Tag Archive: prayer


Suffering Makes Sense

Its been a month since the accident. Each day a new beginning, challenge and opportunity. What do I do with it?

While being hit by a car was never on my bucket list, it has provided me with a way to reach out to others who have experienced and are experiencing unexpected pain and sorrow in their own lives as one who knows.

The stories are a beautiful peek into depth of the human soul. We are stronger than we think. We are able to withstand immense, long lasting pain and we are capable of growth in holiness beyond our wildest imagination through all this.

No one looks for suffering, no one wants to wake up on a burn unit or ICU with needles and tubes connected everywhere, and stop their lives while the unexpected takes priority. Yet, every moment of everyday this is what happening all over when we least expect it.

Why?

Something about suffering makes sense. We can see it tangibly on a human level, how those that survive and surmount great pain and suffering are somehow stronger, wiser, transformed. Something changes in us on a profound level. Those who suffer long term disabilities, near death experiences and the like are wise beyond their years.

So this little thing I am going through I have to look at as a gift as crazy as that sounds. Good can come from bad things- that is a fact. The good I have witnessed so far is the effect this has had on others. They pay attention more when they drive, they bought helmets and promote their use, they pray harder and more regularly, they reach out with meals and cards and visits in their busy days. I am blessed beyond measure by the outpouring of love and generosity.

On a spiritual level I can only imagine what changes are taking place and how the Lord applies my pain and suffering to the One Body of Christ as a means of healing and reparation.

So I accept this, give it over to Jesus, and pray that one day I will get the privilege of seeing some of the good that came from this small moment in my life.

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Spiritual But Not Religious, Really?

I meet so many young adults who are “spiritual but not religious.” What does that mean? It is like saying I love coffee but I don’t drink it. I love to experience nature but I don’t leave my house. I love God….but I can’t imagine actually going to church and worshiping him.

What we keep in our heads ONLY, what we keep in our hearts ONLY, what we keep private and between me and Jesus ONLY; is NOT faith at all. It is laziness. Sound harsh? It may be.  But let me put something out there for you to think about.

Faith requires action!

God is faithful. God is always at work in his creation and with his children. ALWAYS! What’s our problem? If God kept his faith to himself, it would be a very bleak and dark world.

Faith requires action!

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Spiritual but not religious is a cop out.

Our world is degrading morally at an increasing rate. Imagine if those who claim to be Christian actually lived their faith out loud, fed the poor, clothed the naked, spoke openly with love about Jesus Christ, shared how God works in their lives AND worshiped together weekly.

Imagine!

Listening to Christian songs, getting a big tattoo of a cross on your body, claiming Christianity without actually living Christianity is one thing. Doing Christianity is quite another. Its messy. It requires an integrity of word and deed, it requires courage in the face of a world that screams “keep it to yourself!”

The world will change for the better when we Christians are authentically following Christ. When we are not hypocrites and privately hiding Jesus from the world. Nine out of ten couples I meet do not even pray together. They don’t talk about their faith to each other, they don’t practice their faith.

Lent is a great time to practice that faith you have forgotten about, ignored or hidden away. If you only know a little bit ABOUT Jesus, but you don’t KNOW Jesus it may be more difficult. Prayer is a great place to begin.

God is always listening, always reaching out to us, always waiting to have a relationship with each of us. Simply say, “God, I want you to come and wrap your love around me. I want you to show me who you are, what your plans are for me, and the wonderful relationship we can have together.” That’s all. Say it everyday. Heck, say it a hundred times a day!

Your life will begin to change in a wonderfully surprising way. I promise. Be diligent, hopeful, expectant! This great little clip speaks more about prayer in context of the mass and how you can begin to live that faith out loud with others.

 

Prayer, Faith, Hope and Love

“Faith and hope are given to us in prayer. So without prayer, we are unable to love.” (S.O.G. Madeline Delbrel)

I never thought of it in this way and yet I know it to be true. When we pray we tap into the single greatest source of hope- the Lord. Our faith might be a step into the unknown, but not the Unknowable.

We know God, we really do deep inside. We came from Love itself, our hearts know this at their very center. We march through this world day in and day out, searching, yearning, filled with desire… an insatiable desire to taste again that supreme Love.

We can’t re-cognize something we don’t know, but only something we have known before. We know it when we feel it, sense it, experience it again. It is Divine Truth, Divine Love, an experience that cuts to our very center and we KNOW unequivocally and recognize it.

Prayer is the pathway. It is the reaching out, the step forward, the new breath. “Speak oh Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Sam 3:9)

Like a spider waits on the web, attentive and sensitive to even the slightest movement, we too must be to the whisper that our Lord may wish to impart to us in prayer.

“It is our faith and hope, growing through prayer, that remove the obstacle that most blocks the road of our love; namely, a concern for ourselves” (Delbrel)

Faith then, I believe, is a surrender of myself, a letting go, a falling back into the waiting arms of my beloved Lord. A free fall in the truest sense of the word. A free fall into the safety of the hands of the One who will never let go, never leave, and never give up on us…even when we give up on ourselves and Him.

Trust that Divine Love awaits, thirsts for you, pines for you and desires to be in conversation and relationship with you. This is our hope, our faith, and ultimately our prayer.

Violated

I awoke before dawn and was assaulted by the knowledge that today the President of the United States was coming to our little neck of the world. From the moment I heard about his little visit I have been torn, frustrated and angered.

Why here, why come to a high school in a remote southern section of Phoenix on the second day of class, when there is already sufficient confusion and anxiety.

Why indeed?

This twenty minute visit serves what purpose? To what positive end, what benefit will this brief visit provide for a hurting nation? I know what this stopover will do for us locally; disrupt traffic, add apprehension to an already charged atmosphere on campus, cause additional delays by the heightened security, as well as an influx of strangers on site. What cost will this spectacle be to tax payers and a nation already in extreme debt?

