Rotating Header Image

spiritual direction

A Catholic Retreat For Those Who Worry!

 

Catholic speaker and retreat leader Gary Zimak will be leading a Pray, Hope and Don't Worry retreat at the Malvern Retreat House in Malvern, PA on August 14-16,2015

Are you tired of worrying?

Would you like to feel greater peace in your life?

Do you sometimes wish you could get to know Jesus better?

Does the idea of getting away for a few days of peaceful reflection and relaxation sound good to you?

I am thrilled to announce that on Aug 14 – Aug 16, 2015, I will be leading the first ever Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry retreat at the Malvern Retreat House in Malvern, PA! Located in the Philadelphia suburbs, the Malvern Retreat House is the oldest and largest Catholic retreat center in the United States. I have a great deal of respect for the work that Msgr. Marino and his staff do and I am honored to be working with them on this retreat.

This retreat will allow you to encounter Jesus in a deep and personal way. We will meet Him in the Sacraments and Sacred Scripture. We’ll grow closer to the Blessed Mother. I will share simple and practical ways which have allowed me to break free from worrying. Here is the schedule for the weekend:

FRIDAY NIGHT
5:00 Registration
6:45 Dinner
7:30 Welcome
8:15 Conference #1 Getting Personal With Jesus
9:00 Celebration of the Eucharist: Priest provided

SATURDAY
7:00 Rise
7:40 Morning Prayer
8:00 Breakfast.
9:15 Conference #2 From Fear To Faith
10:15 Reconciliation Service Leader & Confessors are provided for individual confessions
11:30 Way of the Cross (Private – Using the outside Stations provided along the pathways)
12:15 Lunch
1:30 Conference #3 What If Mary Said, “No”?
2:30 Small Group Discussion
3:15 Break
3:45 Questions and Comments
4:30 Break
4:45 Celebration of the Eucharist: Priest provided
5:45 Dinner
7:30 Conference #4 You Can’t Walk On Water If You’re Sitting In The Boat!
8:30 TBD
9:30 Coffee & Danish

SUNDAY MORNING
7:00 Rise
7:30 Morning Prayer
8:00 Breakfast
8:30 Conference #5 What Does God Want Me To Do?
10:30 Faith Sharing
11:00 Celebration of the Eucharist (Rector of Malvern as celebrant)

My presentations will include:

1. Getting Personal With Jesus – Many people go through life knowing about Jesus, but never get to know him personally. Sadly, many Catholics don’t even know that it’s possible to have a close, personal relationship with Christ. Using some of the techniques featured in his soon to be released book on the topic, Gary will give you practical suggestions for becoming close friends with the Lord. In addition, you’ll discover why it’s critical that you share Jesus with others and learn simple ways to do so.

2. From Fear To Faith – Are you tired of worrying? After struggling to overcome anxiety for many years, Gary Zimak has learned that Jesus Christ can help us to win this battle. In this talk, based on his best-selling books A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible and From Fear To Faith, Gary will share his step by step approach for breaking free from worry by encountering Christ in His Church.

3. What If Mary Said “No”? – We often assume that Mary had to say “yes” when asked to become the Mother of the Savior. In reality, the Blessed Mother’s assent was a conscious choice on her part. In this talk, based on Gary’s book, Listen To Your Blessed Mother, we’ll look closely at Mary’s life and learn how to imitate her constant “yes” to the Lord. You’ll also discover how Mary can lead you closer to Jesus than you ever thought possible.

4. You Can’t Walk On Water If You’re Sitting In The Boat! – Did you ever feel like God is asking you to do something, but you’re afraid? That’s perfectly normal. Whenever the Lord asks us to do anything, there is always some element of fear involved. There’s no reason to let fear stop you from letting God work great miracles in your life, however. In this talk, Gary will give you practical advice for conquering even your greatest fears and teach you how to surrender control of your life to the Lord!

