Upon this Mountain: On Carmelite Prayer

Upon this Mountain provides a beautiful and succinct introduction to Carmelite prayer.  “We are never alone on this most solitary of paths.  ‘We are nudged along, taught, and inspired by so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us’” p. 7.   The author is able to simplify and bring us into Carmelite prayer.  So much of my own prayer has been about bringing myself into just the right place, time, position, attitude, to drive out all my distractions and settle into a fleeting moment of prayer.  “Teresa’s own interior liberation came when she finally stopped forcing herself…and allowed herself simply to enjoy a friendship with Christ Jesus.” P.8 .  Can it possibly be this simple?  Can I stop the searching, practicing and study and simply be in the presence of my prerequisites for a serious life of prayer are love of others, detachment at all levels and humble self-knowledge.” P. 8.

Once I have managed to simply turn to Jesus as my friend, there I will meet God in the depths of me.  I have very dear friends who I don’t hold back from.  I love them and they love me, and I am completely myself with them.  I am safe from judgement.  They listen to my feelings and musings of life with patience and love.  They are given by God as a glimpse of the friendship that I can have with Him.   I love that the Carmelite tradition encourages me to “have confidence in following the way of prayer that suits us.” P.12.  I can be alone in prayer with God himself.  I don’t need to be impatient with myself.  I only need to trust that I will find the God in me through my prayer and then I will find him everywhere; “turn our attention in faith and love to the one whose attention never leaves us for a moment … whatever is on our heart when we come to prayer can be allowed to be there, for it is already on the great heart of God and he lives its reality with us.” P. 13. 

When I realize these truths, I will come into the “same personal contact with the Lord as men had during his life on earth.”p.14.  I like how Teresa “advocates simple attention to the immediate presence of the Lord within us here and now.” P. 15.  I don’t need to find a special moment because the moment is always now to say, I see you here Lord.  I am here with you, and I am yours.  I come to do your will.  My husband and I recently had a beautiful experience of visiting my husband’s siblings who we had not seen in two years.  They live across the country from us.  We were blessed and happy to be present with them.  No expectations, only the love and familiarity between us.  That is the relationship that I have wanted with God.  It is already there for me when I turn to Him.  I appreciated the description of night as “we are plunged into darkness, not because the light is not shining but because the brilliance blinds us.” P. 18.  I do not need to fear the night.  I need to be “aware of the startling simplicity and immediacy of God’s oneness with us”. P. 18.  

Chapter two further describes prayer as relationship.  John of the Cross describes this as between Lover and beloved.  “God wants to relate to the real person that I am and the real God that He is” p 20.  He wants to engage with the real me.  This will involve really getting to know myself and pealing away layers of protection.  This is an interesting way to think of the dark night.  When I fail to see God, it is perhaps because I am not spending time in my own hidden depths where God is.  God is waiting for me to turn to Him.  In the journey, we confront our faults and weaknesses as we learn to cast off the persona we present to others and be with our God.  “We can only consent to live more and more in that light:  to know that we are naked, and not hide. “ p. 25.  “In the stillness of utter simplicity, we are one with God, because he has already chosen to be one with us.” P. 26. 

Chapter three brings us into stillness.  An elderly member of the author’s order explained how to enter into silence by “listening to the silence of the chapel”.  McCormack extends this to the silence of where we are.  We can absorb the moment of the chapel or garden or wherever we find ourselves.  Become aware of the traffic noise, the fan, and then the noise of my own breathing.  Then, repeat a simple word or phrase.  For me it is “Be still and know” or “Jesus, I trust”.  This book was rich and profound in its simplicity and depth.  “If all we can do at the time of prayer is to be there, then we must be content to sit there and just be.” P.32  In that space we meet our God.    

Prayer overcomes evil

In a world full of sin and evil and apathy and lack of faith it is hard sometimes to see God working in all things for the good of those who love Him. He is present in every moment of every day. He is aware of every breath that we take and cares about every aspect of our lives. We are His children and we are cherished. My prayer of late is all about how we can make a difference to others through our love and our example of mercy and service. I try to remember that when I see evil, I am looking right into the face of the devil and he must be rebuked through the Holy name of Jesus.

I must pray for each person and persistently pray for peace in our day. When I pray the Our Father, the rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet and my prayer intentions, God is glorified and He listens and answers according to his Holy will. I can rely on my mother Mary to guide me to her Son, Jesus. I can rely on her to intervene on my behalf.  I ask her to pray for each of us and our intentions. I can have hope in today. I can feel joy in this very moment amidst all the distractions and trouble of the world if my focus is on Jesus. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.  Oh God, please help each of us to stay focused on you and your Holy Word.  Please deliver us from evil and grant us the freedom to worship you.  Please grant peace in our day and protect us from evil. Grant this through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Love, peace and goodness,

Mymom

How to Handle Evil

  In a world full of sin and evil and apathy and lack of faith it is hard sometimes to see God working in all things for the good of those who love Him. He is present in every moment of every day. He is aware of every breath that we take and cares about every aspect of our lives. We are His children and we are cherished. My prayer of late is all about how we can make a difference to others through our love and our example of mercy and service. I try to remember that when I see evil, I am looking right into the face of the devil and he must be rebuked through the Holy name of Jesus. I must pray for each person and persistently pray for peace in our day. When I pray the Our Father, the rosary, the Divine Mercy chaplet and my prayer intentions, God is glorified and He listens and answers according to His Holy will. I can rely on my mother Mary to guide me to her Son, Jesus. I can rely on her to intervene on my behalf. I ask her to pray for each of us and our intentions. I can have hope in today. I can feel joy in this very moment amidst all the distractions and trouble of the world, if my focus is on Jesus. God is good all the time and all the time God is good.  

