Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Some of you will skip this post because it's about prayer

I've devoted a lot of time this summer to the topics of gay "marriage" and abortion, as those issues touch profoundly on our cultural (mis)understanding of love and life itself. We are obligated to speak and fight for Truth, of course, and I have no intention of stopping, but there is something that must undergird all of our attempts to herald the Truth to the world, something essential and not incidental or optional for the disciple of Christ. Something I have not spent nearly enough time discussing. You all know what it is: prayer

Some of you will read that word, "prayer", and click away now. Many no doubt skipped this post after noting the title. I see the stats, and I understand. The most popular posts deal with controversy and sex and blood and death. Back when I thought prayer was boring, I would have skipped the posts on prayer, too. 

But now, it's the topic I most want to write about. It's what I'm most excited about, and the thing that orders my life these days. Long ago, I told you about the "bomb" that dropped in my spiritual life when I discovered the three traditional stages of holiness, and I'd like to say that my excitement was more than mere intellectual glee, but I'm not sure that would be accurate. To be fair to myself, I suppose there was spiritual advancement in some ways, but until prayer becomes the anchor of daily life, the joy sort of dances around in the intellect but cannot permeate to the depths of one's soul where it belongs. 

Fast forward: In the past year, I have learned more spiritually (thanks to the gift of true suffering) than I had in the previous 20 combined. I have so much to say, and I keep alluding to what happened to me last summer, but I haven't yet written about it. My apologies for that; it'll come soon, God willing. What I can tell you is that a fruit of the past year has been a steady desire to pray and pray well. I consider myself a beginner at prayer, and I am excited to give a recommendation to those of you who are beginners like me. 

The spiritual journey is breathtaking and full of surprises, but it is not unpredictable. We have true masters of prayer in our Catholic tradition, saints so well-known for their knowledge and experience of prayer that even non-Catholics and non-Christians turn to their wisdom. St. Teresa of Avila (16th century) is one of those masters. Teresa, both before and after she became a Carmelite nun, was by all accounts beautiful, brilliant, and charming. She was energetic and magnetic. She had it all -- except that she did not undertake serious prayer until she was already in her 40s, after many years in the convent! 

However, once she committed to persevere in prayer, which was extremely difficult for her to do, she rose to the highest heights of union with God. 

And my friends, once you and I commit to persevere in prayer, our hope of success is assured. Teresa and the saints tell us as much.

To that end, we have to know where to begin and what this prayer, this conversation, looks like. We need an expert guide like St. Teresa to help us as we take those first steps. The book I'm reading is a standard primer for those who need it laid out simply, clearly, systematically:

Conversation With Christ: The Teaching of St. Teresa of Avila about Personal Prayer, by Peter Thomas Rohrbach*, is accessible and basic. You will leave the book knowing what to do, and you will realize that it's not complicated.

Let me repeat: This is not a long, difficult theological book for those already advanced in the spiritual life. It is a starting point for beginners in prayer. And you will be relieved to discover that having a fruitful conversation with the God of the Universe, the Bridegroom of your soul, does not require fancy methods, nor any "method" at all. You will not have to empty your mind of all thought or use centering mantras (things which are, in fact, not advised!) in order to advance to infused contemplation and union with the Lord.

Yes, union with the Holy Trinity, infused contemplation, spiritual marriage -- these are accessible to all who persevere in prayer, seeking holiness and true friendship with God. This means that if you desire the Lord with all your heart, if you will to give your whole self to Him, He will honor that desire and give Himself to you.

Yes, you. God will give Himself to you.

You only need persevere. As St. Teresa said: "It is essential, I maintain, to begin the practice of prayer with a firm resolution to persevere in it." If you enter an intimate relationship with Christ and don't turn back, Heaven will be yours and you will taste it here on earth.

The world is swirling with sin and evil and darkness and confusion and chaos and brokenness and wounds, and we can become overwhelmed by it all. The battle we fight is not against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities. The battle is a supernatural one, and the greatest weapon -- and the path to inexplicable interior peace -- is prayer. As St. John Paul II said, prayer is as essential to a Christian as breathing.

Start breathing, then, and receive the fullness of life promised by Christ!

