If you’re anything like me, your life is a constant blur of activity. You’re on the run. Between work, and Church, and commitments to family and friends, it seems as if you have no time for a spiritual life. Or do you?
Generally, it’s not a question of time, but a question of priority. If you’re in dire need of a devotional life, the chances are that you haven’t devoted the time. The good news is that there are a number of Catholic devotions that really don’t take that much time out of your day. By engaging in them, you can establish and maintain an active prayer life.
Here are seven ways to boost your prayer life:
Our Daily Bread
When we think of Sunday Mass, we think of it taking at least an hour. However, those who celebrate daily Mass know that the Liturgy can be celebrated in 20-30 minutes, which is the perfect amount of time to still allow time afterwards for lunch. As a brand new Catholic, working in downtown Saint Paul , Minnesota , I had the choice of at least three daily Masses within walking distance of work. By arriving at work just 30 minutes early, I was able to start the day right by participating in daily Mass.
Not only did I enjoy the frequent communion with Our Eucharistic Lord, but it was also nice to discover which co-workers were fellow daily Communicants. If you work in a large urban area, the chances are that you can find a nearby Church where the Mass is celebrated either early in the morning or during the noon hour. Time required: 20-30 minutes.
While many of us grew up on the devotion of reciting the Rosary, many of us have yet to make it a part of our own daily prayer life. “It takes too long,” we are likely to say. However, it really doesn’t. It can be said in approximately 20 minutes.
When I used to work for a Twin Cities’ international corporation, a group of co-workers would gather weekly to pray the Rosary during part of their lunch hour. With the aid of a Rosary tape, many have found the Rosary the perfect prayer to say while sitting in traffic, or on the way to or from work. Our family makes it a regular practice to say the Rosary together any time we have a drive of 20 minutes or longer. Time required: 20-25 minutes.
If you’ve never spent time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament, the Year of the Eucharist, is the perfect time to consider doing so. Eucharistic adoration was the key that brought me into the Catholic Church 10 years ago this month.
The beauty of adoration is that you can spend as little as two minutes, or as long as two hours before our Eucharistic Lord. You’ll relish the quiet time spent with Christ as a retreat from the concerns of the world. What’s wonderful about this devotion is that you can stop in whenever you’re able, whether it’s before or after work, in the morning or late at night. Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is always there. The Real Presence Association keeps a list of Eucharistic chapels so that you can find one near you. Time required: Flexible.
Typically prayed between 3-4 p.m. (the hour of Jesus’ death), the Divine Mercy devotion follows the structure of the Rosary, but can be said in as little as five minutes. Written by the Polish nun, St. Faustina Kowalska, this devotion stresses the “ocean” of God’s mercy for each one of us, despite our sins.
An accompanying novena can be prayed the week after Easter, leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday. The Catholic Goldmine features a web page of links where you can learn more about the devotion and even pray it online at your computer. Time required: 5-10 minutes.
Liturgy of the Hours
Of all the prayers available to us as Catholics, why not partake in the very prayer of the Church? The Divine Office or Liturgy of the Hours are the prayers that religious are asked to pray each day.
Catholic laymen and women are encouraged to take part in the prayers as well, which include psalms, Scripture readings, intercessory prayer, and reflections on the lives of the saints. With the help of an aid, such as the popular Magnificat, you can take part in the prayer of the Church, asking for God’s guidance periodically throughout your day. Time required: Flexible.
Examination of Conscience
There is one devotion that I practiced even before I was Catholic and knew it had a name. Every evening, before I went to sleep, I would make an accounting of my day focusing on those things that I did well and the areas where I might have done better.
I’ve found this devotion an excellent exercise for the end of the day. By examining your conscience, asking for God’s forgiveness, and asking Him to help you do better you’re setting yourself up for a better tomorrow. Time required: Flexible.
Stations of the Cross
While many Catholics frequent this devotion regularly during Lent, it’s good to remember that this is a devotion that can be practiced any time of the year in nearly any Catholic Church around the world. Every Catholic Church has a set of stations upon which the faithful can reflect upon the passion and death of Jesus Christ. It’s what we did before The Passion of the Christ was released. Time required: Flexible.
What better occasion than the Year of the Eucharist to etch out a little more time for God? Time-wise, the devotions require very little, but their impact just might last an eternity.
Tim Drake is a staff writer with the National Catholic Register, and author of the book Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow’s Church (Sophia Institute Press, 2004). He writes from Saint Joseph, Minnesota.
This article has been re-published with written authorization of Catholic Match, LLC.
© Copyright 2006 Catholic Match, LLC. This article may not be copied, reproduced, republished, uploaded, posted, transmitted, or distributed in any way without written authorization of Catholic Match, LLC.