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Anni Ink Slingers Prayer

The Power of Prayer: A Reminder of Mercy

A couple months ago, my husband and I received some news which made me deeply question my Catholic identity. In short, it was a period I found myself struggling with Church teachings, and I was angry with God. I was taking it to Him in prayer on a daily basis, and while I would leave room for Him to answer, it wasn’t a clear answer. Life would have been so much easier if He had said, “Anni, I want you to do, or not do, this,” but of course, He doesn’t typically make things that clear.

While I struggled, and while life caught up with me, I found myself distancing from the routine devotions I try to spend time praying. The Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary were set aside while I poured forth from the depths of my angry heart. Even when I picked up my beads to pray these prayers, I would get angry, and set them back down. The desire to pray them was not even present. 

The last day of May, a fellow Catholic Sistas writer reached out to me in a private message, inviting me to participate in the 31 Day Divine Mercy Challenge being held during the month of June. 

Her reaching out to me, combined with the repeated failed attempts to pick up my Rosary beads and actually pray, led me to grudgingly acknowledge I was being led to spend time praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet again. So, while it was last minute, and we were in the thick of a move, I accepted that 31 Day challenge.

Within a week, peace settled into my heart over the situation which had led me to be angry. I experienced several epiphanies regarding the situation. And, while I will carry the cross that He has handed me for quite some time, there is peace in my soul about the situation and the resolution.

As I solidly entered into the second week of praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, during the recitation one day, my thoughts turned to a phrase not even found in the chaplet – “The Lord is slow to anger.” Based on Psalm 103:8, “Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger, abounding in mercy,” I began to consider during that day’s recitation the many ways in which we, as a collective human race, have had occasion to anger God. Yet, through all the moments we have occasion to anger Him, He patiently waits for us to turn back to Him.

Let’s face it – human beings are flawed. When we face temptations, we have a tendency to (hopefully) come out batting a 50% average – half the time we fall into temptation, half the time we are able to stand faithful to God’s desires. We make false idols out of so many things these days, we engage in activities which make God upset, and we sometimes overlook our relationship with Him for a relationship with others. In short, we all sin, and we all sin repeatedly.

And yet, the fact we are alive today, living in our world at the moment we are, is solely because God had, and has, faith in our ability to overcome the adversity and temptation! He knew precisely what He was doing when He decided we would be in the world today. He knew the obstacles we would be facing, and He knew the challenges we would experience as part of a journey toward our eternal reward.

God is perfect. He is omniscient. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And, as the perfect parent, He has faith in us.

As humans, we waiver so much, going back and forth. It’s difficult to always make an executive decision. And yet, God has faith in our abilities to make the correct decisions. Even when we are finding it difficult to follow the path which will lead us closer to Him.

We are right to focus on the eternal reward. We are right to make decisions based on eternity – in fact, Our Lady of Fatima has been credited with saying, “If men only know what awaits them in eternity, they would do everything in their power to change their lives.”

However, focusing on the eternal reward, and worrying about reaching that eternal reward are two entirely different concepts. As St. Padre Pio is credited with saying, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.”

Too often, humankind gets hung up on the worrying aspect of life – and, we fail to adhere to the prayer and hope that St. Padre Pio encourages. Living with a focus on the eternal means we aren’t making lighthearted decisions. Rather, we are living intentionally, and discerning major decisions, aware of not just what is being told to us through the whispers of our secular society, but also aware of the greater, more lasting ramifications of the outcome of our decisions.

And, ultimately, focusing on, rather than worrying about, the eternal reward also gives us reprieve. It gives us a chance to heed Jesus’ words to St. Faustina, “Look into My Heart and see there the love and mercy which I have for humankind, and especially for sinners. Look, and enter into my Passion.” 

Through our life’s experiences, and the decisions we intentionally make, we are fully able to join ourselves with Jesus, and to envision the love and mercy He extends by virtue of His Passion. We are able to vividly imagine the Sacrifice He made for love of our souls – for a shot with spending all of eternity with us.

And, He encourages us to bring our anger, our sadness, our troubles to Him. God knows our weaknesses and doubts – and, He has faith in our ability to turn to Him when we experience those emotions and when we hear the doubt creeping in to our hearts.

A chaplain pointed out during his homily a while back that a saint isn’t called to live a perfect life. Rather, a saint is a sinner who continuously picks themselves up after erring, and relies on the mercy of the Lord. Saints in the making learns from their mistakes, and commits themselves time and again to correcting their ways. The souls who are oriented toward God and His infinite mercy are the ones who acknowledge their difficulties and weaknesses, and yet continuously search to build the relationship with God.

During the trials of life, it is common for individuals to turn away from God. Yet, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said it best, “The world offers you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

God offers us the chance at the perfect relationship with Him – warts and all. And, He shows us His infinite mercy as we take our anger or sadness to Him. We just have to open ourselves up to hearing His message of mercy, and accepting that mercy.

