As you can see by my most recent post on praying to Saints, I am trying to find my way back to my Catholic faith. I recently joined a Catholic mens group called Opus Dei I think, three weeks ago. There I confessed my sins to a priest and he led me through an amazing prayer of repentance towards God. The next day it felt as if a wall had been removed from between God and I.
I had been struggling with several persistant sins that I couldn't seem to completely stop. But now all the really vile ones are gone, thanks to God! All credit and honor to Him, praise the Lord!
My question now is how to best proceed from here. I am interested in developing the richest spiritual life I can. I had an extreamly rich spiritual life as a Protestant, but now want to just focus on my Catholic faith. Since most Catholics don't evangelize or read the Bible, what can I do to enrich my faith and spiritual life other than to pray and go to Church?
I suffer somewhat from insomnia so don't want to try anything that will disrupt my sleep. By the way, I love Phil's comment about praying while he laid in bed suffering from sleeplessness. I tried it and it worked for me!
Any positive responses about how to improve faith and enrich ones spirituality are appreciated!
Much grace, herbThis message has been edited. Last edited by: herb,
I think the best way is to try things and then see what nourishes you the most. When I think which practices I'd like to do, if I had enough time (unfortunately, work and family force me to make difficult choices), then:
1. prayer twice a day (from 20 to 40 minutes each period).
2. daily eucharist (for Catholics this is the source of Life, it's like having breakfast and dinner every day for our physical nature)
3. intellectual and spiritual reading. By intellectual I mean reading books about faith which nourish our intellectual side, to learn more about dogmas, about the Bible, etc.. By spiritual I mean reading a couple of pages slowly, stopping to absorb what we read, or to pray.
I manage to pray everyday at least one time, sometimes twice and most of the days go to the eucharist. Sometimes read a bit. It's not ideal, but that's the way it is with me in those days. It's been better, it's been worse at times.
If you have more time, I'd recommend breviary, the liturgy of the hours, this is a beautiful way of praying, and ancient. I'd recommend reading some theology, this is always good. Perhaps, joining a prayer group?
But I'm sure that the Holy Spirit will show you the way and inspire you to do what's best for you in this time of your life.
So you can try things and then share on the forum how it goes, and get some feedback on this. Or if it's possible you could find a spiritual director or a confessor for yourself, and then discuss things with him.
God be with you
Good exchange. Sound advice, Mt. I was away for a couple of days so thanks for responding to Herb.
Mt, Thank you for your wonderful advice! I will try all of what you suggest. I'm confident that the holy Spirit will lead me, then, to further truth. And when He does I will post it here.
May God reward you and bless you for helping me and others!
It's been a month and a half since I started this thread and I've recently made a spiritual breakthrough so I thought I'd post it. About a month ago my wife and I traveled to visit a favourite Aunt of mine. While visiting my Aunt she told me about her son, my cousin. He's a missionary in Kenya, Africa. There he is helping rebuild an impoverished Orphanage and school. And she asked me to pray for him.
When I got back home I prayed for my cousin and God immediately impressed "fundraising" on me. After my prayer, He continued to impress that I try and raise funds to send to the cause my cousin is helping.
Well, I have very little experience doing fundraising and didn't think I was going to be very good at it. Also my dear wife has never supported my past attempts at doing charity work. So the idea of raising funds for the Orphanage in Kenya was not very appealing to me, but that is what God impressed on me that He wanted me to do so I did it.
I decided to try and do a fundraiser Garage sale. I live in a small condo and had sold all my "stuff" a few yrs ago when we moved here so I talked to my Dad to see if he would let me use his garage. He said yes and even donated everything in his garage to the fundraiser! So that got me started with a place to hold the sale and about $200 bucks worth of stuff as a seed or start. To send my cousin $200 would be a joke as far as I'm concerned so I asked him if he could wait so I can try to get enough stuff to have a big sale.
