Previous: Strengthen the Desire to listen and speak with God more frequently

12) Quickly recognize evil thoughts and immediately turn to God

Jesus warns men to battle against evil thoughts (Mt 5:28, 15:19; Eph 4:29) and to seek to have good and pure thoughts (Ps 19:14; Mt 5:8; Rom 12:2; Eph 4:23-24; Col 3:1-2). St. Paul urges men to have holy thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8).

Because of the fallen nature of men, every man is constantly tempted to entertain evil thoughts and very often does. In the evil is a blessing, for as a man becomes better at quickly recognizing his evil thoughts, he can immediately turn to God for help; evil thoughts can become a stimulus to seek God.

Practice monitoring your thoughts and immediately speak and listen for God when you first become aware of an evil thought arising in your mind.

13) See the world through the lens of the Works of Mercy

As Jesus prepares for His Passion, His last parable is the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats through which He reveals that a man’s personal Judgment will be in part based on how he performed the Corporal Works of Mercy (Mt 25:31-46; Feed the hungry, Give drink to the thirsty, Clothe the naked, Shelter the homeless, Visit the sick, Visit the imprisoned; the Church includes Bury the dead; CCC 2447).

Expanding the 7 Corporal Works of Mercy to include other non-corporal teaching of Jesus, the Church has summarized 7 Spiritual Works of Mercy (Instruct the ignorant, Counsel the doubtful, Admonish sinners, Bear wrong patiently, Forgive offenses willingly, Comfort the afflicted, Pray for the living and the dead; CCC 2447).

To remain in the Presence of God more frequently during the day can be helped by more frequently imitate Jesus by seeking to perform the Works of Mercy; when a man consciously seeks to do God’s will by imitating Jesus Christ, he is consciously bringing himself into the Presence of God.

A man shouldn’t ignore the promptings of the Holy Spirit when He moves a man’s conscience to be aware and take action to help another, for God is seeking to make Himself present to the man through the conscience.

To perform the Works of Mercy more frequently, first memorize and then begin to use the Works of Mercy as a “lens”, like spiritual glasses through which a man observes the world. It is easier to “see” the need for the Corporal Works of Mercy but the need to perform the Spiritual Works of Mercy can be less obvious.

Build a habit of seeing through the “lens” of the Spiritual Works of Mercy and offering them more frequently each day to increase the time he is consciously in the Presence of God.

14) Acknowledge God in everyday objects

Jesus enters the world during the Incarnation and relates to men as both God and man, using many worldly examples in His teaching and deeds. By knowing Scripture and recalling how Jesus uses Creation to teach, a man can relate the things he experiences in life to remind Him to speak and listen to God throughout the day.

For example, Jesus uses dozens of references to things in Creation including the human body, ordinary things (salt, light, lamp, leaven, mustard seed, bread, wine, cup, coins, etc.), agriculture (seeds, planting, vineyard, etc.), animals (sheep, sparrows, fish, camel, etc.), and the earth (sea, storms, wind, floods, earthquakes, etc.).

Observe the world, link it to Jesus’ teachings using everyday objects in the Gospels, and automatically remember to listen and speak with God when encountering worldly things.

15) Look towards Heaven in joy

St. Therese of Lisieux found looking towards Heaven moved her soul and drew her closer to God:  “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

Men have always looked towards the heavens in their search for God. While God transcends the visual heavens in the universe, looking upward into the vast sky and beyond reminds men of the astounding Dominion and Providence of God and to look forward to the eternal beatitude of Heaven.  St. Alphonsus Liguori urges men to, “Remember, then, frequently to think of, and long for heaven.”

Make it a practice to regularly marvel at the vast beauty of the sky and listen and speak to God as you admire His heavens.

16) Pray when tempted to complain

Every man is faced with doing things he finds unpleasant, be it tasks at work, chores at home or other obligations to family or community. Every man also faces interacting with people whom he allows to annoy himself. Often, a man complains internally to himself and externally, sharing his unhappiness with others.

Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure advises, “…it is reasonable to think that our complaints are groundless…But it is not enough just not to complain. We ought to be content with what we have been given and desire nothing more…and instead of complaining we ought to be thanking Providence.”

Recognize your tendency to complain and commit to accept the small crosses God allows to come into your life; rather than losing the merit of bearing the crosses joyfully, embrace the crosses without complaint.

