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.
These promises changed my life. Don’t rationalize or make excuses for yourself. Push yourself a bit, work a little longer, sacrifice something else, persist, and persevere! Following through on these promises will not only bring you joy, but freedom to live the life God is calling you to!
Does prayer really do anything?
If God cared about us, why would He need us to ask for anything before He gave it to us?
The only think prayer does is make you feel good about yourself.
Do you ever find yourself thinking this way about prayer? Or have your heard others question prayer in this way? That’s totally normal . . . you are not a freak or a “terrible Christian.” It shows that you are taking prayer seriously and not just kind of “going through the motions.” If prayer is going to “mean something,” then it should “do something.”
When I think about, some of the best things that I have experienced in life … I said, 'yes' to. I said 'yes' to being on a soccer team, I said 'yes' to going on a mission trip, I said 'yes' to a relationship with Christ.
I have seen over and over that one of the main reasons people feel isolated and don’t have the kind of friendships, relationships, or community they want in their lives is that they habitually say “no” to invitations and opportunities to be around people and interact with people. They say “no” so often and so consistently that it’s become a habit they don’t even know they have.
Some people claim that they never tan, only burn. But just because you don't look like a lobster doesn't mean your skin cells can't turn cancerous later. At the very least you'll reach middle age and discover your skin has the consistency of leather.
Sometimes we don't think we need to pray either, because we don't 'feel' like we need God. But the truth is that we always need God. If we don't pray regularly to build a relationship with Him then when hard times come and we finally feel like we need Him, it's difficult to listen to His voice since we're so out of practice. Regular prayer is a necessity.
Because of this, we need to strive extra hard to keep first things first. Namely, prayer. If we aren't trying, prayer can easily get lost in the chaos. In order to help with this situation, I've compiled a brief list of things that help me continue to stay on point during these summer months.
If you’ve ever been afraid to make the sign of the cross in public, you’re not alone. A lot of us Catholics have done that. Sometimes we make the sign of the cross really quickly, so that people won’t notice. We might even pretend to be swatting a fly or scratching our fore head to begin making the sign as we say grace before lunch in the cafeteria or in a crowded restaurant.
As a kid I remember being super excited for a road trip from Massachusetts to New Jersey to visit my grandparents. In my five year old brain, 'New Jersey' might as well have been the moon and a week was basically forever. I had to pack accordingly. Pulling bags out the closet I filled them with my stuffed animals, dolls, books, art supplies, my sticker collection and a panda poster.
Pope Francis celebrated holy mass with the Cardinals in the Sistine Chapel on Wednesday and within minutes his homily was made available online.
As a high schooler, I was a scrawny, ghost-white toothpick with very little strength but a lot of stamina. (Oh, wait . . . I'm still like that.) I loved to play sports and I certainly had the genes for it. Unfortunately, my build made it easy for the opposing team to crack me in half before the referee had any time to notice what happened. Good thing I was fast.
Figuring out what to do in the future is one of the things that most young people struggle to figure out. Now that you know your identity, you can remind yourself that God, indeed, has a purpose for you. You were created for a reason, and figuring that reason out will be one of the most exciting things you ever do.
I want a lot of things out of life. I want to be happy. I want to feel like I have purpose. I want to be loved. I want to make a difference. I want to live a life I'm proud of. I want to be a saint. I want chocolate and tacos but not at the same time.
But I don't know where to find those vague and lofty desires. Are they only talked about in poems and songs? Because so many people around me aren't happy with their lives, or haven't found their purpose, or are settling for counterfeit love and a bottle of booze.
Instead of going into the chapel and pouring out my thoughts or trying really hard to hear Him, I'm just sitting in the silence. His calm, gentle, strong voice always comes to me if I submit to the sacred silence in the chapel.
If I can't make it to the chapel, I can sit in silence with God in my room. My reflection this week on my silent time has flowed nicely with my reflections on not speeding.
What I've learned this week is this: I don't always have to set the pace. Whether it be in the car, in the hallway, or in the chapel – I can take my time. I can slow down. I can breathe. I can listen to His heartbeat, and strive to live my life to the rhythm of that heart beat. Let God set the rhythm, and experience the freedom that it offers.
When I was a kid, Lent didn't mean a whole lot. Lent meant getting a filet-o-fish instead of a cheeseburger in my usual Friday Happy Meal. It meant that the music at Mass got more ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏserious,' and we didn't say the 'A' word: you know, (Allelu—). It meant that soon Easter was coming and do you know what that meant? That's right . . . an Easter egg hunt against my brothers!