After the initial prayer where God communicated with me to raise funds for the Orphanage, I have been praying for Him to protect and help my cousin and also the children there almost every day. Also I have been spending a lot of time thinking about how to get more stuff for my sale. One of the things I thought of was to canvas my Dad's neighbourhood to try and get donations of more stuff for the sale. To help me I made up a bunch of info sheets about what I'm doing with a picture of the Children at the Orphanage and school.
Going door to door in the large city I live soliciting for donations is very daunting so I have prayed each time before going and when I came back. And I pray in my Dad's garage, like Jesus recommends in Matthew 6:6. For the first few weeks it was VERY discouraging. I walk about 5 miles a day at work each day, plus I cut my Dad's grass and, over the last month, the grass has needed to be cut twice a week. In my late 50's and in my physical condition just doing those two things(work and cutting the grass) is about all my feet and knees can handle. Add canvasing the neighbourhood to that and I started to get heel spurs from too much walking. Also, many people don't like to be solicited for donations so it seemed like about half the people wouldn't even answer the door. And at least one person each time I went out would act like I had seriously offended/disturbed him/her by asking for a donation.
Add to all that, that no donations had been dropped off at my Dad's place by last Monday and I was getting totally discouraged. Then a few days ago I went to cut Dad's grass: on the way there I dropped by to visit my brother who recently got knee replacement surgery for the second time. While at his place he offered me some weed. I rarely smoke and was not planing to canvase so I, in a moment of weakness and discouragement, gave in and indulged. When I got to my Dad's the grass(no pun intended) was unusually short. And when I went into the garage I was surprized to see that a shiny white microwave had been dropped off for the sale. But I was high and felt that I couldn't in good conscience go out canvasing, so went in the house to talk to my 91 yr old father.
While in the house we talked about my cousin, his nephew, and the garage sale. During the talk I told him about how I had been reading Luke 11:1-4 recently and God had inspired me to write a prayer about it. I had sent it to my Aunt(my missionary cousin's mother, and my Dad's beloved sister) and she loved it. Then I proceeded to tell my father the prayer, and when I got to the part about forgiving others that was inspired by Lk.11:4, my Dad leaned forward with his face towards me and I could see that his eyes were lit up and he was even a bit teary eyed. He had been holding a resentment towards someone that he hadn't been able to let go of and I think my prayer helped him.
After talking to my Dad I went out into the garage and thought about going out canvasing. I was still a little high and the devil was trying to convince me that I was of no use to God in that condition. I prayed about it, repented for my sin, and confessed that I was nothing, nothing without His help!! To my surprize I felt God forgive me and communicate that He would indeed help me. I decided to try a little canvasing. Then a little miracle happened! The first three doors I knocked on were amazingly friendly and encouraging. Almost everyone answered the doors and, before I knew it all my hand outs were gone and I was done for the night!
Then a bigger miracle happened! I woke up the next day and the heel spurs, that had been killing my feet each morning over the last few weeks, were meraculously healed! I've had them a few other times in my life and they are hard to get healed and only heal very slowly and never unless you back off most weight bearing exercize like excess walking. Well now I know that God is with me and is helping me with my sale and that He is much stronger than the devil who has been trying to discourage me! And over the last few days even more amazing things have been happening. One thing I've noticed is that my spiritual life has quadrupled since I started praying for my cousin and the Orphanage he is helping.
I thought about ommiting the part about me smoking weed to try and sugar coat my story for you, but by witholding the truth to try and make this story more wholesome for the self righteous, I felt that I would be doing a dishonour to God and trying to steal some of His credit for my present rich spiritual life. The real truth is that I am an unworthy sinner who, on my own, has nothing good in me, but with God in me, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
herbThis message has been edited. Last edited by: herb,
What a wonderful story, Herb. Thanks so much for sharing.
What stands out for me is your attentiveness to God's guidance in your life, and your willingness to respond, even with discouraging results. As so often happens, your witness touched others (including your Dad) beyond the immediate concern, and God's goodness was manifest in many amazing ways.
