Category Archives: Prayer

An Invitation To Deeper Prayer

 

Tyler and I are re-reading Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days To Morning Glory in preparation to renew our Marian consecration on the Feast of Her Immaculate Conception (December 8th).

I wanted to share with you an excerpt from one of last week’s reflections, which comes from the writings of Blessed Mother Teresa.  It spoke to my heart, so maybe it will speak to yours as well:

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I worry some of you still have not really met Jesus – one to one – you and Jesus alone. We may spend time in chapel – but have you seen with the eyes of your soul how He looks at you with love? Do you really know the living Jesus – not from books but from being with Him in your heart? Have you heard the loving words He speaks to you? Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it…

…Never give up this daily intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person – not just the idea. How can we last even one day without hearing Jesus say, “I love you” – impossible. Our soul needs that as much as the body needs to breathe the air. If not, prayer is dead – meditation only thinking. Jesus wants you each to hear Him – speaking in the silence of your heart.

(Blessed Mother Teresa, 25 March 1993)

“Jesus wants you each to hear Him–speaking in the silence of your heart.”  Let’s draw near to God and ask Him to transform our prayer.

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What Does It Mean To Put God First?

“How can we better live our lives in such a way that we can put God first?” 

I received the above question from a reader last week and it has got me reflecting a bit on what it really means to put God first.

The easy answer (that just requires a bit of discipline) is to put into place the regular daily/weekly habits that give you frequent opportunities to grow in relationship with God. Mass every Sunday is [obviously] required. Daily prayer is, as well (preferably with the Scriptures). Regular confession is something we all really need to be in the habit of because we all are in need of God’s Mercy. Personally, I make it a habit to read the day’s mass readings each morning and pray a rosary with my family each night. Regular little practices like these are needed in the life of a Christian who wants to grow in relationship with Jesus.

I said all of that is the easy part. If you are not already in the habit, then getting used to these practices will take some time and some effort, but eventually they will become second nature.

However, I think to really answer the question of how we can put God first, Saint John Paul II said it best:

“One must arrange one’s life so that everything praises God.”

This is really the more challenging part of the answer. Once in the habit, that daily family rosary is actually pretty easy, and if we’re not attentive, it can become little more than a box on a checklist, begrudgingly prayed day after day simply because “we’re supposed to.”

It’s ok to go through times of spiritual dryness, and times like these actually strengthen our faith and deepen our devotions. But from time to time, we owe it to our relationship with Jesus to take stock of our lives and ask ourselves:

Am I living my life in a way that everything praises God?

Do I glorify God in my work—offering my best efforts, my successes and even my struggles to Him as an act of praise? Do my interactions with others reflect the Christian belief that they are created in His image and after His likeness? Do my thoughts and dealings with myself bear in mind that I am a beloved child of God? Do I recognize that everything in my life comes from Him and is ordered in His Providence for me to grow closer to Him?

All of this ought to be the driving force behind our regular devotions and our prayers.  Beyond just a sense of duty, love for the Person of Jesus Christ should drive us to put Him first in everything, to arrange our lives so that every moment and every decision is made with Him in mind.  Putting God first is the work of our whole lives as Christians!  Let’s pray that we continually draw closer to Him, and not just settle for a check list.

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Finding Jesus In An Ed Sheeran Song

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“We keep this love in a photograph
We made these memories for ourselves
Where our eyes are never closing*
Hearts are never broken
Time’s forever frozen still”

Ed Sheeran, Photograph

[*ok, technically our eyes are closed in the picture.  But everything else applies.]

I love that picture.  It was taken while Tyler and I were still dating– long before kids, household chores, and mortgage payments.  Back when we were just a couple of college kids listening to music and taking a goofy (if somewhat mushy) selfie.  It was snapped with an iPhone and stored in a “Pictures” folder, to be looked at countless times in the days, months, and years that followed.

“So you can keep me inside the pocket of your ripped jeans, holdin’ me closer ’til our eyes meet.  You won’t ever be alone.  Wait for me to come home”

Of course, when Ed Sheeran sings that his beloved can “keep him” in the form of a photograph until they meet again, it is only an analogy; and there is a bittersweetness to it. When Tyler and I were separated by a few states after we graduated from college, I probably looked at the above picture over a hundred times.  While it made me happy to see his face in the picture, it didn’t make me miss him any less—in fact it probably made me miss him even more.

At the end of the day we all know that a picture is only a picture.  And the memories a picture brings with it can only go so far.

You Won’t Ever Be Alone

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Well last week I happened to hear Photograph on the radio after leaving the adoration chapel, only this time it wasn’t so bittersweet.

