Catholics hear quite regularly how central our prayer life is in our daily living. It is what centers our lives and it is what helps us to focus and have a relationship with Jesus Christ. How to foster that prayer life, is the difficulty. Add to the mix motherhood and marriage, and things get really interesting. I have a two year old and that brings all kinds of challenges, and blessings, to my prayer life.
A year and a half ago I got the very unexpected call to become a Lay Dominican. What does that mean exactly? It means that while I am a wife and mother, I have been called to be part of a religious order. I live as a layman, but I also live as a Dominican in my “Domestic Church”. Being a Dominican comes with set prayer requirements. They are daily recitation of Lauds and Vespers, daily Rosary, daily Mass as much as possible (not much of a possibility at present), 15 minutes of study in Scripture or Church documents daily. Thankfully, it is not under penalty of sin, so when I mess up, I am not facing mortal sin. This is a curse and a blessing.
Some of you may be thinking that I am crazy to take on such a hefty requirement while raising a two year old. I feel that way some days, but Christ called me and I have to follow Him. My call, quite frankly, was rather dramatic and like the Heavens opened up. It is the most dramatic thing that has ever happened to me besides when I knew that I would marry my husband. The biggest struggle is working all of this prayer into my daily routine. Lauds is one of the biggest challenges, mainly because of my struggle with sloth. I don’t tend to get up earlier than everyone else, so that means that I am trying to fit it in mid-morning while my toddler is begging me to play with her non-stop. Every day I tell myself to get up at 5 am so that I can have some quiet time in prayer and every morning I hit snooze until the sun is well into the sky and it is 645 am and my daughter is up for the day. Yes, I am ashamed to say, my husband makes his breakfast most mornings while I try to make up for any sleep I lost because our toddler climbed into our bed in the middle of the night.
So how do I make my prayer life work around the craziness of my primary vocation? First, I have not mastered it, but I keep trying daily. Holiness is a lifetime endeavor. None of us become saints overnight. There are times I pray Lauds while my daughter plays at the park, or I wait until her naptime. I have to pray my Rosary in the car some days in order to fit it in. Vespers is done as I prepare dinner. There are days I lay down to go to sleep and realize that I forgot my 15 minutes of time in Scripture.
I do try to include my daughter in my prayer time when possible. My husband and I will pray the Rosary together a couple times a week. We fail at this sometimes, but are working on doing it together. Our daughter has little to know attention span, so she can make it through one or two Hail Marys before she is off and running. These are blessed moments and at least she will see me pray albeit poorly, each day.
Some days are filled with consolation and others are dry. That is the nature of the spiritual journey. I have noticed that many of theses dry days come when I have fallen into sinful patters, so off I go to Confession. Regular Confession is an integral part of the spiritual life. It helps us to see what sins are deeply imbedded in us and gives us the grace to overcome them. As a Dominican, monthly Confession is required, but even that is not enough for me most months. I NEED Confession like the air I breathe. And more than anything, I need the Holy Eucharist.
There are great challenges to putting Christ first. There are so many other things that need our attention, but the most important is our relationship with Our Lord. Pray in the shower, in the car, while playing with your kids, while doing the dishes. Just find time to commune with God in the middle of the craziness. Pray a Rosary in the car. Or like I need to, get up a bit earlier. No matter how insane our lives may get, we must center ourselves on Jesus. Oh look at the time, I need to pray Lauds…….