Archive for the ‘christian prayer’ Category

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

As a child growing up in a Christian family, I had a belief in Santa Claus that was a fun and exciting part of the Christmas holiday. When I had children of my own, I enjoyed seeing the excitement on their faces as they heard the story of magical jolly fellow who lived at the North Pole and delivered gifts on Christmas Eve to all of the good little children. All of this he did while riding on his magic sleigh with eight tiny reindeer! What could be better? One day my eight-year-old son, Charles, and I were taking a walk with our dog when he asked me, “Dad, is God like Santa Claus?” I had to pause for a moment. The last thing I wanted to was explain away the wonderful childhood fantasy of Santa Claus for him.

The reasoning that led Charles to ask this question is very easy to understand. To him, it seemed completely logical that God should exist in exactly the same way as a character like Santa Claus. Think about it. A child never actually sees Santa, although children do see Santa’s “helpers” at the department store. Children are told that Santa Claus lives at the North Pole and keeps a close eye on kid’s behavior, rewarding the ones who are good and disappointing the ones who are bad. As the words of the ever-popular children’s Christmas song, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, say:

He sees you when you’re sleeping. He knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!”

At approximately the same age that children are told about Santa, they also begin to learn about God. To a child, God is also explained as someone with seemingly magical powers. Children are told that God is watching over us from heaven, a place that seems as remote as the North Pole. They learn that God is also someone who cares about them, knows everything about them, and wants them to be good. Children learn that God’s helpers are called angels, who are all around but never seen. Santa’s workers are called “elves,” and we can’t see them, either! And just as with Santa, we never see God. It is little wonder why Charles asked me if God was the same as Santa.

At some point, we need to grow beyond a child’s understanding God. Our relationship with God must grow and evolve with us into adulthood or it will cease to contain meaning, just like our relationship with Santa. Every meaningful relationship grows and changes or it simply dissolves. Our relationship with our parents is a good example. A small child sees his or her parents as all-knowing, all powerful beings. If our relationship with our parents is a healthy one, it evolves as we grow into adulthood. It is then that we are able to see and appreciate our parents for what they really are, human beings.

What determines if a relationship grows or ends? The difference is communication. With Santa there is no real two-way communication, because there is no real Santa. With God it is different. Growing in the awareness of God’s presence in our life and becoming aware of God’s constant communication are what is meant by learning to live a contemplativelife. For our relationship with God to be meaningful and real as adults, we need this awareness of God’s presence and recognition of the many ways that God communicates with us.

The transition from believing in a magical, Santa-like God to growing in relationship with the Living God happens in ways that are as individual as we are. Each person’s relationship with God is different. Personally, my exposure to the monastic tradition, especially the writings of Thomas Merton and other contemplative authors, has had a profound impact on my own spiritual development.

One of the greatest gifts that the monastic tradition can bestow upon a person is what I refer to as the development of a contemplative mindset. By a contemplative mindset, I am referring to the realization that God comes to us from within creation, indeed from within our very selves. God isn’t “up there” somewhere, removed from this world. God is present within the context, the events, of our everyday lives. It is within the events of our everyday life that God desires to meet us, guide us and heal us. The awareness that all of life is Sacred, that all of God’s creation is good and the place where God dwells, is a profoundly healing realization. It is the fruit of attentively waiting upon the Lord through the events and the circumstances of our lives. When you see God in this way, it is impossible to think of God as a Santa Claus like figure, somewhere far removed from us and looking down. No, God is very close, indeed an in-dwelling presence.

Connecting Point: Your image, the way you think of (or see) God, should grow and evolve as you journey through life. Do you think yours has? Ask God in your own words to place in your heart the desire to grow in that relationship.

Prayer: Lord, help me to grow in relationship with you, the “Living God.” Direct my heart that I may wait patiently upon you to reveal yourself to me. May I become increasingly aware of the many ways that you communicate your love and presence to me every day. May I respond sincerely through my life with others and in the solitude of prayer. Amen.