Prayers and best wishes on your continuing efforts to support the orphanage. Keep us posted.
Thanks Phil I will.
God sure loves the poor, especially orphans. As I am feeding, spiritually, off God's good graces; and starting to deny myself and give of myself to try and help all these poor orphans, God Himself is putting His support into it. I can feel and experience it! Two days ago my boss agreed to let me set up a large donation box on the work floor and my immediate supervisor, who I have a strained relationship with, gave the very first cash donation yesterday. And all my workmates are acting overtly nice towards me and I think the cause I'm promoting is why.
I work for Canada Post and we are close to striking or being locked out so the devil tried to talk me into not being aggressive in asking for donations at work, but I got no word from God on that so I went for it and put some very aggressive adds on the donation box at work and said that I was accepting cash donations. I actually woke up yesterday in a sweat and was very fearful that I would offend my workmates and mayby even make my boss regret giving me permission to set up the donation box. When I got to work yesterday I was thinking of taking off the aggressive signs and putting up something low profile. But to my amazement my supervisor who often looks down on me, raises his voice at me aggressively and can be a real jerk, immediately wanted to give me money and even encouraged others at work to donate! And he's a Muslim!
Today I am going to a friends house with a truck to go pick up a lumber donation to build a huge sign. An artist agreed to volenteer his time to paint a picture of the poor orphans on a 8'x 8' sign so I can set it up in front of the house where the garage sale will be held. It is on the main street going into the community and will serve as a reminder to all the many people in my Dad's community who said they would donate, but have not done that yet.
One week from this Sunday I have been invited to give a talk at my Dad's Church about the garage sale and ask for donations. It is obvious that God is picking up the steam on this, in spite of my fears and doubts. And my spiritual life/faith is getting stronger and stronger!
Sounds like you've got a "mission" yourself, here, herb. Good to hear that things are going so well. Sometimes all it takes is someone like you to make the need known and others will come forward to help out. Most people are generous when a legitimate need is brought to their attention.
Who knows where this will all lead? The Spirit is moving.
I thought I'd post a brief update. When I decided to obey God and do some fundraising for my cousin I never dreamed that I'd have to fight the devil to pull it off. The list of things he did to discourage me is too long to list here, but it was effective. A month ago I finally gave up in disgust and frustration, and my Dad and I just donated some money out of pocket to the cause.
Then, miraculously, about two weeks ago God took over and I became just a spectator as He made the fundraising Garage Sale happen with fantastic speed and power! First my Dad decided to sell his house and gave me the entire contents of the property. I contacted all my siblings and, together, we all took an equal amount of memorabilia. But the total value of stuff went from a "lot" down to only about $800 to a $1,000. I guess we took some pretty expesive memorabilia haha. I finally had to tell my siblings that if we kept taking stuff we would soon have nothing of value left to sell.
Looking back now, I can see that, by this point I had begun to surrender everything I wanted, and out of disgust and frustration I had wanted to have NOTHING to do with the garage sale anymore. I had to surrender all that nagative emotion and desire to fight against God's will to Jesus. And we all decided to stop taking stuff and have a Garage Sale. It was weird, my siblings are all non believers but God just put Garage Sale on their lips and handed the responsibility to me in the gentlest and kindest way you can imagine.
I was still discouraged and demoralized by the devil so God brought in people from everywhere who all just started working towards a Garage Sale. Previouly, while under attack, I could hardly get anyone to help me and many people were doing the devil's work by vigourously opposing my efforts. Amazingly, after I had completely given up, God just made it happen without forcing or laying guilt on me or pressure or anything.
So by this last Thursday everything was ready and I had about $800 to maybe $1,000 worth of stuff to sell. The Sale started and bam, people came by the hundreds, and the Sale made $2,000 the first day! It was actually way more amazing than that: after the sale started I prayed to God to help me somehow bring in $2,000 over the 4 day sale; but then God replied, "$2,000 in 4 days? I will show you $2,000 in one day!" Last night, when we got home, my wife added it up and the total, at the end of the first day, was $2,000 to the penny!!! That detail really blew my mind.