5. What Does God Want Me To Do? – As someone who went from a secure career as a project analyst to an uncertain future as a Catholic lay evangelist, Gary knows what it takes to discern God’s will. How do I know what the Lord is calling me to do? How can I learn to hear Him speak in a noisy world? How can I learn to trust in His providence? All these questions (and more) will be answered in this talk, based on Gary’s own personal journey and detailed in his book Faith, Hope, And Clarity: How To Know God’s Will. You’ll learn that it is possible to hear God speak and experience peace in the midst of uncertainty. This peace can be experienced only by surrendering to the Lord’s will.

This retreat is open to both men and women and is designed to help you to finally break away from worrying by growing closer to the Lord. We will be staying in the beautiful Family Life Center (A one-story facility with 50 air-conditioned rooms with private baths for individuals, couples and family members. Each room has a double bed and a single bed and a private bath. Four rooms are fitted for wheelchair accommodation, and contain one double bed).The cost for the weekend retreat (including meals and lodging) is only $225. Please email me if you have any questions or need additional information.

Click on the following image to register for the Pray, Hope and Don’t Worry retreat. Space is VERY limited (100 people), so make it a point to register today!

Register today for the Pray, Hope and Don't Worry retreat led by Catholic speaker Gary Zimak at the Malvern Retreat House

Gary Zimak is the author of “A Worrier’s Guide To The Bible”, “Listen To Your Blessed Mother”, “From Fear To Faith” and “Faith, Hope and Clarity.” He is a frequent speaker at parishes and conferences across the United States and Canada, has an international radio following and is recognized as the leading Catholic speaker on the topic of overcoming anxiety. In addition to hosting his own daily radio show on BlogTalkRadio, Gary is a regular guest on EWTN television and radio.

Dan Burke On Faith, Hope, And Clarity…

 

EWTN's Dan Burke endorses the new book by Catholic speaker Gary Zimak - Faith, Hope, And Clarity: How To Know God's Will

“God cares about you. He cares about the decisions you need to make. He wants to reach you and lead you through the noise and distractions of this life to peace and union with Him. Gary’s book reveals this reality and will help you to gain practical insights into the wisdom of St. Ignatius’ rules of discernment regarding how to better hear and follow the movements of God in your soul.”

Dan Burke, Founder of the Avila Institute for Spiritual Formation and Executive Director of EWTN’s National Catholic Register

Thank you, Dan, for recommending my new book – Faith, Hope, and Clarity: How to Know God’s Will. You can pre-order it at a discounted price by clicking on the image below. Stay tuned for more endorsements!

Fr. Mitch Pacwa On Faith, Hope, And Clarity…

 

EWTN YV personality Father Mitch Pacwa recommends the new book by Catholic speaker and author Gary Zimak - Faith, Hope, and Clarity

“The need for clear, orthodox Catholic knowledge is crucial for understanding the truth of Jesus Christ and his way of life. The next step is to discern among many good choices what is conducive to accomplishing the will of God for each of us individually. Gary Zimak shows how knowing God’s will opens up great adventures that give God greater glory and praise in everything we do!”

Fr. Mitch Pacwa, SJ, author of The Holy Land: An Armchair Pilgrimage

Thank you, Fr. Mitch, for recommending my new book – Faith, Hope, and Clarity: How to Know God’s Will. You can pre-order it at a discounted price by clicking on the image below. Stay tuned for another endorsement tomorrow!

One Way To Be Sure You’re Following God’s Will…

 

“Do you really believe God loves you? If you do, you know that everything that happens in your life is for your good. And it isn’t always a peaceful experience.” (Mother Angelica)

How do I know what God wants me to do with my life? How can I be sure that I’m following His will?

While this is a concern for anyone who is sincerely trying to follow the Lord, the answer is simpler than you realize. Although there are decisions that must be made in the course of our lives, there is one sure way to be certain that we’re following the will of God. It is to simply accept everything that happens in your life as being God’s will.

That’s it? You bet! This method of discernment is so simple that it often gets overlooked. In addition, it’s one of the most difficult things that we can ever do. Why? Because it involves our accepting illness, poverty, sorrow, loneliness, humiliation and uncertainty as being part of God’s will… and that isn’t easy!

