In some ways we Catholics (and other Christians too) are like spiritual manic depressives. Often we are on a “high,” close to God and at peace. Other times we allow ourselves to become trapped in worldly matters, giving little attention to the “big picture” in deference to immediate needs of our earthly world.
Sometimes our focus is lost only for days or weeks. Sometimes it is lost for years. We worry too much about our family or jobs. We think about our endless to-do list. Our first thought in the morning is preparation for that 9:00am meeting and the report due tomorrow. Our last thought at night is managing our schedule to meet a family commitment we just can’t miss. In all of that hustle and bustle of daily life we forget whose child we are. Prayers, when we remember, are scheduled and essentially become just another task.
This doesn’t happen on purpose. It happens slowly without much notice. No big harm is done at first but after a while, something feels wrong. Maybe it is that last thought before we go to sleep or the emptiness of a mechanical prayer. We know it can be different, it should be different, it must be different. If left untended, the seeds of our faith will bear no fruit. It can eventually wither and die.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Ben Franklin, Albert Einstein, Rita Mae Brown, or ?
If you expect things to get better all by themselves you are delusional! At least a little effort must be made. Saying grace at meal time, a prayer at bedtime and going to church every Sunday is not enough. Use 1 or 2 of the other 168 hours of the week for something different. It is not impossible, you can do this. We are only talking about the time you might spend watching TV one night, a movie, on tennis or a thousand other things. If you are honest with yourself you know it is only a matter of priority. Do not fall into the trap of recognizing all of this, agreeing to it “in theory” and planning to do it at some non-specific, future time. Now is the time. This is week. How about today?
Here is a wild, off-the-wall idea – go to a daily Mass. When was the last time you did that? It will do more for your soul then the same time at the gym will do for your body. You can get in and out in under 30 minutes, but why not go 10 minutes early and pray. I bet that wherever you work, there is a Catholic church nearby offering Mass during your lunch hour. MassTimes.org will help you find one if you haven’t looked before.
Perhaps one of the best things you can do to get back on track is go to adoration. You do not have to sign-up or anything, just go wherever it is offered (MassTimes.org lists adoration availability too). Spend some quality time with the Lord. Tell Him how your life is going and what is on your mind. Thank Him for your blessings. Listen for His advice, then and later, however He may choose to answer you. Stay as long as you like, but I recommend at least 30 minutes (you will be amazed how very quickly that goes by). Jesus is waiting for you.
How long has it been since you went to confession? That growing distance between you and God is probably due in some part to sin. Deprive the Devil of his success. Run into the arms of the Father who is always waiting to joyfully welcome you back.
Prayer always helps. Why not add a short, new prayer time. If you don’t pray in the morning, try getting up 10 or 15 minutes earlier. In Microeconomic terms, the marginal utility of the prayer will vastly outweigh a couple extra minutes of sleep! If your creative juices are not yet flowing at that hour for “free-form” prayer, why not read the daily readings to get you started? If you can spend just a few extra minutes, a great source for the readings with excellent comments from the Navarre Bible is available online.
Daily Mass, adoration, confession, prayer, daily readings, the Rosary – all great ways to recharge your spiritual batteries. As Catholics we are especially blessed to have the sacraments, the real presence, the Mass and so many great traditions to call upon. If you find yourself walking aimlessly through a spiritual desert, the tools are there to get out – you only need the will to use them.