Hello friend, welcome to Reclaiming Joy!
I wanted to start off this series focusing on the spiritual life because it is the foundation for all of the other subjects in this series and the key to reclaiming joy!
Joy doesn’t equal happiness
This is an important distinction to make as we discuss reclaiming joy in our lives. Happiness is an emotion that depends circumstance. We feel happy when things are going well. When our finances are looking up, when our children behave, or when we’re indulging in a big scoop of ice-cream on cheat day. Happiness is dictated by outside influences.Joy, however goes much deeper.
At a Mass in 2014 Pope Francis reflected on Christian joy saying: “If you have peace, you have the seed of joy that will come later. ”
We find joy through peace and we find peace in surrendering to the will of God. Letting go of our expectations and putting our trust in divine providence makes room in our souls to receive the grace of peace. We have joy because we have the love of God, trust in that love, and hope that we will inherit what is promised to us, in this life or the next.
You may be thinking, “Okay Cait, that makes sense from a spiritual angle, but what does surrender have to do with my work, family, home and daily life?”
In short: Everything!
When we’re faced with a challenging circumstance or unpleasant task, we can either resist the struggle, or embrace it. The struggle exists no matter what. If we whine and complain through the challenges we face, we lose the lesson, stunt our growth and get stuck in a funk. Finding the beauty that lies in our trials means we don’t miss out on the merit we can gain from enduring them.
So how do we practice these things? By developing routines, frequenting the sacraments and infusing our lives with prayer.
Reset your routine
Routine is a friend of spirituality. A great example of this is the way those in religious life structure their days. Franciscan Friars, for example follow this Honorarium:
6am Divine Office, 6:30-7:30 morning meditation, 7:30 morning prayer, 7:50 holy Mass, 12pm midday prayer, 5:00 evening prayer, 5-6pm holy hour, 9:15 night prayer and rosary.
This daily schedule isn’t as feasible for those of us in other vocations, but we can certainly learn from their holy examples. Whether it’s early morning quiet time with coffee and your Bible, a midday rosary over lunch, or reading a spiritual book before bed, find a routine that works for you and stick to it!
This approach is valuable when it comes to the sacraments as well. Make Mass as often as you can, confess regularly and visit Jesus in Adoration on certain days of the week. Repetition makes a habit and scheduling time to practice your faith makes you more likely to follow through.
Infuse your days with prayer
It can be tough to stick to set routines when you have a full and busy life. I used to struggle a lot with balancing my spirituality with home making and raising my kids until I learned to blend it all together!
I used to think that I had to sit in a dark, quiet room, away from my rambunctious household in order to pray my daily rosary. I’d get settled and in the zone only to be interrupted by noise or someone else’s needs. I would let weeks pass without a visit to the chapel because I thought that I should go alone. It was frustrating and discouraging.
But one day while running errands, I felt a pull in my heart for Adoration. I knew exposition was happening in a Church nearby and wanted to go, but I had my two littles with me and worried they’d disturb the reverence.
But then I remembered the words of Jesus,” Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I can’t tell you how much of a blessing it has been to have them there. The other worshippers find their energy refreshing, their expressions of faith, inspiring. Some of my most cherished moments with my children have happened there in the presence of Jesus Christ.
Once I let go of the pious expectations I had built around my spiritual life, everything changed. I began to stress less when my toddler wiggled and giggled through mass. I started praying on my feet, through all the chores and interruptions. I led loud family rosaries and did my reading during nap time. I offered my effort in workouts and walks and I found out this truth; That we don’t need to lock ourselves away in a closet to commune with the Lord in our homes. God meets us where we are. On the treadmill, in the nursery, yup, even over the kitchen sink!
Embrace the Domestic Church
Leading by example is the most powerful tool we have when bringing up children in the faith. As I’ve grown in spiritual maturity and motherhood I’ve embraced the domestic church more and more. Many Christian parents wrongly believe that the Church is responsible for the spiritual development of their children, but the home is the first school of faith.
How do you cultivate your domestic church? Keep sacramentals and sacred images in your home, create a little oratory where your family can pray, start traditions to celebrate feast days and make prayer a part of every day. Your domestic church doesn’t have to look a certain way. Incorporate art that moves you, saints you love and items that fit your taste and personal style.
Even the best routines and most efficacious devotions can become stale after a while. When the fire inside you starts to fade, look for inspiration. Reclaim wonder and reinvigorate your faith by reading the lives of the saints, listening to a powerful message, going on a retreat or jamming out to your favorite worship song. Summon the holy spirit, ask for help and be open to see the little winks God gives to encourage you along the way. Keep fighting the good fight!
What helps you reclaim joy in your spiritual life? Share the routines and habits that work for you in the comments!