If you are the same person at fifty-five, spiritually, that you were when you were twenty-five, something is wrong. Life is too short. You don’t want to waste time on just treading water your whole life. If you are not growing deeper, you probably don’t have the correct mindset to love with all your heart and soul and strength (Matthew 22:34).
One of the ways I try to break the bonds of boredom and challenge myself to delve into the Mystery of Faith is by having a focused lifestyle that puts Christ first, or as the Scriptures say, “Seek first the kingdom of heaven and all else will be given to you besides.” (Matthew 6:33). This does not mean you have to be a fanatic about Jesus or have to think about religious stuff all day. It does mean that your life goals or your center, should be appropriate for what is in your heart. Where your heart is there will be your treasure.
As an aspiring Lay Cistercian, one of the things that I have learned, one that I actually knew for the last fifty years, but did not grow deeper with, was to have a schedule for my spiritual piety. Lay Cistercians are supposed to perform certain practices, but the reason they do this is to have consistency and persistency of focus on Jesus. My practices are:
Recite the Liturgy of the Hours – I am fortunate to have a community recitation of the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, and Evening Prayer in common. If you want to grow deeper in Christ Jesus, you have to pray together in a community of believers. If you don’t have such a group, you may wish to start one. Email me. It doesn’t cost money but will cost you focus and perseverance in having in you the mind of Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:5) I recite the night prayer privately. It takes time and energy to turn from what you want to do to give glory to the Father through Jesus, but it is the time you take and the inconvenience that is, of itself, the prayer of glory and praise that no one is the whole world can give but you. Frequently, I have thoughts in my head that say, “Are you out of your mind? Why are you wasting your time praying when no one is there?” My answer is the sign of contradiction. It is when you think that everything does not make sense that it makes the most sense. It is when you are challenged to find meaning with three universes (physical, mental, spiritual) and not just with two (physical and mental) as the world urges you to do. This is the folly of God, which is wiser than the reasons of humans. It is the effort you make to have in your the mind of Christ Jesus that is meaningful, not the completion of this or that prayer.
Receive the Eucharist –
Do Lectio Divina — Every day, read, meditate, pray and contemplate your center. My center is Phil 2:5. It is the only Lectio (reading) I have done for the last forty years. In terms of moving from self to God, the move is imperceptible but real.
Read Chapter 4 of the Rule of Benedict — Every day, read this through to completion. These are the tools for good works. They are not ends in themselves but behaviors to help you love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself. (Deuteronomy 6).
Recite the Morning Offering — Each day, as soon as your feet touch the floor in the morning, give glory to the Father through Christ and ask for the grace to do God’s will to the best of your ability. This should take all of sixty seconds. Every day!
You don’t have to have a schedule like they do in the monastery, but at least try to perform one or more of these practices consistently and persistently. (www.trappist.net/schedule) Pray as you can, not as you can’t, says Brother Michael, O.C.S.O.
That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict