A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Force of Habit

Posted on: May 14, 2015


My three rosaries

I’ve been trying to make a habit of praying all the Mysteries of the rosary each week and meditating for a few minutes each day, and it’s been a little challenging.

Last week, I picked up a copy of Gretchen Rubin’s latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives. As the author reminds readers, we may struggle to make and break habits, even if the habits are good ones.

When we think about good habits, we might think of things like substituting fruit for sweet treats, flossing our teeth every night, exercising three times a week, or cutting back on screen time. But good habits also have a place in our faith lives, and we may find them equally challenging to establish.

For example, think about our efforts to grow in the faith during Lent. How many times have we worked on praying the rosary or reading the Bible each day or spending more time in prayer? How many times have we lost the thread of this discipline after Lent—or even given up before Lent was over?

As Ms. Rubin’s book makes clear, we can’t just hope for the best if we want to incorporate new habits into our lives.

What steps can we take to weave new spiritual habits into our days?

  • Use a checklist. If we wanted to read the Bible more regularly, we could use a Bible-in-a-year plan that has a box to tick after we complete that day’s reading.
  • Schedule it. If we wanted to attend weekday Mass, go to reconciliation, or take part in Eucharistic adoration more frequently, we could pencil this into our planner or enter it into the calendar on our smart phone.
  • Find a partner. If we wanted to pray the rosary more often, we could meet with others to pray, as a group does each week at my parish, or commit to leading the rosary before Mass begins. If we wanted to go to Mass more often, we could meet up with a friend and attend weekday Mass together.
  • Take it on the go. We could put our digital devices to good use by adding the Bible to our e-reader or a rosary app to our MP3 player or smart phone.
  • Change our perspective. We could look at the time we spend in prayer or Christian meditation as a gift and not a chore—a welcome opportunity to recharge our spirit and spend time in God’s presence.

Instead of wishing and hoping that we could build faith-related habits, I pray that we would take steps to make these changes happen.


3 Responses to "Force of Habit"

I’m beginning this habit as well, after reading a book that’s really inspired me to make the Rosary more a part of my every day life. I’m sure it will be challenging but worth it!

I hope you enjoy adding the rosary to your prayer time. I have a couple of rosary apps that I use sometimes, and one of them gives the option of having a picture of the mystery to focus on.

That sounds great! Having a picture of the mystery would definitely help in meditating on them.

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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