1% Challenge - Tip/Insight of the Day

Today's Tip/Insight

Have a blessed day!

Past Tips/Insights

  • The #1 key to prayer is simply to do it, to put in the time! "What matters most is not whether our mental prayer is beautiful, or whether it works, or whether it is enriched by deep thoughts and feelings, but whether it is persevering and faithful. Our first concern, if I may put it that way, should be faithfulness in praying, not the quality of our prayer. The quality will come from fidelity...After that first decision to take the prayer life seriously, the first battle we must fight is the battle to be faithful to our times of mental prayer, come what may, according to a definite plan we have established. It is not an easy battle."
  • What a blessing that you've started out on this battle for the 1st time or for the 1,000th time! For "mental prayer is the source of true happiness. Whoever practices it faithfully will not fail to 'taste and see that the Lord is good' (Psalm 34). Those who pray will find the living water that Jesus promised..."
  • Quotes taken from Time for God, pg. 8, 16-17 by Fr. Jacques Philippe
  • So now that you've decided to commit to daily prayer, know that there's bound to be difficulties. As with any relationship, let's say marriage for example, the commitment to stay in communication with your spouse is not always easy and needs to be intentionally worked out. Rarely does it just happen. The same applies to our relationship with God. We need to be intentional and work at our communication with Him, prayer.
  • Fr. Mike Schmitz gives 4 insightful tips on how to overcome common difficulties (the video's a bit long, I apologize, around 7 minutes but its worth it!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yk8In-6KUGc

 

  • What matters in mental prayer is not so much what we do, as what God does in us...The essential act of prayer, after all, is to put oneself in God's presence and stay there. Now God is not the God of the dead but of the living, and his presence, being the presence of the living God, is active, life-giving, healing, and sanctifying. One can't stand in front of a fire without being warmed...and in remaining in God's presence and letting him act in the depths of our being, we are doing what really counts...The cause of the immense riches arising from prayer is not our thoughts or our actions, but the action of God in our hearts." Time for God, pg. 50-51, Fr. Jacques Philippe
  • Some days it may feel like your standing in the "sun" and receiving its warmth and sometimes it may not but know that the Lord is always "shining" upon you in prayer. More on that tomorrow...

 

  • Yesterday we looked at how prayer isn't so much about we do but about what God does, even if we may not always feel like its "working". Here's more on that:
  • "The first and most fundamental disposition (of prayer) is an attitude of faith...Faith is the capacity of believers to act not according to impressions, preconceived ideas, or notions borrowed from other people, but according to what they are told by the Word of God." The necessity of faith manifests itself in 3 specific ways
  • Faith in the presence of God during prayer. "Regardless of what we may or may not feel, the preparation we have or haven't made, how good we are or aren't at stringing beautiful thoughts together...God is there, with us, looking at us and loving us."
  • Faith that prayer is for everyone, that all are called to meet him in prayer. "The life of prayer is not reserved for the religious elite: it is for everyone."
  • Faith that prayer is fruitful. "It transforms us within, sanctifies us, heals us, helps us to know and love God, makes us fervent and generous in love of neighbor."
  • Time for God, pgs. 14-16, Fr. Jacques Philippe

 

  • Let's get a little more practical today, the "Spiritual Bouquet" from St. Francis de Sales:
  • "...gather a little bouquet of devotion, and what I mean is this. When walking in a beautiful garden most people are wont to gather a few flowers as they go, which they keep, and enjoy their scent during the day. So, when the mind explores some mystery in meditation, it is well to pick out one or more points that have specially arrested the attention, and are most likely to be helpful to you through the day, and this should be done at once before quitting the subject of your meditation."Introduction to the Devout Lifepart II, St. Francis de Sales
  • In plain language, in the midst of prayer God may place something on your heart, something may stand out to you. It could a word, phrase, image, idea, etc. Lock this point ("flower") into your mind, it could be more than one. Then, periodically throughout the day, recall this point ("smell this flower") to remind you of your prayer that morning with God ("walking in the garden"). 
  • Tomorrow we'll get back to being practical but as we start the week I thought we could refocus on perseverance in prayer again and why we should persevere:
  • "...the main battle in mental prayer is perseverance....There is no spiritual progress without contemplative prayer....This i because without mental prayer we cannot receive all the help from God that we need to be transformed and sanctified in depth....There can be no deep, radical purification of the heart without the practice of mental prayer."
  • Time for God, pgs. 23-25, Fr. Jacques Philippe

