Long have I waited for Your coming home to me And living deeply our new lives.” You have been patiently waiting for us. We’re so sorry for ignoring Your voice. For our selfish ways, we all deserve this. We have forgotten You, dear Father. We’ve forgotten that You are God. You only need to say the words, and our souls shall be healed. This we pray in the mighty name of Jesus, name above all names. Amen.

MSGR. JAMIE GIGANTIELLO is the vicar for development of the Diocese of Brooklyn and host of the NET TV cooking show Breaking Bread. He also is pastor of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel-Annunciation Parish in Brooklyn, NY

 

Bread Pudding Recipe

Serves 6 • Prep time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups milk
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter, more for greasing pan
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch salt

1/2 loaf sweet egg bread like challah or brioche, cut into 2-inch cubes (about 5 to 6 cups)

2 eggs, beaten

Directions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small saucepan over low heat, warm milk, butter, vanilla, chocolate chips, cinnamon, sugar and salt. Continue cooking just until butter melts; cool.

Meanwhile, butter a 4- to 6-cup baking dish and fill it with cubed bread.

Add eggs to cooled milk mixture and whisk; pour mixture over bread.

Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until custard is set but still a little wobbly and edges of bread have browned.

Serve warm or at room temperature and consider even topping with fresh fruit.

The Lent we get isn’t the one we choose

When a strong man armed keepeth his court, those things are in peace which he possesseth (Luke 11:21).

In recent years and especially this one, I’ve noticed that the Lent we envision isn’t the one that lands in our laps.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

One year just before Ash Wednesday as I’d put finishing touches on a mental list of Lenten “to dos,” my husband called in mid-morning – something he never does. His decades-long position was terminated. His employer was sold, all health and other benefits would cease tomorrow, the company car would be returned, and severance (in his contract) was being fought. It came right after I’d lost a longtime client due to budget cuts. We plunged from a handsome income straight to nothing, in a blink. The world seemed to bust from its axis, and shock temporarily canceled my vision and hearing – I saw a ‘snowstorm’ inside, my ears hissed like a steam train. I never heard the phone crash to the floor – I almost did the same thing.

The house. Our youngest still in college. The mortgage. The last of the Christmas bills. Everything spun in a blur as I tried to get a snapshot of what we had, what we owed, and how we’d survive. Paralyzed by whom to call and what to prioritize, I made another list (one of my habits). I calculated how long our cash could last, when we’d need to begin tapping untouchables (retirement accounts, etc.), and then selling – house, cars, stuff. Our canvas of life crumpled. I began to envy anyone who had a job, any job.

And then I thought of God. How could you let this happen? Are we being punished? My type-A disposition kicked in to overdrive, my anxiety stealing rationale. It would be nice to say I jumped into prayer, but not quite. All I could manage to do was cry to Christ for help. Even tears didn’t flow normally

In a daze, I went to our parish church. My favorite priest was walking through that morning. His usual chipper greeting collapsed at seeing me. I told him everything, admitting my utter fear. Like a father, he hugged and assured me God was with us, and would help indeed. He promised his personal prayers. I could hardly stand. I was drained, with yesterday’s makeup streaking, and it wasn’t even noon. He heard my Confession.

He then explained this was a trial, and that we had to be very vigilant about our faith and prayer life. We had to humbly trust God like never before, not ourselves or our resumes or our business networks. God alone. Had I ever done that?

“You need supernatural courage to keep your inner court undisturbed,” Father told me. I took up the daily rosary, and prioritized prayer. I cut obsessional TV shows, and other time-wasters. Each hour needed to be intentional.

Lent is also a time of great heavenly reversals. By Holy Week, we both had new positions. And we’d become more closely acquainted with our lifetime Friend, The Lord Himself.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK is Legatus magazine’s editor.

Celebrating a Holy Catholic Easter: A Guide to the Customs and Devotions of Lent and the Season of Christ’s Resurrection

Fr. William Saunders
TAN Books, 224 pages

For Catholics, Lent and Easter are all about ashes, fasting, fish on Fridays, palm branches, and those Easter Triduum liturgies, correct? Well, as Fr. Saunders relates in this fine book, there’s actually a whole lot more to these liturgical seasons that make them so rich in opportunity for spiritual growth. Here he explains the fuller meaning behind the familiar Catholic observances and takes us deeper: historical backgrounds, tips on preparation for one’s Lenten Confession, the significance of Holy Week liturgies, and the glorious feasts of the Easter season right up through Pentecost. Be prepared to experience these seasons of penance and new life like never before.