Oh God most Holy.  Protect us from evil.  Grant peace in our day.  Give us focus that we may keep our eyes fixed on you.  Give us freedom to worship you and keep us persistent in our prayers for our troubled world through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Love, peace, and goodness, 

Mymom

Book Recommendations: The Bait is Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense by John Bevere

I read The Bait of Satan in 2013.  At the time, I had no idea how hurt I was by my feelings of being offended.  As John explains in his book, there are many reasons to feel offended.  Our reasons are usually good ones.  Our parents, our spouse,  our children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, boss, pastor, fellow Christians, teachers…and the list goes on and on all have times when they offend us.   When I feel offended, I may choose to wallow in my feelings instead of having conversations and forgiving the ones who have offended me.  

John Bevere calls the temptation to feel offended and disrupt or sever our relationships with others, the Bait of Satan.  It is what Satan uses to hook us into not only feeling bad but to quit talking to those we legitimately feel have harmed us.  Falling into the trap of rightous unforgiveness is a sin.  These sins separate us from others and more importantly, turn our attention inward and separate us from God.

Jesus has told us, we need to forgive others always.  

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;”

Forgiveness is never optional as a Christian.  If we are to be forgiven, we must forgive.  Satan tempts us with the offenses of others.  His goal is that we be separated from God and others.  Worse, our separation leads us to other sins of gossip and treating others badly.

The Bait of Satan opened my eyes and I started forgiving others.  Occassionlly, Satan still catches me with his bait.  Most of the time, I’m able to recognize the offense and call it out.  When you have a conversation with the offender, you often find that you misunderstood the situation.  Their intention wasn’t to offend and even if it was, let them be, forgive, and do not be held captive by the offense.

Oh God, help us to recognize when we feel offended and to swiftly forgive others.  Help us to truly mean it when we pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen

Love, MyMom

Book Recommendations – The Greatest Story

I want to share books that have been very significant in my life, so over this next month, I’ll give you some book recommendations.  The first book is the most significant.  It was very difficult and wonderful to read as are most spiritual books.  I would get distracted and have to bring myself back to it time and time again.  I first started exploring this book when I was a teenager.  I would read it avidly for a few weeks and then I would get out of the habit and come back to it later.  This book is the bible.  The first time I read it cover to cover, I read it with my young husband.  We used a study guide called God’s Word Today which I believe is called God’s Word Among us today.  The study guide took us through the bible one chapter at a time.

Each month, we would get a new booklet with daily readings covering a book of the bible.  The study alternated between the Old and New Testament books of the bible.  We would pause each morning before we began our day by reading a chapter or two and reading the reflection.  Over the course of three years, we read the whole bible.  It was such a special time for us to read together and reflect on God’s word together.  We learned so much about God and about each other.  My own faith deepened and at the same time, I had so many questions.

Over the many years since, I have read the bible multiple times.  I have taken the Bible Timeline class by Jeff Cavins.  I’ve read a daily reading guide of the mass readings.  Actually, the daily readings offered at mass will take you through the bible once about every three years.  My current guide is called “Living Faith, Daily Catholic Devotions”.  This year, I have committed to reading the bible cover to cover.  I’m using a devotion book called “Your Daily Walk”.

I also have an App on my phone.  Evangelizo has the daily readings and reflections.  More about Catholic Apps for your phone in another blog.  I’m learning new things every time I read a reflection.  The Word of God is infinite in its messages to us.  I meet God in a very personal way in the bible.  I find so many interesting facts.  So much comfort and so much challenge at the same time.  Why don’t you pick up the bible and read.  God has much to say to you too.

Let us pray, Oh God, help us to seek you in all that we do.  Help us to dive into your Holy Word again and again.  Please deliver us from the Evil One who finds every possible reason to keep us from reading, reflecting, and resting in You and your Holy Word, the Bible.  In Jesus Holy name, Amen.

Love,

My Mom

 

I Can

“It is God’s resounding I Am that drowns out our weak, I Can’t” from Your Daily Walk , daily devotions to read the bible in 365 days, January 19.  How very often I have said I can’t.  How often I have had to realign myself to God’s will instead of my will.  It is tons harder when instead of my will for me, I am focused on my will for you, my children.  Oh how tangled I get.  It can look selfless in that I only really want good things for you, my children.  I make it hard for you to pray and listen to God’s voice in your life because I am so busy sharing my voice.  

Today I say peace be with you.  I trust you with your future.  I trust you to make mistakes and pick yourself back up, ask God’s forgiveness, pray, listen and begin again.  I trust you and God with your future.

Tomorrow, I will need to pray and let go again.  God is good.  He is the great I Am.  I can let him be God of your life and I will be your mom.

God bless you.  Love, MyMom

How am I doing at work?

My advice is – Don’t compare yourself to others. Whatever your job is, do your best each day and ask for help when you need it. If you do that and you enjoy most days, then you may be in the right place at the right time and the experience is good. Keep in perspective what is within your control and what isn’t. Be sure to track your wins each day so they aren’t taken for granted. Then when you have an opportunity for performance review, you have your notes to work with. Even challenging situations are an opportunity to track how you turned around or dealt with a challenging situation. This can be used for your weekly meeting with your boss, performance reviews and for resumes. I always have a list of 2-3 things to tell my boss and any open questions that I have when I meet with him.

Let us pray, Oh God, thank you for our opportunities. keep us focused on today and today’s interactions. Help us to build good relationships, let go of yesterday, and let tomorrow be in your capable hands.
We ask for your peace through Christ our Lord. Amen