LIFE, MARRIAGE & FAMILY: Maintaining a strong spiritual life in a busy world
By Dr Rachel Bradley, Director of the Office of Life, Marriage and Family
We live in a busy, noisy world. In more and more ways, the general atmosphere of society is becoming increasingly antagonistic towards Christians. How are we to maintain a strong spiritual life as Catholic lay men and women? How do we manage to live IN the world but not be OF the world?
Time is precious, and despite all our labour-saving devices, we seem to have less and less of it. Where do we find the time to connect with God? Our relationship with Him can’t be squished into an hour a week at Sunday Mass or a few snatched minutes here and there if we are to really grow in holiness. We can no longer rely on the general culture to carry us along and help us, in most ways it seems to be pushing us very strongly in the other direction, away from God.
Sometimes we have the desire to get to know God better, we sense we need to go deeper and change our lives so that we can develop a mature spirituality. This thirst for God can fizzle out as we make attempts to pray that seem fruitless. We don’t know how, or we think our prayer is useless as we are constantly pulled away by distractions.
St Teresa of Avila, one of the Doctors of the Church, whose feast day we celebrate on 15 October, tells us that it is of the utmost importance that someone who has decided to set out on the journey to union with God NEVER gives up on prayer. It is very difficult to keep trying to connect with God in a regular way when we feel like we are no good at this prayer business, we don’t sense God’s presence, or we don’t feel like anything is happening as a result of our efforts. St Teresa knew how easy it was to give up the struggle, even for people living long before smart phones and televisions were around. She also knew that as we grow in prayer and holiness, through perseverance and letting God purify us of all the things that get in our way, we can get to a place where we can’t imagine a life without prayer. It is the oxygen to the life of our soul.
Make the choice to give time to God, start small but be consistent. Remember, the attempt to pray is prayer. Where you spend your time tells you your real priorities. He offers us everything, but we have to accept it. He won’t force His love on us and if we choose to spend the limited time we have distracting ourselves with a constant stream of entertainment, consumerism and banality, we become less and less able to hear His voice.