Be vigilant to recognize the temptation to complain and instead, give God thanks, offering the little cross for His glory.

17) Pray when passing an ambulance or funeral

In city life, it is common to see and hear ambulances which are carrying the sick and dying to a hospital. This is an excellent time to draw close to God and speak to Him on behalf of the sick and dying, their loved ones and those caring for them.

Funeral processions, notices of funerals are an opportunity to draw close to God and ask for His mercy and comfort of those who have died and their loved ones.

Make it a practice to speak and listen to God when you hear ambulances or see funeral processions.

18) Practice being a witness to God to others

The reason why so many struggle to find happiness today is that they have forgotten about God or they reject Him. Every Catholic man has the duty to help every person come to hear the Gospel (Mt 28:19-20; Rom 10:14-15; 2 Cor 5:20; 2 Tim 4:2; 1 Pet 3:15). A man who speaks to others about God helps them know and encounter God who is present (Mt 18:20) and is also speaking and listening to God at the same time.

There are many ways to bring God “into the conversation” by simply mentioning Him which is a Spiritual Work of Mercy: saying God-focused phrases often (e.g. “God willing”, “By God’s grace”, etc.), by saying how God is blessing you, by expressing thanks to God, by praying before meals, by offering to pray for someone by name, by relating part of the conversation to Scripture, by expressing hope and trust in God, by acknowledging God’s Dominion and Providence, by ending every conversation with “May God bless you!” etc.

Make the commitment to begin to speak more of God to others and constantly ask for and listen to His guidance.

19) Seek God’s will when in emotional turmoil

God has endowed men with the passions, also called emotions, which incline men towards either good or evil actions (CCC 1762-1766). Uncomfortable passions, such as fear, sadness, anger and hate are unmistakable physical sensations which can recognized and remind a man to listen and speak to God. The experience of the passions/emotions can range from mild discomfort to extreme agony.

Uncomfortable passions can arise from several sources, including remembering past hurts, current uncertainty, or conflict, or in anticipation of some troubling future event.

To better understand emotional turmoil, a man can turn to God and to seek His Will. Fr. Jean-Pierre Cascade teaches that finding God’s will is a “science” that provides answers: “To be able to discover the will of God in all that happens to us moment by moment, this is the science of sciences.”

To overcome emotional turmoil, St. Alphonsus Liguori advises men to, “tell Him of all the things that make you fear, or make you sad, and say to Him: ‘My God, in You are all my hopes. I offer this cross to You. I resign myself to Your will. Take pity on me and either deliver me from my trial or give me strength to endure it’.”

When emotional turmoil occurs, turn to God, asking for His guidance so you can better understand what is happening, what He is calling you to do and to give you the strength to endure; often, the simple act of speaking and listening to God can not only bring calm, but clarify about what you are to do.

20) Draw near to God in suffering

Every man suffers in life, including small everyday physical and mental pains and eventually large life-altering suffering (death of loved ones, loss of employment, financial problems, severe injury or illness, etc.). Every man has a personal appointment with pain which he desperately tries to avoid and escape. Fr. Jean Baptiste Saint-Jure warns, “Let us imagine our confusion when we appear before God and understand the reasons why He sent us the crosses we accept so unwillingly.”

As Christ demonstrates in the Cross, even the worst suffering, can be transformed to give glory to God and build the Kingdom. Every man can offer his sufferings to God, uniting them with the Cross of Christ. Fr. Jean-Caussade counsels, “In every difficulty we should turn to God…To fulfill the will of God, we must accept whatever He sends us and be content with it.”

To help bear the suffering, St. Alphonsus Liguori offers this: “When you are afflicted with sickness, persecution, temptation, or any other trouble, turn at once to God and ask His help. It is enough for you to lay your affliction before Him—to go to Him and say: ‘Behold, O Lord, for I am in distress’.”

To be better prepared to accept the big crosses of life, be alert to the suffering which comes into your daily life, recognizing it, thanking God for His Holy will and for the grace so that you may selflessly endure the little crosses in imitation of the Perfect Man, Jesus Christ.

