Spirituality

Happy feast of St Ignatius of Loyola

St. Ignatius said that the Examen is the most essential prayer of each day. It’s a method of praying through each day, and learning to see as God sees. To celebrate his feast day, I’m sharing the ‘Reimagining the Examen’ app with you. The link below introduces it wonderfully, and has all the versions at the bottom.

http://reimaginingexamen.ignatianspirituality.com

God bless you!

Happy feast day!

Accept – Offer – Surrender

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‘Accept, offer, surrender’ is a method of prayer I’ve formed recently, to help me come to Jesus and find rest in Him. It’s longer name is, “accept the past, offer the present, surrender the future.” It’s been very helpful to me, and so I share it now, in the hope that it might help someone else.

Accept

I found I have a tendency to fight the past. Stupid, right? I routinely exert my effort and stress into hating and complaining about things I cannot change. On the other hand, meanwhile, I resist the good things I’ve been given, by being ungrateful. I think this is generally because I don’t like that I’m not in control of the good things in my life, so I either ignore them, or pretend they’re my right and take them for granted.

In order to accept what I’ve been given, especially the bad, I start off by saying something like, “Lord, I accept Your love.” Unless I accept God’s love, I’ll always remain on guard against the world, never letting anything in, and always remaining at war. I then proceed to go through the things in my life, especially those most on my heart and mind, and pray, roughly, “Lord, I accept ____ in Your love.” God works everything for good for those who love Him [Rm 8:28], and all things, good and bad, are to be accepted from His hand. God is present in all things, and we ought to love and accept Him in all things.

But some things are seemingly impossible to accept. Thinking about them brings too much pain. When this is the case, I recommend praying again, “Lord, I accept You love me.” Let His love enter you, ask for His help, and try again to accept it. Then, if you fail repeatedly, change tact, and instead accept, offer and surrender your struggle to accept it.

Offer

It is easy to live with a worldly mindset, in which I just get by, serve myself, and my life is basically meaningless. It’s incredibly easy, corrupted as I am by sin, to remain closed in on myself, refusing to love. But we are called to follow Christ, who opened and poured Himself out for us.

I say, “Lord, I offer myself to You now, in union with Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross, in union with His love, and in union with His obedience.” I then go through every situation I’m in, each problem, each obstacle, and each opportunity, and offer it up to the Father, asking to be obedient in each one, and united to Jesus’ offering upon the cross.

It’s in this offering of love and gratitude that we find true life and true freedom in Christ. In sharing His love, we experience His own joy, and our joy is made complete [Jn 15:11].

Surrender

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Ultimately, I’m not in control; I never have been; I never will be. Nothing at all is truly in my power. But this is good news, because it is all in God’s power, and His plans and desires for me, are far greater than mine. It is difficult to let go of the illusion of control and trust in God, but it is the only way to peace and freedom, both for ourselves, and for those we have been oppressing.

Again, I start with something like, “Lord, I surrender to Your love for me.” I don’t think I could surrender to anything but love, and I don’t think I’d want to. Then, I go through the things I’m uncertain of, each of my fears and my hopes, needs and desires and say, “Lord, I surrender ____ to Your love.” Often I’ll make a petition that it goes a certain way as well, because I know God is a good Father, who is happy to treat us [Mt 7:11].

 

 

God bless you!

 

P.S. Also, if a particular matter arises to trouble me, I’ll do a short accept-offer-surrender for just that issue. I’m sure it can be adapted in many other ways too.

God bless!

Secrets, Sex, & Spirituality

As with so many things, I learnt this the hard way. Some things, even (and especially) beautiful things, are meant to be kept secret. Some blessings can’t be shared without being corrupted, and sometimes exclusion is necessary for a deeper inclusion.

The obvious natural example of this is sex. I hardly need to explain that the less exclusive it is, the more it becomes “cheap” and the more it is objectified. What you have received is given to you alone, for you alone, and no one else matters in it. Within such intimate gift, a whole microcosm is built, in which there is no one but lover and beloved, and therefore love can become all.

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But I didn’t intend to write about sexuality. As per usual, this is even more true on the supernatural level. Sometimes God gives us certain insights, experiences, blessings, or gifts, and it’s not about anyone else– it’s just Lover and beloved, together in their own microcosm. To try to share these things, is to try to make them about others, and it only does violence to the gift given. Others won’t properly understand and appreciate them, because they’re not meant for them. Instead, we ought to harbour these secret gifts, treasure them, and savour them ourselves, regularly reentering our hidden world and praying to our Father “who is in secret” [Mt 6:6].

If you feel concerned about the seeming exclusivity, and perhaps selfishness, of this, don’t. Just as sexuality naturally overflows into new life and deeper love for all, so this hidden intimacy with God supernaturally overflows into spiritual children and deeper love for all. These loves, like every authentic love, reach out to all, but only by moving through us, transforming us into love.

 

God bless you!

 

P.S. I honestly had no intention of writing about sex, but then I never know what I’m going to find when I write. You can probably guess I’m reading Theology of the Body for Beginners at the moment, and am honestly blown away. I can’t recommend it enough.

God bless you again!
P.P.S. This was originally published as ‘Intimate secrets with God’, but honestly, that title was boring, and it didn’t fit as well as the new title.

God bless you! 

