Reaching the Unchurched

When I speak with someone who is curious about the faith but unfamiliar with Christianity, I realize my revelations about the spiritual life in the Mystical Body of Christ are completely foreign. I might as well be a fantasy character explaining life in an alternate reality.
Psychologically speaking, people need to hear a completely new concept at least three times before it even begins to register in their minds. Sharing about spiritual reality is like helping God make new neurological connections, and this transformation takes time. Seekers who have existed on the surface, experiencing only physical reality are wearing God-filtered glasses; the life in Christ that I share with them is completely alien. 
How would you communicate the message of salvation and the subsequent new life in Christ with the unchurched, with people who have no Christian frame of reference or Christian vocabulary? read the whole article>

Melanie Jean Juneau is wife and mother of nine children. The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life.She blogs at joy of nine9 and mother of nine9

Be Merciful not Fearful

Christians do not have a choice; we must exercise mercy because we have been shown mercy.  Mercy is at the crux of both the Gospels and the teaching of the Church. The Holy Father, during a talk given on Sept.10 explained,God has sent His Son! God has made Himself man to save us, that is, to give us his mercy. Jesus says it clearly, summing up his teaching to the disciples: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk.6, 36).

Pope Francis challenged us to come out of our comfort zone, to ignore our fear and embrace even prisoners as brothers and sisters in Christ, ‘But Father,’ some will say, ‘This is dangerous. These are bad people.’ Listen carefully: any one of us is capable of doing what these men and women in prison have done   continue reading> 

Melanie Jean Juneau is wife and mother of nine children. The very existence of a joyful mother of nine children seems to confound people. Her writing is humorous and heart warming; thoughtful and thought provoking with a strong current of spirituality running through it. Part of her call and her witness is to write the truth about children, family, marriage and the sacredness of life.She blogs at joy of nine9 and mother of nine9

Should we sit quietly during prayer?

A Hermit Praying in the Ruins of a Roman Temple by Hubert Robert

Last week I wrote about St. Teresa’s of Avila’s method of mental prayer.
Today I want to discuss misunderstandings about prayer from a different
angle. Since we desire contemplation, should we sit still in prayer and
wait for it? Should we try to make it happen by quieting our minds?
Like last Friday’s post, this series speaks to the differences between
Carmelite teaching and Centering Prayer, yoga, and other types of
meditation influenced by eastern religions.

Some people falsely
equate silence with supernatural (infused) contemplation. They read
about the need for interior silence in prayer, and they mistakenly think
that if they sit quietly, God will necessarily bestow contemplation
upon them. They equate the peace they find in silence to communion with
God.

The Vatican has cautioned us about certain methods of prayer
In 1989, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (later Pope Benedict XVI), as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation. Here is what the document says about silence:

Similar
methods of meditation, on the other hand, including those which have
their starting-point in the words and deeds of Jesus, try as far as
possible to put aside everything that is worldly, sense perceptible or
conceptually limited. It is thus an attempt to ascend to or immerse
oneself in the sphere of the divine, which, as such, is neither
terrestrial, sense-perceptible nor capable of conceptualization.” (11)

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Did Teresa of Avila teach Centering Prayer?

St. Teresa’s Transverberation by Joefa de Obidos (Wikimedia Commons)

Last winter on social media, I came across another Catholic author who was promoting yoga. Not as an exercise program, but for spiritual growth. I was shocked. I asked her why she wasn’t promoting prayer instead. She answered, “Meditation is prayer!”

Nope.

Two months ago, my brother forwarded an email from a colleague, asking about Centering Prayer. A friend was pushing it relentlessly. I looked at the website of the Catholic group that promotes Centering Prayer and found this in the FAQs:
This form of prayer was first practiced and taught by the Desert Fathers of Egypt … the Carmelites St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross and St. Therese of Lisieux…
Nonsense.

The other day a new reader asked in the comments about meditating on Sacred Scripture. “Is this the same as the method of Fr. John Main, who has adapted an Eastern mantra method for Christian meditation?”

Uh-uh.

I have written a little on this topic before, but I think it’s time to revisit it. Let’s start with Teresa of Avila.

Continue reading at Connie’s blog Contemplative Homeschool.

How to suffer like a Christan

Tragic Situations

Suffering. Ever since the Fall of Adam, it’s an unavoidable part of life. We suffer daily in little ways. The alarm clock rings too early. We spill coffee all over our work clothes. The kids are disobedient. We get stuck in traffic. These little things are a reminder that all is not right with the world. Something is out of whack. We have lost the close connection with God we were meant to have.

When we face small trials, we have an opportunity to grow in trust and love.  We can offer our disappointments and dislikes to God in love, asking Him to use them to bring others to Him. We can say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” praying that He helps us to accept His sovereignty over our day. Because after all, we were never meant to be in charge of our life. These gentle reminders of that fact can help us reorient ourselves towards God. (As an aside, I am experiencing a little annoyance right now from my kids. Thank you, Lord, for this opportunity to put into practice what I am preaching!)
 What about tragedies?Every day on FaceBook, someone asks me for prayers. Sometimes, a loved one is seriously ill. Other times, a FaceBook friend faces clinical depression. Prayers for difficult pregnancies and comfort while burying infants or dealing with miscarriage are common.