______________

This article is from “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time

 Buy it on Amazon.com only $14.95! http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Visit my blog: https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

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By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

The phrase food for the journey is traditionally associated, in Catholicism, with reception of the Eucharist by the dying and their final journey from this life to eternal life through death. This concept can be traced back to the days of Roman temple worship to the belief that the final meal of a dying person provided them with strength to cross over the River Styx, an ancient mythological river that is believed to separate the living from the dead. With Jesus having left us the Eucharistic meal in his memory, the early Christians adapted a similar custom in regard to Holy Communion. The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was seen as the ideal food to strengthen a dying person. By the year 325 it was a recommendation that Communion be given to the dying as Viaticum, a Latin word that means “food for the journey.” It is something that we do to this very day.

Fr. Richard Leonard, S.J. wrote about the phrase in a July 2009 America Magazine article titled, Food for the Journey. In the article Leonard discusses the phrase in a way that expands its meaning, making it relevant to our daily life. The following is an excerpt:

In recent years this ancient phrase in relation to the Eucharist has reappeared and become popular. Rather than exclusively refer to the last Holy Communion we might take in this life, “food for the journey” (as used in the 21st Century) has come to mean the spiritual nourishment that the Eucharist gives us to live out our faith each day.

Whether we are nearing death or pursuing our normal daily activities we will always need this spiritual food to sustain us as material food is needed to sustain our bodies.

Vatican II tells us that the Holy Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen gentium, no. 11; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1324). However, many of us can recall from our Catholic religious formation that the Eucharistic meal within the Sacrament of Holy Communion is not the only place in which God is present and available to us. We are taught that God’s presence is also revealed in the written word (Sacred Scripture) and in the other Sacraments. In addition to these traditional teachings it is important to realize that God is present to us, is revealed to us, in the created world, in the ordinariness of our daily activity. It is true to say that our daily lives are, in reality, not ordinary at all. This is true because of the mystical presence of God that each individual moment contains.   In referring to the way in which God is present in our daily life, famous Catholic writer Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen often used the phrase, “The grace of the present moment.”

The reflections in “Simple Contemplative Spirituality” will help you to develop a contemplative awareness of God’s presence in the world. Simply stated, a contemplative is one who acknowledges God in all of creation and strives to develop the awareness of God’s presence in daily living, in the created world, in addition to the written word and in the Sacraments. As Christians each one of us are called to approach life with a contemplative mindset. Spiritual growth is about becoming increasingly aware of the many ways in which God is always, everywhere, and in all things, present to nurture us with food for our daily journey from within the very circumstances of our life.

_______

This article is an excerpt from my newest book “Simple Contemplative spirituality.”  This is a traditionally published book.  Click below to view and / or purchase on the publishers website:   http://vesuviuspressincorporated.com/simple-contemplative-spirituality/

“With Open Hands” – Free me, Lord, from the inner bondage and endless cycle of what I think needs to happen before I can be happy. Free me, Lord, from my idea of the solution. Help me to wait with open ended, joyful expectation; and help me to experience your peace. Amen. (Charles W. Sidoti)

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

Ever wish you were more able to go with the flow? Have you ever wished you could go through the day without something upsetting your inner peace? It can be very helpful in this regard to think about how well you process the constant change that life provides. How well you process change has a direct relationship to the level of inner peace you experience.

If you’re like most people, you will discover that it is usually easier to talk or philosophize about change than it is to deal with it when it occurs, especially if the change is unwanted or unexpected. When the ground shifts, and life changes, our clear-sightedness and wisdom, so readily available when all is going well, evaporate, and an inner storm arises. For the moment, we may lose our footing, our sense of being in control.

I have begun to realize, however, that the inner storms we sometimes experience are usually naturally occurring events in the process of human growth. The transitional period of life commonly referred to as the midlife crisis is a classic example. Even the sense of losing control can be an important part of the growth process. This insight can be the beginning of a healing process, one that can help us to loosen our grip on the steering wheel of life. An ongoing personal transition can then begin to take place—a transition from fear to trust. If we can somehow manage to remain open, resisting the urge to panic, we will begin to realize that there really is a higher power that remains in control when the things we can do come to an end.

