Tag Archives: Prayer

Our Journey Will Have Death and Resurrection

I got the call on an early Monday morning.  “Hi, Gilbert, it’s Bob from L’Arche DC.”  My heart pumped rapidly, and I started getting shaky with my phone as if I was going to hear something tragic…or something exciting.

“We are welcoming you to come join us, but with one huge stipulation.  You see, we tried having you come as soon as you can, but we just don’t have any more rooms for anyone else right now.  So, if you do join us, it’s going to have to be in May.”

I felt relief.  It was over.  My wandering had reached a point of clarity.  I now had a date to start my new adventure with a fantastic organization and incredible people.  I sighed ever so deeply.

“I am happy to hear about this opportunity and I assure you, I have no problem with the date.”  And I replied with a huge grin on my face.

I’m sure they were hesitant about whether I would be accepting their offer.  Afterall, I had expressed my eagerness to join them as soon as possible, and that I was even laid off from my current ministry sooner than I thought.  I was definitely welcome to the idea of moving to the East Coast in the dead of winter if it meant having a stable income AND health insurance.

Yet, despite my pronounced eagerness, I had pondered over an important detail that kept my eagerness in check.  In fact, there was hardly any talk about it– it was a detail only mentioned once. They did not know that I had prepared myself on the spiritual, emotional, and mental level to accept the possibility of a late starting date rather than an immediate one.  They had mentioned that I may not be able to move in as soon as the summer of 2014.  Nonetheless, they only needed to mention that possibility once in order for me to consider it.

I had to do some inner work even prior to being prepared to accepting a later start date.  I had shared with you all that I was frustrated wandering, and that I was so very ready to do something that would lead to a more settled life.  (Read my blog post on “Wandering”.)  I had to allow myself to be very upset at God, to be very upset at myself for not fulfilling my own expectations, and to just sorrow over all of it.

But as much as I kept posing the question to God, “What do you specifically want me to do,” I also tried to be positive about my situation by counting all the blessings I did have: awesome friends, an amazing family, living in one of most beautiful parts of the world, and having enough money to not ever worry about my basic necessities.  I let myself sorrow, but only during prayer times.  It was a psychological method I had randomly read about, that healthy people will allow themselves to feel their depth of grief, loss, frustration, anger, and any other negative emotions, and then they will commit to feeling content and resolute in their purpose of being the rest of the day.  If anyone would be willing to listen to me complain and rant, it would be God.  God could handle anything, and so I decided to let God have it: my tears, my shaking of my fist, my thoughts of being destructive to myself or to items that I used for worship.  Yes, I did imagine myself throwing my bible across the church, or ripping apart my rosary beads, and yelling at the top of my lungs, “Why are you forsaking me!! WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT ME TO DO!”  But all this was in my head; I never felt the need to act out such fantasies.

I remember these times also bringing a sense of enlightenment.  I remember sometimes walking away from my prayer and feeling content…a deep peace.  I never received a voice in my head; just a feeling that I was going to be ok.  Alas, I did not have my anger and frustration wiped away.  I would start feeling upset about my lack of career path, lack of choices, and feel negative about my life after a couple of days, sometimes the very next day.

Yet, I was being mystically consoled.  Meaning, I didn’t feel good about venting my frustration, but I felt ok.  I felt strength in continuing to do the only thing that was the best thing to do: place one foot in front of the other.  And to do that 100 times, 500 times, then  1,000 times until I reached my destination.  Thank you, Lao Tzu for that wise saying.

I mentioned in my blog post “Wandering” that my listlessness meant I had no clue when I was going to stop feeling nomadic about my life.  I felt solidarity with the Hebrew people who were in an exodus state for such a long time, and their story recounts all the vocalized frustrations they had with God.  I suddenly felt more pity for them than for God, because I knew how bad it meant to me to have some sort of timeline, and I could not imagine walking around for an unstated period.  I would have joined them in their complaints, and would have told Moses, “This sucks, man!  Let’s just go back to Egypt, cause at least we know how to get there and how long that would take!”

I just wanted a timeline of when my wandering would stop.  “Please, God, is that too much to ask?”  And then I got it.

As you might have guessed from reading the beginning of this post, I called an organization called L’Arche Washington DC.  I knew I would love to work for them, and in that initial conversation the recruiter mentioned a significant fact, “Yeah, we love accepting new people and I hear what you are saying and I know what you are looking for.  But I do want to mention that it’s more probable for you to find a placement with us in the summer time than finding one now in the winter time.  We do have one or two spots to fill, but I just can’t guarantee you that you would get one of them this month.”

