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Religious Resolutions: My Spiritual Tasks for 2013

RCIA CatholicismAs we begin 2013, I find it the right time to begin to more consciously make an effort to eliminate bad habits and add new, productive habits into my life. I’ve spent the last year learning about Catholicism (barely scratching the surface!) but at least I’m informed enough now to have an idea of what changes I need to make to better my life.

So I thought I’d share with you, in the hopes you’ll share with me, my 2013 religious resolutions! In yesterday’s blog post, I talked about ways I will try to stick to these habits and how the structure of the church helps me in creating a routine that will become a part of my daily life. I plan to work on these resolutions slowly, focusing on one at a time until I feel like I’ve got that one adopted fairly well. Here we go…

My 2013 Religious Resolutions:

  • Pray the Rosary weekly. Also, pray a decade of the Rosary with my children weekly dedicated to someone in need or their recently deceased grandmother as a way to remember and honor her.
  • Spend an hour of adoration weekly in the Blessed Sacrament chapel or at Eucharistic Adoration when available.
  • Read the Bible daily and begin to explore Lectio Divino (a conscious reflecting of Biblical texts)
  • Blog at least 5 times per week on my Catholic Newbie blog.
  • Begin to work Christian meditation/contemplation into my routine (not sure how much yet)
  • Keep my body healthy by practicing moderation (not over indulging) in eating and by exercising my body 2-3 times weekly.
  • Once I am able (when I become fully Catholic), attend Reconciliation monthly.
  • Begin introducing my oldest son (8) to Adoration time.
  • Donate the amount we would spend on eating out for one meal monthly to our family’s choice of charity and have PB&J that night instead :).
  • Volunteer at a local charity one day per month.
  • Increase my tithing and donate more of my money to charitable organizations.
  • Engage my children in more charitable and volunteer activities.
  • Attend Mass weekly (I pretty much have this one down already :))
  • Be courageous in following God’s will.
  • Pray at least 2 Liturgy of the Hours daily.
  • Continue reading daily the Read the Catechism in a Year email.
  • Take one silent retreat this year.
  • Remember to see Christ in every one.
  • Get up earlier!

OK, so that’s a long list! Yikes! But these are all things I really want to work on. I think the key is to focus on one at a time so as not to get overwhelmed and do the best I can.

What are your Religious Resolutions for the New Year? Please share them and help hold me accountable to these!

My Favorite Catholic Prayers

Catholic RosaryAs a Catholic Newbie, I thought I’d share with you some of my most favorite Catholic prayers I have come across since embarking on this journey toward becoming Catholic.

I started with my husband’s Missal book from when he was a child to learn the basics. I already knew the Lord’s prayer from attending a Disciples of Christ church some when growing up, but was most excited at first to learn the “Hail Mary.” The Hail Mary is wonderful to pray during times of need, fear or just anytime you need comfort. Mary is a comforting presence.

I followed that with the “Glory Be” and then the prayers of the Rosary, including the Apostle’s Creed; Hail, Holy Queen; and Fatima Prayer.

After I got the basics down, Matthew Kelly’s “Rediscovering Catholicism” book (head over to my Catholic Resources page for more books) inspired me with some additional daily prayers:

  • I love this one in the face of temptation: “God, I know what is good and true, but I am still attracted to what is self-destructive. Give me strength, be my strength.” I repeat that last sentence a lot when tempted to sin or other non-productive behaviors.
  • To see what God wants from you today: “Lord open my eyes so that I may see.” And “What are you calling me to do and calling me to be?” Great prayers upon waking or before work.
  • When you sin: “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.”
  • When in doubt: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
  • When you’re not sure what to pray: “Lord, teach us to pray.”
  • In fear: “Be not afraid.” (This is repeated MANY times in the Bible; we need not fear if we are following “the way”)
  • During fasting: “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.”

Some others I’ve come upon through reading, Mass and more:

  • In service to others: “Lord, send someone today whom I can serve.”
  • To your Guardian Angel: “Angel of God, my Guardian dear, to whom God’s love commits me here, ever this day (or night) be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.” A nice prayer for children.
  • One from the Benedictine tradition upon waking: “Lord open my lips, and my mouth shall proclaim your praise.”

