Human beings are creatures of habit. We thrive on routines because they give us security and make our lives easier. What we do every single day is a part of our individual identity and every person is different. In the spiritual life, habits can either be harmful or good. They can either get us to heaven or drag us down to hell.
One of the things that is consistently emphasized by many writers on the spiritual life is the need for a rule of life. This rule of life is something that allows us to order our day. There are several things in which this rule consists: daily prayer, work, examination of conscience, meditation, and Mass. Depending on the circumstances, it may not be easy for us to accomplish all of these things, but it is useful that we accomplish several every day.
Most spiritual writers recommend a set time for rising and morning prayers. Morning prayers are important because they help to put our day into focus. Many prayer books have morning prayers that may be recited such as the Morning Offering and the acts of faith, hope, and charity. Some people may not even use a book at all, but speak to God from their heart. While others may recite Matins and Lauds from the Divine Office. It truly does not matter what prayers we say, but the intention behind them. Namely that God will sanctify our day and help us in whatever work we seek to accomplish.
After reciting the morning prayers, people will begin their daily work. The work that we do is not only to put food on the table, but is also necessary for the spiritual life. If we dedicate the work that we accomplish during a single day to God, it will bear much fruit for us in heaven. Not only this, but our work will become sanctified. St. Mucian of Malonne, a humble Brother of the Christian Schools, became a great saint through his unstinting devotion to his work and rule of life. We, too, can accomplish this by praying that God sanctify our work.
When we return home from work, we often have some extra time before we retire to bed. Many people will watch the television, but it is also a good idea for us to spend this time in meditation. What should one meditate on? That depends on many things. Some people will meditate on the Bible or a reading from a spiritual book, while others may use the mysteries of the Rosary. Like I said before, it depends.
We must take care that we do not neglect spiritual reading. Most spiritual writers recommend that we spend just fifteen minutes (!) reading a good book. However, many people will spend more time depending on the book that they are reading. Indeed, there are countless books that can be of profit to us in the spiritual life. The catalogs of Catholic publishers listed on this blog have countless books that can help you. If I were to recommend three, however, I would choose the following: “The Imitation of Christ” by Thomas a Kempis, “The Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales, and “The Soul of the Apostolate” by Fr. Chautard. Each of these books is a classic and can be read profitably with a great deal of spiritual profit.
In our daily rule, however, we must not neglect to attend Mass whenever we can. The Mass is the pinnacle of our faith. More so than the Divine Office, the Mass is Calvary re-enacted for us. There are countless graces to be gained by our daily attendance at Mass. Many great saints such as Alphonsus Liguori and Robert Bellarmines were renowned for their devotion to the Mass. Indeed, the power of the Mass is great. If only we would attend it with devotion.
The following are suggestions for what one should do in a day. There are different variations on the rule of life from countless authors. Some of the best were written by St. Alphonsus Liguori, a master of the spiritual life, who understood the importance of a daily routine. However, the important thing is to stick to one’s rule of life unstintingly and to continue in it for as long as one shall live.
Our Lady of the Angels, pray for us!