Color When You’re Too Scared to Pray

“Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at his disposition, and listening to his voice in the depth of our hearts.” (Mother Teresa)

Words like these bring my heart to a screeching halt. We have a lot we need in these frightening times. We need money. We need health. We need job security. Or a new job. We need help caring for kids. We need someone to check in on loved ones that live hundreds or thousands of miles away. We need to build our business again or figure out a new way to live a meaningful life. We need someone to understand what we are going through trying to homeschool kids, meet deadlines, and keep a family calm. We need someone to understand our broken heart if we have lost someone to COVID-19. We need someone to care.

Sure, you might say, a saint can say prayer is not asking, prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God. Saints must not have been in such precarious situations as we are today! We feel responsible for making things work, for fixing problems, for building a future, for laying plans.

The weight of our pain is exhausting. It is unfair that we’ve been duped into thinking that it’s all up to us. That if we just work harder… no, not harder, smarter… and put in long enough hours it will all work out…. Hopefully.

And yet this pandemic shows us that we aren’t ultimately able to plan anything for sure. The only sure and certain thing is God and his promise to be with us in the valleys of tears and the mountaintops of glory.

When we’re scared, it’s hard to sit still. When we’re worried, we can’t keep our mind focused on the words of a prayer. When we’ve lost it all, or said goodbye to a loved one over a cell phone, unable to hold their hand at their last breath, we don’t have the energy to kneel and read the comfort of Psalm 23.

If, for whatever reason, you’re finding it hard to pray, I invite you to color. Coloring moves us into a different mental and emotional space, where we can find ourselves stepping back from the push-and-pull of feverishly frantic thoughts. The present moment comes into the foreground. Our hearts settle, and our brains enter a meditative state. Our breathing and heartrate slow down. We begin to rest as we experience the loosening of muscles. Our anxiety begins to fade from our awareness.

Coloring bypasses the rational part of the brain and accesses, instead, that “imaginal” part of us. Negative thoughts begin to dissipate as we focus on creating something beautiful. In fact, coloring has been shown to significantly lower the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Besides coloring yourself calm, coloring can also lead to prayer. I personally love the coloring book Our Lady’s Garden because I feel like I am in Mary’s garden myself while I’m coloring. I re-experience myself as her child, the one she loves and cares for. Coloring books used for prayer and meditation are made to lead your soul to God’s presence and light after you have relaxed your mind, heart, and body.

Here in this calm and translucent space where God’s presence is more powerful than what we fear, we can—as Mother Teresa says—listen to God’s voice in the depth of our hearts. And in these days of world crisis how much we need his voice to soothe our spirits and open up a future that God alone can provide for us!

ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE? HERE ARE 5 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…

God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 6 ways you can join me on the journey:
  1. Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST
  2. Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.
  3. Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace. Enroll in the free 5-day email series introducing Reclaim Regret.
  4. Enroll in courses on Midlife, Contemplative Prayer, and a do-it-yourself downloadable Surviving Depression retreat
  5. Become a part of the HeartWork Community, a place where you can ask the hard questions and find a path to a life that is free, fulfilling and fruitful.

Surviving Depression – A Marian Devotional (The Nativity)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-fj4th-d47a76

We are continuing a series of six Podcasts looking at Light and Darkness – Courage and Faith – Healing and Hope through a Marian Lens. Each episode features an event in Mary’s life and a particular image we have chosen to prayerfully reflect on together. This Podcast Series accompanies the launching of the Third Edition of my book: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach. In today’s episode we explore the first things you’ll want to do to survive depression, what the journey is like, and how the Church and your faith can assist and support your search for healing. We are leaning into our Marian gaze by reflecting on the Nativity.

This is today’s image:

Eleanor_Fortescue-Brickdale_-_The_Nativity.jpg

Image Credit: Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale [Public domain] 1872 – 1945 – The_Nativity
Image is in the public domain.

Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach (Third Edition) available at www.paulinestore.org

 

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…

God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.

Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST.

Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.

Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.

Become a part of the HeartWork Community, A blend of spiritual guidance, mentorship, and counseling, the HeartWork community is a place where you learn to explore, love, open and nourish your heart, your deep heart where God is dwelling within you.

Just keep taking one step at a time: an Easter path through the Pandemic

I’ve known Sr Martha for many years as a sister and personal friend. She has always had this marvelous way of pointing out what is true in a clear way. Her joy makes me want to be near her as she travels the way of the spirit. It’s a grace to welcome Sr Martha to Touching the Sunrise today.

Help children to get through this confusing time…one step at a time.
Let Sr Martha help you introduce them to the story of God’s love for them and the ever-sure foundation of God’s Word.


This warmly-illustrated collection of Bible stories brings the Scriptures to life and helps instill in children a love for God’s word. Each story engages the child in both reading and praying with scripture. 

Includes a section with some of the most beloved Catholic prayers, including the Rosary!

We are pleased to offerMy Bible: God’s Word for Me at a 10% discount online through Friday evening April 17.

