YOUR Devotional Life

In today’s hectic world with so much that seems to be necessary we often forget those things that are absolutely necessary.  The world, the flesh, and the devil enjoy seeing us run so fast, doing all those things that we feel so obligated , even forced, to do that we have no time for the one thing that above all things is needed more than anything. And that’s our relationship with God and nurturing it. Think about your best earthly friend. How do you think that relationship would fare if you never called them, never did lunch, never spent quality time together? Note that I said “quality” and not “quantity”.  One of the best friends I have I only get to see for a couple of hours a couple of times a year, but its quality time. Without contact, without the right sort of contact, relationships wither and die. You don’t want this to happen with any worthwhile relationship. Your relationship with God is primary. So, how do you keep it alive and well? Well …

Consider that Mass, Communion, Adoration, Confession, Prayer and Spiritual Reading top any list. Now that may seem like a lot. But remember how important the relationship is. Remember also that God knows your circumstances. It’s okay to do the best you can with what you’ve got. What’s not okay is settling for less than that. With these things in mind, simply, and in order, we take one step at a time …

Mass. You have to go once a week, Sunday is obligatory. Make the most of it. How? Simple. Go. On time. A few minutes early so you can settle yourself. Consider Who is there with you and why you’re there. And pay attention.

Communion. Look up the meaning of the word. Receive Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament and be conscious of what it is you’re doing. Be thankful that you can and do receive Him. It’s Life, and that more abundantly.

Adoration. If you can go to Church and set before Him in the Tabernacle that’s great. But remember, He is everywhere all the time. You can place yourself in His presence at any time in any place simply by remembering that He is already there with you. The real trick here? The real trick is to just DO it. On a regular basis. Five minutes once a week is a start and a start is whats needed.

Confession. Once a month, twelve times a year, is a minimum to strive for. You’re going to Mass once a week anyway, and most priests hear confessions prior to Mass. So there you are, it’s not complicated. But you say you have nothing to confess. Fine. We’ll put the canonization process on hold for just a tad longer. 😉 It’s not just about a list of sins. That’s only part of confession. Receiving God’s grace is paramount. Nothing to confess? Tell the priest that, and tell him you know all your past sins have been forgiven in previous confessions but that your still sorry for them (please do be) and that you desire the grace of confession anyway. It works. Miracles sometimes. So once a month you get to Mass a little early for confession. Every two weeks, and whats an extra 30 minutes between friends?, is even better.

Prayer. We’ve always been told to say our morning and evening prayers. Okay, let’s do that. Ask the Blessed Virgin to be your prayer partner. Ask her to take your petitions to God the Father and offer them to Him as her own. Make your Rosary a part of your prayer time. Pressed for time? Five decades too much? Then offer one. Go an extra mile. At noon? Pray the Angelus. Can’t always make a noontime commitment? Cut yourself some slack. Let “noon” be sometime between 11:30 and 12:30. Still pressed for time at noon? Then say a Hail Mary at 3:00, or as close to 3 as you can, in honor of the Passion of Christ. Best case scenario? Do both. It’s not lengthy prayers that count. It’s the sincere heart. And look! You just mustered FOUR, count ’em, FOUR prayer periods in one day!

Spiritual Reading. Pick a book. Your Bible is best. Others are good. But pick one that counts for YOU. In shopping around don’t let the shopping trip become to long or complicated. Consider that the books known as spiritual classics are classics for a reason, so you might like to browse three or four of them first. The Imitation of Christ, Practicing the Presence of God, The Secret of the Rosary, these are all good. And remember that small bits and pieces are easier to digest than huge chunks. A page a day is great, especially if you take time to think about what you’ve read. That’s the most important part. Thinking about it and taking it personally, taking it to heart. Morning or evening prayer are good times for your reading, but work with what works for you.

