One of Many Spiritual Aha Moments

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Hello everyone! I am back in the beautiful town of Blacksburg, ready to start my senior year of college at Virginia Tech (where did the time go?). I am active in the Newman Catholic Community and have started attending some of the events at the Newman House. So I was in night prayer tonight, and the reading really spoke to me. In Ephesians 4: 26-27, Paul says “If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your wrath; do not give the devil a chance to work on you.”

I was so taken aback by what Paul said here. It really got me thinking about my own spiritual/faith journey. First, I have been angry with my brothers and sisters multiple times and I have let my anger get the best of me. I also realized that I am at my weakest when my mind is idle, i.e. when I give the devil a chance to work on me.

I distinctly remember one time when I was on a run and I was thinking angry thoughts about someone I love very much. This person was frustrating me to no end and I had let myself become so consumed by this frustration, that I was actually forming this horrible and negative image of them in my head. Obviously, that anger and frustration wasn’t being fruitful at all. My anger had become so intense, that I was forming an image of that person in my head that was simply untrue, or at the very least, quite exaggerated. Overall, I think what I, and by extension everybody else, needs to do is take that anger to prayer. What can I do to make my relationship with that person 5068203_orig-300x199better? How can I keep from becoming so angry? Pray for that relationship. Pray for patience and understanding. Now obviously, relationships are not perfect and we can’t fix ourselves instantaneously, but God will always be there to help us in our anger and frustration.

Moving on to the second thing that really stood out to me, the devil working on me. Now I know that the reading specifically mentions the devil working on you when you’re angry, but that last little bit made me think; when else does the devil work on me? I have found that the devil works on me when I am not doing anything productive or when I am away from a faith environment. My great-grandmother always used to say “the idle mind is the devil’s workshop” and I have definitely experienced that in my life.

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Whenever I am aimlessly surfing the web or procrastinating during a night that is supposed to be filled with doing homework, I always feel spiritually empty. Not only am I not getting work done, but I am stressing about the work that is not getting done. The problem is, I don’t want to do it. At these moments, God is pretty much the last thing on my mind, and that is a real problem. God always needs to be the center of my life, and that includes the moments when I am writing an article for my communication classes.

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I also struggle to keep sin at bay when I am not in a fruitful faith environment. What does that mean you may ask? Usually, when I am at mass, in a faith-sharing small group, or at a retreat or talk, I feel so pumped and motivated. “Yeah, I am going to tackle this sin that has taken over my life” or “I can definitely work on this frustration or anxiety.” When a1563986445_10I am at those events, I am a “spiritual Superman” who can get the job done. But then I leave those events and ultimately fall back into the cycle of sin and it is really frustrating. Ultimately, that part of my faith life is still very much a work in progress. How do I keep that “spiritual Superman” mentality when I am in a more secular environment?

Wow, it is crazy what one little moment in night prayer can inspire? I hope my little moment has inspired you in your faith and hopefully, you can find your little moments in life as well!

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Jacob Clore

Contributor

Olly Olly Oxen Free! Where in the World is He?

“Come out, come out wherever you are!”

Nowadays, I feel like this is all I am asking of the Holy Spirit cause I can’t seem to figure out where He has gone! Why does becoming an adult mean that I am in a perpetual game of hide-and-seek with our Lord?

Hide and Seek (Megan)

Photo Credit: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/814818/easy-ways-to-exercise-without-the-kids-even-knowing-it-1

As a 23-year-old recent college graduate, and nervous first-time teacher, I am also struggling to figure out where in the world my relationship with Christ has gone. Why does it seem that becoming an adult means that God has become more difficult to find?

I was a cradle Catholic, attended parochial school, was actively involved in campus ministry, and now am preparing to teach third grade at Catholic school. Doesn’t any of that magically grant me the secrets to spirituality?

Megan and Bro Aren’t my brother and I cute in our uniforms?

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Retreat after retreat, whether I attended or teamed, I heard everything there was to hear about who God is, how to pray, and what a relationship with Him ought to look like. However, when I’m in the real world, I lose sight and it becomes extremely difficult to stick to any sort of routine.

Those “small moments” where I do hear God answering a prayer or giving me a polite nudge to let me know He’s there, they feel like cheats… Like I don’t deserve them because I haven’t been dedicated enough.

Here I am, a trained teacher, preparing to teach children about the foundations of our beautiful faith, and I feel like fraud.

