Jesus said to them,
"I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger,
and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. John 6:35
turn down a good meal.
I enjoy eating and dining with family and friends; a sharing that fulfills
not only physical hunger but an emotional one as well. So, it is obvious to me:
get hungry, fill the hunger!
is another type of hunger that I must fulfill before it takes a toll on me, and that is a
spiritual, inner hunger for peace of mind. As I take care of my physical body,
so must I take care of my spiritual body, my inner personality that is the basis of all my
emotions, motivations, thoughts, dreams, and decision-making. It is this spiritual
self that feels hatred and love, peace and anxiety, confidence and fear. So, how do
I take care of this spiritual self so that I don't always act out of "spiritual
hunger" but act out of peace of mind?
IN this present time, physical health has the
attention of us all. Quality of life is important! Taking care of the physical
self is vital to getting the job done well and being able to fulfill God's Will in our
lives. Taking care of the spiritual self is just as vital and necessary.
If one doesn't take care of the physical body, sickness becomes an unwelcome
guest. If one doesn't take care of the spiritual self, then misjudgment and
possible scandal may actually destroy all that one has invested and worked for.
THAT'S when knowing one's spiritual hunger can
help in making a person stronger, wiser, and mature. When stress becomes
overwhelming, stress creates a hunger for stability and peace. There are healthy
ways of dealing with this hunger as well as destructive ways. When the heart aches
with emotional pain, what is your way of dealing with it? Some deal with such hunger
in negative and destructive ways, such as drinking too much alcohol and even using illegal
substances. Others seek to satisfy an inner longing in sexual situations that are
not life-giving but totally centered on self-indulgent desire that destroys the person and
eventually brings pain to their families, friends, and those who care for them. This
struggle to keep spiritually healthy is described so well by Saint Paul in his letter to
the Romans, Chapter 7, Verse 19:
"For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not
want. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that
dwells in me."
SO, here are some recommendations to take care of
that inner, spiritual self:
1) TALK WITH SOMEONE. We all have something that needs to be
expressed. If a person doesn't talk about their experiences, both happy and tragic,
then in time, the spiritual self can no longer hold it in and the consequences are always
painful. In my experience, most family members are always ready to listen, or
believe me when I say that there are friends who will always stand by you in good times
and bad. In our Catholic tradition, spiritual directors are necessary to maintain
spiritual health. Talking to a priest, deacon, or someone else, who is knowledgeable
in the faith, is recommended to stay on the right path. Confession (the
sacrament of penance) doesn't count as spiritual direction, though spiritual direction can
happen there. You need time to talk and communicate with someone who has the time to
listen and guide. I find that parish confession time doesn't allow the time
necessary for spiritual growth.
2) TAKE TIME TO THINK AND BE ALONE. Just taking time to think
things though is always helpful and beneficial to the inner self. Just let the mind
wander, dream, and even imagine how things would be better. This will help anyone
find answers to their questions.
3) PRAY AND TAKE TIME TO BE WITH GOD. This is connected with being
alone in thought. There are times when it is hard to express the feelings of the
heart especially after a "bad" day. Opening your heart in prayer, letting
the feelings speak for themselves and being open to God's presence in your life
will heal the anxiousness and worry that come from daily life.
4) RECEIVE THE SACRAMENTS OFTEN, ESPECIALLY THE HOLY EUCHARIST. How
important it is to FEED the soul with the greatest gift we have as Catholics, the
sacraments. The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion) is the best food that our
souls can feast on. The Holy Eucharist is the Bread of Life, Jesus Himself!
What more do you need?
5) PHYSICAL EXERCISE. Some people are too busy for physical
exercise or even find excuses not to exert some physical energy. But just walking 30
minutes a day will help the spiritual self to express what it has been keeping inside all
day. Plus, a little exercise never hurts. Stay healthy in body and mind!
6) STAY IN TOUCH WITH FAMILY MEMBERS. Friends come and go in our
lives but family members are forever. My family knows me and knows what I have been
through so there is no need to explain anything to them. Use your family support
system as a way to fulfill that hunger for love, acceptance, and affirmation.
Allowing your family to take care of you is not "weakness." On the
contrary, the family is a source of strength and perspective.
TAKE TIME TO DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Doing the same stuff every
day or doing the same things on your days off? How about a once-a-month plan to do
something that is different and special, such as going to the beach, or hiking,
family activities, or going on a "date" with your spouse (remember the famous
line, "we never go anywhere?") Doing something out of the ordinary makes a
VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME FOR A CHURCH OR COMMUNITY PROJECT.
Volunteering in a church or community project is a way to stay in touch with the good and
getting the needed positive perspective on life! A person can volunteer to be a
coach, support a tutor program at the library, be involved in church activities,
teach religious education, or do something together as a family in the many volunteer
opportunities that exist around the community and church.
9) READ A BOOK. We tell our children to read but how about us?
Reading a book can take us to another world for a little while and we just might
learn something new that would help us. Reading is a great stress reliever and a
great way to feed the soul.
10) TALKING ABOUT READING, READ THE BIBLE AND OTHER SPIRITUAL READINGS.
Reading Sacred Scripture, the word of God, is nutrition for the soul, especially
for a soul that is downcast!
THESE are just some ways to deal with the hungers of
the spirit. Most of our spiritual hungers have their basis in past emotional and
psychological experiences. Knowing what motivates you and knowing your hungers will
help you deal with negative situations in a much better and more controlled manner.
SO, don't be sorry. Take care of your
physical and spiritual self. Then, you will be able to accomplish anything with an
inner confidence and security that comes from a fulfilled spirit.
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied
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