I challenge you to commit now to serious prayer, and see where God brings you, spiritually, six months or a year from now.

My friends, the Lord is about to do wonderful things in your life. Let us pray!


*Not to be confused with Fr. Richard Rohr, whose works I would never recommend. 


  1. I love Theresa because she seems so accessible (even though I'm hardly a 16th century Spanish nun.) it was a relief to know that she also struggled to keep her mind on the mysteries of the Rosary. That said, I often use this as an excuse, a sort of "well holy people struggled too guess I'll give up while I'm ahead." Anyone else have this particular laziness?

  2. "The world is swirling with sin and evil and darkness and confusion and chaos and brokenness and wounds, and we can become overwhelmed by it all."
    This pretty much describes my life over these past 6 months. Thank you for the encouragement to persevere in prayer! I need that little kick in the behind. :)

  3. As fun as it is to debate and argue, it is prayer that is more (most) important and it is good that you posted on it. There’s a lot of good discussion that can come from this one simple topic, a lot of encouragement to be gained, and a lot that may instruct lurkers who don’t necessarily understand the whole Catholic-to-God bare bones relationship.

    I’ll add that I believe the knowledge of our personal spiritual gifts is very important because they’re so entwined with our personality type, so there’s no use in trying to pray like somebody else or to be somebody else. You’ll only end up frustrated or despairing. Spiritual gifts can change per various seasons in our life, but there’s usually a dominant one (or two) that we’ve always been equipped with, and we can find a certain peace when we walk in those.

    People might ask, “How do I know what my gifts are?” One way is through conversing with others. Has anyone ever said to you, on more than one occasion, “You have a great way of explaining things”? Or, “You have a way of breaking things down for my understanding”? If so, you probably have a gift for teaching. Or maybe you hear, “You are inspiring to me, you give me a renewed confidence to try x, y, z.” You probably have a gift for edifying, encouraging (healing/helping).

    Consider 1 Cor 12, Romans 12, and 1 Peter 4, alongside how often people remark on your personality. God can speak through anyone to confirm to us what we need to know about our own giftedness to better serve God and others.

    These are public gifts we share, but they also fuel our prayer life because they’re the primary spiritual faucet in us, so to speak. If I know I'm equipped for teaching, then I can pray for an infilling of that grace, etc.

  4. Amen, Amen, Leila! In my early adulthood I used to try to pray--on most days. Then God led me to the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites, where Teresa of Avila taught me that daily mental prayer is necessary for any real spiritual growth. Soon I committed myself to daily mental prayer, although it took some years before I was completely faithful in it. I can sincerely say that NEVER in those 25 years have I wished that I had done something other than praying. My only regrets are for the times I didn't pray, or the times I was too lazy to pray well (and there were a lot of the latter!). We may have many regrets at the end of our lives. Commitment to prayer won't be one of them. Prayer is the lifeblood of our relationship with Christ, which was the very reason God made us. Human beings only run well when fueled by prayer. Btw, thanks for linking to my post.

  5. Prayer is not as popular because there's nothing self-glorifying in "closing the door to your room" when you pray. (Matthew 6:6) With our human nature, we tend to want everyone to know how hard we prayed, how many prayers were answered, what miracles we witnessed, ect. There's no motivation when it's just God and us, but once we get past our humanness, God brings us to something deeper that only the saints really know and cherish.

    I recently read a story that I'd like to share here:
    "...during the reign of St.Louis IX of France, when Mass was being said in the palace chapel, a miracle occurred during the Consecration (when Jesus becomes the Eucharist): Jesus appeared visibly at the altar, in the form of a beautiful child. Everyone there gazed on Him in wonderful awe and contemplation, recognizing this miracle as a proof of the Real Presence. Someone hurried to tell the king, who was absent, so that he might come and witness the event. But Louis declined, explaining, "I firmly believe already that Christ is truly present in the Holy Eucharist. He has said it, and that is sufficient; I do not wish to lose the merit of my faith by going to see this miracle." --from the book, Saintly Solutions.