 

Order: Amazon

Turning totally to God…

Every year, the Catholic Church goes into the desert.

For 40 days, Catholics pray, fast, and give of their time, talents, and resources. Lent is a season where Christians accompany Jesus in the wilderness and strip themselves of creature comfort to refocus on their spiritual journey.

“The main point of Lent is conversion. That doesn’t mean merely a small course correction or a small little thing we have to fix. Ultimately, conversion means we’re turning with Jesus, that we’re living truly with Christ,” said Father Roger Landry, a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts who serves as an attaché for the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Beyond a six-week grind

Seen through that lens, Lent is far more than a six-week period where Catholics abstain from meat on Fridays and “give something up” like chocolate or candy. In the three pillars of Lent – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – this penitential season offers the opportunity for a “reset.”

“Anything short of that is not going to hit the mark that Lent points us to,” Father Landry said.

In Paragraph 540, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us that during the “solemn forty days of Lent, the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.” In the fourth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we learn that the Spirit led Jesus, after his baptism, into the desert “to be tempted by the Devil.”

For 40 days, Christ prayed, fasted and resisted Satan’s temptations to attain earthly power and test God the Father. Jesus emerged from the wilderness tired and hungry, but ready for his public ministry; a road he knew would end on Calvary.

Meaning of ashes

“The theme of Lent is given to us on Ash Wednesday,” Father Landry said. “It’s to repent of anything that leads us from the Lord and to truly grow in faith by believing the Gospel. Everything that comes afterward is for helping us turn more and more in faith toward Christ.”

The Lenten journey begins on Ash Wednesday, when faithful who attend church that day will have an ashen cross traced on their foreheads, with the priest or minister saying, “Remember, you are dust and to dust you shall return” or “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” That act symbolizes our mortality, our need for ongoing repentance, and the call to continual conversion and holiness.

Holiness in everyday action

“Lent is meant to make you holy, so everything that we’re going to do during Lent has to be with that end in mind,” said Father Landry, who generally encourages daily Mass or a half-hour period of daily prayer. Fasting has to take into consideration someone’s physical and psychological health, though it should be something that reminds one that they’re imitating Christ’s self-denial.

With regard to almsgiving, Father Landry said he encourages people to reach out to someone each day during Lent, such as a great aunt in a nursing home, an elderly shut-in neighbor with no living relatives, or a high school friend who recently lost a parent.

“A small reach-out can be a phone call, a letter, even a text message or email, to give alms of themselves each day during that season,” Father Landry said. “That is something that will help them reorder their relationship with their neighbor far more than writing one check to a good cause.”

Ordering the ‘interior house’

As a penitential season, Catholics are called to do penance during Lent. Interior penance can be expressed in many and various ways.

“Penance is sincere sorrow in action,” Father Landry said. “We can say sorry to God for our sin, but penance involves those practices that help us to turn our life around so that we’re no longer doing the same things that wound our relationship with God and others.”

In Paragraph 1434, the Catechism says Scripture and the Church Fathers insist, above all, on three forms of penance: fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Those forms express conversion in relation to oneself, to God and to others.

During Lent, Catholics should dedicate a little more time each day for prayer. That could be a half-hour of contemplative prayer, reading the Bible, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, attending Daily Mass, a weekly Holy Hour, or renewing a devotion to the rosary.

Prayer, temperance attunes toward God

Popular Lenten devotions such as the Stations of the Cross on Fridays — where the faithful spiritually accompany Jesus during his Passion — are meant to deepen that pillar of prayer.

“They’re not just good holy practices,” Father Landry said. “They’re ways to help us attune our heart and our life to what God is doing.”

The Church calls on Catholics, ages 18 to 59, to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Canonically speaking, that means a person on those days is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two small meals that together do not equal to a full meal. However, that is a minimalistic approach that Father Landry said “is never going to make us holy.”

