Friday, March 4, 2011

Making the Most of Prayer and Sacrifice

The book is out on loan to a priest right now, but one of my favorites is Calls From Fatima, written by Sister Lucia, the late visionary.  Sister provided a wealth of spiritual direction and as we approach Lent, I thought I might share some of her suggestions to enrich even our every day devotions.  Please don't think for a minute that because I'm posting these, I can do them.  I've tried most of them and it's a real struggle. They're not supposed to be easy.  Since I don't have the book handy, these may not be exact or I might have overlooked some good ones, but you get the idea.

1. Pray with your arms extended, as Christ extended His on the cross

2. Pray prone with your forehead touching the floor.  (The real pain comes when you attempt to separate your forehead from the hardwood floor against which it's been pressed)

3. Rather than skip a meal, eat one you don't like

4. Acquire a deep thirst, and then slake it with a drink you don't like

5. When offered a choice, choose your least favorite dessert, rather than your favorite.

6.  If you're hot, dress up a layer and if you're cold, dress down one.  Don't endanger your health but a little bit of discomfort offered in reparation will do just fine.

7. Wear a fabric that you find uncomfortable against your skin.  I don't think they make hair shirts anymore, but have you ever worn mohair against your skin?  Probably not a whole lot different.

If anyone has any suggestions to add, please do.  We're here to help one another.


  1. This is my first visit here, and, not my last. I truly have been inspired to do more/give up more during Lent. Also, this post gives me ideas to share with my CCD class this Sunday - perfect timing! Mahalo and Aloha.

  2. But how are things like that supposed to make one more holy? For me God is a joy. Intentional pain and suffering seems contrary to Christ's healing love, and to some degree seems like an act of pride to say one can do such spiritual athletics. I guess that sort of devotion is not my cup of tea. Sorry if I hit a bad note on this post Joyce.

  3. Manny, no worries, it's not a requirement of posting here to agree with me 100% of the time.

    Manny, do you know what the message was that the Virgin at Fatima repeatedly gave to the children? She told them to pray the Rosary and do penance so that souls would be saved from falling into Hell. I do not take any offense at what you say, I'm just trying to help you understand why it would be spiritually efficacious to enhance our prayer life by adding small acts of sacrifice and discomfort. It's not as though you're going to make an announcement and say "OK everybody, first I'm going to lie prone on the floor and pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and then I'm going to don a hair shirt and eat some spinach because I hate it." These practices are meant to be done in private and to the knowledge of no one but yourself and God. They are hard because they're meant to be hard. I very clearly said that because I'm posting them doesn't mean I can do them. I'm simply repeating to you those things which Sister Lucia wrote about in an effort to aid others. That's why she's on her way to sainthood and I'm on my way to Purgatory (if I'm lucky!)
    Thanks for commenting

  4. Hi Sarah, stops for thanking by and commenting. You are welcome any time!

  5. I'm glad you didn't take offense. In a way I was hoping you would reject my comment. Well, thank you for explaining. I can understand a little discomfort. Fasting for instance pains us to realize our humanity. I guess as I re-read you list it's not harsh. My thoughts before had jumped to being a hermit in the desert, or some of those that actually have someone nail them to a cross or walk barefoot through burning coals. It's still not my cup of tea (I'm actually drinking a cup of tea as I sit here :-D) but I can understand these now. For me i don't think I would be any more holy if I did any of them. But perhaps for others, yes.

  6. Sadly, I've never been able to implement anything like this with any success. If I wear mildly uncomfortable shoes to adoration, all I'm focusing on is my feet. I can't concentrate on my prayers at all. If I go to mass without breakfast, I spend most of my attention fighting with myself over thoughts of scrambled eggs.
    I guess this just means I'm a spiritual wimp and need more practice, but are these distractions really helpful during prayer? I can see doing them at other times during the day...
    By the way, Sister Mary Martha had the rather startling idea of wearing truly unattractive clothes as a form of penance. (I probably do that anyway and don't even know it.)

  7. I have often said to my husband that he doesn't have to try too hard to think up penances, because we have children, and we have each other! But kids, at least mine, give me many opportunities to go beyond myself. Daily. On the rare occasion that I don't respond joyfully, (cough, cough) I can offer the difficulties I encounter in myself while doing my parental duties. And, as dear Father Corapi is known for saying, "you never know, maybe you cross is lying in bed next to you!" lol In my case I am the cross!

