Keeping Close to God, and Staying Fresh!

The things Our Lord said when He was on earth were the words of God. The feelings He expressed were the feelings of God. The things recorded in the Gospels are not just local and temporal in their significance. As we hear them read in Church, or as we ponder over them in our prayerful thoughts, they touch us with a vital effect. We receive a special grace that God intended for us from the beginning. ~ Father John Keep, "The Sacred Heart and Reparation"

Our catechetical year is winding down along with the school calendar. And while some of us will labor in vacation Bible schools, most of us are sighing with happiness, or regret, or relief that—for now—the work of teaching the Faith is complete.

Whether we had a "good" year or "bad," whether or not we felt successful in our efforts to draw our students closer to God, we must now yield it to Him. For it is always He who completes our work, makes our efforts fruitful, and willingly compensates for our faults—if we trust Him. It's time to let go of it all and enter a new phase.

And since it is our lifelong pursuit to grow in love of God and men, and knowledge of our faith, to deepen the intimacy of our continual communication with Jesus Christ, this new season should have as its goal the refreshment of our minds and souls.

I'd like to make a few brief recommendations:

  1. Set a goal for the coming months that will strengthen you for the year ahead. None of us knows God's plan for our lives from year to year, or moment to moment. So choose something that will help you yield your life to Him even more. Perhaps you could try getting to Adoration once a week, or once a month, for an hour. Or attend Mass once or twice during the week. I highly recommend monthly confession. It's like a spa day for your soul.
  2. Seek spiritual direction. We can feel really burned out at the end of the year and may need a spiritual "check-up." It's amazing how much talking to my spiritual director (a wise and knowledgeable priest) helps me to see my life in terms of Godly priorities instead of all the superficial distractions of my life. Graces flow when we take baby steps to improve our spiritual health, and you'll get a fresh perspective.
  3. Try reading something really rich in small daily doses. Read through the Gospels, the lives of your favorite saints, or some solid books on Catholic spirituality. I particularly love these:
    1. A Catholic Woman's Book of Prayers by Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle
    2. The Handbook for Catholic Moms: Nurturing Your Heart, Mind, Body and Soul by Lisa Hendey
    3. Take Five: Meditations with John Henry Newman by Mike Aquilina and Father Juan R. Velez
    4. Walk Humbly with Your God: Simple Steps to a Virtuous Life by Father Andrew Apostoli
    5. The Five Pillars of the Spiritual Life: A Practical Guide to Prayer for Active People by Father Robert J. Spitzer
  4. Subscribe to a great website or blog that inspires you to a greater trust in God. I just discovered this site, which shares the writings and audio recordings of the wonderful English retreat master, the late Father John Keep. His work is wise, engaging, and totally orthodox. And you can't beat that lovable English accent!
  5. Have fun! Once you've set one reasonable goal for the refreshment of your mind and soul, refocus on your primary relationships. Dote on your spouse. Enjoy your family. Call your neglected friends. And have a very blessed season of refreshment in the Lord.

Choose one of these or ask your best faith-friends for their recommendations. Sometimes the people who know you best can guide you to what is missing or most overlooked in your life.

Please share your favorite ideas and resources in the comments, below!

Next week, I'll share more about Father John Keep and the man keeping his memory alive, my spiritual director, Monsignor Charles Fink.

God bless you!