Falling asleep during prayer

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Sleeping Biy by Lrylov (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

If you are a parent trying to grow in holiness, you have no doubt fallen asleep in prayer. Among nursing babies, sick toddlers, wet beds, and waiting up for teenagers, parents spend years being sleep deprived. Then we go to pray and find ourselves nodding off, or even dreaming. How should we handle this?

Am I being lazy? Before reading Story of a Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux, I would get mad at myself and feel like a failure when I fell asleep. Of course, if I were to tell the whole truth, I was often at fault. I used to pray mental prayer last thing before going to bed. Even though I’m a night person, this is not a good time to pray. My thoughts are already on sleep. My mind and body are tired, and it feels like I’m giving prayer the lowest priority on my daily agenda. Sometimes I prayed that late due to forgetfulness. (Whoops, I haven’t prayed yet–better do it now!) Other times I was putting it off. But at least I was making some effort.

I find morning is the ideal time to pray, even for a night owl like me. It’s harder to forget and makes prayer my top priority. My mind isn’t racing with the business of the day.  And if I’m too tired, I can adjust the time I go to bed at night until I get it just right.

That’s how I reasoned in my single days.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Our Biggest Delusion

I was never designed to live alone like an island unto myself. 
Yet, in my pride, I cling tenaciously to my throne and crown.
 Only when I was completely depleted and shattered,
 only then did I resign and give God  back His job.
There is a world of difference between a man who is aware of himself, sitting on a hill and looking at a beautiful sunrise and a man so enthralled with that very same sunrise that he forgets himself and becomes  absorbed in the scene. In the first instance the man is egocentric; he is at the centre 0f his world, not God.
When I see beauty everywhere, I experience joy and a sense of connection because my eyes are not on myself. The truth is that I am simply part of the whole. Everything does not depend on me. I am free to relax and enjoy the beauty of nature and the Spirit of God which permeates all when I am in the right place in the scheme of things.
I am living in a fantasy when I see myself as the center of the universe, viewing everything as it circles around me. As believers we sing and recite prayers that proclaim that God is the centre of all but our psychological make-up screams the exact opposite. I view people, events, history and yes even God through my eyes, judging what is right, trusting my thoughts and my feelings as the final judge of what is real. When Jesus says that we must die to ourselves, He is not speaking about some pious self-sacrifice that makes us look holy, no He has something much more radical in mind. The kind of inner transformation Jesus desires literally rips the rug up from under our feet and shatters our world view.

◄  Galatians 2:20  ►
I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Why is modern man so anxious, nervous, out of sorts? Part of the reason is probably that many people barely see a blade of grass during their normal work day. Surrounded by concrete and glass, our innate self craves connection with the rest of the natural world, other people , the communion of saints, (both living and dead) and at an even deeper level, God Himself. Instead we live in isolated, man-made prisons which shut out other humans never mind other living creatures and God.  Each person is at the centre of their little artificial universe. That means that each of us has assumed the role of king or queen of our tiny kingdoms with everything depending on us.
I was never designed to live alone like an island unto myself. Yet, in my pride, I cling tenaciously to my throne and crown. Only when I was completely depleted and shattered, only then did I resign and give God  back His job. Only the did I surrender an ego centric point of view and embraced reality which is that God is at the centre of the universe and I am simply part of the Mystical  Body of Christ.
Silly?
Definitely absurd but I only saw this fact after I surrendered and let go of control. I cannot  find what is really important in life in self-created delusions butI can discover truth as I learn to live in harmony with a bigger universe than the one I create.

In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which the Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, ‘That is mine!’
Abraham Kuyper

St. John of the Cross (San Juan de la Crux), who lived in the 16th century  explains the inner process of becoming one with Christ.

I lose myself and remain,
With my face on the Beloved inclined;
All has come to rest,
I abandon all my cares
There, among the lilies, to die.