 

  • Pray in the morning. Start your day by giving it to God, by conversing with Him, by placing your hopes, worries, and struggles in His hands. See what He wants to tell you before you begin your day. We will have the best chance of turning our eyes to God throughout the day if we start our day with our eyes on Him. 
  • "Sitting down for a few minutes of prayer and reflection at the beginning of the day makes me happy. It gives me the clarity, focus, perspective, and gratitude I need to make the most of the day..." (more tomorrow)
  • Resisting Happiness, pg. 8,  Matthew Kelly
  • Yesterday we emphasized praying in the morning and the benefits that come from it but I didn't finish the quote. Today I'll offer the rest of it for you because although we know prayer in the morning is a tremendous blessing, that doesn't necessarily make it easy to do.
  • "...But almost every day I am tempted to put it off until later or skip it altogether. Why? The allure of action, the temptation to believe that going somewhere or doing something is urgent. This is one of my first struggles with resistance each day, and resistance knows that this is the most significant battle of the day."
  • Resisting Happiness, pg. 8, Matthew Kelly
  • What keeps you from morning prayer? What keeps you from prayer in general? Pray about what keeps you from prayer! The Lord wants to remove these obstacles, He will help you to see them
  • We've been looking at the importance and difficulties of prayer, especially morning prayer. So what's to be done? Here are a few very practical tips that may help.
  • Schedule a time for prayer, put it in your calendar, guard that time, make it an appointment with God. 
  • Prayer Accountability Partners:  seek out someone (could be a spouse, friend, family) to help you with your commitment to daily prayer. Text, call, meet in person on a weekly basis. If its a spouse or even your child, set a night of the week when you'll sit down to chat for a bit on how prayer has been that week. 
  • Remove as many distractions as possible. Some examples; turn your phone to "airplane mode", shut off the TV, close the door, create some white noise, spend the first 3 minutes placing before the Lord your rapid-fire thoughts before turning your attention to Scripture, close your eyes, if a distraction arises write it on a "to-do" list and leave it there, walk around or kneel if you're sleepy, etc. Most of all, be PATIENT with yourself for the Lord is infinitely patient with you and is just happy you're there with Him!
  • Why is setting aside time so important? Can't I just pray periodically throughout the day?
  • You can pray periodically throughout the day! This is a wonderful thing! We should offer our work, joys, cares, frustrations, relationships, etc. to God at all times (more on this in a later email)...however, as the Catechism states; "But we cannot pray "at all times" if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it. These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration." (CCC, 2697) 
  • "Our natural tendency is to be completely absorbed in what we are doing. If we do not learn how to stop completely from time to time, how to make a space in which we do nothing except think about God, we will find it very difficult to remain in God's presence while working. To do that, we need a thorough re-education of our heart, and fidelity to mental prayer is the surest way to achieve it." Time for God, pg. 30, Fr. Jacques Philippe
  • This is the same in our relationships. I want to grow close to my wife, my kids but we lead a very busy life and finding time to "waste" together can be difficult. Still, if I don't make time in my day to just focus on them, to give them all of my attention, it will be very difficult for our relationship to grow and for our other moments together to be filled with love and animated by love.  
  • Continuing from yesterday on the importance of setting aside time, here's Fr. Philippe speaking about how our prayer life is analogous to our other relationships (I warn this may be difficult to hear, or at least it was for me, but is much needed):
  • "One of the great crises of our day is that people are no longer capable of finding time for one another, time to be with one another. Here is something that causes many deep wounds...because parents never learned to spend time with them, with nothing else to do except be with their child. They look after the child, but they are always doing something else or are preoccupied, never entirely there, never totally available...in learning to give time to God, we will certainly become more able to find time to be there for one another. Our attentiveness to God will teach us to be attentive to others."
  • May we "waste" time with the Lord for this wasting will be the best use of our time imaginable. 
  • Let's turn to another necessary disposition of the heart for prayer, humility. St. Teresa of Avila says that the whole edifice of prayer is founded upon humility. The Catechism begins its section on prayer by focusing on humility. What is humility and why is it so vital?
  • Humility is simply recognizing who we are and who God is. It is not self abuse and negative thinking but it is a "peaceful acceptance of one's own radical poverty, which leads people to place all their trust in God." Time for God, pg 20, Fr. Philippe. 
