"Walking in the way and the love of the Lord"
The time has come again. The day where we re-evaluate our lives. We examine how we lived in the past year and make resolutions about how this next year can be better or different! The top of the list is usually, weight loss, eating healthier, going to a gym and so on... This year lets make some spiritual resolutions as well.
Examine your spiritual life this past year and lets make a spiritual resolution for this coming year. Just make a few, baby steps. Don't put too much on your plate. One step at a time. If you fall, don't get discouraged. Remember, "it doesn't matter how many times you fall, what matters is how many times you let God pick you up" Don't be hard on yourself. Everyday is a new day, every moment is a new moment. So just be present in the moment and just be.
Here are a few ideas:
Pick a Patron Saint for the New Year
There are so many other ways to ignite your spiritual life. So many little things we can add to our life to help us on this prayerful path.
Trust where God is leading you and have faith. Remember when Peter stepped out into the water from the fishing boat and then took his focus off of Jesus? He saw the wind and cried out: “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and took hold of him: “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" We all struggle with having the stamina to step out in faith.
Let us have the stamina to ignite our spiritual life, let us have the stamina to say "Yes" to God, and let us have the stamina to strive to love the Lord more each day this year by putting Jesus at the center of our life.
Let us grow in holiness this year!
By: Chaplain Mike
One of the books I will be reading and meditating upon during my sabbatical is Thomas Merton’s Thoughts In Solitude.
A well-known passage from this book has been called, “The Merton Prayer” (see below). This prayer acknowledges that, despite our human tendency to think we know what life is about and how we can manage it, we really have no clue. As the Jews say, “Man plans; God laughs.”
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” (Prov 16:9)
In the chapter following this prayer, Merton writes,“In our age everything has to be a ‘problem.’ Ours is a time of anxiety because we have willed it to be so. Our anxiety is not imposed on us by force from outside. We impose it on our world and upon one another from within ourselves.
“…Contradictions have always existed in the soul of man. But it is only when we prefer analysis to silence that they become a constant and insoluble problem. We are not meant to resolve all contradictions but to live with them and rise above them and see them in the light of exterior and objective values which make them trivial by comparison.”
Merton suggests that it is learning to live in “silence” that enables us to live at peace with the contradictions that lie within us. The contradictions remain, but they cease to be a problem for us.
The prayer that precedes this counsel expresses the peace that comes from knowing and trusting in God’s presence in a life with so many unknowns and irresolvable conflicts.
MY LORD GOD, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
By Stephen Davey
"This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."
I read a gripping story of a godly old man whose days were coming to an end. A priest went to visit him in his hospital room and noticed an empty chair beside the man's bed. He asked, "Have you had a visitor?" The man replied, "No, I haven't had a visitor. But when I became a Christian as a youth, someone told me that praying was like talking to your very best friend. When I heard that, I decided to pull up an empty chair beside me every day and invite Christ to sit and talk with me. And I just finished my conversation with the Lord."
After the man passed away, his daughter wrote of her visit to the hospital room. She said of her father:
"He seemed content, so I left him for a few hours. When I returned, I knew that he had gone to be with the Lord. But the interesting thing was that his head was not resting on his pillow. His body had turned and his head was resting on the seat of an empty hair that had been pulled up close to his bed."
Isn't that a remarkable picture? We, who are weak and frail like this dying man, have been given the opportunity to rest our head on the loving, omnipotent breast of God. Death is only a continuation of the pursuit we begin in this life to know God. That is why prayer is a taste of heaven on earth. God, in His humility and love toward us, stepped down from His heavenly throne and seated Himself upon the chair of our heart where we can intimately and personally converse with Him.
George Macdonald, the Scottish pastor who had a profound impact on C. S. Lewis, illustrated this beautifully when he said:
"I used to play a game with my two children when they were young. I would clutch some pennies in my hand and allow them to pry open my fingers to get the coins. My children would sit in my lap and work feverishly to get the money. Once they captured the coins, they would scream with delight and jump down to treasure their prize. I loved having my youngsters laugh and play while sitting on my lap—the pennies were insignificant."
Macdonald went on to apply this truth: "While God, in His grace, does give good gifts to His children, He offers us more than that . . . He offers us Himself. Those who are merely satisfied with the trinkets in the Father's hands miss the best reward of prayer—the reward of communicating and communing with the God of the universe."
