Welcome to Part I of the Wellness Series! Today we will be focusing on the spiritual side of ourselves. Of course, though we cannot see our soul, it very much affects who we are–including our actions and what we think and believe. As I stated in the introductory post, each aspect of our beings affects the other aspects. (As I am a Catholic Christian, this post will come from that perspective. I hope that, wherever you are on your journey, you can find something that resonates with you.)
Our soul is the only part of us that will live forever. It’s amazing to think that a part of us is immortal! The choices we make today, in these mortal bodies of ours, affect our eternal futures.
There are a million things I could write, a million ways in which we can pray and grow closer to God. Obviously, I’m only a simple lay person, like the majority of humans. However, I do know that these are some avenues that all of us have access to (although some of our brothers and sisters around the world struggle to access the Sacraments because of persecution or lack of nearby churches–pray for them!).
1. Receive the Sacraments. God, being our Creator, knows that we are bodily people. The Sacraments are concrete ways we can experience God through our senses. God is so good that He wants us to be able to experience these things with our whole selves, in ways we can relate to! Think about Holy Water, the Eucharist, the awing beauty of a cathedral, the loving gaze of your new spouse as you exchange vows on the altar, or hearing the kind voice of the priest on the other side of the confessional. These are just a few examples of the experiences that come with receiving the Sacraments. Of course, attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the way to start. What about adding another day each week to attend Mass? Don’t forget about the Sacrament of Reconciliation! The priests have heard it all–so don’t be afraid! Christ is healing you of your sins, forgiving you, through the priest! Pretty amazing, to have your sins wiped away and have a clean slate again. We don’t realize how much our sins pile up–much like a messy room. “It’s just a pair of socks,” a person shrugs as the socks are discarded onto the floor. Later, they will be astonished as “just one pair of socks” has also turned into a pair of pants, a shirt, a belt, papers, and anything else one can think of. Confession cleans out the dirty room and makes space for you to welcome Jesus!
2. Do the Examen. St. Ignatius of Loyola came up with this simple prayer. It allows you to reflect on your day and ways in which God was present. It is great for discernment, especially in finding patterns. It can also be a great examination of conscience and help you to realize areas of strength and weakness in your spiritual life. If you would like to learn more about the Examen, go here.
3. Pray the Rosary. Many people love the Rosary; many others struggle with praying it. One thing can’t be denied: it is a powerful prayer. (To my Protestant brothers and sisters: Catholics are not worshipping Mary when we pray the Rosary. We are looking at the life of Jesus through the eyes of His mother, the one who loved Him so dearly and was closest to Him during His earthly life.) If you struggle with praying the Rosary, this blogger also has a hard time, but has some good reasons to keep on prayin’ it anyway.
4. Serve others. “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Christ also reminds us that, when we do an act of service for another person, we are doing it for Him! There are so many needs in the world, including in your own home or neighborhood. Perhaps someone that you live with needs some extra attention, or there is an elderly neighbor you could share conversation with. There are numerous places looking for volunteers, including soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, or nursing homes. There are also many needs worldwide, which you could contribute to financially or by going on a short or long-term mission trip. Ask God where He is calling you to be His hands and feet today.
5. Talk to God, always. Just as with our family members and friends, we must be in conversation with God in order to build a closer relationship. “Pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:17-18) Giving thanks to God is so important. Yet we must also be honest with Him and learn to confide in Him our deepest thoughts and needs, and the needs of the ones we love and the world as a whole. We can talk to Him silently throughout our day, in the car, while washing dishes, and when we need to speak a word of truth to another person. These are just a few examples. God is never far from us.
I hope that you can hold onto these tips and find a closer, stronger relationship with God! One huge aspect of wellness is your relationship with God–which affects your mental/emotional health, can affect physical health, and even your relationships with others!
Next up: mental/emotional wellness! (Here is the introductory post to the wellness series.)