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The importance of prayer

Since I’ve started this blog I’ve been praying every day. Usually in the morning right after I wake up (and go have a pee!) and also before bed. I’ve found that on the days where I don’t pray straight away in the morning and leave it to a few hours later I get kind of cranky. Similarly, when I don’t go through my nightly routine and then pray before bed I find that I don’t sleep very well.

This past Sunday I found that I was really suffering from some anticipatory anxiety. I had this block of 5 hours where I was freaking out that I would never be able to find a job. Browsing job websites did not help at all. I’m worrying about something that is well over a year away. While yes, I am going to be done with university in a mere three days I have already committed to serving in AmeriCorps NCCC for 10 months starting in October. AmeriCorps doesn’t end until August 2013 and yet here I was having a mini-meltdown over my employment situation. Can you tell I’m a worry wort?

I think the whole thing had something to do with things in the news I’ve been reading lately. And while it would be nice to give up having to look at horrible things going on, my major depends on knowing what is going on in the world, even when those things cause some internal strife. Like how the suicide rate in Greece (which used to have the lowest rate in Europe) is rising because of the economic situation. People are killing themselves because they cannot pay their debts and/or afford the basics like food to eat. On the other hand, I was reading about how half of university students who have graduated since 2009 are unemployed or underemployed and how many cannot afford to pay their student loans.

Needless to say, I’m adding a new prayer into my repertoire.

Consoling Thoughts (for times of loneliness)

Dear Lord!
Make me remember, when the world seems cold and dreary and I know not where to turn for comfort, that there is always one spot bright and cheerful—-the Sanctuary.
When I am in desolation of spirit, when all who are dear to me have passed away like summer flowers and none are left to love me and care for me, whisper to my troubled soul
that there is one Friend who dies not
—-One Whose Love never changes—-
Jesus on the altar.
When sorrows thicken and crush me with their burden, when I look in vain for comfort,
let me remember Your words:
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will refresh you.”
Amen.

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Ask a monk

I emailed ‘ask a monk’ over at Catholic Exchange about the St. Basil Prayer a few days ago. Basically, I just wanted to know more about it from the Church’s perspective and I also asked to be directed to more prayers about the earth, animals, etc.

The response:

Thank you Amy for this beautiful prayer.

In today’s world where nothing seems respected anymore and the great Mother Earth to whom God has given us stewardship over has been neglected and rejected as sacred, this prayer comes as a breath of fresh air.

I think in getting this prayer out to as many as possible you can begin by sending it to as many as you can and ask that whoever you send it to, to share this prayer
with all who they know.

Social sites today such as Facebook is a good tool and so many other ways. I will help at my end and again thank you so much for your great interest in this beautiful world God has created and the glorious wonders of all life forms that He has made .

Br. Sebastian, OSB

I was slightly disappointed with this response, but oh well! I shall keep on searching.

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Animals and Catholicism

Last night I was browsing through some online resources looking for prayers and I came across this:

Prayer of St. Basil of Caesarea
Deeper Sense of Fellowship With All Living Things

O God, grant us a deeper sense of fellowship with all living things,
our little brothers and sisters
to whom in common with us
you have given this earth as home.
We recall with regret that in the past
we have acted high-handedly and cruelly
in exercising our domain over them.
Thus, the voice of the earth
which should have risen to you in song
has turned into a groan of travail.
May we realize that all these creatures
also live for themselves and for you,
not for us alone.
They too love the goodness of life,
as we do, and serve you better
in their way than we do in ours.

Amen.

Wow! Isn’t that beautiful? As a vegan, I was blown away by finding this. I had to know more about this St. Basil! A quick trip to his Wikipedia page didn’t reveal anything to do with the earth, animals, good stewardship, etc. like I was expecting, so I hit the blogosphere, and thank goodness I did.

As it turns out this prayer is rather astonishingly not St. Basil’s at all. In a nutshell, this prayer did not emerge until 1910 and came from a Baptist theologian, Walter Rauschenbusch. Through a series of bad referencing amongst authors, it somehow came to be accepted that this prayer was indeed from St. Basil. Intriguing, no?

Not to fret though, I have discovered an incredible blogger, Philip Johnson, who writes Animals Matter to God. He is the one who really delved into the St. Basil prayer in a seven-part series. I have also discovered the full prayer composed by Rauschenbusch and many of his other prayers, which I quite like.