    I say all this just to encourage you Manny, that if you are not inclined to do those exact kinds of penances, you can look at your life and identify your own areas of weakness, and offer the difficulties you encounter there to the Lord. And then sometime, you may just find yourself doing little things with the intention of mortifying your flesh a teeny bit. ( Idk--getting up a little earlier and making the coffee for your wife and such things.)
    There are as many ways to do penance as their are people.

    Also I might add, that I too am a convert, once Evangelical; and the Biblical references that strike me the most about this topic are 1. Of course, Jesus and the way He lived, and also John the Baptist; and 2. Matthew 17:21- "But this kind is not cast out but by prayer and fasting". --in talking about the casting out of demons. It just points out the efficacy that subduing our natural selves, whether by fasting from food, or denying ourselves other comforts, affords. I am sure the CCC addresses it with better accuracy, but I just wanted to share with you this element.

    All this said--Joyce's entire blog is devoted to The Little Flower, who became a Doctor of the Church because of her approach to this very topic. All our ways are little before God anyway, and every Little thing we offer Him has merit.
    End of Epic Comment! lol

  8. Julie, yes, suggestions 3 onward are not necessarily meant to be done while at prayer. Should have clarified that. I need to work on something else to aid concentration. It's a struggle I have as well. However, eventually, when we do find a way to remain focused, it would not be a bad idea to try some of the practices Sister Lucia recommended as far as we can tolerate them.

  9. What is going on with Blogger today? It keeps deleting my comments and then mysteriously, they appear again! oh, well, let me try again

    Kelly, thanks for that most helpful reminder. In the comment I just wrote and apparently lost, I said that as I am married to a man who is older than I am but thinks he's still in his teens, I have a built-in penance machine. You see, he is a drummer, and he practices faithfully, in our house, every single day, sometimes twice. Father Corapi was dead on with his comment :-)

  10. I have two sons that are drummers. One lives here. Thank God that he is good. And that we have kind and patient neighbors.

  11. 'What is going on with Blogger today? It keeps deleting my comments and then mysteriously, they appear again! oh, well, let me try again'
    ~~~ The Little Way

    All of mine are deleted too.
    And not just on this post.
    I get Servor Error 303 and often, on many posts, the comment box is removed.

    I presumed The Little Way wants me to have Little To Say. But your opening sentence makes me wonder if it is me, and a ban on comments, ala a time out to some terrible blogs on the sidebar, or what.

    Your gentle spirit as exhibited previously made me give the benefit of the doubt.

    I entered here, through someone else's comment on another post, received on RSS as "Posts Comments".

    I had much to say on Lent, although I lean toward Manny as growing closer to God is the goal, not self flaggelation deeds.

    One Blogger wrote in response to me that "the Resurrection is nothing". He believes suffering and the Cross are all that matters.

    But if Christ died, and there was no Resurrection, he would be no different than Budda, Mohammed, and the rest....a long list of dead guys.

    It is the Resurrection that separates Christ from all.
    He left His place
    To Come to our place
    To take our place
    So we could go to His place.

    That means WE Resurrect too, one day....even if we are dust and dry bones (per Ezekiel).

    Lent requires reverence.
    And reverence is an awareness of what God is doing in my life to make me more like Christ.

    What blocks the view?
    The Spirit resides within believers.
    Who would know? Concentration on the physical world blocks the view of the spiritual world. That world is invisible to us, and Lent is a time to make that world shine visibly.

    I would suggest memorizing 4 short chapters of Philippians....the book of JOY. Or Collosians.
    Wanna go all out, memorize the linchpin of the letters and learn Ephesians word for word in memory (6 chapters).

    Both satan and Christ quoted scripture in the desert prior to ministry. It must be important in battle to quote the CORRECT scripture aloud. (TheHoly Spirit supplies the correct one in any moment, but you have to KNOW them to say them)And ministry was prior to Cross and Resurrection.
    I liken it to Lent. Scripture uttered aloud is vital to our spiritual health.

