I was looking through the mailers today and it would be hard not to notice a theme. There were several ads for weight loss, two for gym memberships, three stores had totes on sale and one headline said, “Get Organized in 2020!”
It’s that time of year again. Out with the old and in with the new. Time to write down resolutions, clean and organize and get physically fit, through diet and exercise. Time for change…for rebirth and renewal. But of all the ads, I didn’t see one that talked about getting spiritually organized.
It’s something that has been a subject in our lives the past few years. When Jim began the application process to begin studies for the Deaconate, he said that a big part of it would be “cleaning out the corners.” It didn’t take long for those “corners” to start appearing. After all, the first year was a year of discernment. It was meant to bring to light those things that might be stumbling blocks down the road.
I also began a journey that has me “cleaning out the corners.” In September, I began a year of study to become a Benedictine Oblate. Through pray, work and study, the corners are beginning to be revealed.
How do you go about getting spiritually organized? It’s a lot like organizing other areas of your life. You take it one step at a time.
Our first step was beginning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours daily. These prayers, also called the Divine Office or Breviary, is the official set of prayers marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer. It consists of psalms, hymns, prayers, readings from the Fathers of the early church and other writings. It is an obligation undertaken by priests, deacons and monastic communities, to different degrees. For example, deacons are only required to do morning and evening prayers, but many do all seven. By studying to become an oblate, I am also taking on that obligation.
But I must say, the word obligation or requirement quickly faded as we fell into this routine. It’s a time that starts and ends our day, together, praying and reading God’s word. It has become a most treasured time for us…one that rarely is interrupted. We take turns leading, Jim in the morning and me at night, and I cannot begin to tell you the nourishment that comes from this daily prayer.
Another step was getting a Spiritual Director. Jim and I both have Spiritual directors at St. Meinrad that we meet with on a regular basis. Just visiting St. Meinrad Archabbey is such a blessing and getting spend one on one time with the monks there is extra special. We picked advisors that were also priests so that after we meet with them and get spiritual direction, we can have a time of reconciliation.
A third thing for me is studying St Benedict’s Rule daily. This helps keep my mind focused on Ora et Labora (Pray and Work). Through prayer, work and study, it helps me find a balance to my daily routine that was missing. It’s easy in any area of our life to concentrate so hard on one thing that other things suffer. Even if the thing we are focusing on is a good thing, if it causes us to be off balance for very long, we are bound to fall over.
While we have no means perfected any of these area in our lives, having a plan makes it easier to get back on track when we falter. It’s no different than forgetting your diet and having that brownie sundae for dessert. (Oh…I shouldn’t have said that…yum!) But if we miss a prayer time, or I don’t get my reading done, the plan is still there, waiting for me to jump right back into it again.
So, what is your spiritual plan for 2020? Do you have one? If not, I encourage you to write one down. Start with one thing, like attending services regularly or reading scripture for 10 minutes a day. Once you are comfortable with that, add something else. I used to pray the rosary daily, and that’s one thing I’d like to add back in next year.
If you do have a plan or a routine in place, please take a moment to share some ideas and tips of your own. I’d love to read them, and we can never have enough encouragement on our daily walk.
He has showed you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?