"Lord, only a divine carpenter could re-carve the meaning of the beams of a crucifixion."
"I need a new type of friend, in your good time please provide one."
"Lord drive away the demons of addiction, Help me hate them."
"You have done so much for me, What can I do for you today."
"Like the saints may I diminish and you increase, especially in my sufferings."
"Jesus, why the heck do I waste so much of my time? Please give me something noble to do."
"I am waiting patiently for the day when I complete my offering to God . . . but I do not mind leaving this world. Earth is slipping away and Heaven is drawing near."
How to Examine Your Conscience
1. Place yourself in the presence of God and adore Him.
2. Thank Him. (for his presence and his sacrifice.)
3. Implore the light of the Holy Spirit through the intercession of Mary. (ask for truth to know where you may be confused.)
4. Discuss your faults.
5. Repent and make your resolutions.
Arrange your examination according to the spirit of the day: if it is a feast day or something of particular gravity is happening to you in life compare your pursuit of or lack of virtue to the occasion or saint celebrated. Give thorough consideration to what is happening to you in life and identify your direct actions and thoughts compared to the event or circumstance.
This is one of the methods suggested by St. Peter Julian Eymard.
What is Prayer Anyway? Don't you just say words that don't mean anything to you?
Like good engineers let's look at the mechanics of prayer. Once we understand that we can build a better prayer life and resultant ability to determine goals and actions.
Each person is made up of a body and a soul. Like the drawing
on the right. Okay, not everybody is good at art!
The soul compenetrates the body. It's everywhere. Everything
that happens to the body physically (environmentally or as an interior
function) has an effect on the soul. The soul is the "consciously aware
part of you" So the soul not only knows what happens to the body but
it knows that its "my" body that has been affected. We call this "self"
awareness. You are aware of you. Animals do not do this. Only
human beings have this kind of "self."
The two capabilities of the soul are the intellect and the free will.
Referred to as I and FW in the diagram. The intellect puts our
experiences in order. This is called being rational. Like rations in
the army: breakfast, lunch, dinner, breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Each kind of food served at the right time for the goal
of keeping the soldier healthy. So we are "rational beings" because
our thoughts are put in order with the goal of helping us relate to everything around us according to God's plan.
Our awareness of other things means our thoughts about them need to be put in order so we can understand how we are to relate to them with our bodies (and to think further things about them in our intellects). Built into us are experiences called appetites. These are within the emotional realm. (See in the diagram that the connections between a body and soul are the emotions.) These occur when our "self" knows that the body is expressing a need to be connected with something. Hunger is an example of this. We feel hunger and as a human realize that we not only can meet that feeling with something to make it stop (by eating) but our soul has the ability to determine a preferred way to fulfill the need. So, for example. I will kill a cow and barbecue it because it doesn't even know it's being killed and will be eaten, as opposed to: I will not kill and eat a person because they have the same sense of self that I do and I would not like to be eaten so they probably do not want to be eaten either. So I'd better not start something new that I will later regret when that big dude down the street gets hungry and whips out the charcoal.
Besides cows, kumquats, cue balls and cars our intellects also know about God. It is God who was that first moving force which created all things. Our understanding of God lets us know that God knows us as an individual. We can communicate with some animals in certain ways. We know that we can communicate and interact with other humans is more profound and satisfying ways. We also find that we can communicate and interact with God in the most profound of ways. Other people didn't make us from nothing. God did. We all have an appetite (emotion) for the one who made us. Our obedience to God is what most satisfies us but prayer is the fundamental way that we fulfill our immediate"desire" for God.
This is how we get there. First I know there is a God. Second I decide in my will that I want to be in the presence of that God. Even though I know He is everywhere right now, I now am focused on God by the act of my will wanting to be in God's presence. Once I am in that presence my will makes some more choices. (See the article on how we make choices in the Goals Section.) I decide whether I want to ask God something, whether to tell God something or whether I want to just sit before God and rest in Him. (Think of just holding your girlfriend's hand and watching television. You are not saying a thing. But she is very much a part of you at the moment. God is kind of like that except you are feeding off God and benefiting from Him unlike you can from another human being no matter who they are. God is eternal goodness and light. God is the strength and power of everything greater than the universe and all in it. Yep, that's the God you can pray to and enjoy.
All you have to do to accomplish this is organize some understanding about God and what He wants of you and what He can do for you and then make the decision with your free will to leave the world behind and stand before Him. It is just that easy. The problem is realizing that we need to gain a lot from God in order to return to worldly things and people and know how to relate to them in the way God intends us to. Now you are understanding more about Croisé goals. They prepare you for and lead you into your greatest achievement: bringing yourself before God now: not having to wait until death, judgment and heaven or hell.
HOW WILL GOD COMMUNICATE WITH ME IN PRAYER?
