Alexis Dallara-Marsh explores various forms of spiritual journaling as a way to grow closer to God.
I always had difficulty talking to God. My mind tends to jump from place to place during Mass. I could go to Mass, following with the readings and listening to the best of homilies, yet moments later not recall what was said. I often felt morally defeated, to say the least. It was easy for me to memorize structured prayers and recite them, but when being left to speak to God after receiving Communion, my mind would often be blank.
Similarly, I often had the best of intentions when joining in on a Rosary gathering or Divine Mercy chaplet, but when left to do it by myself, my mind would wander off. Such occurrences left me feeling not good enough for God, a heresy of its own accord.
More recently I have combated this in the last few months by allowing myself the time to investigate the Catholic issues that speak most to me. One day, I may find my inspiration based on the time of year we're in. For example, focusing on Mary in May, or the Sacred Heart in June, or a certain saint, depending on the date. Kendra Tierney's compilations have been extremely helpful with being intentional. Another topic that has always fascinated me is that of the transitioning from death to everlasting life. I have come to live for prayers concentrating on this area, particularly the works of Susan Tassone, who has many publications detailing how we can pray for the souls in Purgatory. Reading the daily devotions of volunteer writers of groups such as BlessedisShe has inspired me to want to do the same.
I have started to find multiple ways to channel my own energy when writing comes on. I think of this as a means to digesting information by finding my own voice. Beginning to organize blog entries has been one start. Most of them remain unpublished for now, as it shouldn't be the goal to write for others, but for oneself and the exploration of my own faith, which can be highly personal. I write when I am inspired on a topic, even if it's only recording the idea and then going back to it later when I'm bored so that I can investigate it further. Even as I go about my day-to-day life, I've come to find always having a pen nearby to jot down thoughts has been immensely helpful. It often even feels therapeutic.
In more specific settings such as church, I purchased a Mass journal so that I can have the word to highlight in front of me as I read it. I realize now I am a largely visual person. When in school, I would study by writing and rewriting to help ideas be absorbed. Why not use similar techniques for my relationship with my Lord? Similarly, I can access the Bible on my phone to read and highlight passages if out and about, helping me to be an active rather than passive participant in the Word of God.
I now recognize that what works for one may not work for all, and that's OK. Some may not find writing a means to strengthen their relationship with Christ. Maybe instead, they are able to serve Him through other hobbies or interests. What's important is that, when we do find the ways that work for us to strengthen our relationship with Christ, we go with it.
Has reflective writing and journaling worked for furthering your relationship with God? Or is there another method you have found more helpful? Share your stories!
Copyright 2021 Alexis Dallara-Marsh
Images: Unsplash (2018); Canva Pro
About the Author
Dr. Alexis Dallara-Marsh is a board-certified neurologist who practices in Bergen County, NJ. She is a wife to her best friend, Akeem, and a mother of two little ones on Earth, plus two others in Heaven above.