One last thought. Sometimes routine gets to be a little boring and downright dry. When that happens, and it’s almost always “when” and nearly never “if”, its okay to change your schedule, add or subtract this or that for a time. You’ll change, and your devotional life needs to reflect the change. So make adjustments. This helps keep your devotional life alive, a little like re-potting a plant when its outgrown the container its in. Just DON’T neglect the plant. This one? This plant? Bears fruit unto eternity.

Wah~la! Do the above, keep it simple, keep it real, and you now have a wonderful devotional life in spite of the world that keeps yelling at you that you don’t have time for this sort of thing. Yeah, right. When was the last time the world died for you on a cross?

 

P.S. The above is based on more than personal observation. Awhile back I got done with all my chores a little early and thought to myself, “You’ll need to do laundry Thursday. You’ve got extra time now. If you do laundry now you’ll have all of Thursday to do whatever you want.” Sounded like a good deal. So I took the extra time I had and got ahead by doing laundry. I had, as a result, no free time that day. But I did have Thursday to look forward to. Thursday came around and I thought, “You know, you’ve got all day. Next Wednesday you’ll have to clean house. If you’ll do that now you can have all day next Wednesday to just rest and relax.” Sounded like another good plan. I cleaned house all day with no downtime. When Wednesday rolled around and I thought … Do the words obsessive-compulsive ring a bell about now? Don’t get so caught up with getting caught up that you never have time to do anything else. I tried that (see above), it doesn’t work. Set down, breath deep and pray. Work on getting caught up on God. That works.

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My recipe for Tuna Surprise … Saturday, December 29

A Rosary Meditation … The Third Glorious Mystery, the Decent of the Holy Spirit. “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, of a violent wind blowing.” Acts 2:2. My recipe for Tuna Surprise is surprisingly simple. Make whatever you want, call it Tuna Surprise, the trick being to make sure there’s no tuna in it. Surprise! The only downside to this recipe that I’ve found, and I’ve been serving it for years, is that you can have a really hard time convincing someone who doesn’t like tuna that they might actually like THIS. Ever notice how some folks have a religion that they call Christianity but there’s no Christ in it? ( And you were wondering how I was going to put all this together. ) A Christianity without Christ exists when it lacks spirit, or Spirit. Its empty without spirit, and that’s because the letter kills but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:6. Just a bunch of words, letters strung together, have no real worth or meaning without the Spirit to give life to the thing. You can call it anything you want, Tuna Surprise or Christianity, but without the main ingredient its something else. Without Christ’s life-giving Spirit Christianity is just a collection of hollow words and no substance. So He made sure this wouldn’t happen amongst His followers, His Church, by promising the Spirit and then making good on that promise. When He shares a recipe it has everything included, there is no deficiency. And think about the life that the Spirit brings. Every gift of the Spirit, and there are more than we can enumerate because God is infinite and His goodness can’t be held in check, gives life. The Holy Eucharist, Confession, Baptism, and all the rest, restore life, give life, raise us from the dead. And that’s what happened at Pentecost. The Spirit came and brought Life with Him. Something new was born. The Church, filled with life to share. And when you look at our 2,000 year history, with all the death blows thrown at us by the world and the flesh and the devil, the Life is evident. But given the Source of the Life, well, the real and ongoing nature of it ought not be a surprise.

Today … St. Aileran. Monk, biographer, and scholar-also called Sapiens the Wise. He wrote wonderful works about several great saints, bringing them to life for his readers.  Aileran died from the Yellow Plague. His death on December 29, 664 is chronicled in the Annals of Ulster. Life and death. Which one triumphed in this saints life? He shared life with his words that were motivated by his Spirit-filled life. But he died of a plague. That he still lives in the memory and heart of our Church, and that he now stands as a saint before the Throne of God, animated even now by that same Spirit that dwelt in him here on earth, answers the question.

Now … Are we all talk (words) or are we sharing God’s Spirit (life) with those around us even as we experience this God-given life ourselves?

Published in: on December 29, 2012 at 7:32 am  Comments Off on My recipe for Tuna Surprise … Saturday, December 29  
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