Monday, 14th Week in Ordinary Time

I went to confession again, today. This is the third time in seven days. What a wretch I am. The Lord knows I’m a sinner, and I’m ashamed that I have been falling into mortal sin so frequently.

These feelings of shame are counter-balanced with feelings of gratitude. I am grateful for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What an incredible mercy that God gives us! I commit a mortal sin, deserve to be cast into Hell, despite living an otherwise righteous life, but this Sacrament is here to wipe my sins away, again. Oh, Lord you are so merciful! How can this be? I don’t understand this love you have for me, but I’m grateful.

Inspired by the diary of Saint Faustina, I asked the Lord to be one of His Chosen. He asked me if I knew what I was asking for, and I replied that I do not know but I completely trust in his Mercy and will accept what he gives me. My prayer life was increasing in intensity, and God allowed the old temptations to come back in order to test my resolve.

Obviously, I failed. Yet, God was teaching me that I have yet to rely on his strength. If I want to be one of His Chosen, then I need to turn to him always. I still need to learn how to fight my basic temptations. These old battles need to be fought again before my Lord and Commander gives me more difficult assignments. The Holy Spirit is revealing that my old weaknesses are still there and may never go away. So I need to learn to rely on Christ always. 

The enemy will set traps and I need to be vigilant. The enemy knows my weaknesses, too, and will exploit them. The only way I can defeat their efforts is to struggle with prayer during those moments of temptation. If there Our Fathers is not enough for those temptations to subside, then say a whole rosary. If a whole rosary is not enough, then kneel and do a chaplet of Divine Mercy. I have other spiritual weapons at my disposal and I should familiarize myself with them, as any good soldier would before battle.

I will be mortally wounded, like I was yesterday. Whether the death was by the enemy or by my own carelessness doesn’t matter. There is no need for me to walk around dead, like a zombie. I can be healed in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I can always start over after a mortal “game over” until the power that keeps my physical body alive is shut off. Praise be to God. Have mercy on me. Train me to be a better soldier. I want to do battle for you.

Pillow Talk with God

I am not alone when I pray.  The Holy Spirit is there to guide me.  My friends, the saints whom I often turn to are there (St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Joseph, St. Thomas More, St. Jose Maria Escriva).  Prayer is a solitary activity, but I’m not alone.

I learned this past year the importance of liturgy in my prayer life.  While personal prayer is like pillow talk between God and I, active participation in the liturgy is prayer at a higher level.  Praying through liturgy is transcendental.  I am part of something greater than myself.  It is the spiritual equivalent to the conjugal act between husband and wife — it’s happening between Christ and His Bride, the Church!

Communion at Mass is more profound than sex.  Christ enters every member of His Bride, and His Body and Blood is absorbed into each member of her body, the Church.  The very divinity of Our Lord seeks to enter each soul, to unite with each member of her body.  This transforming union takes place to the extent that each member is holy.

That’s why I pray.  That’s why I want to be holy.  to be united with my beloved through the Church.  I am nothing on my own, by I am everything when I am with God in the Church.  Great sex with our spouse is only a shadow of the ecstasy we will experience in the transforming union with God.

Reading Fr. Thomas Dubay’s “Fire Within” has been the spiritual direction I needed.  It’s not the same as having a real-life coach, but the book is a stop-gap until God connects me with one.  Discursive meditation should lead me to simple contemplation.  Increasing distraction should be normal.  Feeling like I’m failing at prayer is also normal — although, I admit, I haven’t really experienced that aridness, yet.  When I do feel dryness in prayer, I should persist.  God doesn’t ask for us to “feel it” during prayer.  He asks us to be faithful.  I don’t have to feel like going out on a date with my wife.  I just have to do it faithfully, regardless of my feeling at the moment.

When I finish “Fire Within,” I should refrain from jumping to the next book.  I should instead put more time towards contemplation.  I should use the Liturgy of the Hours as a springboard to lectio divina.  I suspect the Office of Readings will be particularly fruitful.

Dear Holy Spirit, I do not know how to pray as I ought.  I fear that I am not advancing in my prayer life.  I seek to be united with you in the Most Holy Trinity.  Show me, Most Holy Counselor, how to grow in contemplation.  Help calm me if I fret.  Remind me that the process takes time, that this kind of prayer is less about effort and more about fidelity.

