To learn to love as God loves, you must practice. Over the centuries, Christians have learned that certain practices or disciplines help them keep the spiritual channels open and help keep the heart turned toward God. A “spiritual discipline” is a habit or regular pattern in your life that repeatedly brings you back to God and opens you up to growth. In the monastery, novices spend many years cultivating the qualities needed for their vocations, practicing spiritual disciplines of awareness and self-denial.
Here are some modern twists on ancient practices that draw us closer to God and toward deeper, more life-giving relationships. Can you think of other practical applications?
PILGRIMAGE - Pilgrimage is a way God gives us to answer that yearning to physically travel to discover God and the truths about ourselves.
• Visit your childhood home, school, or playground.
• Spend time with elder relatives and hear their stories.
• Explore your local cathedral or shrine.
• In this Year of Mercy, go through the Holy Door at your local shrine.
FASTING – Fasting is about doing without what are ordinarily necessities to us. Fasting is a means of getting our minds back on the reality that we are not self-sufficient.
• Give up needing to have the last word.
• Eat simple meals this week, mindful of those who are hungry. Donate to your local food bank.
• Change an unhealthy habit, (i.e., swearing, smoking, credit buying, or abusing drugs or alcohol.
• Married couples, turn off the TV or computer one hour early and go to bed for a massage.
HOSPITALITY - In the ancient world the practice of hospitality meant graciously receiving an alienated person into one's land, home, or community and providing directly for that person's needs.
• Invite a friend to share a simple meal.
• Welcome the new person in the office or a new neighbor.
• Greet people politely in public places with the surprise of courtesy.
• Engaged and dating couples, include others in your recreation time.
• Married couples, make your bedroom inviting.
Coming soon: Check back in a few days for Part 2.