As I listened to the now familiar melody, I reflected on the lyrics and on a lifetime of visits to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel— visiting Jesus present in the Eucharist in times of joy, in times of pain, and even just out of a desire to get out of the house with the kids—and the song suddenly took on a different meaning.

“The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.” (Fulton Sheen)

“Loving can hurt.”

All the times I visited the chapel and brought Jesus the pain my heart was feeling: through teenage heartbreaks, feelings of longing, feelings of loneliness.  “You know it can get hard sometimes.”  The Love contained in that tiny white host was there even in the midst of the hurt.

“Loving can heal.”

That tiny white host has brought my life such healing through the years.  I don’t expect to know the full extent I have been healed through Jesus’ Presence in the Eucharist until I behold Him face to face in Heaven, but on this side of things, I know that “Loving can heal,” because in my visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament I have truly seen how “loving can mend your soul.”

“Time’s forever frozen still.”

The Eucharist that I visit in the adoration chapel on a weekday with my two small children is the same Jesus who died for me on Calvary.  It is the same Jesus the Church’s greatest saints bowed before throughout history.  He is the same Jesus who was present in the tabernacles of the Churches in the Middle Ages, the same Jesus that faithful soldiers during WWII drew their strength from, and the same Jesus my great-great grandparents received throughout their lifetime.  Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

“You won’t ever be alone.”

Back when Tyler and I had to do the long-distance thing before we got married, the pictures we had from the times we were together were just as the song says: memories frozen in time that we could visit when we missed each other.  But a picture is just a picture.

In the Eucharist, Jesus gives us so much more.  He is able to actually deliver what the song can only dream about.  His Body, His Blood, His Soul, His Divinity–they are all actually contained in the tiny white host.  There we can keep Him closer until our eyes meet in Heaven.  And we won’t ever be alone.

“Good child: see how lovers on earth kiss the flowers, the letters, the mementos of those they love…Then you, how could you ever forget that you have him always at your side–yes, Him?”

– Saint Josemaria Escriva

“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”

-Jesus

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The Best Way To Keep Your Faith Is To Give It Away – (What I Learned As A Catholic In College)

This week we have been talking about the 4 things I learned as a Catholic in college.  So far we have talked about why:

  1. Having a regular routine is important.
  2. A routine alone is not enough.
  3. Jesus is not OK with lying.

Today:

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The best way to keep your faith is to give it away

This last point comes from Chris Mueller:

Faith in Christ is not about holding ground.  If you go to college thinking, ‘How do I hold onto my faith?’ you will lose it.  The Christian question is, ‘How do I share my faith?’

Before I left for college, one of my brothers shared with me a verse from Matthew’s Gospel,

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)

More than just a hymn sung at the end of mass, this is what it means to be a Christian.  If you aren’t sharing your faith, then you are not living your faith.  And if your faith isn’t living, it’s dead.

Sharing your faith doesn’t have to mean preaching in the student center.  It means that when you go to mass, invite your friends to come along.  It means if people ask why you go to confession on the weekends, you let them know that it’s important to you to keep your heart open to God’s grace.

In short, it means being a genuine person who isn’t afraid to talk about their love for Jesus.  (If that sounds weird to you, maybe your faith isn’t as deep as you think it is!)

The Christian is excited to share his or her faith, because the good news is truly good news!

So that’s it! The 4 things I learned as a Catholic in college.  Be assured of my prayers for all of you headed to college this fall!

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Your Routine Won’t Save You – (What I Learned As A Catholic In College, Part 2)

This week, as an answer to a reader question, I am sharing the 4 things I learned as a Catholic in college.

Yesterday we talked about the importance of developing a routine while at college, and about giving your faith first priority in that routine.  This brings me to the second thing I learned as a Catholic in college:

2. Your routine won’t be what saves you.  

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Once you’re in the habit of your routine when it comes to your faith, the challenge will be to make sure it doesn’t become merely a routine.

A word to students heading off to Catholic schools- 

This may actually be harder for you than it is for those heading to secular universities (To whom much is given, much will be expected).  The good news is your school will offer you more opportunity for things like mass and reconciliation.  The bad news is that it’s easier at a Catholic school to hide behind these things and not let them transform your heart.

It is possible to check all the boxes–to go to mass regularly, to be a part of the Catholic club, and to generally keep up appearances of being a “good” Catholic–all the while being closed off to grace because we are unwilling to let God into the darker corners of our life.

The Lord searches the heart.  A prayer routine, however involved, won’t be enough to sustain a faith within you.  Jesus alone can do that.  If you want your faith to be more than a routine or a facade, you need a real relationship with Jesus.

So keep at the routine.  But never forget that the routine is there to foster a living relationship with a real Person.  Otherwise, it just becomes a silly waste of time.

Check back for tomorrow’s post: “Jesus Is Not OK With Lying”

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