Last week in Chapter 3, we talked about prayer upon rising for our day. Today in Chapter 4 we're going to delve into properly situating our mindset for the day, so that we can remain disposed to live that day well in the Salesian tradition. Officially, we're talking about "On the Day's Preparation: Looking To Be Holy."
St. Francis sets forth 5 steps for our daily preparation after we pray our morning offering. Here they are:
(1) Invocation - We ask God for help to get us through our day. Our day will include both things that we seek out, and also things that will happen to us through no direct will of our own. We need His help to deal with all of these things in a holy and good way:
"In response to this divine goodness toward us, we put our entire day into a transcendent context and intend to spend the day faithfully with God, in and through the immanent things we have to do."
(2) Foresight - "This is simply a preview of conjecture of all that could happen during the course of the day. Thus, with the grace of Our Lord, we will wisely and prudently anticipate occasions which could take us by surprise." Right away, this quote grabbed me. I know that my downfall last semester was not properly preparing myself emotionally for the challenges teaching 15 classes could put upon me on a weekly basis. I was merely gritting my teeth to make it through the same lesson so many times without devolving to despair, but I did not anticipate all of the other issues that would crop up: the countless and overwhelming volume of email given that I had over 300 students to account for, careless and thoughtless student behavior, remembering all of my materials so many different times...the list goes on and on.
"...the responsibilities of of our personal vocation constitute the real place where we act out the devout life. But this conjecture involves more than just pondering our to-do list for the day."
So, SO true. We need to think about all of the possible threats to our patience and interior peace on a given day, and assume that we may be called upon to respond to those situations in a way consistent with out faith. Like, TODAY. :0
(3) Plan of Action - So we've anticipated the challenges to our serenity. Now we plan for how to deal with them:
"Each of these moments in our day holds the possibility of vice or virtue, which is why determining how we will respond requires careful planning on our part. The goal here is to envision these episodes ahead of time so as not to be caught off guard when they happen."
For me, I need to anticipate any number of frustrating teaching situations that can arise. Knowing exactly how I will keep my cool and continue to smile is a key part to my daily happiness.
(4) Resolution - In this step, we made a resolution, a *decision* to act in accordance with what we believe to be God's will, and in keeping with our goal of holiness in our vocation:
"This we can do cheerfully! The day will still have its challenges, to be sure. But by bringing faith into to the responsibilities we have to face this day, we can be consoled and strengthened, knowing that a loving and merciful God remains at our side."
This brings me SO MUCH SOLACE. This perspective has been incredibly enlightening to me: that even what crappy stuff happens, we can still be cheerful, simply because we choose to, and because no matter what, God loves us.
(5) Recommendation - In this step, we entrust ourselves to our Creator. And this is indeed "...the ultimate act of faith."
"We have done all that we could at this point (preparing and resolving). Now we recognize that all our concerns are best left in bigger hands..."
Following the advice in this chapter has transformed my days. Next week, we will discuss the intentionality of our days, and how every action in our day can become a supernatural experience. *heart!*
What did you all think of Chapter 4?!