Archive for the ‘spiritual care’ Category

Listen to my live workshop presentation delivered at the 2017 Annual Conference of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains annual conference in Santa Anna Pueblo New Mexico.

The question and answer period of my workshop is very lively and even gets a little “dicey.” I welcome your feedback and comments after you listen to it!

Evidence of God’s presence is within and all around us.  One common barrier to our experiencing it is our tendency to become lost in our own imaginations.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

As a young child I remember a picture hanging on the wall in my grandfather’s house.  It showed Jesus standing outside a door and patiently knocking upon it.  This picture is often accompanied by a caption taken from Sacred Scripture, “Behold I stand at the door and knock…” (Revelation 3:20).   I realized at that time that the closed door represented the door to my life, the door to my heart.  I knew it was about letting God in, and yet I did not know how to put the wisdom that the picture represented into practice.  I remember thinking to myself even at that young age, “I will be happy to open the door…but where is the door?”  As an adult, reflecting on words of Rumi,

 “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it”  (Rumi – 13th-century poet, Islamic scholar, theologian and mystic).

brings me back again to that image of Jesus and the meaning of that closed door.   The picture of Jesus knocking outside the door relates directly to Rumi’s statement because it relates to whatever barrier we may place between ourselves and love.  It relates to whatever barrier we place between ourselves and God, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  The question I remember asking as a child, and which remains relevant today, is “What does it mean to open the door of my heart to God?’’

In saying that our task is not so much to “seek love” but rather to work to remove the barriers that keep us from experiencing love, Rumi is describing the work of the contemplative life, which is to grow in the awareness of God’s presence.

Evidence of God’s presence is within and all around us.  One common barrier to our experiencing it is our tendency to become lost in our own imaginations.  In our imagined isolation and self-sufficiency we have learned to see life through the eyes of what famous Catholic writer Thomas Merton calls the false self. This is the barrier, the door, between us and God.  Seeing through the eyes of this false self we do not realize that the things in our life, the people, the miracle of simply being alive, and the entire created world are the ways in which God comes to us.  These “things” are the tangible presence of the Living God.  We need to die to the worried, preoccupied false self and learn to see with new eyes.  Jesus spoke of this death and rebirth when he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

Removing the barrier of the false-self involves spiritual work.  It involves the spiritual discipline of prayer and true humility to acknowledge our faults and to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.  It involves asking for God’s help to remove the falseness that stands between us and the realization of God’s love.

The Contemplative Connection:  While talking to his fellow monks about searching for the presence of God in their lives, Thomas Merton once said, “We have what we seek. We don’t have to rush after it.  It was there all the time.  If we give it time it will make itself known to us.”

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 This article is a sample of my new book “Simple Contemplative spirituality.”  Click below to view  and / or  purchase  on the publishers website:   http://vesuviuspressincorporated.com/simple-contemplative-spirituality/

A Traditionally Published Book

 

Each one of us has our own personal Egypt.  We are enslaved by whatever negative power grips our hearts, preventing us from becoming the people God calls us to be.

This article is an excerpt from “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” by Charles W. Sidoti, BCC and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein.

One of the keys to a more peaceful life is learning when to allow oneself to be led and when to take life by the horns. Both of these inner-actions are necessary at different times. As we reach a point within ourselves where we are able to live in the middle, between the tensions of when to relinquish control and when to assume it, we will have reached a place where real spiritual growth becomes possible. We discover a kind of rhythm or dance of life in which we sometimes follow and sometimes seem to lead. In both actions we are active participants in life.

In my daily work coordinating a hospital spiritual care department, my job is to provide for the spiritual needs of all faith groups. The program serves patients, their families, and also the hospital staff. The hospital not having an official religious affiliation has been a source of blessing for me. Although I am Catholic, I have become knowledgeable about many spiritual traditions in order to serve each of them well. One of the most powerful insights I have learned involves the Jewish celebration of the Festival of Passover, also referred to in the Jewish tradition as “The Festival of Our Freedom.”