Famous American Catholic writer Thomas Merton, describes the need to feel that you are in control as “a need to see the future before it happens.” This is something many of us try to do even though we know that it is impossible. As we gradually learn to trust, our “need to see” starts to become less powerful in our lives. Merton goes on to say,

 Realizing that you don’t need to see—is seeing, and it can be a very clear form of sight (Thomas Merton – The Mystic Life).

This “realizing” can be a very slow process, but just knowing that an inner transformation is taking place is, in itself, healing. It is true to say that the healing each of us desires is being born out of the various struggles of our individual lives, out of the very ground upon which we stand. The more we are able to be attentive to what is happening in our lives in this present moment, the more we will be open and available to receive the gift of inner healing that God desires to bestow upon us.

Becoming a person who is better able to go with the flow is proportional to our level of trust. Trust that the changes that occur in our lives are not just random, chaotic events, as they sometimes seem to be. Trust that there’s more to life than meets the eye.

Connecting Point: Believing there is more to life than meets the eye opens the door to the personal realization that life is a sacred journey. It enables you to see beyond the outward appearance of things and to trust in what is yet to come. Trusting that there is more to life than meets the eye is a prerequisite to living a life of hope, making it possible to go with the flow.

Prayer: Lord, it is obvious that there is much more going on in life than what I am aware of. Help me to believe that “more” is you. Enable me to trust in your work in my life enough to not need to see today that which you are preparing for my tomorrow. Amen.

____________

This reflection is an excerpt from ,”Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” https://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Visit my blog to read more reflections, listen to live presentations and more:https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

One of the greatest influences in my spiritual life is an audiotaped lecture called “A Spirituality of Waiting” by the late Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen. Over the years I have returned to this wonderful lesson during Advent, always finding its message fresh and meaningful. I have come to realize that having “a waiting heart,” as Fr. Nouwen suggests, not only fits well with the Advent theme of waiting; it also describes a very basic, central stance of the spiritual life.

Fr. Nouwen begins by stating the obvious, that waiting is “something that goes against our grain.” Few people look forward to a situation in which they know they will have to wait. Being told that we have to wait seems to force us into passivity. Our society looks at waiting as a “kind of desert between where we are and where we want to be, and we don’t like that place.  We want to get going.”

However, the waiting attitude that Sacred Scripture invites us to embrace is not passive but rather “active waiting — waiting on God’s promise to be fulfilled,” which is much different from how we usually think of waiting. The people we meet in the first pages of St. Luke’s gospel are all waiting: Zechariah, Elizabeth, and Mary. All of them hear, in one way or another, the words, “do not be afraid, I have something good to tell you.” It is then that they are able to wait for something new to happen. The psalms are full of this attitude of waiting: “My soul is waiting on the Lord … more than the watchman for daybreak.” This message reverberates throughout the Hebrew and New Testament Scriptures.

During Advent, the community of the faithful wait, as did the waiting Israel, anticipating the coming of Christ into our hearts bringing peace, healing, and wholeness. We will not be disappointed. Some ways we can help nurture the attitude of waiting upon the Lord include participation in special Advent liturgies; songs and opportunities for community prayer; silent reflection; prayerful reading of scripture; simply having conversations with God; faith sharing opportunities; and the practice of spiritual reading. No matter what we do, we should remember these words from Anthony DeMello’s  book, “One-Minute Wisdom,” about how the light of Christ comes to us:

Novice:  “Is there anything I can do to make myself enlightened?”  

Abbot:  “As little as you can do to make the sun rise in the morning.”

Novice:  “Then of what use are the spiritual exercises you prescribe?”

Abbot:  “To make sure you are not asleep when the sun begins to rise.”

As stewards reflecting Christ, let us wait, watch, and wonder, as the light of Christ born anew begins to rise in our hearts during the holy season of Advent.

_____________

By Charles W. Sidotiauthor of these two inspirational books!

