The members of the Society of Prayer are from a variety of backgrounds, educationally and culturally. Those that are privately vowed have their own hermitage and live a hermit or semi-hermit type of spiritual life. Some are single, and some are married, leading their entire family along a path of dedicated prayer. Sometimes, this can be an isolating process and path. Those who are called to pray are not easily understood in today's society.
But you do not have to be a hermit to be reclusive enough to be lonely. I have been on the internet in one form or another for many years. The most recurring problem that I hear from people, regardless of their situation, is this. The main complaint I hear from people is one of loneliness.
Loneliness, please understand this, has little to do with being alone. Many people who are married and have busy lives and several family members living with them are extremely lonely. Loneliness is an extreme feeling of disconnection and is almost always a situation of perspective and a lack of the ability to cope. Loneliness can also be the result of the weight of regret and the inability to find a way out. It is sometimes the feeling that you are fighting the entire world...all alone.
Here is a confession. All of us, no matter who we are, get lonely. All of us have moments when we feel like no one understands, and no one is there for us.
The good news is there is some comfort to be had here. We all suffer as humans from occasional disconnection and isolation. But we have, as Christians, as believers, especially as people of prayer, a friend who is always there for us. This friend is often ridiculed as a fake and invisible force, something unworthy to believe in, especially in a rational and modern world.
I disagree. We need, now more than ever, this help, this divine assistance. I invite you to pray. I invite you to a life of prayer. I encourage you to fill your hours with less negativity, provide time for good things that lift your spirits, instead of depressing you. Learn to appreciate your own desires and weaknesses. Learn to be comfortable with you...because you have to spend a lot of time with that person...that is...you.
Accept yourself, the good and the bad. Stop destroying yourself with doubts. Stop attacking you.
Reach out and show love to others. Displaying love works wonders in getting your mind off possible selfish desires.
And finally, lean on the arms of Jesus Christ. The Lord loves you so very much. There is acceptance, forgiveness and understanding.
Many times loneliness results when we attack ourselves. We must learn to not only forgive others, but also to forgive ourselves.
And most importantly, remember that you are not alone.
Psalms 147:3 tells us He heals the brokenhearted.
1 Peter 5:7 says to cast all our anxieties on Jesus...because He cares so very much for us.
Do not be afraid. God loves you and I love you.
Sr. Bernadette Maria
One of the first questions in the Bible, in the Old Testament, and specifically from God is this:
“WHERE ART THOU?”
How amazing that God is seeking man. And in fact, the Old Testament if filled with this theme, God seeking man. Appearing in various forms, a cloud, a man, an angelic being, a smoke or mist…
Of course, the first question is truly from Satan, in the Garden of Eden:
“Did God say that?” (paraphrasing)
First, there is a doubt placed by the all-time enemy of man, put into the brain to distract. Then there is of course the partaking of the forbidden fruit…and ultimately the first question of God. And His question is not a condemning question, as man was already aware of his sin. God’s question is one of desire and passion, of genuine caring and seeking of a lost soul.
Contrast this to the New Testament, from man:
“Where is He…” Meaning…where is the Messiah? Where is God? Where is the King of the Jews?
By the time of the New Testament, Satan and his demons are masters of the questions. Satan boldly questions Jesus’ faith in the desert—and his demons question and ask Jesus “Why are you bothering us?” a paraphrase of “What do we have to do with you?”—just seconds before demons are driven out of a man. Satan is bolder, no longer the snake in the garden, an honest chat and direct words.
But in the middle of all these questions and many more, the fact remains very clear. The Old Testament is God seeking man, and the New Testament is Man seeking God.
May we answer God’s question with sincerity and devotion and say…HERE I AM, LORD!
Sr. Bernadette Maria
Cardinal Newman once described history as a " recurring of spring time."
It was never ended, he was telling us. Always new, fresh, and evolving.
In the times of prayer, you will also come to experience the journey like this.
