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Tag Archives: Self-help

A PRAYER OF TRUST IN GOD

God has created me to do him some definite service; he has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good, I shall do his work; I shall be a preacher of truth in my own place, while not intending it, if I do but keep his commandments and serve him in my calling.

Therefore, my God, I will put myself without reserve into your hands. What have I in heaven, and apart from you what do I want upon earth? My flesh and my heart fail, but God is the God of my heart, and my portion for ever. Amen.
– Bl. John Henry Newman

 

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HOW TO LIVE YOUR LIFE STRICTLY IN THE PRESENT (RATHER THAN THE PAST OR FUTURE) AND TO MAKE EVERY MOMENT COUNT

“A farmer plowed his field. He disliked the field. He fertilised the field. He planted the field to corn. Then he moved on to other tasks as he waited for the harvest.

Unknown to the farmer, however, the seed corn had been exposed to radiation. The germ of life was dead within it. The seed rotted in the ground.

When it became evident that there would be no harvest, the farmer’s disappointment was bitter. ‘All that work gone for nothing,’ he grieved; ‘all for nothing!’

The wasted labour of the farmer in this little parable is pitiable enough. Yet, it is only a dim figure of the squandered efforts of the person who lives his life, or any part of it, cut off from God by grievous sin.

ONE OF THE GREAT TRAGEDIES OF LIFE

‘Without Me you can do nothing,’ Jesus has said. His meaning is plain. Unless we are united with Jesus in faith and in love, nothing that we do has any significance as far as God is concerned. A day which is spent apart from God might as well have been given to sleep.

Even the ‘good’ actions which we do at such a time go unrecorded by God. We may give alms, we may help a neighbour, we may even say a prayer (unless it be a prayer of repentant love) and not one bit of it counts for eternity. It cannot count, because the line of communication between God and man, which is love, has been severed.

This is one of the great tragedies of life – that so many people should be living respectable lives, yet be sowing their field with dead seed from which there can be no harvest. These are the persons whose virtue remains on the natural level. They are honest and truthful and chaste and neighbourly, not to please God but to please themselves. They feel that they owe it to themselves as human beings to be decent and upright persons.

They are right, up to that point. But they do not go the one step further and see their goodness as something which they owe to God even more than to themselves.

Their natural virtue does have a value. It keeps their spiritual faculties from becoming completely atrophied and makes more hopeful their eventual acceptance of God’s grace. Until then, however, their virtue is of this world only.

THE VITAL STEP

By baptism we have been elevated to a supernatural level of being. We are sharers in God’s own life. We no longer have the right to do anything, however noble, solely for own satisfaction or solely for humanitarian motives. All that we do, even such a homely act as blowing our nose, must be done in union with Christ, must be His activity as well as our own.

This is what it means to live a supernatural life – to be united with Jesus by grace, and in Him and with Him to live for God. Under these circumstances our commonest deeds, such as washing a diaper or washing the car, have an eternal value. They add to our merit in heaven and win new grace for us here and now.

‘ALL FOR YOU, GOD!’

It is not humanely possible, of course, to make a specific offering to God of each individual bit of activity. However, such moment-to-moment dedications of self are not necessary. It is enough that we have the habitual intention to direct all that we do to God.

The intention does need renewal, of course, if it is to be vivid and strong. This is why we begin our day with an offering of the day to God. The words do not matter but the meaning is, “All that I do, say, think and suffer today, I want to do, say, think and suffer for You, my God.’ It will help to keep our day more sharply in focus if, at one or the other time during the day, we can pause long enough to repeat, ‘All for You, God!’

Whether we like it or not, we have to live, work, recreate, eat, drink, sleep and suffer. It would be the most woeful waste to do all this and have it count for nothing in the end. It need not to be so if we make sure that it is living seed which we are planting.”
– Fr Leo J. Trese

 

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THE PATH TO GENUINE PEACE OF HEART

PEACE OF HEART MUST HAVE A SPIRITUAL BASIS

“‘Peace and quiet.’ We often associate the two words as though there were a necessary connection between them. The truth is that genuine peace – tranquillity of heart and mind – has little to do with the absence of noise. A person can be in the midst of clanking machinery or honking horns. A person can suffer inner torment in the solitude of an empty building.

A PRECIOUS POSSESSION

Peace of heart is a precious possession. It is a wonderful thing to be able to face each new day without undue fear or anxiety; to go through the day with a feeling of satisfaction in our work and our surroundings, to feel confident that whatever crisis or emergency may arise, it will in the end have a happy issue.

