Sometimes the hardest part of starting a prayer life is getting started. What is prayer? What do I do? How do I know my prayer is real? Is God listening? Prayer does not need to be intimidating. Here’s a guide.
Each of us is called into existence by God as someone special. “I have called you by name: you are mine,” (Isaiah 43: 1). Through Baptism, we are initiated into a special relationship with Christ. Our Church leads and guides us but each person needs to develop a close friendship with Jesus, to know Him intimately. This is not accomplished solely be going through the motions of rituals and ceremonies. We respond to God’s love on a personal level by tapping the resources of God within our inner souls. People are body and soul and both must be cared for and developed if we are to be fully human. We are called to live as humanly as possible. This involves living a life in the Spirit and making God a very real part of our daily lives.
Reading the signs of the times is not just about looking at what is all around us on the outside. It is also about paying careful attention to the presence of God on the inside of our lives. In a world with so many distractions, it can become so easy to become lethargic about the presence of God. In a world with so many challenges, we need to be attentive and awake. We need to be ready to see the presence of God within.
What have you done to help be awake spiritually? In what ways have you looked inside yourself to see the presence of God? How do you make yourself available to see and learn from God? As we review our past year, and as we stand on the cusp of a new year, ask God to make you more and more aware of his love for you.
The DePorres Pages features short prayers from the tradition of Saint John Baptist de la Salle in this new series known as The Lasallian Moment. These are short pieces for meditation, and for prayer. They feature either quotes from the saint himself, or by those inspired by him. At the end of each clip there are reflection questions to pray about and think about during the day.
The DePorres Pages features short prayers from the tradition of Saint Dominic in this new series known as The Dominican Moment. These are short pieces for meditation and prayer. They are either quotes from Dominican saints, (Saint Dominic actually wrote little), or by those inspired by him. At the end of each clip, there are reflection questions to pray about and reflect on during the day.
The book of Tobit has a lot of ordinary events. There is fighting between husband and wife. There is the encounter with God. There is marriage. There is a profound recognition of helping the poor. There are wonderful moments and extraordinary encounters with God. All this week, the story of Tobit will guide us in the ongoing relationship we have with others. How do we seek to find God? Do we see marriage as a noble vocation? Are we able to admit that God may come to us even in ways we might at first not recognize?
The book of Tobit is also a book where people can both acknowledge the blessings from God, and at the same time recognize suffering. Tobit loses sight. The woman who will become his daughter-in-law has had tremendous misfortune as 7 of her husbands have died. Through it all, the presence of God is clear and active.
You think too much. Ever heard this? Usually this expression is used when someone takes a difficult situation and consider is simply too many options, and often those options that lead to poor outcomes. Perhaps today’s gospel is a reminder that sometimes our spiritual life we too need to avoid thinking too much.
Over the past few days, we have been reminded of sin. Sodom, Gomorrah, Tyre, and Sidon, Chorazin, Bethsaida. These cities have been used as examples of those who did not fully allow their faith to take deep root in their attitudes and beliefs, that alone their actions. And we have reflected on the fact that these actions, attitudes, and beliefs, can be present in us too.
All of this can cause us to think. And such might be the great temptation of our age. It may be that we too often believe that we can solve every problem by ourselves. Less and less as Western culture admit a place for ministry or those things that cannot be seen. Perhaps we are simply thinking too much.
Poor Jeremiah. Things are really going badly for him. Modern psychologists might suggest he is depressed. His life is simply not turning out like he intended. Perhaps he thought that when he accepted the call of God everything would be very easy. Say yes to God and become a hero lauded by all. But, as we hear the words he speaks today, he is far from universally being accepted. He sounds like he is literally at the end of his rope.
Perhaps you have had a similar time in your life, where it seems like there is nothing good around you, and you have the feeling that things will never, ever get better again. Such is a very dark place to be.
So often, when we find our selves in such a place, we are challenged to a new way of seeing. Whether that is in seeking out the legitimate work of a psychological professional, the wise counsel of a holy spiritual director, or the time we spend in private and communal prayer seeking to hear the voice of God deep within us, the path to healing is usually one where we are challenged to see things differently.
Such is the case with Jeremiah. In Jeremiah’s own words we hear that his preaching has been filled with indignation, anger, so consuming him he cannot sit with merry makers, but rather finds himself alone.
It is interesting that when God speaks to Jeremiah, it is not those to whom he preaches that the call to change is given, but rather, it is to Jeremiah himself. How easy is it to blame our problems on others? “If only that co-worker was not so mean to me.” “If only my boss would see things rightly, like me.” “If only those Republicans would only stop blocking good legislation.” “If only those Democrats would stop wasting my money.” Whatever the view, it is often much easier to look outside of myself when I am unhappy, rather than seeking to look to God to heal my own sinfulness.
For, while we may not always see it, the spiritual life is a treasure that deserves our undivided quest to imitate Jesus in all we do. To “sell” those aspects of our life that do not lead to a better self, more like Jesus, and to “buy” the field in our hearts ready to bear abundant fruit because of how God will transform our lives.