If we are to call ourselves Christians, then we must believe that God loves us and would never allow for us to experience suffering without purpose. Therefore, there has to be purpose in the cross of unhappiness. Whether we struggle with depression for months on end or just experience a day lacking fulfillment, perhaps these are opportunities to shine brighter and cling tighter. Perhaps there is purpose in our pain.
Q: How do you keep your marriage and faith related? In other words, what things do you and your husband (Brian) do every day to lead each other closer to Christ?
I am doing the same thing that the saints do for me when I ask them to pray with me to Jesus… to join their prayers to mine, en route to Christ. Since they’re closer to Him than I am, it actually makes even more sense for them to pray for me, than for my earthly friends to pray for me.
This is probably really different from any other retreat you’ve done before. I want to offer you a way to retreat within the silence of your bedroom, the peace and stillness of the Blessed Sacrament chapel at your church, or even better Adoration.
Well, no matter where you are on your spiritual journey, here are three tips on how to jump-start your spiritual life, get back on those steps, and persevere on the path leading to the narrow gate of Heaven.
The next few Sundays looked the same. Each week I was presented with an opportunity to tell them more about my faith but each week, I responded with a one-word answer. After a month of this happening, my siblings caught on. They noticed that instead of cramming for a test on Sunday night, I was at church. They called me anything from “church freak” to “soon-to-be-nun.”
Everyone seemed to have it all figured out… everyone but me. I began questioning my entire career path (about five times a day), and I felt like I couldn’t keep up academically since there was now a much higher standard. I didn’t know anyone, and no one knew me. I found myself grasping for an identity.
Most of my first month, I was stressed out, anxious about the future, and addicted to microwavable pizza.
This doesn’t mean that you should just settle for boring friends. When Jesus promised to give us “life to the full” (John 10:10), He must’ve meant something more exciting than a youth group bowling trip. Have you prayed for good friendships? Ask God to provide friends that are pursuing holiness that you also enjoy hanging out with.
Summer is here. Hallelujah! I know you are enjoying putting the stress and monotony of the school year behind you.
But before you slow down too much remember this: If we want to continue growing spiritually during the summer we must maintain some routine and order. Any type of growth, especially spiritual growth, requires structure.
If we want to come to know the Lord, if we want to become the saints He designed us to be, we need to stop choosing the easy path, the comfortable path. We must step up and establish some order.
I used to make fun of my neighbor behind his back. I didn't want to see him do well. I secretly hoped he would strike out or the outfielder would catch his ball. Then I could get up there and hit a home run! At last, I'd have my moment to shine. I would be considered the best. Everyone would want to be like ME! I was envious and it tore me apart. I had no character. I was a bad teammate and a bad friend.
That’s when desolation hit. Prayer became pretty challenging, reading Scripture felt like doing homework, every single thought distracted me and I felt an overall darkness. This lasted for about 4 months and after recognizing my “dark night” I knew what I had to do for a “bright morning.”
Eventually, in my heart, the answer became clear. But it was gradual. It was never a burning bush or a voice from the heavens. And honestly, I think I grew more as a person because of it. Throughout my seemingly endless period of questioning my future, I learned to trust. God created the Universe. Did I honestly think He couldn’t handle University?
Now, as a senior in college I am not a princess or a wedding cake maker. As I grew up I realized that I could not continue to plan my life around things that could change. I decided it made sense to anchor my life in the one thing that would never change, the one thing that would continually satisfy me – seeking the will of God the Father and living my life asking for His help and direction.
It can be hard to pray sometimes. For me especially, I often find myself distracted and my mind wanders away from my conversation with God. Because of my tendency to do this, I like to give my prayer a nice structure that I can follow. It helps me to focus on God and give Him my undivided attention for however long I pray.
The Stations of the Cross are prayers that help us meditate on Jesus’ Passion and sacrifice for us. They incorporate the use of Scripture, prayers, meditations, and songs while traveling to 14 stations. The Stations are based upon Scriptural accounts from the time when Jesus was condemned to death until He was laid in the tomb. The practice of taking a pilgrimage to follow Jesus’ steps on the way to His crucifixion has existed since the early Church. It’s an opportunity for us to truly enter into the Paschal Mystery: Jesus’ passion and death, which prepares us for His Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Let me set up a common scenario in my life. I sit down to pray to God, whether it is before or during Mass, during Adoration, or just in my spare time. I find myself starting really strong and then my mind wanders. I coo over the cute baby five pews behind me. I plan out what work I am going to be doing later that night. I wonder what on earth was I thinking when I answered that question in class. I try to figure out what I’m going to wear tomorrow.
Let’s just say I get distracted easily.
So, I committed: 40 minutes of “devotional time” every single day. You can call it quiet time, prayer time, or just… time – whatever you need to call it so it doesn’t sound like a punishment. I didn’t really know what to call it. I just knew that I was going to do it.
Think about it: 40 minutes isn’t a huge block of time. It’s one drama or two sitcoms on Netflix. We can all find 40 minutes in a day. We just have to choose to do it.
To be honest, I felt lost. Some days I would think that being a priest was my calling, others that having a giant family (thirteen kids to be exact) was. In my life I would see signals everywhere — a bible verse that told me to be a priest and a baby that told me to be a dad. It distressed me; I was frustrated a lot of the time, and it began to wear on me. I was asking God why he didn’t just tell me what was up.
Ready or not, here it comes… It’s almost 2014.
I don’t know about you, but this year for me has been a year of challenge, change, and growth with a ton of added mercy and grace. Looking back at the challenges, I am grateful; grateful that the Lord allows me to grow when I suffer and grateful that He never stops loving me.
Feeling overwhelmed with finals? Don’t forget to take time to pray. Keeping your focus on God is one of the best ways to deal with stress.
Here’s a prayer just for you. Bookmark it, screen-shot it, print it off… whatever will help you remember to pray it and make that important connection with God that will transform this time of anxiety into a time of peaceful perseverance.