I grabbed one on my exit and eagerly looked through it as soon as I got home. Our parish priest had warned us not to attempt all seven of them at once, which Father McCloskey stresses too.
Just knowing that I wasn’t expected to become super holy within the space of one day encouraged me to see if I could begin adopting the habits.
Here they are:
1. The Morning Offering: “Offer the day ahead for God’s glory using your own words or a memorized prayer.”
Seems pretty easy, right? But before you do this, you have to “conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single moment to laziness.” This is a tad trickier! (See my post on “Heriosm and the Alarm Clock” by clicking on the keywords "Acts of Heriosm" to the right of this page.)
2. Fifteen Minutes of Silent Prayer: Father McCloskey calls this “face time” or “quality time” with Our Lord, during which we can develop the ability to listen to Jesus and understand what He “is asking of you and what He wants to give you.” Father likens our soul to an answering machine where “Jesus can leave you profound messages even if you do not hear Him directly during your prayer time.”
3. Receiving Holy Communion: This involves going to daily Mass and receiving Holy Communion in a state of grace – “being free from serious sin and having gone to confession.” Father McCloskey calls this “the most intimate act possible for a human being.”
4. Fifteen Minutes of Spiritual Reading: He suggests reading the New Testament systematically and following this with a “classic book on spirituality.” Father quotes Saint Josemaria: “spiritual reading…has made many saints.”
5. Pray the Angelus: Pause in the middle of the day and take a few minutes to “address our Blessed Mother every day…while meditating on the Incarnation and Resurrection of Our Lord.”
6. Pray the Holy Rosary: “By repeating words of love to Mary and offering up each Rosary for our intentions, we take a short cut to Jesus by passing through the heart of His mother.”
(If you’re like me and can never remember how many mysteries there are and what comprises each one, check How to Pray the Rosary.)
7. Examine Your Conscience: Before going to bed each night, briefly examine your conscience and “review the one particular area you have identified…which must be improved in order to become a saint.”
As I wrote earlier, we’re not expected to acquire all seven habits overnight. Father McCloskey writes that “growing in these daily habits ….is a gradual work in progress….Haste will invite failure and God wants you to succeed at both your pace and His.”
So How Am I Doing?
Well, I’m definitely not rushing to incorporate all the habits at once! I decided to start with what, to me, is the most important one. I have no excuse for not going to daily Mass. I have a friend who goes to her own church every morning, but comes to my place of worship twice a week when hers has no morning Mass. So twice a week I have great company in the pew with me.
Attending daily Mass means that I have to get up early every morning at the same time to feed the horses, muck out their stables, and then get presentable - and smell nice! - for 8 o’clock Mass. Because I am rising so early, I am going to bed earlier.
Immediate, Positive Results
I began the habit on the first Monday of Advent and it is already revolutionizing my life. The positive results of this are fourfold.
One: I’m missing out on unproductive and mind-numbing hours of television at night:
Two: I find it easy to get up earlier than necessary, and now sit down to write in the wee hours of the morning before I throw on my old clothes and take care of the horses:
Three: I’m in a good mood all day because I’ve prayed first thing in the morning, spent time in the Lord’s presence and received the Holy Eucharist. This is giving me more patience with others - impatience being my big personal issue:
Four: An additional byproduct of this habit is, to paraphrase Father McCloskey, I’m not losing time out of my day, but gaining time. I get more out of every day, because I’m awake during the hours when my brain operates at its best. Evenings are a no-go time for me mentally, so it makes sense to start my day sooner and finish it sooner.
Where Do I Go from Here?
I also begin the day with a prayer and examine my conscience at night. I will gradually add the other habits to my day and let you know how I do!