This is a Marathon, Not a Sprint!

For the first time in recent memory, I ended a year on a Spiritual high note. I wasn’t running on fumes through Advent, I’ve enjoyed Christmas, and I’m excited to start 2012 and grow in our beautiful faith even more. So, as we’re less than a week into a new year, I thought I would share some ways to keep our spiritual “endurance” throughout the year.

What came to mind was a Homily that my husband and I heard while attending Saint William of York (Stafford, Virginia) in August. Father made some remarks about “Lapsed” Catholics, also called “C&E’s” (Christmas and Easter) sometimes. This (very large) group of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ are not the ones that we see every Sunday. We likely won’t see them while they’re vacationing, and we also most likely won’t have many conversations with them about our Catholic faith. However, it never fails that come Christmas and Easter, they all show up. The parking lot is full, the pews are full, the Church is very warm. Father Magot made us all chuckle when he said, “why choose the busiest Masses of the year to go to? I’d rather go in August. There’s plenty of parking spaces, room to sit. Communion lines are shorter.”
Obviously the point he was trying to drive home is that EVERY Sunday Mass and Holy Day of Obligation are important. We are obligated to attend them all. And without a serious excuse, we are committing a mortal sin if we do not go.
And so we have begun 2012.

About ten years ago, I had a gym membership. It was a 24 hour gym and my regular workouts began around 10 PM. The following January, I think I witnessed fifty “New Years resolutions” happen before my eyes. Tredmills were all of a sudden full, weight machines had lines, and the classes in the room off to the side were full of energy. To be honest, the sudden surge of people was someone of a distraction as well as annoying. Not because I didn’t want these people to get into shape or to be healthy, it was because they didn’t stick around.

Come February and March, the New Years resolution crowd dwindled out in numbers. Few were left to continue on their mission. The rest had given up.
And after sharing these two stories, I can’t help but think of the similarities between the two. Just as a journey towards becoming physically fit and healthy takes a lot of work and dedication, so does growth,in our faith. It cannot and does not happen overnight. Any surge in energy or bursts of the Holy Spirit may only seem temporary, unless they are nourished.

Through,our Baptism, we are initiated into the Church and given the gift of the Holy Spirit. Through the Eucharist, we are nourished and strengthened, and through our Confirmation, we are sealed in the gift of the Holy Spirit, thus completing our initiation into the Church.

As we continue in this year, let us keep in mind the promises we made through our Confirmation, to grow in our faith and to share our faith with others.

I would like to end with some suggestions to keep the flame burning:

1. Make it a duty to attend Mass regularly. Every Sunday and every Holy Day of Obligation. While daily Mass is not an obligation, attending regularly can only help us grow in our faith.
2. Make time for prayer. I was recently gifted a book on The Family Rosary. How cliche to hear, “A family that prays together, stays together.” Say bedtime prayers with your children. Say a prayer at meal times. Pray when you wake up. Prayer is simply conversation with God, and the more we’re talking to him, the less likely we are to fall into sinful behavior. Also, drive around with a CD of the Rosary being recited, or religious music playing. It’s hard to be in a bad mood while listening to “How Great thou Art.”
3. Go to Confession regularly. If you haven’t been in a while- go! It will give you,the grace to sustain you and keep your soul in good shape.
4. Join a Catholic group or look for a Spiritual Advisor. Having someone to guide us along the journey is imperative to our growth. For me, I have a lovely group of women who I have become very close to. We talk every day. All things Catholic, and sometimes not.
5. Do something within your parish. Whether it’s volunteering as a CCD teacher or singing in the choir, assisting in a number of ministries or on the parish board….. whichever interests you. When you’re accountable to others for something, you’re more likely to follow through.
6. Wear our beautiful faith on your sleeve, figuratively speaking. Mention to others in conversation that you are Catholic. Invite friends to go to Mass. Find or answer questions friends may have about our faith.

We have a whole long year ahead of us. There is no doubt that it will fly by. But our job is to come out on the other end stronger in our faith than when we started last week. So, I challenge you all. Make it count!

6 comments
  • janJanuary 5, 2012 - 10:28 am

    Good Morning….wonderful comments about going to church. John Paul II coined the phrase the pew sitters, the people who go to church on sunday and that is the extent of their Catholic Faith. I am a convert, 6 years ago, and I love being Catholic, there is so much food for the faith such as this web site. Even if you are not Catholic you can enjoy the food and build up your faith…I wear my rosary bracelets (2) 24 hrs., my scapular and my cross…yet, most people would not know it. But in my business I have a very large picture of the Sacred heart of Jesus. I wear my faith and am their if people want to visit, but I don’t sell religion so to speak. I could say more about the pew sitters but some people may feel it is too personal, so I won’t. I love your columns.

    JanReplyCancel

  • Tamara MoravecJanuary 5, 2012 - 1:09 pm

    Beautiful post Jeanne! My little boys, who attend a Catholic school, made their First Reconciliation last February, and that kind of lit a fire under me to be more attentive to my faith life. I started going to Daily Mass and praying each time for deeper faith. I also started listening to Catholic Radio.

    I cannot believe what miracles this year has brought!! In addition to Daily Mass, and Adoration, I pray the Liturgy of the Hours and we all go to Confession once a month. We pray a daily Rosary, Angelus and Divine Mercy Chaplet, I wear a scapular and annoy all my fb friends with endless Catholic posts. I pray first thing in the morning and we all say bedtime prayers at night. My marriage is stronger than ever, my home is much more peaceful, my faith has grown beyond my wildest imaginings. We are making plans to homeschool next year so our children will grow up closer to the Lord. And all these graces started with Daily Mass and a simple petition.ReplyCancel

  • JeanneJanuary 5, 2012 - 3:17 pm

    Thank you, Jan!
    I love Pope John Paul II and I think that would definitely make for an interesting post and discussion.
    Admittedly, until about seven years ago I was more of a pew sitter. My excitement about the faith wasn’t centered where it should be, but in the groups and people I met through involvement. Basically, I was lacking some imperative understanding; going through the motions but missing the point.ReplyCancel

  • LisaJanuary 5, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    Your post reminds me of a parish I’d once been a part of that had a “secret Mass” for all the regularly attending parishioners. The big secret was that they’d announce it the week before Christmas but not publish it in the bulletin with the list of the other Christmas liturgies. So you had to be there to be privy to the Mass the next week! I’m sure someone would have an objection to this, but I thought immediately of the enjoinment to be “innocent as doves, and wise as serpents”.ReplyCancel

  • JeanneJanuary 5, 2012 - 10:06 pm

    Sorry I hadn’t responded to your post earlier Tamara. How wonderful is that?!
    I hope you and your family continue on such a wonderful path toward holiness 🙂
    I can see in some places that might be necessary Lisa. Especially where the population mostly consider themselves Catholic yet few attend. How are Priests supposed to accomodate the crowds?ReplyCancel

  • AmeliaJanuary 5, 2012 - 10:53 pm

    Lovely, lovely, lovely, Jeanne. Thank you for writing this post. I, too, was once a “pew sitter”, but no longer. Thank you for the suggestions on how to grow in holiness for the new year and the rest of our lives.ReplyCancel