The Bible tells us that “all things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28), but that is often forgotten when we are faced with unexpected challenges. Just for a minute, imagine how peaceful you’d be if you TRULY believed that everything that God permits to happen in your life is in your best interest. In reality, that’s exactly what the Church teaches. It is God’s will that we all end up in Heaven (1 Thes 4:3) and He sometimes allows “bad” things to happen in order to help us arrive at our eternal destination.

In his book, Uniformity With God’s Will, Saint Alphonsus Liguori advises, “Whenever anything disagreeable happens, remember it comes from God and say at once, ‘This comes from God’ and be at peace.” While this advice seems simple, just think of how many times we violate it each day! How often do we complain about flat tires, financial problems, poor health, heavy workloads, tiredness and so many other issues?

Today, why not try to follow God’s will by NOT complaining when unpleasant things happen? Instead, make it a point to thank the Lord for making His will known!

“Whatever good or evil befalls you, be confident that God will convert it all to your good.” (Saint Jane Frances de Chantal)

The 5 Biggest Mistakes Catholics Make (And How To Avoid Them)

There are many different approaches to living the Catholic Faith.  Some people prefer more traditional devotions such as novenas and formal prayer while others choose to speak to Jesus using spontaneous prayer.  Some like the Charismatic movement while others pray in silence.  As long as your approach is faithful to Church teaching and brings you closer to Christ, it really is a matter of personal choice. 

However, over the course of my life as a Cradle Catholic, I’ve discovered 5 big mistakes that will definitely hurt your faith.  I have personally made most of these mistakes and the results were not pretty.  Instead of getting closer to Christ (and being a good example for others), I ended up heading in the wrong direction.  In order to spare you some agony, I present my list of the 5  biggest mistakes Catholics make and how to avoid them.

1. Checking The Box– “What do you mean I’m not a good Catholic?  I go to Mass on Sunday!”  This was my philosophy for most of my life.  I went to Mass every week and thought that I was fulfilling my duties as a Catholic.  After all, there are tons of Catholics who don’t even go to Mass!  Unfortunately, even though I was physically going to church and saying the prayers, my mind was a thousand miles away.

Those of you who are married, in a relationship, or have close friends realize that speaking to a person once a week doesn’t help to build a close relationship.  If you want to get closer to someone, you need to speak with them often.  The same principle applies to our relationship with Christ.  If all we do is show up for Mass each week, we’re never going to REALLY know Him.  This situation becomes even worse when we don’t even pay attention at Mass.  If we want to become good friends with Jesus, we must talk to Him (in prayer) frequently.  We should listen to Him speak through the Bible and we should encounter Him in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession as often as we can.

2. “My Faith Is A Personal Matter” – “I can’t impose my personal beliefs on others.”  Sometimes known as “religious indifference”, this is rooted in the belief that one religion is as good as the next.  People who fall into this trap believe that our religious beliefs are personal and shouldn’t be “forced” on others.  While we shouldn’t force our beliefs on others, we should “always be ready to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15) and be willing to “preach the gospel to all nations” (Mk 13:10).  Before He ascended into Heaven, Jesus instructed the Apostles:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”  (Mt 28:19)

In other words, what one believes really DOES matter!  Jesus instructed the Apostles to teach ALL that He commanded, not just some things.  Our Lord founded the Catholic Church (Mt 16:18-20) as the vehicle for our salvation.  The Church has the fullness of truth and her teachings should be shared with others.  As proof of this, St. Paul tells us that “God desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tm 2:4).  It is our job as Catholics to share in this mission and to share the “Good News” with those whom we encounter in our daily lives. 

3. The “Do It Yourself” Approach–  “I don’t believe in medals and novenas.  That’s a bunch of superstition.  Saying the rosary is for old people.  I speak directly to God!”  Does that sound familiar?  If you want to ensure that your faith never gets any stronger, the best way to do that is to ignore the Blessed Mother, the intercession of the saints, devotions, approved apparitions, sacramentals (such as the scapular, medals and holy water) and try to do it all by yourself. 

The Church gives us sacramentals and devotions to help us get to Heaven.  The same can be said for approved (please note that I say “approved”!) apparitions of Our Lady and Our Lord.  If we try to do it all by ourselves, we’re going to fail.  Why?  Because we’re human and that makes us prone to laziness, love of comfort and doing the wrong thing.  Not exactly the qualities that will help one attain eternal life!  If we avail ourselves of some Divine assistance, however, all things are possible.

