Mother Teresa and forgiveness

When one takes up a Lenten practice, it is easy to say “oh, I’ll do that”…but then a little time passes, and it’s sometimes difficult to keep it going.  So I missed a day here and there of posting quotes. The way my mind works, missing a few days makes me tempted to give up the new practice.

HOWEVER, that’s the good time to just get back to it. Yesterday was a busy (and awesome!) day, so I didn’t get to post this quote… so here you go: words of wisdom from Mother Teresa:

30 Lent--week 4--Forgiveness--Mother Teresa

Hope your Lent is going well. Persevere. Hope and trust in God…

Until next time, Amen! 

Connection between fasting and prayer

Thought for today…about fasting and prayer (my underline):

14 Lent--week 2--fasting--Wallis(click on image to enlarge)

I’m thinking it’s not that God “needs” our fasting, but perhaps the fasting, along with prayer during the fasting period, makes us more dedicated to our prayer intention or paying attention to God. Perhaps the fasting process could be used in such a way to remind us to pay attention to God.

I’m pretty horrible at fasting. I’m wondering if any of you have found fasting and prayer to work together well. What are your thoughts? Experiences?

Until next time, Amen! 

 

The True Spirit of Fasting

Today’s quote focuses on our attitude and how we conduct ourselves while fasting:

13 Lent--week 2--fasting--Cassian

I’m thinking Cassian was reminding the monks that their spiritual practice of fasting wasn’t really of value if they were hurting one another with their actions. It sounds as if he is saying: “What good is your fasting if you are turning up your anger volume in the meantime?”

Put another way, our Lenten practices should help us to grow in the Spirit in such a way that the fruit is kindness, mercy, love, etc. towards our neighbor. As our love for God grows, our love of neighbor out to be growing as well.

At least, that’s my musings on this quote.  Any one have other ideas? I welcome your comments below.

Until next time, Amen! 

 

Lent image–Proverbs 17:22

Blessed 4th day of Lent!

04 Lent--Ash Wed week--Cheerful heart medicine--Proverbs 17 (click on image to enlarge)

After what I wrote yesterday, you might think:  but how can I be cheerful when I am feeling so sad or upset? Didn’t you just say that Jesus had feelings of agony, distress, anger, grief, etc.?

My guess is that the person writing this proverb knew full well that a range of emotions is completely normal. After all, the Scripture is filled with emotion, and much of it poured out to God in prayer (take look at the book of Psalms!). I am a firm believer that we have a right to be honest about our feelings.

However, when we bring an overall attitude of cheerfulness to others, it spreads like a positive kind of energy flow. Some of the studies I’ve read say even using your “smiling muscles” on your face brings a change in the way your brain and body are experiencing the moment. Certainly when we smile at another person, it often brings a smile to their face and a pleasant feeling going forward into their day. We have the ability to spread joy–or at least comfort in the midst of sorrow.

The “bones” in the bible often refer to the deepest essence of a person…as in “I feel it deep down in my bones” or “deep in the marrow of my bones”… So I think the writer Proverbs 17:22 is reminding us that if we feed our spirits constantly with “downers” (for example, feeding ourselves on the media so much that we are constantly afraid or anxious–and spreading that fear to others), then we risk harming ourselves at the deeper level of who we are at core.

What do you think?  I welcome your comments below.

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! 

More on branching out–25 ways to deepen your spiritual life

In my last post, I wrote about branching out, trying new things. I mentioned exploring ways to expand your spiritual life.

Christ the Pantocrator by Marian Zidaru--2002
Christ the Pantocrator by Marian Zidaru–2002

I believe God (your Higher Power, the Divine One, however you describe God) wants to be close to each one of us. I believe this God is full of compassion and mercy–and that God calls out to us, like a passionate lover longing for quality time with his or her beloved.

Various ways of praying do not earn us “extra credit” with God. God loves us immensely no matter what. However, if you love God, you will want to spend some quality time together. There are various ways of being together, and some specific ways of praying that will enable you to be more present to God, more aware of God’s presence in your life.

