“How is your prayer life?” is a question I often ask my spiritual friends. The answer to that question is a good measure of how one has grown in the Christian life. The quality and quantity of my prayer life is tied to my growth in the virtues, and I can measure my growth in the virtues from the twelve spiritual fruits I see in my interior life, my family life and my professional life. This Sunday, November 30th, marks the first day of Advent. It’s a time of waiting. It’s also a good time to ask myself, how is my prayer life compared to last Advent?
It has improved. Dramatically. I pray the Rosary almost daily. I go to the Sacrament of Confession almost weekly. I no longer confess mortal or venial sins, but work with God in the confessional to address deep-rooted imperfections. Although I’ve slipped away from praying the Liturgy of the Hours, my wife has taken the habit to pray the Morning Office, daily. I’m more at ease in doing spontaneous prayers. I find myself speaking to God in the morning when I wake up, and thinking about God and His teachings as I fall asleep. I recently started praying for my Korean co-workers, and I find this a good way to integrate my professional life with my interior life with God. I may never be U.S. Ambassador, but I can be God’s ambassador right now where I work, where I live.
Last Advent, I discovered my need for a spiritual director. I’ve been using the same confessor since then. I haven’t really asked him for spiritual direction since I was primarily trying to get rid of the boulders and rocks in the field of my soul. Since these have been cleared away, I can see the True Vine of Christ growing in my field. The tree of virtue is bearing fruit.
This is only my fifth Advent Season. Oh, the fruits that come from dying to self! Help me, Lord Jesus… strengthen me for the greater trials to come. Lead me to die more for You, to die more deeply. My dear Saints: St. Therese, St. Joseph, St. Thomas More, St. Jose Maria Escrivá, and my Guardian Angel, thank you for not giving up on me. Thank you for your prayers and all that you’ve done to bring me to where I am, today. It’s far from over, I know. There is still so much to do. You know my weaknesses, dear Saints. Pray for me. Help me grow in Charity. Help me do God’s will. Dear Holy Spirit, lead me deeper into the life of the Church. Help me bring my family along with me. Don’t let me be led astray by the Tempter, the Accuser. Dear Blessed Mother Mary, help me persist in prayer. Teach me through the Holy Mysteries of the Rosary how to conform more of my life to Christ.