Your Spirituality Type

When I first started getting into my faith towards the end of high school, I knew I needed to start praying regularly, but figuring out how to do that was a struggle. I heard a lot of different people saying different things about what a prayer life should look like. Some of it I really connected with, and some of it I didn’t. And when I didn’t connect with a particular prayer form or routine, I was like, “Well, I’m/this is the worst, probably should just give up.” It wasn’t until several years later when someone introduced me to the reality of different “spirituality types” that I understood why my experience of prayer was so tumultuous.

I think that sometimes as Catholics we think that everything we do needs to be the same… and there’s some truth to that. The tenants of our faith, the basics of the liturgy, how we are called to live according to the Gospel, all are universal. As a Church, we share those things in common: “this mystery [of faith], then, requires that the faithful believe in it, that they celebrate it, and that they live from it in a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God. 
This relationship is prayer.” ~Catechism of the Catholic Church 2558I. I think the word “personal” is key there because prayer is personal- sharing our person with the person of God. He created us to be in relationship with him, and he created us each uniquely. That means that we were created to each have a different-looking personal relationship with God. Not because God is different, but because each one of us is. Similarly, none of our human relationships are the same- not because we change who we are around others but because none of the people we are in relationship with are the same. So, that means that not one type, or one way, or one routine, or one form of prayer will work the same for everyone. In fact, St. Ignatius of Loyola says that “there is no greater mistake in spiritual matters than to force others to follow one’s own pattern.”

Throughout the development of Christian spirituality, there have emerged many different religious communities and spiritual paths. These have developed around different personalities, saints, and ways of  serving and connecting with God. There are countless paths, (or at least, I didn’t count them) but four main ones that could be considered “pillars” and from which others stem: Franciscan, Augustinian, Ignatian, and Thomistic. They are foundations to both religious communities and lay spiritualities. These four spiritual traditions have also been connected with the four dominant Myers Briggs personality traits. There’s a really great book written about this called “Prayer and Temperament: Different Prayer Forms for Different Personality Types” by Monsignor Chester P Michael & Marie C Norrisey (at least, I think it’s really great- I struggle with finishing books. And starting them. I don’t actually have the book. But I’ve heard good things.) Once we understand how we best pray, we then have the framework and tools to really move forward in our relationship with God.

Once I discovered that I was an “Augustinian” pray-er, I realized I didn’t have to spend time trying to pray in other ways that usually left me discouraged and unfulfilled. I had a spiritual director for a while who was guiding me through the Ignatian spiritual exercises. That kind of prayer is very structured, and works well for a large percentage of people. But for me, that much structure stresses me out and makes me feel constricted. So during that time of spiritual direction, I never did what I was supposed to, got discouraged when I didn’t do it (ever), and viewed that form of prayer more as a chore than a gift. Now, I focus my energy on what works for me- silent, reflective prayer, listening, journaling, being in the presence of God in Adoration, or peacefully in nature. While I don’t do it as much as I should, it’s where I really grow closer with God, hear him speak to me, and feel fulfilled. My personality needs that reflective, peaceful prayer because my usually distracted mind takes a while to quite down and focus (I mean for example, it’s taken me three weeks to sit down and write this post). If I jump into prayer without taking time to be quiet and present, I don’t really pray, I just go through the motions.  Understanding what spirituality type you are isn’t meant to restrict you into one way of praying, but hopefully enable you to discover more about how God created you to relate to him, and then give you the tools to really grow in your relationship with him. If you’re curious to explore what spirituality type you might be and what that means for your prayer life, here’s some tools and resources:

1. Your Spirituality Type

You can figure this out in a couple of ways:

  • If you know your Myers Briggs type, you can check out this chart:

prayer-personality

  • Or, you can take this Prayer Type Quiz. Note that “Path of Intellect” is Thomistic, “Path of Devotion” is Augustinian, “Path of Service” is Franciscan, and “Path of Asceticism” is Ignatian. 
Fine Print: After reading through your type you might decide that it doesn’t really sound like you- and that very well could be the case! You know yourself best, and these quizzes/categorizations aren’t meant to dictate something about yourself you don’t feel is accurate. Also, just because we connect most with one way, doesn’t mean that you can’t also pray in other ways or benefit from other types of prayer. We could also be a combination of a couple. Use your results as a starting point, and see how your prayer life grows, and adjust as necessary.