Father Larry Richards

On August 2-4 I spent the weekend attending the 2013 Corpus Christie Men’s Retreat at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmittsburg, MD. On Saturday evening after dinner Father Larry graciously took some time to answer a few questions with yours truly. This week at The Catholic Book Blogger, I posted that interview which can be found here. While visiting, hop on over to enter this weeks giveaway where you could win a copy of Father Larry’s book Be A Man. You can enter the giveaway here. Lastly you can read my review of the book that changed life. This was perhaps my toughest review yet because of how personal it is. The review for Be A Man is posted here.

Harvesting Pope Francis's Call for Peace In Syria

Italian artist Dario Gambarin took six hours to plow the likeness of Pope Francis in his parents field in Castargnaro, Italy.

The artist chose Pope Francis as a subject as Mr. Gambarin was inspired by the Pontiff’s call for a worldwide day of prayer and fasting for peace in Syria on September 7th

Field Artist Dario Gambarin 

Gambarin relies on his innate sense of proportion and his tractor driving capabilities to create his field art.   The image can only really be appreciated when flying near Verona. 

This type of art is deleted after a few days so the field can be cultivated for the new sowing of seed. 

May this act of artisinal agriculture remind us that “Love Liberates” as the world prays for peace in Syria. 

h/t: The Telegraph

[originally posted on DC-LausDeo.US]

Waking Up Catholic

This week brings another great giveaway at The Catholic Book Blogger. My review of Waking Up Catholic : A Guide to Catholic Beliefs for Converts, Reverts, and Anyone Becoming Catholic by Chad Torgerson can be found here. This is a great book for someone entering RCIA this year. I followed that review up with an interview with Chad which can be found here. Last but not least is the giveaway of the book signed by Chad. Click here for the giveaway.

Lord, I am not worthy…

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Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof,
but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

This response at Mass seems to me to sum up the whole spiritual life. It provides wonderful material for meditation.

I am not worthyOn my own, I cannot please God. I can only vaguely know His character. He had to reveal Himself to me through Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the teaching authority of the Church. He gave me parents who were loving enough to have me baptized and teach me the faith. He continues to show me His design for my life. All this is a pure gift which I could not merit.

But I have found the Christian life to be a constant battle. I fall every day. I repent, make resolutions to be good, then sin again. God’s purity is so beyond me. His holiness is a burning fire that I would never dare approach.

Except…

Read the rest at Contemplative Homeschool.

Camerado, I Give You My Hand

This week’s activity on The Catholic Book Blogger revolved around the latest release by Image Catholic Books Camerado, I Give You My Hand by Maura Poston Zagrans. This is the inspirational story of Father David Link. A widower become priest who now works in prison ministry in Indiana. Visit the links below for my review, author interview and giveaway.

Book review here.

Author interview with Maura Poston Zagrans here

Enter here to win a copy of  Camerado, I Give You My Hand

Angels

Are  angel’s deeds the stuff of legends, children’s bedtime tales, wishful thinking or the creation of illiterate, ancient minds? 
Not for our family; we have seen too many inexplicable events, multiplication and miracles
Man has closed his mind to theses messengers of God, guides and defenders so they wait idly for the modern Catholic to wake up to their existence. They sit like gold in a bank, useless unless we give them permission to act.