Those may have not been exactly the recruiter’s words, but they held the utmost important fact that I needed to embrace: I may not be able to join them until summer time.  To this very day I still remember those words being spoken, and my heart had a sinking feeling.  I was tired of wandering and I wanted to do something incredibly meaningful RIGHT.  NOW.  Yet, because I had been pleading with God for awhile to give me a timeline, I felt this was a nudge in my gut that the possibility of my acceptance in the summer of 2014 wasn’t just a possibility, but an answer God gave me;  after all, it was a timeline.   Not as soon as I was hoping for, and yet, it was still sooner than 40 years.  I was being given more compassion than the Hebrews had obtained.

So when it came to hearing the first week of January that I was welcomed to begin in May,  I wasn’t disappointed.  I was relieved that I didn’t have to wait anymore.  I had a timeline to work with, and I was already hustling for jobs and making enough money to live and have some fun.  I was excited to announce to my family and friends WHEN I was destined to live somewhere new, and do what I love.

I had to die to the idea that a timeline was going to follow my ideal timeline.  I had to surrender to the God that took care of me at every moment of my life, and stop doubting that I was going to be left behind.  In my surrender, I gain so much more life.  I had stopped being angry during my prayer because I felt I did have purpose: to be the best of myself for the sake of others: to be incredibly friendly, wonderfully kind, somewhat goofy, and at all times be of a spiritual mind.

This is how God wants it: to be resolute in my faith so that I might inspire others, and to enjoy the love given to me so that I might be able to make time to love and serve others even when it’s inconvenient to do so.

We are all promised to experience death and resurrection in our journey.  But I don’t believe it has to only mean physical death, but it also includes inner death to expectations that frustrate us.  Resurrection does not have to be a promise we wait for, but in fact it’s what God wants us to live out RIGHT.  NOW.  If we’ll just trust Him.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

The second reflection on this is about what Resurrection looks like.  I will write that post 2 months, if not 7 months from now.

Sometimes It’s Better to Be Mundane

There is truth and depth in living simplicity.  I dare say, there are some of us who always want more.

Simplicity can be mundane for me.  I have the personality that seeks out adventure and spice in doing my normal routine.  I have successfully broken my normal routine moments throughout my days, my weeks, and my months.  I admit it could be a coping method for feeling inadequate, but alas, I am enjoying myself and my life.

Yet, living some moments and routines in a simple way has been very liberating.  As I have sought to do extravagant prayers for 9 days, or the 30 day prayer, or the search for finding heroic ways in fulfilling my obligations, I have also felt defeated in such practices.  The vicious cycle goes like this: I will start the new prayer and the new task, and fail to be consistent with it.  Then I give up doing anything at all that may resemble an attempt to get back to my resolution.

This obviously leads me to be less in touch God.  As if there was no such way to achieve a balance, I tend to shoot for the extreme opposites.

The following podcast is from a woman who has wrote about finding solice in daily simple prayer.  In her book, Acedia and Me,  she speaks about how our faith can be tested more than we want to believe it is, and in those moments of great testing, we need to do at least something to keep our daily prayer going, and eventually keep the motor of faith oiled up so that it will not rust.

http://americamagazine.podbean.com/2013/03/25/april-1-2013-podcast-everyday-faith/

  • Daily Prayer (focusedandfree.com)
  • America Magazine: Founded in 1909 by the Jesuit order and directed today by Jesuits and lay colleagues, America is a resource for spiritual renewal and social analysis guided by the spirit of charity.

Loneliness vs Solitude

The reflection below is worthy of your pondering. It speaks about the fact that there is a spiritual battle within us that can make us feel lonely. Loneliness is negative and un-useful. Solitude is finding a place within ourselves to be at peace. It’s usually found in quiet spaces, but a sense of solitude can also come up when you realize that what you do to connect with God is rare and not often promoted or announced. There is solitude in knowing that your relationship with God is hard to explain to others. It should give you peace and a sense that you are particularly special…there is only one of YOU, you are not replicated and have never been or will be replicated.

May you seek time to increase solitude in your life so that you have the spiritual energy to fight off the temptation of loneliness. May your solitude increase your awareness of your connection to this world and promote a compassionate response to all whom you meet.

