Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Trying Something

I'm trying to conform my life to a way of living that will foster holiness, as well as allow me to break free from this cycle of sleep, eat, work, eat, sleep, repeat that I've been living the past four or five years. I'm trying to watch my weight, although failing a bit at it, and need to work harder - to trust God more that he can free me from this slavery. However, I am not satisfied where I am spiritually today - it's like I've regressed. So, I choose to pray a bit more, to explore the mystery of the liturgy more, and to seek the guidance and prayers of the Virgin Mary and saints in this journey.

Adoration: I've tried to go to Eucharistic Adoration daily, spending a holy hour with the Lord, but that's a bit overwhelming (although it was very nice and very rewarding). I don't want to abandon it completely, so I thought I'd adore the Lord one day a week regularly (but not limited to once a week; I can go as the desire arises). I've always thought it was filling to go to Adoration on Thursdays, keeping with the ancient Church's tradition of seeing Sundays as "Little Easters", Wednesdays as "Little Spy Wednesdays", and Fridays as "Little Good Fridays". I just think Thursdays can be seen as "Little Holy Thursdays", and so I think often of our Lord's question, "So, could you not watch with me one hour?" I want to, I really do. So, I'll try to keep the habit of Adoration every Thursday whenever possible.

Daily Mass: I still want to go to daily Mass. There are several options that work within my schedule: 6:30am, 12:15pm, or 7pm. I went to daily Mass for about a week, committed mortal sin, and then said, "Why bother?" and got out of the habit. I need to stop dispairing in those situations and keep going to Mass - it's important.

Daily Scripture reading: Catholics have a horrible (and sometimes true) reputation for being ignorant of Scripture; and, as St. Jerome wrote in the 300s, "Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ." I fear that I have let my love and knowledge of Scripture start to wane over the years; when I was in my late teens and early 20s, often "un-churched", I was still reading the Bible almost daily, even if it was just a chapter. I need to get back to that. Father Larry Richards has said often in his books and on the radio, "No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed." In other words, reading the Scriptures should be the first and last things we do every single day. So, that's what I'm doing now, starting today. My next subject will touch on daily prayers, so I'll explain things more there, but what I'll mention here is that at least temporarily I have switched from praying the Book of Divine Worship (using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer) and instead pray (or at least attempt to pray) the 1962 Roman Breviary. In doing so, I've lost a lot of the wonderful Scripture readings that I had daily thanks to the Book of Divine Worship; so, I've decided that I will continue to print out the Scripture readings for the day according to the table in the Book of Divine Worship and then I can read those passages in the morning and evening so that I can continue enjoying the Scriptures and follow Father Richards' adage of "No Bible, no breakfast; no Bible, no bed."

Daily prayers: As I mentioned above, I made the recent decision to switch from the Book of Divine Worship of the Anglican Ordinariate to the 1962 Breviary, which is commonly used today by fans and supporters of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. Now, I've made a lot of criticisms of "traddies" on this blog and elsewhere and those criticisms remain because their scandals remain; however, one cannot ignore the depth, beauty, and richness of the Roman rite prior to the liturgical reforms. Again, I've voiced myself as a big supporter of the reformation of the liturgy - however, I have also opined that I share Benedict XVI's view that the liturgy still has not been reformed according to the guidance of Sacrosanctum Concilium. Although a lot of progress has been made in the terms of authors providing the faithful with booklets and collections which allow us to meditate deeper on the Readings at Mass, there are still countless gems that were provided prior to the reform - gems which allow us to read and meditate on the writings of great saints and popes reaching back to the Fathers of the Church. Coupled with my attempts to meditate on the writings of the Desert Fathers and other Apostolic Fathers, this is a path that I think will allow me to grow in deeper appreciation for the liturgy and the Breviary. So, in order to fully enjoy the writings I've recently bought, I switched to the 1962 Breviary, of which these writings are based. I believe that when the Book of Divine Worship has been fully updated, removing all the Reformation-era issues, then perhaps I'll go back to praying that, for I loved it so much (and, honestly, still think it's better than the Breviary or the LOTH); but the BDW feels incomplete as it is now. So, in summary, I am trying to pray the Breviary (at least morning, evening, and compline).

Also, I try my best to daily pray the Angelus, the rosary, and the Divine Mercy chaplet, as well as praying my heartfelt prayers throughout the day. But I don't obsess over this - I want it to be heartfelt and not robotic, so if I forget all the other prayers except for my personal prayers, I am at peace with that.