As we go to God in prayer, let's remember that the greatest thrill in praying to Him is not in seeing how He will answer our petitions, nor in discovering what trinkets He might be holding in His all-powerful hand. The greatest privilege is actually being able to have a conversation with God Himself!
Perhaps prayer will become a personal conversation . . . if you pull up an empty chair.
Prayer Point: Go ahead—pull up a chair beside you right now and tell God how grateful you are for His friendship. Spend a few moments talking with Him: tell Him your struggles, your joys, your thoughts; ask Him your questions; thank Him for allowing you to have a conversation with Him, much less a personal relationship with the Lord of all the universe.
Extra Refreshment: Read John 17
When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place… —Matthew 6:6
The primary thought in the area of religion is— keep your eyes on God, not on people. Your motivation should not be the desire to be known as a praying person. Find an inner room in which to pray where no one even knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret. Have no motivation other than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.
“When you pray, do not use vain repetitions…” (Matthew 6:7). God does not hear us because we pray earnestly— He hears us solely on the basis of redemption. God is never impressed by our earnestness. Prayer is not simply getting things from God— that is only the most elementary kind of prayer. Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God. If the Son of God has been formed in us through regeneration (see Galatians 4:19), then He will continue to press on beyond our common sense and will change our attitude about the things for which we pray.
“Everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). We pray religious nonsense without even involving our will, and then we say that God did not answer— but in reality we have never asked for anything. Jesus said, “…you will ask what you desire…” (John 15:7). Asking means that our will must be involved. Whenever Jesus talked about prayer, He spoke with wonderful childlike simplicity. Then we respond with our critical attitude, saying, “Yes, but even Jesus said that we must ask.” But remember that we have to ask things of God that are in keeping with the God whom Jesus Christ revealed.
By Mary Ellen Dunford, affiliate
For every individual there are many different approaches to prayer. It is a personal preference with one way not better or worse than another. Yet we would all agree that the purpose of prayer is to bring us closer to God. Prayer nurtures our relationship with God and deepens our spirituality. During this past Lent a local church held a Prayer-A-Thon. For 40 hours they offered 40 different types of prayer. Each prayer session was one hour. Some of the prayer types included the rosary, Stations of the Cross, Litany of Saints, Lectio Divina, praying the 10 commandments, dance, singing, Taize, journal writing, prayer with nature, drumming, couples prayer, healing touch and walking the labyrinth. It was a wonderful opportunity for people to experience different ways to connect with God and share their experience with others.
To St. Francis and St. Clare prayer was an important part of their tradition. They set aside time for daily liturgical prayer, community prayer and praying alone. Francis felt prayer was a necessary condition for following in the footsteps of Jesus who encouraged his followers to “pray always.” Like Francis and Clare, Jesus calls us to live a life of prayer and to live in communion. To pray always is to find oneself in prayerful communion with God and others while working, playing and experiencing all of the extraordinary and ordinary activities of daily life. Our daily living activities are not distractions from prayer but the source of meaningful prayer. Quoting Richard Rohr, “Prayer is the life of the one who prays.” Prayer is a relationship with God and the universe. Like all meaningful relationships, it takes intentional time and energy. If we are awake and present to the moment, we will grow in our relationship with God through every life experience.
St. Therese of Lisieux states, “For me prayer means launching out of the heart towards God; it means lifting up one’s eyes, quite simply, to heaven, a cry of grateful love, from the crest of joy or through despair.” Her emphasis is on the simplicity of prayer and that we turn to God in times of our joys and in times of challenges and discouragements.
Prayer is the path to following in the footsteps of Jesus. The Christian life calls us not only to take time out to pray but to live a life of service and to pursue peace and justice. Those that pray always are empowered and risk boldly the future.