But I think often we must let go of a bit of baggage that we pick up through the years in our seeking and understanding. For every moment we journey through, and every season of grace, we must let go all that has passed before—and begin again. It is like having a blank piece of paper.
We often speak of prayer, like all our spiritual activity, as " My prayer," or “My Rosary," or “My retreat,” and so on. In a Hermitage, you soon come to understand it is the prayer of the other. The prayer of Christ in you. You are not the one who is seeking, but the one God has come seeking.
Those who have a ministry of service who sometimes listen to the pilgrims who are seeking God, or guide those who are just beginning down the path of the journey of prayer often point to what can be described as a poverty of presence.
People are looking in the wrong place. For some, the pain of the past, and their hurts and disappointments, are all very real. And it is important to acknowledge this and listen to what has happened to them. There is a time for everything.
Certainly, in our journey of prayer, silence, and solitude there is no escaping the past. Everything, even things we have buried, will be drawn out into the light. It is like peeling the layers of the onion away until we get to the very core of our true selves—and how God sees us.
But there are also those who are sadly so wounded that their past informs everything about their present, and they never seem to move forward to find God, where He truly is. We then see pilgrims who are seeking the mythical paradise. Such that, if they had everything, they dreamed that if obtaining the perfect house, car, and so on, life would be so good. But the truth is they still would not be happy and would always want more.
The God of love, mercy, and compassion, who comes seeking us always, does this in the present moment. Christ is in our midst. The Kingdom of God is in our midst in this present moment. It is not in some faraway place, but within us. “The Kingdom of God is within you.”
Prayer like history is an ever-unfolding journey. That blank piece of paper that is being written on by the goodness of God. It is always about new beginnings.
A spring time for our lives, and journey of the soul. Every moment of prayer just lives every time a sacrament is celebrated—every moment of silence, a new beginning for us, personally, in the church, and with humanity. It is a starting over again with that blank piece of paper.
An associate of the community.
Paul reminds us in his first letter to the Corinthians that we see through a dark glass, and we only have a glimpse of the other side. (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Oftentimes we are afforded these glimpses at key moments of our lives, just when we need that glimpse the most.
Daniel had the glimpse when the angel shut the lions’ mouths. Jacob had the glimpse when he wrestled with "the man." Moses saw God’s backside. The three Hebrew children caught a glimpse when the fourth man in the fire showed up.
Miracles and God’s presence happen more than we realize. We just have to be aware of God’s presence in our lives. I truly believe that we all have angels guarding us. That delay that caused you not to get in the accident might be a glimpse of the other side. The job that you received or even did not receive so something else better would come along would be another glimpse of God’s divine presence.
The other realm, the one that we ultimately will reside in, is just a moment away and many times interacts with us.
We get a glimpse of the other side when God pours out love and encouragement into our hearts during our darkest hour of the night. In the still of our midnight, during our storms, Jesus is there to whisper peace.
The best way to connect directly to the other side? I would answer PRAYER. This is why our order prays seven times a day, or even more. We connect to the other realm. We seek God’s will, and then we ask for the grace to accept God’s will, a task sometimes hard to do.
I invite you to connect to the other side and pray with us. I also ask that you ponder those times of frustration when you didn’t get what you want while praying diligently. Perhaps, I would suggest, there are times that God intervenes in the negative just as He does in the positive.
God’s answers to our prayers, even His seemingly great rejections, are in line for our good, to those who love Him and are called, the Bible says. (Romans 8:28)
Seek today the mystery of the other side. You may need a glimpse behind the dark glass, a touch from above to get you through the tough week. Don’t be surprised when you receive that glimpse from heaven.
God bless you all
Sr. Bernadette Maria
During this time of Lent, let us not be so proud or better than anyone else that we lose sight of our goal of unity.
