Sunday, July 31, 2011

Spiritual Exercises for the Morning

St. Francis de Sales provides some very practical tips for making prayer concrete in the day-to-day. He presents a sort of plan for the day, in which we are sure to take time to meet the Lord.

Like so many spiritual guides, he calls his counsels "Spiritual Exercises." It is good to remember that the idea here is not extraordinary experience - we are not racing for the Olympic Gold every day. Rather, we are exercising our souls so that we possess the power, stamina and skill to meet the challenges of the spiritual realm.

Then we can run for the gold.

The morning exercise is a general preparation for the works of the day.
  1. Thank God for his preserving love through the night, and ask pardon for any sin you might have committed during the night.
  2. Consider that this day is a gift, to be used to gain eternity, and make a firm resolution to employ the entire day for this intention.
  3. Preview the day. Look at what you are planning to do, who you shall probably meet, graces or temptations you shall likely encounter. Make appropriate internal preparations for these things - how to be patient in difficulties, what you will say to those whom you love and to those who challenge you, how you intend to grow in good habits throughout this day.
  4. Place all of this humbly before God, realizing that you cannot do any good thing without his grace, but also confident that he will give whatever help you need, as long as you ask for it.
  5. Be brief in all this. It should take just a few minutes, if possible, before you leave your room in the morning.
The idea here is preparation. It's easy to fail when you don't plan ahead, but a bit of preparation can make a huge difference in the day.

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