The Epic Trek to Success
You probably noticed I took a little break for Christmas. But now that the new year has started, it is back to writing daily reflections. Why do I call today’s reflection “The Epic Trek to Success”? It is because it is important to recognize that regardless of where we are, we can always focus on how to improve our lives, especially when we have the assistance of God’s grace.
If you are like me, you are probably realizing that your goals for this year might look a lot like your goals for last year, and maybe many years before. Maybe you do not make goals at all for this reason. But what is it you need to do to grow closer to God? For this question answers the ultimate goal in our lives. We should always be thinking about how to grow closer to God.
But the spiritual life is a trek. And salvation represents ultimate success. That is why we need to be focused on the epic trek to success. This is the time to ask God to teach you to pray, and to give you the grace to follow Jesus more closely.
As I grow older I begin to realize that I know less and less about prayer. This may seem depressing to some, but to me it is a sign of being humble before God. It is because as I think about prayer, it is the case that when I think about the things people say about prayer, especially when reasons are given about why some people do not pray, I realize that these same reasons are things I need to overcome if I am to pray.
For example, it can be the case that I do not “get anything” out of prayer. But the epic trek to success is not about what we get out of prayer. The epic trek to success is about making sure we are open to God, so that when our hearts are ready God can speak to us.
How often do I say I do not have time to pray? Looked at one way, I can see how easy it can be for me to think I am simply too busy to pray. Yet if I am too busy to pray, maybe it is more the case that I am too busy. Perhaps I need to look more carefully at how I use my time. I decided some time ago to use the ride to and from school for prayer. I pray the rosary on the way into school each morning, and I have been listening to Fr. Mike Schmitz on the way home.
To begin any trek it is important to be prepared. If I were to engage on a trek up Mount Everest, it would be foolhardy if I undertook this trek without thinking about the right apparel, the right equipment, and the right guides. The good news about the epic trek to success is that Jesus is always our ultimate guide. Jesus always provides us with everything we need to find success, because Jesus gives us everything we need to find him.
Perhaps the most important part of beginning the epic trek to success is to begin in a realistic way. Above I referenced climbing Mount Everest. It is not the case that the first mountain I climb should be Mount Everest. That would be a very foolish idea indeed. With no climbing experience, I would be sure to fail.
And yet, how often is it that when we try to set a goal, like a New Year’s resolution, we seek to set a grand and impossible goal. This is reflected in the experience of almost every gym I have ever used. These first few days of January find the gym to be packed with people, many of whom have not ever been there before. Maybe the gym membership was a Christmas gift and so they are now using it. Maybe they have decided that this is the year they will get themselves into shape.
But what happens is that over the course of the month, fewer and fewer of these people will remain at the gym. They decided to begin as if they were gym experts, setting unrealistic goals that could not be achieved as quickly as they would like. Discouraged, they did not continue, because they were not in a good place to make unrealistic changes in life.
The epic trek to success means asking ourselves what is the reasonable starting point for success. If prayer is not a regular part of my life now, then saying I will begin with an hour a day might not be the best way to succeed. It would be easier and better to start small and have a time of success upon which you can build.
Over the next few days, I will be offering a suggestion each day for a good starting point to be successful on the epic trek to success. I have become of fan of Fr. Mike Schmitz’ Bible in a Year Podcast. I like this because, as I already mentioned, being able to hear the Word of God as I drive home (and as I exercise) is a good way to remind myself of the importance of Scripture in my life.
The next thing I will suggest is to pray over the daily Mass readings. This is another good way to incorporate the Scriptures into your daily prayer life. And generally, you can read these passages in a short time, which make this a reasonable addition to your prayer life.
Another suggestion for the epic trek to success is to make the sacraments a more regular part of your life. You have the opportunity each Sunday to encounter the Lord Jesus at Mass, and it is never too late to start this practice if it is not a part of your life. If regular Sunday Mass attendance has been part of your epic trek to success, than maybe you would consider adding another day to your Mass routine. Many parishes have daily Mass, and especially if you live in an urban area, you will find that there is usually a variety of times to attend Mass. Masstimes.org is a good place to find daily Mass times in your area.
Other sacramental experiences that can be helpful include make frequent use of the Sacrament of Confession. You might search out a church that has adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Masstimes.org can also be a good place to find these opportunities as well.
The epic trek to success can be found by using devotional prayers. There are devotional prayers to get you started right here on this website. There are prayers that can be offered which relate to the COVID pandemic. And there are methods of prayer that can prove helpful as well. The epic trek to success can be found by trying the lectio divina, a process of prayer that will be explained in a podcast soon.
The epic trek to success can also be found in spiritual reading. Over the season of Advent we read The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander. We are currently reading The Confessions of Saint Augustine, and soon we will add the Meditations of Saint John Baptist de la Salle.
Lastly, but certainly not because it is unimportant, there is silence itself. We can find that silence is the best prayer of all, even though we might not always find it fulfilling, especially at first. But just as Elijah discovered at the entrance of the cave, it is often in silence that we are most likely to find God. It is what our Lord often.
As you think about the epic trek to success in your life, where is it you will find God? In what ways is God leading you to grow in holiness?