To keep myself focused on what is most important (ie NOT work), I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, a set of prayers said at specific times throughout the day, as much as I can daily. Almost always upon waking and upon going to bed, as well as 9 a.m. and noon and rarely 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. vespers (the witching hours of motherhood J). I LOVE the Liturgy of the Hours and am so glad I found my way to them. They are full of the Psalms, which are incredibly poetic, beautiful and comforting and they remind you of our greater purpose continually throughout the day.

Do you have favorite prayers that you’ve found along your journey? Please share!

Developing Kneeling Stamina

RCIA, New to CatholicismFor today’s post, I thought I’d lighten things up a bit! One of the real challenges of becoming Catholic is kneeling so much!

At no other church denomination I’ve ever attended can I recall kneeling, but it’s one of my favorite parts of Catholicism. It shows so much respect, reverence, humility and piety to be willing to kneel down before your God. But boy does it hurt after a while :)…

The hardest for me has been kneeling while saying the rosary. Thank goodness for padded kneelers, but even with those, after 20 minutes on my knees, these nearly 40-year-old knees ache pretty good.

Can I say I’ve found a solution for you? Not so much… At a retreat I attended, the church there did have some sort of special stool to help, but it probably would be more appropriate for the elderly rather than a healthy individual hogging one. I also try moving my knees slightly between decades of the rosary to get the blood moving again I suppose, but not sure how much that helps.

I suppose part of what we experience as children of God is suffering. Not that kneeling is any great suffering, but it’s a reminder of suffering and the pain of Christ on the cross. A little discomfort could do us all good. It keeps us humble and reminds us God is worth the sacrifice. I suppose kneeling also helps keep us in the present moment, keeps our thoughts from floating to the worries of the day and instead focused on our knees and what it is we are doing here on our knees.

I’m thinking that after a while of praying the Liturgy of the Hours (prayers that occur at regular hours during the day) and attending Daily Mass, the old knees ought to develop some stamina. Can anyone out there confirm? Any tips on developing kneeling stamina?

Finding Time for Prayer Amid the Distractions of Daily Life

Catholic prayerLet’s see yesterday it was … the kids, my husband, even my cat… As much as I desperately want to carve out some holy QUIET, quiet being a key word :), time to myself it is so difficult.

I am attempting to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, something monks and nuns do as well as deacons and some others. The Liturgy of the Hours is a series of prayers that incorporate the Psalms and are said at the same times throughout the day (for the full version, seven times a day). I’ve made it a goal to pray first thing upon waking, 9 a.m. or right after I get the kids to school, Noon and before bed. I work in 3 p.m. when I can.

The as-soon-as-I-get-up-one has been the most challenging as have been the prayers on days when school is out like Labor Day yesterday. I go to our bedroom or the guest bedroom and shut the door, but it’s hard to concentrate with kids playing rambunctiously downstairs or your cat rubbing up against you as you kneel in prayer. I suppose it’s better than not praying, but I get frustrated at my inability to focus on the words due to lack of quiet. It’s hard enough to focus on the words and really try to take in their meaning when it actually is quiet. With any distraction, it feels hopeless.

So what is the answer when I desire so much, “thirst,” in fact, to use the verb often used to describe spiritual longing, for as much prayer and spiritual reading time as I can find? But yet live the life of a lay person, a mother, a wife, a business owner, a cat owner J?

I prayed about it this morning in front of the Blessed Sacrament to Mary and this is what came to me in response. First of all, I am carrying out the work of God as a mother. Wasn’t that Mary’s call? To raise the son of God? So time spent there is doing God’s work in itself. But, also, I found encouragement to wake early, before the house does (even the cat!), where I can enjoy an hour of solitude. Quiet reading. Prayer. Silent meditation. Even 6:30 a.m. mass.

I’ve been working on this morning thing for a while now but it’s a struggle for me. It’s not that I’m a night person, but just that I’m not really a morning person either. But as I cannot seem to find a way to fit it all in to my spiritual satisfaction otherwise, I am going to take Mary’s advice and pray to be awakened early with vitality (at least enough to get out of bed) and the anticipation of what lies before me if I do put those feet on the floor and stand myself up.

I’ve also instituted an hour of quiet on the weekends for my whole family to encourage everyone to understand and value “silence” in this noisy world. I even encourage “no words” for that hour, especially challenging for a 4-year-old who wants to verbalize his every thought. But silence can be powerful and I want them to realize that as they grow up.

Have you struggled to find time for quiet prayer amid life as a mother and wife or father and husband? What has been your solution?

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