There are many ways to build a deeper relationship with God or a more developed prayer life. Looking for some ideas? Here is a list of 25 ideas of ways to expand your own spiritual time with God:

  1. Say grace–before breakfast. I don’t know why, but I don’t recall doing this even once. Why do I thank God for dinner but not for  breakfast?
  2. Copy a sentence or two from sacred texts (such as the Bible or the Koran). Place it where you will see it everyday, such as on the bathroom mirror, refrigerator, or screen saver.
  3. Walk a labyrinth, reflecting on key points in your life as you make the turns. (Read more:  Labyrinth: The Walking PrayerPrayer labyrinth--photo by Julie McCarty
  4. Sign up for a retreat and mark it as high priority on your calendar.
  5. Read a spiritual classic. (Suggestions at Good Reads )
  6. Look for websites that help you learn about prayer–or actually guide you in prayer. For example, the “Daily Disconnect” offers a guided prayer reflection which includes an online timer to allow for some silent time at the end of your reflection.
  7. Visit a different house of worship. Been to a church or temple lately? Use the web to look at places of worship in your area, and then just experiment–visit a few in person.
  8. Take a prayer walk–drop everything and walk outside with God. (For more info, visit my post or other Prayer Walking Tips  )
  9. Look for your “spiritual type.”Just for fun, try the “spiritual type” quiz on Beliefnet 
  10. Attend a bible study, women’s group, or other event offered at your place of worship. Don’t just read about it online. Get in touch with real people.
  11. Deal with your anger. Angry at your church institution? Try talking with a counselor or spiritual director about your confusion. Find a neutral person who will help you sort out the complicated, perhaps mixed feelings about religion, faith, God, and what is best for your life.
  12. Serve the poor at a soup kitchen and think about Jesus being in the midst of that soup line as you hand out the bowls.
  13. Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier each morning, sit up in bed and read the bible or devotional for those 15 minutes before getting dressed.
  14. Find a spiritual director and visit with him or her once a month, exploring your own spiritual dimension in a friendly, confidential, prayerful setting.
  15. Try coffee break prayer. Once a week, during your coffee break or lunch hour, slip into a church or quiet park bench for a few minutes alone with God.
  16. Make a gratefulness list. Write a list of 25 things for which you give thanks–and don’t forget to tell God about it.
  17. Sing a prayerful song. So what if you voice isn’t that great? Sing when you are alone–or play spiritual music during your morning commute. 
  18. Keep a prayer journal. Write your thoughts about your religious beliefs, your feelings, your experiences, etc. in prayer form. Write letters to God about your life.
  19. Pray ahead of time. When you look at your calendar each morning, pray about the upcoming day’s events, asking the Holy Spirit to guide your every word and deed, to bless those you will see that day.
  20. Grow your spiritual mind. Want to understand your religion’s teachings at an adult level? Bring your questions to your minister, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual leader–or audit a class at a college (many religious colleges allow auditing for inexpensive rates, and/or special rates for seniors).
  21. Examine your conscience. During the past week, when were you especially alive to God’s presence? When did you “miss the mark”? Thank God for all that is good, and ask for forgiveness for your sins.
  22. Learn yoga as a way of quieting yourself in the presence of God. If you don’t feel comfortable with ancient yoga foundations, try a “devotional yoga” that combines the healthy body movements with Christian attitudes towards God.
  23. Ask God what things need a new home. Clean out your closet or garage in a prayerful way, seeking to give to others in a Christ-like manner. Pray for those who will receive your gifts.
  24. Common Prayer book coverDo your normal prayer with a different body posture. For example, try reading the psalms in standing position, facing east (place of the sunrise). Or, try kneeling when you ask God to forgive your sins.
  25. Let the last thing you think about before going to sleep be God. Not the news, not Facebook, not your problems, but rather God. How to do this? Start a routine of prayer or spiritual reading just before you nod off at night. (Don’t worry if you fall asleep holding the prayer-book in bed. What better way to sleep, than in the arms of God?)

These are just ideas to get your creative spiritual juices going. Pick one and run with it. I’d love to hear how it goes.

Until next time, Amen!  

P.S. Want little spiritual nuggets in-between blog posts? Visit the Facebook page “Spiritual Drawing Board by Julie McCarty” and click on “receive notifications” on the “like” button.