Even more new quotes

I’ve added these quotes to the quotes page, and I’m sharing them in this post because I doubt you want to regularly check it for new quotes. Enjoy :)

‘Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.’
Theodore Roosevelt

‘We cannot be sure of having something to live for unless we are willing to die for it.’
Che Guevara

‘Cruel leaders are replaced only to have new leaders turn cruel!’
Che Guevara

 

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‘The wound is the place where the light enters you.’
Rumi

‘Love is the bridge between you and everything.’
Rumi

‘A physicist is just an atom’s way of looking at itself.’
Neils Bohr

‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.’
Albert Einstein

‘The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.’
Albert Einstein

‘There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.’
Albert Einstein

‘Few are those who see with their own eyes and feel with their own hearts.’
Albert Einstein

‘He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.’
Albert Einstein

A season of Penance

What’s the point of lent? Lent is our penitential season. We look at where we’ve been going wrong, and we begin, with the help of God’s mercy, to make it right. We take a long, hard look at ourselves, see our wretchedness, and turn to God.

Leo Tolstoy said,

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”

Lent is the time when we must commit to changing ourselves, and allowing God to change us.

Lent is the season for making a comeback. It is preparation for us to unite ourselves to the resurrection, the greatest comeback of all time. So if we sin, make a comeback- it’s lent. If we fail at our fasts, prayers or good deeds, make a comeback- it’s lent. If you haven’t been up to scratch in any way, now is the time to make your big comeback.

The best way, of course, is by confession. Walking straight up to God, and submitting ourselves to His mercy, to His plan, to His salvation.

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So why do we fast? I think the benefits of prayer and good deeds are obvious, but the point of fasting and self-denial is a bit tougher. We don’t give up anything because pleasure is bad, or discomfort is good. We do it to learn to depend upon God.

‘He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.’
Deuteronomy 8:3

By fasting, we turn our backs on our old ways. We confess that the world gives neither security nor satisfaction, and as long as we look for them in the world, we don’t look for them in God.

When revolutionaries were making headway across the world, they would outlaw whatever they considered too “bourgeois” for their new life. Suits and ties, golf, various artworks, and more, had to be cut off. To make a new world, and with it a new man, the world would have to be aggressively purged of its old ways.

Make no mistake: Christianity is a greater revolution than Marxism. Marxism was a revolt against capitalism, on the basis of economics; Christianity is a revolt against death in all its forms, on the basis of Divine love.

In lent we are called especially, to take up our crosses and follow Jesus, in the firm faith that at the end there will be Easter, resurrection and glory! We join ourselves to his love, sufferings and death, knowing that in these we find the true, absolute, eternal life.

Anyway, that’s enough from me. I’ve got some repenting to do!

God bless you!

Pray When You Don’t Feel Like It

This is my best advice for all people, in all walks of life, of all ages, all backgrounds, heck, even of all religions and none. Whatever your lifestyle, whatever your past, whatever your vices and virtues, whatever your failures and successes. However much you pray, however “good” you are at it. Pray when you don’t feel like it.

Why? Because we always need God, and He always makes it better. Always.

We always need our Creator, our Father, our Saviour.

Bl. Mother Teresa quote

If you don’t feel you can pray right, pray wrong. Even if you can’t help swearing, swear in prayer. God loves it.

Even the smallest prayer in the worst sinner, opens us to God’s infinite creative love and mercy. Throughout each day, we grow stale (the “righteous” especially), and we need to be reinvigorated. We close ourselves off, from God, from others, from creation, and from ourselves. In this dying world to which we are subject, we must repeatedly open ourselves to the source of all life.

Whatever the situation, the briefest contact with God will bring life there.

As the winter deepens, we know that opening the door for just a moment lets so much cold in, and leaving one small window open freezes the whole house! That is how brief prayer and small prayer let God in.

Sometimes prayer will be genuinely painful. But however bad it may feel, this is the pain of life, and it is good. It burns and it crushes and it grinds, but it liberates, and fills us with light.

Sometimes, I don’t know the words; I pray remembered prayers (the Our Father and the Jesus prayer usually). God answers. Sometimes, all my words, all my thoughts, and all I am, seem empty and vain; I tell God I feel empty and vain, accepting that I feel empty and vain even as I confess this. God comes to the rescue. Sometimes, I can’t bring myself to say a word before God; I kneel in front of my crucifix, make the sign of the cross, and remain there, in front of the Lord, knowing I am seen. God is there. Sometimes, I’m too afraid to go to God at all; I go to a saint to help me (usually St. Therese). The saints bring me to God. And sometimes, I don’t take my own advice and don’t pray.

At those times God either keeps on disturbing me, or waits for me.

Evidently, I’m no prayer master. But I know for certain, that every time we pray, we open our lives to God’s work, and He always enters, and He always helps.

 

God bless you

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Me and the ladybug

Yesterday, as I walked to campus, a ladybug flew straight towards me, and landed gently on my finger. I wouldn’t have even felt it if I hadn’t seen it. I decided to let it stay, and move my hands to give it more places to go. Sometimes it took up my offer, and sometimes it stayed still or turned around. Eventually, it took out its wings, geared up and left me to continue my walk in peace.

In that brief moment, we were not competitors, colleagues, or obstacles to each other. We were not threats or opportunities for gain. We were just two living things together, two simple creatures on a short journey, enjoying each other’s existence. We were playmates. We were equals. We served no greater good, but existed for our own sake. The goodness that we were was more than enough.

By our existence, by our play, we were giving glory to our common creator. Because we served nothing, not even ourselves, we served God.

God bless you!