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Old 03-12-2015, 02:34 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Step Eleven: Sought thru prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

One of the best things about working the Steps has been a renewal of my spirituality apart from my cradle faith which was not a good match for my personality.

For Lent in 2014 I incorporated meditation into my day. It has greatly helped me as rote prayer had never been something I was comfortable with. First off I have terrible memorization and so rote prayers fly out of my head. I liked meditation so much that I have been using it diligently for most of the year. Working the Steps freed me to pray in my own words with a lot more confidence and seeking my HP where I find her - and it is not in church.

This Lent I decided to focus on meditation again and work on Step 11. This Step is slightly out of order for me, but I've been told by several recovery peeps that this is the only step that can be done of out order. My Step 9 is a bit stalled out, so this is a good use of time.

Yesterday I began answering the questions provided here and there were two things I wanted to read a bit on - what is prayer and the concept of discernment.

Prayer - "a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship."

I do pray, I stick mostly to intercessions for others. I never really prayed for myself or for things to work out a certain way. I guess my approach to prayer alludes to my basic understanding that I was not in control of the outcome. It also reveals that I felt that I was not worthy of a personal relationship with the patriarchal God of my faith.

A secondary definition of prayer is "a religious service, especially a regular one, at which people gather in order to pray together." I was raised doing this in my faith. I've got to admit this God has never spoken to me in a formal setting and even to this day I feel a great emptiness inside a church. I like churches, but I don't particularly feel close to God in one or at service. It has been a very sad thing for me and has cause a lot of guilt and worry that I do not feel close to God with this kind of ritualized prayer.

Recently I've been mixing meditation and prayer is that when I first start to clear my mind, I purposely try to think about who asked or needs an intercession. And I pray for them and then send them out of my mind with good will. So when the meditation really starts, all of these little events and encounters and tragedies are sort of already covered.

A third definition of prayer is "an earnest hope or wish." Working Step 11 is an earnest hope or wish to renew one's faith.

Next time I'll write a bit on Discernment as I feel like that term should be reviewed when considering the second clause of Step 11.
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Old 03-13-2015, 10:40 AM   #2 (permalink)
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If Step 11 could be boiled down to one word, I think that word would be 'discernment.' The general definition of this word is ' to judge well.' The Christian definition is a lot more involved - 'perception in the absence of judgment with a view to obtaining spiritual direction and understanding.' Yep, Step 11 is discernment.

Discernment is a bit tough for me as my Roman Catholic patriarchal God never spoke to me. I've spent a lot of time in church - stations of the cross, school masses once a week, weekend mass, weddings, eucharistic adoration, missions, praying for vocations, the rosary, funerals, and even penance services and God has never spoken to me. I didn't craft a personal relationship with a silent God. I didn't feel close to a God that appeared to require rote prayer and ritual as the means of one-way communication. So when it came out that Mother Theresa had very dark times in her faith as God did not speak to her for long spells, I could grasp that loneliness she must have felt since at one time God talked to her.

Despite this, discernment has some usefulness in determining how to determine what is the right path. I really liked this particular website's general principles of discernment (Discernment by Peter Kreeft). I am going to summarize the 5 principles of discernment here:
1. Always use data
2. Let your heart educate your mind
3. Have a soft heart but a hard head
4. All of God's signs should add up (scripture, church teaching, human reason, the appropriate situation or circumstance, our conscience, our individual desire, and prayer)
5. Look for the fruit's of the spirit (particularly love, joy, and peace).

I really like these discernment steps and may try to use them with the issues I continue to struggle with - self forgiveness and the loneliness in my marriage.
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Old 03-17-2015, 02:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Today I reviewed my written notes from the questions and what I have summarized above. I have a 21 day meditation program that started 3/16 that will take me through the rest of Lent.

I feel that this update will complete my written review of Step 11. After Easter (April 5th) I plan to start working on Step 10. I think a daily review practice will fit nicely with how Step 11 is not something that ends. I think that is why this is considered a 'maintenance' step. Your spirituality should could continue to grow and deepen.
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