Prayer / Spiritual Life

The Deadline That Changed My Prayer Life

Mornings are God’s masterpieces. A new day awakens, filled with potential. The night sky disappears into the heavens, while the sun slowly creeps up out of the distant horizon. Most of the time, I don’t see the sun rise. Dawn comes quite early according to any clock and Carmelite Sisters rise even before the sun does. One day is etched […]

"Into the Wild" © by Jef Murray—(Click sketch for artist's gallery.)

The Biblical Truth About Fasting

Last week, I asked the question, “Are you looking for the secret to a better, deeper, more joyful life in Christ?” and responded by exploring the reasons for the Catholic practice of self-denial. We saw that “fasting and other forms of self-denial, as spiritual practices of materially subduing and controlling the physical appetites of the body, helps us, by God’s grace, to […]

A Lenten Reflection on Christ in the Desert

“…if anyone wishes to seriously exercise the spiritual life, he had better know that the company of people that hold our own faith and worship in our own churches is a most difficult company to keep. And we ought not to pretend we can follow God very far unless we know that it is a desert like asceticism.” I write […]

"The Virgin at Prayer" (detail) by Sassoferrato

Lesson One in Prayer

Let’s get very, very basic and very, very practical about prayer. The single most important piece of advice I know about prayer is also the simplest: Just do it! How to do it is less important than just doing it. Less-than-perfect prayer is infinitely better than no prayer; more perfect prayer is only finitely better than less perfect prayer. Nancy Reagan was criticized […]

In Search of Happiness

“And so, the Beatitudes extol a poverty of spirit, sorrow over evil or loss, meekness, a hungering and thirst for righteousness, mercy, a purity of heart, peace-making, and a willingness to accept persecution for what is right.” Every New Year, we’re presented with an opportunity to set new goals and make resolutions toward a better life. It’s a time for […]

The Temptation of St. Anthony (detail) by Lucas van Leyden [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

St. Anthony on Spiritual Reading

  St. Athanasius (A.D. 296-373) was the Bishop of Alexandria and is a Doctor of the Church. He tells us that his orthodox heart was formed in the desert where he used to serve St. Anthony (A.D. 251 – 356), and out of this service came the spiritual masterpiece The Life of Antony. This biography alone is a wonder worth […]

Finding Time to Breathe

Suffice it to say that everyone is “busy” these days. Some of us use the word loosely, as an excuse to bypass the things in life we’d rather not face, what’s inconvenient, or what we view as boring. Others of us (the majority, I’d argue) are truly busy. We shuffle kids to and fro—school, extracurriculars, doctor’s appointments, and the like—and […]

Photography © by Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles

Lord, Open My Lips and My Mouth Will Proclaim Your Praise

“Lord, open my lips and my mouth will proclaim your praise.” (Psalm 51:15) These words ring out in the chapel, breaking the silence of the early morning. It is still dark outside and our community of sisters, albeit still a bit bleary-eyed, has gathered to begin the day singing the Divine Office. The words of the psalms fill the air: “It […]

"Suffer the little children to come unto me." (detail) by Carl Bloch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

All of Life is Bittersweet

Come, Lord, and tarry not; Bring the long looked-for day; Why these years of waiting here, These ages of delay? (Advent hymn) I left the neuropsychologist’s office dumbfounded. If Sarah had received a diagnosis of autism, I would have understood. If ADHD had been a resounding secondary diagnosis to her Apert syndrome, I wouldn’t have flinched. But, in fact, I […]

Pinpricks of Light and Prayer

I had a dream last night. It was just a brief moment, almost like a page in a story book. In the dream, a husband and wife were lying in bed under a puffy quilt, comforting, soft, and large. The couple was relaxed and sleeping deeply and soundly. The room was midnight blue, except for a gentle shaft of butter […]