1. HEROIC MOMENT AND MORNING OFFERING. The founder of Opus Dei, St. Jose Maria Escriva Balaguer warns us not do open the door to the devil of laziness, from the start. He who begins well ends well! As soon as the alarm clock rings, out of bed and up and at em’ (Military motto). For many, this is a “Heroic moment” because the devil of laziness is there to glue you to the bed covers from the take off! “Agere contra”—do the opposite! On your knees, the sign of the cross and Act of Consecration of the day to Jesus through Mary. Conquered the first battle, the other battles will prove easier to conquer!
2. ANGELUS/REGINA CAELI. This is the traditional Marian prayer prayed at various set intervals: 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 6:00 p.m. Carrying out this prayerful practice serves to sanctify the morning through Mary, the afternoon through Mary and the evening though Mary. The “Regina Caeli” replaces the Angelus for 50 days during the Easter Season. Mary will always bring us closer to Jesus. Mary is the quickest, easiest and most efficacious path to Jesus. “Shortcut” indeed she is to the Heart of Jesus!
3. BLESS YOUR MEALS. This traditional practice has fallen by the wayside far and wide by many Catholics. Gratitude must be expressed often, but especially before we eat, keenly aware of the fact that 4000 people will die of hunger today--- having had nothing to eat for days on end. Furthermore, by blessing the meals we are inviting Jesus, Mary and Joseph to share the meal with us; there could not be better company. The meal atmosphere will be much more peaceful and harmonious! We imitate those with whom we associate. Birds of the flock stick together!
4. FREQUENT SPIRITUAL COMMUNIONS. Sacramental Communions can be received twice a day, but spiritual communions can be received countless times. St. Alphonsus Liguori, Pope Benedict XVI in his Apostolic Exhortation “Sacramentum Caritatis”, and long tradition in Catholic practice has strongly encouraged the practice of making “Spiritual Communions”. The reason: to constantly enkindle the love in our hearts for the Eucharistic Lord, in imitation of the disciples on the road to Emmaus who proclaimed exultantly: “Did not our hearts burn within us as He explained the words to us and as he broke bread for us?” (Lk. 24). Three ways that you can make a spiritual communion: a) Invite Jesus into your heart spiritually and then pray the prayer, “Anima Christi… Soul of Christ, sanctify me…” giving thanks for this spiritual union. b) Another way might be to pray the Hail Mary and after the Holy Name Jesus, say, “I receive you into my heart Lord…” then finish the Hail Mary. In this way, one is receiving Jesus spiritually through the heart of Mary. C) The traditional prayer: “Jesus I believe that you are truly present Body, Blood Soul and Divinity in the Eucharist and in Holy Communion however, I cannot receive you sacramentally but come at least spiritually into my heart….Jesus I praise you, I love you and I worship you!” This wonderful practice can keep the fire ablaze in your heart!
5. TEMPTATIONS REPELLED IMMEDIATELY. The constant state of being for the Christian/Catholic is perpetual warfare; we are soldiers for Christ. The devil, the flesh, and the world surround us and try to submerge us. Temptations come constantly from the devil; we must reject them immediately, manfully, constantly and until the end. This done, we do not sin but we grow in merit and the opposing virtue! A soldier never tried at war cannot prove his virtue; a soldier of Christ likewise must be put to the test. No Easter Sunday without Good Friday; no crown without the victory. The battle must be fought bravely until the end. However, do not fight alone, but fight with Jesus and Mary at your side; let them do the fighting and the ultimate victory!
6. INSPIRATIONS. The opposite of temptation from the devil would be inspirations from the Holy Spirit. In common lingo, we must catch the “good vibes”. We must elevate our spiritual antennae; have our “spiritual dish” tilted towards heaven and when the good spirit sends us his light, breeze and inspirations, we must say “Yes” and receive them! Generosity, docility, openness to the Holy Spirit and His divine inspirations is the key to growing in holiness. “Come Holy Spirit, come, through Heart of Mary.” If we stay close the Immaculate heart of Mary, she can allow for this “Divine invasion” of the Holy Spirit, a renewed Pentecost!
