October 05, 2010

Best new day of my life

By Sean McPherson *

Over the summer, I worked a campus maintenance job which required a 6 a.m. wake up with an eight-hour shift. It was a struggle for all of my co-workers and I to be alert and excited to start the day. One of my co-workers brought humor to every morning by jokingly claiming that each day was going to be the new best day of his life. I did not take this off-handed remark seriously at first, but the phrase did continue to resonate in my mind. It made me wonder if this day really could be the best day of my life, and if it was, what kind of great things the day would hold: Maybe I would win the lottery today, or Taylor Swift would write a song about me! But would those things really ensure that it was the BEST day of my entire life?

When facing a deep question, I usually put it into context of “The Lord of the Rings,” in order to shed light on the situation. In this case, my mind was instantly drawn to identifying hobbits as the most joyful characters. Their joy everyday made it seem like each day was better for them than the previous. They did not draw this joy from any special talents or events they had in their lives, but from the desire to eat together throughout the day. On a typical day they would have breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner and supper. They always wanted to be fed with food and the presence of each other.

Christ wants us to be fed in a similar way when we pray, and He tells us to ask God for our daily bread. He wants to satisfy us fully, more than food or any conversation, and does so in the gift of himself in the Mass. We “feast” on Christ and receive an abundance of him when praying the Mass. Each time, in fact, we say a simple prayer, God provides us with a meal of strength to conquer the difficulties of our day. The more we pray, the more grace we receive.

If we believe that Christ’s words are true when he tells us to ask God for our daily bread, and that God will provide this “meal,” then it is essential that we take time to pray daily. Just as we are consistently fed with three meals at the peaks of our day - morning, noon and evening – it is essential to our spiritual lives that we strive to be fed with God at these times.

Consistent prayer at the peaks of our day can be difficult amidst a hectic life. There is not one specific formula for everyone to follow. St Paul says we should “pray without ceasing.” This is the model we should follow, to make each moment of each day a prayer. But just as it would be hard to sustain ourselves without at least one full meal per day, we have to devote a distinct period of time each day to be fed by God, whether at Mass, in silence or both. Our spiritual lives will starve without it.

My theology teacher in high school used to always say, “Get the order straight!” He meant that our relationship with God is the most important part of each day, more important than work, stress or any daily nuisance. When we recognize the order as it should be, everything will fall in place and serve as a means to praise God.

Over the summer, I started to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, morning and night prayer (if you are interested, there is a small, inexpensive book called “Shorter Christian Prayer” with both). During lunch, I would attend daily Mass with my coworkers. My life began to change. Each day was full of more joy, life and the “best” qualities because the cruxes of it did not depend on me, but on my infinitely good creator. Since returning to school, I have started to pray at midday, when I am most fully awake, mentally and spiritually; my prayer life has never been stronger.  When we approach God at the peak of our day in prayer, we can be fed all the more by him. He always gives us his best, and we should try to do the same.

I have realized more and more that even on the busiest day, by prioritizing prayer above everything else and making sure to take time to do it, all of my studies, plans and tasks get done.

Since being fed by God is the only thing that completely satisfies us, it would have to be the defining moment of a best day of our lives. Therefore, by spending the peaks of our day in prayer, causing us to grow closer to God, each day of our lives can be the best new day of our lives. After personally taking on this mentality every morning and ceasing to believe a “best day ever” comes from merely material glory, I have experienced unparalleled amounts of joy in my daily life.

I can honestly say that I firmly regard each day as being the new best day of my life.

Sean McPherson is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, where he is studying chemical engineering and theology.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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