Temptations & Prayer-Spiritual Advice

Looking for a Spiritual Director? Having difficulty finding one?

Why not turn to a profound guide- Jesuit Father Jean Pierre de Caussade, who guided many Visitation Sisters and wrote deeply spiritual letters about the interior life to them?

We will post and chat about common concerns of the spiritual life, using Fr. de Caussade’s letters as sure guides to growth.

A spiritual battle we all face is temptations– daily! and almost as often, distractions in prayer.

Here is how Fr de Caussade would advise us, as he wrote to a Visitandine:

Point for discussion:

How do we understand “holy contempt” today? Is endurance with humility a stance we can resonate with?

Comforting, perhaps, is it to you to know that this celebrated director said that our initial intention before prayer is enough to make it meritorious before God, despite distractions during prayer?

How have you typically dealt with your distractions while praying?



Come discuss this at our chat session Sunday September 7th at 730PM est.

Chatting about: Perseverance in the Spiritual Life

Do you think that critical comments of others is a great deterrent to the devout life? How?
Where do these criticisms come from in your life? From friends? Those who have authority over you? The media?
Who are these worldly friends that St. Francis speaks of? Do you have any of them? Should you?
What are the worldly ways? Why are they appealing to us?
What are YOUR difficulties in persevering in your choices, spiritual or otherwise?

Welcome to tonights chat on perseverance in the spiritual life

Aug 31 2014, 7:11 PM

Sister Susan Marie: Just coming to chat shows perseverance!!!

Aug 31 2014, 7:13 PM

Guest176 (guest): I’ve signed in but can’t remember my user name and password. I’m Ruth.

Sister Susan Marie: Hi Ruth! I can look it up at some point but you are fine as a guest

Sister Susan Marie: I’m thinking that one grows best in a nurturing environment which many people have trouble finding

Guest176 (guest): This weekend we had a “retreat” of the Chairmatic Prayer Group at an Adirondack Camp donated to the Diocese by a Jewish family, the Guggenheim family.

Sister Susan Marie: How interesting! That kind of spiritual event helps us to stay in touch with the Lord powerfully

Guest617 (guest): Hi Everyone. Every week I seem to have trouble signing in. But I am determined to persevere.

Sister Susan Marie: You are in!

Guest176 (guest): Children of the families were also present and it was such a joy to watch these innocent childern play — sometimes rough and tumble, but never mean to one another.

Guest176 (guest): Those kids have prayerful, loving parents and it shows.

Sister Susan Marie: That surely helps a young family persevere in faith- being able to have their young ones presen

Sister Susan Marie: Probably a strong counterbalance to days on the job where one might seem very isolated spiritually

Sister Susan Marie: What was the theme of the day at the event?

Sister Susan Marie: Perhaps we can share the gifts the Lord gives us that helps us persevere

Sister Susan Marie: In a monastery we are taught to pray for perseverance every day, esp in the vocation

Aug 31 2014, 7:24 PM

Guest617 (guest): I really concentrated on the questions this week. The first on critical comments deterring one from persevering brought me two possibilities. First is how close the relationship is. Someone who is very close might be able to deter us more readily than someone with whom we have only a casual relationship. The second is how much influence the individual has on the person. Again, the move influential, the more readily the deterrant. Another factor is the depth of commitment of the individu

Guest176 (guest): The most people present were present for that. There was an Annointing of the Sick after Mass. And we prayed for one another with laying on of hands. There were call-ins for prayer, too.

Guest617 (guest): The deeper the commitment, the more difficult it will be to deter him or her.

Sister Susan Marie: Very thorough thoughts, guest 617

Sister Susan Marie: And lived through by many of us

Guest176 (guest): 617 Very good. Good observation. Just as one can be most encouraged or most discouraged by

Aug 31 2014, 7:26 PM

Sister Susan Marie: A best friend so to speak who tries to deter one is a greater challenge like you say than a casual business partner

Guest176 (guest): Opps! by comments of those closest to us.

Guest617 (guest): But would a true friend try to deter us?

Sister Susan Marie: Good comment- I think it depends on maturity.

Guest617 (guest): Wouldn’t a true friend be more likely to encourage or support us?

