lfbanner3a summer
Now that we are back into the swing of another year of the school cycle, this might be the right time for us to work on our spiritual habits.  This time of transition into a new rhythm allows for opportunities for growth in our spiritual life.  I recommend you take a look at your typical day and typical week, outline the common schedule, and then see where you can incorporate spiritual practices into that way of life.  It is good for us to be very practical in discerning the way God wants us to grow.  God isn’t going to contradict Himself, so if He is asking you to grow closer to Him and to also fulfill the daily duties of your life’s vocation (including work) then the two must somehow go together.  Now it’s time to figure out how.

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you courage in laying out your plan for your spiritual life.  What are you required to do for the sake of yourself and those around you (family, friends, etc.)?  What are things you would like to do but are not required to do?  What are things others often would ask of you?  Now most importantly, what do you think God wants you to do?  Don’t make the spiritual life more complex than it need be: God wants you to spend time with Him each day.  How can you achieve that?

What will that time with God look like?  I highly recommend the Examen Prayer of Saint Ignatius.  It is ultimately very simple, and can be practiced more than once each day, but once should be a minimum.  Not the same as an examination of conscience (like we do before Confession), the Examen looks over the decisions of our life, but over a shorter period of time and with a focus on how we are hearing and following the promptings God has for us. 

The first step is gratitude: thank God for things, big and small, that have been blessings in your life.  This can look back into the bigger events past the most recent 24 hours, especially when those blessings are really a part of some of the good you have experienced recently.  The second step is asking for light: beseech the Holy Spirit for the grace to see your life as God sees it, to know how even more clearly where God was moving in your heart and in your experience with the world (and others).  Thirdly, as you look into the big and small encounters and events and decisions of life, where do you see now that God was moving?  Did you respond to the ways God was trying to guide you, or did you not notice or even reject Him on purpose? Fourthly, repent of any ways you were not listening or were disobedient to God, asking for the grace to do better in the future.  Finally, make a resolution to listen for God more faithfully in the hours ahead (or, if you are going to sleep, the next day).

This Examen prayer is the way of learning to hear God speak, of learning what His voice sounds like.  If you are led by the Spirit in this way through daily practicing this prayer, you will certainly find a more fruitful life that allows you to attain holiness with greater ease and with huge impact.

Come Holy Spirit!