I recently returned from a great men's retreat. Like most retreats, the participants went home on a "spiritual high." But this retreat emphasized followup before sending us out. They suggested meeting weekly with a small group and going through a short accountability list: Piety, Study, and Action. The idea is simple but brilliant. Here's how it works.
Piety means love for the Kingdom of God. This means above all making daily prayer a top priority. For those who are looking to start a solid habit of prayer, a daily Missal like the Magnificat is extremely helpful. It comes in the mail every month and includes morning and evening prayer, the readings at Mass, and a selection of lives of the saints. Piety also means valuing things like the Sunday rest and reverencing the name of God. It is about learning to love what God loves.
We spend time reading up on the things we love: sports, fishing, food. But none of these things offer eternal salvation. Why not invest a little time each day in learning more about God and your faith? Study helps us to begin to think like God thinks. I would encourage two different areas of study:
- Spiritual books and books about the Catholic faith. Try these:
- News, blogs, and websites, such as:
Catholics are people who get things done, whether it is building great cathedrals or serving the poorest of the poor. How is Jesus personally calling you to live out the Gospel? Our growing knowledge and love of God should lead us to bear great fruit for the kingdom. The motivation of all action must be for the glory of God and love of neighbor, not our own glory. Our action should flow from our unique gifts and situation. Perhaps the Spirit is moving you to volunteer somewhere, speak up on politics, or sit down with a friend and ask him why he hasn't been coming to Mass. Remember, though, to keep your relationship with God primary. As one speaker said, "Talk to God about your friend before you talk to your friend about God." Action helps us act as God does.
Putting it all Together, Together
Have you found a daily prayer routine that works? What books have been beneficial to you? My own prayer life has been coming together recently. I have a regular place, a regular time, and a regular routine of prayer. Study is my weakest area, and a priest friend recently called me out on it. I have resolved to spend 10 minutes each morning in spiritual reading. My life has no shortage of Action, but too often the action is not fruitful. I think action has to flow from prayer and study. I also think the accountability piece is key. Speaking our resolutions to others helps us be realistic in our expectations. We can hold others accountable, and they can hold us accountable. The Devil's technique is to divide and conquer. The lie of the devil is, "Am I my brother's keeper?" Alone, we will quickly lose our fervor and fall back into old habits.The action of the Holy Spirit is to unite us together, like living stones. Only by working together as can we keep Christ in Christians, and Christians in Christ.