What is Your Prayer?

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“For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers…. I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me.”

– St Therese of Lisieux

“At Last. At Last. I’m Home At Last.”

At church on Sunday, one of the points in the homily was an exercise Fr. Joseph had completed in college.  It was what each individual wanted to have written on their tombstone.  He said that one classmate wanted “Found a cure for cancer”; another wanted “Visited all the countries in the world”; and a third wanted “At Last. At Last. I’m Home At Last”.  The ensuing homily centered around the notion of “home”.

I got to thinking about my home.  I have had several in my life.  Homes that I lived in with my parents, homes I shared with my husband, places that felt like home, even though I didn’t live there.  When you are away from home, it is a struggle to to feel centered – to have a place that you can go to and be accepted, a place that is a refuge.

Lately I have been thinking that (re)finding my faith is like finding a home.  The Church has always been a constant in my life – even when I was away from it.  It was always in the back of my mind and heart.  Even though I came back a few years ago, I wasn’t really back.  I had issues that I needed to address.  But through the combination of various people I have met, the priests in my parish, and the reflection I have been doing, I think I have begun to find my way home….home to the faith community that means so much to me; that has meant so much to my family; that has allowed me to experience the beauty of the Mass again.

I had a priest tell me yesterday that “God is easy, it’s the people that make things difficult”.  I think that helped solidify my notion of home.  I know that I have a home in my faith, in my belief of God.  I also know that I have a home on earth with those who love me and with those who support me.  My home isn’t necessarily limited by the four walls holding up my house, but it is built by the hearts and hands that are there to hold me up when I am struggling.  To those people, I say thank you.

Being Watchful During Advent

In the readings for the first Sunday of Advent, we were admonished to “be watchful”.

  • Be watchful for Jesus. 
  • Be watchful for opportunities to minister to others. 
  • Be watchful for others ministering to us. 
  • Be watchful for the movement of the Holy Spirit

Be watchful for Jesus.  To Christians, we are in a perpetual season of Advent, waiting for the coming of Christ. This is amplified annually during the Christmas season as we wait for the birth of the Christ-child. Our readings, our reflections are about watching…watching those around us for the joy of the season.

I am seeing this daily in our home. This is the first Christmas that our youngest actually understands that there’s something going on. She is sooo excited about Christmas – sure, it’s the excitement of Santa and of getting gifts, but she is enthralled by everything Christmas-related. She was so happy to help me set up our small Nativity scene the other night. We talked about each piece and what they were. Now whenever she walks by it, she says that it’s her “special thing” that she did with Mommy. For her, Advent is taking “too long”; but for us, it’s not long enough.

Be watchful for opportunities to minister to others. The holidays are a time that donations spike. People are in a giving spirit and they are called upon, whether by others or by their conscience, to give of their time, money, or talents. Ministering to others doesn’t have to be formal affair…maybe it’s as simple as holding the door for someone who is burdened with items, or a kind smile when you see someone who is frazzled. It may be volunteering for a task at work, your church, or other organization that would stretch your comfort level. It’s amazing how ministering to others can influence your everyday life.

Be watchful for others ministering to us. I tend to rush through my day always playing catch-up. I don’t always notice others as I go about my tasks. I tend to want to do things on my own, and I will struggle through a task even though someone else may have offered to help. My challenge in the coming years is to learn to accept others who are ministering to me. To accept that smile, to accept that offer to babysit, to accept that little girl’s hand in mine and not to rush through my day. Accept each person ministering to you as a gift and say “Thank you” with a spirit of thankfulness and grace in your heart.

Be watchful for the movement of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves in unexpected ways. Stories of people who made a serendipitous connection with a stranger abound, or how the non-answer to a prayer was really the answer to the deeper prayer. Be watchful for how the Holy Spirit moves in your life and the lives of those around you. For us, we struggled for years with wanting to have a child. We decided to become foster parents so that we could help others, but we still wanted to have a child of our own. We were finally blessed with the gift of two little girls who fit perfectly into our lives and our family. God heard our cries and even though we weren’t blessed with a child of our bodies, we were blessed with children of our heart. The Holy Spirit moved in mysterious ways.

How have you been watchful this Advent season?

My Thoughts on the Act of Contrition & My Faith Journey

As our church prepares to change to the new Roman Missal on November 27, one of the prayers that is changing is the Act of Contrition, or the Confiteor.

