Posts in Parish
Building Simple Habits that Foster Spiritual Growth

In my 2014 Reader Survey, one bit of feedback that I received from many readers dealt with the issue of spiritual growth.  They told me that the love the productivity topics but also appreciate an occasional reflection on the spiritual life.

In this post, I thought I would share the planks that are part of my daily walk with God.  Keep in mind that these might not apply for all readers.  They've just been helpful to me and if that is an encouragement to you, great!

Daily Routines:

  1. Morning quiet time.  This includes reading the daily Mass readings, doing some journaling in Day One and some quiet time.  I need to remind myself to occasionally shut up and just let God speak into my heart.  I love to stare out the window and appreciate nature.  This step typically happens in my home office or at the kitchen table.  I might also work through a full-length book.  (for more on that topic, read this)
  2. Mid-day break.  There's nothing better than 15-20 minutes alone in the middle of the day.  I like to take my lunch and head over to a local park near where I work.  Every time, without fail, I return to work with more energy and ready to tackle phone calls or whatever. 
  3. Evening reading.  Of the three daily routines, this is the one that I struggle with most.  I'm trying to read through a book in the Bible and enjoy The Message translation for this part of the day.

Weekly Routines:

Our family goes to church on Sunday or Saturday night.  The time varies depending on our schedule.  We have two churches that are close by and are a part of our worshiping habit.

Monthly Routines:

  • Missionary Cenacle Apostolate: Cary and I have found the Missionary Cenacle Apostolate to be an excellent compliment to weekly worship.  We meet with our local group once a month for support and to reflect on the writings of Fr. Thomas Judge, who founded the MCA.  
  • Spiritual direction: of all of the routines mentioned in this list, the one that has had the single greatest impact on my life is this one.  I visit with a priest who is trained as a spiritual director.  He knows me better than anyone and can tell when it's time to encourage me or kick my butt (not literally).  I can't overstate how powerful this has been in my walk with Christ.

Quarterly Routines:

  • Quarterly, personal offsite meeting: my assistant schedules a day each quarter when I'm off campus and can do some higher level work.  This is really work specific but I find it to be a spiritual practice as well. 

Annual Routines:

  • Annual retreat: you've got to find out what works for you in this category.  I like to get away by myself and either attend a conference or head off to a quiet place.  This year I attended Catalyst Atlanta and it was truly amazing.  

Making a list like this is part humbling and hopefully, part helpful.  I am (and you can ask my family on this!) a work in progress and the farthest thing from perfect.  The routines I've provided have worked for me and hopefully will work for you.  Spiritual growth is about making progress, plain and simple.  It's about reminding yourself that God is God and you are not.  It's about a personal relationship with God that is active and moves you to love others more fully.  

Attention to one's spiritual life is perhaps the most important aspect of one's day, week or month.  

Sunday Night Reflections: Trinity Sunday
Today's Mass was long, really long and yet it was incredibly uplifting. While my wife and I spent the time tag-teaming our little ones both in the pew and back in the narthex. It always amazes me how I can focus, unfocus and then refocus- all because of the kids. Gift and challenge.

Some thoughts based on today's celebration:

  • Homily: Deacon Brian delivered a terrific homily! I've never heard him preach and he was calm, focused and practical. Why doesn't this guy preach more often?

  • Application: Brian recommended a simple, three minute practice for the end of the day. Spend the first minute thanking the Father for your highlight, talk to the Son about your struggle point and ask the Spirit for guidance for the following day's demands. Powerful and to the point. Thanks Brian!

  • Baptism: little Luke Andrew was baptized today and Fr. Leonardo was his usual, spirited self. It's always inspiring when the priest lifts the child high above his head and presents the baby to his new community. Of course I did lean over to my daughter and whisper, "Don't drop the baby". Hey, I'm practical and safety conscious.

  • School: we acknowledged today the first graduating class of St. Vincent's School. An elderly nun and a dozen of her students- amazing group of people!

  • Song: our contemporary choir is so gifted and really shined today. They even hosted a religious sister who was the soloist for How Beautiful.

All things considered, today's celebration of Trinity Sunday was phenomenal. Is it because I was on the lookout for material for Sunday's night's post? I don't think so. I just sensed the Spirit at work on so many levels.

*Photo by Bernardoh