21) Seek indulgences from God for the suffering

The Church grants Indulgences (Latin, indulgentia, meaning “fondness, tenderness, affection, remission”; CCC 1471-1479, 1498) which are a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to a sin committed by a man for which his guilt has already been forgiven in the Sacrament of Penance; a Catholic man can also offer Indulgences to be granted to faithfully departed Catholic souls who are currently suffering as they are being cleansed in Purgatory (CCC 1479, 1498). The Manual of Indulgences published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops offers detailed norms and grants of indulgences.

By building a regular habit of seeking indulgences, a man is taking concrete action to listen and speak to God.

Consider regularly pursuing indulgences by listening and speaking to God, preforming Works of Mercy, abstain from licit pleasures, or giving explicit eyewitness to Christ.

22) Search for ways to thank God throughout the day

While having a supernatural encounter with God that is full of wonder and many spiritual consolations is a blessing, far more regularly remaining in the Presence of God during the day is a matter of acknowledging Him.

  1. K. Chesterton suggests that a man can find new ways to speak and listen to God by thinking differently about prayer: “You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”

One of the easiest ways to remain in the Presence of God is to have a frequent habit of thanking Him. When some small or large thing in your daily life gives you joy or happiness, thank God. Meister Eckhart suggests, “If the only prayer you said was ‘Thank you,’ that would be enough.”

Another shortcut to build a more frequent habit of thanking God is to say the simple and profound prayer, “Thanks be to God”; it is a powerful prayer that can be said in many circumstances every day and can quickly turn a man’s mind, and the minds of those he encounters, towards God.

Make it a daily practice to search for God’s many blessings and to say “Thanks be to God” many times during the day.

23) Immediately turn to God when Satan tempts

Men are constantly tempted (Latin, meaning “to try, test”) by Satan each day to make choices which lead them to resist or fall into sin in the Spiritual Combat (CCC 538).

To help guide a man to make choices which lead to God, God has given men a conscience which becomes enlightened by God to help him resist temptation (CCC 1778, 1785). While there are a variety of types of temptations and each man is different as to how Satan seeks to attack him, the temptation to commit the deadly sins of lust, gluttony, sloth, and anger are common daily temptations for many men.

In the midst of temptation, a man’s conscience can alert a man to take right action through the signs of temptation including the experiences of impulses, emotions, shame, confusion, secrecy, and worry. 

To battle temptation, especially the common temptation of lust, cultivate a habit of being aware of the signs of temptation and immediately speaking and listening to God.

24) Turn to God when you sin

Every man sins every day in little and large ways, by what he does and what he fails to do. When a man’s conscience alerts a man that he has sinned, it is an excellent time to quickly speak and listen to God.  Saint Augustine calls men to the urgent need to repent when sinning: “God has promised forgiveness to your repentance, but He has not promised tomorrow to your procrastination.”

When conscience alerts you to a sin you have committed, quickly speak to God in contrition for your sin and listen to His response.

25) Ask God for guidance when making decisions

Jesus demonstrates His commitment to seeking His Father’s will in all things; for example, in selecting His Apostles (Lk 6:12-13) and during the Agony in the Garden (Mt 26:36-39).

Because every man faces all sorts of decisions every day, using the stimulus of making decisions can remind a man to turn to God. St. Paul reveals the great blessings of turning to God for help in making decisions, particularly in challenging decisions: “Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7).

Build a practice of recognizing when you are facing decisions and immediately speaking and listening to God for His guidance.

26) Turn to God when others sin against you

Every man sins and experiences the pain of being sinned against by others. While every man will likely endure the effects of grave sin against him in life, the small everyday pains of sins against him by others offers frequent opportunities to remind a man to listen and speak to God.

When others sin against a man, he is called to forgive (Mt 6:14-15), to “turn the other cheek” (Mt 5:39), to pray for those who sin against him (Mt 5:44), to reconcile with the sinner (Mt 18:15) and to model Christ’s love to an enemy (Rom 12:20-21). To respond consistently with this kind of heroic charity, a man needs to speak and listen to God frequently.

Acknowledge when others sin against you and resolve to always quickly speak and listen to God to be comforted and be guided to know when and how to respond with the Spiritual Works of Mercy (Instruct the ignorant, Counsel the doubtful, Admonish sinners, Bear wrong patiently, Forgive offenses willingly, Comfort the afflicted, Pray for the living and the dead; CCC 2447).

