Here we are in the month of October! Time certainly does fly when you’re having fun! I am sure it has nothing to do with age! Of course, when we were kids, it seemed like time dragged. Whether it was the school day, the countdown to Christmas or our next birthday, or being grown up, none of it could seem to come fast enough.
Now, I am sure many of us wish we could put the brakes on and coast a bit. Believe it or not, the time I find that I can do this is in my daily prayer time. I like rising about five o’clock in the morning to have coffee with the Lord for a couple of hours. Now, don’t worry, I also enjoy a morning I can sleep in! However, like you, most days I have things I must be about and so for me, the time I can grab before the day’s schedule kicks in is precious.
You might wonder what I do in these moments first thing in the morning. Well, as I said, the first thing I do is grab a cup of coffee and then I either go to the chapel in the Bishop’s House or sit quietly in the rocker in my bedroom. In this moment, as I sip my coffee, I awaken myself to God’s presence in the new day and I consecrate the time ahead by praying the first three hours of the daily prayer of the Church, The Liturgy of the Hours: The Office of Readings, Morning Prayer, and Daytime Prayer. I confess that I pray Daytime Prayer a bit early, lest it get lost in the hustle-’n’-bustle of the day.
After these 30 to 45 minutes of prayer, depending on how reflective I have been, I then turn to the Scripture readings of the day and of the coming Sunday with the help of The Word Among Us. It is here that I take time to study God’s word and allow it to speak to me. I see it as my compass for the day ahead. As daylight becomes more prevalent and conscious that my next appointment is some physical exercise, I usually end my prayer time with spiritual reading. Right now, I am reading the book, “A Civilization of Love: What Every Catholic Can Do to Transform the World” by Carl Anderson.
I can certainly tell the difference between the days I take time for God in prayer and the days I don’t. Believe me, there is a marked difference in their tenor! Even if things get crazy, as they say, on the days I pray I know I take it in better stride.
Now, the morning is not the only time I pray in the day. I celebrate Daily Mass at some point, either in my chapel or at a scheduled event. I try to pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet regularly. I do this especially when I am driving because I think it is a good way to make my time in the car more fruitful. Again, that does not mean that I do not enjoy the car stereo. Just everything in moderation! Around suppertime, I will pray Evening Prayer from The Liturgy of the Hours and before I go to bed, I will conclude the day with Night Prayer.
I share these moments from my own life with you not to brag in any way, but as a witness to the difference that daily prayer can make for each of us. Maybe there is no way that you can take the time I do because of job and family, so I would like to leave you with a prayer method that Pope Francis says can help the person on the go. It is titled, “The Five Finger Prayer.” Each finger reminds us of people we should remember in prayer:
The thumb is the closest finger to you. So, start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. Think of their special needs currently and pray for them by name.
The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you, and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Ask the Holy Spirit to strengthen them in their own lives and help them understand how to help you.
The third finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors, and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance. Pray that they might lead our country and society in a direction which brings us closer to God. Ask the Holy Spirit to inspire them to do what is right. Think of the issues in the news and pray that our leaders have the wisdom to make good decisions in these matters.
The fourth finger is the ring finger. It is our weakest finger. It reminds us to pray for the weakest, the sick, or those plagued by problems. Ask for the strength and courage to serve others.
And finally, we have our smallest finger, the pinky. This finger should remind you to pray for yourself. Pray for yourself last. This is a reminder to put the needs of others first and to remember that everyone has challenges in life. Seek the wisdom to know that God is with you in all that you do and to put your hopes and cares in His hands.
I hope this month, as we admire the fall foliage and praise God for His Creation, that you and I will cherish the time God has given us and use some of that time to build our relationship with God and, in turn, our neighbor. Have a good week!