Through my association with Jewish friends and colleagues and in researching the significance of Passover, I have found great spiritual meaning in seeing Passover as a distinct action and gift of God in human history before the establishment of Christianity. Researching Passover has enabled me to see it from a different perspective, thus gaining a new appreciation for it.

The Jewish Festival of Passover is a joyful time, primarily retelling and remembering the story of the exodus of the Jewish people from both the physical and spiritual slavery of the Egyptians some 5000 years ago. The story is symbolically re-told in the Seder meal that is observed with the whole family during the festival that lasts several days.

The great Jewish phrase that captures the spiritual meaning is, “We were slaves to the Pharaohs in Egypt, but the Lord led us out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 26:8). I have learned that the message of Passover, “God leads his people”, is not only about what happened in Egypt 5000 years ago. The message for us is that “Egypt” is in our own hearts. Each one of us has our own personal Egypt. The inner slavery of loneliness, depression, anxiety, addiction, jealousy, lust, hate, anger, prejudice, violence, abuse, and countless other chains can hold us in bondage. We are enslaved by whatever negative power grips our hearts, preventing us from becoming the people God calls us to be.  The same God who led his people out of Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” wants to lead us out of the Egypt of our own closed hearts today so that we may live in the freedom of the children of God. With God’s help we can open up and allow ourselves to be led.

As a Christian I have found it helpful and interesting to observe that The Last Supper actually occurred on the first day of the Passover Festival. I feel a special connectedness with my Jewish brothers and sisters as I wonder if at the Last Supper, Jesus was observing the Passover meal, sharing the Seder Meal with his friends for the final time.

Opening my heart to the Jewish celebration of the Festival of Passover has been powerful and insightful. It has been and remains a tremendous source of comfort and healing in my own spiritual journey.

Connecting Point:  The same God that led the Jewish people out of the slavery of Egypt so many years ago, holding out “a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,” reaches out to you today. It is your responsibility to reach back (in prayer) to God in response. God wants to lead you into freedom from whatever grips your heart (fear, anxiety, anger, resentment), preventing you from becoming the person that God created you to be.

Prayer: Loving God, as you have always revealed your presence to your people, reveal yourself to me. Help me to reach out to hold the hand you offer to me. Lead me to the freedom of mind and heart that you desire to give me, and help me to accept it into my life.

 Traditionally Published

View it on Amazon.com just $14.94: https://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

The ability to hope is a fundamental aspect of being human. One of the most important truths I’ve learned as a hospital chaplain caring for terminally ill patients is that “hope changes.” For example, at the beginning of the disease process we may hope for a cure and our returning to the former activity of our lives. As the disease progresses we may hope to be well enough to see a wedding, a birth, a graduation. Toward the end of the disease process we may find ourselves hoping for a peaceful death, a peaceful transition, perhaps the healing of relationships prior to death, either for ourselves or for a loved one. It is the nature of hope that it will always require us to wait while our life unfolds.

No one likes to wait. We often find it difficult to accept, and yet so much of our life’s journey seems to involve waiting for God to reveal the hidden meaning behind the changes that take place in our lives. It is important to realize that not all waiting is the same. Waiting on God is not like waiting for a red light to turn green, where nothing really changes except the color of the light. As we wait on the Lord, there are significant and purposeful things occurring behind the scenes. These “things” are God’s work taking place within the changes that occur in our lives. The reason you and I have to wait is because God’s work is accomplished and revealed to us in the daily unfolding of our lives, slowly and over time. A major part of my work as a chaplain is to help people to wait in hope, and to walk with them as their hope changes.


 

Two “Hope Inspiring” Holiday Gift Ideas! 

simple_contemplative_spirituality125NEW BOOK!!  Click to view and / or learn more about “SIMPLE CONTEMPLATIVE SPIRITUALITY” $13.95 on the publisher’s website: http://amordeus.com/giftShopProductDetails.aspx?itemID=520

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“Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” $14.95  on Amazonhttp://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X