    If you read it, fine. You are growing in stature and wisdom as Christ did as a boy, learning Scriptures.

    But saying it aloud is key.
    The invisible world is often a raging battleground for souls. There is no way for a created being (like satan) to read your mind. But he hears your speech and that gives clue to your inner self; fears, anxiety, or calm, a believer, or atheist. He listens at your mouth, for he is well versed in human behavior and can exacerbate a depression, flame a lust, give reason to lie and steal, all in a nudging.
    (because YOU told him with your mouth, exactly what is on your mind moment-by-moment).
    Utter Scripture aloud, and James says satan MUST all back.

    "Submit (choose) God. Satan will flee from you"

    Uttering memorized Scripture is an indication to the spiritual world that you choose God.
    satan leaves for better hunting grounds of lost souls. And those lost souls notice your calm spirit, as fed by the Bread of Life, not Wonderbread for the body, in a land of gluttony and no spiritual effort.

    More on Lent soon. Lent is vital to all Christians as a Sunday to rest the soul. It is a part of the year, to extensively direct the soul to God. Do positive things.

    If you like to do without, then do so for the other 325 days of the year. But in Lent"

    Find a homeless person and give them a shower, and food.

    Tell single moms AND DADS that you will babysit their children for them to have a night out, at a time of their choice. (Get an early time notice as your payment).

    Read to children. The list is endless.

  12. Keystone, you are most definitely NOT banned lol. I kept getting that error message today and yesterday. I approved some comments today from my phone while I was out in Lancaster County with my parents. I did some blog housekeeping this week and imposed time-outs, as previously noted, but you are not one of the offenders. Peace

  13. RSS Feeds update as soon as you hit "publish".
    Google is the platform for both your blog, and the RSS feed.

    Today you posted on mom, dad, Amish, and Lancaster. My RSS feed was last updated with the cow picture and "if everyone....would you?" post. Everything between the two is gone.

    I admit I missed a lot when I went to the hospital, and I have been slow to move about, sleeping 20 hours at a time this week.

    But I recall your notice to time-out (and hopefully never return), some of the blatant anti-christlike blogs you scroll for readers to meander. They do. And become led further from Jesus Christ by your roadmap of these type blogs.

    I am catching up on my readings over the weekend, and was impressed to see you're follow through on deleting blogs that lead believers astray.

    Those blogs could do so much for the Body of Christ, that it was not an easy thing to point out that these places are harmful to souls.

    I took a lot of heat in many quarters over my stance; some still on your blogroll, but I think the bloggers are blinded by friendships built over time, and not looking at current content as a source of credible contact.

    I did not notice the error message as I read little online this week. If my thoughts on Jesus Christ ever get me banned anywhere (and they have) I shake the dust from my shoes and move on to a new town, knowing the "WOE" Jesus proclaimed for such who do not listen to Him.

    As a House of Prayer online, I had an update today, worthy of those who know how to pray.
    When someone asks for prayer, I feel a deep compelling to share that ask, with people who pray. Unrelated to this post, is this prayer request for all to ponder:

    "I am coming here to ask you for prayer. My mom is having a double mastectomy this Thursday - March 10. Please pray for peace and comfort and for my mom to know that she is NOT alone...
    Thank you very much..
    Love to you

    My godmother just died of cancer and it smarts the heart still. In February, her brother (she never married or had children) distributed pictures from long ago. I was a baby on my sister's lap, and there were 6 more siblings to be born yet.
    And I'm a middle child.
    Maybe that is why Kelly's prayer echoes to me, and I echo it out to all of you.

    Since I am now deaf (hereditary in the family)
    I study ASL (American Sign Language).
    When you pray, you bring BOTH palms and extended fingers together. The movement is DOWN, toward your chin, and means "pray".

    If I do the same thing, bring extended hands together at the palms, but look at my thumbs together in palm unity, and bring the motion the word "pray", it is an entirely different word, due to motion alone.
    This word is called "Ask".

    There is a very close connection to "Ask" and "Pray".

    May you all perceive it often.


Comments which reflect true Christian charity are always welcome. Comments which attack the Pope, the Church, priests or other bloggers will go in the dustbin, especially if they are anonymous. Thank you and God Bless you!