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Posts Tagged ‘Prayer’

Until very recently, worry and anxiety have not been challenges for me.  I have the kind of mind that just doesn’t hold on the those kinds of things.  Unlike my husband, who is consumed with worry pretty much all the time, making him miserable, I have always been able to put problems aside to deal with whatever is right in front of me.

Lately, I’ve suffered from anxiety of the free-floating variety.  Because it isn’t rational, it doesn’t respond to rational techniques.  I tend to treat it by whiffing essential oils or going outside to sit in the sun.  What’s worse is when it attaches itself to legitimate areas of worry that I would have been able to put out of my mind in the past.  When that happens, and chanting my usual mantra (Cast your cares on God; that anchor holds.) isn’t working, there is one Scripture passage I turn to.

You know the jokes about Catholics–we don’t read our Bibles and we can’t quote chapter and verse like our Protestant brethren.  Of course that’s not true of all Catholics, and the fact is that most of us are exposed to a lot of Scripture via the Mass readings.  According to this source, a Catholic who attends Mass on Sundays and major feasts will hear about 41% of the New Testament and 4% of the Old (that doesn’t count the Psalms), even if they never crack open a Bible at home or in a study group.

So I know lots of Scripture, even if I don’t always know exactly where to find it.  But I always remember that the passage about anxiety is in the book of Matthew, Chapter 6:

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.

Even if I have trouble believing it right in the moment, I know that if Jesus said it, it must be true.  Even if I can’t see how, I know He is working all things out for my good.  Even though I can’t always manage it, I want to live as though I really, REALLY believe these words all the time.

And thanks to a new prayer practice I adopted this Lent, I am growing in this area.  More than once, after I have shared my anxieties with God in my prayer journal, insight, answers, and comfort have followed within days.  I find my thoughts turning toward journaling when I am facing a knotty problem in my life or when I am overcome with worries and anxiety.  I find myself really trusting that it is all in God’s hands.

 

This post is part of the Catholic Women’s Blogger Network Blog Hop.  For more articles on faith and worry, click below.

How My Faith Helps Me Worry Less

 

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Flipping through the monthly missalette to pass the time, back in the days when I was a child and Mass seemed to last forever, I’d sing the songs in my head and read the prayers on the back.  One prayer struck me so much that I committed it to memory.

I haven’t thought of it much in recent years but it came to me suddenly today–perhaps through the prompting of the Holy Spirit?  It’s a prayer we could all use in these troubled times.

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When I think of conversations nowadays online interactions come to mind.  Much of our discourse on important matters is virtual now.  We listen with our eyes and minds and not our ears as we read the posts and comments and articles in our feeds.  But don’t we still fall prey to the same errors the prayer mentions?  Haven’t we all read something too quickly and made uncharitable assumptions in our rush to respond?  Have we thought about the feelings of the person reading our witty, snarky comebacks?  Are we listening and trying to learn or simply planning our next salvo?  Are we having conversations–exchanges of ideas–or are we fighting battles with words as our weapons?

God comes to us through the souls we encounter–this we know.  And they encounter Him through us.  Are we allowing ourselves to be channels of His peace, or of something else?

For my part, I am going to say this prayer every morning before I fire up Facebook.  Will you join me?

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Don’t laugh, but high up there on my list of personal goals is a desire for greater holiness.  I’ve known a few holy people in my life–have you?  They radiate peace and God’s love and you feel blessed to be in their presence.  I’d like to be one of those people, but they are rare.

I’d also like to be the kind of person with a prayer routine, or the kind who keeps a prayer journal, or attends daily Mass and/or adoration, or has a spiritual director.  While other women are envious of the well-kept houses and perfectly behaved children they see on Facebook and Pinterest, I’m jealous of the spirituality of the Catholic women I have encountered online.

Wow, how messed up does that sound?

As a someone who delights in reading and learning, you would think that at least I could manage some regular spiritual reading.  Yet the inspirational books with scriptural reflections for each day lie unopened on my nightstand, and my pile of unread religious books grows ever higher.  Whenever I manage to open one of those books, I fall asleep within minutes.

Life is busy and life is hard, and most of the time I have to content myself with at least the notion that I am living my faith through my actions instead of devoting time to prayer and spiritual reading.  I think that’s a bit of a cop out, though, and that’s one reason I was grateful for the opportunity I was given to read A Walk in Her Sandals: Experiencing Christ’s Passion through the Eyes of Women.

In exchange for my honest reflections and as part of my participation in the Siena Sisters blog hop, I received an advance copy of this creative take on the Passion of Jesus.  One thing I AM good with is deadlines so I was able to make time to read this book so I could share it with you.

