Please listen to Father Ed Broom speak on this timely topic
One of the concrete manifestations of
good will towards God, a desire to grow in holiness through prayer and living
out an attitude of “Magnanimity” in doing the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises is
by formulating and writing out in a clear, methodical and practical way a PLAN
OF LIFE. The variety of the ways to
hammer out a plan of life are limitless.
The Plan of life proposed in this article focuses on the various areas
in our total life and how we can improve and make our life a fragrance pleasing
to God. Let us make the Psalmist’s
prayer our prayer: “O Lord give success to the work of our hands; give success
to the work of our hands.”
Of capital importance, a
well-formulated Plan of Life serves to order the disordered in our lives. Due
to Original Sin and actual sin, our lives are marked by upheaval, confusion,
and disorder. The Holy Spirit is a God
of order. Our Lady of Guadalupe gently arranged in an orderly way the roses in
the tilma of Saint Juan Diego. From this order comes peace of heart, mind and
soul. The Augustinian definition of peace is “Tranquility of order.”
Before writing out your specific plan
of life why not give the spiritual project a specific theme, motto, or emphasis
for the year. Some suggestions! Choose a
corporal or spiritual work of mercy that you feel God is challenging you to
embrace and live out this year. Maybe you prefer to take one of the 14
Stations of the Cross and that can be your motif. Or else you can choose one of the 8
Beatitudes found in Mt. 5:1-12 and strive to live that out with the help of
your plan of life. Perhaps you would like to have a Marian thrust and choose
one of the Mysteries of the Holy Rosary as your guiding star for the year.
Finally, you might prefer choosing a Biblical verse or scene that captivates
your attention: Jesus walking on the water, or one of his words from the cross,
“I thirst…” or in the year of faith, “Lord strengthen my faith…” It could even
be the heart of the Divine Mercy devotion in the simple words painted in the
image itself: “Jesus I trust in you.”
Now we will proceed into the Plan of
life and give various specific and concrete areas that we want to examine
honestly and make a short, concrete and practical proposal so as to improve in
these areas. Much better to formulate
proposals that are practical and realistic then idealistic proposals that go up
like smoke before the 1st week of January has transpired! Remember the words of Jesus Himself: “He who
is faithful in the small will be faithful in the greater.” The essence of the spirituality of St Therese
is to do the ordinary things of one’s daily life with extraordinary love. There
we have the secret and key to holiness!
PLAN OF LIFE CONCRETE PROPOSALS:
PRAYER LIFE. Examine seriously the tenor and tone and
present status of your prayer life and pray over this on some concrete way that
you can make improvements. SUGGESTION!
Why not decide to give just 5 extra minutes of prayer every day.
CONFESSION/RECONCILIATION. By birth we are all sinners. Until our dying
day we must fight fiercely, but trusting more in God’s grace, to overcome sin
in our lives. Sin is mortal enemy number
one. One of the most efficacious means
to conquer sin is through the reception of the Sacrament of Confession. God’s healing touch and grace manifests
itself most abundantly through this Sacrament. PROPOSAL! Go to confession more frequently.(You can
decide). Also prepare yourself better the night before you confess and trust more in God’s mercy! Victory through God’s mercy!
HOLY MASS AND HOLY COMMUNION. Our eternal salvation depends on allowing
Jesus to save us. The name “Jesus” means Savior. Jesus outlines a clear and
concrete plan of action to be saved in His “Bread of Life Discourse” (Jn.
6:22-71). Read it and meditate upon this Word of life. To sum up Jesus’ message in a few words, the
salvation of our immortal soul depends upon eating and drinking. Adam and Eve
ate and they brought death to the world. Jesus promises us eternal life through
eating and drinking His Body and Blood through reception of Holy Communion. He
states clearly without stammer or stutter: “I am the Bread of Life, whoever
eats my Body and drinks my Blood will have everlasting life and I will raise
Him up on the last day.” ACTION POINT! Why not aim for Daily Mass and Holy
Communion? If this is already your
practice, come ten minutes early before Mass and offer your own intentions
depositing them on the altar. The graces that flow into your heart are in
direct proportion to your preparation and disposition. One Holy Communion could
transform us into saints! Fantastic!
St. Charbel Maklouf. Received permission to celebrate Mass at noon every day so he could spend the whole morning preparing for Mass and the rest of the day giving thanks.
APOSTOLIC LIFE. To be a follower of Christ is to be a
missionary. The last words of Jesus
before ascending into heaven were, “Go out to all the world and teach them all
that I taught you and behold I will be with you always even until the end of
time.”(Mt28) In this year of faith we
are challenged to grow in our faith, but also to share our faith with others.