Celebrating Easter when the world is turned upside-down – Easter in a pandemic

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-qt3te-d8e8b9

I’m so happy to bring to you an Easter reflection from Sr Marie Paul Curley. She’s such a great writer and has so much experience living through difficult times. Happy Easter! Sr Kathryn

“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb” (John 20:1). 

Our experience of Lent this year has been intensified by the distress and restrictions caused by the worldwide pandemic, resulting in a situation many of us would not have imagined six months ago. At the same time, since mid- Lent we have been distanced from Mass and the immersive liturgies for Holy Week. How do we celebrate Easter when our world has turned upside down and we know that the global dark days are not over?

 

This spring: a long Holy Saturday

This year we are all looking for reasons to hope. Certainly, any bit of news that life might return to normalcy is a reason to hope while we are in the middle of a pandemic and remain isolated in our homes. Holy Saturday, however, invites us into the mystery of waiting, of not knowing, of uncertainty….all things that lead to anguish and anxiety and worry. On the first Holy Saturday, many were hiding, anxious, uncertain about what their lives would be like now that Jesus had died.

But… and this is a great big BUT… God was acting while the earth waited, already beginning to lead all to resurrection and light in the radiance of the glory of the resurrection. We offer this meditation based on an ancient homily on Holy Saturday found in the Office of Readings for Holy Saturday. The first video is a reading of the homily. The second is a reflection in the light of the Exultet which is sung at the Easter Vigil in the evening.

Image by Domenico Beccafumi

Celebrating Easter in a World Turned Upside-Down

Guest Post by Sr. Marie Paul Curley, FSP

“Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning, while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb” (John 20:1). 

Our experience of Lent this year has been intensified by the distress and restrictions caused by the worldwide pandemic, resulting in a situation many of us would not have imagined six months ago. At the same time, since mid- Lent we have been distanced from Mass and the immersive liturgies for Holy Week. How do we celebrate Easter when our world has turned upside down and we know that the global dark days are not over? 

Sharing in the sufferings of the world certainly makes this Easter unique for me, but this is not the first Easter where joyful celebrations felt out of place or even impossible. Several years ago, my Easter was a time of grief and loss: a close friend had just died of a devastating illness and two family members became seriously ill. Something inspired me to take Saint Mary Magdalene as my guide that Easter, and she has accompanied me through my Lents and Easters ever since. Initially, I chose her because of her immense grief at Jesus’ Crucifixion, but the more I prayed with her, the more I was moved by her relationship with Christ. 

Saint Mary Magdalene is the perfect guide through Holy Week and Easter because, even before she met Jesus, she knew darkness and grief on a level that most of us can only imagine: Jesus healed her from seven demons. The Gospels don’t provide any details so we don’t know much about it, but it must have been a terrible experience of darkness. 

When Jesus healed her, her desperate soul must have seen the first glimmer of hope—a hope that blossomed as she became Jesus’ follower. We don’t know how long Mary accompanied Jesus during his public life—a month? a year? Maybe long enough for that new, fragile hope to begin to take root in her heart. Nonetheless, her overwhelming sorrow at Jesus’ Crucifixion hints that her Lord’s suffering and death crushed her tender, newfound hope. She comes to visit Jesus’ tomb not because she has hope, but because she carries immense grief.

Mary’s anguish at witnessing her beloved Master’s tortuous execution left such a profound mark on her that she is the first to come to visit Jesus’ tomb—“while it was still dark.” Interiorly, her soul, too, must have been in the dark. Matthew’s Gospel tells us plainly that Mary Magdalene came to see the tomb. She came to grieve, to mourn, perhaps to try to begin to come to terms with such a great loss.

Mary is focused on his tomb: a place of death, darkness, loss. Her eyes and her heart are so darkened that initially, she doesn’t care about the extraordinary message of the angels, and she will not even recognize Jesus when she sees him. 

This Easter is for us. Easter is not a time for cute bunnies and jelly beans, sunny days and new bonnets. Easter is especially for those of us who, like Mary Magdalene, are burdened by disillusionment, grief, anxiety, suffering, and despair. 

In visiting Jesus’ tomb, Mary Magdalene discovers that even in death, the Lord has not abandoned her. Though she cannot see him yet, Jesus is there in the dark with her, and he brings the dawn with him. Let us, too, approach the darkness in our lives, the “tombs” where hope has died, where joy has been shattered, where faith is so shaky we don’t think we can lean on it anymore. That first Easter morning, it took time for Mary Magdalene to recognize her Beloved Master in the garden; it may take time for us to recognize how Jesus is present today, in our lives and in our world.

This Easter is for us. In Mary’s visit to Jesus’ tomb, she clings to the Source of her hope in the only way she knows. His tomb may be the only place where she feels she can treasure her memories and feel some closeness to the Lord she thinks she has lost. In coming to the tomb, Mary is still clinging to the Lord as best she can. And it is as this loving, persevering seeker of the Lord that Mary Magdalene can inspire us. Her love for Jesus wins out, even over her hopelessness. Her showing up at the tomb enables her to receive the very first hints of the great mystery of Jesus’ Resurrection: the stone has been rolled away, his precious Body is missing. 

