Sunday, July 10, 2011

Beginning at the beginning

Since this is a service dedicated to those discerning the religious life, it is time to begin to look at the basics.

Religious life is sometimes seen as a way to give your life in service to others - and it is.

It is sometimes viewed as something heroic or romantic or mysterious. It can be, although heroism or romanticism or mystery lived out day-to-day always seems less exciting that it looks on television.

Sometimes, religious life is seen as a way to be the best "you" you can be. It's that too.

But, in the end, Catholic religious life is committing your entire life and all that you are to the Holy Trinity. We give our lives to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Some orders emphasize one Person a bit more than the others - or one mystery of the life of the Lord more than others - but in every case, religious life is the full flowering of your baptismal commitment: to reject sin in all its forms and to live wholly to God.

Now, if you are planning to give your life to God, it is best to get to know him first. You can learn about him by reading, or by listening to other people talk about him. But really, the only way to get to know him is to spend time talking to him and listening to his response. That is the essence of Christian prayer.

Prayer is not easy. It requires discipline, commitment and absolute determination. In a society where productivity is measured by how busy you are and how many projects you accomplish, it seems wasteful and "bad" to spend any significant amount of time "doing nothing." It's not just what other people say, either; the enemy we most have to fight is within ourselves - the constant urge to be up and doing.

But if you desire to give your life to God, it is really necessary to make the commitment to daily prayer. Over the next series of posts, I will describe a variety of tested means of Catholic prayer. References for everything will be given on the Reference Page, so that you can look things up and read more if you are interested.  For right now, the most important thing to do for your prayer life is to firmly determine to spend a significant period of time each day is serious prayer. There is no substitute for "just doing it."

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