Reading: I often lament that I have no time for reading, but that's basically because I won't turn off the television. I have a daily book that I try to leaf through (a different one for each day), along with reading the saint of the day from Dom Prosper Gueranger's collection. I also, from time to time, get the inspiration to pick up whatever book might be lying around and leaf through that for a couple of pages. Basically, I try to read a little bit each day.

Spending time with God in nature: I highly believe in getting closer to the Creator through his creation. I long for opportunities to open myself to his presence through the chirping birds, the curious squirrels, the kiss of the wind, and the twinkle of the stars. I hope to spend at least 15 minutes a day in the sun, even if it's just sitting on the porch; although I do hope that on nice days I can go for a relaxing stroll in the park or around the block. Whenever doing so, I hope to either begin or end my time in nature with the praying of the Benedicite, omnia opera Domini canticle:

O ALL ye Works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: * praise him, and magnify him for ever. O ye Angels of the Lord, bless ye the Lord: * praise him, and magnify him for ever. Etc etc etc...

Feasting & Fasting: I won't write much about this now, since I am still struggling with weight and motivation. I'm learning more about myself and my addiction, which is a plus; it helps to know what's going on. I do hope to work my way up to emulating the Rule of St. Benedict, which (among other things) allows for fasting on Wednesdays and Fridays of the year. A little more on this below...

A Plan of Life: I feel as though I'm being led to two destinations along the same path. While I have been learning more about the Benedictines and their Rule, I also learned about a group of hermits in my home state. I read their "plan of life" and loved it. It seemed to speak to me, confirming what I have been feeling for a few years now - this longing for silence, contemplation, prayer, peace, solitude. I don't think I'm called to the hermetical life, but I enjoy many of its hallmarks. The hermits, however, do not have a secular order for laypeople - but the Benedictines do. So, I've contacted the Monks of Norcia to request permission to become on Oblate with them; however, since I can't really travel to Italy every month for formation and spending time at the monastery, I will enjoy the hospitality of the hermitage to go on monthly, weekend-long retreats (as well as a yearly one for a week or so). Time at the hermitage will be spent meditating on Scripture, being alone with God in prayer in the peace of nature, and enjoying time with the Lord through the praying of the LOTH and the Mass. Meanwhile, in my everyday life I will be formed by what I learn at the hermitage, as well as the qualities devised by the Rule of St. Benedict. I don't see this as a conflict; the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, for instance, will give a weekend retreat on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola at a Benedictine monastery! So you have three different spiritualities working together to help form the laity. Thank God for so many gifts in his Church!

One of the things I love about these Benedictines is that they follow the Rule to a 'T', so they even follow St. Benedict's rules on fasting; although not a requirement for Oblates, I hope that the Lord will eventually lead me to deepening my connection with the monastery by helping me to feast and fast as they do, pommeling my body and subduing it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor 9:27). But it's more than just "feasting and fasting". It's another way of connecting deeper with the mystery of Creation. Benedictines are close to nature - a series of cookbooks I bought from a Benedictine has the recipes arranged by the season. These particular monks follow the 1962 calendar, which still has ember days and rogation days (like the Ordinariate does), which again puts you in touch with the seasons of the year and God's bounty. I think of my love for farms, the changing of the seasons, the "seasonal" decorations, flowers, and crops showing up - even the seasonal beers that show up and I feel so connected to God and so disconnected to this artificial, sterile, ugliness we call "modern life".

This is all for now. Who knows what the future might look like? I might abandon all of this or none of this. Right now I'm alone, I'm struggling, and I'm searching for more. These things I'm filling my day with are attempts at finding my strength in God instead of food and sin. Not by my works do I hope to be saved, but through the grace of God, his sweet embrace protecting me as I reach out to him. I'm sure I left stuff off of this list, like wanting to spend more time with family and friends and wanting to take more vacations and long weekends, but that's for another day. And any descriptions on my eating will be fielded on my diet blog instead of this one.

My goal is to eventually disappear from these blogs. These blogs are so that I can keep a record of what I've been thinking, while also offering to others insights, motivation, or thoughts to ponder. But I eventually want to be little, like St. Therese, and to just have my thoughts, prayers, and actions known by God instead being announced on a blog. Pray for me, please.