  • As the Catechism (CCC) says, "Only when we humbly acknowledge that we do not know how to pray as we ought, are we ready to receive freely the gift of prayer. Man is a beggar before God...In prayer, the faithful God's initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response." CCC 2559, 2567
  • In other words, humility recognizes our radical dependence upon God and joyfully accepts it. Prayer isn't possible without first recognizing this complete dependence. We are all beggars before the Lord, let us joyfully and trustingly throw ourselves into His loving arms through prayer!
  • One last way to explain this, Pope Francis, in reflecting on the story of the tax collector and the pharisee praying says this about the pharisee, “Instead of having the Lord before his eyes, he has a mirror”. Humility is to remove the mirror, stop looking at ourselves, and to come face to face with the Creator of all things visible and invisible. Who are we that the Lord of all should meet us in the silence of our hearts!? But He does!
  • So we've focused on humility, on a recognition of who we are and who God is, as a necessary foundation to prayer. Here's an element of humility that we may not necessarily notice at first glance: the importance of humility highlights and reveals the primacy of love in prayer. More on this:
  • "Our main task in praying is to love. But in our relationship with God, loving means first of all letting ourselves be loved." How is this connected to humility? Because to let ourselves be loved means to recognize our poverty. "Often we find it easier to love than to let ourselves be loved. Doing something, giving something, gratifies us and makes us feel useful but letting ourselves be loved means consenting not to do anything, to be nothing. Our first task in mental prayer, instead of offering or doing anything for God, is to let ourselves be loved by him like very small children. Let God have the joy of loving us." As 1 John tells us, we love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)
  • Time for God, pgs.53-54, Fr. Jacques Philippe
  • What does this look like practically? One thing could be to try to spend more time in prayer focusing on who God is and what God does. If we do focus on ourselves (which is good and necessary), let us do so in light of who He is and what He does. This change of focus will set us free. Prayer is basically this, to be in God's presence and to let Him love us.
  • Perseverance. We are about 2 weeks in and the initial surge of enthusiasm has probably worn off by now. This is the moment, when it becomes difficult, that true growth takes place, real fruit is born, and our prayer pleases God the most. An analogy I've heard from Fr. Ron Rohlheiser:
  • Let's say you visit your elderly mother/grandmother in a nursing home every day. She may even struggle a bit with some dementia. Often you won't want to go, you're busy and its not that exciting. However, you do go. When you're there the conversation is probably not that great. Some days are better than others but for the most part when its time to leave you probably aren't thinking, "Wow! What a visit. I feel so much closer to my mother/grandmother. She expressed her love for me and I expressed my love for her!" More than likely there are no fireworks. Yet, you go faithfully because that's precisely what love calls you to do. After a year of faithful dialogue, or at least being faithful to daily being in her presence, you will look back and know a deep love for your mother/grandmother that you never knew before. You will know her more deeply than you ever have before. You'll know her idiosyncrasies, her mannerisms, her thoughts, her very heart. You will  have, inevitably, as long as your heart was open, drawn closer to your mother/grandmother than you could have imagined the year before. 
  • This is the same with prayer. The conversation may not always contain fireworks but continue to show up everyday. The Lord is there waiting for you and after many, very ordinary conversations, you will abide in Him and He in you.
  • (Or maybe it's He who is visiting you! Maybe we are the mother/grandmother who just needs to be awake to and aware of His presence.) 
  • Continuing with the theme of perseverance, Matthew Kelly pitches in on his difficulties:
  • "This is my biggest battle with resistance each day. Resistance will fight me every time; it will never just let me sit down and begin my prayer. It will try to distract me and discourage me. It will do anything and everything to prevent me from doing my prayer. And if resistance cannot get me not to pray, it will get me to delay, to put it off until later. Resistance knows that delaying my prayer is as good as a victory. Because I will either rush it or do it poorly later, or I will delay it further, putting it off at every opportunity all day long, and then not do it at all. The daily habit of prayer leads us to spiritual health. The more ingrained this habit becomes in our lives, the clearer we hear the voice of God."
  • Resisting God, pg. 43, Matthew Kelly
  • We've been focusing on difficulties, struggles, and in the words of Matthew Kelly, resistance. What happens when we fail? What if its been 3 days since I've prayed? What happens when these difficulties, struggles, and resistance get the best of me?
  • Run back to God as quickly as possible! Often we want to wait a bit, we want to fix the problem ourselves, we want to do it right on our own, to get "right" before we face God. Don't! Just turn to Him even though your will may rebel against this simple response. 