  6. This is beautiful encouragement, Leila. Thank you. Please continue to write more upon your experiences here, not just one time, for the sake of all of us readers. As you have said, it puts all else in order, which in turn gives more credibility to all that we do for God. As you noted, it's important also to emphasize that it is fully up to Him to advance us as we pray, and is not up to us to achieve. Sometimes, unless we really know this ahead of time, this can be a reason later why some don't stay faithful. We humans seem hardwired to see results from our efforts, turning our focus to a mentality of step accomplishment. A good spiritual director can help here (St. Francis de Sales can serve in that role right in our own home - introduction to a Devout Life). Now, I better recommit myself to daily meditative prayer again. :)

  7. Great timing, Lelia! Within the last few months or so, I've been making a more concentrated effort to deepen my prayer life. I'll certainly be reading "Conversation with Christ", in the near future, towards that end. Thanks for the recommendation.

  8. Thanks, guys!

    Sarah, a suggestion (if you are anything like me).... I'm not saying to give up the rosary (not at all!), but try what St. Teresa suggests: Just have a conversation. There is a way to get prepared to have mental prayer, but it is brief, and easy to do. I find vocal prayer or standard prayers to be more difficult, but I am all about a personal conversation, even with lots of listening, and very informal words. Christ wants to hear from our hearts and he wants to give in return. A real conversation. You would appreciate the book, if you are anything like me. It was such a relief.

  9. I agree with what you say about change. If someone has never committed to daily prayer, then is faithful to it for 6-12 months, he WILL see changes. Unless he is purposely defying God in his moral life, in which case he would probably not last that long anyway. People will progress from the first to the 2nd of Teresa's mansions, or advance through the 2nd toward and maybe partially into the 3rd. People advance at different rates and the appearances of that advancement differ. But this is one of the 5 lessons I once wrote will change people's lives, and it will. It doesn't follow that EVERY 6-12 months will see a big change in your life. Although, I think that if you don't have some big changes every year, you might need to examine if you are praying well or just going through the motions... 'Cause when I am really giving all to God, I see change after change in my life. (And I was stuck in a rut for many years, but that's another story.)

  10. Connie, yes!! Thank you so much for you insight!! About 12 years ago, I was part of a formation program and I committed to prayer, serious prayer, with God every single night. Several months into my prayer life, the fruit was incredible! I was stunned! God can be trusted with his promises, for sure. Of course, like so many, I fell back and spent the next decade-plus as a very lax prayer. It's common, and we are weak, but now my resolve is strong. I know what God wants of me, and I know He's waiting for me in prayer. Thank you for explaining it so well, and for the encouragement and practical information.

  11. I love watching the Spirit move us. I too have been longing to pray "better" and more consistently for a few months now. There are certain staples in our home as a family (giving thanks before we eat, praying a Hail Mary if we see a car accident, nightly prayers with our kids before bed and anytime the kids want to pray for some intention we all stop what we're doing and bow our heads). My husand also faithfully does the Liturgy of Hours and is able to attend some daily Masses as well as a Holy Hour more often than I. And although I'm pretty okay about having a conversation with God it's usually, but not always, in a moment of mommy exasperation...sad right! Just a few days ago I asked my husband if he would be willing to say the Rosary with me every night...of course he said yes. And already it's amazing. I normally struggle through this particular prayer as beautiful as it is and so for me to even suggest we do this one was surprising enough, but I find that I am longing for it throughout the day. To hear that others are also having this same stirring to pray more and "better" is so encouraging! I will definitely look into "Conversations with Christ" soon. Thanks for this!

    1. This is awesome, TGB! The Holy Spirit is moving in your hearts!

      It's funny because a man I know prays a lot (reads the Magnificat, and many vocal prayers), but when I asked him about having a conversation with God (which is more intimate, since it's the time when we face Him with our own words, thoughts, petitions, and longings), he admitted that he did not do so. It was almost "too intimate"! So, this little book helps people along with that conversation (which I think is particularly hard for men).

  12. Thanks Leila. Lacking is what comes to mind for me. Trying though and I have my moments. I know this, the constant faithful prayer of parents for the spiritual and physical well being and safety of their children is the most powerful thing in the world. Saved my bacon for sure.

