Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
Every year, we pick a theme which we hope will be a reminder throughout the year in our prayer lives. Some have proven themselves memorable, like “March on, God will provide.” Honestly, it happened. We’d outgrown our house, we would discover we’d be expecting our eighth. The state took our home and gave us a place big enough to house our whole family even when it expanded to ten. Another year, we picked “Be not afraid,” and yes, we spent the year growing in courage, as we learned our ninth would have Down syndrome and need open heart surgery. When we’ve remembered our themes, they’ve stuck and resonated and helped cultivate our faith lives.
Other years, I’ve used the Saint’s Name Generator by Jen Fulwiler. Once I received Saint Valentine, and in providential style, we weathered an eye problem with our fifth. Having learned about the heavenly friend who would accompany me for the year, I knew him to have restored the sight and hearing of the daughter of his jailer, I asked his intercession. After multiple worrisome tests and proposed possible scary causes, my daughter’s sudden onset of cross eyes turned out to be a fluke thing, requiring only glasses for a time for correction. Another time, I felt plagued by multiple troubles, more than I felt manageable, I said the prayer, “I need a saint who can cover everything,” and received the Blessed Mother as my patron for the year.
I’d love to say I’m consistent in my prayer habits or New Year’s traditions, but I’m not. However, I’ve found both disciplines when applied, fruitful both in the physical and spiritual realm of growth. What I have learned, is adopt something new, whether a prayer discipline or a patron saint and expect things to happen. It can be anything, but if you’re feeling brain drained by the holidays, here are a few I’ve sampled over the years and a few I know friends adopted which would bear good spiritual fruit.
(1) A daily personal Rosary or a family Rosary once a week. Mary promises many graces to those who take on this discipline and I know, she’s never failed me, no matter how often I don’t make it through all the mysteries in a day.
(2) The readings of the day via email, the Magnificat, or the Laudate app. Given my schedule, I love the Laudate app. I listen to the readings while making lunches or dropping the kiddos off at school. The Magnificat serves as a helpful means of reflecting on the readings, so I keep it in my purse for times when I’m stuck waiting for a kid to finish up from a practice or stuck in a parking line.
(3) Reading the Gospel doesn’t always mean understanding the Word of God, so I subscribe to Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire to get a daily reflection on the day’s Gospel, and my husband reads to me from his daily Notre Dame email, and between the two, we get a glimpse of better understanding while getting ready for work. We don’t get to these always, but having them there every day means, we get to them more often than not.
(4) Join a prayer group, volunteer service or a bible study. It is not good for us to be alone, Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs, and constantly brought people into deeper community. We grow often by the witness of others faster than we can through our own efforts. Joining a preset group will take away the need to figure out when, where or what, it will make it easier to adopt the habit, as it will be regular.
(5) Find your local adoration chapel. Visit. Make a promise to visit at least once a week. Keep it. We cannot love those we aren’t willing to know more deeply. Going to adoration is a swift way to discover where your prayer life is weak, and to begin letting God do more of the talking in the relationship.
If you’re still wondering what to do, ask the Holy Spirit. My favorite prayer is from Cardinal Mercier: O Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore You. Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me. Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders. I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me. Let me only know Your Will.
He will. God’s plan is waiting for your participation. There are countless ways to make 2019 a year of growing deeper in love with the Lord. These are just a few samplings. Ask, listen, and agree to submit and no matter what you do, it will be an awesome year.