A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Posts Tagged ‘Stations of the Cross

On the weekend, I added some new music to my MP3 player and created some playlists. As I looked through my songs, I realized I’d forgotten about some of the great tunes I’d downloaded, and I planned to listen to them again.

Sometimes we treat our spiritual disciplines the same way: we forget how good they are for the soul and maybe even think they’re outdated.

Consider Bible reading time. We can follow a reading plan or just read through a psalm or a chapter or two of the Bible to learn more about following and worshipping the Lord. How many of us think the scriptures have nothing to say to us today?

Think about a Way of the Cross service with its prayers, readings and responses for each station. It offers us a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the last days of Jesus’ life and his sacrifice for us. But how many of us might see it as one more thing to add to a busy schedule?

Consider the rosary. We meditate on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, praying through Mary to Jesus. How many of us just see it as repetitious?

Think about Eucharistic adoration. Whether we focus on something specific or share our cares and concerns or let ourselves be still, we get to spend time in the presence of Jesus. How many of us would struggle to imagine spending an hour in silent prayer?

For the price of a small amount of time—maybe fifteen minutes a day of Bible reading, twenty minutes or so for the Stations of the Cross or the rosary, an hour for adoration—we get to stop the hustle-and-bustle of daily life, think about our faith and God’s ways, and spend time in conversation with him.

Does the modern world we live in have anything to offer followers of our ancient faith? Absolutely. I have Catholic apps on my MP3 player and read Catholic e-books, I visit Catholic websites, I watch faith-based movies, and I maintain and follow Catholic boards on Pinterest. But it’s worth noting that my MP3 player features an album of Gregorian chant.

I pray that, even as we embrace new media and methods for sharing and learning about our faith, we would come to appreciate the ways that have served our Church so well. They may help us “become a leaven of Christian living within society” (Pope Francis (@Pontifex), Twitter, March 26, 2015).

And [Jesus] said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

~ Matthew 13:52*

(*Scripture quote taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

When I wash dishes, I usually listen to the radio or a podcast. When I watch TV, I often make to-do lists, leaf through flyers, or knit. It’s as though not multitasking somehow feels wrong.

If I sit still for a while and it’s quiet in the house, I’m tempted to doze off, especially if I’m sitting in a recliner. (Apparently my grandfather used to say that when the feet go up, the eyelids go down, or something along those lines.)

Not surprisingly, I often find it hard to concentrate when I pray silently. And then I feel guilty because I know that I need to spend time with God to keep on the right path and grow in faith. So if you struggle to be still and pray alone in silence, as I do, how can you connect with God through prayer?

  • Clear your mental to-do list. Easier said than done, I know. I’m the kind of person who always has lists on the go (groceries or gifts to buy, chores to do, crafts to finish, etc.). Writing down your to-do list first means those precious minutes can be used to pray rather than to worry about whether you’ll remember what you need to buy or accomplish.
  • Pray with your family. In s. 2694, the Catechism tells us “The Christian family is the first place for education in prayer.” When it’s time to say grace before meals, family members can take turns; you can even buy prayer dice with a different table grace on each side. You can come together for family prayer time before your kids go to bed (or before you do, if you turn in earlier than your teenagers do) or say a decade of the rosary as a family. Kids can take turns leading the rosary or other prayers.
  • Be truly present at Mass. Being in God’s house—whether it’s a small parish church or a basilica—helps me to pray. You can bless yourself with holy water on entering and leaving the church, add your own silent prayers during the prayers of the faithful, kneel for a few moments of prayer after receiving the Eucharist, or light a votive candle and say a prayer after Mass. Read the rest of this entry »

Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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