by Daniel P. Horan, OFM
“No one can really embrace the Christian asceticism mapped out in the New Testament unless he [or she] has some idea of the positive, constructive function of self-denial. The Holy Spirit never asks us to renounce anything without offering us something much higher and much more perfect in return … The function of self-denial is to lead to a positive increase of spiritual energy and life. The Christian dies, not merely in order to die but in order to live. And when he [or she] takes up his cross to follow Christ, the Christian realizes, or at least believes, that he is not going to die to anything but death. The Cross is the sign of Christ’s victory over death. The Cross is the sign of life. It is the trellis upon which grows the Mystical Vine whose life is infinite joy and whose branches we are. If we want to share the life of that Vine, we must grow on the same trellis and must suffer the same pruning.” — Thomas Merton
Merton’s call for us to follow the asceticism of Christian evangelical life is not simply an arbitrary practice that is an end in itself, but must always be seen in the broader context of Gospel living. As Merton points out, the penitential practices of lent are not to be self-serving, but should be oriented toward freeing us up to be more focused on the important things in life. “The function of self-denial is to lead to a positive increase of spiritual energy and life.”
There are a few things that I particularly find worth considering in Merton’s reflection here. One thing is the sense of death to self that Merton presents in association with Christian self-denial. It is the Pauline notion of “dying to one’s self” in order to be more focused on living as a member of the Body of Christ, as part of the Vine Merton describes here. St. Paul writes to the Galatians: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20), so too, Merton reminds us, are we called to live not for ourselves but as a member of Christ’s body.
The notion of being part of the Vine along the trellis poetically suggests that we don’t do this alone and in our own, arbitrary way. We have to look to God’s very self-revelation in Christ and in the historical manifestation of God’s disclosure in scripture. Here is the locus of our unity and communal support in living more fully the Christian life. Here is the trellis upon which the whole Body of Christ grows and supports one another as part of the Vine.
During this season of lent, we are challenged to pause and reflect on how we go about our everyday lives. Are we aware of our intimate connection to the rest of the Body of Christ? Do we try to life for ourselves alone, away from the Vine, apart from the branches, off the trellis of community where the Pilgrim People of God strive to flourish together? Perhaps we can follow the example of Merton and Paul, seeking in our daily lives — in big and little ways — to die to our own self-centeredness, our own priorities and concerns, and those things which constitute our own frivolous desires rather than the true and inherent aspiration we have deep within to be at home with one another and the rest of creation in Christ.
Posted on February 20, 2012 by Angela Sealana (Santana)
For me, prayer is not easy. While this probably surprises most of my acquaintances and friends, prayer isn’t the first thing on my mind every day. (That award goes to ‘What’s for breakfast?’ or ‘Ugh, do I have to get up?’) Usually, I put off my daily prayers. My confessors know this well!
I admit my weakness not because I’m proud; it frustrates me terribly. I admit my struggle because you probably share it. And we’re not alone.
The Saints Were Sinners, Too!
Did you know that the saints were in our shoes, too? Yup, those people with the halos on our stained-glass windows and holy cards also struggled with prayer. This is often left out of books and biographies for piety’s sake. But every saint in heaven, at one point or another, wrestled with the issues we commonly face. For instance, I remember being shocked when I read this from the autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux (‘The Little Flower’):
I am ashamed to confess it, but the recitation of the Rosary costs me more than to use an instrument of penance. I feel I am saying it so badly. Try as I may to make myself meditate on the mysteries, I never manage to fix my thoughts on them.
WHAT?? I couldn’t believe it. The Little Flower – a woman declared a Doctor of the Church – had trouble praying the Rosary? Wow, that’s like me! St. Pio of Pietrelcina, also called Padre Pio, is known for his holiness and closeness to God. But that closeness did not come easily or ‘naturally.’ He wrote to his spiritual director, Fr. Agostino,
My Faith is upheld only by a constant effort of my will against every kind of human persuasion. My Faith is only the fruit of the continual efforts that I exact of myself. And all of this, Father, is not something that happens a few times a day, but it is continuous…
Yes, the saints struggled just like us! A testimony from Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a young man:
With every day that passes, I grow more and more convinced how ugly the world is, of how much suffering there is, and, unfortunately, of how it is the good who suffer the most. Meanwhile, we who have been given so many of God’s blessings have repaid Him poorly. This is an awful reality that racks my brain; while I’m studying, every so often I ask myself: will I continue on the right path? Will I have the strength to persevere all the way?
Reading the saints’ writings helps me renew my hope. Look at these three models of holiness – who spent hours of their day in prayer – yet they constantly struggled. St. Paul writes about his own struggle in his letter to the Romans: “I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want” (Rm. 7:19).
