Friday, June 22, 2012

Faithful Simplicity

Today a Catholic Update article was placed in all of our mailboxes at the parish titled "Faithful Simplicity" by Susan K. Rowland. I wish I had received this a couple of weeks ago, then maybe I wouldn't have wore myself out and given myself a cold from being busy and stressed out!

The author talks about how the topic of "simplicity" has become quite popular over the years, which shows that our lives have become far too busy and complicated. Isn't that the truth! I can admit that even I love articles about organizing or "simplifying" my life!

"We cannot have outer simplicity in our homes and schedules without inner simplicity. And, if we are at peace inside, if we lean on and learn to trust God for our needs, our outer lives will reflect that."

Rowland gives five tips for simplifying:

1. "Start by keeping a simple, 15-minute, morning prayer appointment with God." I always have intentions of doing this, but my morning always seems to slip away from me. I'd like to actually try, perhaps it's best to have accountability prayer partners for this!

2. Find out what "faithful simplicity" means to you. In the article she listed questions to help people try to figure it out, such as: having less clutter around the house? less to do? buying less? getting your finances under control? going out less and enjoying relaxation at home more? seeing friends and family you have been too busy to fit in? saying no to things you don't care to do?

3. "Ask a friend to help you clear your clutter...then reciprocate by doing the same at your friend's home." They'd have to be a really good friend to help out with something like that!

4. "Start a stream-of-consciousness journal...writing about your emotional issues gets a lot of anger and confusion out of your head and onto a harmless piece of paper. Writing about your worries is a great life-simplier. This exercise can help you clarify problems, or it may simply allow you to vent and let go of anger." I'm a big fan of journaling, it definitely helps me see how I overreact but also lets me see how I've grown over the years.

5. "Get rid of old projects...give these things away to a thrift store or toss them out." Some people are great about finishing every project they start...others, like me, aren't the best! I always want to finish things, maybe if I just had more time! :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

What's Your Habit?

Today I finally got around to reading the Spring issue of Church Life, an online magazine put out by the Institute for Church Life through Notre Dame. I haven't finished all the articles (I got caught up watching cute YouTube videos like this one). What I did read was a great article on prayer by Larry Cunningham. He was one of the professors I had during my summers at Notre Dame for Echo.

One line that stuck out to me was, "For the Christian, prayer is not a discrete act done now and again. It is a way of life." How many times do we make it a single act done once in awhile, perhaps when things are rough? It is difficult forming the habit of prayer, but once we do it, we come into the act of "remembering God" easily and keep Him at the forefront of our minds and hearts.

Larry gave these practical tips for developing the habit of prayer:

  1. Begin each day by remembering God and asking for grace for that day.
  2. Cultivate the spirit of gratitude for the gifts we have received.
  3. Remember others, especially those in need, and "lift them up" before God.
  4. One small gesture is to sign ourselves with the sign of the cross; it is both an act of faith in the Holy Trinity and a prayer which says that we do all things "in the Name."

On the first day of the summer class I had with Larry, he told us the simple act of remembering God was prayer itself. I was definitely a fan of that statement! Sometimes it's the simple things that will lead us into habits. Another youth minister I know would tell people to begin the day by quoting from one of the psalms: "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad." On days I don't want to get out of bed, that simple sentence helps motivate me to get up and start my day.

I know I've mentioned the Liturgy of the Hours before on this's something I used to do all the time in college, but I also had my friends to keep me accountable in praying it with them. It's more difficult when you don't have that community to pray with (in physical terms, of course we are never alone in our prayer). It's definitely one of my favorite forms of prayer because it brings peace to my day, whether it's morning, evening, or night. Here's to starting that habit again and making prayer a way of life!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What is Normal?

Today during Mass, one of my prayers was "God, can you please help my life return back to normal?" But then I realized I wasn't sure what that meant! Are our lives normal? Can they ever be normal? If we're truly living them to the fullest, it seems not. But then again...what is normal? For some, doing crazy things like climbing mountains or white water rafting are normal! As a single woman in her mid-twenties, I don't think I have reached "normal" yet. Things change so often: situations with my job, friends, even my weekly schedule. Maybe change is normal and I simply have to pray for guidance and wisdom to sort through all of it.

And then again, maybe I don't want "normal" because that's when things can become boring...and who wants that!?

Just some thoughts for today...