Chaos, Busy, Overworked, Traffic, Late, Frantic, Anxious, Exhausted, Overwhelmed, Impatient, Frustrated, Overloaded.
I’d like you to look at the words above and just think about them for a while before you continue. Can you identify with any of them?
Our lives are often, to lesser, greater or somewhere in-between a version of mishandled chaos ~ an oxymoron perhaps, but on point to describe how we are pushed and how we push ourselves. My family can certainly relate to most of these words as we run here and there for appointments. Our society seems to have found more ways to drag us everywhere whether for business, pleasure or for our kids ~ don’t get me started on travelling sports. It a wonder families stay connected at all.
Our society has become busy on overdrive – a commuter bus headed for everything, so says the world, yet can deliver nothing but busyness to fill your every thought. Like bees around a nest, we are often buzzing here and there with little time to slow down – not to relax, but to spend time with God. Our lives cannot be ones where we fit God into our schedule when we have time, but ones where we plan our days and lives around Him. I admit, that is my dream, but I’m not yet there.
Many years ago when I was studying religious life, I was very busy in other ways. What I had felt was the path God had chosen for me was not working. I found myself distraught, lost and depressed. I was in a great religious community of Conventual Franciscan Friars, yet nothing felt right; I didn’t belong there and I knew it, but I didn’t want to face it, so I busied myself. One day as I rushed into a room and past the late Fr. Angelus (he was in his mid 80’s at the time) he gave me passing advice, which is all I had time for being always on the run. I felt his words were stupid and coming from a nosy old priest who should mind is own damn business. I didn’t ask for his advice and I didn’t want it. Yet isn’t that how God often speak to us? “Hey you, yes you, come spend time with me” and we often reply, “Not now, God, I’m busy, maybe later.” Fr. Angelus saw the world through his life experiences, as did I. Though what he had learned in his lifelong journey, I had hardly begun to experience in my own. His gruff, but willingness to help me were met with indignant frustrations. In the years since that brief encounter, his words have come to my mind many times, “you always seem to be doing something. I think you need to waste time with God.”
Though I was unwilling and unable to mull over those words then, I often do now. I’m thankful for Fr. Angelus’ advice and his willingness to offer them as a gift of kindness to me. Perhaps he recognized something in me that once reminded him of himself or another. Regardless, Angelus’ instruction nears the best advice I’ve ever been given. Thank you, Fr. and may you rest eternally in the presence of Christ, to whom you gave your life.
I admit that even today, the idea of wasting time, ANY TIME rubs me the wrong way and I struggle to spend time with God. I put things in the way that are more exciting or keep my attention, but God is what I need and I know it. Fr. Larry Richards shared one of his experiences with his high school boys in his cd talk, Be a Man. He challenged the boys by taunting them to prove to him there was a God. In the end, when they asked him how he knew there was a God he said, “Because I know Him. I spend time with him.” And he does: an hour each morning with the Blessed Sacrament ~ how beautiful.
Here are some ways you might consider Wasting Time with God:
Mulling over scripture – reading scripture is not traditionally a “Catholic thing.” As a child, we never read the bible at home, yet if we are to grow spiritually, it must be our foundation. So we don’t become overwhelmed, remember that a foundation is built one brick at a time. Don’t try to build everything at once. Even a brick layer know that moving too quickly can destroy a solid foundation. Rather, grab a brick, study it, work it in your hands and understand it. When you’re ready, cover the bottom with mortar and put it in place. Then grab another brick and continue. Recall from the book of Matthew, 7: 24 – 25, “Every one therefore that heareth these my words, and doth them, shall be likened to a wise man that built his house upon a rock and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not, for it was founded on a rock.” Here are some things I recommend and in which I’ve previously found success.
1. Find a place you’d like to be your prayer place. This is really important and recommended, because when you come to that space going forward, you’ll be ready for your time with God. It can be as simple at that chair in the corner, but which you only use for that purpose.
2. Just close your eyes and breathe for a while, but do so attentively, so you don’t drift off. Give to the Lord anything is bothering you. You can do this by simply offering it or as it was once suggested to me ~ in your mind, grab a small canvas bag that ties at the top. Take each of your worries and put them in the bag and then toss it on a bench or a nearby shelf. Those now belong to God. Pray the following several times, “Holy Spirit come, come as you are, come as you wish.”
4. When you are ready, pray an Our Father, a Hail Mary and a Glory Be.
5. Open your bible and choose a book you’ve always wanted to read or start with something familiar like Psalm 42 or the Book of Psalms. Other options are the Gospels. If you are looking for discipline, try Romans or James (a wonderful and short book). Read not simply for reading sake, but read slowly until a verse strikes you and then stop. Think about those words and how they struck you; how they resonated with you. Meditate in the Holy Spirit with that verse and read it periodically to keep it fresh in your mind. Ask the Lord to reveal anything in it that He wishes you to learn. When you feel you should move forward, do so. You may also stay with that verse for your entire prayer time. There is no formula, but only how the Holy Spirit guides you.
Spiritual images can be very helpful with certain types of prayer such as Rosary meditation. Personally, my mind wanders a lot during the Rosary and suddenly I find myself somewhere else. Even after a short redirection, I’m off somewhere else again in a moment. Having a picture of Jesus or part of The Passion can really help us focus. As above, ask the Holy Spirit to come be with you and enter what many call “The Mind’s Eye.” It is that place where only you and God are. Relax and listen for as we are reminded in 3Kings 19: 11 – 13, the angel of the Lord said to Elias, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord: and behold the Lord passeth, and a great and strong wind before the Lord over throwing the mountains, and breaking the rocks in pieces: the Lord is not in the wind, and after the wind an earthquake: the Lord is not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire: the Lord is not in the fire, and after the fire a whistling of a gentle air … and behold a voice unto him.”
Perhaps the finest way to waste time with God is before the Blessed Sacrament and by meditating upon Jesus’ Passion (as our Lady of Good Success instructed us (in these challenging times.))
However you choose to pray, start now. God is calling us to pray without ceasing. Our world needs your and my prayers. We cannot be bench warmers for the times demand much more. Pray now and never stop praying.
God Love You,
If you wish to reach me privately, you may send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.