Catholic Soup is a food for thought blog based website designed to provide Catholic insight through personal experience.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

God our Strength: Hiding Place

There's so much going on in the world today, so much death, so much uprising, it's almost like the physical world is headed in the wrong direction and there isn't many options. With Donald Trump all over the news, Planned Parenthood, riots between races, court case news because of shootings in the world it's too much. There's no wonder why during commercial breaks there is always somebody who says, "What is this world coming too?" Not to mention sports and torn ACL's!

But in my reflection there is a parallel between the physical reality of everything going on and the spiritual reality. It's sort of like the world, full of disorder is depicting our own spiritual life, full of chaos. Chaos and confusion that leads us to doubt our own vocations, doubt God's plan for us and even doubt who we are. So much of our lives are full of stress and worry, or fear and anxiety. We're lukewarm in our spiritual lives!  So much, that there's no room for strength, or courage. The channels of peace and joy have been backwashed and taken over by doubt, mediocrity, fear, and ultimately death.

A few months ago I felt that about myself, I was struggling spiritually, there was chaos, and with that doubt and fear. I remember living those few weeks just going through the motions, not really striving for anything. All I did was enough to get by. I was in a grave, I was just bored of things that were going on. In my prayer I turned to God and what helped was his presence and I was able to  recognize that God allows all of this to show us, in a real intimate way, what it is that we really desire. The reminder is that there is a heaven that we can work for! There is a greater place and a relationship with Christ that is waiting to unfold. All we have to do is seek the help Christ gives us. Seek him, turn to him in his hiding place and the effects of that is endless grace and joy. With it we can never be bored, lukewarm, stressed, scared or bland. We can do great things with the Spirit, all we have to do is seek Christ and his loving shelter that he provides. So for any of my friends battling with fear, stress, worry, or sort of a "gray" spiritual life. Just remember that God has never left you, that he is our hiding place and by that we are strengthened by Him.

The prayer is now a song on my soundcloud titled, My Hiding Place. You can listen to here at the link below. My Hiding Place

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

The Dry Riverbed: Conversion

When we stayed at the Monastery in Pecos, one of the brothers had mentioned there was a beautiful grotto out on the north side of the mountain. All we had to do was walk there. Driven to find this grotto, my brother Felix and I set out on foot. We crossed the river by bridge, started our ascent up the mountain heading north. I remember being so energized and so confident. I thought for sure we would find the Blessed Mother. We walked through brush, big rocks, cactus, under trees and trudging our way through the forest ground we kept moving forward. As the sound of the running river grew distant, we still kept moving until we couldn't hear it anymore. It wasn't long before we ended up on a dry river bed still moving north. We followed on what was once a river for about an hour. we climbed over boulders, walked through sand and gravel. As we kept moving forward, I kept thinking about how this exact voyage was depicting my own spiritual life. 
Here I was hot, thirsty and out of breath [sinful] seeking the living water [God, Blessed Mother].

We walk further and further seeking happiness or consolation. By sin, we are in a dry river bed that is never-ending. There is no life, no plants, no color, no fish everything seems dull without the living water and that is what we seek. I remember looking back as I climbed up the riverbed, trying to imagine what it might have looked like with running water. We didn't find what we we're looking for, but we kept moving. Soon the confidence that we had in finding the grotto, turned into doubt so we turned back around. I think often we start out with confidence and then many times the goal isn't reached because of doubt. Doubt in yourself, doubt in God's presence and we turn around and give up. 

The reflection was amazing because three years ago I visited and had the same experience but in the running water. The joy is that we recognize that we should return and go back to the water that is flowing. Conversion from dry land to flowing water. The water that gives life and gives color. 

Pilgrimage: Santuario de Chimayo

This past weekend my brothers and I went on an official pilgrimage to sort of start the year. We would walk to the Shrine of Chimayo from Espanola, a town about 9 miles west of the "Santuario." We would stay in Pecos with Benedictine monks, praying with them and eating with them, there we would sleep. During the day we would either go up to the mountain and pray, hike around the monastery, rest or fish. It was a very quiet weekend for me and that is what stood out on the pilgrimmage weekend.
The invitation for me, was to return back to the silence not only in my actions but also in my prayer. Throughout the weekend we were praying, contemplating while at the same time still being open to the silence and the peace that is expressed through creation. The beauty of God is displayed in his creation and it was powerful for me to meditate on that.

Silence - the silence is required to cultivate a fruitful prayer, because if you are quiet then you are naturally listening. Listening to the silence means abandoning the noise of our lives. Read Psalm 46 and learn to be still in action.

Prayer - a conversation with God that requires interaction, participation and silence. It is more then just talking to God it is conversing with Him. He is listening to us, so we should listen to Him through the quiet and the silence.

Patience - Contrary to impulsiveness, it is the virtue of waiting, being still while at the same time trusting in God's plan. Saint Paul lists patience as one of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5:22.

These three have been the most obvious in my pilgrimage this weekend. It has been an invitation to pray in the silence and with that, I learned how effective and fruitful a prayer can be when it is nurtured by the quiet. There's a listening that is involved when we pray, because prayer is not just a way in which we talk to God, but rather it's a conversation. I learned that in the Silence is where prayer is formed. It's where patience is formed and so for me it was nice to be able to return back to that.