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BE MINDFUL OF HOW YOU TREAT THOSE FROM WHOM YOU HAVE NOTHING TO GAIN

By Charles W. Sidoti

The Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Matthew 7:12) is so powerful because it sums up endless volumes of spiritual writing, laws, the teaching of the prophets, and religious debate into two simple sentences. In Mathew’s Gospel, when asked which commandments are the greatest, Jesus uses the following words echoing the ancient books of Deuteronomy and Leviticus:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with your entire mind.’ This is the great and first commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:36-40).

Author and poet Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) once said, “The true measure of a man or woman is how he or she treats someone who can do them absolutely no good.” LikeThe Golden Rule, Johnson’s statement cuts to the chase. When I read it, my heart sinks a little. It sinks because the standard that Johnson’s words set are quite high and because I know myself. I know that my behavior can be influenced by the presence of someone whose favorable impression I think will benefit me. Perhaps you can relate. We tend to perk up a bit or “put our best foot forward” when we are with our boss, our professor, or some other person that we consider to have some kind of power over us. We want to impress them. To a degree this behavior is perfectly natural, and we should not be too hard on ourselves about it. The wisdom of Johnson’s words rest not so much in that they cause us to change our behavior when we are in the presence of someone whose regard for us we consider to be important. Rather, the statement needs to inspire us to reflect upon our treatment of those from whom we think we have nothing to gain. It is helpful to remember that it was precisely such a marginalized person that the prophet Isaiah described in foretelling what the coming messiah would be like.

“He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; there was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him. He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, one of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem” (Isaiah 53:2-3).

The Contemplative Connection: Gracious God, may I reflect your merciful love to those in my life who stand in need of my mercy. Help me to acknowledge with gratitude your merciful love for me. Amen.

——-

This article is an excerpt from my book “Simple Contemplative spirituality.” Click below to view and / or purchase on the publishers website: http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520 

Read the Introduction: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/introduction-simple-contemplative-spirituality-charles-w-sidoti-bcc?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

The Table of Contentshttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/simple-contemplative-spirituality-charles-w-sidoti-bcc?published=u

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

The phrase food for the journey is traditionally associated, in Catholicism, with reception of the Eucharist by the dying and their final journey from this life to eternal life through death.  This concept can be traced back to the days of Roman temple worship to the belief that the final meal of a dying person provided them with strength to cross over the River Styx, an ancient mythological river that is believed to separate the living from the dead. With Jesus having left us the Eucharistic meal in his memory, the early Christians adapted a similar custom in regard to Holy Communion. The real presence of Christ in the Eucharist was seen as the ideal food to strengthen a dying person.  By the year 325 it was a recommendation that Communion be given to the dying as Viaticum, a Latin word that means “food for the journey.”  It is something that we do to this very day.

Fr. Richard Leonard, S.J. wrote about the phrase in a July 2009 America Magazinearticle titled, Food for the Journey.  In the article Leonard discusses the phrase in a way that expands its meaning, making it relevant to our daily life.  The following is an excerpt:

In recent years this ancient phrase in relation to the Eucharist has reappeared and become popular. Rather than exclusively refer to the last Holy Communion we might take in this life, “food for the journey” (as used in the 21st Century) has come to mean the spiritual nourishment that the Eucharist gives us to live out our faith each day.

Whether we are nearing death or pursuing our normal daily activities we will always need this spiritual food to sustain us as material food is needed to sustain our bodies.

Vatican II tells us that the Holy Eucharist is “the source and summit of the Christian life” (Lumen gentium, no. 11; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1324).  However, many of us can recall from our Catholic religious formation that the Eucharistic meal within the Sacrament of Holy Communion is not the only place in which God is present and available to us.  We are taught that God’s presence is also revealed in the written word (Sacred Scripture) and in the other Sacraments.  In addition to these traditional teachings it is important to realize that God is present to us, is revealed to us, in the created world, in the ordinariness of our daily activity.  It is true to say that our daily lives are, in reality, not ordinary at all. This is true because of themystical presence of God that each individual moment contains.    In referring to the way in which God is present in our daily life, famous Catholic writer Fr. Henri J.M. Nouwen often used the phrase, “The grace of the present moment.”

