Prayer Only for Today

I came across this beautiful prayer several days ago in the Magnificat Year of Mercy Companion book.  I’ve been praying it and would like to offer it for your reflection.

Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

Only for today, I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

Only for today, I will devote ten minutes to some good reading, for good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself; I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

Only for today, I will have no fears.  In particular, i will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness.

(Pope John XXIII)

 

Need a good read for your book group?

I am proud to present the second edition of my book, Grief Guts and Grace, recently published by Tate Publishing.

I would like to give the book groups in our area the opportunity to be among the first to read this Second Edition of my book, Grief Guts and Grace.  This new edition has been published by Tate Publishing and contains reflection questions that help with grief work.  It also contains new images of the angels in our yard as well as more poetry on grief.

I am willing to do a Question/Answer with your group after you have finished reading it.  I am also happy to sign books for your group.  If my book fits the focus and interest of your group, message me to arrange delivery of books and a date for Q&A.

The official release date for this second edition of Grief Guts and Grace was March 17.              I will be having a book signing at The Lab, in River Ranch, Lafayette, LA on May 16, from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.  Come see me – I would love to sign a book for you!!

Grief Guts and Grace is currently available at Crossroads  Book Store in Lafayette, La, through Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Tate Publishing’s web site, http://www.tatepublishing.com.  You can also purchase them directly from me.  Cost is $10.99.  Message me for ordering information.

I look forward to talking to you about my book.

Front cover

How is Your Lent Going?

Today is the Third Sunday of Lent.  Today’s gospel in Mark tells recounts the Transfiguration of Jesus before the disciples.   “And he was transformed before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no fuller on earth could bleach them.  Then Elijah appeared to them along with Moses and they were conversing with Jesus……..Then a cloud came, casting a showdow over them: from the cloud came a voice, ‘This is my beloved Son, Listen to him’.   Suddenly, looking around, they no longer saw anyone but Jesus alone with them.”

I am wondering about the conversation between Jesus, Elijah and Moses.  Scripture says there were conversing with Jesus.  What do you image they were talking about?  Perhaps it went something like this:

Jesus:  Thank you for coming to visit me here among our people.

Elijah:  I was anxious to see the twelve men you chose to lead and teach after you come back to us in heaven.  Do you really think they can do it?  They look like simple fishermen to me.  I’m not sure they are up to the task you will set before them.  I hope you chose the right ones Jesus.

Moses:  At least they know you.  Me and my people wondered around the deserts for so many years waiting for you and never did get to see you as they do.  I hope they realize the gift they have been given in your presence Jesus.  We had the Old Testament laws  – so many laws  that we were bound to.  It was so difficult to follow all of them.  The least infraction and we were doomed.  I hope they all can see the tremendous gift you are giving to them.    

Elijah:  Yeah Jesus – have you told them that you are here to change all those old laws – no more eye for an eye and all that……Oh that they would know how free they can be with the hope you are bringing to them!  They can turn to you and be freed from their sinful ways.  

Jesus:  These twelve men were selected by the Father for the task they are being given.  Some of them will fail at first but those failures will prove to be the purification of their faith and will motiviate them to stand faithful to my teaching.  The Father is going to send them his Spirit of Faith and Love who will guide them to accomplish their task.  They will all accomplish what has been predestined for them.  

Moses:  You are going to remind them of the laws you carved for me on the stones?

Jesus:  Oh Yes, and I will carve them in the hearts of these men and all who will follow?

Has Jesus carved his will for your life in your heart – are you following his will?  Do you even know what his will is for you?  Lent is the time for each of us to slow down long enough to listen to his will; to let that small voice come into our spirit and speak to us.   If we are willing, he will speak to us of all the ways in which we are not living in accord with his will and will give us joy for the ways in which we are.

It is our tradition to “give up” something for Lent.  This year, I have given up french fries and dip cones.  The fries and dips are something I enjoy.  I offer them up as a discipline of the flesh to let God know I am willing to offer allbeit small sacrifice in gratitude for all his has given to me.  It reminds me that I need to look at the things in my life that speak to overindulgence.  How about you – what overindulgence are you being reminded of this Lent?