Sister Susan Marie: One can only be a true friend if one is an integrated person, perhaps

Sister Susan Marie: I think you are right about a true friend there

Guest617 (guest): That’s true. One who is not integrated may easily focus on the self rather than the other.

Guest176 (guest): I don’t think I could consider anyone a “best friend” who tried to make me make decisions clearly contrary to the will of God. But there are so many kids these days who consider someone a “friend” just because they’ve done things together — even drinking and smoking weed, for example.

Guest176 (guest): I think having a spiritual director — or good really good friend — can be a tremendous help in one’s spiritual journey.

Sister Susan Marie: And surely if your friend is true and integrated in pysche there would not be the kind of criticisms the question insinuates but there might be real concerns

Guest176 (guest): But you have to take time to listen to the Lord, too. Even well meaning friends can be sadly mistaken

Guest617 (guest): Yes, a spiritual director is very important. Or even a group like this one where there is sharing on some kind of deep level. Or a group that actually meets on a regular basis for prayer and mutual support

Sister Susan Marie: Yes direction can be critical at points in one’s life and spiritual friends essential4 PM

Guest176 (guest): I put myself through medical school in Germany — not easy. Tuition was free, but I had to support myself. Had a few small scholarships and grants, but actually worked as many as five part time jobs simultaneously with medical school. M

Daw: well thats perseverance!

Guest176 (guest): Got through with multiple honors — great letters of recommendation, then came to the US and ran into all sorts of obstacles. There were some who, because of the obstacles started trying to convince me that it was not God’s Will that I practice medicine. :36 PM

Guest617 (guest): Lately, persevering in prayer has been tough for me. No one is deterring me. I am my own worst enemy. I just moved to a new location and apartment and I have been completely focused on getting myself settled and a plethora of boxes unpacked the the contents put away. That having been pretty well completed, I am getting back to a better prayer life. Actually, I was finding all the clutter a deterrant to prayer. It made me feel fidgety and anxious.

Daw: I think at different points of our spiritual growth we shift to what matters most?

Ali: I agree Daw. If its important to us we will find a way

Aug 31 2014, 7:38 PM

Sister Susan Marie: Ourselves as our own deterrent is a reality though. That’s where direction can help and clinging to the Lord depite ourselves

Guest176 (guest): I just said, that I had asked Our Lord if he wanted me to pursue this career — and had my decision confirmed — and it would have to come from HIM if I were meant to give up on it.

Sister Susan Marie: Yes finding the Will of God is also essential to our perseverance

Sister Susan Marie:

Being convinced, or shown in some way that it is the Lord’s will

Daw I pray very much for a Holy friend, a spiritual director, well this group is very important in that way

Ali: Sister, where do we find direction? and how often?

Guest176 (guest): Yes, 617, clutter can be a huge obstacle to any good routien.

Sister Susan Marie: Ususally once a month- the finding is harder tho. Prayer to find a director, first, then calls to parish, Chancery, retreat houses

Guest176 (guest): Prayer, prayer, prayer. Listening Prayer. And regular Scripture reading.

Daw: Yes Sr Susan….how are we certain we are hearing God’s will and not some other thing?

Car: Is there a religious institute near you? I found mine through the Loyola Institute.

Sister Susan Marie: Certainty is never 100 percent but with a good guide to second your understandings one can be reasonably sure in a particular matter- but then life goes on and do we really know the meaning of each experience

Guest617 (guest): Another source of spiritual direction might be a program for spiritual direction at a college or university. Those enrolled in the program need to have directees to work with.

Ali: I had Father Paul in Maine but need someone here. I would like a woman director or sister.nun.- where to go?

Sister Susan Marie: Are you near the Cenacle in Ronkokama?

Sister Susan Marie: They have Sr directors- that is their mission

Ali: about an hour away from there

thank you!

Sister Susan Marie: You could start there

Daw: there are rereats at various convents, has anyone been to any?

Sister Susan Marie: How about perseverance under trying circumstances? Which we all may be facing in one way or another? Has your experience been positive or difficult?

Sister Susan Marie: We take retreatanys at our Monasteries for ex

Car: it’s really pretty difficult out here.

Daw: ah. positive and difficult both

I mean , it can be difficult for awhile then comes the treat or fruit of it

Guest176 (guest): Positive and difficult don’t seem to me to be opposed to one another.