  13. With the plethora of religious books available, it's appreciated to have one recommended as tried n true. No matter what spiritual realm we're on, there's always another rung to go up and with fervor; I've found Eucharistic Adoration helpful, (except once when another had taken her shoes off and put her feet/legs across the row of chairs while reading her book), had to bite my tongue about reverence. Miss the family rosary when kids were too young to say it with us, they would color corresponding pictures (found online), of the mysteries and of course display which helps the mind to meditate properly. And this johnny-come-lately just discovered the Divine Office/Mercy apps :)

  14. Haha, come on Maggie, you should have left and come back with a basin of water and towel. Haha

  15. Good one, Chris, except with my adhd, it would have turned into a baptism instead, with me saying, "Sorry about that, here's a towel, I have to get Padre on my speed dial, Father, forgive me, for I have sinned......"

  16. Ooh, Ooh, Ooh! I have had a similar experience, Leila, a conversion because of humility and prayer. I'd like to share my story with you and your readers as I know there are similarities. As you said, "the fruit was incredible." I am still in awe of what happened to me and every day I thank God for His persistence, LOL!

    Forgive me, please, for copying the wording from a letter I sent to my friends and family about my conversion, about the prayer life that made it happen and about a priest's reflections on why God wants us to pray even though He already knows what is in our hearts. Some of your readers may not know God's reasons and I think they just might be a little in awe and a lot delighted, lol. And, indeed, I read your whole post, lol. I want to read St. Teresa of Avila's "The Interior Castle" before I read another person's reflections on her prayer life.

    I remember well, Leila, how God humbled me with two very fraught circumstances. I had been a respectful, but mostly cultural, Catholic until then. I started praying fervently for several months for at least one or two hours each day to thank God for His revelations until one day my world turned upside-down (or right-side up, really, lol). I had needed to learn the words to tell my daughter that she was living a very sinful life but I wanted to be effective and not self-righteous. So one night as I fervently prayed it happened!!!

    Suddenly I felt that I couldn’t breathe and words just kept filling up the room I had made in my head and heart for God during all those months of intense prayer. I had a conversion of heart and mind. I was filled with the zeal and wisdom of the Holy Spirit and I had to grab a pen and paper and write everything down that filled my head. It was surreal. The next morning I woke up to a world in bright technicolor. I was truly alive. I couldn’t get enough of all things Catholic. I spoke to priests, I called on spiritual directors, I read the Bible, I prayed more and I was ecstatic. I was in ecstasy! I never knew such passion.

    So when Father Wade Menezes gave a homily on prayer during the EWTN (Mother Angelica’s Eternal Word Television Network) celebration of Mass one morning, I was especially stricken and I wrote the following to share with my family and friends and I would like to share it with you, Leila, and your readers:

    Fr. Menezes spoke about God’s reason for the vocation of prayer. God is omniscient and therefore knows what we would ask of Him before we pray. So why does God tell us to pray?

    The reasons God wants us to pray (this is so beautiful and very deep so harness your critical thinking skills here and read deliberately) are:

    1) St. John of the Cross tells us the more God wishes to give us, the more He makes our hearts desire these things.

    2) St. John also says that in the first place it should be known that if a person is seeking God, then God is seeking Him first.

    3) St. John says that prayer is the one thing that can bind God (to us).

    4) St. Augustine explains why God should ask us to pray. He says that God wants us to exercise our desire through our prayers precisely to prepare the human heart for the gifts He wants to give us. He says the more fervent the desire, the more worthy the fruit.

    5) St. Paul tells us to pray without ceasing.

    6) Tertullian, priest, says that prayer is the one thing that can conquer God.

    Amazing! By now we should get the idea. Those whom God chooses (He puts the desire in our hearts) for deep prayer, are those of us whom He wants to redeem (He is seeking us first). For us to pray is for us to prepare our hearts for His gifts.

    This is why we need to read the writings of the saints, instruments of the fullness and richness of the Catholic faith.

    Leila and readers, I hope that by sharing this reflection each of you is encouraged to seek that which is not just visible.

    “Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

  17. I loved the post and I didn't pass it up. I also agree with you about Fr. Rohr.

  18. Barb that is a beautiful story and your passion is palpable! God indeed has so much in store for us if we would only go to meet Him in prayer! CRAZY love!!! Thank you for sharing it here!

