Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Do Over

I am 36 years old, and I've been Catholic all my life. And I don't have a prayer time. I have said the rosary on and off through the years, and I still struggle with it, because it's not interesting to me. I like Liturgy of the Hours, conceptually, but time and again, I've flamed out in my attempts to say it regularly. I do read the Bible, as part of daily mass readings with the kids, but that's fallen by the wayside during the summer. My one regular prayer is Sunday Mass, and that's required. Meatless Fridays. We do those too.

It's not that I don't pray during the day. It's that I don't have a regular, prioritized time for prayer. As I move through my day, as I wash dishes (by hand; the dishwasher's been out for three months), as I sweep or vacuum, as I'm asked a million questions I don't know the answers to, I do turn my mind and heart to God, and I try to meditate.

And then I screw up again. As in, just now while I was writing "I screw up again," I snapped at a child for interrupting my writing time.

Darwin and I were talking the other night about how just being in the same place isn't enough. If the only time we ever spent with each other was in the dinner-to-bedtime routine chaos, we'd see each other and talk to each other, but we'd never be able to go deeply enough into anything to maintain a good friendship. We'd start to become strangers. We rely on our quiet time after the kids go down (or are at least banished upstairs) so that we can strengthen the foundation of our relationship on which the chaos is built. A relationship needs the chaotic times too, I think, so that each person can truly see and appreciate the quality of the other, but it also needs breathing time.

I'm trying to find that breathing time again for prayer. I recently went on retreat, and one of the points made was that if prayer is not routine, it is not a priority. I thought about that all weekend, came home and discussed it with Darwin, and we agreed that we needed to make a change, again. And in the way of all post-retreat life, I regressed. I did not say morning prayer. I did not make more effort. I probably made less.

But this morning, I had to make a choice between slacking off and sweeping the floor, and by God's grace, I chose to sweep the floor. A moment ago, I had the choice to answer a child patiently or impatiently, and by God's grace, I chose to answer patiently. My mind went off to places it shouldn't have been, and by God's grace, I picked myself up and went back to what I should have been doing.

I need prayer. I need it. But I also need to remember that God is I AM, and that every instant I have a new opportunity to start over and make the right choice. When I turn my mind to him and beg for help to change, even as I'm sinning, I can be transformed in the twinkling of an eye, because his mercies are renewed every morning, because now is the acceptable time. So I failed at saying the rosary or morning prayer, over and over again. All that means is that I have another chance to try again. So I'm stuck in some stupid sin. That means I have the opportunity to ask God for his grace, again. All failure is a opportunity to lean on God one more time. The Christian life isn't about being perfect. It's about relying on God completely, because it's clear that our own strength isn't enough.

The only time to be a saint is now, and the only real sainthood is starting again.


Foxfier said...

It's not that I don't pray during the day.

You're a mom. You pray SEVERAL times a day, no matter what.
...or are we not counting "oh, dear God, please---!" type prayers?

More seriously-- if you think the Rosary is important for the relationship to work, go with it; if you're doing it for another reason, don't. Some of the best advice I got. (And I decided that yes, it really is important-- the stuff that makes it hard is what makes it work, so to speak.) The Rosary Army's scriptural podcast helped focus a lot.

Maea said...

(clapping) Wow you two must be a lot younger than I thought. Only 36? I've been reading your blog for years and you two seem to be more seasoned beyond your years.

Btw I changed my handle (not a troll).

Julia said...

AH, but you can ask US to pray for you.
I will.

My prayer routine doesn't fit the standard bill -- 90% is two-second stuff, starting with a morning offering -- and I daresay that those who prescribe solitude know the benefits of it but not the near-impossibility. That's okay. The key is finding the paths of connection and reconnection that work within the reality of your day. That's easier, frankly, when life stinks and your need for God is wild and raging.

I do think that the 'pray without ceasing' mandate is spot-on with motherhood. The constant turning to God, the incessant pleas for patience, the moment-by-moment reliance on grace -- it's all very real. The luxurious solitude and that desire for a lonely place is ideal, but not always possible.

It's true one needs to put on one's own oxygen mask first. And it's true that worship is the purest form of oxygen. I'm not convinced that there's one format of prayer time that fits every situation. Finding something that is sustainable in daily life is an ongoing (and shifting) goal. You may find that you need to *go* worship. I.e, that physically removing yourself so you can visit with Jesus is the thing that separates you from interruption and routine. For me, I can do this when I have time along (read:5:30 a.m., if there's coffee involved) or when I physically leave the house (for a walk, Exposition, etc.) Otherwise it's pretty much the ongoing two0second prayer thing. Which isn't bad. Just different.

TS said...

Oh I love that 2nd to last paragraph. Would sure span the globe that one!