7. DO WHAT YOU ARE DOING. Living out “The Sacrament of the Present moment” is indispensable for living out a life of holiness. Our problem is that we live stuck in the past with our many wounds; or we worry constantly about the future and the ominous premonitions of disaster that loom on the horizon. This being our mentality and doubtful perspective, we fail to capture the “Sacrament of the Present “ moment. In fact, the perfection of St. Therese was “Her Little Way” in which she did all the small activities of her daily walk but with great love. In other words, sanctity does not depend so much on the greatness of the action, but in the love that accompanies the smallest of actions. In concrete, holiness consists in doing the ordinary with extraordinary love! Bingo! We must leave the past in the hands of God’s merciful love, the future in His divine providential care; and therefore live intensely the present moment. The Diary of St. Faustina explains this point in a marvelous way:
O my God when I look into the future, I am frightened, but why plunge into the future? Only the present moment is precious to me. As the future man never enter my soul at all. It is no longer in my power, to change, correct or add to the past; For neither sages nor prophets could do that. And so, what the past has embraced I must entrust to God.
O present moment, you belong to me, whole and entire. I desire to use you the best I can. And although I am weak and small, You grant me the grace of your omnipotence.
And so, trusting in Your mercy, I walk through life like a little child, offering You each day this heart burning with love for Your greater glory. (Diary of Mercy in My soul # 2, St Faustina Maria Kowalska)
8. HOUR OF POWER: YOUR HOLY HOUR! Read your points, the Gospel of the day the night before so that you ponder on the wonder of God, day and night, on your bed and even in your sleep. Be like the tree planted by the running waters that will bring forth abundant fruit in due time, having your spiritual foliage always green… (Psalm 1). In addition, pray more to Mary and the Holy Spirit so as to penetrate the depths of the Word of God and apply it to your life. Did you learn to cook overnight? Did you master a foreign language in one lesson? Did you become a master artist in one painting? Did you learn to drive in one lesson? Of course not! Many of us have a “Micro-wave” spirituality in which we believe we can be canonized mystics overnight! We would like to hop in the “Spiritual microwave” and in 2 minutes be cooked into sanctity. Be patient with God, with yourself and life! Persevere in prayer!
9. MASS: POWER OF A GOOD THANKSGIVING. Good friends share a good meal together, but afterwards can sit back and enjoy each other’s company for a prolonged period of time. Friends simply like to be with each other, to share ideas, comment happenings, listen attentively to the other, laugh at humor together, and even at times weep, sharing the others’ grief. St. Teresa of Avila defines prayer as spending a long time alone in silence with the FRIEND I know loves me. The most abundant graces of Holy Communion are lost for the simple reason that we do not have time or are too busy to spend time after Mass to be with the Lord. I am enchanted with the modern saint CHARBEL MAKLOUF. The reason being: he received permission to say Holy Mass in his monastery at 12 noon because he could spend the whole morning in preparation for Holy Mass and then he could spend the whole afternoon in THANKSGIVING to God for that Mass and Holy Communion. Superb! The focal point, the source and summit, the apex of all of his heart’s desire was HOLY MASS! Starting now, spend more quality time after Mass in intimate dialogue of friendship with the Lord. Never forget! The word “Eucharist”—from the Greek—means “Thanksgiving”. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever.”
10. MODEL IN MARY AND JESUS. We all need models on which to pattern our lives; who better than Jesus and Mary? Jesus pointed clearly to Himself: “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Before acting, before making an important decision, before determining an important choice, why not look to Jesus and fix your eyes on Mary and then WWJD/WWMD??? What would Jesus do if He were here? Then, what would Mary do if she were to decide? Acting in this way, our lives will always reflect the most brilliant rays of sanctity!