No Complaints for 24 Hours

The best way I’ve found to monitor my own ungrateful heart is to have a complaint-free day. I’ve put a rubber band or an easy-to-remove bracelet on my arm. Then, when I do get ready to complain, I move it from arm to arm.

This points out the problem. Gratitude is the solution. Whenever we are ready to complain or grumble, we need to follow the suggestion/command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:

In everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Gratitude is also the answer when we are prepared to be proud or boastful about ourselves. It’s not us, after all. God has given us the gifts we have, and He has provided graces to make things possible for us to do.

So try a complaint-free day. Change the band on your arm when you feel you want to complaint and consciously move to gratitude. You may find that it feels so good that you can stretch it into a complaint-free week or more.

What Do You Want?

This Christian mindfulness exercise allows us to monitor our wants and desires during a calendar day. It’s a self-awareness tool that can help to see just what we cling to, what we “have to have.”

Set up an hourly timer and make a list of the hours when you are usually awake. Start in the morning if you can. Then when the timer rings or buzzes, write down what you want.

It could be coffee, more sleep, a chocolate bar, a nap, a hug or something else. Looking at the patterns may help you spot things that you cling to when stressed. Are you running to the Lord or to the refrigerator first?

Try the exercise to see what it is you want. Then you can decide if that’s OK with you.

Celebrate Pentecost

Jesus told us that we would encounter plenty of false teachers in this world. How to detect them? It’s simple. You will know them by their fruit.

The fruits of the Holy Spirit is an excellent measuring stick to determine if someone (even ourselves) is a true witness of God. They are:

  • Love
  • Joy
  • Peace
  • Patience
  • Kindness
  • Goodness
  • Faithfulness
  • Gentleness
  • Self-control

The American Christian church is going through a lot of tumult and soul searching these days. Measuring the tone and content of these various voices against the fruits of the Holy Spirit provides insight into who is speaking best on God’s behalf.

I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit’s appearance in my life. Indeed, Jesus predicted just how incredibly important the Spirit would be to his disciples.

Prayers for Pentecost

Today, let’s celebrate Pentecost by meditating on these prayers:

Prayer for Pentecost in the Pandemic (from America Magazine)

Come, Holy Spirit. Come, Spirit of God, come with your peace, your power, your light. Come with forgiveness, courage and hope. Come, Spirit of God, unite us with the risen Jesus. Turn us again to the Father of Jesus.
Together they pour You daily into our hearts. Come now to our suffering world, sick with a killing virus
and everywhere threatened with silent death, but most cruelly among your poorest children.

Prayer for Life-Changing Power (from connectusfund.org)

Breath of Life, on this Pentecost Sunday, we ask that You breathe on us once again. Make our consciences tender to Your touch. We hunger for the life-changing power that Your Holy Spirit brings. May our lives exemplify the fruit of Your Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. May we use the gifts of the Spirit that You have distributed to bless the church and build Your Kingdom on earth. Amen.

Prayer to Walk as Children of the Light

Joy of Heaven, we are so blessed that You came to dwell in each of us on Pentecost, when Your church was born. Surely, through Your Spirit, we have died to sin and are alive to holiness. May we serve You faithfully, in praise, prayer, and loving service to others, as we are changed from glory to glory. May we walk as children of the light, in all goodness, righteousness, and truth. Amen.

Do You Want to be Holy?

As we prepare for Pentecost, we are meditating on holiness, a gift of the Holy Spirit. Do we even want to be holy?

Ironically, holiness, or piety as it’s called in some lists, has a bad reputation in our times. It’s seen as false, self-righteous, judgmental, rigid, unhappy and even mean.

But there’s a big difference between being holy and being holier-than-thou. True holiness is all about love. That’s not a surprise. Because God is all about love, too. Yet so many people have the impression that the Christian God is about hate speech and condemnation. Not true. Although it is true about some of His followers.

The gift of holiness inspires us to love people, not just certain people. It’s OK to be saddened about sin, but never to turn against the person who is involved in it. After all, that would mean turning against everyone, including ourselves. No matter how much of the gift of holiness we receive, we are going to be sinners as long as we are on this Earth.

The concept of seeking holiness first impressed me when I heard a statement about marriage. The pastor asked, “What if marriage is meant to make you holy, not just happy?” That statement is also true about life.

We can take each event … good, bad and very bad … in our lives as an opportunity to grow, to become more of a light in this world. When we look back, we might see how that has worked in previous situations/disasters in our lives.

Today let’s meditate on the gift of holiness. Perhaps we will find that we want it after all.

the word know

Meditate on Knowledge

The Holy Spirit’s gift of knowledge is interesting because it allows us to see things as they are in this world. This reveals that all that glitters is not gold.

As we prepare for Pentecost, we are meditating on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Nearly everyone needs a greater awareness of this Presence that is with us 24/7, yet does not intrude unless invited.

The gift of knowledge is used in tandem with the gifts of wisdom and understanding. Yet it is different because it allows us to see our lives … in all their chaos and circumstances … the way that God seems them, at least partially.