Guest617 (guest): St. Francis spoke of worldly ways. I thought about that and came up with several: being overly concerned with fashion; with having a better house or car; a better than job; being educated at a more prestigeous institution, lack or concern for the spiritual life;leaning more to contemporary moral values rather than traditional ones.

Sister Susan Marie: You know, read the full version of Causade’s Abandonment to Divine Providence, the edition that includes his letters to nuns about their spiritual lives. With those letters you may not need a director= so powerful are they

Ali: I find can hang in there during tough times for a while but when it continues a long time…

Sister Susan Marie: or movie or dvd

Aug 31 2014, 7:50 PM

Daw: Running to my bookshelf….someone gave me copy of Abandonment/Caussade but have not read yet.thank you Sister!

Aug 31 2014, 7:51 PM

Car: I find many secular books & movies contain powerful spiritual messages, if you really analyze them

Aug 31 2014, 7:51 PM

Sister Susan Marie: Most editions only include the Abandonment but the edition with all the letters is excellent. It is on line I think too

Aug 31 2014, 7:51 PM

Sister Susan Marie: That’s true too

Car You can even find it in unlikely places like Harry Potter and Star Trek-but you have to be careful

Sister Susan Marie: Depends on the work itself

Guest617 (guest): Sometimes I find it easier to persevere during hard times. 19 years ago, I had cancer. I found I was more positive in attitude because of my spiritual life which in turn helped me to work through the surgery and treatment. During that time, my mom also had a heart attack and passed into eternity while I was in the midst of radiation treatments. I know that I came through all that because of the work of the Lord in my life. I definitely do not have that kind of strength on my own.

Sister Susan Marie: In truly tough times as you describe we might lean on the Lord more than in easier circumstances where we might become forgetful of Him or lazy or lukewarm

Daw: checking….this copy has 2 parts.thank you so much….

Aug 31 2014, 7:53 PM

Guest176 (guest): God bless you! Illness can be a tremendous school of prayer.

Ali: i have it too Daw!

Sister Susan Marie: Daw, let me know how you find them- as I may put some on line here and chat about them- the letters and points of direction

Aug 31 2014, 7:54 PM

Sister Susan Marie: In small segments that can be absorbed or chatted about

Sister Susan Marie: How about perseverance after disappointment? That can be a challenge if faith is not strong

Daw sorry, joining conversation again…..so suffering like illness or other ways can help us move closer to God

Daw: yes I will Sister]

Aug 31 2014, 7:57 PM

Car it is hard to pick up again after disappointment-but you have to look at it to see why it didn’t work and learn from it, so you’ll be ready for the next step

Guest176 (guest): I think that some great authors have been important in my development, but there is nothing, really, like a human being who loves the Lord, and is patient and persistent, wise, and insightful and able to “hear” what you are saying even if you do not say it well.

Sister Susan Marie: I find it difficult too if I feel I am plateaued out- not that I give up but there is a malaise because growth seems stunted

Sister Susan Marie: Yes that’s when a person helps- another soul created by God filled with charity

Guest617 (guest): Ooops! I missed part of question #4. What makes worldly ways more appealing to us. it is because they are easier. Consider today’s Gospel. We need to take up our crosses in order to follow the Lord. Part of that may be to shun those worldly ways and follow the narrow path. It is odd for us to think that we have to lose our lives in order to find them. But is in losing them that we can discover greater perseverance in the spiritual life. Perhaps it could be just in the realm to time spent on other things.

Mary Roberta Viano: We’ve been hovering around Sr. Mary Austin’s deathbed. Always sad when one of our sisters departs.

Guest617 (guest): The less time spent on worldly ways, the more we have for the life of the spirit.

Car: the worldly way could also be an attitude or behavior pattern that needs to be broken too

Mary Roberta Viano: “The world is passing away.” (I John 2:17)

Guest617 (guest): Regarding oneself as better than others might be one such attitude of worldliness.

Guest176 (guest): Hello Sr. Mary Roberta. A very good reason for our coming a little late to this chat!

Guest176 (guest): My prayers for Sr. Mary Austin and all those accompanying her in her last days.

Mary Roberta Viano: SFdS says in a sermon: “…for the love of God, do not fix your affections on worldly things.”

