Posts in Saints
Tell God What’s On Your Mind

We sat in the car, driving along route 22 in Pennsylvania. It had been a long week and I wasn’t sure if my son had had a particularly good one. With a new school  and having to make new friends, I wondered how everything was going.

“Tell me what you’re thinking,” I said.

And the rest just flowed. We talked about new friends and old, about navigating a new school building and about what kids were like. The conversation didn’t last long but it was just what the doctor ordered. The father-son “pulse check” was complete.

This is a strategy we can also use in prayer.

By starting our prayer time with a personal inventory, a sort of check-in, we are laying it all out there for the Lord. Sometimes we feel a certain way and that bleeds into our devotional time. I find that telling God what’s on our mind is just as valuable. 

The end-of-day Ignatian examen is a genius way to complete the day. Let’s not ignore the power of the start of our day and the many things on our minds at that time of the day.

When you take stock of your thoughts, you accomplish three things:

  1. You become aware. By sharing your thoughts with God, you are then more mindful of what’s bothering you, what preoccupies you and what is lingering in your head.

  2. You become grateful. We are so fortunate to have a God who wants to know us personally. He wants us to share what we are thinking and feeling. This produces gratefulness. We are not alone.

  3. You learn to surrender. Sometimes, our thoughts are quite strong. At other times, we can just let them go and move on. In either case, we learn to offer up to the Lord what we carry into prayer.

After all, what we are thinking is often what we are feeling.

As an example, I might say, “God I’m thinking about the day ahead and I have some anxiety...” Or, how about, “Lord I’m thinking of my mom’s friend who is very sick.” Both examples are on my heart (feelings) but also on my mind (thoughts).

The Bible isn’t absent on this point. Romans 12:2 speaks of this feeling-thought dynamic:

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

The process of renewing our thoughts takes practice. Many of us, I’m speaking from experience, can let thought patterns develop over decades. These are hard to change. What I’ve found, with years of practice, is that a daily sharing with God of what I’m thinking is the best remedy for unhealthy thoughts.

I realized in my late thirties that I had a very primitive view of God. He was the professor grading my life with a red pen. I could never measure up to His high standard. This thought pattern took years to unearth. Thankfully, it only took a few years to reshape.

Saint Teresa of Avila also speaks to this. She says, “It isn’t good to let our thoughts disturb us or worry us at all.”  St. Thomas More contributes this advice, “Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be.”

Our thoughts matter to God. Why not begin each day’s devotions with a sharing of them with the Lord?

Three Ways to Get More out of Church Feasts

This week has been chock-full of feast days, from the Sacred Heart to Saints Peter and Paul. Much of the time, these feasts come and go without much reflection on our part. Save for a decent homily (which is  hardly a guarantee), it can be easy to lose sight of each feast.

My recommendation is to utilize the following three (and boy, are these simple!) steps when the Church provides a feast day:

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  1. Do some online research. Whether it’s over at SpiritualDirection.com or a basic Google search, there is plenty of material to bring you up to speed on a particular feast. Don’t overdo it but give yourself five minutes to brush up on your saint or feast.
  2. Utilize art. On the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I was able to find some beautiful modern images that really spoke to me. If you are a visual learner, this step will be particularly helpful. You might download the image to your phone wallpaper or share it with others on Facebook.
  3. Ask the particular saint to pray for you. This isn’t saint-worship. Rather, it’s similar to asking a holy aunt or uncle to pray for you. Their holiness can move mountains. Why wouldn’t we ask a saint to do the same? 

There is so much richness to the Church’s liturgical calendar. With just a bit of intentionality, your faith can be augmented by the calendar.