What follows is excerpted from my book, The Lay Cistercian Journey. As a Lay Cistercian, one of the lessons I have learned is to have consistency of practice with my five Cistercian principles (silence, solitude, work, pray, community). If you want to have Jesus as your Center (Phil. 2:5), you must work at it every day. The world will try to keep you from being consistent. That is the temptation to follow your will and not that of Jesus. It helps to know why you want to seek God, how you want to seek him, and what to do to find him. What follows is my plan to move from self to God, each day
MY SUPPORT SYSTEM FOR EACH DAY
The following pages are samples of how I organize my day as a Lay Cistercian. Everyone who attempts the Cistercian practices and charisms will have a different challenge to seek God. What follows is how I do it, but it does not mean this is how you must do it. I must tell you that I am retired and have time to devote to the practice of how to have in me the mind of Christ Jesus.
My Center: Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus. –Philippians 2:5
Five or Six Practices to support my center: These are Cistercian practices.
My spiritual goals for the rest of my life:
Spiritual Practices I use to sustain my center:
As a Lay Cistercian, these are some of the practices, little nests of silence and solitude, I carve out of my routine, not because I need the discipline but because they place me in direct contact with the mind and heart of Christ.
Eucharist: The Sacrament of unity with God through Christ Jesus with the Holy Spirit as Advocate. This is the bread of Heaven. This is the pure energy of God for my transformation. This is my destiny in one prayer of gratitude with the community of believers.
Lectio Divina: This ancient, monastic practice allows me to grow deeper in spiritual awareness, there are four steps. Read (lectio); Meditate (meditatio); Pray (oratio); Contemplate (contemplatio).
Meditation and Spiritual Reading: This practice gives me a time to focus on Scriptures and Spiritual Readings about how to grow deeper in Christ Jesus.
The Rosary: Meditations on the life and purpose of Christ Jesus. One of my favorite practices is a mantra-like prayer to help me meditate on the high points in the life of Jesus. You grow beyond saying Our Fathers or Hail Marys.
Liturgy of the Hours: This practice, refined by St. Benedict c. 540 AD in his Rule of St. Benedict, organizes the monks to pray the Psalms seven times a day. I try to pray the Psalms at least twice a day. The key is consistency and prayer in common, if possible. It is the prayer of the Catholic Church every hour of the day, every day of the week, giving praise, honor, and glory to the Father through the Son in union with the Holy Spirit.
Eucharistic Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament: I believe that Jesus Christ is present, body and blood, soul and divinity, under the appearance of the bread.My faith alone cannot make this happen. This is an ancient practice and one of the most revered of all practices. If this is indeed the living Christ, why would you not want to visit? This takes fierce love to practice.
Reading the Rule of St. Benedict, Chapter 4: Each day, part of taking up my cross is reading Chapter 4 of St. Benedict, the Tools for Good Works. I offer this reading in reparation for my sins and for the strength to be strong next time I am tempted.
Dedication of the Day: My offering each day for a different intention.
Monday: Penance: In reparation for my sins and those of the Church, those in my book of Life.
Tuesday: For all family, friends, teachers, those in my book of Life.
Wednesday: In honor of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Immaculate Heart of Mary, and St. Joseph, those in my book of Life.
Thursday: For all Lay Cistercians, Monks of Holy Spirit Monastery, Monks of St. Meinrad Archabbey, priests and religious of Diocese of Evansville, Monks of Norcia, Italy and those in my book of Life.
Friday: For an increase in God’s grace to love God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind and my neighbor as myself.
Saturday: For all deceased, an increase in my faith through the Holy Spirit and for those in my book of Life.
Key to any spirituality is being consistent with your practices.
That in all things, may God be glorified. –St. Benedict