  • "St. Therese of Lisieux...said, 'What hurts God, what wound his heart, is a lack of trust.' When we have sinned, the just reaction - 'just' in the biblical sense, meaning in conformity with what has been revealed to us about the mystery of God - is exactly the opposite (of trying to get "right" before returning to prayer). It is to throw ourselves at once, with repentance and humility - and also with unlimited trust - into the arms of God's mercy, certain that we will be welcomed and forgiven. Having sincerely told God we're sorry, we should take up our usual prayers again without delay..."
  • What's the result of this trust in God's mercy? According to St. Theresa of Avila those who persist in prayer, although they of course fall, each fall helps them, through God's grace and their prayer, to bounce back even higher!
  • Time for God, pg. 36-37, Fr. Jacques Philippe
  • "It is interesting how seldom we talk about spiritual health. If you think about all the focus we place on physical health, and the billions of dollars we spend trying to achieve it, and then consider how little we talk about spiritual health...We all have an inner life...We all have an outer life...We tend to focus on the outer life, but it is only a tiny fraction of our life. Much more takes place as part of the inner life. The outer life is an overflow of the inner life." Resisting Happiness, pg. 43-44, Matthew Kelly
  • So, about 3 weeks into this Challenge, maybe its a good time for you to go to the "spiritual doctor". How's your inner life? How's your prayer? What's happening within you? What has God been saying to you over these 3 weeks? What is God saying to you today (through Scripture, relationships, circumstances, the teachings of the Church, etc.). Its not always fun to go to the doctor, because we're busy or because we're afraid of what he might say or have us do, but we need to for our physical health. Similarly, let us turn to the Divine Doctor so that He may heal our souls and grant us the medicine of divine life.  
  • I would like to spend the next week or so looking at specific difficulties that arise from prayer but I want to preface it with something.
  • "God is less concerned to make us perfect than to attach us firmly to him...And this is what counts: not attaining ideal perfection, but being unable to do without God, being constantly bound to him , by our wretchedness as much as by our virtues, so that his love can pour itself into us unceasingly and we somehow give ourselves entirely to him...This attachment will sanctify us and bring us to perfection." Time for God, pg. 74, Fr. Jacques Philippe
  • So as we examine in detail our common failings in prayer, our difficulties, let us remember that "to be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48) isn't achieved by our efforts, by our "rising" up and overcoming, but by attaching ourselves to He who is perfect. 
  • Let's begin to look at the difficulties of prayer, one by one.
  • Distractions:  "The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction." (CCC, #2729)
  • So what can be done about this? "The first thing you can do is to be at peace. As long as distractions are not deliberate and intentional, they do much less harm than you may think. If you sincerely want to pray, and you try reasonably well, you are praying...Gently turn your mind back to him when you notice that it has strayed. You are succeeding...remember that babies begin to speak by uttering a word or two. They do not worry about expressing themselves in long sentences or giving speeches. Living things grow slowly, and so does our power to carry on a conversation with others and with God. We need patience, perseverance, and mostly love." Prayer Primer, pgs. 149, 159, Fr. Thomas Dubay
  • In short, don't be discouraged. Recognize them, hand them to God, turn gently towards Him in peace and trust in the Lord.
  • We'll continue our look at common difficulties with prayer but first a quick caveat. Any time we discuss the spiritual life, the issues are extremely complex and vary from each person, place and time. Therefore know that these aren't meant to be the definitive answer or look at the issues but only a quick touching upon the surface of them.
  • Distraction: staying on the difficulty of distraction we turn to Fr. Jacques Philippe once again. "If a period of mental prayer consisted of nothing but...constantly straying and constantly returning to our Lord, it wouldn't matter. For in constantly struggling to return to the Lord, our prayer, however poor, will be very pleasing to God. He is the Father, He knows what we are made of...It is often much better to learn to accept one's poverty and powerlessness without becoming discouraged or saddened by it, than to do everything perfectly." Time for God, pgs. 96-97
  • We continue our look at common difficulties but again, another caveat. Difficulties should not come as a surprise or cause worry, they are a natural part of prayer and actually beneficial! They purify our love for God by stripping away our attachments to all things that are not Him. 
  • Dryness: by dryness I mean the lack or lessening of good feelings, thoughts and emotions when praying. Maybe you get done with prayer and you feel nothing or like nothing happened. 2 things:
  • 1) This could come about due to a lack of detachment, or a seeking of God, or some other fault of our own. This is okay but just be aware of it. Sometimes we seek an emotion, for instance, and not God. When we do this we, more than likely, will feel nothing. Or we may not "feel" anything because we're checking our phone, listening to the radio, etc. and never really enter into our hearts.In sum, not fully giving ourselves over to God in prayer. 
  • 2) However, that's not always the case. Sometimes you have a deep desire to give yourself completely to God and dryness is still there. This may sound crazy but rejoice! "This empty feeling is then actually beneficial, because it is purifying you of defects. An unfeeling, dry desire for God is not only good; it is necessary. Reaching out to him without any felt satisfaction purifies a person of defects that impede greater intimacy...an empty feeling desire for God is precious prayer." Prayer Primer, pg. 151, Fr. Thomas Dubay 
  • Love and prayer are acts of the will not the results of feelings. Love and prayer pursue the good of the other and the other just because the other is good and not for self-benefit. Persevere, ask the Lord for sanctification of desires and it will come.
  • We're going to go a bit deeper today with the obstacles and challenges of prayer...
  • Fear/Lack of Faith: This may take some soul searching but if I'm honest with myself, one of the great deterrents of a deep prayer life, one where we come face to face with the Lord, is fear, which is the manifestation of a lack of faith. As the Catechism states, this lack of faith in God reveals itself more in our preferences than in explicitly manifested doubt. What does this mean? We'll turn to Matthew Kelly again to get us started. 
  • "Why do we resist God? Because deep down we don't trust him. Why do we cast God and his ways aside? Because deep down we think that God is trying to limit our freedom. Pope Benedict XVI gives us a powerful insight into this behavior: 'The human being does not trust God. Tempted by the serpent, he harbors the suspicion that in the end, God takes something away from his life, that God is a rival who curtails our freedom and that we will be fully human only when we cast him aside. In brief, we mistakenly believe that only by casting God aside can we fully achieve our freedom."
  • It can be scary to encounter the Lord, the maker of all, since he may have different plans for your life than you do! Or maybe He wants to ask a change of you or wants you to let go of something you're clinging to. This is difficult. Do we believe that the Lord ultimately wants what's best for us, that He can be trusted? Let us pray for it.
  • We'll continue with yesterday's look at fear/lack of faith...
  • Sometimes we pray and nothing happens. We don't feel like we're are changing or that the circumstances around us are changing. We can believe "that our prayer life is sterile, that we are stumbling, that praying doesn't change anything..." If this be the case, pray for more hope, more faith, more love. Simply ask God for these virtues, He wants you to have them. Trust in God's promise: "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Lk 11:9-10). Fr. Philippe says, "All those who persevere in that trust will receive infinitely more than they dared to ask or hope for: not because they deserve it, but because God has promised. People are often tempted to give up mental prayer because they don't see the results as soon as they would like. This temptation should be rejected immediately by making an act of faith in God's promise, which will be fulfilled when the time is right." Time for God, pg. 16
  • God answers in ways infinitely greater than we can hope for. It may not be what we want or when we want it, in fact it may even hurt, but He gives us what we need most, what is ultimately best for us and the world around us at the proper time. Yet, lest we turn God into a vending machine that dispenses what we want from it let us remember that it is we who are changed in prayer, our prayers are answered because our will become His will and therefore we want what He wants. We then ask Him for what He is already ready to give. Prayer then is not merely about getting something from God, it is about getting to know God and becoming more and more like Him. 
  • Our last look at difficulties and obstacles involves looking at lack of time/being too busy:
  • I fall victim to this far too often. I'm going to pray, I have it scheduled even, I want to but too many other things need to get done, too many other things take my attention. There's not enough time to pray! 
  • However, if I'm being honest with myself, the issue isn't about time, its about priority. Its about a hierarchy of values. I find time for the things that I really value. For instance, I have yet to starve to death because I didn't have time to eat! 
  • If we want to know someone, want to love them better, we must spend time with them. My kids will know me and love me based not upon how much I've thought about them but how much I've been with them. "Someone who believes he loves his wife and children despite having a very active life, but who cannot find any time to be one hundred percent available to them, may be kidding himself. Without that free space, love will soon be stifled. Love expands and breathes in an atmosphere of free giving." It is the same for our relationship with God. Time for God, pg. 30, Fr. Jacques Philippe