27) Listen and speak to God when passing holy places

The Church reveals that there are holy places where God’s presence is particularly significant, including His actual presence in the Eucharist found in every parish and the holy ground of Catholic cemeteries where the beloved dead are buried.

When passing by any parish or cemetery, take a few moments to acknowledge the presence of God and ask for Him to speak to you.

28) Build a habit of seeking to see God in Creation

God created everything and His work is apparent to all men of good will who seek Him. St. Paul suggests, “Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made” (Rom 1:20). St Thomas Aquinas taught that God can be seen in Creation for those who look closely at people and other creatures and by observing the harmony, beauty and order of nature.

Building the skill to observe the Creation to see God’s handiwork in all things can lead a man to automatically begin to draw closer to God in daily life, to hear His voice in the things He is presenting to a man, and to spontaneously be moved to give God thanks for the goodness, beauty and truth in Creation (CCC 54, 282, 295, 299, 341).

Just like an artist or photographer begins to see the visual world differently by practice, so too can every man begin to see God’s presence more clearly by the practice of looking for Him in Creation. Fr. Jeremias Drexelius reveals that, “Just as the eye sees all things in the sun, so the soul sees all things in God.”

Make the commitment to start a regular practice of seeing God in the everyday circumstances of daily life, in other people, situations and in Creation.

29) Be reminded to pray at home with sacred images and spaces

To help more frequently listen and speak to God, the Church encourages men to set aside places of prayer within their homes (CCC 2691). This is based on Jesus’ instruction from the Sermon on the Mount for men to go into their “inner room” to pray (Mt 6:6).

Consider setting aside a place in your home as a small private shrine/oratory (literally, a place of prayer to speak with God). This will be a reminder and a visible invitation to draw close to God more frequently.

In addition, consider bringing sacred objects (Crucifixes) and art to every room in the house so that you might always be reminded of God’s Presence and to seek to listen and speak to Him.

30) Have the home blessed by a priest to recall God more frequently

The home is a domestic Church (CCC 1666), the smallest cell of the Church Militant, and having a home blessed by a priest gives God praise and seeks God’s gifts upon all those in the home (CCC 1671).

The blessing of a home by a priest not only brings direct graces from God but offers a tangible experience which is remembered and can help a man be reminded to lift his mind to God while in his home.

Invite a priest to come to your home and bless it so you can more frequently remember God’s blessing and seek to speak and listen to God.

31) Gather with other men to pray

Jesus calls men to gather to speak and listen to God using the Our Father (Mt 6:9-13) and He promises to draw near to men who pray together (Mt 18:20).  The Apostles continued to gather and prayer as they built the early Church: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

To build the habit of speaking and listening to God more frequently, use the stimulus of gathering with holy men, for, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (Prov 27:17).  Importantly, St. Paul offers a sober warning to avoid those who rebel against God: “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Cor 15:33).

Regularly gather with other holy men in fraternity and build a habit of praying together; your brothers will provide many opportunities to listen and speak to God more frequently.

32) Keep sacramentals near to remind of God

Sacramentals are a gift from the Church which are sacred signs, including sacred objects, which prepare a man prepare a man to receive grace and dispose a man to cooperate with it (CCC 1667-1671). Across the ages, men have used special objects to remind them of God and to seek to draw closer to Him in daily life.

Consider having objects (crucifix necklace, Rosary, ring, wrist band, New Testament, saint medals, Scapular, religious images or cards) which help you draw closer to God blessed by a priest (CCC 1671) and wear or carry them with you to help you remember to listen and speak to God more frequently.

33) Seek sacred art and encounter God

Christ’s holy Catholic Church has always recognized that beautiful sacred art (painting, sculpture, music, writing, poetry, architecture, etc.) lifts men’s hearts to God.  Pope Benedict XVI said on several occasions, “…art and the saints are the greatest apologetic for our faith.” St. John Paul II wrote that beautiful sacred art, “stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express in incomparable terms: ‘Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new: late have I loved you!’”

Every Catholic man can find many examples of beautiful sacred art and music available in nearby parishes and cathedrals and online. By viewing, listening, and meditating upon beautiful sacred art, a man can be inspired to speak and listen to God.

Set a goal to regularly seek beautiful sacred art and look for ways to display art around the home or place of work so that you can be reminded frequently to listen and speak to God.

Next up: Plan routine Responses to more frequently turn to God