Are you making progress in your spiritual life? Amidst the hustle and bustle of the everyday, we can sometimes get stuck in the same spiritual routines or even let our faith life fall to the wayside.
Here are twelve practical yet powerful ways to refresh your spiritual life and deepen your relationship with God.
1. Engage in spiritual reading
If you want to make progress in your faith life, it’s important to set aside time on a regular basis to read spiritual books and writings. This not only opens up your heart and mind to hear God speak to you but also invites you to contemplate the divine.
“Spiritual reading is necessary as the normal way of nourishing the Christian faith, which means getting food for the mind so that the will and affections might love and serve God accordingly. […] Without food for the mind the faith withers and dies, and there is no mental nourishment for the soul more available and accessible and providable than spiritual reading.”1
— Fr. John Hardon
Not sure what to read? Here are some suggestions:
- The daily or Sunday Mass readings
- The lives of the saints
- Story of a Soulby St. Therese of Lisieux
- Interior Freedomor Searching for and Maintaining Peaceby Jacques Philippe
- Introduction to the Devout Lifeby St. Francis de Sales
- The Bible, especially the Gospels
2. Pray the Morning Offering
There is no better way to start your morning than to engage in conversation with God and offer everything—your prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of the day—to Him. Composed by Father Francois Xavier Gautrelet in 1844, the Morning Offering is an effective way to thank God for another day, unite yourself to Jesus and Mary, pray for others, and set the tone for your waking hours before you get busy and distracted.
But the Morning Offering isn’t just for the AM. Pray this prayer anytime—and multiple times—to stay in relationship with the Lord and to stay focused on what’s important throughout the day.
Morning Offering Prayer
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world.
I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart:
the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians.
I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and all Apostles of Prayer,
and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.
3. Go to daily Mass at least once during the week, in addition to Sunday
The Eucharist is the “source and summit of the Christian life.”2 It not only gives us the grace and the strength necessary to fight temptation and to avoid sin but also provides an opportunity to hear the Word of God, praise and thank God for His love and mercy, and pray away from all of life’s distractions.
Pick a day during the week and go to Mass. Whether you get up a little early to go to Mass before starting your workday or you take a late lunch so you can go to Mass at noon, attending Mass more often than just on Sunday will have a huge impact on your life and fill your soul with peace.
4. Do a daily meditation
Prayer is a vitally important part of caring for the soul. Christian meditation (mental prayer) is just one of the many ways that we can pray, and many saints have described it as the most transforming expression of prayer. As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), in meditation, “the mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking.”3 Christian books, Scriptures (particularly the Gospels), holy icons, liturgical texts, and other spiritual writings can help guide us during our meditation.
“Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ.”
To begin your practice of daily meditation, pick a time each day—maybe first thing in the morning—when you can devote yourself completely to conversing with God. Then find a place—a room in your house, a church, an adoration chapel, your back deck—free from distractions. Pick something—a daily devotional like In Conversation with God,the day’s Gospel, the rosary—and allow it to guide your thoughts and dialogue with God.
5. Pray the Angelus
The Angelus is a beautiful Catholic prayer that commemorates the Incarnation—when Jesus was conceived in Mary’s womb at the Annunciation. Traditionally prayed 6:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 6:00 PM, the Angelus gives us an opportunity to meditate on Mary’s complete obedience to God. Whether you pray the Angelus in the morning, at noon, in the evening, or at all three times, reflect on the ways you can (or did) imitate Mary’s spirit of humility throughout the day.
The Angel of the Lord declared to Mary:
And she conceived of the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord:
Be it done unto me according to Thy word.
Hail Mary . . .
And the Word was made Flesh:
And dwelt among us.
Hail Mary . . .
Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray:
Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection, through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.
6. Treat Sunday as a day for worship, time with family, and rest
We live in a go-go culture where most of us are overworked, stressed, and on the brink of burnout. As human beings, our brains and bodies can only take so much before our physical, mental, and emotional health suffers dramatically.
