Back in Lent, I posted about what practices I was taking on for the season and also gave a little update during Holy Week about how they had gone. Some of those I have retained and some of those have fallen away. For instance, my bed is currently not made. But as I am continuing to grow in my faith, I thought it might be nice to revisit where I am at during Ordinary Time.
I don’t expect I will be at this place in my faith forever, nor do I think that these are practices for everyone. I just want to take a little snapshot of this time in my faith.
Buckle in. It’s a long one.
During Holy Week, I highlighted a few places where I felt I was feeling graced:
- Spiritual reading
- Praying the Act of Contrition and Memorare before bed
- Reading the daily readings and journaling
- Spiritual direction
- Active participation in “Catholic stuff”
Let’s break it down.
Spiritual reading: I just finished Forming Intentional Disciples, and it is a really excellent book. If you are into thinking about your own discipleship or the New Evangelization, check it out. Very enlightening to even look at my own journey through that lens. I am back on the Nouwen train right now as well, with The Return of the Prodigal Son. He writes about redemption, forgiveness, love, brokenness, compassion, you know, really light topics, in an accessible and enlightening way. Floating around my apartment are The Cloud of Unknowing and Markings, which I’ve been dipping in and out of. I really like having some reading that can be sanctifying or instructional or whatever to balance out all the reading I do at work and the many novels I like to consume.
Praying the Act of Contrition and Memorare before bed: yes, I am still doing this! Back last August, Cardinal McCarrick had encouraged me to pray the Memorare regularly. (You can find a mediocre picture of me and some sweet pictures of the Cardinal over that way. Now rethinking my plan to get basically that same haircut again. I digress.) I have been! I then saw him at a reception following a talk by Cardinal O’Malley – he had been at my parish for years in the past and came back to visit us – and was able to approach him to let him know how much I have loved praying the Memorare. He is a wonderful leader to have in the Church, and I feel really blessed (literally, he has given me two blessings!) to be able to take his advice on this. I hope to continue this habit forever.
Reading the daily readings and journaling: I need to get back into this habit. Even when I was doing a half-assed job of it, I felt like it was really adding something to my day. I’ve been reading my devotions in batches lately and skimming the readings. And just not journaling even though I have the beautiful journal pictured above. I think the difference was that during Lent, I was reading the Lectionary readings in my bible, on paper. I need to start up with that again or get a daily missal or something. I do not own or really know how one uses a breviary or a missal. So sue me. Or teach me. Open to either.
Confession: BIG TIME in on this. I have started to go weekly, which is an intense ramp up from the many years of just not-going. I was encouraged by a priest friend to start making devotional confessions and being in the habit of going to confession. I am in the habit of receiving the Eucharist, so why not receiving absolution? It has really been a good growth experience for me in being more conscientious of doing a good examination of conscience. I was told that I can even go in and say I am making a devotional confession and am sorry for all my sins if I can’t come up with a list, but that hasn’t been a problem yet. Big old sinner over here.
Spiritual direction: My director has been hard to nail down for an appointment because she is a very busy lay woman. I haven’t been since Lent but will see her today, actually.
Catholic stuff: Though I have not been going to formal direction lately, building relationships with lay people and religious has helped me see some opportunities for course correction on my own. And I go to a lot of Catholic stuff. I used to help with a monthly event called Christ in the City which has kind of faded out, but the aforementioned priest friend approached a few of the young adults that hung around there about coming to his parish for adoration and a little meditation/talk followed by beers and hanging out. I like all of those things, so I said YES OF COURSE. We just started meeting up for that last week, but I think it is going to be a regular thing. If you are in the DC area and want to join us, drop me a line. We’re fun.
SO WHAT ELSE have I been up to in the spiritual life?
I have been trying to become better friends with the Holy Spirit.
The prayer card on top of my bible up there features my favorite prayer from Merton, which I typed up at the end of this post. I don’t know what’s next for me because I don’t know the future, but God knows. And I would like to better be able to recognize where the Spirit is moving in my life. So I’m working on hanging out with the Breath of God, as much as I can do that. Ergo the lit candle and the Holy Water: a place to focus my attention and a little sacramental can go a long way. The little prayer book is mostly up there because it has the prayer to the Holy Spirit that I like in it. Sometimes I try to pray the morning and evening prayers in there. But usually I don’t.
I also usually don’t pray the Rosary. But I really want to. I’m writing it here so I’ll work on it.
Part of why I want to be better with praying the Rosary is because I just don’t feel like I have a great connection with or devotion to Mary, and I really crave it. I think the Rosary is a good place to start.
But another place I am turning is to Venerable Fr. Solanus Casey. This guy. A simple, humble doorkeeper. He was ordained a “simplex priest,” without the ability to hear confession or preach doctrinal sermons. Humble. He lived a life of charity and service to the poor and sick, and “looked on [his] whole life as giving.”
His spirituality centers around gratitude to God, cleaving one’s will to the Divine Will, detaching from earthly things, and meditating on the Passion. These are things I am uniformly terrible at, to say the least.
I think I’ve mentioned him on the blog before… I don’t even know where I heard of him, but it was around Christmas. Maybe my Saint of the Day podcast (which I forgot about until right now, need to start listening to that again). In any case, I do feel very connected to him. I couldn’t tell you why, but from the first moment I heard his story I wanted to know him better. I don’t even think I knew he was a fellow Irish Catholic Midwesterner – which is an added bonus. It’s an interesting coincidence, though, along with his connection to the St. Bonaventure Monastery. St. Bonaventure is the saint I got when I used the Saint Name Generator for a 2015 Patron. Good ol’ Merton spent time at St. Bonaventure University, similarly. Still not sure about St. B, but right now, I am chilling with Solanus.
This is a guy with a great devotion to Mary. So much so that the novena dedicated to the anniversary of his death includes the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Long story short, I will be praying the novena and asking Fr. Solanus’s intercession to bring me closer to her.
I wrote in to get the little pamphlet to pray along with the Novena at home, and the brother who sent it to me included an extra pamphlet – you can see them both above.
If you would like to pray the Fr. Solanus Casey Novena with me at the end of July, drop me a line — I would be happy to share my extra pamphlet with you.
There are plenty more spiritual and religious posts in the “Spirituality” section of this site, which you can find over yonder on the right hand menu — accessible through the three little bars icon in your upper right hand corner. There’s a lot in that menu, bet you didn’t know it was there! (I am obviously great at web design. At least I’ve spared you my Bad Adobe Images lately.)
I am also linking this post up with Blessed Is She for their Making Time link-up!