Archive for the ‘Freshly Pressed’ Category

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

Wouldn’t it be nice to look forward to the future with hope, expecting good things? The following reflection is about the way we choose to stand before an uncertain future.

One morning when I sat down to pray, I noticed that it was much easier for me to worry than it was to pray.  It seemed that I actually preferred my worry over my usual five minutes of quiet centering prayer.  In the midst of this, a wise saying that I always admired came to mind:

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.  Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer their suffering that is familiar (Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk and poet).

When the quote surfaced in my mind, I was able to understand for the first time why I so often find it easier to worry than to let go and open my heart in prayer.  It is because the act of worrying actually does something for me.  It gives me the illusion that I have more control than I actually do.

Although this illusion is at the same time a kind of suffering, it is one that I am familiar with.  You do get used to, and in a strange way comfortable with, your own suffering.  The mental connection that occurred between my worry and the quote helped me to realize how I was susceptible to preferring my “familiar” worry to the vulnerability involved in letting go of it for “the unknown.”  This realization enabled me to let go and assume a more open posture (open the door of my heart) for the remainder of my prayer time.

In reference to the same observation, the disdain we tend to have for the “unknown elements of life,” world renowned psychoanalyst Erich Fromm once wrote:

We become necrophilous, lovers of what is dead (the past, the settled, the inanimate, the secure, the already determined), rather than biophilous, lovers of what is living (the future, the unsettled, other people, living beings, the new the uncertain). Instead of enhancing the possibilities for growth, we limit the situations of life to the familiar, to what seems already well under control (From – The Heart of Man: Its genius for good and evil).

The good news is that becoming aware of our own defensive posture can be the first step toward changing it to a more open, less defensive, more trusting outlook toward the most important day of our lives – today!

Connecting Point:  We choose the way we face the future.  Trust is always a choice.  Trusting that God is at work in your life and that good things will eventually come is something that is within your control.  Deciding to trust is your responsibility.

Prayer:  Loving God, without you I can do nothing.  Awaken in me the desire to open the door of my heart to you.  Help me to trust you enough to face the future with confidence and hope, expecting to find your presence and peace, both along my journey and at the journey’s end.  Amen.

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

Read the Introduction, Table of Contents and a Sample Chapter on Twenty Third Publications website:  http://store.pastoralplanning.com/liatgospiing.html

Buy it on Amazon $13.46:  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

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By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”  (Matthew 6:21).  Of all the sayings of Jesus in the New Testament, I think this is one of the most clear and direct.  The words of Catholic author Robert J. Wicks echo the same message when he says, “Tell me what you think about most of the time and I’ll tell you who your God is.”

In pondering where my own treasure lies, I found myself thinking about my personal prayer time.  I asked myself, “Is my personal prayer time the place where my heart’s treasure is supposed to be?”  If it is, then there is a problem. While I definitely find consolation in prayer and consider it a most essential part of my life, I often find it difficult.  It is hard to make time for prayer.  Perhaps you can relate to this.  As soon as I decide that I am going to pray, something else comes to my mind that I just have to do immediately.  Some days my time for personal prayer never happens because I do the activity that came to my mind instead.  At other times prayer can seem dry and barren, not filled with consolation at all.

I sometimes think, “Is prayer supposed to be like this? Why does it often feel like such a chore?”  But I have come to see this struggle in a different way.  If our relationship is to be with the “Living God” and not some distant, imagined (pie-in-the-sky) god then it truly must be this way.  Think about it: If sitting alone in prayer were always easy, if it were always filled with peace and consolation, it probably would be all we would want to do.  Our participation in life and our involvement with other people would decrease dramatically, and we would not seek God there. The difficulty I find in personal prayer, I have come to see as God’s way of directing me back into the activity of daily life.  God is present there as well as in my personal prayer time.

Don’t misunderstand. Our personal prayer time is critically important, and you and I need to persevere in it.  We will receive enough consolation from it to keep us coming back.  But we also need to realize that the dryness and emptiness we at times experience in our prayer time is normal.  It is in reality the best spiritual direction we will ever receive, provided that we interpret it correctly and don’t become too discouraged.  remember that God chooses to come to us not only in our personal prayer time, but also in the midst of your daily activity, especially in the relationships we have with other people.

The realization that the dryness I experience in prayer is God’s way of directing me to pay attention to what’s happening in my daily life has completely changed the way I see my day.  The lesson here is to know that is to know that whether you are engaged in your personal time for prayer, or in the midst of your daily activities, God is present in that place.  As you gradually learn to seek God in daily life as well as during your specifically dedicated “prayer time,” you will realize that it is possible to fulfill the scriptural directive to “pray without ceasing,” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) because your “life” will have become a prayer.

Connecting Point:  What is the desire of your heart? Ponder the statement:
“Tell me what you think about most of the time and I’ll tell you who your God is.”

PrayerLord, open my mind that I may live in such a way that knowing and loving you may truly become the the desire of my heart.  Thank you for the desire that you have given me to pray to you in moments of solitude.  May I also realize that you reveal your presence to me in the activities of my daily life. Open my heart to your presence in my daily activities so that my everyday life may become a prayer.  Amen.

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

Read the Introduction, Table of Contents and a Sample Chapter on Twenty Third Publications website:  http://store.pastoralplanning.com/liatgospiing.html

Buy it on Amazon $13.46:  http://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X