Rather than pointing out the flaws in my thinking as I angrily spoke to Him, He allowed me the chance to wallow in my misery. Like a parent who turns to a child throwing a tantrum and quietly asks, “Are you finished, yet?” God gently called back to me, asking me if I was ready to heed His call in my life.

The comfort I have found in His gentle consistency, and His reminder of mercy has been astounding. And, while I don’t know if the choices being made in life are the correct ones, I am able to fully embrace His message of love and mercy, and ultimately, rely on His love and mercy – not just for myself, but for all of mankind.

How has praying either the Divine Mercy Chaplet or the Rosary impacted your life? Has there been a time in which the struggle in your life was diminished through the power of prayer? I would love to hear!

Categories
Domestic Church Erika D Homeschool Ink Slingers Raising Saints

10 Ways to Find Joy in Our {Catholic} Homeschool

It was the third week of Advent. My shoes were uncomfortable, my skirt did not fit right, my veil kept falling off and even the cushion on the kneeler beneath me felt bumpy. I looked up and shot my two sons one of those disapproving look and looked up at my husband and frowned. Tears swelled up in my eyes so I shut them quickly and created a dam for them with my eyelids. First tear rolled down. It was useless, I was sad. My thoughts raced. I opened my prayer book and something feel from it, a paper? a book mark?  And there it was, the answer to my frustration but I couldn’t really see, so I left it on the tile floor and closed my eyes to pray, “Dear Lord, what is wrong with me? Why am always so upset, bothered and angry? Why is it that my children do not listen? Why do they hate school so much?” My mind raced. I was going to THAT place again and Communion was coming up…I was feeling so sorry for myself, again.

How did I lose my joy?

Then I felt my four year old crawling over my legs to get to the other side of me.  Which annoyed me, of course.  But when I opened my eyes and wiped the tears away, I see his little hand reaching out to me, handing me a paper that had the answer to my frustrations.

34884-The-Joy-Of-The-Lord

I came to the realization that Joy does not simply happen to us. We must choose joy and keep choosing it daily! I spent the last two weeks working on finding my joy. I have to be honest: I felt lost.  So I turned to prayer, I asked for prayers and I begged God to help me, to guide me.  As I type this, tomorrow marks the end of the first week back to school after this discovery and after two weeks off of school on Christmas break. It was the most successful week in the entire six years we have been home educating.

Did I get upset at a child not doing what they were supposed to be doing? I sure did.  Did I loose my temper? No, there was no need. A quick redirection and back on task we were. But this only happened first thing in the morning. So, what happened? How did I find my joy? How did my children learn to love homeschooling again?

Well the week didn’t exactly start off with a happy note, but I was expecting this so I did not let it shake me. I was standing on firm ground with my husband on the same page as me, God my by side, my guardian angel helping me stay on task, and Our Blessed Mother holding my heart each time it felt like it would break. I was not going to allow anything, nor anyone steal my joy. Not even this journal entry written by my nine year old son:

"Today is our first day back to school after our Christmas break!!! Which I loath!!! Now I "have to" go back to school."
“Today is our first day back to school after our Christmas break!!! Which I loath!!! Now I “have to” go back to school.”

 

So what did I do to find my joy in out homeschool?  I came up and tried these ten simple things and guess what?  THEY WORKED!

1.) RULES AND SCHEDULE.

Review your house and school rules.   If you do not have rules established yet, this is the time to do it.  Go over the schedule and stick to it. Don’t have a schedule, make one!  Even if you hate schedules like I do, do it.  Trust me, you will thank me for it later.  Having a schedule helps you have a focal point for the day.  Even if it is as simple as this:

8AM Eat Breakfast
9AM Start School
12PM Eat Lunch
1PM Afternoon School
5PM Eat Lunch

2) NEW BOOKS.

Get new read aloud books for the children and also get a new book for yourself.  This year we got each child a book on a saint and then a book or set of books from a series for independent reading as Christmas presents.  We read during quiet time after lunch and also at bed time.

3) FREE PLAY.

Allow for more free play time.  Play is so underrated and children learn so much from just playing.  We got the children some horses, and a set of royal families and my eldest son made a castle for them.  This is what they love to play with the most right now.  I actually sat down and listened to them play today, they were reenacting scenes from books we have read…sweet!

4) TEACH ART.

Don’t teach Art?  Time to start!  Teaching Art adds spice to your school day! There are so many things available online for free for Art, there is no need to spend a lot of money on expensive programs!  This week I taught the color wheel and how to mix colors to make new colors.  Keep is simple and fun!

5) HANDS ON LEARNING.

Do hands on things like painting or sewing because crafts make this kind of learning possible.  Children remember more when they do things. I would love to add wood working to these tasks, but the weather will have to cooperate for this.  There is so much we can do from home.  I also planning on field trips to local museums that have hands on attractions.

6) TEACH MUSIC.