GOD IS IN ULTIMATE CONTROL

Such peace of heart must, of course, have a spiritual basis. It can be built only on the conviction that God is in ultimate control of the world and that the world with all its happenings is moving toward the destiny God has in mind for it. Doing our best to identify our own will with God’s, insofar as we can discern it, we know that we too, with each day’s activities, are moving toward God’s objective. We are moving in the right direction.

WE ARE MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

There are persons who, because of a personality disorder such as a severe neurosis, are presently incapable of preserving peace of heart. There are others who may be deprived temporarily of peace of heart by some sudden personal catastrophe. But for most of us it is true that, if we lack peace of heart, the fault is our own.

LIFE IS LITERALLY SHORT IN THE CUL-DE-SAC OF SIN

It is obvious that peace of heart cannot coexist with sin. Sin by definition is a rejection of God’s will. As long as a person retains any traces of religious faith, he never can convince himself, really, that he is smarter than God. Whatever pleasure or profit he may now be finding in his self-will, the sinner knows that he is on a dead-end street which can lead only to the bitter failure of a wasted life.

SOME WALK WITH RELUCTANCE

This is not to say that every virtuous person enjoys peace of heart. Some who walk with God do so with reluctance. They keep God’s commandments, they do what they must, but they nourish a (perhaps unrecognised) resentment against God. They feel that God has treated them unfairly in placing them in their present circumstances and that He asks more than He really has a right to ask.

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF INNER CONFLICT

An unpeaceful heart may be caused, not only by conflict with God, but also by conflict with ourselves. In this event, to re-establish peace we have to discover the source of our inner conflict. What is it that is frustrating us? What is it that we want so badly and cannot have?

SOMETHING WE CAN CHANGE?

Sometimes we shall find that the source of our discontent is a condition which, with courage and determination, we can alter. Perhaps all that is required is a change of jobs, a change of environment (school, neighbourhood or climate), the acquisition of more education or some other not-impossible goal.

MAKING THE MOST OF OUR TALENTS

Adhering to God’s will does not mean the surrender of all initiative. It is a part of our vocation to seek, by trial and error if need be, what God’s will may be for us. So long as we operate within the framework of His law, God actually encourages us to try to bend circumstances to our needs and to make the most of our talents. He will positively help us to that end with His guidance and His grace.

ENTRUSTING EVERY STEP TO GOD

To achieve peace of heart, then, there are two essential steps which we must take (beyond the conquest of sin). On the one hand we must stop feeling sorry for ourselves and take active steps to eliminate whatever it is that is frustrating us.

GOD’S WILL FOR US

On the other hand, when we find ourselves in a bind from which there simply is no escape, then we know that this IS God’s will for us, however impossible it may be to see the reason for it. We accept His will. More, we embrace His will. So doing, we find peace.

THE SECRET OF PEACE OF HEART

There is an ancient prayer which beautifully summarises the secret of peace of heart: ‘God grant me the courage to change the things I can change; the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; and the wisdom to know the difference.'”
– Fr Leo J. Trese, 1966

 

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DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE POWER OF SELF?

• “Everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.

• Gospel Reading: Luke 18:9-14

• The tax collector went home again at rights with God; the Pharisee did not. (v. 14)

• Self help books are all the rage. The emphasis, however, is always on the power of self, our ability to change ourselves. The Gospel knows all about change and transformation, but not by our own strength and will but by God’s grace and love. For sure we play our part. God does not take away our will. We have to work and co-operate with him. But true conversion is never simply a human work. It always involves the movement of a contrite heart, made open and receptive to respond to the merciful love of God who loved us first, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

• Father, conversion is your work. Help me seek you, moving with you and following the teachings of your Son, Jesus Christ. You are ‘My all in all’. Be close to me.

• Our Father…, Ten Hail Marys…, Glory be…

• Today my prayer is for…”
– This short meditation was published in “A Lenten Journey of Prayer for 2009” by AlivePublishing. For information about their booklets please visit http://www.alivepublishing.co.uk (external link).

 

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THE SECRET OF SERENITY, PEACE AND JOY IRRESPECTIVE OF EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES

SERENITY, PEACE AND INNER JOY IRRESPECTIVE OF THE EXTERNAL CIRCUMSTANCES

“For us Catholics, all is truth and poetry, for all comes to us from the hand of God. We find a flower at the side of the road… ‘Thanks, O my God! The storm breaks upon us!’

