You say it every year, right? I’m reforming my Catholic ways! I’m getting down to business! In his rule, St. Benedict noted that after interiorizing the 73 extensive components that make up a monk and his monastery, the words on the page only serve as a diving board, stating:
Whoever you are, therefore,
who are hastening to the heavenly homeland,
fulfill with the help of Christ
this minimum Rule which we have written for beginners;
and then at length under God’s protection
you will attain to the loftier heights of doctrine and virtue
which we have mentioned above.
So, resolve to become a beginner again. Perhaps you need to start at the very beginning and pick a time and place each day to pray. Maybe you’ve got the time down, but you’re experiencing a bit of a rut. Pick a new style of prayer – like a devotion to the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, or let a rote prayer like the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel become a diving board toward a deeper prayer experience. Remember, there isn’t a wrong way to pray. If you don’t feel anything in prayer, it doesn’t mean you’re not broadcasting or God isn’t listening. The important thing is to show up, make some time for God, and after you’ve finished speaking your part of the prayer – LISTEN! God probably has some things to say too!
There are more saints that have walked the earth than you’re probably aware. While you might know about the famous ones (St. Francis of Assisi, St. Benedict, or any of the Apostles) what about St. Methodius (and his brother) or St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (who had an interesting alias)?
Look up a list of saints and find out more about them. You don’t have to be a Confirmation candidate in order to seek out a new intercessor. The neat thing about picking a saint to learn about “at random” is usually an opportunity for God to allow that saint to intercede in your life in a special way.
Pro Tip: You might consider the Saint Name Generator from Jennifer Fulwiler!
Usually, when you’ve had it up to your neck, the first thought is “I need a vacation!” You might consider a spiritual vacation rather than the beach. There are many retreat houses around the United States and most of them provide a spiritual director who preaches the retreat and/or makes him or herself available for one-on-one prayer and conversation. There are even facilities that provide a directed retreat where you and the retreat master meet each day of your time away. They can last as long as a month (Wow! I know!) or as short as a weekend. Most are between a week and two days in length to accommodate busy people. No matter the length, a retreat is a great thing to plan this year, because time spent in the desert with The Lord always bears fruit.
Perhaps The Holy Spirit is asking you to reach out with some of your earthly resources to support a Catholic Apostolate. Often the fruit of prayer causes us to get up and do something. It’s the principle behind Martha and Mary in Luke 10. After sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning from Him, we are moved to show our gratitude to God in service.
You don’t necessarily have to start a food bank from scratch in your garage to fulfill this desire. You can support the works of mercy that are already established. From St. Vincent DePaul Conferences to Catholic Media (like The Catholic Underground!), you can add your gifts to the gifts of other Christians working in The Lord’s Vineyard.
There are traditionally three ways you can support (or begin) an apostolate: offering your time – volunteering your physical presence, offering your talent – your unique God-given gifts that may be useful to a specific outreach, or your treasure – giving from your financial resources, preferably from your poverty (like the widow that Jesus observes), so that a work that The Lord has begun and to which a soul has been entrusted, can continue and grow.
While we often think of money–which is important to sustain the work of evangelization, offering your time and talent are important gifts to give back as well.
We set reminders on our smartphones to make sure we get milk at the store, but what about our spiritual shopping list? Set a phone reminder to pray. Some options include:
Hopefully these will help to jumpstart, reboot, or enhance your prayer life. As The Rule of St. Benedict reminds us, we’re always beginning again! That is how the soul continues it’s deepening relationship with Jesus.