Pope John XXIII defined prayer as “the raising of the mind and heart to God. We must always remember this,” he said. “The actual words matter less.”
We have “raised our minds and hearts to God” constantly since the curse of Harvey. Floods, I believe, are the work of evil.
As when, early on Aug. 29, after Steve dialed 9-1-1. I started staring at the water, feeling strangely attracted. The flood seemed to be curiously beckoning me.
“Look, the water, it’s only up to the hammock,” I said, “looks only waist deep. We can walk, why don’t we just walk? We can get out on Kingwood Drive!”
“They said not to go anywhere,” Steve replied. “They said, ‘Stay where you are!’”
I looked back. A garbage can, along with other things, were all traveling down the street in a strong current.
That could have been me! I could have been high ground for a squirrel or a snake, or gotten swept away in filthy waters. The current was so strong, in fact, that our rescue boat could not fight it. All we could do was travel downstream; had to go with its flow.
In early December, we bought a home at the lake, where we had had a weekend condo. We loved it, so it was a shock when, two months later, we found another home we loved even more, with bigger rooms.
Thinking we were crazy, but blessed to be able to do it, we purchased our dream home. We called movers and moved a second time in four months.
This, all amid much worry and stress. We survived it all, with God and faith, and also with the consolation of Spiritual Direction (S.D.), a great gift of our faith.
S.D. is not psychoanalysis, but it is a spiritual conversation meant to uncover obstacles that prevent a close encounter with a loving God. The director listens and asks questions, assisting in the process of reflection and spiritual growth.
Our priests, who dedicate their entire lives to serving God and His people, sometimes provide monthly S.D. Otherwise, a qualified, church-trained lay person can do it.
Spiritual Direction has its roots in early Christianity. The gospels describe Jesus serving as a mentor to his disciples. Acts of the Apostles, Chapter 9, describes Ananias helping Paul grow in his newfound experience of Christianity. Paul’s epistles describe his mentoring of both Timothy and Titus, among others. Tradition tells us that John the Evangelist tutored Polycarp, the second-century bishop of Smyrna.
One way S.D. brings spiritual and emotional peace is by recognizing and controlling our thoughts. Thoughts have everything to do with feelings, even affecting our health. We have regrets and become depressed, lonely, disappointed and fearful. Positive thoughts can cause us to love, laugh, relax and feel confident and healthy.
Since thoughts directly control how we feel any given time, wouldn’t it be great to have the tools to control what we are thinking and change how we feel?
In S.D. we recognize and identify negative thoughts which allow evil to dominate and pull us away from God’s peace. S.D. facilitates in finding the lie in our thinking, and, by the power of the Holy Spirit, renouncing it, rejecting negative thoughts and commanding them to leave.
Recognizing God as Truth, we replace the thought with scripture, God’s love, or calling the name of Jesus, since, among the spiritual weapons in our arsenal, there are none as powerful as the Holy Name of Jesus.
By calling on Jesus, we are crying like St. Peter did as he drowned in the waves, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:30.
Saints healed the sick, conquered temptation, demolished heresies, drove away demons, and converted sinners by invoking this powerful name in prayer.