Visual Prayer

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Some times are more difficult to pray than others. When we are ill, in physical or emotional pain, grieving, or stressed, concentrating on lengthy prayers can be not only difficult but impossible. However, there are many ways to pray, and Henri Nouwen Illuminated highlights a beautiful combination of one simple thought along with art.

 

Len Sroka matches his art with sayings from Henri Nouwen. The artwork is a composite of photos blended into images that illuminate Nouwen’s words. Golden rays, clouds, and a sunset pair with the thought, “It is by being awake to this God in us that we can see him in the world around us.”

 

Chapters include Dare to Be Loved, Come Home, Dare to Be Human, Learn God’s Ways, Dare to Be Useless, Go Deeper, Move to the Center, Live Love, Present the Presence, and Bless the World. Each chapter begins with a brief explanation that sets the tone. In Chapter 8, “Live Love,” we are reminded that the closer we come to God, the closer we come to each other. These prayer-like words are ones to ponder with a visual to touch us emotionally.

 

Sroka says he considers Henri Nouwen his spiritual older brother. He admires his courage and belief in God’s presence in “the nooks and crannies of our soul and our world.” Sroka’s admiration for this Dutch born Catholic priest and renowned author stirs my interest to learn more about him.

 

Henri Nouwen Illuminated makes a good nightstand book to reflect upon before dozing off as well as a gift for someone who is struggling to pray through their challenges.

(Re-posted from Doyle’s Delights)

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The Silent Schism. Healing the Serious Split in the Catholic Church

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 We are one body in Christ but a body of great diversity. The Catholic community is comprised of members from a vast range of cultures, lifestyles, and economic backgrounds, and therefore, also a variance of hopes and dreams for our Church.

Authors Louis De Thomasis, FSC and Cynthia A. Nienhaus, CSA write of the divide in our Church in their book, The Silent Schism. Healing the Serious Split in the Catholic Church. The focus is on the hope for a healthy, unified church strong in faith and love for all members as well as the world at large.

The beginning of the book contains definitions and explanations that give it a bit of a slow start but forms a necessary foundation for the following chapters. So if you struggle with the first few pages, hang in there.

Father De Thomasis and Sister Nienhaus, CSA say that today’s schism is not one of separation but a force for church unity and necessary for transformation. They insist that compared to other major schisms in our church history, this one is different in its dynamics and attributes. Current issues are related to liturgy, sexual morality, gender equality, social justice, and censoring of theologians and others who question what is considered established church doctrine.

Conservatives are resistant and insistent on no changes, even those mandated by Vatican II. Others feel unable to disagree, critique, or even discuss issues of importance to them and no longer attend or leave as a result. And of course, the majority believe in endless variations of the above.

The authors encourage the People of God to see clearly the needs before us, have the courage to challenge and change, and stand on the side of the suffering and oppressed. They also have great hope in the leadership and direction of Pope Frances.

On May 19, 2013, Pope Francis said, “The Holy Spirit would appear to create disorder in the Church, since he brings the diversity of charism and gifts;  yet all this, by his working, is a source of wealth, for Holy Spirit is the Spirit of unity, which does not mean conformity, but which leads everything back to harmony.”

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Maintaining Work/Life Balance in Healthcare

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Apparently I thought I could do what Jesus couldn’t. Author Susan J. Bliss points out in her book, We Will Be Healed. Spiritual Renewal for Healthcare Professionals, that Jesus balanced the endless needs of others with his reserve of physical energy. He stopped to eat and rest.

Bliss writes, “Nowhere in the New Testament did Jesus urge his followers to work to the point of exhaustion. Why then do we continue to burn ourselves to ashes on the altar of serving others?”

And she writes about sharing the load, delegating responsibilities. “Even the Son of God recognized the need for help, and he selected a dozen people to help him.”

I admit that I reached a state of burnout and physical decline before I started to care for myself while caring for my husband with Alzheimer’s. Intellectually I understood the importance of rest and rejuvenation. But spiritually, I was the martyr, literally giving my life for my husband’s. I was that Eveready Bunny running continuously until my own health truly was in jeopardy.

Spiritual Renewal for Healthcare Professionals is written for people in the medical field. These are the people who we expect to care for us at any hour of any day, even the middle of the night on a holiday weekend. They leave their own families and work long hours to be available to us.

They also have to face their limitations. As Bliss reminds us, in spite of our best efforts, disease lingers and patients die.