Rather than feel honored at this visit, I feel violated. Like Ananias, I wanted to say to God, “Lord I have heard from many sources about this man, what evil he has done…” How I wished and prayed that this day might be more about his conversion, like Saul’s. Imagine the real good that a man in his position, influenced by the Holy Spirit might make.

This is the school that all five of our children attended. This is where our kids were educated. This is where we spent countless hours watching volleyball games, marching band performances, tennis and badminton games. We met friends here, formed relationships, laughed and cried. We sat on the bleachers in sweltering heat for five graduations.

This man who is my single biggest challenge in charity due to his assault on the unborn, his attack on religious freedom and his policies that continue to degrade and divide this great nation.

I began to weep as I prayed for answers. I picked up the greatest weapon I knew of, the Rosary. Tears cascaded down my cheeks and I let them soak into the olive wood beads.

“…deliver us from all evil.”

Lord, it is only so, because you allow it. Somehow all of these setbacks, tribulations, actions that seem to increase evil in the world and attachment to sin-you allow in your Divine Providence. You have a plan. Never let me forget that. Your ways are greater and higher than my mind can understand. Help me trust in you. Let me feel your presence, and be an instrument for your work in the world.

“…lead all souls to heaven especially those most in need of your mercy.”

No one while living, is ever completely lost or without the need for prayers and mercy. Help me pray for the conversion of all sinners most of all myself. Let your mercy be upon us as we place our trust in you.

“…to thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this vale of tears…”

Mother Mary, you weep and intercede for all of your children. He is yours too; he is lost and is in need of conversion. We are all in this “exile” as we journey towards heaven. Help us turn to you in our mourning, in our pain, confusion and hopelessness. Lead us to your Son.

“…be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil”

We are not alone; we are not left to our own devices. All of heaven is fighting for us, interceding for us. There is a spiritual battle raging and there will be causalities. Pray that we will not be put to the test but knowing if we are, you will give us the words, and the tools we need to fight.

As I concluded my prayers, I looked out the window and saw that a light rain was falling, a miracle in this dry desert. I wondered if heaven was weeping too at the state of humanity.

Perhaps there was a chance for a real storm after all, and maybe even some lightening too; the kind of light that comes from heaven and knocks people to the ground and they hear voices.

When We Get To The Freeway

This summer we had the opportunity to do a road trip together again. It would be the seven of us, packed in the old gray Suburban, just like old times. A few years have passed since we have had the occasion for six hours of this kind of togetherness and I was waiting for the usual fall-out that accompanies these trips.

What was different this round, was the fact that for the first time ever, my children were officially all adults.

When they were little, what stands out most in my mind is the crick in my neck that would develop about ten minutes into any trip. I would spend the majority of the excursion looking backwards, settling the constant indiscriminate disputes that would arise each time one of them ventured to speak. There were many times that I wished I were Inspector Gadget so I could simply say, “go, go gadget arm,” and reach out and touch someone.

Having a mini van made all the difference in the world once my neck was too sore to whip my head around. I would with great drama, unclick my seatbelt, and a hush would fall upon the backseat inhabitants as I headed aft. The blame game ensued, followed pretty much by somebody getting it, and I wasn’t handing out cookies.

Another famous phrase we often use goes something like this, “when we get to the freeway…” The rest of the sentence usually ended with “we will all say the Rosary together.” After the predictable moans and sighs died down and the five miles it took to get to the freeway, several kids would invariably be overcome with sudden sleep disorder thus rendering themselves unconscious when it came time to pray. This tactic was never very successful because the remaining vigilant siblings would arouse them with loving forcefulness so they wouldn’t miss out. After all, a family that prays together…

As teen passengers they would mostly keep to themselves once the initial fight over “who sat where” ended. The cleverest tactic used to secure the front seat involved sleeping all night in the car thus beating out all siblings. The preferred method used most often however was the tried and true duke it out process that began hours before we left. They could recall with minute detail every instance since birth when each sibling had already had his or her turn. These same kids who can’t remember when to take out the trash, could recount with the precision of a tax accountant, the date, vacation, and mileage of each trip, and who rode shotgun.

Return trips from California on New Year’s Day after consuming my cousin’s secret chili recipe, were predictably interesting, to say the least. About an hour into the trip the wind began to blow stronger inside the vehicle than outside. The girls would let out a scream as the offending smell wafted past their nostrils, then all the windows would simultaneously go down, and the boys would laugh hysterically. This cadence continued every couple of miles for the remainder of our journey. Without a doubt, the cars behind us got a good whiff as they blew through the green gaseous cloud at seventy miles per hour. Good times.

So what was different this time? In a word, it was pleasant. At departure they loaded right up without the customary seat fight, plugged into their ipod’s, took out their books, and sat there in blissful silence…for hours. It was actually surreal, peaceful even, and just a tiny bit boring.

Gone were the days that made fodder for stories and generated laughs around the bus stop. We had entered a new era, or had we? Perhaps we just caught them off guard and a little bit exhausted from having real lives and real jobs that just don’t leave much energy to fight over little things. I actuality though, I was really grateful for not having to deal with the old familiar crick.

A Friday…

Life rolls on ready or not, prepared or not. How can we take the turmoil that hits us between the eyes, the unexpected twist, the drab routine at times…and turn it into a prayer, an offering, a means of salvation?
“Blessed be God” in every situation. “Jesus trust in You” in every worry. “My hope is in the Lord” in the terrors and storms.
It is so much simpler than we can comprehend. So take it from me-trust that the Lord is there whether you “feel” it or not. Give it all to Him. Entrust yourselves to God and see where it takes you.