December 3, 2016 – Keeping Chaos Away

In case you don’t remember, this whole Advent series was inspired by a new cleaning routine I’m trying to stick with.

A load a day keeps the chaos away.

As most stay-at-home parents will tell you, laundry can be very quickly become a mounting tower of terror especially with small children around. If things get out of hand it can be a daunting task to regain control. The FlyLady’s solution is simple. Do one load a day. Start it in the morning, move it in the early afternoon, fold and put away in the evening. One load, start to finish, every day.

We can apply this concept to our prayer life. I’m not going to promise that a prayer a day will keep the chaos, the whining, the broken sink, the traffic or work deadlines away. However, a habit of prayer will help us to handle these unavoidable situations in a more humble, gentle, patient way.

St. Paul encourages us to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). I believe wholeheartedly in this pearl of wisdom. However, I also know from experience how intimidating a task it can be. Rather like that mountain of laundry. For just starting out on a prayer journey, I find St. Paul’s advice to the Philippians to be a little more manageable:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God (Philippians 4:6).

Still a challenge to be sure and definitely similar, but it’s more concrete. Giving all things to God in prayer and most importantly, doing so with a spirit of thanksgiving. I have found that I am a more thankful person when I talk with God every day, even if it is only for a few moments. The longer I go between prayer, the harder it is to find that thankful spirit. Instead I have an attitude of “Why me?” or “Where were you when!” or “I’m just too tired, talk to you later.”

After only one week we already have a few tools in our prayer preparation toolbox. We have a few periods of time each day that are conducive to focused prayer. We have the Sign of the Cross. We have our guardian angels. Let’s add one more inspired by St. Paul’s advice about our disposition regarding prayer. Thankfulness. Instead of begrudgingly giving God those three minutes, let’s offer them with a joyful spirit. The Psalmist tells us

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, His mercy endures forever (Psalms 118:1).

For today, really hone in on these words, they are full of opportunities for reflection during your day.

Give thanks to the Lord….for what? What are you thankful for today?

For He is good…God is always good, even in the midst of a struggle or hardship. Regardless of what is happening in your life today, where do you see the goodness of God? It may be in a place you haven’t looked yet.

God’s mercy…We are wrapping up a whole year dedicated to the mercy of God. God’s mercy is present for us each and every day. What’s more, we are capable of being agents of God’s mercy to one another. Where have you felt God’s mercy? Who showed you God’s mercy? Who have you shown God’s mercy to?

Don’t sit down and expect to answer all these questions in 3 minutes. Wait for your prayer time, say the Sign of the Cross, ask your guardian angel for wisdom. Slowly repeat this verse once or twice and consider just one or two of these questions or one of your own making. Talk to God about it. Ask Him questions, offer petitions, seek reassurance or guidance. Before you know it, your 3 minutes will be up. Pray more if you want but regardless of when you close your prayer, continue your day with a renewed spirit of friendship with God.

If you gain nothing else from these reflections, hopefully some part of this prayer experience will be meaningful enough for you to try and continue it everyday. A prayer a day…

***What other Scripture passages do you like to use for prayer? Have you ever used a specific passage to focus your prayer? Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

December 2, 2016 – It Doesn’t Mean Hoarding

Have you heard of preppers before? Preppers typically refer to a group of people who believe that the apocalypse or some other kind of calamity is going to fall upon the earth (think zombies) and they must be prepared for it’s arrival. This includes everything from having bunkers in the back yard, being able to make their own food and clothing, find or create fresh water and stocking up on foodstuffs and weaponry. Say what you want about the legitimacy of their claims, you can’t dispute that if they are correct, they are most definitely prepared.

But this kind of preparation, of collecting and stocking up, does not translate to the kind of preparation we have been talking about the past few days. You can’t spend your whole day (or your one hour at Mass) praying and then expect those prayers to “last” for the week or the month. It’s not as if you can put prayers into some form of bank and then withdraw from it until you need to refill it again.

Think of it this way. You have a friend. You and your friend spend a whole day together doing the things you like to do and having quality conversations about life, your friendship, the past, the future, etc. It’s a great day. But then, you don’t call your friend for a year. You don’t reach out, you don’t post on their Facebook wall, you make no effort at connecting with them. Then, you do decide that all the friendship of that day has run out and you try to connect again with your friend. You might be surprised by what you find. Maybe your friend is engaged to be married, maybe they changed jobs, maybe they had a baby. Who knows, but certainly not you since you were disengaged from their life for a whole year.

Now I know this is a rather extreme version but it makes a point. We can’t expect to have a relationship with God when we only talk with Him a few times a month. We definitely can’t expect to build a habit of prayer if we only pray when we are in distressing times or we want something badly. The type of preparation we do in daily prayer isn’t stockpiling, left on a shelf to get dusty and be pulled down in desperation. It is renewing. Each day that we pray, we renew our relationship with God. We allow God to make it deeper, stronger, more trusting and more life-giving. Together with God we are placing our lives on the sturdy foundation that God has made for us. That way, when hard times do come, we find ourselves standing solidly on layers and layers of trusting prayer experience.

***Did you find the presence of your guardian angel comforting? I know I forget about mine and it is good to be reminded that I always have her in my corner. Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

December 1, 2016 -Angelic Helpers

It can be overwhelming making changes in our lives. Yesterday I challenged you to pick something to change or work on that presents an obstacle on your path to God. Did you do it? Or did it freak you out and make you sweat a little? I’ll be honest, usually when I’m presented with that challenge from a homily, a Scripture reading or a friend I can easily think of something to change and then get swallowed in the paralyzing feeling of “I can’t actually do that though.”

Thank goodness God gives us help. Angels are God’s messengers and frankly, should be our best friends! We each have been gifted with a guardian angel who is always with us, helping to protect us and guide us along our journey in life. Angels are active participants in the world which we can see very clearly during Advent.

Mary is visited by Angel Gabriel who is acting as God’s messenger to ask Mary to be the mother of Jesus. Joseph is visited by an angel while he is discerning how to handle Mary’s untimely pregnancy. Jesus’ birth is heralded by angels singing songs of praise in the sky while the shepherds looked on in wonder. The 3 Magi were planning on returning to Herod to reveal what they had seen in Bethlehem but choose to return home another way after receiving a vision by an angel.

Notice how in all these instances, the people seeing the angel are moved into action. Mary’s yes, Joseph’s acceptance, the shepherd’s visit and the magi’s travel plans are all impacted by angels for the better. Part of being prepared is being willing to accept help along the way, especially when you are in a period of accepting change.

How does your guardian angel influence your life? Do you feel like you can call on your guardian angel to help you truly accept the change you know you need to make? During your 3 minutes of prayer today, say the Guardian Angel prayer. Ask your guardian angel to help you be honest with yourself in identifying the change you are going to make and the courage to see it through. Whenever you feel tempted to move backwards, take a breath and say this prayer to help strengthen your resolve.

Angel of God,
my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love
commits me here,
Ever this day,
be at my side,
To light and guard,
Rule and guide.

Amen. – Prayer copied from www.ewtn.com

***Did you enjoy “Prepare Ye the Way” or was it distracting for you? Everyone’s experience of prayer is unique. For some music is helpful, for others it is distracting. Learning more about what helps and hinders your prayer is yet another way to continue preparing the way. Please feel free to share your experience, thoughts and offer support to one another in the comments, on Twitter with the #DailyGraces or on the Facebook page.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com