Using this gift, we can better determine God’s purpose for our lives. Then we can proceed to live out that purpose.

The gift of knowledge is often associated with people who are gifted teachers. That’s because it helps us understand our faith’s principles more fully. This can inspire us to lead a life that is full of God’s light and love. And this knowledge continues to expand throughout our lives as we seek the Holy Spirit’s presence.

I do that through Christian mindfulness: living in the present moment in the presence of God.

Ask for the gift of knowledge as we prepare for Pentecost. It could open the door to a better life for you and those around you.

corn fields under white clouds with blue sky during daytime

Pray for Supernatural Common Sense

Today, as we await Pentecost, is a good time to meditate on the gift of counsel. The Christian news feed Aleteia.org published a preparation for Pentecost by Philip Kosloski in 2016 that refers to counsel as the Holy Spirit’s “gift of supernatural common sense.”

I love that.

Counsel allows souls to judge quickly and correctly what we must do, especially in difficult circumstances. It’s an extension of understanding and wisdom, two other gifts of the Holy Spirit.

This can help us to find God’s will in a situation. We still need to pray for the grace to incline our hearts and minds to do God’s will. This detachment from our own “wants” is impossible without God’s help. Our job is to pray for it, with fasting in difficult situations.

Philip Kosloski’s entire piece on his novena preparing for Pentecost is here.

It includes this prayer, which I have shortened, to meditate upon:

On my knees, before the great multitude of heavenly witnesses, I offer myself, soul and body, to you, Eternal Spirit of God. I adore the brightness of Your purity, the unerring keenness of Your justice, and the might of Your love. You are the Strength and Light of my soul. Mercifully guard my every thought and grant that I may always watch for your light, listen to Your voice and follow Your gracious inspirations.

two people making a handshake

Meditate on Understanding

This week we are meditating on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The most difficult to understand is: understanding. What does that gift mean? It took some reading to find out.

While wisdom allows us to understand things from God’s point of view, understanding allows us to grasp the essence of our faith. This gift allows us to comprehend how we need to live as a follower of Jesus.

Thomas Aquinas says four gifts of the spirit …. wisdom, understanding, knowledge and counsel … direct our intellect. So a person who has understanding isn’t confused about what to do, even in a world with many conflicting messages. Understanding allows this person to see what the next steps should be.

An example happens on the road to Emmaus. Jesus, in disguise somehow, walks alongside his disciples and “opens their minds” to understand what the Scripture were saying about the Messiah. The gift of understanding helps us to know the mysteries of faith more clearly.

Understanding gives us a deeper insight into the truths of our faith … a kind of permanent increase in faith I.Q. The Holy Spirit allows us to grasp this knowledge deeply and to hang onto it.

While being able to understand God is impossible to us on this Earth, we can have more insight into His ways through the Holy Spirit’s gift of understanding.

Complicated and confusing? Yes. So meditating on the gift of understanding and asking for more of it from the Holy Spirit is a good idea.

Ascension, Awaiting the Holy Spirit

Today is the celebration of Ascension Day, when Jesus left the Earth via a trip through the sky. He promised to come back the same way.

He told us that it was good that He was leaving Earth. Because that meant that the Holy Spirit could come and live within us.

I have two traditions for this period between Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday. The first is to say a novena … essentially to pray the same prayer every day for nine successive days. This year’s novena is immensely private, but you can pick from classic novenas or choose to write your own prayer.

The second tradition is to spend time meditating on the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit. You can do one per day if you would like. Here is the list:

  • Wisdom
  • Understanding
  • Counsel
  • Fortitude
  • Knowledge
  • Piety
  • Fear of God
  • Fruits of the Holy Spirit
    • Love
    • Joy
    • Peace
    • Patience
    • Kindness
    • Goodness
    • Faithfulness
    • Gentleness
    • Self-Control

There is so much to ponder on these gifts and fruits. I pray we all become more like the Holy Spirit in the next 10 days.

Here are some Bible verses to meditate on that discuss wisdom.

Write Your Own Psalm

“How to Live: What the Rule of St. Benedict Teaches Us About Happiness, Meaning and Community” by Judith Valente is one of the best books I’ve read this year. But, since I have 10 more chapters to go, I will save the glowing review for when I’ve finished the book.

Judith Valente does present two wonderful ideas about incorporating the Psalms into our daily lives that I’d like to share.

Her first idea is a good way to come alongside the meaning of Psalms you love. She suggest taking a Psalm that you know well and rewriting it to include the events of your life and/or the elements of your world.

This is an excellent way to grow closer to the times of David and his fellow Psalm writers. They wrote about their own personal worlds, filled with sheep and anointing oil. Turning Psalm 23, for example, into a poem about your life may be quite emotional and revealing. Some samples of that are found here.

The second idea is to take a current event … positive or negative … and create a Psalm about it. You can write a psalm of lament for a tragic situation. Or you can choose to glorify God for a positive event.

Each chapter of her book ends with suggestions for building the topics discussed into your daily life. I can’t wait to finish it!