 

2. Learn About Your Type

 

Finally, you might find it interesting to learn about the saint your spirituality type is based off of. You’ll probably see some similarities in yourself and be inspired by their awesome lives: St. Augustine of Hippo (Augustinian), St. Thomas Aquinas (Thomistic), St. Ignatius of Loyola (Ignatian), and St. Francis of Assisi (Franciscan).

Happy Praying! 🙂

 

Fear is a Choice

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Thailand trip 2016 #nofilter

By Mike DeMasco (Guest Writer)

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the decisions that have led me to where I am today. If you haven’t spent time doing this, I highly recommend it. It has allowed me to see where God has worked in my life and where I have pushed Him away. Through this contemplation, a recurring theme kept arising: fear. In my life, it was obvious for me to see where I have either gave in to fear or conquered it. I came to the realization that there are four main fears that I struggle with: the fear of taking risks, fear of being myself, fear of failure, and fear of judgement. It’s funny how the answers to some of our biggest problems can show up right in front of our faces; and these answers showed up in my family.

Fear of taking risks.

How often do we get caught up in thinking about the future? I’m definitely guilty of this. Your whole life you’re told, “make sure you plan ahead… the decisions you make now will have consequences in the future… don’t live in the moment.” Growing up with an impulsive twin brother (sorry Nicco), I heard these, mostly the last one, a lot. Although it took me 24 years to figure it out, I finally realized that he was on to something. This spontaneity was something I looked down upon, but now I see it as a gift. As twins sometimes go, I went in the complete opposite direction. I have always been the more conservative brother, always making the “smart” decision. Through these decisions, I became obsessed with my future, meticulously plotting out every detail of my life. I’m not sure who first said, “Jesus, take the wheel,” Carrie Underwood or my buddy Leo, but I was grabbing the wheel with both hands and not even letting Jesus backseat drive. I had all the answers, and I was making all the right career/life decisions. This turned out to be incredibly boring and spiritually draining.

In the summer of 2014, I was presented with an opportunity to move out to San Diego. This was an exceptionally stupid career move. Living in New Hampshire at the time, I had a great job that was giving me valuable experience for my career. In a truly Nicco-like fashion, I made the most impulsive, living-in-the-moment decision of my life. With virtually no plan, I quit my job and moved out to San Diego. Through prayer and trust in God, I finally followed what I thought to be His plan rather than mine. This spontaneity changed my life for the better and I have my brother to thank for that.

Fear of being yourself.

New city, new me, right? Wrong. Although I took this leap of faith across the country, there were still some anxieties that I held onto from back home, mainly anxieties of self-image. I was more concerned about what other people thought about me than what I thought about myself. Thankfully, I have a younger brother who is quite the opposite. I have truly never met a person who is more true to himself. I mean, we’re talking about a guy who wears every color of a neon rainbow, because he “likes bright colors.” It doesn’t matter that his outfit would only get duller and more coordinated at the Holi festival; as long as he likes it, he’s happy. Not only does he make himself happy, he brings happiness wherever he goes. I used to be appalled by this. I would often try to steer him away from this “weirdness.” What I was really doing was simply passing my anxieties onto him; fortunately, I was unsuccessful. The dude kept his quirks and he makes the world a better place for it.

Fear of failure.

I think this is a pretty common one. So much of our potential is wasted when we fall prey to fear. Have you ever thought about getting a job that lets you travel the world, helping impoverished children, or maybe being a real life ninja, but decided that it was too “unrealistic”? Well, I know someone who has done all of these things, made good money doing them, and didn’t do it with a silver spoon in his mouth either. My dad grew up in the worst situations imaginable here in America, and was fully supporting himself as a young teenager. He didn’t let the fear of failure stop him from making his dreams a reality. He put it all on the line, made sacrifices, and got it done. Fear of failure wasn’t a thought because it wasn’t an option. I want to be a Physician Assistant Pediatric Oncologist after I graduate PA school, but in such a specialized field, the jobs aren’t exactly flowing. At times, this has made me second guess my path in medicine. But then I think about my dad. When he was growing up, the newspaper (and let’s remember that the internet wasn’t around back then) wasn’t exactly overflowing with job listings titled “Looking for a full-time Kung-Fu Grandmaster/philanthropist/U.S. ambassador to the Shaolin Temple in China.”

Fear of persecution.