This Easter is for us. That first Easter morning, without knowing it, Mary Magdalene engages with mystery—discovering the empty tomb and running to impart the news to Peter and the beloved disciple, even though she doesn’t know what that news means. A few verses later in John’s Gospel (Monday’s reading), Mary is back outside Jesus’ tomb, still weeping for her missing Lord. And it is at that moment that Jesus appears to her, and his tomb is transformed from a place of death into a garden brimming over with Life. Upon finally recognizing Jesus, Mary discovers that Jesus’ love—a love he died to prove to us—conquers all sadness, all grief, all sorrow, even death itself. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls Jesus’ Resurrection “the crowning truth of our faith in Christ” (#638). Christ’s Resurrection is God’s dramatic promise of God’s faithful love, that this world is not the final fulfillment of God’s saving plan for us. Eternal joy awaits us, and that conviction transforms our earthly experiences, not just giving us hope, but also giving us the courage to continue to act lovingly, even amid great sacrifice and suffering. 

In 2020, Easter is the celebration we most need. It is an important reminder to us to become today’s Magdalenes:

  • to seek the Lord, to look for him both at our tombs and in our newly blossoming gardens;
  • to recognize the presence of the Risen Lord, who has not abandoned us, and to allow him to transform us so that we can bring Jesus with us wherever we are; 
  • and to cling to the love of the Lord, allowing the joyful promise of his eternal loving embrace to become always more the anchor of each day, enabling us to live even dark days with serenity and hope. 

Image Credit: Adam Elsheimer – Die drei Marien am Grab Christi

To develop a deeper devotion to Mary Magdalene in your own spiritual life, you may want to learn about the Novena to Mary Magdalene: Saint Mary Magdalene – Novena and Prayers

Surviving Depression – A Marian Devotional (The Visitation)

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-bz6kr-d47a73

We are continuing a series of six Podcasts looking at Light and Darkness – Courage and Faith – Healing and Hope through a Marian Lens. Each episode features an event in Mary’s life and a particular image we have chosen to prayerfully reflect on together. This Podcast Series accompanies the launching of the Third Edition of my book: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach. In today’s episode we explore tips and suggestions for being a friend or family member who is close to someone suffering with depression. We talk about different ways of companioning those who are suffering. We are leaning into our Marian gaze by reflecting on the Visitation.

This is today’s image:

Fra_Angelico_-_Visitation_-_WGA0480.jpg

Image Credit: Fra Angelico (circa 1395-1455) The Visitation
Image is in the public domain.

Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach (Third Edition) available at www.paulinestore.org

 

ENJOYED THIS PODCAST? HERE ARE 4 WAYS TO GO DEEPER…

God has amazing ways of knocking on people’s hearts, awakening desires, arousing questions, provoking an unexpected spiritual fire. If you have enjoyed this article, and are ready to embark on a sustained spiritual journey, here are 4 ways you can join me on the journey. You can learn more about them at touchingthesunrise.com.

Join my private Facebook Group and walk the road of healing with a great group of people. I offer a half-hour live spiritual conference here Tuesday evenings at 7pm EST.

Sign-up for my letter Touching the Sunrise. I write a letter a couple times a month from my heart to yours to support you along the way.

Explore my books: Surviving Depression: A Catholic Approach; Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments; Just a Minute Meditations Deeper Trust and Inner Peace.

Become a part of the HeartWork Community, A blend of spiritual guidance, mentorship, and counseling, the HeartWork community is a place where you learn to explore, love, open and nourish your heart, your deep heart where God is dwelling within you.

All Shall Be Well

https://www.podbean.com/media/share/pb-e3u4z-d722dd

Nothing (read not even the coronavirus pandemic) will separate me from the love of Christ. 

The words of Paul. A hymn. An affirmation. A credo. Nothing at all, neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39.  

Right now, under the barrage of overwhelming media coverage of the pandemic, you probably feel that nothing could separate you from COVID-19. Not government pronouncements, hand sanitizer and disinfectant, stockpiles of toilet paper rolls, not even prayer could free us from the inexorable march through the world of this pandemic. Mounting fear leads to panic. We do things that in life under normal circumstances we are sure we wouldn’t do. 

Julian of Norwich offers another way of understanding Paul’s sentiment. Julian of Norwich, known for her Revelations of Divine Love, was an English anchorite and mystic. Her 16 “showings” are related to the passion of Jesus Christ. She lived in the fourteenth century.

Julian was no stranger to suffering, which she saw as a channel through which God could draw us closer to himself. The line most popularly quoted from her writings is this: “All shall be well, all shall be well, every manner of thing shall be well.” Julian could believe that all would be well, because divine providence brings good even from sin, even from evil, even from disaster. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!