  19. And I love that we have holy comedians on this blog (Nubby, Chris, Maggie, etc.)!! The more the better! Life is full of joy!!

  20. So incredibly perfect timing. I just read another killer of a post on prayer today at Neal Obstat and I think my heart is about to explode between the two of you. Thank you, Leila! And Connie: I just read your little book about the five things you've learned from the Carmelite Saints- beautiful, brilliant, simplicity. Thank you for writing that and for all your writing at Spiritual Direction!

  21. Jennifer, awesome!! That "heart about to explode" feeling is the best! Especially when it has to do with God and prayer! (And yes, isn't Connie amazing?)

  22. Thanks for the book recommendation, Leila, and Jennifer, thanks for mentioning the Neal Obstat website. I have been focusing on gratitude lately and finding that that has me connecting with God throughout the day. It is probably time to add a focused time of prayer each day. I wouldn't want to avoid letting God bring my relationship with Him to a higher level.

    PS - Leila, Neal Obstat has a good article about the importance of fathers! More to add to your arsenal!

  23. Sharon, how have I never heard of him before? Thank you both for the suggestion!! And yes, the focused prayer each day makes a world of difference!

  24. Leila is this book available on kindle or as an e book?

    1. Hi Leila thank you for your prompt reply. On Amazon only the paperback edition is available and that too is out of stock. I really need to get my hands on this one.

    2. Are you on your phone? If so, you may not readily see the Kindle edition. So, where it says "paperback", click on the little arrow and it will actually take you to the option to buy the paperback or the Kindle. Try that and see if it works. If you are on a regular computer, it should be there (I see it, I promise!). You definitely need this book! :)

  25. Unknown, yes it is! If you click the title link (or the photo), it should take you to the page where you can get the Kindle edition! :) :)

    1. Hi Leila the book is out of stock and the kindle version is not available. Would so love to read this one.

    2. Sorry, I am replying in two different places! Forgive me! Up above, I wrote this, in case you are on your phone looking at Amazon:

      Are you on your phone? If so, you may not readily see the Kindle edition. So, where it says "paperback", click on the little arrow and it will actually take you to the option to buy the paperback or the Kindle. Try that and see if it works. If you are on a regular computer, it should be there (I see it, I promise!). You definitely need this book! :)

      Also, I believe the last time I looked there were used books available through the same link. So, you can get a used book, a third-party book, and a Kindle edition, all on the same page (and you can order a new book as well, and they will forward it to you when it comes in stock).

      If that doesn't work and you don't mind spending a little more, here is a link to Barnes and Nobles (and the book):


      I hope that helps! Let me know!

    3. Hi Leila I did check the link on my desktop but unfortunately the outcome is the same. Even though I would love to have a hardcopy the postage and shipping doubles the cost to my country which is too expensive for me on my shoe string budget. So I have opted for the kindle versions so that I will be able to read it on the go being a busy mum. Will check out Barnes and Noble. Thank you for your concern. Please do continue to write on prayer. I have been a struggling newbie for years. God bless you and your lovely family

    4. Oh, I am sorry! Well, I am glad that you at least have the Kindle version! And maybe you could search for a used edition on some of the used book stores online.

      Many blessings to you and your family!!

    5. Unfortunately I do not have the kindle edition of this book. So if you do come across a kindle edition please do let me know.

    6. Will you email me at littlecatholicbubble@gmail.com? I want to make sure you can have a copy of the book. :)

  26. Thanks, Jennifer O' Canada. Writing about God is what I love to do and I just can't thank Him enough for actually letting me spend so much time on it. I'm so glad my little ebook helped you.

  27. My favorite quote from St. Teresa of Avila is "prayer is the mortar that holds our house together." She was peaking to her sisters in the cloister but it is so true for any person or home. Another good book to start with prayer is "The Practice of the Presence of God" by Br. Lawrence of the Resurrection, Carmelite as well :) Prayer is one of my favorite subjects to think and read about especially the interior life.

  28. Leila,
    Random method of prayer question:
    Have you ever prayed for a special intention through the method of Honi ha'M'agel, the Jewish miracle worker (Circle drawing)?