Aug 31 2014, 8:04 PM

Al: praying for Sister Mary

Aug 31 2014, 8:04 PM

Car: yes, like maybe it’s okay to do something for your own enjoyment without thinking about how it might tear down part of God’s kingdom instead of building it up. Or a habit of thinking of yourself as less than others (instead of healthy humility)

Aug 31 2014, 8:05 PM

Alit: how much of the world is too much

Mary Roberta Viano: “…so that you forget the heavenly and eternal goods for which you were created.”

Guest617 (guest): Sister Mary Roberta, you put the needs of Sister Mary Austin above your own need or desire to be on this chat. That is a sign of perseverance, of having your priorities in the right order6 PM

Mary Roberta Viano: Our Mother Superior always keeps us close to our dying sisters – to pray for them and accompany them during that time.

Guest176 (guest): Recently I’ve been finding a great deal of help through consecration to Jesus through Mary. Mary wants all of us to grow closer to Jesus.

Sister Susan Marie: St Louis de Montfort?

Guest176 (guest): Yup.

Mary Roberta Viano: In a letter of spiritual direction, Holy Father SFdS wrote: “How soon, Madam, we shall be in the realm of eternity!”

Mary Roberta Viano: “And then we shall wee how little all the affairs of this world amount to…”

Daw: It is a gift to be with someone passing, well I’ve always thought. its like being at someones birth, only its another birth, a more holy birthAnd i have seen faces filled with wonder and joy as they left this world

Aug 31 2014, 8:09 PM

Guest617 (guest): That’s where St. Francis speaks of enjoying sweetness as a result of perseverance. Greater intimacy with the Lord is a result of perseverance and there is nothing more sweet than that. Remembering Augustine’s words, “You have made us for Yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Guest617 (guest): That’s where St. Francis speaks of enjoying sweetness as a result of perseverance. Greater intimacy with the Lord is a result of perseverance and there is nothing more sweet than that. Remembering Augustine’s words, “You have made us for Yourself O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”

Aug 31 2014, 8:10 PM

Guest617 (guest): Losing our lives for the Lord will bring us to greater peace, losing our restlessness as we draw closer to the Lord.

Sister Susan Marie: Let us leave the blind world to make as much noise as it may,—like a bat molesting the songbirds of day; let us be firm in our ways, unchangeable in our resolutions, and perseverance will be the test of our self-surrender to God, and our deliberate choice of the devout life.” -

Mary Roberta Viano: and losing our focus on worldly things!

Mary Roberta Viano: SFdS: When we were small, how eagerly we put together little bits of tile and wood and mud to make houses and tiny buildings!”

Aug 31 2014, 8:12 PM

Car: if I find myself distracted by sad or worldly things, I try to change the subject by thinking of a favorite verse or hymn

Mary Roberta Viano: “And if someone smashed them, how very miserable we were and how we wept; but now we see how very unimportant it all was.”

Aug 31 2014, 8:12 PM

Sister Susan Marie: That is a very helpful how to, Ca

Mary Roberta Viano: “One day we shall experience the same thing in heaven, when we see that what we clung to in this world was nothing more than a child’s fancy

Guest617 (guest): And so, we must become like little children again–simple, innocent, trusting and relying on the love of the Lord.


Mary Roberta Viano: Good idea, Ca1


Car: at my age, I know enough hymns that I can burst into spontaneous (mental hymns with no warning whatsoever, and they always seem to fit the situation! PM

Guest617 (guest): Using hymns can also be a great entree into prayer. It helps is to calm ourselves, and places lofty thoughts before minds so that we have positive things on which to reflect.

Mary Roberta Viano: That’s what I like to do with my homeroom girls – sing/pray.

Car: that’s true too. I bet that’s why each portion of the divine office starts with a hymn.

Mary Roberta Viano: We chant our Saint’s Direction of Intention to start the school day.

Aug 31 2014, 8:16 PM

Ca: I read somewhere that we remember more if the lesson is set to music

14, 8:17 PM

Guest176 (guest): Singing them out loud helps, too. One time after a severe concussion for months any sudden sound — even sounds I loved, like a trumpet part in a concert — would would trigger

Aug 31 2014, 8:17 PM

Guest617 (guest): The more senses we use, the more we retain.