Help me, dear Holy Spirit, to be more detached to the creations of this world.  Reveal to me my hidden faults.  Purify me.  Burn away my imperfections so that the windows of my soul can shine your light without filter.

I love you, my Lord.  Abide in me and help me abide in you.  Amen.

Taking Up the Pen, Again

A friend of mine shared a blog article from “The Art of Manliness” that inspired me to take up writing in a journal, again.  Pen & paper, old-fashioned writing.  The article was about penmanship, and it was compelling.  Poor penmanship is common because schools no longer want to teach cursive.

While penmanship is a good reason to pick up journaling again with pen & paper, there was one particular section in the article that really was the impetus for me to start:

We’re big proponents of journaling around these parts. While I’ve experimented with digital journals, I keep coming back to my trusty paper journal. And I think it has to do with the meditative qualities handwriting has, particularly cursive writing. Synchronizing continuous hand movement with thought puts me in a state of flow that I can’t get with typing or even writing block letters. Whenever I’m typing, I have a tendency to second guess myself and hit “delete” when a sentence doesn’t come out right. Because there’s no delete button with cursive handwriting, I spend less time judging what I’m writing and more time just getting lost in the process. The result is a feeling of calmness and flow.

The quality of thought is higher when we write the old-fashioned way.  We can solve nagging problems and overcome writer’s block.  I don’t need to boot up a computer or deal with the cramped space on a mobile phone when writing with pen and paper.  I just pick up a pen and write.

I figured I could better fight what Stephen Pressfield calls “the Resistance” if I can keep a journal around me and find time to just write two-pages in it a day.  Whatever I write can be transcribed to my blog.  So, I’ll have regular content.  The added bonus is I get to practice my penmanship, again.

Dear Holy Spirit, bless the author of the article and my friend who shared it.  I pray that you will find my journaling an acceptable form of prayer.  If so, please give me the grace to persist in it.  Help me reflect, through journaling, on the Word of God and my conscience.  I ask this through Jesus Christ, Our Lord.  Amen.

Daily One – Deed and Truth

Today’s Readings – January 5, 2013

“Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth.” 1 John 3:18

What were my deeds of love yesterday?

  • I fed, played, bathed and put Maya to sleep last night when I would have rather worked on the many tasks piling up in queue.
  • After isolating Maya in her room for throwing a tantrum (which made her more hysterical), I was quick to show her love and affection after she calmed down.  Without the grace of God, I would have remained irritated and treated Maya with less love than what my Heavenly Father shows me after I misbehave.
  • Instead of being irritated with my wife for staying out late with her girlfriends, I gave her a nice long hug when she came home.  I kissed her profusely.  While she was away, I thought about the shortness of life and how easily I could lose her.  I started crying.
  • Instead of leaving the food and dishes out for my wife to clean up when she came home, I put everything away and washed all the dishes.  I would have rather not, but glory to God, I did.

How did I love truth?

  • I love going to daily Mass and I pray that I will have enough spiritual strength one day to go more often than on the First Friday of the month.
  • God was responsible for all the things that went well, today: getting my travel order, finding the passport photo I needed for Hana’s application, realizing that I could print out a copy of my name change decree at Staples instead of waiting until next Monday.  As a result, we will have Hana’s passport and Korean visa by next week.  All is well and we are on track to return to Seoul.
  • Being on earth is like exile and I should dream often of heaven.
  • Heaven is like my wedding day, except we are not limited by time or the size of our stomachs.  I would have time to talk to every one of my friends, catch up with them, share a plate of food with each one and drink many glasses of wine without getting drunk.  There would be music and dancing, and no one gets tired.  It is perpetually dusk, with all the beautiful russet, gold and scarlet colors splashed across the sky.

Daily One – The Holy Spirit Will Lead Me

Today’s Readings – January 2, 2013

Even after being baptized, it is possible for me to be deceived.  Today’s first reading says that I don’t need any person to teach me after my anointing (my Confirmation?), that I will know what is true and false if I remain in him.  It’s interesting… by remaining in him, St. John is referring to the teachings of Christ, the teachings “heard from the beginning.”  I may not need another person to teach me, but I need the Holy Spirit to guide me.  And the Holy Spirit can use others to lead me back to Christ, if I only empty myself to his gentle guidance.

Dear Holy Spirit, please lead me back to the Scriptures and let the Word of God teach me.  I lose myself in the words of other authors.  Help me, beloved Holy Spirit, by letting other words lead me back to His Word.

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