So, if the saints struggled like us, but they made it to Heaven, how did that happen?
Tips from the Saints
1. Ask God for the grace to love prayer.
“…I feel myself somewhat drawn to prayer, I have asked of God […] that He would give me the grace to love this holy exercise more and more, unto the hour of my death. It is the one means for our purification, the one way to union with God, the one channel by which God may unite Himself with us, that He may do anything with us for His glory. […] The counsel, or rather the commandment: Pray always, seems to me extremely sweet and by no means impossible.” – St. Claude de la Colombiere
2. Ask the Holy Spirit to teach you to pray.
“The Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” – St. Paul
3. Put prayer in perspective.
“Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing.” – St. Teresa of Avila (also called ‘Teresa of Jesus’)
4. Get a new hobby: Do good deeds; they turn your soul to God.
“Accustom yourself continually to make many acts of love, for they enkindle and melt the soul.” – St. Teresa of Avila (…she has lots of great advice)
5. Begin with the Sign of the Cross.
“The illusions of the devil soon vanish, especially if a man arms himself with the Sign of the Cross. The devils tremble at the Sign of the Cross of our Lord, by which He triumphed over and disarmed them.” – St. Anthony the abbot
6. When you pray, quiet yourself.
“What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love.” -St. John of Avila (also called ‘John of the Cross’)
7. When you pray, let God love you.
Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself. – St. John Vianney
8. Use small doses of spiritual reading as a springboard to prayer.
“Read some chapter of a devout book….It is very easy and most necessary, for just as you speak to God when at prayer, God speaks to you when you read.” – St. Vincent de Paul
9. Don’t let prayer intimidate you. Talk with God.
“To pray is to talk to God, but about what? About Him, about yourself; joys, sorrows, successes, and failures, noble ambitions, daily worries, weaknesses! And acts of thanksgiving and petitions: and Love and reparation. In a word: to get to know Him and to get to know yourself: to get acquainted.” – St. Josemaria Escriva
10. Schedule time for prayer, but also pray throughout the day.
Aspire continually to God, by brief, ardent upliftings of heart; praise God, invoke His aid, cast yourself in spirit at the Foot of His Cross, adore His Goodness, offer your whole soul a thousand times a day to Him, fix your inward gaze upon Him, stretch out your hands to be led by Him, as a little child to its father, clasp Him to your breast as a fragrant bouquet. In short, enkindle by every possible action your love for God[…] – it may be interwoven with all our duties and occupations – St. Francis de Sales
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Read Psalm 109:1-4
The psalmist wrote, “But I am a man of prayer.”
- Psalm 109:4 (NIV)
When I first stumbled upon this passage it was almost shocking to me. At the time I was very concerned about a friend’s situation. I was praying earnestly for my friend and to be honest, I found myself wondering just how effective prayer really was in situations like my friend’s. And then I read the psalmist’s words.
What makes today’s quoted verse so remarkable are the verses that precede it. Though David did not write all the psalms, he was likely the writer of this one. In the first few verses of this psalm he writes some awful and even scary things. He says wicked and deceitful men have told lies about him. They have surrounded him with words of hatred. They have fought against him without cause. In return for his friendship they have accused him. Then he writes, “But I am a man of prayer.”
David could have fought against these men. He was a mighty warrior. He could have judged them because he was the king. But what did he choose to do instead? He prayed. David, the soldier and king, considered prayer his best defense against these enemies. What a powerful model for us to live by!
The Author: Harriet Michael (Kentucky, USA), source: http://devotional.upperroom.org/devotionals/2014-11-19
Thought for the Day
When we are troubled, prayer is our best choice.
Dear heavenly Father, thank you so much for the privilege of prayer. Regardless of our circumstances, help us to be people of prayer. ln your son’s name. Amen.
Prayer Focus: My Enemies
A calm mind is a great asset in this life. Without it, your devotional life will not bear much fruit. If your heart is troubled, you are vulnerable to the enemy of the soul. When you are agitated, you are not able to make good decisions. You will stumble into snares.
The enemy detests this peace in you. He knows that is the place where the Spirit of God dwells. That's why he devises such devilish ways to destroy this peace.
Avoid rash acts. Even if you are sure the Holy Spirit wants you to do something, wait. Put off doing it until your eagerness has declined. Introduced with that kind of self-control, a good work is more pleasing to God than if it were done hastily.
