March 30, 2020
Dear Corpus Christi Family,
You have heard me mention a few times in my Sunday homilies the invitation to give God 1% of your day, which is 14 minutes and 40 seconds. Around how we spend our time with God is highly individualized. There’s no right or wrong way. There are many roads up the mountain. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work for another. What is important is that we pray. I would like to suggest a way that has been most helpful to me when I’m somewhat restless or unsettled, and many of us are feeling that right now as we go through an unprecedented time. I suggest the calming balm of a mantra.
So, to set the scene think of your children and/or grandchildren. Children know how soothing repetition can be. They often love to hear the same stories, sing the same songs, and recite the same nursery rhymes again and again and again. I remember as an uncle of 18 nephews and nieces sitting down with them and watching the same Disney animation repeatedly. I would often find myself humming and singing a Disney song in my mind at 2:00 a.m. in the morning while trying desperately to fall asleep.
An adult way to rediscover the calming effect repetition can have on our spirits is through the use of mantra prayers. A mantra is a short prayer phrase, usually eight syllables or less, which is repeated over and over, silently or aloud, in conjunction with our breath. One could say that the rosary and the chaplet of divine mercy are mantras. Those of you who pray the rosary and/or the chaplet of divine mercy on a regular basis know the soothing effect of repetition.
Mantras can be used in almost limitless ways to help you slow down for prayer; as a way to focus your restless mind in prayer; to remind yourself of God’s presence; or as an aid to help you through a challenging time, to name just a few possibilities.
This is how to do it:
- Choose one of the following mantra prayers or create your own and repeat it over and over for 14 minutes and 40 seconds. You’ll want to set your timer.
- Sit up straight with your palms open resting on your legs.
- Pray part of it as you inhale and part of it as you exhale.
- With each repetition, imagine yourself descending a set of stairs step by step to the very center of your being where God awaits you.
God is with me
Gentle God comfort me
Spirit of God help me
Creator God guide me
Loving God I need you
Comforting God quiet my fears
God is near God is here
God of peace calm me
Indwelling God strengthen me
Compassionate God be with me
I conclude with an account from the Book of Exodus. The Israelites are hemmed in with the Red Sea on one side and the Egyptian army on the other side. With no where to go they cry out to Moses and this is Moses’ response: “Do not fear! Stand your ground and see the victory the Lord will win for you today. For these Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you have only to keep still” (Exodus 14:14). Moses will then extend his staff over the Red Sea and God will split the Red Sea in two, and the Israelites will pass through the sea on dry ground and be free from the Egyptians.
“You have only to keep still”. Try a mantra.
My blessing is being your pastor now, and for many years to come.