Remember that this is a two way relationship. When you pray you are talking to God but He will also communicate with you. If you are one of the more unusual cases in history God may communicate with you by a voice. But the more regular way that God speaks to you is (1) through the way your body soul relationship reacts and (2) by the way your mind begins to recalculate your questions and observations that you put before God.
BODY AND SOUL
In the above diagram you can see that there are connections between the body and soul. These are your emotions. Sin has caused our emotions to be in chaos. Many of us have spent much of our lives inappropriately pursuing immoral acts to try and placate our emotions. Sometimes we just end up making the emotions more intense and then try to do something with them whenever they pop up which can be quite often and quite troublesome.
When your emotions recede while you pray and desires for earthly pleasures seem very far away God is letting you know that what you are doing in prayer has been good. When you would rather be in prayer than playing a video game or knawing on a bucket of wings you are on the right track. If you find peace and joy in prayer more than hanging with friends then you know that you are converting both your mind and emotions to greater degrees. When this experience begins to happen repeatedly then life begins to have the stress taken out of it because you are realizing that the only reason you were stressed or disappointed or confused was because you were seeking from the sinful world what it cannot give. Only God can help you manage your earthly existence in this way. No humans can do so. We call some of this the reconstituting of the appetites (what you hunger for).
YOUR THOUGHTS AND QUESTIONS CHANGE
You will have many questions for God. But the more you pray you find that your questions are now changing. Why? Did I get the answer I needed so now I'm just moving on to a new question? Sort of. God is moving you along. The Spirit of God will move you on to new questions because God wants you to find new answers and more truth. But oddly, it is in your reformulation of your questions that you reveal what God has already done in you. Along with this you will find yourself changing the observations that you are reporting to God. This is because you are filtering what is around you in a different way. You do not need to relate to someone or something for need or pleasure like you did before because you have God, so you end up just not bothering with what had preoccupied you. But the key here is understanding that this isn't just about "thinking" or "meditating" on something to figure it out. This is about what you are consciously choosing to bring up before God.
Make the choice in your free will to want to be with God and place yourself in a place that is amenable to prayer (especially a church in front of the Blessed Sacrament). God will do the rest. But do not try it once or twice. Keep coming back.
Remember that we are not teaching you courses, Croisé is providing fundamental tips to deepen your self understanding and pursuit of God through Christ.
Why Say Those Old Prayers Over
and Over and Over Again?
We use the Our Father and Hail Mary upon many different occasions. Other faiths do not understand why we do so. These prayers come from Holy Scripture. Holy Scripture is the Word of God in the words of man. A bit odd that many who bemoan those who repeat these prayers are the ones who delight on reading the scriptures over and over and over.
When you pray any prayer directly based on the scriptures you may be the one choosing to bring the words of the prayer into your conscious focus intending God to hear them, but at the same time it is actually God that is speaking to you through His Holy Word! Kind of cool, huh?
What Is Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament?
In the early history of the Church there were two things that bound the believers together. One was the belief in the Resurrection of the Jesus from the dead. The other was the common reception of the Body and Blood of Jesus which He had given to the apostles the night he was betrayed.
Because of both persecution and illness sometimes not all the members could be at the ritual of the Eucharist. So in such cases enough of the Holy Eucharist was kept safe so members could receive it later. . . sometimes in prison or in their home because of illness. This "extra" Eucharist was treated in a reverent manner and usually kept in a special place, especially after the community had church buildings just for the purpose of worship.
Due to the influence of St. Francis in the early 1200s the Church gained a great new appreciation for the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Soon praying in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament became a common practice and became the normal mode of prayer for almost all the saints of the Church since that era.
There are two forms of this type of prayer. The first is adoration. This entails being in the same confine as the Host such as a church or a chapel where a tabernacle houses the Eucharist. The second form is called exposition. This provides those adoring with a visual experience of the Host. Often this is placed in a large highly decorated metal case called a monstrance at the center of which is usually a round piece of the Body of the Lord behind glass. These were decorated much like small tabernacles with images of saints and architectural type qualities. This practice became so common it resulted in Pope Urban IV proclaiming the feast of Corpus Christi, the feast of the Body (Corpus) of Christ.
The rituals surrounding the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament became common and more extravagant. Great processions exposing the Host to crowds along the streets became common upon certain feast days. Many Catholic churches provide exposition at least on one day per month. Some provide it 24 hours a day every day of the month. Croisé recommends participation in exposition literally as often as possible. This is why the monthly Challenge Hour of Prayer is the center of the Croisé experience.
(7th Century hymn from Monastery of Bangor, Ireland
Draw nigh and take the body of the Lord
And drink the holy blood for you outpoured.
Saved by that body and that holy blood,
With souls refreshed, we render thanks to God
Salvation's giver, Christ, the only Son,
By His dear cross and blood the victory won.
