When Prayer Is Wrong!

Is there ever a time when you shouldn’t be praying? Yes! (Whaaaaaat?)

No, I haven’t gone to the dark side. Allow me to clarify, because this is very important.

When I first really dove into a life of deep prayer a few years ago, I was hardcore. I went to the adoration chapel near my house five times a week on average, and would spend about an hour every time I went. And in many ways it was awesome. I grew tons. (I might have even started to glow.)

When I wasn’t able to make it to the chapel, I would pray at home. And frankly, there were times when I would separate myself from my family to engage in what I considered my “necessary” prayer time. And that’s a problem. I had forgotten a very important point about the life of prayer made by St. Francis de Sales in his classic “Introduction to the Devout Life“:

“The practice of devotion must also be adapted to the strength, activities, and duties of each particular person…Is it fitting for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian?…For a skilled workman  to spend the whole day in church like a religious?…Would not such devotion be laughable, confused, impossible to carry out?”

I am a married man with five children (so far). If I ignore my duties as a husband and father (e.g. changing diapers, going to work, playing with the kids, etc…), I’m not living my vocation appropriately.

I’m not a monk. (I’m certainly not a nun.) Yes, I still go to adoration multiple times a week and I still pray at home all the time. Prayer will always be a top priority in my life because I know I can’t get to heaven without it, and I want to draw as close to God as possible. But I had to change my ways. I had to recognize my state in life and act accordingly. Thanks to de Sales, I don’t put off my “earthly” duties anymore in order to pray like someone (or something) I’m not.

The Catholic life is an integrated life. Our natural and “supernatural” lives must work together. We must maintain our duties to those things in life to which God has called us.  So if you’re needed for something that is part of your state in life, pause your rosary or novena and go do it. Just don’t forget to get back to it when the right time comes. In fact, you’ll find that an ordered life of prayer helps you carry out those duties even better!

God bless and keep striving for sainthood!

Matthew

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Spiritual Theology Knowledge Bombs!

Tonight (Wednesday) on “The Art of Catholic” I chat with Dan Burke, imgresexecutive director of the National Catholic Register, and founder/president of The Avila Institute. We’re getting into the writings of St. Peter Alcantara, who was the spiritual director of St. Teresa of Avila (i.e. the guy is no slouch).

Tune in at 6pmEST at www.RadioMaria.us.

Here’s the link to purchase Dan’s book Finding God Through Meditation by St. Peter Alcantara at 20% off. Trust me. It rocks.

GetImage

 

How To Explain The Trinity To A Child (And An Adult)

Maybe you could have done better…I freaked.

When my oldest daughter was just 3 years old, she asked a doozy of a question – at bedtime, of course: “Daddy, how is God 3 Persons, but they’re all God?”

After a short-lived panic attack, during which thoughts like, “Questions about the Trinity already? Seriously?….Perhaps I can pretend to be asleep and she’ll let it go…On the other hand, maybe she’ll get a scholarship and I won’t have to pay for college…”…raced through my mind.

Doing my best to not sound like a theological “Goodnight Moon”, I launched into a truly terrible explanation – the feebleness of which I completely blame on too many Fridays spent watching The Dukes of Hazzard, which obviously has flattened out many of my larger brain waves.

I could tell she didn’t really buy the answer. I was terrified I’d lost my daughter to skepticism before she ever even reached the age of reason.

This whole episode replayed in my mind last weekend when we celebrated Trinity Sunday. And since the Trinity is really the foundation of all of our beliefs, I figured it might be nice to at least help you avoid my mistake.

Love Creates Equality

Now, don’t get me wrong. I haven’t figured it all out. Nobody has. When discussing the Most Holy Trinity we have to acknowledge up front that there is only so much we can know about God. After all, He is infinite and we are finite (which is a LOT more of a ginormous gulf than indicated by the two measly letters that differentiate those two words).

And as my daughter so aptly pointed out, how the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are all equally God can be really, really confusing.

Perhaps the best (and simplest) explanation I’ve ever heard is the insight offered by St. John of the Cross. The answer, he says, revolves around love. In fact, it is love that creates the equality of the 3 Persons of the Trinity, declares the great Spanish mystic.

St. John explains that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all equally God because they give of themselves perfectly to each other. Each totally serves the other. That’s why one isn’t “better” than another. Love creates equality because it always puts the other person first. And this perfect love is perfectly displayed in the Trinity.

Us, Too!

Of course, this kind of agape – this self-giving love – is not only for God to manifest. It’s also how each of us is called to love God and each other. We’re supposed to put other’s needs in front of our own – give of ourselves wholly and completely to them, starting with God.

That’s how we live and love like Christ and don’t make ourselves “better” than anyone else. We’re all equally brothers and sisters in Christ. Living in self-giving love is how we begin to become like the three Persons of the Trinitarian family – the family for which we were ultimately made.

God bless you!

Matt

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