So the first principle is simply this: Sanctify your day.
Each day, have some time of prayer in the morning. If you’re not praying at all, I would say a minimum of five minutes is a great first step. It might be time to read the Gospel reading of the day. It might be time to make a daily offering, to entrust your day to God and speak to him from the heart about what you have on your plate: what your anxieties are, what you’re nervous about, what you need to do, your relationships, who you’re going to be with, who you’re going to see. Start your day with prayer.
If you think about it, no one’s going to play a basketball game or go into a meeting at work or go on a road trip without a plan or without fuel in the tank. We all frequently make plans for how to get to our goals or achieve our tasks, but so often we go about the most important journey without a plan and without fuel. It’s the most obvious thing in the world to me that we need to begin each day with prayer. That way, we go into our day with a plan and with the resources and the tools we need to thrive.
Pray At Midday
Second, a little moment of prayer at midday is a great thing to do. What I think would be helpful and practical for almost anybody is what I call the three-by-five examen. You take five minutes and reflect on your day. You give gratitude to God for five things that have already happened in the day. You ask his mercy for five things you think you could have done better; maybe you sinned. Then you entrust to him five things that are going to come with the second half of the day and ask for his guidance. The three-by-five examen takes five minutes to reorient us and reroute us to reality. It’s a great way to remain nourished and to be re-energized as we go about the second part of our day.
Then finally, look back and reflect in the evening. I think that any active and healthy spiritual life will include a daily examination of conscience. Take some time to look back on your day, focusing especially on the ways you have experienced God’s presence and blessing. Give him thanks for the successes, entrust to him the people you’ve met, and ask his mercy for areas where you failed. Then ask for his grace to begin the next day with his guidance and his spirit.
In the great tradition of so many religious orders, the evening is also a beautiful time to have a little word with Our Lady. It could be the Rosary, or it could be the Hail Mary or Hail, Holy Queen or your favorite Marian prayer. It’s a beautiful and laudable tradition to end your day this way, perhaps with an image of Our Lady in your house, entrusting yourself to her maternal care.
An Easy Way To Do A Daily Examen
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This article is an excerpt from Fr. Mark-Mary’s new book, Habits for Holiness: Small Steps for Making Big Spiritual Progress. In this book, Fr. Mark-Mary takes 800 years of wisdom from the Franciscans and provides small and manageable steps that can lead anyone to great holiness. This book tackles topics that affect Catholics’ everyday life. Giving our lives to the service of Christ is not just for the consecrated. It is the call of every Catholic. Little by little, we can all get heaven. Join Fr. Mark-Mary in Habits for Holiness to take the first small step toward sainthood! Learn More HERE!