Bishop’s Reflection: Make Your Daily Routine Positive
by Bishop Michael G. Duca
We finally made it to ORDINARY TIME. We all track our lives in many ways, but for me as a bishop, I track my life by the liturgical seasons. From February 14th of this year, we have been “church-wise,” in special seasons beginning with Lent, the Easter season, the Feast of the Ascension, ending with Pentecost and then followed the past two Sundays with the Feast of Corpus Christi and last week, June 4th, the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity. This Sunday, as I write this article, June 10, 2018, we are finally back to Ordinary Time.
Ordinary Time is noted with green vestments and will mark our liturgical prayer life until the first Sunday of Advent in November. I suppose it is surprising to be looking forward to the “ordinary,” especially in a culture that is always trying to entice with the new and exciting, putting down the old-fashioned, ordinary and boring stuff of our lives.
As I get older, I work hard to preserve a certain routine because my everyday life as a bishop is so different. I need some parts of the day that are predictable and regular so I can make time for prayer, Mass and some spiritual reading and study. An intentional, ordinary daily routine or schedule, when built around spiritual and eternal values, is life-giving and helps us to reflect on our lives and what is most important to us and to our families.
Growing up in Dallas, some of our ordinary family routines were: family meals together every night, going to Sunday Mass as a family without exception, chores around the house and always pasta for lunch on Sundays. My family life growing up was built around these solid routines that supported our family life. They were intentional routines that keep us connected with God and supported us in meeting the demands of love to help build a life-giving stability in our lives. Family routines also teach children the important parts of family life and help them to develop good habits for their future family. Routine is important to creating a fruitful prayer life because we make the intentional decision to set aside a time to be quiet and create a space for a faithful conversation with God each day. This idea that during the day I can say, “This is my prayer time,” is a way to incorporate in a real way a good routine that can be transformative to the whole day.
But, routines if they are not intentional, can be a burden or even a bad influence in our lives.
We should reflect on the unconscious routines of our lives. These are all the things we do everyday without thinking, but are like the white noise of activity around us. The radio we turn on in the morning, the TV always running in the background, regularly checking our phone and surfing the internet, may all be unconscious actions that are part of our very regular but unconscious routine. While it may not be obvious, our routines in life can be choosing positive things, or we can choose activities that distract us from things we want to avoid, but would be good for us. We might, without thinking, routinely turn on a television when there is a quiet space because we are uncomfortable with quiet or with prayer.
Ordinary Time and routines are good for us, but we must from time to time examine our routines to be sure they are forming a holy and virtuous framework for our lives. Spend a day becoming aware of your own daily routine and see if you can find some activities to subtract from your schedule so you can add a new, good activity that will help you make your routine more life-giving.
Here are a few new routines you may wish to consider adding to your life to nurture your Catholic faith:
1) Learn and begin each day with the Morning Offering. Set a spiritual goal for the day.
2) Make time to pray the rosary each day.
3) Make time to go to daily Mass or make a visit to your church or adoration chapel.
4) Find a spiritual book or pick up your Bible and read a little every day.
5) Commit and schedule at least 15 minutes each day for a time of prayer.
6) Learn and pray the Angelus at 12:00 noon and 6:00 p.m. each day.
7) Make a brief examination of conscience each evening, acknowledging faults and being thankful for the graces received. Then, make a small spiritual goal for the next day to be reaffirmed with your morning offering.