Spiritual Six Pack

 

Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. – Pope John XXIII

Spiritually-speaking, this is the mindset we all should have as we march into 2019.

As a way to encourage you to start or add to your faith life, consider this multi-faceted “Spiritual Six-Pack” of suggestions on how to build up your relationship with Jesus Christ.

Every year, I personally use this as a checklist to take inventory of my spiritual development. First, I ask myself if I’ve been living this “spiritual six-pack,” and then I make a list of how I am going to improve in these areas in the year ahead.

RECOGNIZE YOUR VALUE IN GOD’S SIGHT

To illustrate this point, St. John of the Cross wrote an allegory that describes how God gave creation as a bride to His Son and how Christ as the Bridegroom of our Souls, paid the ultimate price in order to save us all from slavery.

I will go and find my bride; I will take upon my shoulders her sufferings and weariness; I will die, so that she may live, and so I will lead her back to my Father. – St. John of the Cross

SEEK UNION WITH EACH PERSON OF THE BLESSED TRINITY

By the grace of God, our soul becomes, first, the child of the eternal Father; second, the spouse of Jesus Christ; third, the temple of the Holy Spirit. – St. Bonaventure

LET CHRIST DWELL WITHIN YOU

St. Ignatius of Loyola once said, “Christ is the life of all those who truly live.” The more we become one with Christ, the more Christ will shine through us.

Not to live in Christ is to gradually lose the spirit of prayer, the love of virtue, the taste of devotion, and the zeal for salvation. Like a branch separated from a vine, we wither and die.

FIND UNION WITH JESUS IN YOUR WORK

The sanctification of ordinary work is a living seed, able to yield fruits of holiness in an immense number of souls. Sanctity, for the vast majority of people, implies sanctifying their work, sanctifying themselves in it, and sanctifying others through it.  – St. Josemaria Escriva

SEE JESUS IN YOUR NEIGHBOR

If Mark 12:31 isn’t clear enough, how about these words from St. John the Apostle:

In this the children of God are manifest and the children of the Devil: whosoever is not just is not of God, nor he that loveth not his brother (1 John 3:10).

Let us see in every one of our neighbors, whatever his state may be, an image of Jesus Christ, and serve each one in our Lord, and our Lord in each one.  – St. Vincent de Paul

GIVE THANKS TO GOD

When we are grateful, we love.  – St. Augustine

St. John Chrysostom says, because man so often fails in this obligation of gratitude, the Son of God puts Himself in our place and takes from His own treasures all that is necessary to do for us what we can never do ourselves.

It almost goes without saying, that daily prayer, receiving Communion frequently, going to Confession at least once a month, and keeping God’s commandments should form the foundation of our lives as Catholics.

By regularly meditating on the six aspects of your life listed above, don’t be surprised if you experience the following benefits:

  • Interior Peace
  • Spiritual Joy
  • Light
  • Consolation
  • Strength

If you are feeling compelled to regularly reflect on the “spiritual six-pack,” I want to make one final suggestion, and that is to call upon the Virgin Mary as your guide, intercessor, and protector.

…under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach your goal. – St. Bernard of Clairvaux

As a gift to you, here is the Totus Tuus prayer written by St. Pope John Paul II. This prayer is at the heart of my devotion to Our Blessed Mother:

Immaculate Conception, Mary my Mother;
Live in me, Act in me, Speak in me and through me,
Think your thoughts in my mind, Love through my heart,
Give me your dispositions and feelings, Teach, lead me and guide me to Jesus,
Correct, enlighten and expand my thoughts and behavior;
Possess my soul, Take-over my entire personality and life, replace it with Yourself,
Incline me to constant adoration, Pray in me and through me,
Let me live in you and keep me in this union always, Amen.

Robert V. Rodriguez is the Public Relations and Outreach Assistant at Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of Pilgrim Center of Hope appearing in Today’s Catholic newspaper.

15 Ways to Live Lent

Mother Church gives us the gift of the liturgical calendar for many reasons, most especially to remind us of the Salvation Plan of God and to help us, her faithful, to be united with the Triune God. During Lent, we are asked to live the three pillars of the Lenten season – almsgiving, fasting and prayer.

Here are a few ideas you can consider incorporating into your Lenten journey:

  1. Give Alms. Collect a few cents / dollars a week and place them in a box or bowl. After the 40 days, you will be surprised what you have collected. Give this collection to a ministry serving the poor. Your parish may also participate in the CRS Rice Bowl program.
  2. Fast! Fasting can mean abstaining from food or a meal. Consider, too, fasting from something that is keeping you from spending a few minutes with God in prayer and/or keeping you away from your family. For example, limit time watching television.
  3. Pray as You Start Your Day. Implore the grace of God : “Father, Son and Holy Spirit, help me see your love for me today.”
  4. Implore Your Guardian Angel to assist you, throughout the day. Pray the traditional prayer to our Guardian Angel or simply ask your Guardian Angel to walk with you and help you from falling (literally), and to help you remain focused on your walk with Christ.
  5. Schedule Time to Pray. Make an effort to spend at least 10-15 minutes daily in concentrated prayer. (Ex: Morning, lunch break, after dinner, etc.)
  6. Listen to the Lord. Make an effort to schedule a Holy Hour once a week. OR some time in silent prayer before Jesus in His Eucharistic Presence. Do not be tempted to bring lots of reading material during this Hour. This Holy Hour is your special time with Jesus, the Son of God! Speak briefly, listen and listen! You can use MassTimes.org to search for nearby Adoration Chapel hours that will work with your schedule.
  7. If You are Married – Pray with your spouse daily. Ex: Before you sleep, pray the Lord’s Prayer, Memorare or other favorite prayer. During the day, make an effort to encourage your spouse, and say “thank you” for little things.
  8. Pray the Act of Contrition daily, especially before you sleep.
  9. Go to Confession. Receive this Sacrament of Reconciliation and of Healing. During Lent, your local parishes will likely have increased opportunities for Reconciliation. Try to schedule time for this sacrament about once a month.
  10. Ask Mary to help you in all you do. Pray the Rosary daily! It only takes about 15 minutes. There are so many Rosary meditations available for you to use. Contact us at the Pilgrim Center of Hope to purchase our new men’s prayer book, Son of Man to Man, or women’s prayer book, Come to Me. Both include custom Rosary meditations.
  11. Read the Word of God – the Bible. The Word of God is alive and refreshes the soul! A good starting place is to read the daily gospel passage. You can find this on the US Bishops’ website, or by using an app such as the free Catholic app Laudate.
  12. Read a book that will help you in your spiritual growth. We have dozens of recommendations on our website.
  13. Read a story of a saint. There are so many! Their lives witnessed courage and humility. Discover dozens of saints on our website.
  14. Watch a religious movie such as The Passion of Christ, or classics like The Ten Commandments and The Robe.
  15. Attend a spiritual event, such as a parish mission, or one of the events sponsored by the Pilgrim Center of Hope.

This list is just one of many “Ways to Live Your Faith” featured in our monthly email digest of spiritual tools. Sign up for our email list to receive them first in your inbox!

10 Goals for the Year of Mercy

Note: This featurette is from the “Ways to Live Your Faith” section of our monthly Spiritual Tools Digest.  Sign up for our email list to receive this monthly email in your inbox.

The Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy is a special time for the Church (Dec. 8, 2015 – Nov. 6, 2016), a time when our witness as believers might grow stronger and more effective. It is an extraordinary moment of grace and spiritual renewal.

How can a busy person actually live it, day-to-day?

  1. Receive God’s mercy. – Jesus says, “Come to me…and I will give you rest.” After his Resurrection, Jesus breathed on the apostles and gave them authority to forgive and retain sins. In the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession), Jesus works through the priest who has inherited this authority. Jesus waits for you in the confessional. Seek this sacrament at your local parish or cathedral, and receive the forgiveness, healing, and rest that Jesus so desires to give you.
  2. Learn about God’s mercy. – Before we can extend mercy to others, we must know that we are loved and forgiven. Some good places to start learning about God’s mercy are the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Catechism, and the writings of Pope Francis, Pope John Paul II and the saints.
  3. Apologize for wrongs. – Many of us struggle to say, “I’m sorry. Please forgive me.” This year, work to make this a habit. It will bring you more peace, and increase peace in your family, workplace, and community.
  4. Pray for the grace to forgive others. – We all know people who have hurt us in the past. Perhaps we believe some person or group is unworthy of forgiveness. However, Jesus tells us that we must forgive “seventy-times seven times” – a biblical way of saying always. The Church tells us that “the Father of mercies is the source of all forgiveness.” Begin praying that God will grant you the grace to forgive people whom you struggle to forgive now.
  5. Make a list of ways you can show mercy to your family. – Often, our family members can be the most difficult to love. Each person has unique difficulties, desires, and situations. Make a list of your family members. Next to each name, write one way that you can show them mercy during this Year of Mercy. It could be a visit, a phone call, helping with groceries, or even by smiling more and listening to them. Your effort can help Jesus touch their lives.
  6. Show someone mercy with your body. – Corporal Works of Mercy is a phrase used to describe those ways that Christians are called to help people through using our bodies: Feeding, clothing, sheltering, visiting, and other ways. Jesus tells us that we will be judged based on how we treated “the least” of our fellow human beings. This Jubilee Year is a unique opportunity to practice and grow in charitable works. Here are 26 tips and examples from the U.S. Bishops.
  7. Show someone mercy with your spirit. – Spiritual Works of Mercy is a phrase used to describe those spiritual ways that Christians are called to help others: Comforting, counseling, being patient with those who sin against us, praying, and others. Use these 28 tips and examples from the U.S. Bishops to help guide you this year.
  8. Make a pilgrimage to your local Holy Doors. – A unique part of the Church’s Jubilee years are the Holy Doors, which offer us an opportunity to make an act of faith and receive a Plenary Indulgence (forgiveness of sin and its effects). Learn more here.
    Pope Francis has decreed that every diocese in the world have Holy Doors, so that people who cannot visit Rome can also make a pilgrimage to local Holy Doors. Using the words of Psalm 118, each bishop invoked the opening of these Doors as a symbol for the Door that leads to God’s merciful heart, made accessible through the open side of Christ on the cross (cf. Jn 19:34). The Vatican has a listing of every Holy Door in the world. In the Archdiocese of San Antonio, we have 16 Holy Doors that you can visit.
  9. Tell someone about God’s mercy. – We all know people who are lonely, very hard on themselves, or ashamed of something in their past. This year, it is especially important for us to tell them the Good News about God’s love for them.
  10. Support local charities that extend mercy to others. – Ask how you can support their mission, with your resources (time, prayer, donations). Contact your local Catholic Charities office, or Catholic Relief Services. One unique ministry that we recently spotlighted is The Tobit Ministry of San Antonio, which buries and highlights the dignity of homeless persons.