Calming the noise: Spirituality for a crazy world

Catholic spiritual traditions have a lot to offer young adults seeking clarity in uncertain times, one millennial finds.

Guest blog by Angelica N. Quinonez

Millennials live in a world of unlimited possibilities. As a result, we are open to change as we confront an uncertain future. We face major decisions and life events that directly affect our careers, families, relationships, and faith.  Many of us have lost our jobs to the recession, new graduates are still struggling to find an open door to their dream career, and others are reevaluating career choices and searching for greater meaning in their daily work. 

We are plagued by indecision in the midst of a noisy world that makes it difficult for us to pause and think, to pray and reflect, to just be–to be without the web apps, mobile devices, 140-character tweets, and everything else that requires us to be plugged in when we're not sleeping.

When I was laid off in 2008, I breathed and stopped and reconnected with the relationships I had put on hold. Six months later I found employment in the same industry, but I realized that what I had been searching for in the previous months was not what I found.

In November 2009, I decided to temporarily (or perhaps permanently) leave the corporate world after a number of years of success and hard work. I finished a Master's program in Theology and decided to take a breath, to grow, to stop again, to disconnect from the noise and continue to strengthen my faith and understand where God is leading me.

St. Augustine wrote, "Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord." In a world where multi-tasking is the norm and a diminished attention span its consequence, I was drawn back to the devotional and monastic practices of the Catholic and early Christian tradition. I have rediscovered the beauty of the Liturgy of the Hours and the Divine Office. I have once again made the lectio divina a part of my daily spiritual life and am finding that the 15 or 20 minutes spent on this practice has enriched my faith life in ways that cannot be fully expressed.

Spending 15 minutes of uninterrupted quiet with full attention on one task was difficult for this multi-tasking millennial, but it has gradually become easier.  Even outside of prayer, I have found that my attention span and concentration has increased.

Having been educated by Dominicans and Jesuits, I have a great appreciation for contemplative spirituality. The Examen of Conscience, from the Jesuit tradition, has become a daily practice that has strengthened my relationship with God and has helped me become aware of the ways in which God is calling me to serve. As young adults continue to struggle with finding direction and understanding God's presence in their lives, the Examen provides a means by which this generation can pause and reflect and see how God is working in their lives.

Likewise, I have found the recitation and beauty of the rosary, the Jesus Prayer (a practice of the Eastern Orthodox Church), and the Pater Noster Psalter refreshing and healing practices that disconnect me from a noisy world and connect me with the ultimate desire of our hearts.

As young Catholics continue to find their place in the world and in the Church, we should encourage them to take the time to find God in the everyday world by stopping and listening–be it in prayer or otherwise. In the silence we can listen for the voice of God, we can discern the next step in our lives, and quell the doubt and fear.

Guest blogger Angelica N. Quinonez holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Santa Clara University and a Master of Arts in Theology from the University of San Francisco. She is a 27-year-old San Franciscan and blogs over at Through A Glass Onion.

Guest blog posts express the views of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the views of U.S. Catholic, its editors, or the Claretians.