As a Catholic living in academia, my beliefs have come under fire many times, but I’m not here to talk about my hardships of being Catholic. I want to talk about someone who is a huge role model to me for standing up for her beliefs. That person is Lady Gaga… just kidding, it’s my mom. But for real, that woman absolutely crushed the halftime show; she’s a rock star. Anyway, while my mom might not be flipping hundreds of feet in the air while flawlessly hitting notes, she’s doing something a lot harder. She is living out her beliefs fearlessly; fearless of judgement, fearless of persecution and fearless of loss. It is refreshing to see someone who stands so strongly by her beliefs, regardless of society’s views on them. Standing up for your beliefs is no easy task, but my mom makes it look so. One day I hope to have a family of my own. When I do, I hope to show them the same fearless faith that my mom showed me.

Fear is something that can rule one’s life; don’t let it rule yours.

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  – Deuteronomy 31:8.

From my family, you can see that there are many ways fear can present itself and be defeated. Let’s go back to finding out what makes us unique, trusting in God’s timing, and fearlessly living life to the fullest, one day at a time. Being terrified of horror movies is okay though (guilty).

About Michael DeMasco

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Michael (left) is a physician assistant student at Franklin Pierce University in Lebanon, NH, ex-San Diegan and parishioner at Saint Brigid’s Parish. He has a twin brother, Nicco (right) and a younger brother, Gianni (middle), as well as two awesome parents, Steve and Kim. Being that this is his first blog post (ever), he’s finding it extremely difficult to talk in the third person, but that’s what google said to do. Feel free to drop him a line at mikedemasco@live.com.

How I broke free of bad habits and changed my life

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by Leo

I apologize for the misleading title. I had to make it catchy enough for you to click on the link!

I wish I had some sage-like wisdom or advice to share about how I overcame negative and self-destructive habits and turned my life around. But I don’t. All I have is my experience and how God’s grace unfolded in my life. As I reflect on the bit-by-bit progress I have made as a person and Christian, it’s clear now my growth had very little to do with me, and everything to do with grace.

Five years ago, as I reluctantly attended my first Catholic young adults retreat I was struggling. It felt like I had tried everything else to “be happy.” More money, more partying, and more fun with the ladies to my unfortunate surprise, didn’t give me the sense of happiness and contentment I had expected. The truth is I had felt unfilled and lost for some time, and I mistakenly believed these were the things I was missing. So I figured, what the heck, why not give this church-thing a try? What do I have to loose?

The retreat went decently well. Mostly, I met some nice people and heard a some inspiring talks but nothing earth shattering. I certainly didn’t hear God’s voice nor did I have an aha moment, where everything instantaneously changed for me. Sometimes in life you don’t get what you want but you get what you need. I got just enough from the retreat to encourage me and to keep me engaged. As soon as the next week I was up to the same old antics, doing the same dumb things that were making me miserable. However, something was different. It was as if a tiny seedling had been planted in me and it was ever so subtly beginning to sprout.

It was not pretty. It was certainly a process. Yet, as I began to take small steps to letting God into my life, such as sitting quietly in prayer for a few moments daily and joining a bible study group, I gradually started to change. I begin to realize it wasn’t “what” I was missing; it was “who” I was missing. My interests and priorities slowly started to shift, and the negative patterns and habits that had had such a grip on me began to loosen. Small victories beget larger victories, and momentum builds. Over time, as my faith took on a greater presence in my life, I found myself doing things I could never have envisioned before. Before I didn’t even make it to mass on Sundays, now, for example, I found myself attending mass regularly, going to adoration, and volunteering in a youth group.

Of course, things weren’t so clear in the process, it is only now that I can see with greater lucidity God’s hand in my life. I didn’t change myself or overcome the negativity in my life directly or on my own. There were a lot of layers of negative patterns and defeats that had pilled up on me mentally and spiritually. They were too much for me to overcome all at once or by myself. Rather, God met me where I was at. It was almost as if He said, “Leo, I know you can’t go cold turkey on fixing everything that is wrong with how you are living but that is okay, my yoke is easy and burden is light, let me show you a different way on your pace.”

Again, I never broke any of my bad habits on my own; rather, God helped me to dilute the pool. He brought so many good people and positive opportunities in my life that it made the negative stuff less attractive and significant. Bit by bit, many of them peeled away like layers of an onion. Dilute your pool.

As I write, this I don’t mean to imply that everything in my life is perfect or I have ridded myself of vices. Ask my wife, she will quickly tell you that is certainly not the case! There are good days and bad days, the struggle is still very real. However, thanks be to God, without any doubt, my life is much more grounded and filled with peace.