Trees (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Now, I realize I may be sensationalizing a tad. Yes, it may often seem like I can’t find Christ because I don’t “feel” anything—because I don’t feel His Spirit. However, as a local priest once preached at Sunday mass…

“Faith is more than a feeling.”

Faith is not measured by how much or what exactly we may inexplicably “feel.” Faith is truly believing in something greater than ourselves… Something that we cannot see, describe or truly understand.

Faith is an on-going learning experience as we ask questions and better discover who God is and what He is doing in our lives. Are we ever going to fully understand Him? No! Of course not. But I find supreme beauty in that.

As a teacher, I am called to encourage my students to inquire, ask questions and seek out knowledge. God is calling us to do the same things. Just like how we are always learning, even after the schoolbooks are away and all of the homework has been submitted…

God never stops revealing Himself to us.

Ok… So where exactly do I find Him?

Now, I never said it was easy, and I am certainly no expert…

As a Newport Newsian/Hampton Roadsian/CNU Captain, I have been able to seek and find the Lord in some of the following ways:

1. Music

Now, I have plenty of stories about profound spiritual experiences with music on a car ride or as a music minister, but I’ll save those for another post.

Music has always been a huge part of my prayer life. Whether at the mass, retreats, or praise and worship, I have found great solace in the beauty of music and the truth of lyrics. Sacred music is so special because of it’s deep connection to personal experiences, and best of all, scripture.

Bible (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Ever feel at a loss for a prayer before mass or any other moment? Try reading over the lyrics to one of your favorite hymns. I can’t tell you how many times I perused through the pages of Breaking Bread as a child, fawning over the words of classic tunes like “The Summons,” “Here I Am, Lord,” and “O God You Search Me” (all still favorites of mine to this day).

2. Quiet Prayer 

Now, I admit, I am terrible when it comes to praying on a schedule. Every time I dwell on it, I feel supremely guilty… Prayer is what keeps our relationship with Christ alive! Relationships cannot survive without communication.

In the gospel of Matthew, Christ tells us,

When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:6 NAB

Quiet prayer is one of the most awkward, but by far the most rewarding things we can do to find and know God. There have been times that I have shut off the radio in my car (which, trust me, is almost impossible for me to do) on a long solitary car trip, and prayed out loud. Starting out, I feel ridiculous as I babble what’s on my mind and in my heart… but then it becomes one of the most freeing and worthwhile moments of my day. Sometimes I wind up in tears! There is something beautiful about that sort of awkward vulnerability.

An easier and less awkward option that I exercise with great frequency is to retreat to a quiet spot in nature; my favorite being the large tree near Lion’s Gate Bridge, a part of Noland Trail.

Lions Bridge (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

Sigh… Isn’t it beautiful? I love retreating to this spot with my prayer journal, rosary, Shorter Christian Prayer, or guitar. Staring out at the water, I feel an immense amount of peace. My prayers are able to blossom from ones of adoration for God’s creation to those of petition, asking God for assistance and support in my life.

Haven’t been to the tree before? Try it! You won’t be disappointed.

3. Community

One of the biggest things that I have learned from youth ministry and campus ministry is that Christ is more easily found in community.

Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Matthew 18:20 NAB

The friends I have made in these communities of faith have not only kept me sane, but perpetually point me towards Christ and the path that He has laid for me. These friends have encouraged me, stood by my side, and lifted me up when I was down.Grace Bible (Megan)

Photo Credit: Megan Jones

If I ever doubt our Lord, all I need to do is to reach out to any of these friends and they reveal to me His face and love once again.

Have any of these keepers? Rejoice! They are worth holding on to, connecting with, crazy Snapchatting… you name it! And when special events are going on in the area like Praise and Pints or Theology on Tap, grab them and head out to some special spiritual formation!

… and if all else fails?

If all else fails… luckily there’s a solution.

Where can we best find our Lord? Why that would be in the Eucharist of course!

Eucharist (Megan)

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Receive Him with an open heart at the Mass and fall to your knees in His presence. We are so blessed that our Lord has humbled Himself to join us here on this earth. Never take it for granted.

“Where can I go from your spirit?

From your presence, where can I flee?

If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;

If I lie down in Sheol, there you are.

If I take the wings of dawn

And dwell beyond the sea,

Even there your hand guides me,

Your right hand holds me fast.”

Psalms 139:7-10 NAB

VENI SANCTE SPIRITUS!

IMG_1463 Megan Jones – Contributor