Indeed one of the best ways to fortify one’s own faith is to share it with
others! TRY IT! What might be a
concrete way? In the family suggest the daily recitation of the Rosary. Outside,
invite a fallen away catholic back home
to the Catholic Church. If we love God
we should love what God loves---the salvation of souls!
St. Francis Xavier preaching, converting and saving souls.
PERMANENT FORMATION. In this year of faith the Holy Father, Pope
Benedict XVI has exhorted us to read the Documents of Vatican II, most
specifically the four Dogmatic Constitutions: Dei Verbum(on the Word of God),
Sacronsanctum Concilium (on the Liturgy), Guadiem Spes and Lumen Gentium
(Documents on the Church in the modern world).
Catholic-Christians today must make a concerted effort to learn their
faith more deeply; our catholic faith is a fathomless ocean in its depth and
width. DECISION! Set aside at least 15
minutes every day to apply yourself to a serious study of your catholic faith.
Pope Benedict encourages us in the Year of Faith to study our faith.
PENANCE. To take flight a bird needs two wings. So as
to soar high in the spiritual atmosphere the soul needs to apply itself
seriously to two practices: PRAYER AND PENANCE.
Our Lady of Fatima who appeared to the three little shepherd children
insisted that they pray--- especially the most Holy Rosary—but also that they
offer up sacrifices for the conversion of poor sinners. Jesus expressed this bluntly: “Unless we do
penance we will perish.” COUNSEL! Friday is the day that we are obliged to do
penance why not choose one of the following: no meat, give up sweets for the
day, fast from watching television, eat less, make the Way of the cross, do not
complain the whole day!!!!
St. John Vianney, the Cure of Ars did much penance to save many souls!
WORK. All of us are called to work. God said to
Adam that he would earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. St. Paul exhorts us to work out our salvation
with fear and trembling. We also all know probably from personal experience
that idleness is the workshop of the devil. Examine carefully your daily work and
see areas for improvement. PROPOSAL! Be punctual in starting, hard in working,
and honest in the hour you leave. Remember that you are working for the Lord.
As St. Paul reminds us, “Whether you eat or drink do all for the Lord!”
St. Benedict's motto was "Ora y Labora"-- pray and work!
VOCATIONAL CALL. Most are called to the life of marriage;
some are called to the Priesthood and Religious life and others are called to
the single life. If one is called to
the married life then a clear examination of conscience and concrete proposals
can be made with respect to one’s plan of life?
Examine and respond to these questions. How can I be a better
wife/husband/ son/daughter? How can I improve as father/mother? Pray over this and the Holy Spirit will
inspire you with a concrete proposal.
St. Joseph and Mary lived their vocation to the max. So should we!
SPIRITUAL DIRECTION. In addition to frequent confession, spiritual
reading, and serious theological studies, those who are pursuing the path of
perfection should have some form of
periodic Spiritual Direction. St. John
of the Cross put it bluntly: “He who has himself as spiritual director has an
idiot for a disciple.” In other words we
all have blind spots and need someone other than ourselves to help us on the
demanding and rigorous path to becoming a saint. ADVICE! Pray that God will
help you to find this guide. If you have already discovered one be thankful
humble, docile and obedient!
St. John of the Cross, who directed St. Teresa of Avila is the patron of Spiritual Directores
MARY: OUR LIFE, OUR SWEETNESS, AND
OUR HOPE. A successful plan of life
would be incomplete if Mary were neglected. As St. Louis de Montfort asserts
with the utmost conviction: “The quickest, easiest and most efficacious path to
holiness is through True Devotion to Mary.” In other words, she is the shortcut
to God! PROPOSALS! The Daily Rosary,
Consecration to Mary through True Devotion, reading on Mary, living in the
presence of Mary and imitation of Mary’s virtue. Why not choose your weakest
virtue this year and beg for Mary’s intercession to conquer yourself! Mary is the weak point of God. He can never
resist her prayers!
Let us conclude with the words of
wisdom taken from Adolphe Tanquerey in his classic “The Spiritual Life”.
“The man who holds to a well-defined rule of life saves
considerable time: 1) He wastes no time in hesitation. He knows exactly what he
is to do, and when he is to do it. Even if his schedule is not mathematically
detailed, at least it sets off time-periods and lays down principles with
regard to religious exercises, recreation, work, etc…2) There is little or
nothing unforeseen, for even should the unusual occur, he has already provided
for it by determining beforehand exercises that may be shortened and the manner
of making up for them. At all events, as soon as these exceptional
circumstances cease to exist, he immediately comes back to his rule. 3)
Inconstancy likewise vanishes. The rule urges him to do always what is
prescribed, and that every day and at every hour of the day. Thus the habits are formed that, give
continuity to his life and assure perseverance; his days are full days, teeming
with good works and merits.” (Tanquery, Spiritual Life, # 560)