How should a Christian face tragic suffering?

 Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

In the spirit of Elijah

In the past week we’ve celebrated two major Carmelite feasts: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel (July 16) and the prophet Elijah (July 20). These two great saints in different ways exemplify what Carmelite spirituality is about.

Elijah demonstrates the prophetic aspect of Carmelite spirituality. The Carmelite seal bears these words of his as a motto:
With zeal have I been zealous for the Lord God of Hosts (1 Kings 19:10).
Consumed with zeal for holinessElijah was not afraid to confront the rulers of his day. He risked death to preach repentance to King Ahab, while Queen Jezebel launched an anti-crusade to wipe out God’s prophets. He challenged the prophets of Baal to a contest on Mt. Carmel to see whose god would consume a sacrifice with fire from Heaven. After winning that contest (surprise!), Elijah had all the false prophets killed. He led the people to re-commit themselves to the true God.
Then he went and prayed that, seeing their repentance, God would send rain. Elijah’s prayers had kept the land in drought for three years.
So Ahab went up to eat and to drink. And Eli′jah went up to the top of Carmel; and he bowed himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees. And he said to his servant, “Go up now, look toward the sea.” And he went up and looked, and said, “There is nothing.” And he said, “Go again seven times.”And at the seventh time he said, “Behold, a little cloud like a man’s hand is rising out of the sea.” And he said, “Go up, say to Ahab, ‘Prepare your chariot and go down, lest the rain stop you.’” And in a little while the heavens grew black with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain. And Ahab rode and went to Jezreel. (1 Kings 18:42-45)Since medieval times, Carmelites have seen the cloud as a symbol of Mary. She rises from the sea of our fallen humanity, a human being herself, yet without the stain of sin. She pours down on God’s people the pure water of His grace from Heaven. So the return of rain to the land of Israel is also a prophecy of the Woman whose cooperation with God’s grace will bring about the Incarnation.
Here are some more facts about Elijah:
His name means, “Yahweh is God.”He heard God speak to him in a gentle whisper (or “still, small voice”).He nearly despaired because he thought he was the last surviving faithful Israelite.He said, “The Lord my God lives, in whose presence I stand” (1 Kings 18:15).He raised a boy from the dead.He was taken up to Heaven in a chariot of fire.
Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.

Mystical Marriage

Some years ago I had lunch with friends in London. On my way out they introduced me to their father who was busy working in the garden. Without thinking I asked him what he was doing and he replied –“I do be digging the garden.” Some months later I met a nun who taught Irish in Dublin and I asked her about this expression that I’d never come across before. She explained that it was an English translation of what in Irish is called the present continuing tense. “Well what does it mean?” I asked, “What was he trying to say to me?” “Oh, what he was saying was this.” she said. “I have been digging the garden, I am digging the garden, and when you stop asking the obvious, I will continue digging the garden!” read on…

A Bit On ISIS Marking Christians for Extermination and Expropriation in Iraq

As jihadist Sunni Islamist terrorists from ISIS/ISIL strive to create a sharia inspired Caliphate as they take over territory in Iraq and Syria, they are slaughtering innocent Christians.  

However, even sharia law allows for dhimmitude, second class citizen status for “people of the book” (i.e. Jews and Christians) so long as they pay the jizya tax.  But that is not good enough for ISIS jihadists.  They have taken to mark the buildings of Christian institutions with spray-painted red marks indicating holdouts to exterminate and expropriate.

Spraypainted ISIS Extermination Graffiti on Christian buildings in Mosel, Iraq
“Nun” 14th letter in Arabic alphabet

 The symbol is “Nun”, the 14th letter in the Arabic alphabet.  It is the first letter in the name “Nazara” (or Nazarenes) the way in which Muslims have referred to Christians since the 7th Century. This is intended as a badge of shame for what is perceived as a contemptible and disobedient sect. 

SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US 

Are your fears, doubts, and frustrations keeping you from intimacy with God?

Afraid

How is your spiritual life going? Are you feeling frustrated with yourself? Are you distraught over your lack of progress? Do you keep falling into the same sins repeatedly?
Welcome to the human race!

No, I’m not trying to dismiss your concerns flippantly. Sometimes we just need a reminder that we are, after all, fallen. Adam’s sin affects us all. But here’s something you may not have realized:

Your sins do not shock God!

God is used to sinners. He has centuries of experience with them. He even came down from Heaven to live among them. Then people criticized Him for eating with sinners instead of the “righteous.” Yes, He loved to hang out with people like you and me.

God delights in showing mercy. He delights in lifting our burdens. He delights in carrying our yoke with us, comforting our sorrows, calming our fears.

Continue reading at Contemplative Homeschool.