It is also our tradition to “take up”  something for Lent.  We might take up going to weekday mass or adding a Lenten medatation to our prayers during Lent. Perhaps it’s going to confession. In addition to weekday mass, I am again taking up my yearly journals for Lent.

Just before Lent each year I begin to think and pray about all the people I am close to – family, friends, Directees.  I ask God who we will invite into our Lent?  As I am praying about each, I hear his invitation to that person to join us for Lent.  I then go out and buy a journal for each person he/we invite.  Then, beginning on Ash Wednesday and each day during Lent I write to that peson in their journal.  I typically tell them about lessons I am learning, reflections I am reading and whatever else God whispers to me to write (like taking dictation).  I have to opportunity in their journal to share how proud I am of them and how they are living their lives.  I write about my love for them.  It’s a great way to tell them all the things I might not say to them but always wanted to.  I usually end each day with an open-ended question for them to reflect on.  This year I am writing to four people.

Then on Easter Sunday, I wrap up the journal and go to them for a personal delivery.  I don’t reveal who I have been writing to until that day.  Nice surprise – a gift of love from me – but especially from the Lord – because I trust he will reveal himself to them by some simple little word that I heard him tell me to write just for that person.

What are you “taking up” this Lent?  How is it bringing you closer to accomplishing the task God has given to you.  We have all been given a task, just like the disciples.  Lent is the time to take a look at how were are doing with it.

God Bless You!!!

Prayer Chain/Magic Novena – Why not to respond to them.

Have you ever received an email with a beautiful prayer or novena in it – along with some very explicit instructions on how you are to repeat it at specific times for so many days.  Many senders call it a prayer chain.  Once you have completed the prescribed instructions, the answer to your prayer or petition will miraculously happen;  as though saying these prayers as instructed will induce God to do your will.  I received emails like this every few weeks from some well-intentioned God-fearing people who have no idea what they are promoting.

My sister recently picked up a novena prayer to St. Jude Thaddeus from the book shelf at her parish church.  She had been suffering with bronchitis and a bad nagging cough.  She decided to take her illness to prayer and offered up this prayer to  St. Jude every day at the same time of day that she found the prayer in church.  After the days of prayer she experienced healing from bronchitis and the coughing had subsided.  She then decided to pray the novena again in gratitude for graces she received.  When she picked up the prayer sheet and unfolded it, she found the instructions for saying this novena.  It instructed the petitioner to pray the novena 6 times a day for the prescribed number of days.  She had only prayed the novena once each day – not having noticed the explicit instructions on the inside of the sheet of paper.   This goes to prove that God is not looking for gimmicks or tricks to petition  his will.  He only desires our sincere prayer and the giving of our will over to him.

I have wanted to respond to the emails containing this type of prayer chain saying something to the effect that God is not “on call” and waiting to give us what we ask for especially if we do it in an obligatory fashion as instructed.  Not wanting to offend the proffer of these prayer recipes I have asked a priest what is the best way to instruct rather than offend in my reply to them.

Here is the response Father said I should include as my reply when I receive such emails:

“I received your email containing a prayer chain.  I choose not to forward it & would like to tell you why.  A “chain prayer” or letter tells of a “future event” that will happen if the directions are followed.  To foretell the future is a sin, and has always been condemned by the law of God.  God’s promises are to those who obey HIS laws, not the other way around.   

The Catholic Church actually considers chain prayers/letters a blessing and a curse.  If a person fails to forward the chain letter, the curse can be the threat of bad luck.   If the person continues the chain letter, he is promised good luck or some form of  prosperity. This is occultist and against Church teachings. 

To the unaware Catholic, sending out prayers to friends seems a good thing to do.  What we often fail to realize is the pretext of the “prayer” might make it sinful rather than a blessing.  For example, a common chain may contain a beautiful prayer, poem, or picture of Jesus; and warns the reader of bad luck if he doesn’t forward it to a certain number of people within a certain number of minutes.

The reader is “enticed” to forward it in exchange for personal reward.  This makes it clearly not a blessing.  That person is relying on “following the directions” to obtain the desired outcome rather than simple faith in God for answers to personal prayer.  No matter how seemingly holy the content of the email is, the context is evil.  It undermines the charity and love of God for mankind.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church addresses the sending of chain prayers/letters in order to obtain a desired outcome in the future in Section 2115. 