It is also necessary to overcome a certain inner regret. Sometimes we think our bad conscience is being generated by God when in fact it is the work of the devil. Here is the way to tell: If your regret results in greater humility and increases your desire to serve God, receive it with gratitude as a gift from heaven. If it creates anxiety, makes you sad, depressed, fearful and slow to do your duty, then we can be sure it has been suggested by the enemy. Disregard it.
Laurence Scupoli: The Spiritual Combat
Oh, Lord my God,
You have called from the sleep of nothingness
merely because in your tremendous love
you want to make good and beautiful beings.
You have called me by my name in my mother’s womb.
You have given me breath and light and movement
and walked with me every moment of my existence.
I am amazed, Lord God of the universe,
that you attend to me and, more, cherish me.
Create in me the faithfulness that moves you,
and I will trust you and yearn for you all my days.
Amen. -Joseph Tetlow, SJ
My Utmost for His Highest
Daily devotionals by Oswald Chambers
. . . I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord --Jeremiah 1:8
God promised Jeremiah that He would deliver him personally— “. . . your life shall be as a prize to you . . .” (Jeremiah 39:18). That is all God promises His children. Wherever God sends us, He will guard our lives. Our personal property and possessions are to be a matter of indifference to us, and our hold on these things should be very loose. If this is not the case, we will have panic, heartache, and distress. Having the proper outlook is evidence of the deeply rooted belief in the overshadowing of God’s personal deliverance.
The Sermon on the Mount indicates that when we are on a mission for Jesus Christ, there is no time to stand up for ourselves. Jesus says, in effect, “Don’t worry about whether or not you are being treated justly.” Looking for justice is actually a sign that we have been diverted from our devotion to Him. Never look for justice in this world, but never cease to give it. If we look for justice, we will only begin to complain and to indulge ourselves in the discontent of self-pity, as if to say, “Why should I be treated like this?” If we are devoted to Jesus Christ, we have nothing to do with what we encounter, whether it is just or unjust. In essence, Jesus says, “Continue steadily on with what I have told you to do, and I will guard your life. If you try to guard it yourself, you remove yourself from My deliverance.” Even the most devout among us become atheistic in this regard— we do not believe Him. We put our common sense on the throne and then attach God’s name to it. We do lean to our own understanding, instead of trusting God with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5-6).
The First Gaze
Monday, June 30, 2014
I am just like you. My immediate response to most situations is with reactions of attachment, defensiveness, judgment, control, and analysis. I am better at calculating than contemplating.
Let’s admit that we all start there. The False Self seems to have the “first gaze” at almost everything.
The first gaze is seldom compassionate. It is too busy weighing and feeling itself: “How will this affect me?” or “How can I get back in control of this situation?” This leads us to an implosion, a self-preoccupation that cannot enter into communion with the other or the moment. In other words, we first feel our feelings before we can relate to the situation and emotion of the other. Only after God has taught us how to live “undefended,” can we immediately stand with and for the other, and in the present moment. It takes lots of practice.
On my better days, when I am “open, undefended, and immediately present,” as Gerald May says, I can sometimes begin with a contemplative mind and heart. Often I can get there later and even end there, but it is usually a second gaze. The True Self seems to always be ridden and blinded by the defensive needs of the False Self. It is an hour-by-hour battle, at least for me. I can see why all spiritual traditions insist on daily prayer, in fact, morning, midday, evening, and before we go to bed, too! Otherwise, I can assume that I am back in the cruise control of small and personal self-interest, the pitiable and fragile “Richard self.”
Adapted from “Contemplation and Compassion: The Second Gaze”
(article by Fr. Richard available free on CAC website)
Gateway to Silence:
May I see with eyes of compassion.
“Do not be afraid.” We have read these words in the bible many times. We sing it in our songs. We hear our family and friends tell us not to worry. But we go on our fearful way, thinking our worry will solve the problem and then our fears will be gone with the wind.
We know in our hearts that Jesus is taking care of us. But why can't we get our thoughts to go along with our hearts? Why should that be hard? And the answer is in our humanity. Our weakness. We are tempted away from God and fall so easily into being lost in our questions. So we spend our time worrying, wasting our time and days. Worrying doesn't help anything, it just takes us away from Jesus. Worrying takes us out of the presence of God in the now and leads us nowhere.