“At a practical level, we need to be regularly doing something that allows us to keep our appetite in check,” said Father Landry, who encourages people to abstain from soda, coffee, and alcohol and to only drink water during Lent.

He also advises people to give up all desserts, not just chocolate.

“If we’re able to do those types of things, it’s going to be much easier for us control our appetite in general, so that we’re able to obey God rather than our lower nature,” said Father Landry, who added that fasting also helps the faithful to cultivate mercy for the poor and hungry.

“There are almost 800 million people who go without adequate food in the world,” Father Landry said. “So fasting allows us to have a great solidarity with them as well.”

Almsgiving – the forgotten ‘other’

In that same spirit, almsgiving is “a witness to fraternal charity” and “a work of justice pleasing to God,” as the Catechism says in Paragraph 2462. Almsgiving can take the form of donating money and goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity. Special collections during Lent, such as Catholic Relief Services’ popular Rice Bowl program, present opportunities to give alms.

Almsgiving, which is derived from the Greek word for mercy, is intended to transform the Christian’s heart to have genuine compassion for one’s neighbor.

“Like prayer gets our relationship with God right, almsgiving helps us to get our relationship with our neighbor right,” Father Landry said, “So that we recognize that God is calling us to love our neighbor as he has loved us first, to the point of real sacrifice.”

The Sundays of Lent, which are not counted in the season’s 40 days, retain a joyful Easter character. A tradition in the Church holds that those Sundays provide a weekly respite for people who are seriously fasting during Lent. Deciding whether to relax one’s Lenten fasting on Sundays is a matter of individual conscience.

Worthy Lent draws to True Christ

Lent ends on Holy Thursday, which marks the beginning of the Easter Triduum, which includes Good Friday and culminates with the Mass of the Resurrection of the Lord at the Easter Vigil. The Triduum is the summit of the Church’s liturgical year. Father Landry said celebrating the Triduum is essential to living a good Lent.

“If our Lent preparation is going to do its thing, then it’s going to help us live a truly holy Triduum as the most important time of the year,” Father Landry said. “It can make us holy by keeping us very close to Christ throughout the most important events in our salvation.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Seeing God as God – for health of soul

In contemplating all Christ endured throughout His earthly life, suffering, and death – to satisfy His Father’s will that an immense debt be paid for our offenses – it came at great difficulty to His humanity.

Christine Valentine-Owsik

Modern news accounts depict people acting on perceived need, in wanting to convert their biological sex, circumvent God’s plan for marriage, flout civil and moral laws, even reconfigure the reality of who they are and their innate abilities. But if they’d seek simple truth – of God, their place before Him, and purpose within His plan – they could enjoy order of soul, which is at the heart of happiness.

In approaching His Passion and death, Christ kept His Father’s plan as His focus. Through all the physical and emotional ravages of His Passion, Christ had no other pleasure than to do His Father’s will for love of us. Our life, too, is a spiritual mountain, which we – in imitation of Christ – must ascend similarly, to rest in complete union with God.

St. John of the Cross, in his great work The Ascent of Mount Carmel, says: “If a pleasure is not for the glory of God, let it be renounced and rejected. Strive to prefer not that which is easiest, but that which is most difficult….not that which is most delectable, but that which is most unpleasing … not that which gives most pleasure, but that which gives least …” In short, St. John of the Cross advises we live a life of detachment “for Christ’s sake.” And then he promises “deep union with Christ will be yours.”

Many of today’s studies on emotional and mental health problems show that people suffer from the inability to face blunt reality, accept life’s difficulties, and adopt a mature and selfless plan for coping. Such skills aren’t found in an app, chatroom, or podcast. They’re garnered through the tough exercise of earnestly making one’s way, muscling through adversity, processing disappointment, and persevering anew with the daily grace and companionship of God.

In short, keeping friendship with God and knowing our place before Him simplifies many things, and brings great comfort of soul.

Some of life’s most difficult trials – also part of God’s plan – we come to realize are blessings and catalysts for interior growth. In our youth we envision mostly the fun – of independence, marriage, growing families, stature, financial autonomy, vacations, and adventures. Then we turn an unforeseen corner into sobering new territory.