“God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints.  Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.”

 Some people do not see any wrong in sending a chain letter.  They may do it for “fun”- but is it right? It is not.  We are to be role models to others of what a Christian is, and when we send chain prayers or letters, we are not being true to that call.  As we find Christ and proclaim Him as Lord of our lives, we need to search for the truth and what He wants of us.  It is in that spirit of truth that I choose not to forward any “prayer chains”.

Consider this next time you receive a prayer chain email, pick one up in church or feel the temptation to pass one on.

 

Discerning God’s Voice as an Invitation

Have you never wondered if what you are doing is within the will of God?  I sure have.  I have recently been discerning several activities I am involved in and whether I should continue because me and my ego want to; or because I feel God calling me to them.  I was reminded this week by my Spiritual Director that when God calls us to do something he doesn’t “order us” – he “invites us”.   In my case, I was feeling overwhelmed with many things on my plate.  I was feeling the burden of being told what to do from voices in my past which is an indication of a false spirit trying to detract my efforts.

My discernment involved being quiet in prayer and asking God to invite me again.  Once I was able to hear the His invitation and not the “marching orders” of a false spirit;  I knew what activities I needed to pursue.

Remember….God will always invite us to serve him.  Then, it is our free will to accept that invitation or not.  Once we accept, we discern the cost of serving and then set about doing his will – all from a place of freedom to serve not from a place of fear and obligation.

Take a pause today, be silent, go to prayer and listen for your invitation.

God’s response to my prayer:  “Beloved, go about the work I set for you.  Don’t look for a big holy resurrection moment – just work and do your best.  Don’t look for out loud confirmation.  Just know and believe that I love you and won’t leave you alone to do this work.” 

Am I worthy? Part 1

Pray about this and journal……I would love to hear your response

At mass we say, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul would be healed.”  What is the “word” the Lord would have to say in order to heal my soul and make me worthy?

What do you think the word is?

How do I love Thee, My God? Let me count the ways.

I recently attended a Theresian Day of Prayer where Father Mark Thibodeaux, a Jesuit priest talked about loving God.  He explained that some people are “guilted into loving God”.  Upon looking at the crucified Christ and realizing that it is our sin that brought about his Passion enduring for our sake, we are filled with remorse and guilt.  We love him because we should, because we caused his suffering.  Thereby, we are “guilted into loving”.

However, the true and authentic love we are called to comes from a “compunction of heart”, as Father Mark put it.  At first, I was puzzled by this.  Don’t we feel a sort of compunction of heart when we look at the cross and feel remorse for our sin.  I brought this matter to prayer, and to my Spiritual Director this week.  I wanted to examine how I love God and to be sure of its origin and motive.

I do realize my sin and how I cause Jesus’ suffering.  I am a repentant sinner, for sure.  But I want to love my Father in heaven because it is my free well’s desire to be in union with him and to grow in relationship with him.   My first question for my Director was about “compunction of heart” and what it meant.  Compunction describes puncturing something, which in turn makes it vulnerable.  For me, this compunction of heart means I am presenting myself before God, my  Father in heaven, a repentant sinner, who is allowing myself to be vulnerable  and give myself to his will over my life and every detail of it.   I am trusting him with my life and most of all my heart and will take care of it.  I have had issues with trust in my life, so this is a big step, even though it means trusting God.

My journal prayer this week is:   “Jesus, teach me, touch me, reach into you dwelling place deep in  my heart and rise up with all your might and create in me a brand new heart that is so real no doubt dare come near; so full of love that no pride, no laziness can interfere with  my service to your kingdom.  Lord, help me  to feel this love, let it move me in such a way that I cannot resist it.  Let my tears come when I feel it as evidence of my love-filled heart. “

The response my heart received from God was:   “Joannie, if you want to love me with compunction of heart, love others – then you will be loving me.  The way to love me is to love my children.  You are already doing this my beloved daughter.”

How are you loving God?   Is it “guilted love” or is it a love that comes from a “compunction of heart”?

 

Father Mark Thibodeaux is a Jesuit priest and has written 3 wonderful books that I high recommend, Armchair Mystic, God-I have Issues, and God’s Voice Within.

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