I want you to remember something. Jesus is holding your hand. Just like Isaiah 41:13 says, 'I am holding you by your right hand – I, the Lord your God. And I say to you, do not be afraid. I am here to help you.'
Those are the words we need to live by. God is with us at all times, holding our hand. When we are worrying, we are letting go of Jesus' hand and saying, “Hold on Jesus. I am going to sit here alone for awhile. I need to figure this out.” Why would we want to make the choice to let go of Jesus' hand? Why would we want to tell Jesus to hang on a minute, while we worry about something we cannot change at that moment. Why would we let go of the loving hand of Jesus.
He has a wonderful plan for us. Part of that plan is allowing our Father to take care of us, allowing Him to hold us by the hand. In our most difficult times, when we do not feel God's presence and feel abandoned, those are the moments we need to hold on fast. Don't let go! Talk with Jesus, pray with Jesus and trust in Jesus. “Do not be afraid.”
By: Mary Maddox
Dear Lord, in this quiet night, guide my way.
Lead my dreaming into Your dreams for me.
Help me to understand that in their mystery
there is healing and divine assistance
waiting to free me,
just a little more from me.
Lord, in this sacred dark,
I invoke the angels to protect me,
to stay close,
spreading their wings over me,
surrounding me, covering me,
whispering their night prayers,
the ones that assure and promise to keep me
and everyone I love safe.
I need their prayers to keep the shadows at bay
and to ready my heart for the blessings
of guidance and grace
that awaits me tomorrow.
Lord, I thank you now, in advance,
just in case in the morning light
I am disoriented and doubtful
about beginning again
my greatest task....
the holy project of finding me,
the one You formed in my mother's womb.
By: Kathleen Aparo
“For the vision is yet for an appointed time...though it tarry, wait for it...”(Habakkuk 2:3, KJV)
TODAY’S WORD from Joel and VictoriaGod has an appointed time to fulfill the visions, dreams and desires in your heart. Just because it has taken a long time or because you’ve tried and failed doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. Don’t give up on those dreams! Don’t be complacent about pursuing what God has placed in your heart. Our God is a faithful God. No matter how long it’s been, no matter how impossible things look, if you’ll stay in faith, your set time is coming.
Remember, every dream that’s in your heart, every promise that has taken root, God put it there. Not only that, but He has every intention of bringing it to pass. Hold on to that vision today. Declare by faith, “My time is coming. God is working behind the scenes on my behalf. I will fulfill my destiny!” As you continue to hold on to that vision and speak life over your dreams, it won’t be long before you see them begin to take shape. You’ll see your faith grow, you’ll see your hope strengthen, and you’ll see yourself step into the destiny God has prepared for you!
A PRAYER FOR TODAY
Father, thank You for placing dreams and desires in my heart. I trust that You are at work to bring them to pass even when I can’t see it, even when it’s taking longer than I thought. I know that You are faithful, and I trust You completely in Jesus’ name, Amen.— Joel & Victoria Osteen
by Joyce Meyer - posted June 16, 2014
Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.
O God, why do You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger burn and smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?
As I think about the storms we all face in life, I can understand why people sometimes ask, “Why the storms? Why do we have so many problems and struggles in life? Why do God’s people have to deal with so much suffering?”
As I considered these questions, I began to see that Satan plants these questions in our minds. It is his attempt to keep us focused on our problems instead of focusing on the goodness of God. If we persist in asking these questions, we’re implying that God may be to blame. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God why things happen. The writers of the psalms certainly didn’t hesitate to ask.
I think of the story of Jesus when He visited the home of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before He visited. When He arrived, Martha said to Jesus, “Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). She went on to say, “And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You” (v. 22).
Did she really believe those words? I wonder, because “Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (vs. 23-24). She didn’t get what Jesus was saying.
I don’t want to be unkind to Martha, but she missed it. When Jesus came, she didn’t ask, “Why didn’t You do something?” Instead she said, “If You had been here—if You had been on the job—he’d be alive.”
When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again, she didn’t understand that it was going to happen right then. She could focus only on the resurrection. By looking at an event that was still in the future, she missed the real meaning of Jesus’ words for the present.
