What are some recommendations on things we can do to help us focus/seek what is above (Colossians 3:1-2)? My current outlook on life is one of disappointment. Current worldly events and people (in general) can be disheartening, but what are good ways to focus on the kingdom waiting for us? Just as a way to stop us from getting bogged down by all the negativity around us. Thank you in advance.
Start with prayer. Like St Teresa of Avila said, prayer is the greatest of all gifts, the channel through which God grants us favors, the beginning of all virtue.
One way to not get bogged down by negativity is to avoid social media that gets controversial or argumentative. Another is to limit the amount of news you take in be it by internet, television or newspaper. Too much can drag you down and make you feel hopeless.
In his book, Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Heaven, Peter Kreeft presents a vision based upon author Richard Purtill’s ideas of three basic tasks that we might have in heaven/the new earth that I find fascinating. It is based upon scripture and tradition and the writings of certain Christian thinkers and visionary saints of what that might be like.
Here’s a quote from page 52-53 of the book:
“First we review our past life with divine understanding and appreciation of every single experience, good and evil: we milk all our meaning dry. Then we do the same to others’ lives from within. We know them more intimately and completely than we could ever know our most intimate friend on earth because we share God’s knowledge of each one. When these two preliminary lessons are complete–when we know, love, understand, and appreciate completely by inner experience everything we and everyone else have ever experienced–only then are we spiritually mature enough to begin the endless and endlessly fascinating task of exploring, learning, and loving the facets of infinity, the inexhaustible nature of God.”
I often think of this view of the afterlife. It’s not official church teaching but it does give some concrete ideas on how it might be. Imagine being able to sit down with people from all the ages of earth’s history–all of the made beautiful and loving by the resurrection–and get to know them so intimately without any fears or hang-ups; no “I wonder what he’s thinking?” or " I can’t believe I said that!" Just perfect intimacy with countless others who also love truth and love God.
I also like to reflect on what our resurrection bodies might be like. Based on Jesus’ resurrection body, I think we might be able to move vast distances by just thinking about it. So if you want to go to the beach, just think it! (I hope there will be beaches on the new earth!)
Anyway, just a few ideas for you!
This is my #1.
#2: I focus on doing the works of mercy during the day. It keeps my outlook on ways I can be helpful!
Hi brigid, i think the easiest, quickest and surest cure for your situation is praise and thanksgiving. Praise and thank the Lord throughout the day, especially when you notice negative thoughts filling your mind. The book of psalms will have a phrase that fits you perfectly, so go seek. Brighter times are very much in your grasp.
I very heartily recommend that you take your focus, your eyes, your attention, off of world events - off of even Church events. All of these are lateral realities - not vertical. They are of this world, and remember that this world hates the truth.
Rather, do something revolutionary: seek the Lord Jesus Himself. Go before Him at adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. He knows your heart and He senses your disquietude. Nevertheless, tell Him of your troubles, complaints, doubts.
Just gaze upon Him and know that He is waiting to send you the grace necessary to sustain you through any crisis of faith. Be as patient with Him as He has been with you. One of my absolute favorite quotes is by Fr. Benedict Groeschel (RIP):
“When you become aware that He is there, you will be changed.”
Wow. I read your post a few times and I am blown away! This has given me a lot to reflect on. Thank you so much for sharing.
Thank you so much for this reminder! Your words remind me of a homily that I heard in mass a few months ago. The priest gave us a rather blunt reminder that we should be filled with more gratitude rather than always looking for things that we are lacking and allowing ourselves to become unhappy about it. Thank you so much!
Thank you so much for your recommendations and for laying it all out so clearly. I do need to go to Adoration. It has been on my heart for a few weeks and I have not taken any action on it. In my 30 years of being Catholic, attending mass, reflecting on Scripture, etc., I haven’t experienced the beauty of Adoration and it is something that could deeply change me. I really love the quote you shared with me, but I also love something else you said: “Be as patient with Him as He has been with you.” That really resonated with me. Thank you.
You are very kind. One other thing to utterly enliven your faith - for those so inclined: find a “Life in the Spirit” seminar in your archdiocese. DW convinced me to attend one (she’s ALWAYS right) and so I went.
Unusual for me, I forced myself to be docile to the Holy Spirit and when Father laid hands on me and prayed, I had a foretaste of the peace which surpasses all understanding. Nothing changed immediately, but slowly and steadily my faith came alive. Adoration, Rosary, Divine Mercy, love of scripture, more intercessory prayer - you name it.
No looking back.
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