L'Arche Foundation Logo
Friday 12 April 2013

Loneliness seems to be an essentially human experience. It is not just about being alone. Loneliness is not the same thing as solitude. We can be alone yet happy, because we know that we are part of a family, a community, even the universe itself. Loneliness is a feeling of not being part of anything, of being cut off. It is a feeling of being unworthy, of not being able to cope in the face of a universe that seem to work against us. Loneliness is a feeling of being guilty. Of what? Of existing? Of being judged? By whom? We do not know. Loneliness is a taste of death.

– Jean Vanier, Becoming Human, p. 33

Who is Jean Vanier?

3 Minute Retreat: App or Email

3 Minute Retreat for iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.

Or 3 Minute Retreat by Email.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to promote great resources.  I call myself a “Faith Resources Consultant,” and this blog is helping me achieve this!

Although the “3 Minute Retreat” is not a free app, I highly recommend it. It is simple to use, and it does give you a different posture if you were waiting in life, or waiting for an appointment.  Better yet, be like my friend, Michele Smith, and start off your day with a retreat!!

Don’t have a phone?  Don’t worry, you could subscribe and get their new retreats through email!!

Peace be with all of you.  May we encounter each other in the transcendent stillness amid a very busy society.

Extra! Extra! Extraordinary Blessings Available NOW!

Yes, the Catholic Church still promotes “plenary indulgences” and “partial indulgences.”  These are special blessings that the authority of the Catholic Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, bestow upon its followers.  These are not just any blessings, but a type of blessing that actually lessens or eliminates time in purgatory!

Okay, what if you’re not into purgatory or ranking blessings?  Well, bare with me.

The Catholic Church ranks blessings according to their hardship and their intention.  Sure it’s great if you prayed to God every night.  That is a blessing.  But imagine saying a prayer every night for 28 to 30 minutes, and doing that for some months….even for some years!! Isn’t that person gaining more spiritual benefit than the one who is just going to “say a quicky” before bedtime?

And there are blessings for those who decide to study the bible, or make a pilgrimage, or pray for those that have died, etc, etc.  Prayer helps a person be in touch with The Divine.  The type of prayer does matter because it’s like eating.  Certain foods are needed to gain different types of vitamins.  So as much as you may want to live off of pancakes and milk, a lack of vegetables will harm you down the line.  This is the same with prayer.  A person who sticks to only one type of prayer, like maybe a routine of reading the bible 15 minutes and then saying an “Our Father”, will miss out on the richness of other types of prayer, like community prayer and meditative prayer to name two other types.

So, check out this list, and try some of it yourself.  Even if you’re not Catholic, you will gain something out of the experience of prayer, because God bestows blessings on all people who will try to communicate with The Holy One.

Plenary Indulgences (aka Prayer Practices) for Year of Faith:

(Catholic note: A Catholic earning indulgences also needs to be truly penitent, go to Confession in a timely manner, receive the Eucharist afterwards, and pray thinking about the Pope’s needs and intentions for the Catholic Church and the world, which this webpage is helpful.)

  1. Listen to 3 sermons or lectures about the documents of Vatican 2, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
  2. Do a pilgrimage to a cathedral, or to catacombs, holy sites and take part in a sacred celebration or say a specially thought out and designed prayer at that site in honor of the pilgrimage completed.
  3. Visit a baptism font, or the place where you were baptized and renew your baptismal promises.

Here’s the article I got this info from: Vatican Announces Plenary Indulgence for Year of Faith |Blogs | NCRegister.com.

A gorgeously done audio of prayer, for every night…

Ok, I admit, I don’t know of every app out there that helps us to pray.

    But I do want to recommend “Compline,” a great app that I know is designed for the iPhone/iPad/iPod, AND IT’S FOR FREE!

I recommend it because it’s so well done!  It has

  • Beautiful music for you to meditate on,
  • Well done voice overs that you could follow along with the text on your phone, or just listen,
  • It’s different every day, but eventually you’ll notice certain patterns to the prayer.

I say try it.  Its a great way to do a different type of prayer, and it could help you wind down at night.

You don’t have to be Catholic for this type of prayer.  And one more note….you’ll notice that most of the prayers seem “sad,” or sound like urgent pleas to God.  That’s because at night, one Christian tradition is that people place themselves in a state of need for God, and realize that there is certainly a dependency on God…we don’t know when we’ll die, what are next day will be like, and whether we will lose a loved one or not.  We know so little about the future!  But this we can know, that though we are frail and not always good natured, God will always come through anyways, if we are willing to ask.

If you would like the company website and not the iTunes website: http://divineoffice.org/