Monday, July 30, 2012

40 Days in the Desert

"This is my prayer in the desert, when all that's within me feels dry; this is my prayer in my hunger and need, my God is a God who provides"- Hillsong
Recently I have been thinking a lot about Jesus' 40 days spent in the desert being tempted by the devil and how we are called to imitate these 40 days during Lent. Now I know that it is not anywhere near Lent, but I believe that we are called to purify ourselves in this way throughout the year as well. An appropriate period of 40 days presented itself to me (long story) and I decided to take that time and detach emotionally from the things in my life that were hindering my relationship with the Lord. Fortunately, I have become very skilled in the art of emotional chastity having done an emotional dating fast last year. And by skilled I mean that I can recognize the areas where I have been failing and try to work on them... not that I'm good at being emotionally chaste. I still have a lot of room to grow! But the Lord has blessed me with the ability to be very self-aware and I know when I'm messing up. If you haven't gathered by now, women usually have the most difficulty in this area when men are involved. It has been very difficult for me to be still single while many of my close friends are getting married if not already hitched, and I'm sure many women out there experience this same thing. Its rough. But there is a beauty in it that I think many of us fail to realize. And it took me these 40 days to really realize it and see the beauty that there is in the suffering. This is time for you and the Lord. Allow Him to pursue you! Something that I did which was extremely helpful and beautiful, was to ask the Lord to pursue me. Actually, I told Him that I needed Him to,and I needed to be able to see and recognize His love for me on a daily basis. And let me tell you, as soon as I started asking Him this, He was more than happy to shower me with love, because that is what He is waiting to do for each and every one of us.

My "desert time" as I like to call it wasn't anything extravagant, I didn't isolate myself from society and withdraw for 40 days, I simply took the time to refocus myself and really look up at the Lord and wait upon Him, because everything happens in His timing. And you don't have to be single to do this. The Lord should always be your first, number one love. If you let Him, He will give you the most thrilling plan in existence, better than anything you could have ever dreamed of.

"But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me" - Micah 7:7

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A little taste of Heaven

Nikon Coolpix L810 16.1MP Digital Camera with 26x Optical Zoom -A few weeks ago, I had the privelege of attending a healing service which was a part of the Charismatic Conference at Franciscan University. After the service (which was incredible and worth another blog post) the Eucharist was brought into the fieldhouse and processed throughout the rows of people while myself and the 100's of other men and women present sang praise and worship. A couple weeks after that, I had the same experience only at one of the various youth conferences which I attended as a prayer minister. I can't help thinking every time that this is what Heaven must be like: everyone singing in adoration and completely in awe of our Lord. I know that many people are freaked out by Charismatic praise, but in reality, it is just another element to our life as Christians. There are many references in scripture to "laying on of hands" and the various gifts of the spirit. St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11:

 "Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines."

And just so we are all clear, the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity... Father, Son, AND Holy Spirit. You have to have a healthy balance of all three :) I know some people aren't really "into that", but just think about it for a minute. The Holy Spirit is not some crazy ghost floating around that does scary things. He is one with the Father and the Son. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: 

245 "The apostolic faith concerning the Spirit was confessed by the second ecumenical council at Constantinople (381): "We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father."71 By this confession, the Church recognizes the Father as "the source and origin of the whole divinity".72 But the eternal origin of the Spirit is not unconnected with the Son's origin: "The Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, is God, one and equal with the Father and the Son, of the same substance and also of the same nature. . . Yet he is not called the Spirit of the Father alone,. . . but the Spirit of both the Father and the Son."73 The Creed of the Church from the Council of Constantinople confesses: "With the Father and the Son, he is worshiped and glorified."74"

The Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles to be within and among them to help them in preaching and ministering to the people around them. And why wouldn't we want to use the same assistance that the Apostles did? And another thing: allowing the Holy Spirit to move within you brings your life so much peace and joy. I love praise and worship so I am a little biased, but why do I love it? I can't even express in words the immense peace and love that I feel when I am praising the Lord. My soul feels as though it is elevated and among the angels and saints in His presence. I'm sure it is not on the same level as the ecstasy of St. Teresa of Avila in which she felt at perfect union with Christ, but I feel like my heart is going to explode with the love that the Lord has for me and each and every one of his children. I would like to encourage those who shy away from praising the Lord in this way, but maybe give it a shot. You don't have to do anything extravagant. Maybe just start your day by inviting the Holy Spirit to guide you. A simple "come Holy Spirit" will do. Enjoy that little piece of Heaven on earth.