What are angels?
An angel is a pure spirit created by God. The Old Testament theology included the belief in angels: the name applied to certain spiritual beings or intelligences of heavenly residence, employed by God as the ministers of His will.
The English word “angel” comes from the Greek angelos, which means ‘messenger’. In the Old Testament, with two exceptions, the Hebrew word for “angel” is malak, also meaning ‘messenger’. The prophet Malachi took his name from this word. He was himself a messenger, and he prophesied about the coming of “the messenger of the covenant”, Jesus Christ (Malachi 3:1).
Some may never see with earthly eyes these heavenly beings or know that they exist. Many are unaware of the numerous ways they have protected and guided us. We would like to share with you the stories of people who take pleasure in expressing how real angels are.Psalm 8 is a Psalm in which the creation of the earth is extolled. Here we are told that man’s position is lower than the angels:
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? … For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Psalm 8:4,5)
Don’t let  sweet angel pictures fool you. Angels are huge, powerful beings with the ability to perform great acts of strength. 
The phone call comes on a Saturday night.
I listen to the police in shocked silence.
“Your son has been in a serious car accident.”
“No, we have not ascertained the extent of his injuries.”
“We did use the jaws of life to extract your son and his girlfriend from the vehicle.”
“No, I told you, I cannot tell you the extent of his injuries but if you head over to Trauma 1 at the Civic, they will give you an update.”
” All I can tell you is it seems that the vehicle did flip end over end and then barrel-rolled down into a ditch filled with water.”
” Off the record, I will say that in 25 years of service, I have never seen a car look as bad as his does and not have someone dead on arrival.”
Sheer heart stopping panic grips me. I can hardly breath and my heart is pounding.We pass his car on the side of the highway. Spot lights, a crane, the car is on a flat-bed trailer, every side crushed,  dented. It looks like a giant has taken a baseball bat and swung about a hundred times. All I can think  is,
“If the car is that bashed and dented, how is our son who is only flesh and blood and breakable bones?”
 At the hospital
The emergency room nurse ushers us into Trauma 1 at the Civic Hospital,
“Well, you might as well just walk in and look around. This is trauma 1. As you can see, we were ready for the worst case scenario.”
Daniel stands at a sink, washing blood off his face and arms by himself!
I looked at my son, then at my husband. I am shaking. My mouth drops open.
We slowly turn to look at the emergency room nurse.
“If you had been here when Daniel arrived, you would have seen the entire team. As you can see, this young man does not even have a broken pinkie finger. If his seat belt hadn’t been buckled up 10 seconds before, he would have been ejected from the car through the front windshield.  You should have heard the doctor ranting and lecturing when she heard that he had barely clicked his seat buckle closed. She kept telling your son how lucky he is.”
 ”His girlfriend is an angel. She literally saved his life.”
Daniel is white. His face is drained of all colour and he is covered in blood.
“Not mine mum. Erica got a cut on her forehead and bled all over me.”
“Ma, I should be dead. I should be dead!! If Erica hadn’t bugged me, my seat belt wouldn’t even have been done up yet.”
 BOTH my husband and I sensed an inner voice..”angels protected your son”
Even with their seatbelts on, none of the response teams could get over these kids. A car looking like theirs did should have killed or seriously injured all of them. You can laugh but I have an inner sense that angels protected their bodies as the car flipped from right side up to upside down, first from headlights to hood, to tail lights and under body and then barrel rolled sideways landing upside down with water pouring in. 
There is no other explanation.

DO WE TRUST MORE IN THE POWER OF GOD OR THE DEVIL?

Mary Crushes Satan – We cannot allow fear of the devil and deception to be stronger than our trust in God’s Mercy and Grace. Fear freezes us, often preventing the inner spiritual journey that leads to fullness of life in Christ. 

