We’re assaulted with news stories every day, showing us the reality that our brothers and sisters in many corners of the world face extreme persecution and even death due to their faith. It can feel defeating. I wonder what to do; you probably wonder, too. Yet there is a weapon that we can all take up, that doesn’t cost any money. This weapon will not leave us feeling guilty at using its power. Paradoxically, it is not a weapon that kills; it is a weapon that brings life. It is a weapon that can be used at any time and place. A bishop in Nigeria had a vision of the Rosary defeating Boko Haram. Make no mistake; this is not a physical battle, but a spiritual one. Groups such as Boko Haram and ISIL are evil incarnate. Did you know that, in 1986 in the Philippines, the Rosary saved the people from the continuation of an awful dictatorship? The only weapon the people used was the Rosary. That is only one example of the power of prayer; there are many more stories of Our Lord and Our Lady working to achieve peace and victory through the Rosary. Don’t underestimate the power of prayer. By praying, you are doing the most powerful thing you can. The Rosary is a weapon, my friends, and a shield. If you don’t pray the Rosary already, commit to it. It can seem daunting, but a Rosary can be split up during the day. You can listen to it on your Ipod and pray along, or from a CD in the car. If we are all praying, our army is stronger than any evil army. “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.” 2 Corinthians 10:3-4
I don’t know about you, but some days I feel pulled further and further from God. Frustrating situations, stress, uncertainties, and just plain busyness pull me deeper into myself. It shouldn’t be like that. Each day we have opportunities to come to know God more through the situations we encounter. So, what are a few simple ways to stick close to God throughout the day and keep Him at the center?
1. Carry your Bible with you. In the waiting room or at the bus stop, get into the Word! It’s amazing how much time we spend waiting each day, or those little snatches of time we don’t realize we have. When others see you carrying a Bible, they too, may be inspired in their relationship with the Lord! 2. Keep a prayer list close by, or in multiple places. This can be a list of general intentions (such as for particular people, situations in your life, or needs in the world) to remember to pray for. It could also be things in your life you want to remember to thank God for. You could put this on a bulletin board, or even on the dash of your car. This is a great way to stay steeped in prayer each day. 3. Wear a religious bracelet or necklace. You will be reminded to turn your mind to God whenever you see your rosary bracelet or adjust your necklace. Other people may comment or ask you, and again you’ll have an opportunity to turn to God. 4. Start or end your day with Mass. Starting the day with the Eucharist will give you strength and peace to carry you through the day. Ending the day with the Eucharist will keep your mind oriented to where you’ll be going after work or school, and also help to settle you after what may have been a trying day. Now, these are very simple ideas, but they are a start. Do you have any other ideas or strategies for keeping God front and center each day?
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
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If you are feeling discouraged or confused, take heart! It is tough for us to understand why God chooses to work in certain ways. But we can take solace in knowing that He is always working for our good, just as He promised us in Romans 8:28. (“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”)
For a long time, I went through difficult times in regard to employment and finances. I didn’t understand why I applied to hundreds (literally) of jobs, did countless interviews, but was never able to find a steady job to support myself. I waited and waited. And prayed. It was a time where I had to learn to trust God even more, though the puzzle pieces didn’t seem to be coming together. God came through. It was long after I would have hoped, but it was God’s time. It happened in God’s way. I got an email one day from an old boss, about a new program starting. It was a perfect fit for me. I would never, ever have expected God to work such a miracle! (Really, it seemed like a miracle!) But of course, God is God and can do anything!
If you’ve been waiting too long. If nothing makes sense anymore. If you’re disappointed or sad. Whatever you are experiencing, trust! Lean on God, pray, and wait for your miracle. It will come!
Jean Vanier, founder of L’Arche, was awarded the 2015 Templeton Prize. The purpose of this prize is to honor a person “who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.” Vanier unofficially founded the L’Arche community in 1964. It is a loving community for people with disabilities to live in, along with people to live in solidarity with them and assist in caring for their needs. There are now L’Arche homes throughout the world. This short video is a great reminder of what is at the core of humanity.
We are all longing to be loved. It is written within our hearts. Some won’t admit it, but that desire is ever-present. It will come out in some way.
Most don’t know how immensely they are loved by God. Many don’t even know that God does love them. In fact, the depth of that love isn’t something we will even be able to fathom until we meet our God, face to face, after death.
Remember that you are loved—truly and completely. When you live in the confidence and knowledge that you are loved, it will be more natural to extend that love to everyone you meet. Every day, let us pray and strive to express that love to each and every person we encounter. “Be kinder than necessary; everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.”
“But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” Psalm 86:15
“If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world ablaze!” – St. Catherine of Siena
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Have you ever met somebody that inspired you greatly? A person who motivated you to be a better person, simply by being who they are. That person is living with purpose, and living within their purpose. I’ve known janitors with positive attitudes and the willingness to do the very best at what they do. They are much more inspiring than someone in a position considered high-ranking and who uses their position simply for their own advantage or does the minimum to get by. I would venture to say that most people are not living with purpose. How many millions of people go about their daily routine of working in an office, then going home, eating, watching TV, and going to sleep? Then waking up and repeating the whole routine the next day, and the next. Most people are not praying to be a better person, or looking for opportunities to better the lives of others each day. Off the top of your head, how many people can you think of that are living purposeful lives? People who are living with purpose are seeking every day to be better people. They are seeking how they can make a difference in this world. They realize that no good deed is insignificant, and that they are not insignificant. Purposeful people see that no moment is worth squandering. Even mundane moments are opportunities. They realize that each day is a gift, and no time is to be wasted.
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Every person was created for some purpose. God made you with a specific purpose in mind. Really. Your talent for art, your ability to know exactly the words to say to people, even your knack for all things mechanical. Perhaps you have always had a very caring heart, or courage and boldness to stand up for justice. Even a so-called “disability” can be part of your purpose, and reveal God’s glory to others. These aspects of you, and aspects of your character, were all put together by an all-knowing God. You were made for more than going out a run-of-the mill life. Is it hard to believe that you were truly made to make a mark on this world? Ask your Creator to know your purpose. How are you meant to positively affect the lives of others? How will your talents advance the world? In what ways will you help others to know Jesus Christ even better? Ask God how you can live that purpose well, every day. Are you living with passion and purpose? I pray for all of you, that you may live your purpose and live it well. In doing so, we can motivate others and glorify our awesome God!
If you answered yes, then join the club! I am a worrier also. I’ve frittered away countless minutes and hours worrying. What was the purpose of all my worrying? Well, there really wasn’t one! Worrying never presented a solution or a respite from the problem. The one productive thing that I have done in the midst of worries? Prayed, from the heart! When I take even a few moments to stop and pray, my mind is quieted. I am better able to listen to the Holy Spirit and to move forward.
Check out my article posted on Ignitum Today about this very topic. May you journey from worry to prayer, which will lead you to greater trust in God, and peace. While you’re there, check out some of the other insightful articles posted. God bless you!