Not that it was a big sacrifice.  I really enjoyed reading it, and I stayed awake too.  Written in sections by a team of ten Catholic women, this book is meant to be used as a Lenten study, either for an individual or a small group.  It is divided into six chapters, each showcasing a spiritual gift unique to women with accompanying scripture and exegesis, personal reflections, suggestions for prayer, questions for group discussion, and guidance for evangelization.

The heart of the book for me, though, were the stories that make up an imaginative thread that gives the book its title and its life.  Each chapter introduces us to some of the women who knew Jesus or his disciples, and invites us to experience the events of Holy Week through their eyes.  I’ve read things like this before, and they can easily seem a little too precious, but these stories were well done, the women carefully characterized, the narrative compelling and moving as each woman encountered Jesus and His message in her own way.  I just loved these stories.  They really brought the scripture, which  I of course have heard hundreds of times, to life in a new and exciting way for me.

I recommend you go here and order Walk in Her Sandals before Lent.  I plan to read it again myself at that time, and maybe I will be able to move a little further down that road to holiness by Easter.

This post is part of the CWBN Siena Sisters Blog Hop.  Click the picture below to see what everyone else had to say about Walk in Her Sandals.

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Praying with Facebook

Facebook is a lot of things to a lot of people.  It has the power to unite and to divide, to heal and to injure.  It sounds ridiculous, no doubt, to non-users, but its effect on my life has been profound.  But one of its most surprising and beneficial effects has been its impact on my prayer life.

I would like to be one of those people who gets up half an hour early to pray, who has a home shrine, who walks in labyrinths and attends adoration weekly.  I wish I could work up the energy to attend Mass more than once a week and find the time to go on a retreat.  Maybe some day I will be one of those people.

Still, one thing I do try to do, every single day, is pray for other people.  But you know how it kind of becomes a reflex to tell someone you will pray for them, and you say a prayer then, but later you more or less forget about it?  I always did that, and I felt bad about it.  As I said my nightly prayers I would find myself saying something like, “For all those people I said I would pray for.”  I know God can sort it all out, but I still felt guilty and thoughtless.

But the thing about Facebook is that you see daily the friend or acquaintance for whom you have promised to pray.  Not only has my circle of friends widened thanks to Facebook, so that I have more friends to pray for, and more of THEIR friends to pray for when they ask me to, but I see regular updates which remind me to keep that person’s intention in my prayers.  And I feel myself drawing closer in spirit to the people I am praying for.

After what we went through last year, I KNOW the power of prayer to lift people up.  But the benefits are not all on the receiver’s end.  I find myself feeling almost excited about saying my nightly prayers now, as I make an effort to go through and think about each person I have promised to pray for, and ask God for the special blessings each one needs.  If I fall asleep before I finish–it does happen–I don’t just feel guilty, I feel disappointed.  I never really thought of prayer as something to enjoy before, and now I do.

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I’m updating and reposting this today because four years later a U.S. Senator felt it was appropriate, whether joking or not, to “pray” this prayer for our President at the Faith and Freedom conference held on June 9, 2016.So I’m taking my son and his girlfriend to the mall this morning, and find myself behind a car with the bumper sticker above.  Looks like a nice Christian sentiment, right?  Especially considering it was accompanied by one of those Christian fish symbols some people put on their cars (there was one on my late lamented Durango!).

I’m sorry to say, though, that in my experience many people who wear their Christianity on their sleeves (or on the back of their cars, as it were) frequently don’t appear to live up to the ideals they claim to espouse.  This is certainly a case in point.  A quick Google (by my son, not me–I was driving!) let us know the heart of this so-called Christian:  May his days be few; may another take his office!

Yes, that’s right!  The “Christian” in the car ahead of me wants us to pray that our President will die!

Lest you jump in and suggest the words are figurative, or that it means his days as POTUS should be few, go Google yourself some Bible commentary like I did, all of which made it quite clear that it is literal death that this Scripture describes.

Asking God to kill people you don’t like is not Christian, folks.  You are the kind of “Christians” that give the rest of us a bad name.  You know, those of us who are trying (and failing, because we are human) to do all that stuff that Jesus actually said?  Stuff like “Love your enemies, do good to those who hurt you, bless those who persecute you, turn the other cheek, forgive your brother 70 times 7 times, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”  Don’t ask me for the chapter and verse–I’m Catholic, you know–but He said those things and you know He did.  WWJD about those bumper stickers?  Rip them off your smug little cars and tell you to get that plank out of your eye so you don’t have a wreck, I’m guessing.

You call yourself a Christian?  Then pray, REALLY pray, for your President.  Pray that he exercises wise leadership.  Pray that his heart changes on certain issues–yes, like abortion.  Pray, if you don’t like him, for wise leaders to arise to replace him.  Pray for your country.  But don’t pray for anyone’s death and then dare to call yourself a Christian.

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Since I’ve decided to revisit this post, I am linking up with #WorthRevisit this week!  Visit the hosts of this weekly linkup at Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You.

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