Time Well Spent
Thanks to Lent 2019 I have recently gotten into listening to Catholic podcasts. I have heard about them for some time but never wanted to stray from my typical commute playlists and audio books to delve into something that might be educational and, I assumed, less entertaining. Oh, how I was wrong.
Throughout the last few months I have sampled and sometimes devoured the following: “Catholic Stuff You Should Know,” “Catching Foxes,” “Fr. Brian Park’s Podcast,” “Everyday Catholics,” “Pints with Aquinas,” “Renovo,” “Pray as You Go,” “Bishop Fulton Sheen” (this was in app form, not a podcast), “The Catholic Talk Show,” and “Word on Fire.”
Each has a different feel and format, but they all cover topics of interest to Catholics. I noticed podcasts seem to be divided into two categories: heavy banter or little-to-no banter. Podcast listeners too seem to be divided along the banter lines. Some people love the banter and others prefer to get to the meat of the topic right away. Count me with the low banter crowd. (Sorry banter lovers.)
Over the course of Lent, I have learned a lot of things I didn’t know about various Church Fathers, pivotal players in the Catholic faith, numerous theological and philosophical topics, and ways to deepen my experience of the faith.
One thing that made the biggest impact on my faith was learning about Bishop Sheen and his insistence on a daily holy hour for himself and how he encouraged others to do the same. Bishop Barron also talked about how important this has been for his life in Christ. I have long had a practice of doing a holy hour, but only from time to time. I had never attempted a daily holy hour and specifically trying to have this hour be in the presence of the Eucharist.
I am lucky to work for the Church and thus, I am always close to a tabernacle, but I still have never made it a point to visit Jesus in Eucharistic form daily, let alone for a whole hour. Encouraged by Bishops Sheen and Barron, I have been striving to do this and, wow, has it made a difference.
First let me say, I have not been perfect at this practice. I miss days and sometimes do not get a whole hour of prayer in, even when I add up smaller times of prayer throughout the day. But I have not let my struggle derail my pursuit of this spiritual practice.
An hour is a long time to pray, and when I decided to attempt this practice I looked up what other people did during their holy hours. I have incorporated a number of these practices into my prayer time: reading and meditating on the daily readings, praying for the needs of others, thanking and praising God, examining my conscience, spiritual readings from saints and other spiritual writers, and praying a Rosary.
I do not do all of these each time, but I use some combination of them. I always try to make at least 20 minutes of the time be in silence so the Lord can speak directly to my heart.
As Easter approaches it really seems like my spiritual life is going through its own kind of resurrection. That’s not to say my life in Christ was dead prior to Ash Wednesday, rather I am finding new life and new connection with the resurrected Jesus as a result of all the time I have been spending with him.
I have a long way to go before making a daily holy hour as effortless as I would like it to be, but even with the sporadic success I have had these past few months, I have seen tremendous fruit. It has been a real Emmaus Road time in my life, for my heart has certainly been burning within me as Jesus has walked beside me along this most recent journey in my life of faith.