Is most of your life chaotic? Are there days — complete days when you don’t think of God or prayer or anything except the next task? Do you have nights when you collapse into fitful sleep only to repeat the process all over again the next day?
Have you ever thought about sharing these struggles with the Lord? Take a look at this excerpt from Fr. Michael Scanlan’s book, Appointment With God, the Apostolate for Family Consecration:
“There are times when I have gone to prayer and said, ‘God, I don’t even want to be here. Every feeling I have wants to be somewhere else. I don’t feel holy, I don’t feel like praying and I don’t feel like talking to you or listening to what you have to say. I just want you to know, Lord, where I am right now.’ Do you know that God blesses such honesty? Of course God knew how I felt all along, and when I admitted it, at least I got out of my illusion and then God could deal with me. So, be yourself with God. Be real and don’t try to be someone else.”
I’ve often said my mom was the midwest distributor for guilt. Or maybe it’s just our heritage as we Catholics are grafted onto Jewish faith roots – and Jews have always known how to soak in ‘guilt baths.’
But. But, dear friends, the Jews of the Old Testament knew how to pray to the Lord God in all circumstances. Take the Psalms for instance. St. Thomas Aquinas viewed the Psalms as encompassing each of the main emotions of the Jewish people. There are Psalms of praise, Psalms of penitence (which, by the way includes days when you might say ‘Lord, I don’t even feel like talking to You today… but down deep, I know that isn’t the way I really want to feel!’), and Psalms of justice or judgment.
The Psalms and the author or authors of them created a cadence that recognized that one day we may feel the Lord has hidden His face completely from us. And on another day, we may want to cry out “Have mercy on my, O God,” and the next day look at a hummingbird and smile at the warm sunshine as we literally want to sing out loud, “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.”
To simplify this struggle with living life while trying to remember Him who gives life to us — I thought to recommend some key Psalm-thoughts. Maybe we could type one or two liners from the Psalms and put them some place where we can use them to gauge what today is like. Here’s what I mean…
“Your word is a lamp to my feet.” Reserved for those days when some thoughts from Scripture or from a recent Mass stay with us.
“You have made us a little lower than You, but you have crowned us with glory and honor.” On those days when we recognize how much God loves us and how we are remaining in that love.
“He will be our guide forever.” Stick with me God, because I’m confused right now and I need to know you’ll be with me in this next decision I’ve got to make.
“He who keeps you will not slumber.” I want to go into my room and pull the covers over my head and I need the assurance that You’ll be in charge for the next six hours of my downtime.
“To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” I ain’t much Lord, but I’m all I’m thinking about these days. Help me to make a meaningful offering of myself to you.
“Oh sing to the Lord a new song.” I don’t know why I’m happy today Lord God… I want to thank you and raise some sort of happy song to You.
St. Ambrose said that a ‘Psalm is a blessing on the lips of the people… it’s the voice of the people of God (the Church), and it’s a confession of faith in song.”
About a year ago, we were blessed to have the prolific author and teacher Sr. Kathleen Glavich on our Catholic Vitamins Podcast show. One of her more than fifty books is The Catholic Companion to the Psalms. I highly recommend the easily readable book, published by Acta Publications. In the book, there is one page that summarizes much of what I wanted to share in this reflection. Sister Kathleen created a page titled Finding the Psalm for the Occasion. Did a friend disappoint you? Need forgiveness? Do you feel hopeless? God has inspired an author to provide company for that part of your journey.
Whatever our mood, let’s do our best to open up and share the mood that we are in with the God of Isaac and Jacob and Moses. The God of all seasons. The God of knowledge that surpasses all understanding.
“All you birds, Bless the Lord.” That’s my mood for today 🙂
Copyright 2011 Deacon Tom Fox