  29. Nubby, Leila didn't know what you were talking about, so she asked if I would answer, since she often comes to me with questions about prayer. I didn't know what you were talking about either! So I did a little research and learned this is a prayer method that comes from a Jewish man in the time of the Maccabees. Apparently someone wrote a couple of books about it in the last few years. The criticisms I am reading put it in the same category as the Prayer of Jabez--kind of a way to manipulate God to get what you want. If we have a serious special intention, I think we should stick with prayer methods from the Bible and the saints, rather than from Jewish legends. The persistent widow and the Syrophoenician woman come to mind. Both Honi he M'agel and the Prophet Elijah are credited with praying for rain and being heard. But we know the story of Elijah is true and that he was approved by God. What does the NT say about this? "The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.Elijah was a man of like nature with ourselves and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.Then he prayed again and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth its fruit" (James 5:16-18). So, why did God hear Elijah? Not because of a certain prayer method, but because he lived a righteous life. That's why the prayers of the saints are so powerful--they are very close to God. So, I would advise you to pray fervently, pray humbly, pray perseveringly, and bring your life in line with God's will as much as possible. Then trust God to do what is best. Sometimes the surrender of our will to God is a greater good than the object of our prayer. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that a certain method will make Him answer as you desire.

  30. Connie, that is awesome that you get to do that! Leila, you haven't heard of Dr. Tom Neal (Neal Obstat) because he is the Catholic internet's best kept secret. He is such a beautiful, brilliant, pure-of-heart soul. You will adore him like everyone else does :)

  31. Hi Connie,
    Thanks, I wasn't looking really for advice, as much as I was just curious if Leila had heard of it.

    I'm familiar with this method, personally, and was going to bring it up for purposes of conversation. I agree that no method pleases God, of course, it's the faith that is exercised that pleases the Father. Just throwing it out there for dialogue. Thanks, though.

  32. Oh, well. Maybe my comment will help a lurker. :)

  33. Well, Nubby, you've certainly have piqued my curiosity. If you don't mind expounding on it and your personal experiences with it? How did you learn about it, etc? But if you choose not to divulge, I respect that.

  34. Hi Maggie-
    Sure, no prob.
    I brought up the circle prayer/circle drawing partly because Leila’s post mentions suffering and prayer.

    This kind of prayer is a prayer for divine protection and divine provision. It’s very in line with our faith and was given to me during spiritual direction by a very holy orthodox deacon.

    It’s done specifically for eliciting a very specific answer from God for a very specific supplication put before Him, and is said during a time of great suffering that is definitely not of God , meaning, it is not a purifying kind of suffering or a Christ-given cross, but an outright attack. That is easy enough to discern.

    It is a very concrete, active, vocal, focused, and even physical, method of interacting with Almighty God the Father. Keep it in mind, and maybe in your arsenal- should you find yourself facing something that you know is absolutely not of God, but you are helpless to fight against.

    Course, always ask your spiritual director. I was also given many prayers on top of that one to pray, and penances to make to obtain mercy from God, but this circle prayer was brand new to me and it did help elicit faith in me because of the concrete action/method of prayer involved. It interested me, anyway.

  35. Nubby, You're description sounds very different from what I was reading about. One challenge is that almost every post I can find is written by a "Bible-believing" Christian, not from a Catholic perspective. Do you have a link? Or can you explain in more detail how this prayer is prayed? Thanks!

  36. No prob.
    I don't have a link. All I had was the printouts he gave me (prayers, penance, and this circle prayer action to take).

    It sounds almost like too much ‘woo-woo’, too close to magic on its face for many, but it is not. It’s straight-up laced with praise and adoration. I was up for it because it really got me up and fighting. (heh, weird…)

    The method is pretty simple.
    Basically, if you know for certain this is to combat an attack, you use several physical items and you place them on a sheet of paper. For instance, a photo of the person you want protected, say. A small statue of the Holy Family, a small saint statue you want to intercede, a rosary, a miraculous medal, holy objects.

    You write key Scriptures all over that paper in accordance with whatever you’re praying for (the good deacon gave me several).
    You pray those aloud as you write them.
    Then you draw a circle around the whole thing. Circle of protection, unity. Never to be broken. You offer it up as your offering and you place it firmly in God’s hands.