Although the book is not written specifically for the general public, I found it readable and applicable to my own life, a non-healthcare professional. Anyone caring for a loved one will find it of interest and inspiring.

(Re-posted from Doyle’s Delights)

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Listen to the Desert Book Review

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Simplicity and Solitude

How realistic is it for us to pray like a hermit in this day and age? Gregory Mayers, C.Ss.R explains how this can be done in his book, Listen to the Desert. It is the type of book that cannot be skimmed through. Rather, it is one to read slowly and periodically stop and reflect on passages.

 

The spirituality of the dessert fathers is largely attributed to Saint Antony of Egypt who lived a life of poverty and great discipline. Antony was known to perform healings and inspire followers to join him. In spite of the demands of his lifestyle, monastery life became quite popular not long after his death.

 

Father Mayers describes the ancient spiritual practices of the dessert fathers and how those practices can deepen our faith and overall life experience today. He tells of Abba Moses’ understanding of wisdom gained from suffering and Abba Joseph’s advice of not judging anyone and being on fire with love of God.

 

I found the chapter on Abba Macarius’ words on nonattachment particularly interesting.  Father Mayers points out that people make themselves physically and emotionally ill in their attempt to preserve something in a relationship. He says that the source of our fear, shame, and anger is insecurity about ourselves. If we let go of the self, we could let go of those painful emotions.

 

The teachings of the dessert fathers are simple. The practice, is challenging. However, the transformation of consciousness, the metanoia, is worth the effort to at least learn and contemplate.

(Re-posted from Doyle’s Delights)

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Angels of God, Our Guardians Dear

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The Catholic Companion to the Angels

Mary Kathleen Glavich

Little, if anything, about angels is left unanswered in The Catholic Companion to the Angels by Mary Kathleen Glavich. Answers to the questions of who they are, what they’re like, their responsibilities, the hierarchy of angels, scripture references to them, and more can be found in this little informative book.

One often misunderstood fact is that angels never were anything else. They are pure spirit, created as angels, and always will be that. They also have distinct personalities. They can think and love and are intelligent, powerful, and holy.

Sister Mary Kathleen offers examples of spirits appearing to people in Scripture, but many common folk today also claim to see these first responders. The best known angels are St. Michael, St. Gabriel, and St. Raphael as well as our guardian angels. God surrounds us with countless angels to guide and protect us.

The Catholic Companion to the Angels is fascinating and fun to read. Who doesn’t love and want to know more about these spirits? They were created by God to help us, and it’s a good idea to call on them to do just that.

(Reposted from Doyle’s Delights)

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Turning Around: Lent 2015

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Turning Around: Lent 2015

by Ann Naffziger

Lent is one of, if not the most, important spiritual time of the year. Turning Around: Lent 2015 by Ann Naffziger is a daily devotional that can assist you on your journey toward a greater connection with Jesus.

Entries for each day of Lent include a Scripture passage, reflection on that passage, and suggestions on how it can be applied to our daily life. Passages are in common language as they are from The Message: Catholic/Ecumenical Edition, and applications are realistic and practical.

Rather than giving something up this Lent, why not commit to reflecting on just one page of this little book each day. The practice can enrich not only your Lenten season but your life in a very manageable way.

(TurningAround: Lent 2015 is available from ACTA Publications,800-397-2222, http://www.actapublications.com/)

Reposted from: Doyle’s Delights

 

 

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Healing Music

Music is therapeutic. Clinical studies show the positive use of music in addressing physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs. Two different CD sets by Sheldon Cohen and offered through ACTA Publications are designed to provide calm and uplifting background music that soothes the spirit.9780879463014

 

The 2-CD music collections by Sheldon Cohen are a buy at $14.95. Music to Heal the Body and the Soul contains one CD featuring familiar, classical melodies by composers such as Debussy, Dvorak, and Schumann. The other has 19 of our favorite religious songs including “Were You there?,” “Amazing Grace,” “Shall We gather at the River,” and “Pie Jesus.”

 

Music to Soothe the Spirit, also a 2-CD set, has one CD of sacred music such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” “We Gather Together,” and “Morning Has Broken.” The other CD has Broadway show tunes including “The Shadow of Your Smile,” “Over the Rainbow,” and “Love is a Many Splendored Things.”

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The melodies offer a positive break from the hustle and bustle of our busy, noisy world. No matter how tired or troubled, they’re sure to get you humming along and leave you smiling.

CDs can be ordered through ACTA Publications:

800-397-2282

(Reposted from Doyle’s Delights)

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