 

  • We'll continue our look at lack of time/being too busy:
  • Another root to not having enough time is what we've previously talked about, faith. Do we really believe that time with God is worth our time? We may at first have to trust others on this. It may be that right now you aren't convicted of this truth but you see others that you know and trust who are convicted of it. Trust their convictions, their faith. In time it will be so for you as well. 
  • Fr. Mike Schmitz wraps this up nicely in about 2 minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-mASCSCQW7U&index=70&list=PLeXS0cAkuTPpJ6j3eH59WudJhJ4q1tpwH
  • Happy Thanksgiving! Let us be thankful for the Lord who always meets us in prayer and is joyful that we speak to Him in the quiet of our heart. With Thanksgiving in mind we'll continue yesterday's focus on how Christ overcomes our shortcomings and struggles with prayer.
  • "Ah, Christian soul, pluck up your courage and do not silence the unbroken invocations of your prayer, although it may be that this cry of yours comes from a heart which is still at war with itself and half filled by the world. Never mind! Only go on with it and don't let it be silenced and don't be disturbed. It will itself purify itself by repetition. Never let your memory lose hold of this: Greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world (1 Jn 4:4)."
  • The Way of a Pilgrim and The Pilgrim Continues His Way, pg. 173 
  • We turn now to look at different types of prayer. These different types can all be a part of any prayer we do. For instance, you are doing lectio divina with your 1% Challenge. The types of prayer we will look at in the coming days can easily become a part of your lectio divina. 
  • We'll follow a simple acronym to look at these types of prayers: ACTS
  • Adoration: we begin with adoration. "Adoration is the first attitude of man acknowledging that he is a creature before his Creator. It exalts the greatness of the Lord who made us and the almighty power of the Savior who sets us free from evil." (CCC, 2628)
  • Adoration comes first in the acronym of ACTS because a great way to start prayer is to recognize who we are and who God is, to place ourselves humbly in the presence of the Almighty. We do not pray to ourselves, we do not sit alone with our thoughts. No, we come before the Creator of all the visible and invisible, the furthest galaxy, the tiniest molecule, He who has always been and always will be, the ground of all existence, Being itself. Praise "lauds God for his own sake and gives him glory, quite beyond what he does, but simply because HE IS." (CCC, 2639)
  • "Creator of the stars and sky, who knows me better than I know myself, I praise your name for who you are. I adore you and I praise you, I lay myself before your majesty."
  • Yesterday we looked at the "A" in ACTS, adoration. Today we move to the "C"...
  • Contrition: after recognizing who God is and who we are in light of Him, we recognize our sins, that we are not worthy to approach Him. We don't do this to beat ourselves up, on the contrary, we are contrite in complete trust of the loving Father's merciful forgiveness. However, as we enter prayer its as if a bright light shines through the darkness to reveal what is truly there. We open up the "closet", turn on the light, and now we can see how dirty and out of order the "closet" really is! We do this so that the Divine Healer can put things in proper order, so that He can remove the sin that stands between us and Him so that He may draw closer to us. Contrition is acknowledging that things are out of order and that we want Him to put them back in order so that we can abide in Him and He in us
  • After contrition comes the "T" of ACTS...
  • Thanksgiving: After meditating upon who God is and contritely confessing our sins to Him, knowing that we are forgiven as long as we are repentant, the prayer of thanksgiving naturally comes. Prayers of thanksgiving come at any time, maybe after looking at a loved one, in the sight of a meal, after a hard day's work, etc. Knowing that all is a gift we turn to the Creator of all who generously gives and we thank Him. 
  • What parent among us isn't pleased when our kids thank us? Can you imagine your child approaching you as a parent in this way? They begin by acknowledging that we are good parents, then they ask for forgiveness for the times they've fallen short as children, then they thank us for all that we do. I'd be flabbergasted! I'd also feel a bit uncomfortable with this praise but with God this is appropriate, the fitting way to approach Him. As we say in the Mass "it is right and just" to give Him thanks and praise. 
  • Did you know that the word "Eucharist" means thanksgiving? 
  • We finish up our ACTS acronym today with the "S"...
  • Supplication (or petition): this may be what we most commonly associate with prayer, asking the Father for something for ourselves, someone else, or the world. This is okay. God wants to bestow on us His blessing within a relationship with Him. "By prayer of petition we express awareness of our relationship with God. We are creatures who are not our own beginning, not the masters of adversity, not our own last end. We are sinners who as Christians know that we have turned away from our Father. Our petition is already a turning back to him." (CCC, 2629).
  • Supplication is a recognition of reality, of our dependence upon God. There is such freedom in supplication because we no longer feel the burden of the false notion that everything depends on us, that we are to create our world, our present, our future. May we not reduce our prayers of petition but increase them! Let us recognize our dependence upon God. Within these petitions let us also always humbly acknowledge that in His goodness the Lord may know better than we do, that our desires aren't what is best for us at this present moment. 
  • We adore and praise who God is, we recognize our shortcomings and repent them in the light of God's love, we thank Him for all is gift, and we, in our filial relationship, ask for the things we need and for us to become more aware of what He wants for us.
  • Only 2 more days! A reminder for our parish workshop on prayer on Wed., 6:30-8:30pm in the Lower Lounge. Free childcare provided. More information can be found on the front page of staparish.net
  • Game Plan: start to work towards a plan with regards toward your prayer life. This doesn't have to be an jaw-dropping, all encompassing plan. Rather, in light of your current situation, what is a plan of prayer that will help you grow closer to Christ? Take into account your state in life (married, single, college, working full time, etc.). When and where will you pray? How will you pray going forward? Who will you talk to about your prayer life? Again, this doesn't have to be what you imagine a Saint would have but what is realistic to where you are right now. Start small but always seek to grow deeper in it. If you're still struggling to get to 15 minutes a day, no worries, make that your realistic goal. If you feel good about 15 minutes, shoot for getting up 5 minutes earlier and going for 20 minutes a day. If you like Lectio but want to add something else, consider a 5-10 minute Examen before you go to bed. Ask to pray with your spouse, your roommate, your kids. 
  • The main point is be realistic in your assessment of where you're at right now and then ask yourself what is the next step closer to Christ in prayer. 

