What kit do you need for this pilgrim's journey running toward Christ, intentionally, with others? Here are some core requirements, disciplines to cultivate eyes of innocence, and suggestions of concrete, resources, including writings of the Saints.
Each of us daily wages a battle for our soul. Victory is simple: choose Christ. If we choose Christ, we win that battle every time. Yet simple is always hard. Choosing Christ, in the fallen world, with the proclivity to sin due to original sin and, even after baptism, the remaining concupiscence and the burden of personal sin is the call and challenge and we, alone, are not up to it. Without bold humility to Jesus our Christ, we fail. Every time. How can we be boldly humble to Christ? We start by being boldly humble to the authority he established here on earth: His Church. The salvation arts are the practices of daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and annual disciplines that the Church knows to bring us to holiness, as revealed in Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition, and the lives and writings of the Saints.
Sacraments: – Attend Mass daily or weekly – Receive Holy Communion daily or weekly – Go to Reconciliation at least monthly – Live deeply your vocation of marriage, or ordination, or religious life, or of discerning your vocation daily – Family or religious life attending to the corporal works of mercy: care of the sick, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, comforting the sorrowful
Prayer: Establish a daily rhythm of prayer. Whatever prayers work for you, pray with discipline upon waking, before meals, at noon, in the evening, before sleep. Among the many prayer possibilities are: – Liturgy of the Hours (Lauds and Vespers being Morning and Evening prayer) – Rosary. Makes a great bedtime prayer, lulls littles to sleep. – Angelus, traditionally prayed at noon and 6pm. – Daily Gospel (and accompanying commentary, see resources below). Our family proclaims the Gospel as part of our breakfast prayer, then we read the commentary while we eat. – Jesus prayer (excellent for active contemplation while exercising) – Many others!
Virtues The Seven Heavenly Virtues always overcome the Seven Deadly sins when willfully chosen by the grace of Christ. Every sin is prideful; every virtue requires humility. Humility, therefore is the preeminent virtue. – Chastity overcomes Lust – Temperance (self restraint) overcomes Gluttony – Charity overcomes Greed – Diligence overcomes Sloth – Forgiveness (composure) overcomes Wrath (anger) – Kindness (admiration) overcomes Envy (jealousy) – Humility overcomes Pride (vanity)
Mindfulness, Logic Cultivating eyes of innocence means we learn to see the world as God sees it, so we are free to choose God's will over our own, should they happen to be in conflict (as they so oft are!).
God is the most logical being ever, and to understand logic most fully requires faith. Satan does not have truth on his side, only deception. Every fallacy of logic is a sign of Satan's deception, temptation to sin. Learning and living logically is an essential weapon on the path toward holiness.
Resources of Scripture, Tradition, and the Saints
- A solid study Bible, such as the Navarre Bible, and commentary are excellent for daily reading and prayer.
- Saint Thomas Aquinas' Catina Aurea (The Golden Chain) is a brilliant conversation through the ages by many of the Saints and other writers of faith on the Gospels. Excellent commentary.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church. Wonder what the Church teaches on issues of the day? Chances are it is covered here. With a bit of persistance and judicious use of the index, deepen your faith understanding of God's call regarding immigration, borders, social justice, gay marriage, gender identity, socialism, freedom of religion, right to the fruit of one's labor, living wage, and much, much more.
- Compendium of the Social Commentary of the Catholic Church. Much like the Catechism, this offers Church teaching on all aspects of human dignity, often giving more specifics than the Catechism.
- Rule of Saint Benedict. In many ways, every family is a mini-monastery. With just a few modifications, the Rule of Saint Benedict is a powerful resource for faithful family life.
- Saint Theresa of Avila's Interior Castle
- Saint Therese the Little Flower's Story of a Soul
- The Dialogue of Saint Catharine of Siena
- Saint Augustine's Confessions
- Any work by any Doctor of the Church or Saint
May God startle you with joy!