There is a lot of talk these days, in many ways so correctly, about sustainability. We can apply this to sustaining our journey to being closer to Jesus. Bishop Johnston speaks boldly and pastorally to the young people preparing for Confirmation about how Baptism puts us on the Way of Jesus. He then speaks about the importance of Sunday Mass and Confession keeping us on the Way. A consideration for sustaining this being on the Way such that we could increase the intensity would be by looking at day to day routine. Some ways of describing this would be plan of life, day in detail, or rule of life. Some points on this daily plan could be:
The morning offering – Beginning our day with a “Hello, Lord” is a good way to launch us quickly out of bed, like the soldier who overcomes his fear and leaps from the trench to the attack. To be able to get up and have one’s whole day ahead is a great gift. This in itself merits a thank you. Offering our day to God is the best response to this.
Mental Prayer –The gospels contain many episodes of prayer in the life of Jesus Christ. He also encouraged his apostles to pray. Sometimes he used parables to teach them the importance of prayer: “And he also told them a parable that they must always pray and not lose heart saying, ‘There was a judge in a certain town’” (Luke 18:1). He exhorted them: “Pray, that you may not enter into temptation. . . . Rise and pray” (Luke 22:40, 46). On another occasion he taught them of the efficacy of prayer: “Ask, and it shall be given you, seek and you shall find. . . . If you, evil as you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him” (Matthew 7:7, 11). Take a verse from a good spiritual book or the Sacred Scriptures and meditate maybe asking the question “what are you trying to tell me Jesus, about you and myself?” Then try to improve your self-giving based on His response. This will take time to sense His voice.
Holy Mass – yes of course on Sunday’s and Holy Days of Obligation. But the minimum only? Let’s ask for the grace to receive Communion at Mass, even daily if possible. Maybe start out with once a month when Mass is not required; an extra time a month (in addition to Sundays).
Spiritual Reading – In addition to the gospels we should not neglect to read other good spiritual books, for “[spiritual] reading has made many saints.” Consider just 2-3 minutes a day to start. Maybe build up to 15 minutes a day over time.
Devotion to Mary – Maybe start out with one decade of the Rosary a day. It might be good to tie this in with something; like the drive to work or before school. Over time you’ll build up to the complete Rosary, and you’ll see many changes in your life by listening to your heavenly Mother given to you by Our Lord himself (John 19:27); “behold, your mother.”
Examination of Conscience and frequent Confession – You might at the end of the day simply call on the Holy Spirit and ask three questions: what am I thankful for, what am I sorry for, and what can I work on tomorrow in a special way? Starting out with monthly Confession, maybe with brief notes from your daily examinations might be a good place to start. There are many gifts given to us by God. An example can be seen in the infused Theological virtues (faith, hope, and love). By frequenting the sacrament of Confession these gifts can come to life in a special and joyful way!
Last week I mentioned I’d share some considerations for planning points for prayer leading to growth closer to God. My article was about planning for summer. May this summer bring us to a greater appreciation for the need for rest, and may that and our plan of life lead us all one day to the eternal rest of heaven!
~ Fr. Hansen