Lent and Fasting

This week, I’ll be posting quotes related to the Christian practice of fasting. Fasting can take on many forms (for example, some people fast from social media or television during Lent). When it comes to food, I’m the LAST person who can teach you anything about fasting! So keep in mind, I am definitely using these quotes to preach to myself, to reflect about the spiritual practice…to help myself grow while sharing with you.

Today’s quote from Matthew 6 reminds us what kind of attitude we are supposed to have while fasting.

12 Lent--week 2--fasting--Matthew 6 (click on image to enlarge)

Whatever your Lenten practice, this has wisdom for how we are to conduct ourselves during this season of spiritual renewal. It’s a good reminder that we are not trying to “look better” or act “holier-than-thou” around others.

Until next time, Amen! 

Prayerful meditation–quote from J.I. Packer

Thought for the day. . . about Christian meditation. . .

11 Lent--Week 1--Prayer--Packer

Christian forms of meditation aim at paying attention to God, or at least sitting quietly in the presence of God and allowing grace to work in the soul (whole person). This quote from J. I. Packer is “packed” with meaning for me (no pun intended!).

Until next time, Amen! 

Pray is the wing…and prayer is an eye

Here’s a thought for the day, about prayer:

10 Lent--Week 1--Prayer--Ambrose

Ambrose reminds us that prayer is a tool to bringing the soul into contact with the heavenly realm of God. Although God is always present (omnipresent), we are not always present and paying attention to God. When we pray, we are bringing ourselves into the presence of God.

Ambrose also speaks of Christian meditation as an “eye” with which we see God. To meditate on something, in this sense, is to ponder things in one’s heart in a prayerful manner. Some people meditate on a bible passage or particular truth of Christian belief (such as a portion of the Creed). Others meditate about the everyday events of their lives and how God is at work in those experiences, while writing in a journal, taking a walk, or sitting in a chapel. There are many diverse forms of Christian meditation (Christian “devotions” are a type of meditation).

Whatever way you like to pray, may God continue to bless you with the “wings” and “eyes” of prayer.

Until next time, Amen!

 

 

The Holy Spirit’s Work in Prayer

Sometimes we are tempted to stop praying because it “doesn’t seem like anything is happening.” That is, our prayer may feel boring, confusing, or useless. Sometimes these are just the normal phases of our own moods at work. It might be that God is inviting us to begin praying in a renewed or different way.( For example, some people pray while walking, write prayers in a journal, join a prayer group, meditate on bible passages, or like to pray in silence.)

These words of Evagrius, famous Christian of the 4th century, bring me comfort at those times when my prayer seems “boring” or “ineffective.”

08 Lent--Week 1--Prayer--Evagrius Ponticus (click on image to enlarge)

In the quotation above, Evagrius refers to some mysterious process happening inside us when we pray–some invisible action deep in our souls.  When someone prays, even if alone in his or her room, that person is not really alone. The Holy Spirit, the very presence of God in our midst, is with the praying soul.

When we open our hearts to God in prayer, the Holy Spirit is at work in our souls, in our whole persons, transforming us, like water slowly dripping on a rock. The Holy Spirit also fills us with the spirit of love and compassion for others during prayer time. As a result, this Spirit of Love also draws us more deeply into relationship with God and other people, a kind of communion with God and each other.

So, no matter how “futile” your prayer might feel, continue to pray. It’s important not to give up. If you think God is inviting you to a newer way of praying, seek out that new way–just so long as you keep praying. (Oftentimes, a spiritual director can help you seek out the way of praying that God is inviting you to at this point in your life.)

So, “keep on praying” . . . and until next time,  Amen! 

Lent image–Waiting, Weeping, and Learning

When Jesus went off to pray in the desert, it was time of growth, prayer, waiting, and, yes, temptation. We, too, have desert times in life.

03 Lent--Ash Wed week--Desert wait weep learn--Jones

To be truly human, is to experience the highs and lows of feelings, to have times of joy and times of sorrow. Although Jesus was divine, he freely entered into these seasons and challenges of being human. If Jesus experienced these oh-so-human dimensions of life, it is only natural that his followers also have their desert times of waiting, weeping, and learning.

Will you pray with me?

Lord Jesus, when life feels overwhelming, help me to remember that you, too, had times of stress, confusion, agony, and grief. Grant me patience with the challenges of life, and when faced with difficult decisions, give me the wisdom I need to make the best choice. 

Until next time, Amen! 

Preparing for Pentecost

I’ve been writing more and more often on my public Facebook page, called “Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty.” I see it as a vehicle for spreading the gospel message of Christ in an ecumenical, friendly way–and learning from others, as well. The experience of writing in that little space is teaching me how to write more succinctly.

Another thing I’m discovering in using Facebook is the joy of combining words with images. Both are forms of communication, and I did not realize just how much I enjoy expressing myself through combining the two.

So today I’m sharing here what I posted on that FB page, a prayer that arose in me this morning, as I was thinking about Pentecost. Many Christians celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Sunday Feast of Pentecost, 50 days after Easter (this year, June 8). Traditionally, some Christians prayed everyday to the Holy Spirit for nine days ahead of the feast. This practice was a kind of devotion and spiritual way of preparing for the celebration of God’s Spirit with and within us.

Here’s the post… Do enjoy and if you are comfortable, pray along…

Open sign--Julie McCarty--Spiritual Drawing Board--Eagan MN

 

Thinking about upcoming feast of Pentecost,
the celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit. 
Join me in prayer? ...

O God,
I believe your Holy Spirit is within me, but please
help me not to “close” the door to your loving presence.
May my heart (soul) expand more and more within,
fretting less about myself
and allowing your Holy Spirit to live and move and act
more fully within my life each day.
Give me open ears, that I might hear You,
open mind, that I might think more clearly about You,
and open heart, that I might love You
and all your beloved people
more fully each day.
This I ask in the love of Christ,
and in the communion of the Holy Spirit,
Amen.
 

 

Jesus is the Light of the World

Hope the Lenten season is going well for all of you.

Here is an image I created this morning:

 

I am the light of the world--words of Jesus on yellow paint--design by Julie McCarty

Would you join me in prayer?

Dear Jesus,
You came into the world
to bring us the light of wisdom and compassion
and give us abundant life, that is,
the life of your Spirit.
Drive out all that is impure in us,
and transform us,
a little more each day
into your image and likeness.
May we become vessels of light
to all those around us,
especially those who are hurting or feel alone.
This we ask in your holy name,
and in the communion of the Holy Spirit,
Amen.