As Catholics, we are often leery of personal revelation. Of course we should be cautious but what are we so worried about? The Church protects us with the gift of confession, the mystical tradition of the Church, spiritual direction and encourages us to study the bible. All theses tools act as personal sign posts and safe guards. Like all  Christians, Catholics  have received the Holy Spirit to lead them into all truth.
Why don’t we, as Catholics,  give the Holy Spirit permission to do His job? The Holy Spirit is our inner Companion who leads us; we do not  live in fear of  spiritual revelations. Many of God the Father’s children are so afraid that the devil will lead them astray, they do not even listen to His interior whispers of love. Surely we trust more in God  the Almighty, ruler of heaven and earth than a mere fallen angel?
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.” John 16:13
What a conundrum in the Body of Christ. I cannot helping feeling sorry for our Lord as I observe the discord between His children. Catholics mistrust revelations of other Christians and Protestants often think that Catholics are open to the occult by praying to Mary and the Saints. They even wonder if we are  saved! Let’s not behave like arrogant Pharisees but humbly trust solely in God to lead and teach us as His children and leave condemnation to the Evil One.
CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH
III. THE GIFTS AND FRUITS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT
The moral life of Christians is sustained by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. These are permanent dispositions which make man docile in following the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
The seven gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They belong in their fullness to Christ, Son of David.109 They complete and perfect the virtues of those who receive them. They make the faithful docile in readily obeying divine inspirations.
Let your good spirit lead me on a level path. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God . . . If children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ
Often  Christians must simply acknowledge that we cannot intellectually grasp all heavenly mysteries. We  choose to continue our walk in, with, and through the Holy Spirit, trusting in God without fear of making a mistake. We cannot allow fear of the devil and deception to be stronger than our trust in God’s Mercy and Grace. Fear freezes us, often preventing the inner spiritual journey that leads to fullness of life in Christ. Trust me, I know what fear can do to a person. Now I realize that God the Father will bring me into the light; He will lead me into all truth.
I once attended a retreat where a Madonna House priest, actually Archbishop Raya, the Archbishop of Lebanon, said something like this:
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes because Jesus will wash you clean and then tell you to go play again. He does not say, “Stand in the corner and don’t you dare get dirty again.” Just like a mother, he bathes a dirty child and then tells him to go outside and play again.
Trust more in God’s power to guide than the Devil’s to deceive.

Mary is My REAL Mum!

maryjesus
God has inscribed a moral code on my heart. It is  hidden in my deepest self. Actually, if  as an adult, I can block out my own ego and simply stop to listen, I can live a holy life. In fact Christ  offers an easy way to sanctity, to loving God and each other.  A spirituality that a child understands. A spirituality that St.Thérèse of Liseux understood. Relax. Give up striving. Surrender to His love and let it saturate every cell of your body. Then simply let His love flow through you. It ends up being a long journey to embrace such a carefree lifestyle because pride and ego get in the way. It is so simple that it seems complicated to our adult, logical minds.
“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Matthew 19:14
And in even stronger terms:
“I assure you,” He said, ‘unless you are converted and become like children, , you will never get into the kingdom from heaven…’” Matthew 18:4
The Catechism of the Catholic Church:
526 To become a child in relation to God is the condition for entering the kingdom. For this, we must humble ourselves and become little. Even more: to become “children of God” we mu–t be “born from above” or “born of God”. Only when Christ is formed in us will the mystery of Christmas be fulfilled in us. Christmas is the mystery of this “marvelous exchange”:
O marvelous exchange! Man’s Creator has become man, born of the Virgin. We have been made sharers in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share our humanity.
A relationship to the living God is child’s play. Listen to this exchange between my young children:
One afternoon, I was making dinner, standing at the counter with my back to our three youngest children. Grace and Daniel were lounging around the kitchen table, with three-year-old Rebecca perched like a little elf on a high stool, happily swinging her legs.
Simply making conversation, Grace who was eight, asked Rebecca,“Rebbecca, whose your favorite, Mum or Dad?”
Rebecca replied,”Both!”
Still facing the counter, I looked over my shoulder and intruded on their conversation, “Smart answer, Rebecca.”
Rebecca was not done though, “But she’s not my real mum, Mary is.”
Grace rolled her eyes, slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand and said incredulously, “Where does she get this stuff?”
I tried to explain as simply as I could, “Well, the Holy Spirit is in her heart and she listens to His voice.”
Rebecca jumped right back into the discussion and chanted in a sing-song, lilting voice, “That’s right. God the Father in my heart. Baby Jesus in my heart. Holy Spirit in my heart. Mother Mary in my heart…but…I still like Mum and Dad the best!”
Grace rolled her eyes and plunked her head down on the table with a loud sigh, “Where does she get this stuff?”
I just laughed.
A few weeks later, as I crouched down to tie Rebecca’s shoelace,  she picked up the small gold cross I wore around my neck and said, “This is the cross of Jesus and the glory of God shines all around it.”
Grace rolled her eyes again, slapped her forehead and asked, “Where does she get this stuff?
She’s made in the image of God and she gets it right from the source of all truth.