I am posting this at the end of the second day of the Sale and God has now raised almost $3,000 and I still have stuff to sell. I'm still trying to figure out how God can raise almost $3,000 when all I had to begin with was $800 to maybe $1,000 worth of stuff to sell??? It's a miracle, that's the only way to describe it.
I can hardly wait to hear my cousin's response after I send him the money. I'm thinking of telling him the truth about having a small Garage Sale and that I have "some" money to send him. He will probably be thinking it will only be 2 or 3 hundred. But it will be over $3,000. I don't think it will be sinful on my part to fool him like that. He and his wife care for over 200 orphans so God knows he can use the money.
herbThis message has been edited. Last edited by: herb,
Thanks for the update, Herb. I've never had any luck with garage sales, so just hearing what went on is amazing. Kind of sounds like a version of the miracle of the loaves and fish.
I'm sure $3,000 will be a big help to your cousin's ministry. 200 orphans! He will be surprised indeed when he receives your donation.
Yes Phil it was amazing to experience God at work raising funds for those orphans. I accept no credit what so ever. In fact I had completely given up on it untill God took over and made it happen.
As one can see from this thread, it all began by the holy Spirit urging my Auntie to ask me to pray for her missionary son, Garth. And, the moment I did, God began His work in me and used me. And when I failed, He took over with great power. But, thank God, he did allow me to still be a part of it and witness His majesty and wisdom.
Praise the Lord my spiritual life has been renewed! As I submitted more and more to God, during the week leading up to the sale I was miraculously allowed into God's blessed kingdom! I've been in the Kingdom before, but this was the first time that I realized I was in it before I exited. Before I only realized I had been in God's Kingdom after the experience. This time I knew I was in and that God was in complete control of everything around me "while" I was in His Kingdom. That was pretty cool!
The Eerdman's Bible Dictionary defines this experience as, "a spiritual reality, an inner attitude of voluntary acceptance of the rule of God, and, par excellence, the individual that placed himself in total and perfect submission to God, namely, Jesus Christ himself, who in fact personifies the kingdom."
It has been a few years since God allowed me to enter His glorious Kingdom, and the experience is, for me, the epitome of the spiritual life- truly the greatest and most satisfying experience this side of heaven.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "To carry out the will of the Father Christ inaugurated the kingdom of heaven on earth. Now the Father's will is to raise up men to share in his own devine life...Everyone is called to enter the kingdom...to gain the kingdom one must give everything. Words are not enough; deeds are required...One must become a disciple of Christ, in order to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven. For those who stay outside, everything remains enigmatic."
1995 edition, 541-546
And Jesus said that in order to enter the Kingdom we must change and become receptive like little children(Mat.18:3;Mk.10:15;Lk.18:17). He said that the Kingdom belongs to the humble, those who know that they are poor in spirit(Mat.5:3,5). For me, this has been the key. It was always, only when I managed to completely let go of my ego and self reliance and put all my trust and hope in God, that this spiritual phenomena was experienced. I had to die to self and live only for God and others to enter God's blessed Kingdom each time.
I have now experienced the full realization of God several times, but only while in a state of self denial, humility and complete reliance on God. This is much easier said than done. The only way I have done it was during the act of charity, of giving of myself completely to others for God's sake.
Now I will be praying that God leads me on to my next job and keeps my spititual life rocking. I hope that others who read this might share their experiences of God blessing their spiritual life and pray that some might benefit from my testimony.
herbThis message has been edited. Last edited by: herb,
All very good, Herb, and a powerful witness to what can happen if we listen to and act upon the Spirit's guidance. Blessings all around! The love of God is made manifest in the love of others, as you have shared.
May you keep "rocking" in your spiritual life.
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