A Prayerful Journey of Spiritual Growth and Healing
It is of immense help to explore the profound contemplative tradition within our Catholic faith and to understand that horizons within which spiritual development occurs. Ultimately, however, the Holy Spirit is the master of prayer and wants to be your guide.
The following eight exercises are offered as a means to place yourself in the school of the Spirit. They target particularly those challenging areas that thwart the progress of people who pray. They are labeled steps precisely because they build on one another. You may find them most helpful if you take each step in order, although you certainly may use them in any order you feel drawn. For some of the steps you will need a pen, paper and bible, as indicated. If you feel you would be nourished by more time on some point or another of the prayer exercise I invite you to pause the recording and give yourself and the Spirit all the time you desire. It would be preferable to not finish the prayer guide, than to rush through it. Without any pause the prayer guides are a total of 25 minutes. The essential text of the prayer guides are reproduced below for your convenience.
Topic 21: Step Five: The Secret of Peace
In a holy sanctuary or quiet spot, alone or with a companion guide, take some moments to focus yourself. By now you may have a favorite short prayer, or you may wish to use one of the following:
Amen. Letting be.
Still. Letting go.
For a short while let go of your thoughts, your attempts to understand, plan, or analyze. Immerse yourself in a mystery larger than yourself.
Two emotions have a major influence on our capacity for contemplation: love and fear.
Fear of intimacy often comes from childhood experiences in which we had to measure up to be accepted. We are afraid of being judged negatively. So we don‘t risk letting others get close to us or know us. The part of us that is afraid of rejection creates a disguise to keep others from seeing our truth. We also live this out in our relationship with God.
Fear comes from a belief that we don‘t deserve love, often because of something done in the past. We project this belief out to the world, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We get back exactly what we fear. We project this believe onto God.
Ask the Holy Spirit to bring to mind the negative perceptions of the past and the losses that have resulted from these perceptions that still have a hold on you. It could be the loss of something important, the absence of something wanted but never received, or the pain of being denied or rejected.
Identify one loss from the list. As you think about it, what it has meant, how it has affected your life, determine:
- Can it be retrieved or even attained for the first time
- Can it be replaced with something appropriate for your stage in life, or
- Should it be acknowledged as a real loss and released.
For example, I may have lost the belief that I am a good person because of the influence of someone in my life. That belief can be retrieved. What step can I take to value myself as a good person? I may need to let go of the years of failed relationships because of my negative self-image, but I can begin to replace these lost relationships by saying yes when others ask me to join them for coffee. In this way, you can put together a journey of small concrete steps toward new perceptions of yourself, which in turn may pave the way to authentic intimacy.
Spend some moments, entering into the presence of God surrounding you and within you. Steep yourself in the mystery of Presence, of the God who IS now and always. Very slowly read the following, taking it phrase by phrase, digesting each thought completely before going on.
The secret of peace is at-one-ness with what is,
knowing that things are exactly the way they are supposed to be.
It is our ego that needs to make things different.
If we do not feed our ego with our attention,
then we discover the marvels of the present moment
even in the crucible of suffering.
Take some moments of silence, watching your thoughts and the feelings they provoke. Write them down. Confront these thoughts and feelings with the following statements:
We often get angry because we are trying to control others.
Writing a script for ourselves or for others to follow is a set up for disappointment, rage, jealousy and depression.
The only way to peace is to choose peace — with this moment, in this moment, for this moment.
If we are angry we can be sure that we do not have the whole story. Our perceptions are limited by our projections and agendas.
When we are unhappy we have chosen a goal we can’t have: getting something another won’t or can’t give us. Instead choose peace of mind.
To be happy we may have to let go of having the last word.
Unforgiveness allows us to bolster our ego by blaming others. If we let go of unforgiving thoughts, we are free.
We can always choose to see the world differently.
When we stop judging, healing happens.
We are hurt only by our own thoughts and attitudes.
Everything is perfect just the way it is.
Whatever the problem, love is the answer.
Open your Bible and read Matthew 5:1–10. As you read it, imagine Jesus speaking directly to you. What other beatitudes would he proclaim to you? Finish this sentence: Blessed are you, [insert your name], because you…. Share with Jesus, and another trusted companion, the feelings that have arisen during your prayer.