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Catholic Spiritual Direction

Anxiety and Contemplation

February 5, 2012 by  
Filed under Contemplation, Dan Burke, Prayer

Anxiety and Contemplation

father jacques philippe v2…too many people are distressed [have anxiety] because they are not contemplatives. They do not take the time to nourish their own hearts and return them to peace by gazing with love upon Jesus. In order to resist fear and discouragement, it is necessary that through prayer – through a personal experience of God re-encountered, recognized and loved in prayer – we taste and see how good the Lord is (Psalm 34). The certitudes that the habit of prayer inculcates in us are considerably stronger than those that flow from reasoning, even at the highest level of theology.  Fr. Jacques Philippe – Searching for and Maintaining Peace

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About Dan Burke

Dan is the founder of Catholic Spiritual Direction, the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation, and author of the award winning book, Navigating the Interior Life - Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God. Beyond his “contagious” love for Jesus and His Church, he is a grateful husband and father of four, the Executive Director of and writer for EWTN’s National Catholic Register, a regular co-host on Register Radio, a writer and speaker who provides online spiritual formation and travels to share his conversion story and the great riches that the Church provides us through authentic Catholic spirituality. Dan has been featured on EWTN’s Journey Home program and numerous radio programs.

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  • Becky Ward

    Wow…………….this is beautiful!  Thanks Dan!!

    I had to read it three or four times to make certain that I understood it!  :)  I keep seeing this priest’s name….looks like it might be time to get one of his books!!

    • Rita ocds

      A L’ECOLE DE L’ ESPRIT SAINT by the same author is also  worth reading..
      Rita OCDS

  • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

    Becky – I think you would like him. He has a unique ability to go deep but remain accessible – very similar to Fr. Bartunek in that way. There isn’t a single work he has written that I have not benefited from in a significant way. 

    • Becky Ward

      I’ll take your word for it!  If you had to have just one of his books which would it be?

      • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

        That would be “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” because it is relevant for the vast majority of people across the spectrum of spiritual maturity. Even folks who don’t struggle with peace and might be at very advanced stages of spiritual maturity need to know how to help others with this issue… can’t say enough about it. He effectively summarizes the great works of many spiritual masters on the topic.

  • Sandy

    Dan, thank you for the reminder that we need to be contemplative in our prayer life in order to find that peace that the world does not give. We live in a noisy world, but we can always, go to that inner place where God lives and find that peace.  It begins with desire to know Jesus Christ personally, then he will do the rest.  Have a great day!

  • judeen

    conteplation… well still not sure what it is… just try to pray from my heart..meaning every word… puting my whole strenght in my prayer and love…. conteplation?  dont know , but at times it feels like shutting out the world.. and pretending it is just me and God… or being still  and thinking my soul can talk to God , I’ll just wait/ or my breath is taken from me.. not wanting to breath.. stillness. so on… it is not contipation we want to reach , it is our deeping of love for God… and the deep meaning of our prayer… let God do what He wills.. you do just your part.

  • Asydwy

    @Becky313:disqus : In addition I would also add Father Philippe’s book
    titled Time For God…in which the author observes  ” no one ever died
    from hunger because he could not find time to eat”!  And from there he helps the reader overwhelmed with daily activity how to make time for God….in prayer!  Love Father Philippe…thanks Dan for the reminder of this great spiritual author…he is a writer for our time!

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Great book too

  • Karen

    Just ordered the book for Lent.  Thank you and God bless!

  • Clare Northern

    do we contemplate contemplation too much?

    Everyone who wants to KNOW what “will happen” in Contemplation should have examined what “has happened”.One can not look at the Real God unless one looks at the real self looking at the Real God. Clare

    • Becky Ward

      Hi Clare,  Interesting question.

      Can you expand your thought or meaning about what “will happen” and “has happened”?  I’m trying to understand but am stuck.  Do you mean what has happened with God in general – how He has revealed Himself to us, or in regard to the crucifixion, or ….?

      Thank you!

      • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

        Becky, you are asking about “will happen” vs “what happened”…this old intellectual midget finally understood this from reading an uncomplicated little book “Praying Our Experiences” by Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC..and with my racing thoughts and other distractions, you have put it very well in the ”
        cassette tapes” analogy….now I understand what I have been doing, especially when before the Blessed Sacrament….at other times I just keep on chattering to Him….

  • Disney1957

    I take quiet time for God, but other than reading the bible, saying the rosary, and just trying to “still my racing mind” I don’t know what to do during my quiet time. I struggle with racing thoughts and just trying to keep my mind focus on God. I’ve even tried visualization of God being with me…I don’t understand “how to do” contemplative time?

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Dear Friend – I would recommend Father Bartunek’s book The Better Part. If the price is too steep there is a smaller version that does not include meditations on the gospel titled A Guide to Christian Meditation. This would be a start in the right direction. Blessings

    • Becky Ward

      I can SO relate to what you’re saying here!  I have ADD and the racing thoughts part was a real struggle for me because everything I was reading talked about being able to ‘focus’.
      I finally learned that we have to deal with the hand we are given.  We can learn a lesson from cassette tapes….maybe CD’s are made like this too I don’t know, but just as music tracks play different things, one contains the drums, one the melody, another the bass, etc….so too can we have multiple things happening in our brains at the same time.  For me, some of the best illuminations and even healing has happened while I am driving and listening to music.  Both motion and music are good aids for those of us with ADD. It keeps part of our brain occupied and focused….and God can speak to us on another ‘track’. 

      This does not mean we stop trying to find peace and inner quiet…….I think we might struggle more to achieve it, but I’d be willing to bet there are other areas that come more easily to us.

      This is what I believe St. Teresa of Avila was referring to when she describes periods where she had to have a prayer book with her…..she describes her thoughts as wild horses. 

      I would echo what Dan says here….get a book that speaks to you, like the Better Part – Fr. Bartunek has something for everyone in his writing, ….something that draws you in, simply reflect or think about what you’ve read……what comes to mind as you read?  That could be God talking to you. Maybe read it again slowly, and don’t give up!  Thinking about the mysteries of the rosary while praying the prayers is an excellent thing if you can do it……practice makes perfect.  God will do His part if we do ours.

      Be kind to yourself.

  • selizabeth

    Hi I’m brand new to this website tonight!.  Basically I’m trying to learn how to mother (I’m a stay-at-home Mom and have young two toddlers) and procure a deep interior life.    So far I can find time to say the rosary, just started to fit in a 20 min meditation during a baby’s nap and go to daily mass.  Getting up an hour early is not an option as my two toddlers don’t sleep well and I get 5 hours of broken sleep as it is.  I guess I’m looking for any advice on where to go for advice on the matter (saint, biography, book).  I’m desperate for a deeper interior life …it has to be possible as a mother, doesn’t it!?

    • http://www.spiritualdirection.com/ Dan Burke

      Dear Friend – glad you have joined us. The good news is YES! Jesus promise is that if we seek, we will find. Here’s a great place to start. There are many moms with large families that interact on this site and many that I know are very holy and wise and have fought this battle for years. Recently I asked for their advice about this and you can find it in the responses to the post below. Welcome!

      http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog/2011/09/14/your-advice-to-young-mothers-regarding-prayer

    • RebeccaagnesPB

      Hello Selizabeth!  I’m a mother of four grown children and four grandchildren.  I found that I did my best mothering when I learned to pray while doing chores   (laundry, dishes, floors) or walking the kids to school or daily Mass.  Now as the grandma taking care of the grandkids, praying while waiting in the carpool line or making meals seems to be the chores that allow me quiet time with the Lord.  Learning to pray in the noise and busy-ness of life is a real exercise!

  • http://rcspiritualdirection.com/blog Mary@42

     Dan, this sure is little me alright!!!!!…”too many people are distressed [have anxiety] because they are not contemplatives”. I still have to learn precisely what contemplation is….I do not know if my way of dealing with anxious moments would make sense to anyone. As I grow older and living alone, talking aloud to God about anything and everything does help me to calm the raging waters….and before Him in the Blessed Sacrament, after the Divine Mercy Prayers, I just sit quietly;  and even if I do not hear Him, I believe He does speak to my soul during these silent moments