But aren’t many of us like Martha? We want our lives to run smoothly, and when they don’t, we ask why? But we really mean, “God, if You truly loved and cared for me, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Let’s think a little more about the “why” question. For example, when someone dies in an accident, one of the first questions family members ask is why? “Why her? Why now? Why this accident?”
For one moment, let’s say God explained the reason. Would that change anything? Probably not. The loved one is still gone, and the pain is just as severe as it was before. What, then, did you learn from the explanation?
In recent years, I’ve begun to think that why isn’t what Christians are really asking God. Is it possible that we’re asking, “God, do You love me? Will You take care of me in my sorrow and pain? You won’t leave me alone in my pain, will You?” Is it possible that, because we’re afraid that God doesn’t truly care about us, we ask for explanations?
Instead, we must learn to say, “Lord God, I believe. I don’t understand, and I could probably never grasp all the reasons why bad things happen, but I can know for certain that You love me and You are with me—always.”
Heavenly Father, instead of asking for answers to the why questions, help me to focus on Your great love for me. When Satan tries to fill my mind with troublesome questions, help me to feel the protection of Your loving, caring arms around me. Help me always to show my gratitude and devotion for all that You do for me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
From the book Battlefield of the Mind Devotional by Joyce Meyer. Copyright © 2006 by Joyce Meyer. Published by FaithWords. All rights reserved.
Because you are God, I can ask what I will
I can bring to you all of those who are ill
I can name everyone whose thoughts bring unease
And all of the many plagued by disease.
Those bodies betrayed by sickness, severe
Those families in crisis who don’t feel you near.
Because you are God, you feel every pain
Because you are God, you know them by name.
I bring them, I leave them, knowing each is a part
Of your sacred, compassionate, all loving heart.
I’ll remind you today; I’ll remind you tomorrow
Please God bless the many with hearts full of sorrow.
When we hear Psalm 98: "Sing unto the Lord a new song", we immediately think about breaking out into song for our Lord. Well at least, that is what I start to do. Before you know it, I am singing like a Broadway star in my kitchen. Singing loud and so confident for the Lord. We not only need to sing a song for Christ within the comfortable setting of our home, but we need to open those windows and let the world hear our praise. Share with others what Christ has done for you. It doesn't have to be in song, it can be something as simple as sharing a smile, sharing a kind word, sharing a helping hand, or just sharing His love with others.
So smile and go out and sing a new song!
An excerpt from Living in the Father’s Embrace
BY: FR. GEORGE MONTAGUE, S.M.
Jesus assures us that we can have that Holy Spirit for the asking. Our asking cannot, however, be routine. It must be passionate and persevering.
That is the meaning of Jesus’ story just before he tells us to ask (Luke 11:5-8). A midnight visitor arrives, and the family provider has no bread to set before him. So the host has to go next door and bang repeatedly on the neighbor’s door, even after refusals, until finally the neighbor gets up and hands him an armful of loaves. God wants us to nag and keep nagging, because the process deepens our desire and our capacity to receive and appreciate the gift once given.
So how badly do we want the Holy Spirit? How badly do we thirst for him? Are we like the cowboy who sings, “All day I’ve faced the barren waste without a taste of water, cool water”? If you don’t remember the song, think of the time when you were so thirsty that you thought of nothing else but water. That’s the thirst we should have for the Holy Spirit. It means dropping all other priorities until we reach the well of living water.
And what happens when we get there? I cannot tell you because you have to experience it for yourself. All I can say is that you are experiencing a creature’s share in Jesus’ experience of the Father. You have been granted entry into the unimaginable depths of the Godhead, the eternal gaze of the Son upon the Father on whose breast he rests (John 1:18). St. Paul says as much when he writes that “eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it ever entered the mind of man, what God has prepared for those who love him,” yet this is what “God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches out everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:9, 10; my translation).
The Holy Spirit is thus the searchlight, revealing things about God that we would never dream of. He is like the lights and camera, sunk to the depths of the Atlantic and revealing the Titanic, or a guide throwing a powerful flashlight on a cavern wall and showing us an awesome, eons-old water-crafted pillar. But the Father is no Titanic, nor is he an awesome pillar. He is … no words will do. Let the wordless Word carry you from here.
This article is an excerpt from *Living in the Father’s Embrace *by Fr. George Montague, which is available from the Word Among Us Press.