Mary Roberta Viano: Like our A,B,C,D

Mary Roberta Viano: Our language teachers often teach with simple song

Car: another way to change the mental subject is to replace harmful thoughts with a devotion like the Rosary or Divine Mercy8:20 PM

Guest617 (guest): Perhaps our prayer needs to be more simple, the prayer of silence. Sometimes more can be communicated in silence than with words.

Sister Susan Marie: Or the Jesus prayer

true, once our minds have calmed, silence can follow most naturally

Guest617 (guest): My problem is that when I try to enter the prayer of silence, I invariably fall asleep.

Mary Roberta Viano: So true. Holy Father says simplicity in prayer means “resting upon the bosom of the heavenly Father, there to abide like a loving child.”

Aug 31 2014, 8:23 PM

Car: been there! Sister, does Jesus put us to sleep so He can work on us unhindered?

Guest176 (guest): God gives to his own even in their sleep.

Mary Roberta Viano: Maybe our best praying is done as we sleep!

Guest617 (guest): I sure hope so! I tend to feel that I have let the Lord down when I fall asleep.

Guest617 (guest): Like the disciples in Gethsemane.

Sister Susan Marie: I think St Therese had positive approaches to prayer and sleep but I can’t quote it

Car: Sister, it seems to me that someone must have been awake, or how could they tell us what happened. Or is my imagination going overboard again?

Mary Roberta Viano: One of our sisters likens that sleep to St. John, the beloved apostle, lying on Christ’s heart.

Guest617 (guest): A former spiritual director used to say, what better way to fall asleep than in the arms of the Beloved! 14, 8:27 PM

Guest176 (guest): Once, long ago, I made a “deal” with our Lord: If I do not listen to you well enough during the day, it is OK to wake me when my “defenses” are down; I promise I will not complain. It’s done wonders for both my consequence about prayer time and my sleep.

Mary Roberta Viano: It’s like telling our dreams, Car. They sometimes seem more real than our time awake.

Car: This is true, I have found the prayer of imagination to be incredibly helpfu0 PM

Guest617 (guest): My goodness, where has this hour gone! It is great to communicate with people who are seeking spiritual growth. Thanks to all of you for your input!

Mary Roberta Viano: Our Jesuit neighbors say that’s Ignatian, Car.

Aug 31 2014, 8:30 PM

Sister Susan Marie: Yes thank you for sharing so much

Car: I think it is, but I never knew. I thought I was just making stuff up and being in illusions.

Guest617 (guest): May we all find Him whether we are asleep or awake!

Sister Susan Marie: God bless

Car: Good night and have a blessed week! I’ll be praying for Sister

Aug 31 2014, 8:32 PM

Guest176 (guest): Another, practical thing that I find helpful is to label the ANTS automatic negative thoughts, and when alert find a TRUE statement that opposes those negative ones, and use that when necessary — with Jesus help — to counteract the negative

Sept Reflections for the Guard of Honor

Dear Friends,

September is synonymous with back … it means new facilities and new academic challenges for many young, professional constraints for others, complicated organizations to juggle a multitude of activities … even the volunteers are no exception with the development of their agenda! Sr Mary of the Sacred Heart Bernaud had a “recipe” of her own for a good management of the schedule:

“The good schedule, “Nothing valuable as time … however nothing that is abused more easily! Time, what is it except the currency that allows us to negotiate our future eternal happiness ? And yes, time is given to us with this single goal! This happiness you have to buy by meritorious acts.

Imagine a benefactor who, every morning, puts liberally available twenty four gold coins. You are totally free to be sowing it under your feet, or using them to increase your wealth … This is the twenty-four hours of your day: you can devote to the uselessness, the vain agitations, the artificial gadgets, idleness, laziness … or the devotion to good deeds, to seriously fulfill your obligations and your duty of state. In short, in a word, you are free to ruin or enrich yourself spiritually because, alas, time is wasted forever.

Dear Guards of Honor, choose your activities with gravity, leave alone those that are superficial and instead, be sure to use every bit of your time to do others good … Whenever some actions are there for you to decide, ask the lights of the Holy Spirit to know if your companions are really helpful in your spiritual progress … Remember there is time to get to Heaven … or it is misused, lost forever !
“(Sr Bernaud)