Wednesday, May 25, 2016

366 Project - Day 146 - "Trying"

May 25, 2016 - "Trying"

Most people who know me know that I am a devout Catholic. No big surprise there!

Few, however, understand "why"... especially because most of the people who know me know that I spent the majority of my life away from the Church. Even fewer understand just how deeply devout of a Catholic I am.

No... I do not go to Mass every single day of the week. I wish that I could though! Unfortunately the whole "Early-morning Mass time" vs "Transportation" situation doesn't allow for that... yet. Some day.

So what do I do then?

Everything I possibly can.

Sure, I attend Mass every single Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation, without exception. If some sort of family or other obligation prevents me from going on Sunday, I attend the Saturday evening Vigil Mass instead.

I spend at least one hour each week in Eucharistic Adoration at my church's Perpetual Adoration Chapel. I have an assigned hour that I commit to every Sunday... yet I also tend to find myself there at other times during the week as well.

I have special consecrations and devotions to both the "Sacred Heart of Jesus" and the "Immaculate Heart of Mary" - both of which I take extremely seriously.

I abstain from meat on ALL Fridays of the year, NOT just during Lent as some Catholics erroneously think the rule is.

I go to Confession an average of once a week. Sometimes two weeks will go by between Confessions, but that doesn't seem to happen much anymore.

I attend Mass on the first Saturday of each month as part of the "First Saturdays Devotion" to the Blessed Virgin Mary... and I am about to being attending on the first Friday of each month as part of the "First Fridays Devotion" to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

But those are just the "standard" sort of things. I also make it a point to focus on my faith each and every day of the year.

Each morning upon waking I kiss my Brown Scapular and spend at least five to ten minutes in prayer, making my "Morning Offering" and my daily "Consecration to Mary". Then I go about my morning, seeing the kids off to school. Once they're gone I sit and read the Mass Readings for the day... and take some time to meditate on them.

A little later in the morning comes a shortened version of the Morning Prayers from the Liturgy of the Hours.

A little later, at a Divine Mercy shrine in my kitchen, I pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet... and offer my prayer intentions for the day. At that same shrine I also have a perpetual light - which stays lit 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week - as a Memorial Light for those whom I have known and loved and lost. I take time to pray for each and every one of them each and every day.

The day continues and I go about my work and tasks... frequently finding myself praying in my mind as I do so.

Afternoon brings me to my main "Prayer Altar" - where I spend about 45-minutes in prayer... praying the Rosary and other prayers.

The day continues... and again I find myself praying in my mind from time-to-time. I make it a point to read several articles each day from Catholic websites and blogs. I regularly communicate with the Pastor of my parish, often exchanging e-mails asking questions or seeking guidance.

Evening comes and I prepare dinner. I make it a point to say Grace or offer some sort of Blessing and Prayer before the meal, at least to myself if not out loud as a family.

After dinner I tune in to the EWTN news... which, though a Catholic news source, actually gives a more in-depth and unbiased report of things than any other news program I have found. Sure, it comes from the Catholic perspective... but even when they are reporting on something that Catholics tend to feel strongly against, they do a very good job of covering both sides.

I spend time reading - usually some sort of faith-related book. Right now I'm reading several at once, actually: Saint Francis de Sales "Introduction to the Devout Life"... Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris Laetitia"... as well as the book "Praying with Mother Angelica". In addition to these I spend at least fifteen minutes each day reading Scripture.

At the end of each day, just before I turn out the light to go to sleep, I offer Prayers of Thanksgiving, an Act of Contrition and one last kiss of my Brown Scapular before drifting off to sleep.

Of course theres much, MUCH more to my life as a Catholic than what I've stated above... and what I've stated above in no way makes me a "better" Catholic than someone who doesn't do those things... nor does it even make me a "good" Catholic for that matter. It just makes me "Catholic". Nothing more. Nothing less.

As Mother Angelica famously said: "Where most men work for degrees after their names, We work for one before our names: 'St.' - It's a much more difficult degree to attain. It takes a lifetime, and you don't get your diploma until you're dead."

I'm very far from being perfect. I'm a sinner who has done and said absolutely horrible things during my life. I'm a sinner in search of forgiveness. I'm a sinner trying hard to learn to forgive. Each and every day I wake up... look at the HUGE Crucifix hanging on my bedroom wall, and hear the words in my mind: "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." - John 8:11

Yes, some days I fall... and some days I don't... but EVERY day I "try".

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By-the-way: Today's photo is a closeup of a small portion of a beautiful statue of "Our Lady of Fatima" which I have on my main Prayer Altar.

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