Be patient with yourself and be patient with God, let him work in and through you. It is a process, it will take time, don’t give up. Let him work through all the brokenness, just how you are now. He will not fail to surprise you, and you may even surprise yourself.

The prophet Habakkuk writes,

“The vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment and it will not disappoint… and if it delays, wait for it.”

God bless you.

Our Lives Begin To End the Day We Become Silent About Things That Matter

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By Ian Manahan (guest writer)

Have I complimented my close friends lately? Am I attentive to those in need of encouragement? Do I engage with an attractive girl or pass it up? Do I seek broadly for justice and mercy for all men?

As I continue to partake in the sacraments of the Holy Catholic Church and try to open my heart and mind to the truth and also perhaps as I gain more experience – I’m starting to realize how beautiful and important it is to embrace the moment whether trial or pleasure. Whether alone or with people. I’ve often fallen into the trap of ‘I’ll be happy when’, or I’ll wait to do ‘x’ when I’m in a better spot. Why am I limiting God’s good work and my own humanity? Am I maintaining a focus on what matters or being tossed by the winds of what is easy? How might this all tie into some of the ideas strengthened by the American, Martin Luther King?

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Closer to God

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By Sebastian

God is good, it’s 2017 and if you’re reading this then God has granted you the start to another year on the right side of the ground! As we go into this new year one of our resolutions should be to strengthen our faith and our relationship with God. Here are some tips that can help us accomplish that.

Know Jesus like you just had breakfast with him 

   Know Jesus like you just had breakfast with him

A pastor once told me that and these words have stuck with me ever since. It means to know Jesus on a more intimate level. Take the time to greet Him good morning, talk to him throughout the day, then take the time to thank Him at night before bed. You might not be sure how to talk to God but remember He is our Lord, our Father, and even our closest friend. As our Lord, we communicate by praising, adoring, and worshiping, as our Father we can ask for His wisdom and guidance, and as our closest friend we can talk to Him by sharing our worries and our joys without any reservations or fear of rejection. And just as God is listening, you must also listen by opening yourself up to what He has to say. Meditation is one way to do it but I strongly recommend going to Adoration. Every time I’ve gone to Adoration I’ve always been blessed with an inner peace inside of me.

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Finding Peace in Change

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By Cullen

The ball drop is fresh in our minds which can only mean one thing: It’s that time of year when we resolve to make changes for the better in our lives. It is also a time to look back on what the past year brought, for better or for worse.

When I reflect on the amount of change that occurred in my life the past year, I am left in awe of God; I am filled with joy and wonder. I am full of anticipation and hope of the years to come. One might describe the fact that I got engaged, planned a wedding across the country, moved, got married, got pregnant, and moved across the country (all before the end of August) as an overwhelming amount of change. 

What’s The Secret?

Peace. It’s that simple.

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Unwrapping Holiday Presence

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By Liz (Guest Blogger)

I’ve spent the past week at home sick – with my sick child! As you can imagine, this has left lots of time to let Christmas obligations slide, watch dustballs collect in the living room, sip pedialyte, and catch up on Netflix documentaries. Fortunately, I was given the grace to stumble upon Netflix documentary gold and the subject of this blog post: Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things. The Lord really does work in mysterious ways. Minimalism documents the travels of two disenchanted young men, once successful in the corporate world, who give up their jobs and many of their material possessions while writing a book about the process. Though overtly secular, I found many Christian themes in the characters’ interviews and philosophy.

Christianity is a religion of some exceedingly beautiful dichotomies. Historically, minimalism has been a big part of our tradition! Jesus, homeless during his ministry, sent his followers out to teach with just the shirts on their backs and the sandals on their feet. Throughout the ages, consecrated and lay people have undertaken vows of poverty and fasts to serve Christ and others. Christian heroes like Saint Catherine of Sienna, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Teresa of Calcutta lived under self-imposed conditions of extreme asceticism in service to their missions for Christ. And yet – Jesus allowed a follower to break a jar of oil, costing a years’ wage, over him before his death. He scolded the disciples who wanted to sell the perfume and give alms to the poor, and allowed her to carry out this act of devotion. Likewise, great cathedrals and ornate works of art line the history of our faith and celebrate God’s power. Yesterday, we celebrated the anniversary of Jesus birth by exchanging gifts. So what is Jesus teaching us about minimalism, and materialism?

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