I came crashing into the Catholic Church in 1990, two years after reading The Story of a Soul. Having been blown away by St. Thérèse of Lisieux and her radical love, I recognized the truth of that love and knew my life had to radically change.
I thought it impossible, though, that she would lead me to Christ and His Church. However, after Thérèse showed me that the sacrificial love I found so compelling in her was in fact the love of Jesus Christ, I knew the “impossible” was happening—I was going to be Catholic. My heart already was.
Before long, I started to relish the counter-cultural aspect of “crossing the Tiber.” Books including St. Faustina’s Divine Mercy in My Soul, St. Catherine of Siena’s Dialogue, and St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography were my early spiritual food. The rebel in me became ambitious to be the best darn Catholic anyone had ever seen. And by absorbing the wisdom of the saints in their own words, I expected that with enough prayer and especially will power, I would make a bee-line to sanctity in, oh, a couple of years—tops.
Problem is, bees don’t always fly straight. Or fast. They ascend, descend, zig-zag, and hover a lot. And they’re never so rich in pollen that they don’t have to go out in search of today’s supply.
When it dawned on me that the saint thing wasn’t going to happen any time soon, the reality of two steps forward, one step back set in. But with God’s grace, it’s a wavy line that tends upward, and that’s what matters.
Twenty-seven years later, my spiritual journey still has its ups and downs. For example, during a vacation last month, I resolved to “schedule what’s important” for October. I made a calendar. The idea, which I got from Michael Hyatt, is to put things like adoration or exercise on the calendar first, so we have an “appointment” around which all our other demands are scheduled instead of winging-it day by day. But when I got home from vacation, I got busy and forgot about the calendar!
I found it a week later. Then I forgot about it again. I finally put it out where I could see it, but buried it under other papers. When it surfaced, I’d see what “important thing” was scheduled for tomorrow and think, “Well, I won’t have time for a whole hour of adoration—something else has come up.”
That’s just my latest zig-zag. But as the years go by, I put more emphasis on the steps forward (gratitude) and am more accepting of the steps back (humility). I’m grateful for the step-forward of making the calendar in the first place because it gives me a better shot of following it from now on instead of just “trying” to spend as much time praying as I need to.
Be assured that I am praying for you for the courage to take the next step forward in your spiritual journey. Please pray for me.
St. Augustine wrote to a woman friend named Proba about the importance of growing her prayer life (below). I hope it inspires you to schedule what’s important!
Scroll down and let me know what your biggest challenges and successes have been in increasing your prayer time.
BRAVO Rose for sharing the ever expanding spiritual quest of your soul. It is brave to put it in words which is the action principle. Inspired me to ponder my own wavy line.
Thank you Rose for sharing your “wavy line”. My challenge with increasing my prayer time has been my schedule. I homeschool my 16 year old daughter during the day and work evenings. I find there are seasons when I have more time for prayer and seasons where it gets squeezed out. It’s a challenge to remember that when I need time to rest at the end of a long day I will get more out of spending 15-30 minutes in prayer then using that same time on Facebook or another social media platform as my down time or time for me. As you mentioned, placing first things first on a calendar and being more organized and efficient with the free time will be necessary to improve my prayer life. The bonus is that we use Seton Home Study which is a Catholic curriculum so the beauty of the faith is in front of us all day and many days we will pray during that time.
Thanks for pointing out that social media are stiffs competitors for our prayer time these days!
FROM A NUN VIA EMAIL:
It is the Lord who gives all the lights and delights you have for us. Thank you, and especially for your sharing.
Sipping nectar those little critters look precious on the screen. We have had a small Infestation and maintenance can’t keep up with them. Maybe tonight’s storm will rid us of them…
With my love prayers, Sister
Thanks much for sharing your spiritual journey and you gave me good ideas on books to read too! I have found going to Mass everyday has helped me to stay connected with our Lord! If you think about it, practically the entire Mass is prayers and praises! This was no small change for me as for most of my life until just several years ago, I never put anything before work. Now, I put the Lord first and work second.
Also, right about that time, I made the decision to no longer pay for cable TV. The price kept going up each month as more channels were added (not requested by me!) and I wasn’t watching most of the garbage anyway. About three years ago, I cancelled my Netflix subscription too! I find I have more extra time for contemplative prayer and reading and truly don’t feel like I’m missing anything!
Great ideas, Sal! Thanks for passing them along. You’ll notice I stuck to the female saints as my role models, but I think there are some good male saints, too. :)
Rose, I loved reading about your early journey into the Catholic Church as it is very similar to mine, beginning with St Thérèse Story of a Soul! Can you believe that through incredible door openings I was received on her feast day, October 1, 2011?!! My Adoration hour each week at our hospital chapel has been a blessing beyond words as well as so many graces. ?Thank you for giving us the food given you to share!
Therese is amazing! I wanted to be received on her feast day, but the archdiocesan paperwork wasn’t ready yet. So I chose St. Albert the Great, Nov 15, who was St. Thomas Aquinas’s teacher. Both were Dominicans. And wouldn’t you know it, exactly a year later I was received into the Dominican Order as a Lay Dominican.