Our parents age and need increased attention from us as their advocates. Our kids grow up and move great distances away. Our companies and careers present odd detours and changes we never envisioned. Our physical prowess becomes compromised. Certain friends and colleagues show their true colors. But for many of us, our friendship and reliance on God deepens as we realize our limits and dependence. His words and fortification take on a never-before-realized meaning – as if for the first time.

We finally mature, and see Christ as our most trusted Friend, whom we gratefully serve and wouldn’t trade for this world.

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Lent grooms us for Heaven

I recently heard a Catholic say, “We have enough problems these days – why do we need Lent to suffer even more?” He was serious.

Christine Valentine-Owsi

Today, suffering in any form is disdained and seen as unnecessary and unsophisticated. Even in Church circles, there’s the greatest emphasis on mercy, yet scant notice of God’s justice.

Well, not so fast.

St. Ambrose, 4th-century bishop and doctor of the Church who fought early heresies and faith errors, said: “God is displeased not only with the sinner, but also with him who does not punish sin. For if there were more to punish sin, there would be less sin.”

But today it’s fashionable to let things ride, dispense from penalty, even blame the victim instead of the perpetrator.

This is why modernity has become the perfect breeding ground for liberalism, where ‘freedom of choice’ eclipses right and wrong. Liberalism actually denies natural law – which God has inscribed in our hearts. When crime isn’t consistently punished, or parents won’t oppose kids’ sinful choices, or depravity is rewarded … voila! … we get an amoral society without respect for anyone. Especially for God.

Secular liberals exhibit vapid intolerance for any person or scenario which contradicts their credo. Yet their act-outs – like bullying in public those they dislike; demanding the ‘right’ to eliminate preborn or newborn infants; parading unnatural sexual behavior; even intimidating Christians into a sort of public square practical atheism – are lauded as forward-thinking. Many Catholics unwittingly play into this, and recoil at defending God’s law for fear of losing comrades or comfort.

But Christ Himself gave us the key to lasting friendship with Him: “If anyone wishes to come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (Mat 16:24). He asks for our voluntary self-denial in doing His will, in surrendering what we naturally like – our comfort zones – in order to please Him. The very things He requires of us will separate the sheep from the goats. Our own final judgment by Christ won’t be politically correct, but it will be eternally just.

Catholic teaching says that omission of punishment of sin is a participation in its guilt. God forgives sin, but we must redress offenses to Him before we can be admitted to Heaven. Further, our own mortification before Him shows our willingness to surrender our most precious possession – our self-will.

It is for this purpose that we have the gift of Lent. Our sins – those confessed already – must be expiated before God, easier done now. We each owe a personal debt that’s incomplete in satisfaction. In addition, we must re-orient our interior and exterior demeanor to be properly mortified for Heaven.

The late Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, S.J. explained it this way.

“Only mortified persons are willing to love God in the patient endurance of whatever crosses He sends them. If we are willing to mortify (“cause death to”) our self-will in this world, we shall gain eternal life in the world to come. On these terms, only mortified people will enter Heaven.”

CHRISTINE VALENTINE-OWSIK  is Legatus magazine’s Editor.

Harnessing the will atunes appetite to Godly delights

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said: “Lent is a time of conversion and penance and a favorable time to rediscover faith in God as the criterion of our life, and the life of the church.” Rediscovering, as in growing in our faith, is a life-long journey. Each year, our dear Catholic Church gives us this opportunity during the Lenten season.

It is the customary work of sacrificing, that of giving something up during the Lenten season, that strengthens and disciplines our will so that we are not slaves to pleasure, whether it be material or otherwise. Sacrifice and prayer are key to building good habits, better known as virtues. Good habits are built and developed by disciplining the will. Denying yourself unsinful pleasures (such as not having your favorite pasta dish), will help discipline your will so when the time comes to combat temptations of sinful pleasures you will have the courage and spiritual strength to potentially make the right choice.

Lent is the perfect time for disciplining our will. Most would agree that at times, though we know right from wrong, we use our God-given free will to choose the wrong or evil that we did not intend. St. Paul the Apostle provides an excellent example illustrating this point in Romans 7:19 when he says: “For I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” Read the rest of Romans 7 for more. St. Paul, one of the most brilliant Scripture writers, humbly acknowledges the power of the human will.

