Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Live Today Well, Chapter 5...
I didn't despair, and I didn't give up. And I didn't totally fail, which I call and out-and-out win. But it was harder. It started with apathy late last week. It was simply more difficult to feel joyful and enthusiastic in my classes. But I powered through it. I paused for a lovely birthday weekend, which I figured would recharge me. For all of its loveliness, I came in Monday morning feeling just as unjoyful and unenthusiastic about my classes as I had on Friday. I powered through it again, but much more weakly this time. And yesterday?
It was another of those: "Quick! We have to make these changes ASAP, so you need to do these 500 things in all 10 of your online course modules! Quick, before tomorrow!!" Next thing I knew, I was changing Week 5 documents to Week 6 documents, and vice versa, and clicking my mouse approximately 2,200 times per section, and I had myself all confused as to what went in what week, and what the heck I was doing:
"OK, This is the Week 5 quiz. I need to delete that one." *hits delete* "Wait. Was that actually *Week 6's* quiz but I changed the title too early?!" *CENSORED*
I made it. It was hard to stay positive amongst that nonsense again, but I didn't give in to the frustration that I have in the past. I pictured sweet tempered, uber positive Unikitty from the Lego Movie in my head, finally submitting to her signalling itchy horn and the fact that it IS possible for her to get upset and angry:
"THAT DOES IT! YOU ALL NEED TO BE *MORE FRIENDLY*!!!!!!!!"
And that satiated me. I was able to continue my mindless clicking in interior peace. 😇
And so here we are at Chapter 5: "On the Direction of Intention: The Key to Spiritual Perfection," and once again, this is perfect timing. This, all of this crap that I mentioned above? :-) I can resolve my intention to act in a certain way. I've improved, but I still have a long way to go. Let's see what St. Francis de Sales and Fr. Dailey have to offer us by way of wisdom on this issue:
"...the Direction of Intention is a simple prayer, uttered briefly at the outset of whatever we are about to do...creating in us a new spiritual habit - the habit of asking and offering and accepting before doing. By first directing the intention with which we act, we address what we do to God, whom we love. By fashioning our deeds in this way, we render indifferent acts good (rather than merely circumstantial) and good deeds even better (by adding a positive motivation)."
So, as we go about our day, we utter a simple prayer before embarking on something that does 3 things: asks, offers, and accepts. This is called "directing our intentions," and it means that we can transform our indifferent, circumstantial acts into good ones (like walking from one place to another, or attending a meeting), and our good deeds to even better ones (like when we interact with our colleagues or students). How does this prayer actually work?
(1) Ask for God's grace. "Asking shifts our focus of our attention away from ourselves and our natural self-centeredness."
(2) Offer to God all the good we will do. "...by intending to do what we do, not for our sake, but for God's, we trade the pleasure principle (acting out of self-interest) for a generosity principle (acting for the good of another). When we adopt this principle and direct what we are to do toward God, something natural becomes supernatural."
(3) Promise to accept whatever may come and bear with whatever may happen, even if this entails pain and suffering. "This act of abandonment puts into practice a 'providential' view of the world."
Asking, offering and accepting. "For St. Francis de Sales, living well depends not on positive circumstances or successful outcomes but only on the grace-filled transformation that occurs 'from the inside out.'"
On this, I need to be more consistent. So this isn't just in the morning after we pray our morning prayer, and set our mind to a positive attitude, planning for the challenges that may lie ahead. This goes for everything that occurs in our day. We offer this three-fold prayer (asking, offering, accepting) again and again and again. This could be a Lenten goal, for sure.
What are your thoughts on Chapter 5? Next week we turn to meals! Holy eating? How perfect for Ash Wednesday!