Typically at home, my wife and I will wake up the same time around 6 or 6:30 am at home. We will do a morning offering at the kitchen table, meditate on the traditional readings for the day, read a chapter from The Imitation of Christ or Divine Intimacy, and then pray a rosary or intentions. Since I’ve been working from home most of the summer, it’s been our morning routine. I’ll try to go to daily Mass once or twice a week, and the same for Adoration.
The past few days we have been on vacation, and out of routine. I haven’t been as intentional about this prayer routine, and to be quite honest, haven’t prayed much at all. It’s only been three days, and I already feel out of sorts and not in the best frame of mind. I know I could have gotten up early and found a quiet spot in the house to meditate on the readings, but I just haven’t. It’s like I took a “vacation” from prayer. I even ended up eating meat on Friday and neglecting to pray for the people who I had asked me for prayers.
I wrote about these potential “holes in the fence” where the Devil will capitalize on your lack of prayer in Bring Me My Weapon. It starts slowly, innocuously. My son and I took a kayak out on the bay yesterday, and you don’t really realize how far out from shore you are until you look back. But it happens one paddle stroke at a time. Even now a number of months after Lent, I have put back on the twelve pounds I lost, simply from not fasting and not exercising regularly.
Protestants are sometimes critical of Catholics for their “rote” prayers, but they shouldn’t be. Prayer is a habit, and these so-called “rote” prayers can keep us in the practice rather than leaving it up to inspiration. Monastics know this, as they call it “the work of prayer.” Prayer doesn’t always just happen, just like acts of love in a marriage don’t always just happen on their own–sometimes we do have to work at it. If prayer is a muscle, like our bodies, we can neglect to exercise it.
I’m looking forward to going home today and getting back into a routine, but also as a reminder to take more responsibility for my prayer life and not leave it to the externals. It’s hard when you’re in vacation mode, but we shouldn’t take a vacation from our spiritual lives. Outside of it, it’s nothing but emptiness and worldly stimulation that promises contentment but doesn’t deliver. I’ve been lazy, and negligent, and I can already feel the effects. Don’t be the same!