Prayer Life

The most boring way to be Catholic is to sit in the same pew every Sunday, listen to the homily, receive the Eucharist, and then change nothing. 

No one can make you change except God and yourself, but you need to be a willing participant. You need to make that choice for yourself and act on that choice. (And by "you", I mean "me" because, let's be real, these blog posts are really me talking to myself where it just so happens other people can read it.)

So when it comes to making the choice to be a very active participant and enjoy​ the richness and blessings of the Catholic faith, what are you actively doing to make sure you continue to grow? How do you keep it fresh?

Our parish, although small, has a dedicated adult education program. Even if it didn’t, I have a plethora of parishes in Sioux Falls that offer fantastic opportunities to constantly be learning. When it comes to the spiritual resources at my fingertips in our relatively small community, I’m pretty blessed.

In these classes we have covered in depth Lectio Devina, Mary, Book of Revelations, Marian Consecration, and so much more. With each class my prayer practice gets deeper and wider.

Not to say that I never fall back on old practices. Rote praying is my default, and not to say that it’s “bad”, but when I lose my place within the “Hail Mary”, I know I could do better when it comes to seeking God.

The adult education at my parish pushes me outside my comfort zone of prayer. And as we’ve heard – outside our comfort zone is where growth happens.

But alas – my daughter’s Monday night basketball schedule has kept me out of class for quite some time and I won’t be able to return until March. I’m finding it is way too easy to fall back inside my comfort zone and get lazy.

So I’m looking for ideas. How do you all expand your prayer life? Those of you without access to adult education at your church – where do you turn to grow in your Catholic faith?

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Praying to win the lottery… or not.

Like every other American over the age of 18 as the Powerball is stretching far past the billion dollar mark, I found myself daydreaming about what winning such a windfall would mean for me, my family, my business and quiet life here in South Dakota.

The thought process starts with the basic math… the lump sum less 40% federal tax, less at least 10% tithing (20% tithing to assuage a bit of my Catholic guilt and maybe get on God’s good side so He’d consider me when it came time for the drawing), a large lump for family, leaving us with more money than we would ever be able to (responsibly) spend in a lifetime.

Of course I dream of the impact it could have on our community… feed the hungry, elevate our schools to the mythical ivory halls of learning, wipe out parish debts. Then to thoughts of how it would benefit our parents and siblings and their families…

Then something dark started to creep in. What if they spent it wrong? What if I didn’t like how they spent it or they ended up destroying their own lives with it like so many lottery winners before? (Already it's me vs. them and "them" is people who are more precious to me than anything in the world... this line of thinking isn't going to end where I thought it would.)

Of course I am too smart to let that happen to me because my judgement is perfect and under no scenario would I ever become a penniless has-been.

But then what? What of all those other friends and a bit-more-distant relatives who I love dearly? The line needs to be drawn, somewhere, right?

I read an article featuring a lottery winner who won $30 million, and somewhere it talked about how he found out who his real friends were.

That phrase stuck with me – “real friends”.

I don’t think being a “real friend” has anything to do with it. As I think of my small circle of truly close friends, it’s difficult to predict how I would respond if one of them were to suddenly happen upon millions of dollars. I’d like to assume that I would be ecstatically overjoyed for them - without any jealousy or feelings of entitlement, but I don’t think that’s how it would go in my heart and head.

So I can’t expect from them what I wouldn’t be able to do myself. ALL my friendships would shift in ways I can't predict.

As for family, no matter what amount we gave, a bit of me would always be paranoid that someone resented the amount they received.

What about my marriage? We have a solid marriage with a rock solid foundation… but $1.4 billion strong?

And finally … my girls. Would we be able to deny them their every whim? How would we ensure they’d learn the value of hard work?

And I’m sure there are piles of troubles that I didn’t think of (or didn’t want to even bring up). But this is plenty. So much is on the line already, what more convincing do I need that $1.4 billion has no place in my life.

How many of you have spent a bit of prayer on asking for God to give you the chance to prove what a great person you would be if you won the grotesquely large jackpot? I will sheepishly admit to this too.

But the more I reflect and pray on what I’m REALLY asking for, the less appealing the jackpot becomes. Loss of priceless friends and family?

How about just a million bucks instead? I could totally live with that.

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Product Feature Post: Chaplets

I admit it… I hadn’t heard of a chaplet until I was 33. I had no idea what they were. So I know there are many of you who know what a chaplet is, but probably many more who, like me, are continuing to discover many beautiful things about the Catholic Church.

Sometimes things are new to us that are old hat to others, and we think “I’m supposed to know all of this already. Does that mean I’m not a good Catholic?” This is the same question I asked myself when I first came across chaplets. Continue reading Quick Lesson on Chaplets

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Sometimes I get to the end of my day and realize I wish I had prayed more throughout the day. Even in simple ways like putting intention into my work and being conscience of giving my best work to Him. Here are a few ways to put a little more prayer in your life and help develop the habit of daily prayer.

1. Good Morning to God

A little whisper of thanksgiving to God with your waking breath takes the edge off the blare of the alarm clock. Added bonus:  you start your day with gratitude, which lifts your mood automatically.

2. Singing hymns in the shower

Showers are a great place to sing! Belt out praise and glory in God as you lather up. Think about the words of the hymns that pass your lips and offer it up as prayer. Added bonus: You get to pick your favorite hymns that seem to never get sung at church. Continue reading 7 Simple Ways to Add a Little Prayer to Your Day

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Our diocese recently celebrated our 125th anniversary. The weekend was packed with bishops, speakers, performers and, of course, Mass. My notebook was jammed with notes and so many things I want to remember.

But the main stand-out idea came from Curtis Martin, the founder of Focus. (If you ever have the chance to hear him speak, GO!!) He was talking about lectio devina, prayerful reading of the scripture. The verse he had spent weeks on was from John 1:39 where John tells us the time of day: 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

Why was this time important? Mr. Martin turned this over in his mind over and over until it hit him. John was telling us what time it was when his life changed forever and he chose to follow Christ. Just like I know exactly where I was when I heard my first news report of 9/11. It was John’s “Where were you when…” experience. Continue reading When was your 4:00 Moment?

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