This morning I tried to think of the New Years resolutions I might make if I were truly a Benedictine hermit.
They would be based in the three duties of Prayer, Study and Work. These three are important because they minister to the three aspects of the human person. Reading (or Study) illuminates and stretches the mind. Prayer enlarges the heart. Work (and I mean manual labor) strengthens and purifies the body.
In each area I am resolved to be rid of what is holding me back and resolved to add what makes me better.
Therefore to study and read better I resolve to stop wasting time on Facebook, TV, stupid movies, mainstream media and news. I will turn off the hypnotizing, addicting screen.
Instead I will not only read good books. I will also support live entertainment like plays, concerts and artists. These things are more real than the mostly artificial screen entertainments.
For work I will stop sitting around so much, but the answer is not exercise for its own sake. Jogging or walking, on their own are boring. I will try to walk with a friend, pray as I walk or listen to a good podcast while I walk.
I will also take up some meaningful and interesting outdoor work. I’ll plant a garden, grow roses, take up a sport, build a hermitage shed, construct a prayer walk, build a church–in short, use my body to build something good and beautiful and true in the physical realm.
Finally, prayer. Praying in bed is fine if all you are doing is saying “Good night” to Jesus and Mary, but prayer in bed doesn’t really count.
In the rule Benedict combines great attention to liturgical prayer with a tender hearted approach to personal, spontaneous prayer. He says the oratory should always be open so that anyone can go there at any time and offer prayers to God with tears and great joy.
This is my resolution for prayer: to maintain the structure of prayer through the Daily Office and offering of Mass, but also to turn to the Lord at anytime with a heart full of praise, thanksgiving and crying out to him for my needs and the needs of my family, my parish and the world.