‘Thanks, O Christ, for making us Your associates in suffering; Your brothers in sorrow, as later on we hope to be Your brothers in glory! We know that You are here, quite near to us.’

We do not always understand… What matter! Your eternal designs, Your projects in the universe are beyond the grasp of our poor human intellect… We will have a determined faith… in spite of everything!

That is why we smile, in advance, in the dawn of the resurrection; that is why, in the midst of tribulation, the true Christian experiences a strange joy, which the world never suspects.”
– V. P. Libermann

 
 

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“WHY DON’T I FIND THE TRUE PEACE WITH ALL THOSE YOGA CLASSES, RELAXATION TECHNIQUE WORKSHOPS AND ANTI-STRESS HOLIDAYS I PAID ALL THAT MONEY FOR?”

“WHAT I DON’T ADMIT TO PEOPLE I TELL YOU NOW IN STRICT CONFIDENCE: I AM REALLY LIVING MY LIFE LIKE A HAMSTER IN HIS USELESS HAMSTER WHEEL…USELESS, ROUND IN CIRCLES, NEVER LEAVING THE SAME SPOT…AND NO PEACE, NO SERENITY. NOTHING THAT THEY SELL YOU FOR PEACE HAS MADE ANY REAL DIFFERENCE TO MY LIFE…”

“The real antidote to busy-ness must be sought outside the consumerist world…Finding sanctuary leads us from the problem of busy-ness to a real spirituality that brings peace. The quest for sanctuary resonates deep into the heart of several contemporary dilemmas and at the same time contains within it the solution to these dilemmas…

A consumerist place of refuge will always be insecure because it is not rooted in a sacred space.

The sacred cannot be manufactured by the consumerist society, because the sacred cannot be manufactured…the sacred is found when we recognise it as sacred; the sacred is not found when we recognise it simply as [something] we fancy or as a convenient pause for breath…

The basic starting point for entering sacred sanctuary is the quality of your day-to-day dealings with other people. You cannot mistreat [moan or gossip about people or entertain bad thoughts about them] one moment and then find sanctuary the next. Finding the sacred space begins with the recognition of the sacred in your daily living.

This truism needs to be carefully unpacked by any person who is sincerely seeking [true peace and] sanctuary. It must not be shrugged off with either ‘Of course,’ or ‘I’m interested in peace and quiet, not morals’…There is no peace without sacrifice and there is no peace without justice. Those simple insights are most commonly applied to peace between nations or races, but they also apply to everybody’s ordinary life and social relationships…

If you want to find the sacred space in your life, then you must want to ‘walk without blemish’. You will, of course, fail to live without blemish; but failing is quite different from not even trying.”
(From: “Finding Sanctuary; Monastic Steps for Everyday Life”, Abbot Christopher Jamison, Weidenfeld & Nicholson, London, 2006)

A PRAYER AS A FIRST STEP TO FINDING TRUE PEACE:

God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, You gave Your Son, Jesus Christ, infinite power over all the forces that exist in the universe and on earth. Forgive all our mistakes and sins; free us from suffering and temptations, anxieties, discouragement and desperation, and take away the confusion in our head.

We ask You to drive away all envy and falsity from our homes and the homes of our relatives and neighbours, and to protect them against fire, assaults and robbery.

In Your infinite goodness, let our guardian angel watch over us at night so that we may tranquilly sleep and be refreshed.

Father, replete with goodness, we ask You to impede all of the evil spirits’ diabolical actions against me and my family. Cast fear, drugs, insane customs and blasphemous spirits far away from us. Free our country from the terrible consequences of its inhabitants’ lies, money grabbing and numerous other sins.

Dear Father, You don’t force Yourself on people; You have given humans the gift of free will and a very long rope. Your heart bleeds at all the suffering and injustice that is caused by people’s selfishness and greed. Still you give those people a chance to mend their ways. In Your infinite goodness and mercy, through Your Word, give health to the persons we now recommend to You (say the names of others dear to you, and mention yourself, too, and if you can, someone you don’t like). Be compassionate with them, restoring physical, emotional and spiritual health, courage, tranquillity and a taste for living in us so that we may give thanks to You with a soul filled with peace and joy. Through Jesus Christ, in the love of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

(Now say one ‘Our Father’. Tomorrow, say one ‘Our Father’ again.)

 

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