Shepherd of Faith

Inspiration for your journey to God!

Reliving the days of Eve

Are we reliving the days of Eve? I recently finished reading Father Michael Gaitley’s book 33 Days to Merciful Love.  In it, he talks about trust in God.  He takes us way back to the time of Adam and Eve and “the Fall.”  You will recall their downfall was distrust.  As I read the last few pages of the book I was struck by these words:  recall that our trust problem began with the fall of Adam and Eve.  More specifically, it began with a lie:  Eve listened to the lie of the serpent, a lie that made God seem jealous, selfish and conniving.  In other words, it called into question God’s goodness.  Thus, Adam and Eve and we ourselves, are “afraid of the God of whom we have conceived a distorted image….”

The last part in quotes comes from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  That whole paragraph awakened something in me.  It got me thinking about those who have gone before us.  It got me thinking about the benefits of solitude, silence and awareness and the implications of “noise.”  Let me explain.

While praying the rosary today and meditating on the mysteries, I thought back to all the bible stories we’ve heard.  The ones of encounters with God – Moses, David, Solomon, Saul, Paul, Peter, just to name a few.  These individuals never saw God face to face but they “heard” Him.  These biblical figures were special because they shared their experiences and contributed to the history of our faith.  Often, for me at least, we imagine that these figures were extra special, that they were chosen by God for His revelation.

Today I realized we too are chosen.  We too can encounter God in the same way our biblical ancestors did!  Of course, we won’t see Him face to face but we can hear Him in the same way if we would stop long enough.  How long is long enough?  Sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 10, sometimes 30 or longer. The results are definitely worth the wait.  The benefits of silence, solitude and awareness are the ability to hear from God, guidance of the Spirit, increased faith and trust in God, increased love of God and a desire to please Him in all things.

So what is “noise” and what are the implications of allowing it to rule our lives?  “Noise” is one’s inability to be still.  Noise is the incessant chatter of the mind.  Scripture says:  Be still and know that I am God. This noise leaves no time or room for God.   It creates a “fog” that doesn’t allow us to see things clearly and because of the noise and the fog we make decisions that do not benefit us.  We become distracted.

In our distraction we believe the lies – the lies of the world.  We react impulsively without seeking the discernment of God.  We lack trust in Him.  So the implications of noise?  Reliving the days of Eve.  Falling for the lies of the world, our new serpent – Satan disguised yet again and causing humanity to distrust God.  Falsely believing that everything we have and are is our own doing and that God had nothing to do with it.

There is so much more to us humans than our flesh and bones and our possessions.  We’re missing the point of life when we focus on the worldly, when we move around in routine, refusing to change because we believe the lie: “that’s just the way I am.”  I believe the root of that excuse is pure laziness – a refusal to put in the effort, a refusal to become a better version of oneself, a refusal to be obedient to the Word.  We all know that’s not really “just the way we are!”  It’s just another lie we choose to believe – following Eve’s footsteps.  Why?

How many of us want front row seats at concerts and other shows,  why not strive to get a front row seat to an encounter with God?  Don’t believe the lie that you don’t have the time.  Try small blocks of silence throughout your day to commune with God!  It will change your life!  God bless you!

Meditation brings God CLOSER!

I’ve heard it said many times before: Meditation or “emptying the mind” is not good because it makes room or allows the devil to creep in.  In my opinion, nothing could be further from the truth.  That is glass half empty mentality.  I believe meditation and the emptying of your mind gets the devil out and makes room for God to come in!  I’m a glass half full kind of gal.

Since I started my meditation practice I have noticed a positive change in my life and I have grown closer to God in ways I never thought possible.  I have recommended the practice to many friends and family members but have been met with such resistance I can only hope that the seeds I have planted take root one day because I know whoever tries it will never be the same!

Today I came across this meditation by Richard Rohr and thought it was perfect to share.  The lawyer in me wants to “make the case” for meditation. Consider this Exhibit 1:

Watching the River
Tuesday, May 10, 2016
To live in the present moment requires a change in our inner posture. Instead of expanding or shoring up our fortress of “I”–the ego–which culture and often therapy try to help us do, contemplation waits to discover what this “I” consists of. What is this “I” that I take so seriously?
To discover the answer, we have to calmly observe our own stream of consciousness and see its compulsive patterns. That’s what happens in the early stages of contemplation, which does not yet feel like prayer. We wait in silence. In silence all our usual patterns assault us. Our patterns of control, addiction, negativity, tension, anger, and fear assert themselves. When Jesus is “driven” by the Spirit into the wilderness, the first things that show up are “wild beasts” (Mark 1:13). Contemplation is not first of all consoling, which is why so many give up. Yes, the truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable.
Most teachers insist on at least twenty minutes for a full contemplative “sit,” because you can assume that the first half (or more) of any contemplative prayer time is just letting go of those thoughts, judgments, fears, negations, and emotions that want to impose themselves on you. You have to become the watcher, where you step back from those things and observe them without judgment. You separate from them and you watch them “over there” until you realize that feeling is not me. I’m over here watching that over there, which means it isn’t me.
Thomas Keating teaches a beautifully simple exercise to use in contemplation. Imagine yourself sitting on the bank of a river. Observe each of your thoughts coming along as if they’re saying, “Think me, think me.” Watch your feelings come by saying, “Feel me, feel me.” Acknowledge that you’re having the feeling; acknowledge that you’re having the thought. Don’t hate it, don’t judge it, don’t critique it, don’t, in any way, move against it. Simply name it: “resentment toward so and so,” “a thought about such and such.” Admit that you’re having it, then place it on a boat and let it go down the river. The river is your stream of consciousness.
In the early stages of beginning a contemplative practice (and for the first few minutes of each new contemplative experience), you’re simply observing your repetitive thoughts. The small, ego self can’t do this because it’s rather totally identified with its own thoughts and illusions, which are all the ego has. In fact, the ego is a passing game. That’s why it’s called the false self. It’s finally not real. Most people live out of their false self, so “they think they are their thinking.” They don’t have a clue who they are apart from their thoughts. What you are doing in contemplation is moving to a level beneath your thoughts: the level of pure and naked being. This is the level of pure consciousness. This is not consciousness of anything in particular; it’s simply naked awareness.
You may be wondering what’s the point of such contemplation. The point is that if God wants to get at you–and my assumption is that God always does–if God wants to get through your barriers and blockages, God has the best chance of doing so through contemplative practice, quite simply because you and your limited mind are finally out of the way!
God bless you!

 

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