Faith

I’ve been meaning to sit down and write this since last Thursday, but it seems this weekend has been full.  This week and next weekend won’t be any less crazy, so I’m going to do it now.

Last week’s topic at RCIA was Prayer and Spirituality.  This is an area I’ve always felt inadequate at.  I always thought there was a “right” way to pray, and because I felt I was never taught the “proper” way to do it, I never wanted to pray out loud.  Our presenter this week was from our diocesan office of faith formation.  Essentially she (Monique) is half of the team that helps organize education of Catholicism at all age levels.  I’ve heard her speak previously, and I’ve felt inspired.  I have to take a step back and say that I read this post by MckMama and it really made me think.  So I basically posed the same question MckMama does in her post.  If prayer is really for us, then why bother asking God.  Essentially MckMama’s perspective was reiterated back to me.  There was a good bit of dialogue that happened from my asking the question.  I love hearing Monique’s perspective.  She was a nun for 20 years, and ended up leaving the convent.  Towards the end of her “tour of duty” (I’m not sure what the proper term is here, and I’m military minded so bear with me) she said she prayed a lot asking for guidance to make the right choice.  When she felt she had her answer, she went to the Mother Superior to talk about her wanting to leave the convent, the Mother Superior told Monique that there was no way that “her God”, the God she prayed to would ever allow someone to leave the vocation.  Monique said that was a defining moment for her, because the God that Monique believed in (the “same” Catholic God) led her to this answer.  Monique insisted that praying has to be individualized for the person.  We had “put our fingerprints” on our prayer.  This spoke to my heart and soul.  At the break I went up to talk to her.  I told her how much I appreciated hearing that no one knows everything about God, and that no one can speak of MY relationship with God because it’s my relationship.  It’s an ongoing conversation between myself and God.  No one is privy to that.  I told her that in teaching my CCD class this year I am trying to voice that sentiment to this room full of 3rd-graders.  I don’t want them to feel like they are failing at their relationship with God because they don’t pray like they think others do.  One of the handouts she gave us was on the different forms of solitary prayer.  There were 7, and I’m going to list them and then tell you the ways I have always prayed and just never knew that I was doing what was right for me.

Meditation – one approaches the Scripture passage like a love letter.

Contemplation – one enters into a life event or story passage of Scripture – using imagination and senses.

Centering Prayer – a very simple, pure form of prayer frequently without words; an opening of our hearts to the Spirit dwelling within us

Mantra – a form of centering prayer with the use of a “mantra” or “prayer word”

Meditative Reading – reflective reading of Scripture or other spiritual writings.

Journaling – meditative writing – when putting pen to paper, spirit and body cooperate to release our true selves.

Repetition – the return to a previous period of prayer for the purpose of allowing the movements of God to deepen within one’s heart.

So I can’t speak to some of these, because they don’t come to me naturally.  The two that did were Journaling and Centering Prayer.  I have always kept a journal, and I know that this form of prayer is different than keeping a journal, but I have learned so much about myself by reflecting on the things I have written.  This actually brought me back to T after a separation of over a year.  I realized that I hadn’t been the person I knew I was and knew that he deserved.  Had it not been for journaling I might never have become aware of who I was and what I wanted and how T fit into that.  I have always written to learn and decipher not just to record history.  As for the Centering Prayer, when at mass I would kneel and just BE.  I would feel peace in my heart and peace in my mind.

This last week was very eye opening to me.  I nervously admitted to Monique and the coordinator for the RCIA program that I was nervous about going through this process with T.  I was scared that I would be hearing a lot of things that I couldn’t accept into my heart.  I have yet to hear something that makes me feel that way.  I have been so reassured that I’m perfectly “normal” for feeling the way I do, but that doesn’t diminish my level of faith.  I am so happy to have made this decision.  It is making me a better, more self aware person.  Being aware of your inner motives is freeing.  I will continue to embrace this process.

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