I Will…Learn to Listen

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place?

I Will…Learn to Listen.

Living in the moment starts with learning to listen. A lot of conversations today have turned into a variety of sound bites, each person taking their turn talking, but not really hearing or listening to what the other person is saying.

Listening takes concentration and will power. You have to resist the idea of trying to think of the next thing to say or to add on to a conversation. You have to be quiet, both in mind and words.

While this is important when talking to others, this is also important when talking to God.

Are you truly listening to what God is telling you? Are you listening to what he’s asking of you? 

When we learn to listen, we find that we begin to truly appreciate the people in our lives and the world around us.

The Moments of the Mass

How much do you live in the moment?

For many of us, we don’t. According to recent published statistics, it turns out that human brains live in the moment for just over half of our waking hours–53% of the time.

The other 47%, we find ourselves with wandering minds, zoning out of things going on around us.

Life is full of noise. There are thousands of distractions flying through out brain, every moment of every day, vying for our attention. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we’ve zoned. (Think about that moment when you’re behind the wheel of a car and you realize you just drove 5 miles without paying attention!)

Now think about Sunday morning when you’re sitting in church.

  • How much are you in the moment?
  • Are you thinking about the week that just ended?
  • Planning the week ahead?
  • Worried about bills to pay?
  • Thinking about what you’re going to make for dinner that evening?

How can you get the most out of the Mass? Here are three simple solutions.

To start, choose your moments. What are your favorite moments of the Mass? The Gospel? Communion? The Our Father? Put your energy into making those specific moments special. Concentrate. Focus. Be active in the moment; think about what you’re saying or praying.

Build upon these moments each week. Add a new moment each week. Savor the new moment along with the old. Challenge yourself to look for meaning in each of your moments.

Read and study about the parts of Mass. Each part of the Mass has an interesting story and history. Take some time to learn the why behind the beauty of what you’re experiencing.

  • How do we choose the readings for Mass?
  • Where did the Nicene Creed come from?
  • What is the doxology?

Knowing a bit more about our faith helps us to truly appreciate these moments.

Here are some resources to help:

The Order of Mass from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

101 Questions About the Mass

What are your favorite moments of the Mass? Share your thoughts with us.

 

I Will…Be Open Minded

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a new post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place to be?

I Will be…Open Minded.

What’s happened to our world? Everyone has such a strong opinion and they’re expressing this opinion in such a hostile way.

If we all take the time to listen to each other, to be open minded, to look for ways to create allies vs. enemies, then the world will begin to come together.

It starts with each of us.

Next time you’re tempted to dig your heels in and stand your ground, no matter who you hurt, stop and think. Is this conversation worth it? Can I learn something from this other person? Can I make my point without making them angry?

It’s time I open my mind…and my heart.

A Conduit of Love

Several weeks ago I met a man named Richard. We had a pleasant surface conversation for a few minutes, then he immediately began to open up.

He told me about his past drug and alcohol addiction—how he’s been clean now for 40 days. He told me about his divorce and how he only can see his son one day a week. And he told me that he hasn’t had a job in months. No matter how often he applies for work, he never gets a callback.

“Right now, I have 49 cents in my pocket,” Richard told me very matter-of-factly. He wasn’t looking for pity. It was simply the reality of his world. He just wanted to tell someone.

In that moment, I felt a surge of energy and love. I told Richard that I would pray for him. I told him that God is leading him and that it’s important that he listen so that he understands the direction he needs to go. I’m not sure Richard truly understood what I was saying, but he listened, smiled, and shook my hand.

Two weeks later I saw Richard again. He was grinning from ear-to-ear. He held up a business card and proudly told me that the name on the business card just offered him a job. A good job. Work in construction. Something he can build on, literally.

“Your prayers were strong. You gave me hope. It was exactly what I needed.”

At that moment, that very special moment, it wasn’t just Richard who was happy. I realized something happened to me, too.

God does indeed answer prayers, but sometimes he does it in a roundabout way. I certainly did not get Richard his job. He did that himself. But God called me to give this troubled man some hope. He called me to comfort Richard’s worries. He gave me the words and emotions of faith.

He called me to be a conduit of His love.

We each encounter hundreds of people every week. We never know what is happening in their lives. Sometimes a simple smile or a sincere hello will bring a person back to life. Sometimes holding a door and offering a polite nod is all that’s needed to let a person know that they belong in our world. Sometimes a hand on the shoulder is all that’s needed to release the struggles of life.

We are all called. It may be a tiny call, but we are all called. If we listen to His voice, and answer this call, it can certainly create special moments.

And then we learn: if we allow ourselves to be conduits, we can truly make a difference in someone’s world.


This month theROCK is focused on appreciating the moments of life.
Dan Herda is an editor of theROCK and a member of the St. Dominic Catholic Parish Marketing Committee.

 

I Will…Pray for Peace

What is your call to action? How will you live a life of faith?

During the summer months, we’re featuring a new post called “I Will.” What’s one thing you can do to make the world a better place to be?

I Will…Pray for Peace.

Our world is in trouble. Violence and hatred have crept in from the shadows and are beginning to surround us, threatening to strangle love and peace everywhere.

It’s time we pray for peace.

If one or two people offer a prayer, that’s strong. But if all of us pray, every day, that’s a powerful message to God to watch over us and guide us through this tumultuous time.