Blessed John Duns Scotus (14th c.) writes that of the two faculties, he places primacy on a person’s free will over his intellect. This scholarly Franciscan friar, teacher at both Oxford and Cambridge, known as the “Subtle Doctor,” explains that just because one has knowledge of right and wrong, it does not guarantee one’s choosing rightly. Accepting that at times our will reigns over our intellect, it is essential to train and discipline our will in good habits, thus turning them into virtues, which strengthen us to opt for the good.

Our goal for Lent should be to strengthen our prayer life, and engage sacrifice (mortification of our will). Self-denial helps build good habits in making sound choices in this life, clearing the path for our worthiness in the next.

CHEF NEIL FUSCO is founder of Cucina Antica Foods, Corp, a specialty Italian food-products company. Raised on a farm in San Marzano in southern Italy, he learned his family’s production and cooking with the renowned San Marzano tomatoes they’d grown there since the 1800s. His newly released cookbook is May Love Be the Main Ingredient at Your Table (2017), with amusing and heartfelt stories about faith, family, and recipes from his Old World childhood.

 

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe • Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

2 bunches of broccoli rabe
1 lb. orecchiette
5 tbsps. extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp. minced garlic
Large pinch red pepper flakes
1 tsp. salt
Pecorino Romano, grated

Preparation:

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add chopped broccoli rabe, cover to return to boil. Once boiling, uncover and let boil for 5 more minutes. Drain broccoli rabe into a colander over a bowl, reserving all water.

In a large sauté pan, combine oil, garlic, and red pepper over medium heat. When browned, add blanched broccoli rabe with ¼ cup of reserved water. Stir to coat.

Cover the pan and cook for 15 to 20 minutes over low heat, stirring occasionally until broccoli rabe becomes creamy. In a separate pot, boil orecchiette in remaining broccoli water. When al dente, drain pasta and add to the broccoli rabe.

Toss and serve with Pecorino Romano cheese.

The state of our soul

I am writing this column on the heels of a very powerful State of the Union address by the president and the season of Lent soon to be upon us. It struck me that in a sense Lent is the spiritual equivalent of the State of the Union address for each of us and the state of our soul. In business, we are accustomed to preparing elaborate annual reports for our shareholders or our banks as a way of showing the health of our company or organization. In her preeminent wisdom, the Church has built into the liturgical year this time for us to examine how we are doing in our spiritual lives.

Tom Monaghan

I have told the story innumerable times of how as a young man, I came up with a set of priorities to help me sort out how I wanted to live my life… I called these my five personal priorities. I first came up with the list when I was a Marine, during a voyage from the Philippines to Japan… as I had plenty of time aboard the ship to reflect on my life and goals. These five priorities are: spiritual, social, mental, physical, and financial. As I look back, approximately 60 years since setting those priorities, I am more convinced than ever of the importance of keeping the spiritual priority at the top of the list.

So, let me encourage you to take this season of Lent and examine how you are living your priorities. It is very easy for us to simply go through the motions and do what we have always done for Lent… Instead, I suggest that each of us take this season as a time to assess how we are really doing in living the priorities we have set for our lives. And let us approach this season with the same vigor and dedication with which the president prepares his State of the Union address or we prepare the annual reports for our companies… because when all is said and done, the only thing that really matters is the state of our souls and souls of those Christ has placed in our lives.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder, chairman, and CEO.

Lenten thoughts on management and mortality

Leo Tolstoy’s classic short story, The Death of Ivan Ilych, opens with a group of lawyers debating the legal niceties of a lawsuit when they learn their friend and colleague, Ivan Ilych, has died. While they’re shocked and saddened by the news, each one secretly feels relief that it is Ivan Ilych and not himself who is dead, and they quickly turn their conversation back to their business affairs.

As the story unfolds and the full circle of Ilych’s family and friends is encountered, we learn that for all of them life goes on and their daily mundane tasks and petty ambitions recapture their attention. After all, it is Ivan Ilych who is dead, not them.