 

  • Praying through Your Day: Today is a bit more of a reflection on what it means to be laity and what it means to pray in the midst of our activities. We've spent most of our time focusing on prayer as set aside time, as time when we detach from our surroundings and enter into silent communication with the Lord. This makes sense as we absolutely need to have time set aside, detached from the world, in communication with God. As the Catechism states, "...we cannot pray "at all times" if we do not pray at specific times..." (CCC, 2697). After all, if we cannot remain with God for 15 minutes in silence, how can we hope to remain with Him throughout the day? Therefore, trusting that it is God who is ultimately in charge, it is necessary for us to set aside time to be with Him in the quiet of our hearts.
  • That being said, I thought it was fitting to end by looking at praying in the midst of our daily duties. How though? By doing what we are already doing with our "eyes" focused on the Lord, in a way that brings glory to the Lord. It takes intentionality in regards to how we think and act. Here's a few practical ideas:
  • Before you begin a new activity, ask for the Lord's help and guidance, His presence. When finishing up an activity, turn to the Lord in your heart and offer Him the just completed activity, ask Him to purify it and make it fruitful. 
  • Set a timer on your watch or phone to remind you to pause for just a minute or a few seconds of prayer at various intervals throughout the day, when its appropriate.
  • Put a reminder to pray in your pocket or on your wrist. Every time you see it, say the name of Jesus and turn your "eyes", if only for a second, to Him.

 

 

  • However, we must begin with the knowledge that holiness is not "out there" but is right in front of us. “The ‘world’ thus becomes the place and the means for the lay faithful to fulfill their Christian vocation...indeed they must be sanctified in everyday professional and social life. Therefore, to respond to their vocation, the lay faithful must see their daily activities as an occasion to join themselves to God, fulfill his will, serve other people and lead them to communion with God in Christ.” (Christifideles Laici, 15)

  • It is not an unfortunate thing that we live in the world! This is not a sentence to spiritual mediocrity that only allows us but brief touches with holiness, no, this living in the world is what allows us to reach for Heaven. The ordinariness of the world is our call, our means, to extraordinary holiness. This is not a cursing but a blessing. It is in our secular situations that God manifests and communicates His plans to us, where He speaks to us. Its here we seek “the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God.” (CL, 15)  If we believe holy places are distant and far off, removed from our setting, we will miss how God is calling us to sanctify the place we are currently standing in, to be with Him in prayer in the midst of our world. The Devil wants us to dream of holiness as far off and otherly but God says I am with you right here and now, turn to me and let it be known.