If all those joyful pilgrims running about town in celebration of World Youth Day piqued your interest in spirituality, and has you questioning or thinking about the role of faith in your own life (you can read about my own spiritual development here), my suggestion for the week is to plug into some sites online that'll serve you some answers.
In addition to my daily servings of WhoWhatWearDaily, JustJared, Jezebel, tabloid news (c/o The Daily Telegraph and The Daily Mail), serious news (via SMH/ABC) and glossy magazine content, which combined has the definite potential to warp my world view, I find that the daily devotional message from The Word For Today, as well as tuning into my local Christian radio station (96.5 – non-daggy music, I promise!), reading Stephanie Dowrick's column in Good Weekend and dipping into books by Joyce Meyer (in addition to attending church, daily prayer and Bible readings, of course) give me the spiritual grounding and affirmation I need in a world obsessed with consumption, image, celebrity, cosmetic surgery, financial success and excess.
I know, I know – you're too busy working, exercising, socialising, relaxing, shopping, cooking and/or bringing up children to add another bookmark to your bar or attend a church service: so am I. But the payoff is priceless – grounding your everyday actions and thoughts in the faith you follow makes life simpler and simply more joyful and essentially makes you stronger in the face of worldly pressures. It's not a cop-out or a sign of weakness to seek out something deeper and more meaningful for your life: it's a challenge that takes time, discipline and daily commitment (especially if you're a control-freak shop/mag/celeb-aholic, like moi).
Here's a sample devotional from The Word for Today (a daily newsletter you might like to subscribe to):
"Mastering Yourself: Let your flesh know who's in charge. Look for ways to say 'no' to yourself every day. If you do, you'll be able to do it when it really counts. We're not just talking about cardinal sins, but zeroing in on the undisciplined areas of our lives that we excuse, rationalise, or postpone dealing with. Paul writes, 'All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.' (1 Co 6:12). Paul measures his actions by this yardstick: 'Is it beneficial? Does it have the potential to control me?' How long are you going to keep telling yourself, 'I know I need to change, and I will - tomorrow'? You have the right to consume chocolate cake and ice cream at bedtime every night. It's 'permissible', but not 'beneficial', especially if you want unblocked arteries, sugar-free blood, a trim waistline, the ability to run a marathon, or maybe just to keep up with your grandchildren. You have the right to spend your time and money as you please, but you don't have the right to complain when the law of diminishing returns kicks in. You have the right to fill your mind with any kind of rubbish you choose. But understand this, constant exposure to the wrong things will weaken your character, rob you of self-respect and eventually enslave you. When it comes to replacing bad habits with good ones, only one person is going to make it happen - you. Your character is the sum total of your everyday choices. Day by day, what you think, what you choose and what you do, is who you become."
Girl With a Satchel