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"Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart." – Luke 2:19 (RSV)

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prayer

Immersing myself in God

Mother Teresa prayer.jpg

I sense the urgent need for me to use my University holidays to immerse myself in God; to cast myself into Christ.

It feels urgent to me because once my semester starts again in 2 weeks, I will have to be on placement from 7am to 5pm, Monday to Friday for 18 weeks. This means that I won’t have the opportunity to go to weekday Mass anymore, I won’t have the privilege of visiting the Blessed Sacrament in tabernacles Monday through Friday anymore.

I get the sense that the spiritual battle is about to get more intense when semester starts, when the stress hits and the time in front of the Blessed Sacrament decreases. So the seriousness and importance of preparing for this time of more vigorous battle is very much impressed upon me.

When I go back to school again I want to continue to pray always; to adore the Lord in my heart always, even when I don’t have free time on my hands. In order to do this I need to practice praying always now, when I have few obligations and duties.

I know that without God, I can do nothing good. I can’t place my trust in myself, so I place my trust in the Lord.

Mary, Star of the Sea, pray for us.

The spiritual battle

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The habitual difficulty in prayer is distraction. It can affect words and their meaning in vocal prayer; it can concern, more profoundly, him to whom we are praying, in vocal prayer (liturgical or personal), meditation, and contemplative prayer. To set about hunting down distractions would be to fall into their trap, when all that is necessary is to turn back to our heart: for a distraction reveals to us what we are attached to, and this humble awareness before the Lord should awaken our preferential love for him and lead us resolutely to offer him our heart to be purified. Therein lies the battle, the choice of which master to serve.

Catechism of the Catholic Church #2729

I have been noticing that even during Holy Mass, the most powerful prayer available to us, I am distracted. Some days are better than other of course but distraction is usually present. I admit that I have fallen into the ‘trap’ of trying to hunt down these distractions with the intention of getting rid of them on my own. What I have discovered is that this never works. What does work is when I turn my heart back to the Lord and offer Him my heart to be purified. The more I pray, the more I realise that I can do nothing good on my own. Instead I have to rely on the Lord’s strength alone and forget myself on the journey towards sanctification.

How extremely necessary to me, O Lord, Your grace is to begin any good deed, to carry it on and bring it to completion! For without grace I can do nothing, but with its strength I can do all things in You…

Let me find grace in Your sight, I beg, Lord, for Your grace is enough for me, even though I obtain none of the things which nature desires. If I am tempted and afflicted with many tribulations, I will fear no evils while Your grace is with me. This is my strength. This will give me counsel and help. This is more powerful than all my enemies and wiser than all the wise. This is the mistress of truth, the teacher of discipline, the light of the heart, the consoler in anguish, the banisher of sorrow, the expeller of fear, the nourisher of devotion, the producer of tears. What am I without grace, but dead wood, a useless branch, fit only to be cast away?

Let Your grace, therefore, go before me and follow me, O Lord, and make me always intent upon good works, through Jesus Christ, Your Son.

– Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ

To You I lift up my soul

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Jesus was in one of the towns when a man appeared, covered in leprosy. Seeing Jesus he fell on his face and implored Him. ‘Sir,’ he said ‘If You want to, You can cure me.’ Jesus stretched out His hand, touched him and said, ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’ And the leprosy left him at once.

– Luke 5:12-13

During Mass a few days ago, Luke 5:12-16 was read as the Gospel reading. It really jumped out at me and captured my heart. Since then, I’ve been pondering over it and savouring it. The more I reflect upon it, the more I fall in love with the Lord Jesus Christ, whose mercy is so tender and love is so generous.

I think of my own soul and how it’s sick with sin; how it’s leprous. Sin prevents me from loving the Lord with my whole heart and soul, and I detest it because of this. I yearn to be united with my Lord but because of my inclination to sin, I am not free to love Him single-mindedly, single-heartedly. So I cry out to my Lord ‘If You want to, please cure me!’. And I know that He will always say ‘Of course I want to! Be cured!’. Now the limiting factor in this healing process is my cooperation with the Lord. I do not dare to put my trust in myself, so I put my trust in the Lord. I ask the Lord to show me the way to recovery and then to give me the strength to obey and to hold my hands all the way.

Beware of despairing about yourself; you are commanded to place your trust in God, and not in yourself

– St. Augustine

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Praying constantly

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Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

– 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (RSV)

This bible verse has long been on my mind. The question I was always unable to answer was, “how am I supposed to pray constantly with life going on?” Like most people, I have many (usually mundane) things to do during my day; lots of content to study, people to serve, chores to do, etc. My understanding of prayer was that I could only pray when I set aside the time to not do anything else but. Because of this I didn’t understand how someone would be able to pray constantly.

After reading ‘A Story of a Soul’ by St. Therese of Lisieux my understanding of what prayer is slowly began to change. I began to understand that to pray is to lift up my heart of the Lord. So in imitating Mother Mary as she kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” – Luke 2:19 (RSV), I can pray constantly.

Personal accompaniment & silence

There were 2 sets of quotes that really touched me heart today because I have experienced what both talk about in my life.

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Personal accompaniment in processes of growth…

“art of accompaniment” which teaches us to remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other (cf. Ex 3:5). The pace of this accompaniment must be steady and reassuring, reflecting our closeness and our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates and encourages growth in the Christian life.