Dear brothers and sisters, do not look down on those that stand instead of kneel, that chant instead or read, that fast instead of give...we all have our unique situations, backgrounds and traditions. I have orthodox friends that stand more than I kneel. I have some friends that sing more than pray. I know people that do not fast at all, but give their entire life to the service of Christ...their fast is giving.
No matter your tradition during this season, may we all recognize our need for God. Take these symbolic 40 days and ask yourself this question: Am I open to look at myself honestly? And then ask: Am I open to look at Jesus and the cross. For you see, as you focus on Jesus, your view of self will change, and perhaps, by grace, you yourself will change.
I focus on the cross not because I am morbid or sedentary or discontented. I glory in the cross because I am grateful. A grateful heart and life will change you. Be content. Learn to be content and grateful. Learn to place your needs at the cross of Calvary. And you will soon find a drift from selfishness to a life of glory.
Galations 6 tells us
14. But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ; by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world. 15. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
So...this Lent, and always...put aside self...put aside differences...seek Jesus. There is newness in the Cross.
God bless you all
Sr. Bernadette Maria
It is better that we begin to make the journey of prayer.
The Brothers and Sisters of Christ in our seven times of prayer each day.
Often we may feel that our prayer is so poor that we are just beggars=
That all we do is knock on the gates of Paradise asking for mercy in the time we have.
Time the illusion.
"Remember O Man you are bust dust,
And to dust you shall return."
There comes a time when we understand that we are perhaps halfway or more through our life time.
We glimpse in the distance the finishing line none of us can escape.
Where did the years go ?
The endless years stretching out before the child.
The promise of adult life with all the possibility and adventure before it.
Then gradually the reality begins to set in.
We look back and are thankful for some things=
But also there is sorrow for our sins.
The missed opportunities and graces.
And now , "Remember O Man you are but dust , and to dust you shall
Time moves ever more rapidly the older we get.
In a Hermitage our time slips away back in to the eternity.
How quickly the days and months of our solitude pass .
It is like sand running through our fingers.
The only lasting wisdom is to turn to God while He gives us time.
To knock on those gates constantly asking for mercy.
And not just for us , but for all those we love and pray for.
The Brothers and Sisters in unity of prayer asking the Lord to hear them.
Dying is a lifetime's work for us .
Dying from the "I " in us to discover our true identity.
Dying to love and be with the "one" who is the lover of mankind.
All this is what our repentance is really about.
We have nothing to fear on this journey.
The end is only the beginnin .
The end is the point that we start from.
And the very best will be yet to come for each one of us .
By an associate of the community.
How exciting it is to welcome the Christian season of Lent. But what is Lent?
Lent is a season of repentance. From the earliest days of Judaism, there was a Hebrew word that was pronounced tshuva or teshuva. The word meant return.
Repentance was a step in the process of atonement of sin.
I think of the Beatles’ song, “Get Back.” Get back to where you once belonged.
Spring is just around the corner, and soon there will be spring cleaning done. Out with the old, and in with the new. And repentance is the cleaning out of the soul, if you will. It is a symbolic period of forty days before Easter.
And the number 40 was often used in the Bible to denote a time after a trial period. The rain 40 days and 40 nights. The 40 years of wandering. The 40 days of fasting for Jesus.
So, consider this time before Easter your trial time period. This is your time to get ready and to clean up.
I give you a challenge. Pray the book of Psalms this Lent. It only takes about 5 hours or so. You can order it online and even listen to it. Play the Psalms in your car, or at home.
The Psalms are real-life emotions. There you will find happiness, sadness, misery, betrayal, arrogance, condescending attitudes and even rudeness and raw spirit. The Psalms will help you connect with God like nothing else.
I want to welcome the new members that have joined us…yes, we are growing. Our idea of prayer is catching on. If you have been on the fence…join our group and start praying seven times a day, prayers of your choice, but pray. Our world needs prayer like no other time.
God bless you and happy spring cleaning.
Sr. Bernadette Maria