Sorry for the annual (does two years in a row make something annual?) hiatus between posts at the start of the school year. Hopefully I will be back to normal posting now that school is in full swing.
Speaking of school, it is my career as a teacher that first taught me a lesson I have now applied to the spiritual concepts gleaned from Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God.
Normally I don’t condone behavior contrary to the Ten Commandments, but all teachers know that the number one rule of lesson planning is simple:
Beg, borrow, and steal.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard veteran teachers say, “Don’t reinvent the wheel.” They think if something works for someone else and it sounds good to you, you should try it in your own room. And they’re right.
However, as any teacher worth their salt knows, you have to adapt it to your style, and, more importantly, the learners you are working with, if you really want it to be effective.
I’ve found it much the same with practicing God’s presence.
I think it’s really hard to do what Brother Lawrence is suggesting. Almost impossible. Constant awareness of God’s presence? It’s hard enough to find twenty minutes to spend in meditative prayer, for crying out loud. But what I’ve noticed is that all of the people I know who have personal relationships with Christ already do this in their own little ways.
So I steal them.
I remember being on a school retreat and hearing one of my coworkers start a prayer by saying, “Good morning, Jesus…”
I thought it was silly at the time, but now I find it is often the best I can muster when I roll out of bed.
One of my best friends told me that one way to enhance your meditation while praying a rosary is by giving Jesus a title when you say his name in each Hail Mary. For instance, if you were praying the first Sorrowful Mystery, the Agony in the Garden, you would say something like: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus – the suffering King. Holy Mary…”
So sometimes now when I pray my rosary, I will do my own version of that. Instead of stating a title, I say something to Jesus: “the fruit of thy womb, Jesus – you chose to suffer for me. Holy Mary…”
Whatever reminds us that we are constantly cloaked in the love of Christ is a worthy practice.
When I see or hear about other people doing little devotions or pieties like these, I often scoff, telling myself that they are just trying to draw attention to themselves or seem like the best pray-ers or like the holiest holy roller. But that’s because I am a prideful and insecure prat sometimes.
We should do what wakes us up to the spiritual realities we often ignore, regardless of what others think. And if sinners like me think you are something you are not, then “blessed are those persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
We must find ways to be jolted by God, to feel the warm tingle of the Holy Spirit’s breath on the skin of our souls, to remember that the Father exists in all that exists because He IS.
This is hard to do. So we have to help each other.
“In your love, my salvation lies.”