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Thoughts and Happenings

Sharing Our Stories: Tuesday Edition (8/24)

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Sharing Our Stories: Tuesday Edition (8/24)

This was an email originally sent out to the parish on Tuesday, August 24, 2021.

Hi friends:

Here are the latest group of stories we have collected. This is a wonderful way for us to stay connected with one another and to accompany one another on this journey. We would love to have YOUR story. Check out the broad guidelines HERE.  And if you have already submitted a story, please let us have another one!

Reflection by DWIGHT RUSSELL

I would like to share some thoughts with you about prayer, and about an “affliction” of mine – straying and mind-wandering while praying. For many years, I had guilt feelings about this. Was the “Great White-Haired Man on the Throne” going to come down and strike me dead for not paying attention? I’ll get to that later.

Formal prayer is a daily #1 priority in my life. The format I use, with a few variations, is as follows:
          1. Praise and adoration of God.
          2. Confession of my sins.
          3. Thanksgiving for many blessings.
          4. Petitions for others and for myself.
          5. Hail Mary and/or The Lord’s Prayer.
However, this is obviously not the only way to pray – praying the Rosary is another example. But specifically I refer you to St. Paul’s admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing . . .” Praying without ceasing has become the cornerstone of my prayer life, the practice of turning everyday moments into devotion to God. This wasn’t easy for me as the old ego always slips in there, but the end result is being at one with God. The Benedictine, Joan Chittester, summarized this idea beautifully. When asked if she had prayed at a time of crisis, she replied: “I became a prayer” – a wonderful example of oneing.

I admit that I am easily distracted (probably have Attention Deficit Disorder, but it wasn’t defined when I was a child). Mother Teresa of Calcutta suffered from a similar frustrating disorder – spiritual dryness. She expressed grave doubts about God’s existence and experienced pain over her lack of faith, saying: “Where is my faith? Even deep down . . . there is nothing but emptiness and darkness . . . if there be God – please forgive me.” As to our doubts, frustrations, guilt feelings and emptiness, I submit a writing by Father Thomas Keating:

“The chief thing that separates us from God is the thought that we are separated from God. If we get rid of that thought, our troubles will be greatly reduced. We fail to believe that we are always with God and that God is part of every reality. The present moment, every object we see, our inmost nature are all rooted in God. But we hesitate to believe this until our personal experience gives us the confidence to believe in it . . .God constantly speaks to us through each other as well as from within. The interior experience of God’s presence activates our capacity to perceive the divine in everything else – in people, in events, in nature. We may enjoy union with God in any experience of the external senses as well as in  prayer.”

In the meantime, please forgive my wanderings and pray unceasingly. Peace to all who read this.
Dwight Russell

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