On a typical night, I’ll tumble into bed and toss up a tired prayer or two, mentally reviewing my day from God’s perspective. I can be tempted to discouragement as I look back over what can sometimes seem like missed opportunities.
As much as I’d like to remain recollected all day, consciously living each moment in God’s presence and offering each act up to Him, so often the hours blur together in a stream of activity – meeting family needs, unending housework and helping with homework, lunches to pack, laundry to fold, work e-mails and words to edit, carpooling to practices and runs to the grocery store, bank, and gas station. Meetings, phone calls, doctor’s appointments and pick-ups at the pharmacy and dry-cleaners. Moments of joy and sweetness, and also little sufferings, small deaths to self, disappointments, and delays. There’s time for prayer, too, but what about the rest of it? Is it wasted if I seem to go through the motions sometimes?
Nope. Because the Church extends us the grace of a beautiful practice that itself, for me, has become almost unconscious: the Morning Offering.
Such a small prayer to say, and yet so powerful. Because before anything has even happened, we’ve offered it up to God. We’ve united it to Jesus and His sufferings, and to all the Masses offered that day – imagine! – and therefore given it immeasurable value. We’ve given permission to the Lord to take it, use it, multiply it, bless it. And even if we should never even think about it again that day, still the worth of each act is given a weight it would never have had on its own – little deposits in the divine economy which will yield eternal dividends. And not just for me, but for sinners, for the Church, for those little people I am so busy with every day.
O Lord, in the morning thou dost hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for thee, and watch. -Psalm 5:3
If you haven’t made it part of your prayer routine, there’s no time like today to start. Say it while the coffee brews, and infuse the day with a little spiritual caffeine. There are many versions.
Here’s a popular one:
through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer You my prayers, works,
joys and sufferings
of this day for all the intentions
of Your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass
throughout the world,
in reparation for my sins,
for the intentions of all my relatives and friends,
and in particular
for the intentions of the Holy Father.
And here’s a beautiful one written by St. Therese, with her characteristic devotion to Merciful Love:
O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.
O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.
So all the while we are working, the gift of our day lays on the altar of our hearts, an offering to God. And no matter how little we may feel we have done, no matter how many boxes on our to-do list remain unchecked, we will have accomplished something beautiful – we will have given God the merit of our entire day.
Then we can bookend each day with surrender – we can give it all back to Him, each night, and lay our cross back down. I love this from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross:
“When night comes, and you look back over the day and see how fragmentary everything has been, and how much you planned that has gone undone, and all the reasons you have to be embarrassed and ashamed, just take everything exactly as it is, put it in God’s hands, and leave it with Him.”
Photo by Sander Dalhuise on Unsplash