For many years I chose to ignore approved Marian apparitions, as I thought they were an unnecessary distraction.  I now realize that this wasn’t too bright on my part.  If the Church rules that certain appearances of the Blessed Mother are worthy of belief, why would I choose to ignore her message?  If I really wanted to get closer to the Lord and be a better Catholic, shouldn’t I listen to her advice?  It really makes sense to me now and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this powerful gift.   

Another form of this mistake is forgetting to ask for help.  I once told my spiritual director that I was trying to stop worrying and trust God more.  I mentioned how hard I was trying, but without much success.  He replied, “Did you ask God for help?”  I was speechless because I honestly never thought of doing that!  Don’t try to become a better person on your own.  Ask the saints to intercede for you and ask the Lord for some extra grace.  You’ll be amazed at the results! 

4. Ignorance Is Bliss – “What I don’t know won’t hurt me”.  If we don’t take the time to learn the teachings of the Church, it’s almost certain that we’re going to be going against God’s will.  How can we truly obey the Lord’s commandments if we don’t know them?  Proponents of this brand of Catholicism go through life practicing contraception, downloading music illegally, missing Mass on Holy Days of Obligation, drinking to excess, etc.  The trouble with this approach is that we’re not doing what Jesus wants us to do. 

As Catholics, we are blessed to have the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC).  This book provides an excellent summary of what Catholics believe.  Sadly, many Catholics have never looked at this great resource.  One of the most eye opening sections involves the explanation of “Thou Shall Not Kill” (CCC 2258 – 2330).  Aside from the obvious meaning, the Church expands the commandment to cover respect for the souls of others (avoid setting a bad example that may lead others astray), proper attention to our health (gluttony, excessive use of alcohol or tobacco and even speeding can be grave sins!) and the preservation of peace (be on guard against anger and verbal abuse).

Not only can this mistake cause damage to your spiritual well being, it can even afect your salvation!  As Catholics, we are responsible for the education of our conscience.  While, objectively speaking, God will not hold us accountable for what we don’t know, we are expected to make an attempt to learn what the Church teaches.  According to the Catechism:

This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man “takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin.”  In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits. (CCC 1791)

5. The “Either-Or”  Fallacy – Either you know the facts and follow the laws of the Catholic Church or you do nice things for people.  We can’t deny Communion to anyone because Jesus dined with sinners, not just those who were holy.  The Mass MUST be in Latin because that’s the way things were done years ago when Catholics “cared about their faith”.  Those who fall into this line of thinking are making the false assumption that in order to be a good Catholic you must either follow the rules OR be a good person.  In reality, we must do BOTH!

Throughout His public ministry, Jesus made it clear that we must worship Him with our hearts as well as our lips.  In the Sermon on the Mount, He warned against rattling off “empty” prayers:

In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. (Mt 6:7)

Unfortunately, many individuals incorrectly interpret this as a condemnation of formal prayer or, worse yet, as a dismissal of the need for any law or rules.  That viewpoint completely ignores the words of Jesus who says just the opposite!

Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law, until all things have taken place.  Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.  But whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:17-19)

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15)

In order to live our Catholic Faith, we first need to understand the rules.  Once we understand the rules and expectations of being a Catholic, we have to live them.  The “either-or” fallacy just doesn’t “cut it”.  In order to be a good Catholic, we must do both!

So there you have it …My list of the 5 biggest mistakes that Catholics make and how to avoid them.  What do you think? Agree? disagree?  Did I miss any?  Let me know…

How Can I Know The Will Of God In My Life?

Great question, right?

Many of us are struggling to discern this on a daily basis.  Fr. John Bartunek addresses this difficult question using very clear and simple language.  One of the things that I really like about this post is his answer to the question of “When should I stop asking and just accept my suffering as God’s will?”. 

This entry really helped me and I’m sure will help many of you.  Don’t forget to pass the link to others who are struggling with this question in their lives!

How Can I Know The Will Of God In My Life?