Although it sounds obvious, spiritual accompaniment must lead others ever closer to God, in whom we attain true freedom. Some people think they are free if they can avoid God; they fail to see that they remain existentially orphaned, helpless, homeless. They cease being pilgrims and become drifters, flitting around themselves and never getting anywhere. To accompany them would be counterproductive if it became a sort of therapy supporting their self-absorption and ceased to be a pilgrimage with Christ to the Father…

We need to practice the art of listening, which is more than simply hearing. Listening, in communication, is an openness of heart which makes possible that closeness without which genuine spiritual encounter cannot occur. Listening helps us to find the right gesture and word which shows that we are more than simply bystanders. Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God’s love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives…

One who accompanies others has to realize that each person’s situation before God and their life in grace are mysteries which no one can fully know from without. The Gospel tells us to correct others and to help them to grow on the basis of a recognition of the objective evil of their actions (cf. Mt 18:15), but without making judgments about their responsibility and culpability (cf. Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37). Someone good at such accompaniment does not give in to frustrations or fears. He or she invites others to let themselves be healed, to take up their mat, embrace the cross, leave all behind and go forth ever anew to proclaim the Gospel. Our personal experience of being accompanied and assisted, and of openness to those who accompany us, will teach us to be patient and compassionate with others, and to find the right way to gain their trust, their openness and their readiness to grow.

– Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium 169-172

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In the silence of the heart God speaks. If you face God in prayer and silence, God will speak to you. Then you will know that you are nothing. It is only when you realize your nothingness, your emptiness, that God can fill you with Himself. Souls of prayer are souls of great silence.

Mother Teresa

Why I love the Extraordinary (Latin) form of the Mass

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I love the Latin Mass so much! It is surprising to me that I do because the whole Mass is in Latin and I don’t understand Latin at all. But this is precisely the reason why I love the Latin Mass.

Because I cannot understand the prayers that are being said during the Mass, I can say to Jesus “I want to pray what the priest prays”. And just like a child who is unable to speak, I can spend the Mass in silence uniting myself with the prayers of the priest and allowing Jesus and Mary to form my soul.

In the Latin Mass I am able to be more childlike than in the Ordinary (English) form of the Mass because I don’t understand the language! I just have to trust the priest, Jesus and Mary to lead me in prayer to a greater extent than if I did understand the words being said.

And because I can be more childlike, my soul is able to accept more readily and eagerly the graces that Jesus wants to pour out on souls especially during Holy Mass.

Silence; a means to many ends

I have been reading a few article on silence. I have come across 4 articles so far that I like, however, one in particular by Sister Mary Clare really helped me focus on how silence is a means to many ends.

Sister Mary Clare wrote a long article that takes its readers on a beautiful scenic route. In the end though, I needed to summarise for myself what she says are the 4 ends of God-centered silence.

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1. To experience God’s love for us

[Silence] is a form of prayer – a prayer of listening, waiting, and receptivity. It is a prayer that anticipates and expects intimate communion; it believes in the possibility and holds in high esteem the value of being in relationship with God.

– Sister Mary Clare, O.C.D.
Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

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2. To respond to God’s love for us 

Silence must eventually be sought in the first place as an expression of our total gift of self back to God. It becomes a response of love and an attitude of reverence for the One who has taken the initiative to love us and give Himself to us first.

– Sister Mary Clare

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3. To truly listen 

in order to truly listen [to God and to our neighbour], we must be silent. Do we have the ability to listen in authentic silence without interference from our own prejudice and self interest? Or can I be totally present to the other…totally aware and receptive of what they are bringing to me?

– Sister Mary Clare

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4. To transform our speech

What is in the very depths of our hearts is what forms the words on our lips…

If we are to be true imitators of God, faithful to our proper goal of union with Him, we must imitate Him in our words: holy purified and free from sin, free from selfishness, arrogance, vanity, competition and gossip…

How will this transformation of our speech come about? Through silence. In silence, we commune with the One Whose first language is silence. And when we have sufficiently learned this language, we will have facility of speech.

We will no longer speak words that distract, create noise, or vanquish good. Our words will contain in them something of the power of God. They will be words that truly influence others and participate in bringing to completion their redemption and our own. They will be words of healing, growth and love. And they will be spoken at the right moment.

– Sister Mary Clare

Link

‘The Story of a Soul’, Prologue – Reflection

Story of a Soul

My dear husband bought this book for me on Book Depository – ‘The Story of a Soul’, The Autobiography of the Little Flower. It arrived for me 2 days ago and I’m so excited to be able to finally savour its contents!

To have beautiful and holy thoughts and to write books or lives of the saints do not count so much as answering as soon as you are called.

– St. Thérèse of Lisieux

The new Thérèse was penetrated with the Gospel teaching, and put it into practice in her daily life. Yet more, she taught the way of spiritual childhood by her words and example to the novices of her Monastery, and she revealed it to all by her writings, which have been spread all over the world and which none can read without returning and re-reading them with great profit

– Pope Pius XI

Already, the prologue of the book, I see Thérèse’s words that reminds me that responding to the Lord’s call is more important than the ability to write or think beautifully.

I see this reflected in my relationship with my dear husband as well; one of the most important things to him is to obey him and the Lord with love and trust. Action speaks louder than words.

I want to choose to prioritize my prayer life over all other aspects of my life. How glad am I then, that every moment can be a prayer!

Links:

Prayer

“Let’s “just do it” even if “it” is only crawling towards God.” – Peter Kreeft, Ph.D.

My little is doing a happy dance right now 😀

Source: http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2015/10/dr-kreeft-prayer-lesson-one-in-prayer/

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