The reflections in “Simple Contemplative Spirituality” will help you to develop a contemplative awareness of God’s presence in the world.  Simply stated, a contemplative is one who acknowledges God in all of creation and strives to develop the awareness of God’s presence in daily living, in the created world, in addition to the written word and in the Sacraments. As Christians each one of us are called to approach life with a contemplative mindset. Spiritual growth is about becoming increasingly aware of the many ways in which God is always, everywhere, and in all things, present to nurture us with food for our daily journey from within the very circumstances of our life.

_______

This article is an excerpt from my new book “Simple Contemplative spirituality.”  Click below to view  and / or  purchase  on the publishers website:    http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520

 

The Table of Contentshttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/simple-contemplative-spirituality-charles-w-sidoti-bcc?published=u

Read Another Excerpthttps://www.linkedin.com/pulse/new-reflection-golden-rule-charles-w-sidoti-bcc?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

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Just because something could be said, does not mean that it should be said.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

Learning to appreciate and practice silence is especially meaningful in regard to our relationship with others.  On this topic Sacred Scripture is “anything but” silent.  The need to control what we say to other people is mentioned many times in both the Hebrew Scriptures and in the New Testament.  About this St. James uses very strong, direct language, “If a man who does not control his tongue imagines that he devout, he is self-deceived; his worship is pointless” (James 1:26).   Most of us have said things in our life that looking back we wish we had not said, or could take back.  The words of St. James, though powerful, are not said in condemnation, or to dishearten us.  Rather, they are intended to get our attention in order to help us realize the importance and impact of what we say to others.  A similar type of statement is made in the Book of Proverbs, “Rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (Proverbs 12:18).  The second part of the verse, “…but the tongue of the wise brings healing” is especially helpful toward the goal of becoming a more peaceful person.

It is very important to realize that the words we speak have power.  They can be used to build up, to console, to heal, and to encourage others.  On the other hand, words can be used to tear down and to emotionally destroy someone.  Most of us can relate to having used words for both purposes.  The words we speak have a powerful effect not only upon those they are spoken to, but also upon the person that speaks them.   The question we need to ask ourselves before saying words that are potentially confrontational or harsh is, “Is it worth the emotional price that will have to be paid after the words have crossed my lips?” Is it worth the emotional price to me as the speaker, or to the person being spoken to?  Will my words accomplish anything positive?  Sometimes the answer will by “yes.”  There are certainly times when sharp directive words need to be spoken.  Often, however, our sharp words are spoken as a knee-jerk reaction to what someone has said or done.  Most of the time everyone involved, including ourselves, would be better served by us holding our tongue.  We can usually address the issue later with the other person if we still feel it is important to do so after having stepped away from the situation for a while.  It is helpful to remember that just because something could be said, does not mean that it should be said.

In my work as a hospital chaplain prayer is nearly always a part of my spiritual care visits.  When I offer a prayer for someone at the bedside it is clear enough that they are comforted and appreciate it very much.  I have found, however, that one of the most healing things I can do for someone as a chaplain is to listen to their story, the whole story, without interrupting or judging them.  The visible gratitude, the sense of peace and hope that patients often feel afterward always communicates to me that a kind of inner healing has taken place for them. The person feels listened to, understood, and accepted for who they really are.  This is spiritual care at its best.  In ministry there is a time for our input, our prayer, perhaps even our advice, but it is always after keeping silent, after giving the other person the gift of our listening to them.

As we continue to grow spiritually we will come to appreciate that there is, as the book of Ecclesiastes tells us, “a time to keep silent, and a time to speak.” We will learn that it is good to allow some measure of silence in our lives, some time to be alone.  In the silent stillness of our heart we will discover a holy solitude that will gradually give birth to the conscious awareness of our fundamental connectedness to all of creation.

____________


Check out “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time”   By Charles W. Sidoti with Rabbi Akiva Feinstein

The perfect book for LENT or the Festival of Passover!  Get it today on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X