By William A. Barry, SJ
From God’s Passionate Desire
Why do we pray? Do we pray for utilitarian reasons—because it benefits our physical or psychological health?
Honesty compels me to say that I often do pray for utilitarian reasons. First of all, most of my prayers of petition ask for some good result, either for me or for someone else or for all people. Moreover, I feel contented when I remember in prayer the people who mean much to me, even if my prayer is not answered. I notice, too, that I feel better about myself when I pray regularly. I feel more centered, more in tune with the present, less anxious about the past or the future. So I suspect that I do pray for the purpose of psychological or physical health. But does that exhaust my motivations for prayer?
Prayer Is a Relationship
Thinking of prayer as a conscious relationship, or friendship, with God may be illuminating. Why do we spend time with good friends? As I pondered this question, I realized that I relish times with good friends for some of the same reasons just adduced for spending time in prayer. If I have not had good conversations with close friends for some time, I feel out of sorts, somewhat lonely, and ill at ease. When I am with good friends, I feel more whole and alive.
Still, I do not believe that my only reason for wanting time with them is to feel better. I want to be with them because I love them. I am genuinely interested in and concerned for them. The beneficial effect that being with them has on me is a happy by-product. Moreover, I have often spent time with friends when it cost me trouble and time, and I did it because they wanted my presence. Haven’t we all spent time with a close friend who was ill or depressed, even when the time was painful and difficult? Such time spent cannot be explained on utilitarian grounds. We spend that time because we love our friend for his or her own sake.
Of course, there are times when we need the presence of close friends because we are in pain or lonely. Friendship would not be a mutual affair if we were always the ones who gave and never were open to receive. But if we are not totally egocentric, we will have to admit that we do care for others for their own sakes, and not just for what we can get from the relationship. We spend time with our friends because of our mutual care and love. Can we say the same thing about our relationship with God?
Our Deepest Desires
Prayer is a conscious relationship with God. Just as we spend time with friends because we love them and care for them, we spend time in prayer because we love God and want to be with God. Created out of love, we are drawn by the desire for “we know not what,” for union with the ultimate Mystery, who alone will satisfy our deepest longing. That desire, we can say, is the Holy Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts, drawing us to the perfect fulfillment for which we were created—namely, community with the Trinity. That desire draws us toward a more and more intimate union with God.
We pray, then, at our deepest level, because we are drawn by the bonds of love. We pray because we love, and not just for utilitarian purposes. If prayer has beneficial effects—and I believe that it does—that is because prayer corresponds to our deepest reality. When we are in tune with God, we cannot help but experience deep well-being. Ignatius of Loyola spoke of consolation as a sign of a person’s being in tune with God’s intention. But in the final analysis, the lover does not spend time with the Beloved because of the consolation; the lover just wants to be with the Beloved.
Thanks and Praise
Another motive for prayer is the desire to praise and thank God because of his great kindness and mercy. In contemplating Jesus, we discover that God’s love is not only creative but also overwhelmingly self-sacrificing. Jesus loved us even as we nailed him to the cross.
If we allow the desire for “we know not what” to draw us more and more into a relationship of mutual love with God, then we will, I believe, gradually take as our own that wonderful prayer so dear to St. Francis Xavier that begins O Deus, ego amo te, nec amo te ut salves me: “O God, I love you, and not because I hope for heaven thereby.” Gerard Manley Hopkins translated the prayer:
I love thee, God, I love thee--
Not out of hope for heaven for me
Nor fearing not to love and be
In the everlasting burning.
Thou, my Jesus, after me
Didst reach thine arms out dying,
For my sake sufferedst nails and lance,
Mocked and marred countenance,
Sorrows passing number,
Sweat and care and cumber,
Yea and death, and this for me,
And thou couldst see me sinning:
Then I, why should not I love thee,
Jesus so much in love with me?
Not for heaven’s sake, not to be
Out of hell by loving thee;
Not for any gains I see;
But just the way that thou didst me
I do love and will love thee.
What must I love thee, Lord, for then?
For being my king and God. Amen.
Excerpt from God’s Passionate Desire by William A. Barry, SJ.
- See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-what-how-why-of-prayer/why-do-we-pray/
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
Prayerful Path/Mary Maddox
Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen