My routine is about to be interrupted. In some ways it already has. While routine is good, perhaps a little shake up now and then is good for getting a different perspective.
I’m in the midst of a bathroom renovation. While there has been some preparation work completed in the main bathroom, most of the actual work is waiting to be added to the schedule. My half bath has been halfway completed, as I’ll need to use that while the main bath is being done. As much as I’m looking forward to a brand new bathroom, I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect of roughing it for a week or two. As I was packing up all the non-essentials to get ready for the work, I did need to take out only what I absolutely needed. While I don’t use bandages every day, do I really want to pack them away? What if I need them? The same goes for the pain reliever in the event I have a headache, which thankfully doesn’t happen often. If my chances for these happenings were the same as me winning the lottery, I could pack them with every bit of confidence. Yet I agonized over the decisions.
What has been completed so far in the project is making me very excited for the final finished product. I’m looking to enjoy many years and decades from this investment; but it made me wonder…do we look at our spiritual lives in the same sense? Are we investing in our relationship with God so that we can be excited about heaven and look forward to spending eternity with Him? Perhaps we need a little interruption to our spiritual routine, one that is an investment that we seek out, rather than the shake up caused by a pandemic. Do we take inventory of our daily practices to determine if they are merely routine habits or vital lifelines in our relationship with God? One of the blessings of the Catholic Church is the wellspring of ways to connect with God. From the Rosary to the Divine Mercy Chaplet to the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius, I don’t think 24 hours is enough time to practice all the prayers and novenas in existence. Yet choosing one over another can make one feel a bit guilty for making that choice.
Outside of Mass and regular confession, a Catholic’s prayer practice is entirely up to each individual. One method does not serve all. Question what you like or don’t like about a practice and why. Perhaps the prayer is uncomfortable because you need to grow, so caution is required when deciding what to include. It’s not all about how the prayer makes you feel, although when you do experience deep peace, that may be a sign to keep practicing, especially if it seems tough. The best practices will lead you to examine yourself and your actions in comparison to Jesus and His teachings. We’re here not to be stagnant in who we are today, but to continue to grow to become the best versions of ourselves. The best will take our whole lifetime and include mountains, valleys, and plains in the growth process. We are on His timetable, not ours. It is His will for us, not ours. And if we don’t know, ask Him!
Routine can be a comfort to us, or a crutch. Interrupting our routine allows us to reflect on our practices, recommitting ourselves to those that lead us to a closer relationship to God. It’s not what we do, but how and why we do it: full of faith to become intimate with our Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.