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

November 30, 2016 – Prepare Ye the Way

After talking about preparation for a few days now I don’t want you to think that we are only preparing ourselves for specific moments of prayer. We are actually doing something much bigger. We are laying the foundation for a lifelong relationship with God. We are preparing the way to deeper and fuller communion with our God who made us.

One of the great Advent cries comes from John the Baptist, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths!” (Mark 1:3). Why do we need to straighten the pathways? Because through sin and separation from God, the ways to our hearts have become twisted, overgrown and rocky. By daily coming to God in prayer, we slowly erode away the obstacles in the way. We trim back the thorns and plant flowers in their place. We reorient ourselves toward God rather than seeking fulfillment in other places. We become better able to seek God and receive what God is constantly desiring to give us – His complete, undivided and everlasting love.

Getting beyond the metaphor, I’m sure each one of us knows of a part of our path that presents an obstacle to our relationship with God. Maybe we enjoy to gossip. Perhaps we indulge in shopping or an overabundance of food. We might prioritize recreational activities over weekly Mass. We could lie to ourselves, believing we are too busy to pray, when in reality we mismanage or are wasteful with our time.

Choose one thing today that you want to work on for the rest of Advent. You can use your prayer time to reflect on what God is calling you to let go of or change. Remember, part of being prepared is being flexible enough to work with change rather than against it.

Another way you might focus your efforts today is through music. Regardless of how you feel about the musical Godspell, there is one simple song that is perfect for today’s experience. At the very start of the musical, John the Baptist enters and sings a simple song that is 7 words long: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.” That’s it, over and over again. It can become mantra-like in your head if you let it (you probably have to slow the tempo down a little bit, but you’ll get it). Use those words, let them reverberate through your whole self during the day and see where God leads you in them.

***Have you paused yet today to pray the Sign of the Cross? If you have, awesome! If not, that’s OK. Maybe your best time of day hasn’t come yet. If it has come and gone, take a moment right now and reconnect with God. 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

 

November 29, 2016 – Daily Maintenance

Yesterday we spoke about how part of being prepared is being flexible and part of being flexible is knowing how and when. Knowing the times that we have in our day that lend themselves to prayer is vital to an active prayer life. If you only try to pray in the morning and you have a hard time getting out of bed, chances are your prayer life isn’t doing so hot.

One of the things that I appreciate about the Flylady (remember her from the intro to these Advent experiences?) is her appreciation of daily maintenance. Rather than having one giant, overwhelming laundry day, she recommends one load a day. “A load a day keeps the chaos away.” Start one in the morning, move it to the dryer at lunchtime. Fold and put away in the evening.

Being prepared means maintaining the work you’ve done so that you can build on top of it. So far we have looked at the Sign of the Cross and considered what times of our day are best suited to concentrated moments of prayer. Today, let’s put those two things together.

From now until the end of Advent (well, ideally, from now until you see God face to face), choose one specific time of the day that you can pause and pray the Sign of the Cross. Write a reminder in your calendar, put a post-it on the refrigerator, pin a note to your cubicle, however and wherever you need to put your reminder(s) do so. Have one time each day that you pause and connect with God (check back on the first post to remind yourself of all the different things you are doing when you pray this simple prayer).

At the same time, Jesus, who at the supreme moment of death entrusts himself totally to the hands of God the Father, communicates to us the certainty that, however harsh the trial, however difficult the problems, however acute the suffering may be, we shall never fall from God’s hands, those hands that created us, that sustain us and that accompany us on our way through life, because they are guided by an infinite and faithful love. – Pope Benedict XVI, 15 Feb. 2012 General Audience

 

***What is your best time for prayer? Mine is right after putting the girls down for their quiet time/nap time and after I’ve gotten John going on whatever his quiet time activity is. Usually around 1pm or so. 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