    Of course, launching into praise comes naturally during this, so you praise God the Father, you call upon Him in adoration as God of all, etc. you get yourself deep into praise. Deep into praise. Deeeep into praise. Like, tongues of fire praise. He inhabits the praises of His people. And you it all hang out. You know you’re praying in holy righteousness because you know that this is God’s will, that this situation or person be remedied and healed because it is NOT of God.

    You call upon the saints, whomever you want. I even blessed the whole thing with holy water and claimed it for God. I said, “This whole situation belongs to you. I remove it from the enemy’s hands. He has no authority over _____. I have nothing left to give you , Father. You have GOT to do something. Move your saving hand.”
    Daily, I did this for as long as I felt it was edifying and pleasing God. I know He heard me. I see that fruit.

    It’s like pounding on the Father’s door with a hammering fist. It’s a heated (yet humble) refusal to take “no” for an answer to receive a specific type of rescue. Not to make it sound proud, because it’s not offered with an obnoxious heart, but from a very needy, humble, and frantic human heart. Important distinction.

    No magic words. Straight up love and abandonment to His Providence, to His movement, to His timing. “Here. I offer you this. I am staggering in defeat. You have GOT to do something. This is NOT of you, Lord. Hear me, rescue this person, etc.” Don’t let God rest. He elicits that strength from way down and he rescues. He rescues. ;)

    Like you said, and I agree, the method serves to build up the person's faith. It's the faith that brings God's saving action. So... I'm sure this all helped me please the Father. Was it the lucky charm, so to speak, probably not, most likely it was all the daily masses. But it gave me a weapon to wield. And it drew me into His loving heart at a time when I was scrambling for a saving remedy.

  37. So, I have been away from my computer all day!! Finally back on!!

    Nubby, I knew that Connie would know more than I on anything prayer related, so thanks for letting me hand that off to her, and thanks to Connie for taking it!

    I've been learning so much about the mistakes of "centering prayer" (and I know that is not what you are talking about, Nubby), and how Fr. Thomas Keating has taken what is essentially transcendental meditation and convinced a whole lot of good Catholics that it is in line with Catholic prayer practice and tradition. Seeing his words side by side with the words of the Catechism and also St. Theresa and St. John of the Cross and Pope Benedict really has me saddened, because there is no comparison, they are two different things, with two different intents. So, I never want to speak on anything I don't know, and I had never heard of circle drawing. I am learning, learning, learning!!

    And knowing you, Nubby, even God could not resist your hammering fist!! I know I relish it!! I am so pleased that your prayer was heard and answered. Praise God and praise your persistence.

    My particular suffering, while completely devastating to me in the midst of it, was (I know looking back) absolutely from the Hand of God. It was a stripping away of everything, leaving me with nothing but "Him looking at me and me looking at Him." That's all there was in the darkness of it all, and that is what I needed to understand. It was a severe mercy. I am so grateful for it, and I still have not been able to put it into words.

    God is good.

  38. I love the quote from Pope John Paul II,
    "Yes, God alone is our true and unfailing support, just as love and prayer are the only sure spiritual levers with which it is possible to lift up the world."- Pope John Paul II (1994)
    Thanks for encouraging me to really dedicate some time to prayer.

  39. My particular suffering, while completely devastating to me in the midst of it, was (I know looking back) absolutely from the Hand of God. It was a stripping away of everything, leaving me with nothing but "Him looking at me and me looking at Him."

    Oh, I hear this. Loud and clear. I used the prayer circle for this reason - it was simply down to God and me, and I was at His mercy...waiting, hoping. Even though the suffering I went through was an attack from the enemy, it was still, at the end of the day, all from God's hand. I guess this is why I went to Him so adamantly. Not out of an "I deserve to be rescued" attitude, but completely the opposite. "I'm coming to you and you will help me -- you must help me-- because I don't deserve your help, but I will ask until you answer 'yes'." Much like the Canaanite woman.

    Maybe someday you'll get your story posted so we can better understand the details. It is an awesome - and sometimes painfully and terrifying -thing to see the slow movement of God's hand. Sometimes it feels like he's taking forever to move or to solve a situation or to return again with His light. But He shows up, always.