“On the seventh day God completed the work he had been doing; he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation.”
— Genesis 2:2–3
Just as God rested on the seventh day from all the work he had done, we, too, need a day to rest, recharge, and spend time with our Lord and families. But resting doesn’t mean just sitting on the couch all day watching TV. Spend the day doing things you enjoy and being with people you love. For example, you could . . .
- Go on a walk, hike, or bike ride with your spouse or kids
- Do yard work, garden, or cut the grass
- Take a nap
- Engage in spiritual reading
- Call a friend
- Do something creative like paint, draw, or write
- Play a board game or do a puzzle
- Do a Gentle Pietra Fitness class
7. Pray the Rosary
The rosary is a powerful, ancient prayer that can deepen your relationship with Mary, change your life, strengthen your family, calm your heart, and win salvation for souls4—yet many Catholics find praying the rosary intimidating and time consuming.
“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”
— Sister Lucia dos Santos
One of the beautiful things about the rosary is that there are many ways to pray it, from focusing on the words of the Hail Mary and the Our Father to meditating on the different mysteries, the lives of the saints, or Church teachings. One of our favorite ways to pray the rosary is with the daily rosary meditations from Holy Family School of Faith.
You also don’t have to pray the rosary all at once. Try praying the opening prayers first thing in the morning, the five decades at different points throughout your day, and the closing prayers before you go to bed.
8. Practice penance on Fridays
It is a long-lost tradition of the Catholic Church to abstain from meat on Friday—not just during Lent but all throughout the year.5 This was done as a penitential observance of Christ’s suffering.6 We are still encouraged to make Fridays penitential, but the US bishops have given Catholics the ability to determine for themselves an effective way to perform penance on Friday.7 Deepen your relationship with Jesus by deciding how you can bring this practice back into your life by either abstaining from meat or fasting from food, social media, or something else you really enjoy.
9. Pick a saint buddy
There are an innumerable amount of saints. It would be impossible to get to know all of them, but choosing one, two, or a few to accompany and guide you on your road to holiness can be very fruitful. Is there a saint whose name keeps coming up or whose picture you keep seeing? Is there a saint who struggled with the same vice or ailment as you? Learn more about him or her. Saints come across our paths for a reason, and they desire to intercede for you and help you get to heaven.8
10. Share your faith with others
“Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.” This quote, attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, invites us to share our faith simply by the way we live. One of the subtle ways we can share the Good News with others is by wearing religious items, such as a miraculous medal, a saint medal, a scapular, or a necklace or bracelet with a cross. These sacred pieces not only bear a silent witness to others about our Catholic faith and are great conversation starters but also remind us to live out our faith every day.
11. Volunteer once a month
Jesus came not to be servedbut to serve—and he calls each one of us to follow in His footsteps. Putting yourself at the service of others not only helps you get outside yourself and put others needs ahead of your own but also reduces stress, gives you a sense of purpose, and increases your happiness.9
There are many opportunities and ways to volunteer. You could serve at a soup kitchen, teach religious education, tutor, coach, help out at a nursing home, adopt a highway, make blankets for the homeless. The key is to find something that you enjoy and are capable of doing, and then set aside time on a regular basis to volunteer.
12. Start tithing (or increase what you’re already giving)
Tithing, giving 10 percent of your income to your local church, has Biblical roots:
“A tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain or fruit, is the Lord’s, and is holy.”
“Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops.”
While these Scripture verses talk about crops, they are essentially saying to give a portion (a tenth) of what you make (your income) to the Lord.10 That may seem like a lot when you do the math, but tithing isn’t actually about the money—it’s about your heart. Tithing is an act of faith, a way to show that you trust God with your life and your finances. In addition, it helps us look outside ourselves and be more aware of others’ needs.
“Consider this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
— 2 Corinthians 9:6–7
We need to be diligent and intentional in our spiritual lives, always seeking to deepen our relationship with God. Choose one, two, or a few of these practices to rejuvenate your spiritual life and make time in your everyday for our Lord.______________
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