Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Maslow, the Our Father, and the 12 Steps

I heard something on Catholic Radio that I thought was very insightful.
We pray the Our Father forwards, but live it backwards. 
In thinking about this, I realized that the Lord's Prayer is, in some ways, like psychologist Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, which starts at the most basic human needs; only when they are met can we move on to try to satisfy higher needs.

For example, if a student comes to school hungry, or with worries about violence in their home or neighborhood, they can't learn.  They can't focus on learning until those more basic needs of food and safety are met.

Similarly, the Our Father starts (if you take it from the end, as the above quote suggests) with the most important and most basic of spiritual needs.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. 
We need, first, to be delivered from evil before we do anything else. What evil is and where we find it is the difficulty in this confusing and troubling world.  We must, I think, stay close to Christ, and remember that we can't support ourselves in this world alone. The first of Alcoholics Anonymous' famous 12 steps, speaks of this need.
We admitted we were powerless...that our lives have become unmanageable. 
The Psalmist reminds us that only in God can our soul find rest.  There are times when we cannot see the evil as it influences our lives and decisions.  But, with God, all things are possible. Once we have given over our lives to God, we can beg Him to keep us away from the evil that inevitably surrounds us and influences us.  We cannot do it alone.

Next, we discover that a big part of keeping away from evil is forgiveness.
And, forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. 
This, too, requires us to ask the Lord for help.  Again, the 12 steps speak to us:
Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. 
There are those who, in their spiritual lives, focus solely on what (they think) God wants of them, never thinking to ask God for the strength to carry that out.

 Daily bread.  Give us this day our daily bread.

This can be taken to mean the literal need of food, but it can also mean the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. Taken this way, it is natural that it would come after (in this way of looking at it) our asking God to forgive us our sins. The daily bread of communion, both literal and spiritual, is something we cannot live without.

The 12 steps tell us to seek, through prayer, to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will and the power to carry that out. 

After communing with God, it is natural that we seek His Kingdom as it is played out in our lives.  This can only happen after we seek Him out, ask His help, confess our sins, and receive His daily bread.
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 
We will naturally want to further the Kingdom of God, but, again, it is important to realize that, as fallible human beings, we will just as naturally mess that up, in our own lives, and in others'. We need to remain humble and continue to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. 

The last stop in the Lord's Prayer, is praise.  Acknowledge that God is everyone's Father, and that He deserves our praise. After we have humbled ourselves and given our lives over to a Power greater than our sinful selves, we can more fully realize and live our lives in God's presence. 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What is it that matters in the spiritual life?

There are different aspects of spirituality. Perhaps the most obvious, especially to Catholics, is the outward. There are statues and rosaries, incense and bells, religious jewelry and heirloom Christmas decorations.

There is also a sort of secondary tangebility in modern day Catholicism that is, in a way, re-borrowed from the Amish. This includes things like wearing modest clothing, mainly or only skirts and dresses, head coverings in church, home schooling and generally sticking to very traditional gender roles.

While there is certainly freedom within Catholicism to practice the faith in a variety of ways, these things are not required, although they do provide a sense of security in an increasingly troubled world.

If you are one to try out this sort of spiritual expression, only to have found it wanting, or have practiced it for a while and dropped the practice, you can feel a bit like a fish out of water.  Why am I not as good as those pious home schooling families? What is wrong with me? Am I losing my faith?

No. I don't think so. Sometimes, God strips us of our outward consolations in order for us to realize that the outward things are not what lasts. First Corinthians tells us that nothing lasts except faith, hope and love. If we do not have these, nothing else matters.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Thoughts from Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton said "In effect, my 'happiness' does not depend on any institution or establishment."
 To me, this means that if you depend on any structures or institutions, even ones that are helpful and functional and necessary, is to ultimately depend on fallible humanity, to be disappointed and disillusioned We should never rest on our earthly laurels when trying to get close to God.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Evening Prayer

I adore You, my God, and I love You with all my heart. I thank you for having created me, for having made me a Christian, and for having preserved me this day. Pardon me for the evil I have done today. If I have done anything good, be pleased to accept it. Protect me while I take my rest and deliver me from all dangers. May Your grace be always with me. Amen.
O Father, come and visit our home and protect us from the lures of the enemy; may Your holy angels come to guard our peace and may Your blessing remain with us forever. In Christ, our Lord. Amen. God bless you all! (Evencia)

*From Proud to be Catholic on Facebook

Friday, August 07, 2015

St. Veronica, Patron of Compassion

In today's busy society, it is sometimes difficult to bring ourselves to feel true compassion.  Social media stimulates the mob mentality that seems a hold-over from our animal ancestors. It is so easy to give in to our busy grumpiness and blame the other for their misfortunes.

Even easier, is the tendency to let our anger get the better of us when we are put out, inconvenienced, or are targets of another's anger. 

It often does not occur to us to stop for a moment, and pray for compassion.  St. Veronica was moved to compassion by what must have been a traumatic and horrific scene. She somehow overcome the fear she must have felt to publicly challenge the Roman soldiers and wipe Jesus' face with her veil.

Jesus' miracle is his gift to her, and to us. 

St. Veronica, pray for us!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Our Lady of Perpetual Help, Pray for Us!

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Perpetual Help.  She has been a great help to my family and has been a true mother to us.

Our country needs her right now more than ever.
Novena Prayer

Oh Mother of Perpetual Help, grant that I may ever invoke your powerful name, the protection of the living and the salvation of the dying. Purest Mary, let your name henceforth be ever on my lips. Delay not, Blessed Lady, to rescue me whenever I call on you. In my temptations, in my needs, I will never cease to call on you, ever repeating your sacred name, Mary, Mary. What a consolation, what sweetness, what confidence fills my soul when I utter your sacred name or even only think of you! I thank the Lord for having given you so sweet, so powerful, so lovely a name. But I will not be content with merely uttering your name. Let my love for you prompt me ever to hail you Mother of Perpetual Help. Mother of Perpetual Help, pray for me and grant me the favor I confidently ask of you.
(Then say three Hail Marys).

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Praying Through Facebook

Facebook can be a life saver, a godsend, a way of connecting to people you have lost touch with or long forgotten.

The downside is that Facebook can be overly dramatic, jealousy-inducing and infuriating as you are suddenly faced with points of view that you either didn't know your friends had, or that in past times would have been kept out of "polite company."

People take Facebook breaks all the time and this can be a good way to regroup and focus on what is real and meaningful in your life. On the other hand, for many people, Facebook is the main way they keep in touch with their friends and family.

An alternative to either ditching Facebook completely, or hiding and unfriending people left and right, is to pray through Facebook.  When someone posts something that is disturbing to you in some way, lift it up.  Give it to God.  You never know what affect your quiet prayers may have on someone's life.

Someone I know recently told me about a simple and ingenious way to pray for people.  If the person in need is a male, this person prays a quick Our Father for them.  If the person in need is a female, the prayer said is a Hail Mary. That way, you actually *pray* rather than just thinking about praying for them, although I think God honors even that.

He is in control.  We don't have to fret and worry.

Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

my poetry on the web

Karumi Garden

Karumi Garden
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