Pope Francis recently prayed the following:

“Spirit of God, come down upon us anew, teach us unity, renew our hearts and teach us to love you as you love us, to forgive as you forgive us. Amen.”

Life is Better with God (And a Dog)

My dog Harry loves to go for walks. We will walk early mornings, late afternoon, sometimes even after the sun goes down. He’ll never pass up a chance to take a stroll.

I always thought I was a pretty observant person in life, but that opinion changed when I started walking my dog.

Suddenly my eyes were open as the two of us walked through neighborhoods, explored new paths, and discovered the true beauty of life.

I’ve seen trees in early spring start to bud. I’ve seen the faces of excited children playing their first organized baseball game. I’ve seen birds gather twigs and build their home on a low hanging branch. I’ve seen glorious sunsets and majestic thunder clouds. I’ve seen fresh white snow on a quiet Saturday morning. I’ve met new friends and connected with old acquaintances.

It’s like I put on a new pair of glasses and the details of the world are now 20/20.

The same thing is true when we walk with God.

When we find a way to open our hearts and let God guide our vision, we suddenly see and hear more than we could ever imagine: the laughter of two people in love. The pain on a lonely person’s face. The power of a touch or an embrace. A cry for help. A smile of gratitude.

When we walk with God, we suddenly discover that the moments of life don’t always have to be monumental. Your moment might be a simple smile or a hearty handshake. It might watching the wind blow through the trees on a spectacular summer day. It might be marveling at a field of flowers.

Your moment may be simply standing still, taking it all in, loving the world around you.

This month theROCK is focused on appreciating the moments of life.

What are the simple moments in your life that you treasure?

What makes them special? Share your thoughts with us.

The Moments of Our Lives

The other day I stopped to put gas in my car. It was an overcast afternoon, and as I got out of the car, the wind began to pick up. Within a matter of seconds, a hard, driving rain soaked everyone and everything in sight.

It was over in a matter of thirty seconds, but I was drenched from head to toe. It was like someone dumped a bucket of water on me.

I got back in my car and headed home. I turned on my heater and wiped the rain from my face. Then… the weather instantly changed again. The sun popped out from the clouds and lit up the sky.

And that’s when I saw it: a double rainbow.

It was magnificent, and it rose majestically from the ground up into the sky. Cars pulled off the road to stare and take photos. I was in awe.

If I continued to obsess about being rain-soaked, I could have easily missed this moment. Instead, I joined the off-road crowd and quickly thanked God for the spectacular beauty of the moment.

How many times have you faced rain in your life? How many times have been soaked from head to toe?

We’ve all been there.

But God knows that without the rain, there is no rainbow.

Life is about moments…both good and bad. What do we learn? How can these moments shape us into better people? How do we learn to appreciate these moments?

You may have a defining moment happening right now, but you’ve missed it because of other distractions.

This month, theROCK is focused on what we can do to savor the moments of our lives.

Meeting Mary

It’s a beautiful spring day, and you’re out for walk in a nearby woods. The sun is shining through the trees, and you stop to rest on a fallen tree trunk.

That’s when you see her. There is no mistaking what’s in front of you. You’re heart races and you fall to your knees.

The woman in front of you is “brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal goblet filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.”

How would you react if you came face-to-face with the Virgin Mary?

For Francisco and Jacinta, aged 9 and 7, and their 10-year-old cousin, Lucia, they experienced visions of Mary a half a dozen times in Fatima, Portugal. (The quote above is their description of their first meeting with Mary.)

Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia said that Mary urged them to pray for peace and a conversion away from sin. This was in 1917, and Europe was in the middle of World War I.

At the time, it wasn’t easy for these children. Many didn’t believe them. The children had been threatened by local civil authorities with death by boiling oil if they didn’t recant their story.

But they held fast and eventually the church recognized the apparitions as authentic in 1930.

What would you do if you were one of these children? Would you be brave enough to share your story, even under extreme scrutiny? What you stand tall, even as people threatened you?

I think we all like to believe that we would be as strong as Francisco, Jacinta and Lucia.

But the true test is this: are we strong enough to share our faith now even without meeting Mary in person?

As we close out the month of May, we honor our new saints, Francisco and Jacinta, with a simple prayer: “Holy Mary, Mother of God, prayer for us sinners, now and at the hour of death. Amen.”

True Devotion to Mary

“If you put all the love of all the mothers into one heart it still would not equal the love of the Heart of Mary for her children.”

Pope St. John Paul II had a strong love for Mary.

When he was nearly fatally shot during his papacy, he credited the intercession of the Virgin Mary, specifically Our Lady of Fatima, with the miraculous saving of his life.

Growing up, Pope John Paul II was influenced in his faith by his local parish and the nearby Carmelites. He also had a very faithful father who regularly took him on pilgrimages to local Marian shrines.

As a young adult, he singles out one overwhelming influence with whom he says changed his life. He developed a strong devotion to Mary because of a book by Saint Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary.

This book had such a lasting influence on him that when he was elected Pope, he chose his papal motto, Totus Tuus, from words written by St. Louis De Montfort:

“As is well known, (in) my episcopal coat of arms … the motto Totus tuus is inspired by the teaching of St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort. These two words express total belonging to Jesus through Mary: “Tuus totus ego sum, et omnia mea tua sunt.” (“I am all Yours, and all that I have is Yours.”).

Who in your life has influenced your faith? Share your thoughts with us.

Honoring Mary