Offered was He for greatest and for least,
Himself the victim, and Himself the priest.
Victims were offered by the law of old,
Which in a type this heavenly mystery told.
He, ransomer from death, and light from shade,
Now gives His holy grace His saints to aid.
Approach ye then with faithful hearts sincere,
And take the safeguard of salvation here.
He, that His saints in this world rules and shields.
To all believers life eternal yields,
With heavenly bread makes them that hunger whole,
GIves living waters to the thirsting soul,
Alpha and Omega, to whom shall bow
All nations at the doom, is with us now
(Translation by John M,. Neale, Medieval Hymns)
Is It Lonely
At The Top?
Moses, Elijah and the Lord Jesus went to the top of the mountain to pray. Did they go to escape the rest of the world? They went to find God in order that they could descend and be strengthened by the wisdom gained in prayer and the Divine presence to fulfill their mission.
One of our major goals is to seek every benefit of prayer that we can. For only through placing ourselves in God’s presence can we experience total honesty and a humility which promotes service to the least in the Kingdom of God by proclaiming Christ Jesus as King to them all. The Lord shows us how and when to pray often by going it alone.
It is so easy now to get bored within seconds and turn to the phone. You must engage in the battle and Viola! Croisé. As you hold up the Cross of Christ before the world you can lean against it and it will hold you up in times of questioning, doubts and weakness. Fear not for "I will be with you until the end of the age."
"Lord Jesus, I have looked for beauty in the world and whenever I found it, it seemed fleeting. Now I realize that was because I did not know what beauty was. But now I know that beauty is when something is accomplishing its purpose in the Divine Plan: when it is what it should be.
You became what you should be on the Holy Cross. You fulfilled the reason you entered the earthly realm and becoming human like us. And when you return to us in the form of bread I can see a great purpose in this action. The bread turned body fulfills my need to see you, to talk to you, to reflect upon all you have done for me and takes me away from the darkness into light where I can see both the beauty of your suffering among us and the glory of your heavenly face. Therefore, I know that if you followed that plan unto your human death, with your help I as a human can endure all things to participate in the Divine plan, too. This is my destiny. Help me accomplish this and draw me toward You in this Most Holy and Beautiful Sacrament every day of my life."
From Challenge Hour Talk on May 22 . . . . . .
From The Imitation of Christ Book II, Chapter 8........
........On Familiar Friendship With Jesus.
"When Jesus is present all is well, when Jesus is absent, everything is hard...if Jesus speaks only one word, we feel great consolation...It is a great art to know how to converse with Jesus; and to know how to keep Jesus is great wisdom. Be humble and peaceable, and Jesus will be with thee. Be devout and calm, and Jesus will abide with thee."
In our spiritual vocabulary we do not refer to the Father or the Holy Spirit as friends. Jesus is referred to in such a way because he became human like us....just like all our other friends. Friendship takes time, it usually means that we know someone is relating to what we are experiencing and is there to help us through difficulties and celebrate victories and good fortune. Jesus can relate because he became human just like us.
How many truly good friends will you have in your lifetime? Probably two or three. Why so few? Because thorough knowledge of another takes much time and experience and sharing with them. Trust in another is only truly gained when loyalty is tested many times. We just do not have enough time in life to have many, many good friends. But because Jesus is God and already knows us and dies to prove that we can trust Him we can quickly gain Him as a friend. Growing in that friendship takes commitment. Through prayer and trust in His teaching and forgiveness this friendship empowers us to handle everything in life. There is no moment and no condition that we are in that Jesus will fail to assist us through His companionship. Unlike His own disciples who ran away when He was on the Cross, Jesus has overcome all fear and remains by our side. He remains beside you. You just need to come to know and trust this fact. It is easier to realize this when we gaze at the face of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. He calmly presents Himself to us today and remains with us as He promised before His body ascended to heaven.
"Be pure and free interiorly, without being entangled by any creature. You must be naked and bear a pure heart towards God, if you are to be free, and experience how sweet the Lord is."
Why do the scriptures say that Adam and Eve could no longer be naked? Because they could no longer stand before God as they truly were. They had sinned and now bore the burden of shame. This is the story of man's separation from God. To recover from this Jesus takes the first step to present Himself to us so that we can see Him. Once we look at Him and realize that He does not turn away from us we come to know that we are acceptable as we are. The shame of sin is gone through the coming of Christ.
This realization grows and grows as Jesus is amenable to being exposed in front of us in the Holy Eucharist. No matter how long we look at Him he makes no effort to leave us or even look away. This is the key to Croisé. The reason we lift Jesus up is that we are healed by friendship with the only one who completely knows us and remains loyal to us. Earthly friends come and go. Christ is always with us. Just behold the Eucharist and believe.