    Thanks Be To God.

    1. I feel so bad that I've been mentioning it for a year now and just haven't written it! It's so obnoxious when people do that!!! I promise, not much longer (unless God for some reason keeps up this forcefield....).

      And yes! He always shows up. The true superhero, always there in the darkest hour!

  40. Thanks,Nubby, for the explanation, sounds like you have a unique spiritual director!

    If it's not too personal, would you mind sharing what penances you were advised to offer? I'm reading Sister Emmanuel's book: Freed and Healed Through Fasting but I find fasting almost impossible, even if only for half a day. So I try to do something simple like give up Sunday comics, or let DH hang the paper towel the 'wrong' way, which reminds me each time I tear off a section to say a prayer for purgatorial souls.
    Or if any other readers wish to comment on what type of penance/sacrifice/fasting has enhanced their prayer life?

    BTW, Leila, I think this is one of your best posts in the year I've been following; it's resplendent of 'recipes' for the soul! Am very appreciative of all the ideas posted of favorite prayer styles, books and bloggers, etc.

  41. Hi Maggie,

    I don’t mind sharing. I just located the printouts he gave me and I am edified all over again, just reading what he wrote- just knowing the place I was at and looking at the place I am now. I should return to some of this. God is amazing.

    This was heavy-duty advice given to me with the express intent that I would come offensively, directly against a bad situation, so it’s a lot. My deacon is very simplistic of heart (which I love), very straight forward, holy, and practical. He was a huge help. Anyway, here’s most of what he gave me, summarized:

    I have thought and prayed about your situation and offer you the following that you can do:
    Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet daily
    Place this situation in a circle of prayer [he gave instructions how]
    Be bold in what you ask God for, encircle your intention in prayer every day
    Bring before God these scriptures [he gave me several], ask God specifically for what these scripture say, express to God your suffering, let him know you trust in Him and his words of scripture.
    Pray to Mary, under Our Lady of Guadalupe
    Pray the Rosary
    Pray to St. Joseph, St. Therese of Lisieux, and St. Rita of Cascia.
    Offer up your suffering in reparation for your sins; do not seek more suffering, but join it [present suffering] with Jesus and the sacrifice of the Mass
    Adore the Holy Face of Jesus and offer it to the Father

    It may seem like a lot but you will need to deeply implore God, his mother, and the saints, to act on your behalf. You cannot be half-hearted. Be boldly courageous and seek [God’s] intercession. Be aware that satan will not like this. It may get worse before it gets better; he will try to make you give up. Do not let that happen. Persevere. Remember that Jesus loves you deeply and intimately. He wants the best for you.

    Those were my marching orders and my weapons. And they prompted fire in the belly, if you know what I mean. I also started attending daily mass as frequently as I could and offered up each Eucharist for this special intention. And I only had a few other people (I know personally) praying for me, people I really trust.

    These actions were like a sledge hammer to glass. Just really very helpful and elicited my faith x100. And God saved, just out of the blue, after a long period of suffering. Like, ok, I hear you, I see your heart, I will save. Just really that straight-on. I believe it was His will all along, but just a trial that I had to fight through. I mean, fight - as in, if one more demon comes at this situation, I will pull him into hell with me.

    Course, see what your spiritual director gives you. Every situation is different, and every personality type finds certain actions/prayers realistically helpful.

    1. Nubby, Just realized that I forgot to thank you, from the bottom of my heart for taking time to find the papers and type out his recommendations! It should be very helpful with my urgent situation/petition. May your blessings be 70x7!!

  42. You bet. I'll pray for you. May God bless you, too. I know He will bend low to hear you. Pls. pray for me as I enter a fast. This latest PP video has me compelled to go into holy silence for a while and offer some time and reparation. Catch you all later.

  43. Thank you Leila. I am logged on through my mobile. Will try it from the desktop.

  44. I will do a whole post on this soon, but here is a review I wrote about Connie's new ebook (soon to be paperback) on how "centering prayer" compares to Catholic teaching on prayer. Well, actually, here is a link to the amazon page, but my review is right there:



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