The reader’s first response to their attitude is one of shock at their selfishness, though as the story unfolds it becomes clear that these characters are not, in fact, selfish or heartless by any reasonable standard. Rather, the story’s greatest shock is that of self-recognition when we look into the mirror which Tolstoy holds up. Each of the characters is us, frightened of and seeking to deny our own inevitable deaths. He confronts us with the plainest, yet most difficult truth of all: Death comes for us all, and the world continues on without us. Like any absolute truth, the fact of our own mortality can be depressing. However, it can also be a moment of insight and grace, when we come to a deeper understanding of who we are and how we should live in light of that.

If we are to die and leave this life — and make no mistake, we all will — what do we want to leave behind? Financial security for our families? Perhaps, though inherited wealth can be as much a curse as a blessing. A reputation for shrewdness in business and a keen eye for opportunity? Naturally, though success breeds envy, which in turn produces as many criticisms as it does compliments (and usually many more). A dominant position in the market which guarantees future business growth? For every Apple there is a Kodak, and for every Walmart a Montgomery Ward. In the words of Ecclesiastes, “All is vanity! … A bad business God has given to human beings to be busied with” (1:2, 13).

Despite all our authority in a company, our ability to shape the world in which it operates is vanishingly small. As countless entrepreneurs have been reminded since 2008, often we cannot control or even anticipate events that will bring our best-laid plans to naught. Were it permitted, we should bring our articles of incorporation with us on Ash Wednesday so that the priest might say to them as well, “Remember, O Corporation, that dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return.” And when that inevitably happens, others will mourn publicly, while thinking privately, “It is Lehman Brothers (or Enron or Bethlehem Steel or …) and not me who is dead.”

Given this unpleasant reality, what should we do? If a wise person is one who knows the truth and lives in accordance with it, there is much wisdom to be had in accepting our mortality and managing our businesses in light of it. While we cannot choose our fates, we can choose our principles and adhere to them through good times and bad. And while we cannot control the global marketplace, we can create a corporate culture that reflects our values and an organizational chart to achieve them. A sincere respect for the dignity of our employees, a commitment to serving our customers faithfully, an unflinching demand for financial integrity are not just “best business practices”; they are (or should be) living expressions of our deepest principles.

By living out these principles and requiring others to do so as well, we shape our coworkers for the better and, in a very real sense, live on through them and continue to serve the Lord even after we die. By creating a work environment grounded in dignity, respect, and honesty, we do not guarantee that our individual businesses will flourish or even survive us. In fact, adherence to these principles may even disadvantage us against less scrupulous competitors. Indeed, at times such failure may even be required of us. But as Jesus says, “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24).

Death comes to every man, woman and business eventually, but for those who believe — and ground their companies in that faith — it is not death but life that has the final word.

LANCE RICHEY is the dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Ind.

The big three of the spiritual life

As business executives, we all have to set priorities for our companies or organizations. A part of this process is recognizing what is core to our success. If this is the case for our businesses, how much more should we practice this principle in our spiritual lives!

Tom Monaghan

We all know that our ultimate goal is to get to heaven and to bring as many people with us as possible; this is the living and spreading of our faith that we talk about in the mission of Legatus.

There are obviously many facets to living our faith, but let me share with you what I call “the big three of the spiritual life.” I have talked about these over the years and have even used them as a challenge at commencement addresses.

The first time I did so was when I was scheduled to speak after Mary Beth Bonacci. If you have ever heard Mary Beth speak with all of her style and energy — and I had — you know what an unenviable task it is. I thought, “What can I say to these young men and women that will keep their attention and make an impact?”

And then it came to me. I threw out the notes I had prepared and decided to issue them a challenge to attend daily Mass, to pray the rosary every day, and to get to Confession at least once a month.

I asked those graduates to commit themselves to these three things for the rest of their lives. Well, the message was so well received that day that I have used it several times since. I pray that those young people have kept their commitment. It’s not complicated, but it is a challenge. In the context of Legatus, I don’t think it’s coincidental that we find all three of these elements present at our monthly chapter meetings — rosary, Reconciliation and Mass. Over the years, these three things have become the foundation for my spiritual life, and for this, I am grateful.

So as we begin this Lent, instead of giving something up (or in addition to your fasting), let me issue this challenge to you: Try daily Mass, praying the rosary every day, and monthly Confession and see how it goes. I guarantee you will not regret it.

TOM MONAGHAN is Legatus’ founder and chairman.