In the meantime, I think I’ll be sticking with the prayer above as the full prayer is rather lengthy! Philip Johnson has also given me some book recommendations on the subject of theology and animals, so I will be delving into those this summer and sharing my thoughts.

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Father Barron on discipleship (Martha & Mary)

Sermon 497 via Word on Fire

Fr. Barron says that this story of Martha & Mary has been interpereted in 3 different ways.

1) The active life vs. the contemplative life. Martha as symbolic of the active life (ministries). Mary as symbolic of the contemplative life (monks, nuns, scholars). Has Jesus valorised the contemplative life over the active life? Fr. Barron: Throughout the Bible, it is a basic principle that listening has to come before acting. Is is more of a chronological relationship than one that is in tension. What is the Lord saying? Once we know, then we are ready to act, even with the best of intentions. Currently, we have a Martha-oriented society which is why today so many are questioning this story and defending Martha.

2) The one and the many as a philosophical and spiritual issue. Mary has chosen the one thing, unum necessarium, necessary. Focus on the one thing necessary allows other things to fall into place. Harmony and order will come. Martha is anxious over many things, while Mary is anchored in the one. Are you about one thing, or many? Do your manys come into one for the will of God?

[I’m currently on Book II of St. Augustine’s Confessions and found the above sentiment also present: “…while turned from Thee, the One God, I lost myself among a multiplicity of things.”]

3) (N.T. Wright) Jesus’ teaching focused on the overturning of social convention. He dealt kindly with Roman soldiers, touched those that were unclean, the radical inclusion of women in his inner circle, he spoke publicly to the woman at the well, etc. The first witnesses of the resurrection were women. Martha was in the conventional women’s space. Mary assumed the stance of a man in the men’s space. Invites women into the full participation in a life of discipleship. “In Christ there is no slave or free, Jew or Greek, male or female.” (Paul) Everybody is summoned to discipleship and this is the most important consideration of all.

Key message: Don’t let anyone’s expectations, or social conventions, deprive you of this better part. We are all called to discipleship in many different, but equally important ways.

Other bloggers on unum necessarium:
Quotidian Reader
Catholic Wisdom
Intellectual Faith

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Doing the bare minimum

No eulogy is due to him who simply does his duty and nothing more. –St. Augustine

I must confess that doing the bare minimum is something that I have struggled with over the past few years, but is something that I am determined to rectify. Falling prey to living in the moment and hence doing the bare minimum on certain things in order to have time for other things can happen to the best of us.

Where do faith and religion come in?

As St. Augustine implicitly points out above, the bare minimum is usually not best. In some cases it may be, but in the vast majority of cases it is not. I know when I’m at my best and, um, I haven’t been there for quite a while unfortunately.

Live in this world, but infuse your actions with a meaning and purpose that transcends it. –Allison Josephs

And in the spirit of doing my best, I’m off to get studying for an exam on the politics of the Middle East.

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How a frum girl has brought me back to faith

I was anxiously heading out the door for an afternoon exam and suddenly this feeling came over me. If I would just say the ‘Our Father’ my nervousness would mellow out.

It worked.

I said the ‘Our Father’ all the way to my university. Walking down the street, sitting on the train, and waiting to cross the street. I was praying.

• • •

While sitting on a step waiting to be signaled into the exam room I noticed a girl sitting opposite me. She was cursing loudly, something rather commonplace when it comes to exam time. She wouldn’t stop. Her voice was filling the hallway.

• • •

A frum girl walked into the hallway to check the seating chart. I noticed her immediately by her clothing. Skirt covering the knees and layered top that covered her elbows. She sat down and chatted quietly with someone from her class.

After a few minutes she took out a holy book written in Hebrew and started going over what I can only assume was a verse or a prayer. She closed the book and began to get ready for the exam by taking out her pens.

• • •

She made me realize what has been missing. Something about this girl just spoke to me. I wanted to be like her.

I don’t want to be the loud, cursing girl who hasn’t prepared. I used to look like this frum girl not that long ago, after all. I had attended a Baptist school and been to Mass. I used to dress modestly. I used to have radical faith and hope.

• • •

I’m making my way back. And I’m eternally grateful to the frum girl in the hallway, whoever she may be.

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