I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.

The above text is the new version. They have been practicing it at Religious Ed classes with the kids so they become familiar with some of the new prayers. One of the things that is changing back to pre-Vatican II is that during the mea culpa, there is the option of striking one’s breast as a gesture of sorrow. For me, even if my parish doesn’t adopt that option, I will probably take that option. To me, it is a way to internalize the prayer and to remind me that it is truly my actions that I need to watch. No one can ask forgiveness for me except me.

What does this mean for me? When we said it this morning during Mass, it struck me as being something that should be said every day. In the last few days, there were several instances where I have had to ask forgiveness for my actions. It is a humbling experience, to be sure. This prayer brings it to the forefront and reminds me that although I can and should seek forgiveness from the person I wronged, I also need to seek forgiveness from God.

I have been every type of Catholic you can be…the ardent church-goer, the lapsed Catholic, the C&E (Christmas & Easter) Catholic, the angry Catholic, the cynical Catholic, the questioning Catholic, and now I am trying to rediscover my faith. The Catholic Church is where I want to be, I just need to learn more. I have been on this journey for about a year. I am stumbling my way through, but I hope to be successful.

Do You Give Up?

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Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up.

Paul the Apostle
Galatians 6:9

Thanks to Sam Parker (www.givemore.com) for the quote this morning. This has stuck with me all day.  Too often, I stop trying to do what I know I should do because it gets to be too hard.  This has made me realize that I need to keep pushing through and do what needs to be done.  The effort will be worth it, even if I don’t see the end result for a number of years.   I need to stop giving up.

A Prayer to Accept Change

Just when I thought I had it all figured out, Lord, things change again.

When will I be able to rest in the comfort of knowing what comes next?

 

You, who transcend all time,

who created the stars and set them in place,

you, who are ageless yet known in every age,

grant me the grace to accept the

changes that are happening.

 

Empty my heart of anxiety,

and fill it instead with wonder and awe.

Release me from the chains of complacency,

and bind me to your ever-moving Spirit.

 

When the things I believed to be permanent and stable are left by the way side,

enfold me in your undying love that I may remember in whom all things are

bound.

 

When fear of something new paralyzes me,

And grief cripples me with anger over the loss of what had been,

Send your angels to give me a gentle push over that frightening edge into the unknown,

So that I may learn to trust in you.

 

For you alone are eternal.

You alone are enduring.

You alone are the everlasting Lord.

And in you alone will this restless world find peace.

Amen

-Diana Macalintal (2010)

This was read the other night at church, and it was especially appropriate since we are in the midst of much change – the New Roman Missal is due to be released in November, we are undergoing diocesean strategic planning, plus our parish will be beginning strategic planning in the next few months.  Our parish needs to have the strength to make some difficult decisions and still remain true to our core.  We are a parish with a great sense of community that can only get stronger.  We have undergone a lot of change in the last 15 years – not because chose to, but because the situation forced us to.

At every turn, change is upon us – no matter if it is at church, at home, or at work.  Change can be uncomfortable, and it may make people leave because they are unwilling or unable to change.  It boils down to how the leadership of the organization approaches change.  Are they willing to undertake the journey with the group, or do they subliminally set up roadblocks or give the impression they don’t want to change?  If the leadership is willing, change will come and the journey will be a lot easier than if leadership gives the impression that the change is unwelcome.   As Father Jason said tonight, “I can’t make the decision for the parish, but I can walk along with you during the journey.”  That’s what is required of leaders – to walk the journey.

The Strength to Face the Day

I saw this on another site today – author unknown, but I thought it was pretty.
 
“The Strength to Face the Day”
 
The warning of a new day
A new day has come my way
Full of joy or sorrow I know I can not say
But whatever be the challenge I know that if I pray
I’ll have the power that I need And
The Strength to Face the Day
 
No one knows what a day will bring
It may be sunshine or it could be rain
But whatever be the problem
Whatever be the pain
If I sing and if I pray
My Master will give me courage
And The Strength to Face the Day
 
So my friend you too by
Grace have a brand new day
Filled with joy or sorrow and
Hope for a brighter day
If you start out singing
And never cease to pray
Almighty God will give you
The Strength to Face the Day.