Catholicism is not a religion which we only “do” on a Sunday – it is a way of life in fact, it is the life, the way and the truth.
We have heard it said so many times that we barely pay any attention to the actual meaning of the term “Practising Catholic. Our faith is so immensely rich and full, that no matter our level of knowledge, or whether we are “cradle” or “converts” can we ever be regarded as “finished”. We are ALL practicing and growing and learning – every minute of every day as we struggle along in this vale of tears. Each step is learning to “put on Christ” as we live out our lives as practising Catholics.
Catholicism is not a religion which we only “do” on a Sunday – it is a way of life in fact, it is the life, the way and the truth – it affects every single breath we take as the popular song goes “every breath I take, every move I make”. One “breathes Catholicism”. More appropriate, was it not St Augustine who said – “you become what you love” and this is our aim to “become” He whom we love.
So how do we breathe Catholic – how do we make the teachings of Christ and our Church part of every single moment of our lives?
I am indeed greatly blessed to have been born a Catholic and brought up in a 100% Catholic home combined with a complete Convent education – so there was not a second of my day when I was not enclosed within the Faith. It is, of course, in the home that the instruction begins and becomes part of us. In the same way, as all the little skills are learned, so we begin to learn to live a Catholic life.
There are a few guidelines which, teaching our children or learning ourselves if we are starting anew, need to be part of our lives and teach us to breathe Catholic.
- Putting first things first. We live and move and have our being through God, therefore, when we open our eyes, even if still too sleepy to focus on prayer, we make the Sign of the Cross with love and reverence.
- Once sufficiently awake, say our morning prayer, even before arising – it can be the time-old version that all Catholics know or your own words, “Thank You dear Father for waking me from sleep to a bright and new day. Help me to live today as You would want.” Then after doing the necessary, take 5 mins for a more comprehensive morning prayer – never forgetting the Holy Spirit – asking Him for his help in all things facing you this day. And at breakfast pray aloud with the family. As our beloved Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said “Prayer, as a means of drawing ever new strength from Christ, is concretely and urgently needed.” As we proceed to work, or driving children to school make sure you pray either the Holy Rosary or with children, prayers that they will be able to memorise – teaching them to make prayer a memorable and vital part of their day. Prayers to Mary our Mother are always extremely efficacious and easy to learn. Bless the children as they leave you with the Sign of the Cross. And finally use our beautiful Catholic aspirations all day long – even if it is just the shortest of all, the most Holy Name “Jesus”.
- LIVE BY the Liturgical Calendar – hang more than 1 in your home where all may be able to refer to it – the Church always makes these pretty inexpensive to allow us to do just that.
- Inform your family of any information you are able to, regarding the Saint of the Day and say a little prayer together for the intercession of that Saint.
- Holy Mother Church has made our aim to “breathe Catholic” so beautiful by designating a specific Devotion to each month. As I write this it is the month of August – the Month of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Make sure you do sufficient research to inform the family of the Church’s understanding and Doctrine regarding the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Learn a prayer together that you can say each day. And so throughout the year, the various liturgical seasons and solemnities, celebrations and feast days, should all be honoured and “lived” together.
- The discipline and Penance of NOT eating meat on Fridays – seems like nothing but it in fact it instils the “thought” the penance, the reason for doing this – it brings our faith into the living fibre of our day. Just DO IT regardless of whether anyone else you know does – even if your own Country no longer does it.
- Being a Catholic means that we actually have no excuse NOT to be the Light of Christ. We have the Sacraments – we have Holy Mass, the Holy Eucharist, Confession – all of which fill us with the grace we need to keep on keeping on in the footsteps of our Redeemer. Confession has such bad “press” but is in fact our own personal meeting with Christ – do as much as you can, for yourself firstly and teach your children from the time of their First Holy Communion, to love going to Confession.
Yes, I know, we all have an inbuilt fear – a bit like going to the dentist – but we can and must overcome this. Try to attend at least one Daily Mass during the weekdays and obviously every Sunday. Make Sundays “special” days – you must do your best to honor the Third Commandment and speaking of Commandments – KNOW them parrot fashion.
And so, these are just a few of the ways to begin to “breathe Catholic” – each moment of each God-given day is ours by the Grace of Him who created us – what more can we do but give thanks by our lives. Let us all be PRACTISING Catholics and grow in love, faith, hope, trust in our most gracious God.
Let’s BE IN LOVE!