By Valerie Keinsley, Guest Contributor
So, if you’re like me and you desire a deeper faith life in 2020, here are a few tips and tools to aid that process. Just like jumper cables make it a lot easier to jumpstart a car battery that’s run out of juice, these tools and strategies will help revive a faith life that’s grown dusty from inactivity or deepen the one that already exists.
Stack Your Habits
The biggest obstacle for growing in faith, for me, is always the time. I have this picture in my mind of what a “good enough” faith life looks like (Daily Mass! An hour of quiet time in the morning! A family Rosary every day!). I struggle to figure out how to make this image of the “perfect” faith fit into my actual life.
If this is you, can I offer some encouragement? There is no perfect faith, because we are all imperfect women simply striving for holiness. We all fall short. Even the has-it-all-together woman on Instagram with her beautiful home altar and perfectly calligraphed Bible verses in the margins of her journaling Bible. We all fall short.
The best tip I can offer when it comes to making space for faith is to simply “stack your habits.” This means pairing something you’re already doing with something to grow your faith.
• Praying along with an audio Rosary while you do your hair and makeup.
• Offering a morning offering in your head while you brush your teeth.
• Say a Hail Mary whenever you put on your shoes.
As you begin to marry things you’re already doing with prayers, those prayers will become habits and you’ll do them without thinking.
“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.” - Colin Powell
A prayerful life is built by prayerful moments, and the tiny steps do add up.
Look for Little Swaps
Look for things in your day-to-day life that you can swap forsomething that helps grow your faith.
For example, we sing a song to our kids every night before bed. For awhile we rotated through the usual suspects of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” and “The Bear Went Over the Mountain” and, inexplicably, “Jingle Bells” for awhile in the middle of summer. About a year ago, we made a switch and started singing “The Servant Song” to our kids at bedtime instead. It’s easy to sing along to and the words draw me back to the entire purpose of motherhood, which is to love and serve my children as Christ does. The lyrics make me pause and ponder. I end up leaving their room after bedtime reflecting on God, instead of mindlessly humming “Jingle Bells” the rest of the night.
Think about areas in your day where you could do the same! Do you like to listen to podcasts while driving? Que up one focused on faith formation. Love to listen to music while running? Find a good worship playlist to listen to as you pound the pavement. You get the idea!
Resources and Tools
The Laudate App
This free app was designed specifically for Catholics and is a wealth of resources all in one place. You can read the daily readings from the USCCB, along with a reflection for those readings. There is information on Saints on their feast days. This has been an easy and fun way to learn about Saints I already love as well as learn about new ones (Saint Venantius Fortunatus, anyone?). I also love the Rosary podcasts, making it easy to pray along with an audio Rosary while curling my hair in the morning (stack your habits!). You can search the Catechism, get a really good Examination of Conscience, pray the Liturgy of the Hours or Stations of the Cross, and find so many great prayers and litanies all within the app as well.
Blessed is She Liturgical Planner
This beautiful planner is the Catholic woman’s dream planner, especially the woman looking to cultivate a deeper faith in 2019. It includes information on the liturgical calendar, Saint feast days, Saint quotes, monthly virtues to reflect on, and so much more. The planner is a great way to “stack your habits” by pairing something you’re already doing (writing things in a calendar/planner) with something to grow your faith (using a planner with faith-based features). The planner is available right here!
Every Sacred Sunday Journal
This gorgeous journal from Every Sacred Sunday has the full Sunday Mass readings for every week of the liturgical year. It also includes a “simple journaling template to help make scripture study and prayer a habit.” There is room to write prayer intentions and thanksgiving and space to take notes from a homily or jot down thoughts about the readings. As a lifelong Catholic, I have often struggled with digging into the study of Scripture. This format makes it feel doable.
A Magnificat Subscription
A couple of years ago, my husband and I received a subscription for the Magnificat as a Christmas gift. It’s truly been a gift that keeps on giving. You can get a print version and receive a paper copy of the Magnificat to your doorstep each month, or an electronic version that can be accessed online or through an app. I love having a paper copy to tuck into my Mass bag or keep in my car. The Magnificat includes so much more than the daily Mass readings. It has been a really great tool in deepening my relationship with God and specifically a deeper love of the Mass.
Yearly Prayer Journal from Val Marie Paper
I love what Val Woerner, the creator of the prayer journal, has to say about it: “Being a prayer warrior is a learned skill and I want to set you up with an amazing tool to learn it!”
This will be my third year using this prayer journal and it has drastically changed my prayer life. I feel like I am making thanksgiving, petition, and intercessory prayer for my family, friends, and loved ones a habit. The monthly prompts have encouraged me to pray for people and situations I wouldn’t normally think about, like our neighbors, parish, and priests. If you want to cultivate a habit of prayer and need help with the nuts and bolts, this prayer journal could be a great resource!
What other resources or strategies do you use to help cultivate a fresh faith?
You can follow along with Valerie at www.valeriekeinsley.com.