Sunday, November 25, 2012

The Need for Ongoing Conversion & Sanctification

Sanctification by Association
     I’ve known for a while now that I need to be better about designating time for personal prayer.  I mentioned to John that we miss having him living nearby, because his prayer practices so often inspire Kevin and me to go to daily Mass more frequently and have a more Christ-centered focus in general.  We’ve been to Mass with him three out of the four days he’s been home from seminary for Thanksgiving.

Nanny Nudges
     Another very powerful nudge has come from being Godparents and nanny to the girls.  The other day, I came down from putting one of the twins to bed, and saw Vivi crossing herself and finishing up with “and the Holy Spirit” before continuing to eat her fruit snacks.  That warmed me, made me smile, and reminded me that children are such sponges.  On a yet another day when things were so hectic at lunchtime with three small children that I didn't remember to say grace with them, Vivi stopped mid-afternoon snack to bless herself without being prompted.  That afternoon when all three of them were napping, I prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, inspired to be a person lifted up in love and grounded in prayer, especially when responsible for nurturing little bodies, minds, and souls. 

Inspiration & Accountability
     I know I can’t and shouldn’t rely on others to inspire or motivate me to maintain a solid prayer life.  I can be open to having spiritual mentors and friends help keep me on track if I am willing to open myself up to their suggestions and correction.  It does help immensely to have loved ones who genuinely want God to be first in their lives, because that desire and approach to life does where off and affect others.  Ultimately, if I look to someone other than Christ, then I will not always be fed, nor will I be filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit so that I can serve others with love and compassion.

Taking It to the Top
     When I ask and am open to the answers, the Lord can be pretty specific with me about what I need to do.  I must admit that I wish I considered this more of a blessing and a lifeline than a scary reality check.  Sometimes the message is short and insistent: TRUST. Other times it’s a list of different aspects of my life that I need to put in God’s hands and leave them there (all of them), then a reminder to check back in regularly to listen for further instructions.     

Making Prayer a Priority
     It was sometime between 3rd and 5th grades that I began praying an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be every night before falling asleep.  I would get up early, usually before my mom and sisters woke up, to pray in high school.  I would often pray the Rosary to reflect on the highlights of Christ’s life.  I also read some spiritual books and found some other prayers that really spoke to me at that time in my life.  I would pray quite a bit throughout the day as I walked from one class to another.  I had lots going on in my family at that time, so it was usually pretty heavy on my heart to pray and ask for God’s help and strength.

Prayerful Vocation Discernment
     I struggled and prayed quite a bit about what God intended for my relationship with Kevin long-term as our big age difference, my family’s concerns, and a myriad of other issues kept me clinging to the Lord as I discerned whether marriage or the consecrated religious life would be my main vocation.   When I was dating Kevin and praying, pleading, begging for his conversion or rather reversion to the Catholic faith in which he was raised, I prayed frequently and fervently.  I knew that was the best way to be open to how God might work in and through me to show Kevin His love. 

Suffering Leads to Seeking God’s Will
     Watching those I love suffering brings me to my knees.  When I see others in pain—be it physically, emotionally, or spiritually—I’m much more willing to let God use me however He wants to alleviate their heavy burden.  I no longer place limits on what I will do or go through so that the person I love will be comforted, receive healing, and be drawn closer to the Lord.  Though I often do it with fear and trepidation, I rededicate my life: mind, body, and spirit to the Lord.  I ask Him to “plant His will in my heart and make it my deepest desire and most fervent longing” something the Holy Spirit inspired me to write in one of my prayer journals years ago. 

Here are some other posts, articles, and resources you might find helpful for ongoing conversion and sanctification:

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