No matter how many divorced Catholics I talk to, I’m always filled with a sense of pain for them. I’ve been through a divorce and know how difficult it is. What hurts more are the Catholics that leave the Church after their divorce. I know the very thing they are searching for, peace and joy, are most fully found in the Catholic Church-the very church they’ve left! For this reason, I want to share with you my thoughts on the healing that can be found through the sacraments and other practices of our Faith.
Our Catholic faith is like a nuclear power plant…it provides an endless supply of God’s power to help us tackle the challenges we face during divorce. The emotions, stress, the new, unwanted way of life all take a toll on our spiritual equilibrium and attitude of hope. If the Catholic faith is the path to regaining balance and restoring optimism, how does one tap its power? Here are three solid ways:
1. Get a prayer life!
The most fundamental way to tap the power of your Catholic faith is through prayer. Catholics knows at least half-a-dozen prayers ranging from the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Memorare, the Angelus, etc. Those prayers are wonderful and should be prayed often. The rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet are also excellent ways to reflect on God’s love for us and trust Him more fully.
There is another type of prayer that is very powerful: meditative prayer. Meditative prayer allows you to better understand the why and how of Christian life so you might live it more fully. While there are many books and materials you can choose to meditate on, the Scriptures, particularly the Gospels, are a great place to start. Take 15-30 minutes in a quiet place-in front of the Blessed Sacrament is always a perfect place-and read a passage from one of the Gospels. Daily Gospel readings are excellent for this. As you read, be aware of a word or phrase that jumps out at you. Typically, this is how the Holy Spirit prompts you. Dialogue with Christ on what that prompting means in your life. End your mediation with a commitment for the day that will help you to more fully live the Gospel message revealed to you.
Don’t get too hung up on finding the perfect prayer. The most important thing is be consistent. That means praying at least 15 minutes every day. Most people struggle with even finding an extra 15 minutes. I suggest establishing a prayer routine that matches the rhythm of your day. For some, that 15 minutes of quiet time is at 5AM… before the day starts and when everyone is still asleep. For others, it is during their lunch break.Whatever works for you, block out that time and pray, everyday.
One recommended prayer routine that works well is 15-30 minutes in the morning and a 5-10 minute review of your day/examination of conscious in the evening. A weekly Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament is an excellent way to really amp-up your prayer life as well.
Several great resources on prayer are: Part Four of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, Spiritual Progress by Fr. Thomas Williams, and Fr. Larry Richards has a very motivating talk on prayer atwww.thereasonforourhope.org. Dig into prayer and begin tapping the incredible power of your Catholic faith.
2. Let the Holy Spirt Be Your Guide
Christ promised to never abandon us (John 4:18) and He fulfilled his promise with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is always present to us. Unfortunately, we are often not open to His loving guidance. We tend to block the Holy Spirit with our own pride that tells us we know best. Another way we block the influence of the Holy Spirit is through sin. Sin is like mud on a windshield. The more we sin, the more we block our view of the path God has laid out for us. Eventually we end up in a ditch. But frequent reconciliation will help clean the mud off our spiritual windshields and keep us sensitized to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. We are so blessed that Christ gave us the gift of reconciliation. To sin is human, to go to reconciliation is divine!
Call on the Holy Spirit before you make any type of significant decision, like a conversation with your ex-spouse, a job interview, attending important meetings/events, etc. Simply utter “Holy Spirit guide me” or use one of the dozens of prayers to the Holy Spirit. One of my favorites is:
3. Take Advantage of the Sacraments
Ready, Set, Go!
There is no time like the present to begin incorporating some of these suggestions for more fully tapping your Catholic faith. A more consistent prayer life, openness to the Holy Spirit, and frequent reception of the sacraments will insure you tap this power. Doing so is sure to bring greater balance and optimism into our challenging lives.