Don’t know anything about music?  Me neither but I can honestly say we are a music loving family.  Anyone can put a CD on and just sing!  Listen to music while you school and even in between schooling. Once they have learned a new song, record them!  Send them to relatives to see or if you are on social media, share it with friends!

7) LAUGH.

Introduce laughter into your day.  Read funny stories, tell jokes or read funny jokes!  My eldest son found this one comedian who is pretty good and funny, we listen to him all the time, in the car and in between school and supper.  My eldest was dictating spelling words and making up sentences with some of these jokes, we were in stitches!

8)  JOURNAL to TRANSITION.

While you are preparing breakfast, have them sitting at the kitchen table journaling already.  Journaling helps transition into the school day. Journaling is really simple to do, at first it is not so easy as the children have to get accustomed to doing it.  I wrote a whole article on this which you can read. Journaling also helps you see if your children are happy or not… (see journal entry above)

9) NEW WAYS to do OLD THINGS.

Find new ways to teach basic subjects.  There is a plethora of ideas available online.  Make a lap book, create a mini book, etc., so many other ways to learn than just a textbook or a workbook!

10) REST, READ, RELAX & PRAY

Last but not least, rest, read, and relax.  Mothers work so hard at home and school and we need to take care of outselves.  We need rest, we also need to feed our souls with good spiritual reading.  We also need to relax, the more I am on social media the more I realize we are so stressed about being on task and time and, and, comparing ourselves to others just kills joy.  Do not do this to yourself.  If something does not happen today, there is always tomorrow. Always, always, always turn to prayer when things are not going right.

How do you find joy in your homeschool day?  Here is my successful week in a slide show:

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Michelle Prayer Spiritual Growth

The Power of Prayer

does prayer healThere is much debate on whether or not prayer can help a person heal from a physical malady. There have been numerous studies to test whether patients would heal faster and have fewer complications while healing if they knew that others were praying for their recovery. The results are mixed. Some find that no, there is no correlation and still others find very strong correlations. It’s hard to know what to believe in scientific terms.

But is it important to have proof that prayer can help us heal faster? Is it important to trust in scientific studies that often have the goal to disprove the power of prayer as their guiding reason to do the study? The answer is no. We don’t need scientific proofs to tell us that prayer is good for us. We only have to look at our lives with and without prayer to see the value in daily prayer.

jesus prayingPrayer is so important that Christ was regularly found deep in prayer in the Scripture readings. We read in Luke 6:12 “It was at this time that He went off to the mountain to pray, and He spent the whole night in prayer to God.” He modeled a prayerful life for us and then encouraged us to pray as well. In Matthew 6 He even gave us the perfect prayer to pray… The Lord’s Prayer.

What powers does prayer hold?

If we aren’t relying on it to heal us, what is the purpose to prayer? Prayer seeks to help us enter into a loving relationship with God. It brings us closer to Him and to His love. Prayer unites us with the Lord in a very tangible and heartfelt way. When we seek out God in prayer, He listens and responds.

Prayer has the power to calm us in the face of uncertainty. When our lives are upside-down and we just don’t know what to do, prayer gives us a moment of peace and reassurance. It reminds us that we are not alone in our struggles and that we are cherished and loved.

Prayer unites us with each other. When we pray for and with each other we become one voice and one heart united in purpose. We can uplift and guide each other, encouraging one another in faith and hope. We make Christ present when we gather together to pray. We know this is true since Christ told us, “When two or more are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst.”

Prayer brings hope into our lives. We know that God hears all and sees all. He knows our needs before we ever say a word. When we allow God’s hope to come to us through prayer we are uplifted, encouraged, and motivated to continue on even if things seem difficult.

love one anotherPrayer moves us to love others as Christ loved them. When we uplift others in prayer we become more like Christ. We can experience a change in our heart and souls when we pray for others. The words we speak to our heavenly Father have the power to change who we are inside. Prayer can lead our hearts to be unified with Christ’s heart; to see others as Christ sees them.

Prayer, in its simplest form, can do so much in our lives. Can it help us heal faster, have fewer complications from a disease or surgery, or help us stay healthy? I don’t know that the scientific community will ever agree. There are too many variables that come into play when we consider scientific research, especially on a religious topic. However, we do know that even if studies were to show that prayer doesn’t heal us faster physically, it still has the power to change us within and heal us spiritually. Perhaps this kind of healing is much more valuable than physical healing.

There is power in prayer. There is power in turning over your life to Christ through prayer. Many of us are afraid to touch this power and some of us feel we are just too busy to pray. We allow day after day to pass by without talking with our Lord. I challenge you today to begin a prayer life that seeks to have a deep, lasting, and very intimate relationship with Christ. I challenge you to harness the power of prayer. You will be amazed at how your life will change and how your heart and soul can be healed through the simple act of praying.

For those who already have a prayer life, what advice can you give to those who are just beginning their prayer life?

pray mother teresa