The Problem With Small Talk
“Prayer is the life of the new heart. It ought to animate us at every moment. But we tend to forget Him Who is our life and our all. This is why the Fathers of the spiritual life (...) insist that prayer is a remembrance of God often awakened by the memory of the heart. ‘We must remember God more often than we draw breath.’ But we cannot pray 'at all times' if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it.” (CCC 2697)
I hate small talk.
Not people, not parties… just small talk. Put me in a large crowd, with people I don’t know, and I cower like the new kid at school. Hey guys, I’ll be over here drinking my soda; if you want to talk about something other than what I do for a living, cool, you know where to find me.
Yes, there is a time and place for the “easy” questions. It would be a little silly if we walked around introducing ourselves with existential questions about life and our existence. Actually, that would be downright annoying. But, there is something so missed about our relationships with one another if we only skim the surface, if we spend all of our time just meeting people and never really get to know them.
I think that was the defining thought for me when I realized my prayer life needed to change -- when my daily interactions with God had more to do with the pleasantries of my life and less to do with what my heart was truly yearning for. When all I demanded of God was that He skim the surface of my schedule, not reside at the very core of my day. For a long time, I avoided those hard questions, those long aching conversations. I don’t think it was out of fear or unwillingness; I simply didn’t think I had the time or energy. I must’ve missed the memo that He is actually the source of that strength…
For me, I think I just lost sight of my daily purpose. I allowed my busy schedule to dictate my prayer life. I’m not going to lie I love to be busy. Being bored is 10 times worse than small talk. But, so often, we parade our schedules around as though we are achieving something monumental. Oh look at how responsible I am! A job, kids, extracurricular activities, an active and popular blog, a clothing line, a home-decorating-mommy-daycare company… I’m so busy and so fabulous.
But, being busy isn’t a badge of honor, it isn’t an attribute or quality of who we are. We are daughters of a loving and eternal Father. A father who wants to be at the center of our lives - not selfishly - but simply because of how much He loves us and knows how badly we need Him. Our days should reflect that reality.
Never-the-less, although the theory is beautiful, actually achieving the balance is still difficult. It takes time and a little careful planning. But, rearranging your schedule around your time spent in prayer is life changing. For from the fount of His love, everything else flows.
Some ideas to pray even in the busiest of moments:
- Carve out 5, 10, or 15 minutes of uninterrupted prayer in your day. Treat it like your morning cup of coffee: non-negotiable.
- Make a commitment to pray as a family. Whether it is a Rosary or Chaplet, 5 minutes of intentions, or 15 minutes reading the Mass readings for the day. Pray together as a domestic Church.
Offer little sacrifices during the day for the sake of prayer.
- Occasionally turn off the car radio and invite God into that silence.
- If you find yourself on Netflix, watch one less episode of your favorite show and spend that time in prayer instead.
- Pray while cooking, cleaning, or exercising.
- Pray while shopping or running errands.
- Split time between spiritual reading and reading for entertainment.
- Make a “Sacrament Date” with a significant other or friend. Go to Mass, Confession, or Adoration with that person and then lunch or dinner after.
- Re-evaluate every few months with a personal retreat. Whether a weekend or just a few hours, take time to re-assess and edit the way you spend your time.
Rachel Peñate is a Wisconsin girl at heart who loves the Lord with all she can muster. Rachel works for Life Teen, International as an Administrative Assistant/ Copy Editor, and has a few mild obsessions, particularity: reading, running, coffee, Switchfoot, and the Green Bay Packers. She is married to her college sweetheart, and is often entertained by their two adorably rambunctious Labrador Retrievers.
Newest Ministry here at St. Timothy!
Hello, ladies! Let me start with introducing myself. I’m Manda Poffel, the Coordinator of Many Things (my job title is ridiculous and a little long) here at St. Timothy. Quick things about me: I am the youngest of four, born and raised in Denver, CO. I did two years at the University of Northern Colorado before heading off to a year of service with NET – National Evangelization Team – Ministries and then finished my degree at Northern Colorado in 2008. I worked for FOCUS – Fellowship of Catholic University Students, as a campus missionary in Kansas City, MO, and then as a Team Director in Flagstaff, AZ. Finally I landed here at St. Timothy with Jake Etcheverria in Youth Ministry in 2012. A few months later, Fr. Charlie and I began the journey that is parish evangelization, and it’s been a wild ride since! One of my many roles at St. Timothy is overseeing women’s ministries, and I’d like to welcome you to our newest ministry to women. I want to answer a few questions before we get into the posts.
Why a Blog?
Ever notice in the bulletin how there are a bazillion men’s events, and we don’t appear to offer a lot for women? There’s a reason: we’re busy, ladies! We ask for things we really can’t commit to, and we have good reasons for not being able to be involved. So, what’s a parish to do to offer ministry, support, catechesis and opportunities for community to busy moms, wives, sisters, cousins, daughters, students, professionals, grandmothers, granddaughters, etc? This is our start. The blog is written specifically for women, so feel free to pass on to other women (or men), but just be aware that its intended audience is YOU: The St. Timothy Female Parishioner.
Online Ministry Will Never Take the Place of Face-to-Face Ministry
Let me reiterate my earlier point: This is a starting place. These articles are for you to read with a glass of tea or wine, while surfing Facebook, while breastfeeding, while sitting in your favorite reading chair, while waiting for a doctor’s appointment, but definitely NOT while driving. This blog will begin allowing us to reach you where you are, and help give you tools for conversing with other women around you. This blog is never to take the place of the face-to-face ministry that is already happening and to come in other events. While it is important to be a presence of truth and light in the internet world, we have to remember that we live in a tangible reality as well!
All articles are edited for content, grammar and accessibility. To that end, all writers are volunteers that must be registered parishioners and/or staff of St. Timothy. If you are a parishioner and have an idea for an article, CONTACT ME! I would love to sit down with you and hear your thoughts!
If you have a legitimate question or comment about the article or the Faith, please e-mail Manda and we’ll start a discussion. We value your questions and responses. We believe as Catholics that we have the fullness of the truth, so questions should never rustle our feathers or frustrate us! Inappropriate or off topic questions will not be featured. We are using this process to guard against the nasty folks known as “internet trolls,” who attack and degrade caring people.
If you have questions about Catholicism, we have a generous staff here at St. Timothy that would meet with you over coffee to discuss our faith with you; just contact us!
Finally, we are so excited to get to offer this to our women! We will be posting every other week at first, and if the demand grows, we will post more! God bless and so many prayers!
For more information regarding women's evangelization and discipleship, please contact: