How do you stay the course in the spiritual life? How might you avoid giving up and concentrate on a way of life which is attractive and credible?
Three things might help. First, it is necessary to have a sense of purpose in the spiritual life. Rather than drifting along, grasping occasional opportunities as they present themselves, it helps to have a routine. I have written and spoken about this many times, but it is worth mentioning again as it is so central to the life of faith. Whatever your routine of prayer may be you need to be happy with it or else a sense of uncertainty will begin to creep in followed by a lack of confidence and the temptation to give up. Routine, of course, does not preclude doing different or exciting things in the life of prayer and certainly does not preclude spontaneity. It would be fair to say that routine is the mother of the spontaneous, allowing a proper appreciation of it. Those who cultivate the spontaneous without the foundation of routine can too easily end up dissatisfied, bouncing from one new experience to the next but gaining little from any of them. Whatever happens to us in the spiritual life there is nothing more effective than the security of a pattern of prayer.
Secondly, it is necessary to have a sense of intention. Why am I doing this? Is it simply for my own benefit? The answer should be, ‘certainly not’. Those who spend time in prayer are most certainly benefitting themselves, but they are also benefitting others if an intention is added to a prayerful act. Why not try general intentions and tie them to days of the week. Perhaps the bishop and clergy on a Sunday, fellow worshippers on a Monday, missions on Tuesday, those in need on Wednesday and so forth. It is just like making intercession in this respect and ensures that a time of prayer is not dedicated to selfish ends, but bears fruit for others.
My third point is about expectation, in particular the expectation of success. We should be entirely justified in expecting some spiritual growth as a result of our efforts, some sense of having matured a little in the life of faith. After all, prayer was at the heart of Jesus’ life, sustaining him through all his trials and tribulations as well as undergirding his faithful and obedient response to his vocation. From our practice of prayer we should expect to be a little more confident in our faith and more trusting in God as our heavenly Father. Through prayer we move closer to God and through his grace something of his holiness is imparted to us – you could almost say, ‘rubs off on us’, just because we have chosen to walk with him. Do expect something to happen.
Those are fairly simple pointers, but I think they are a good indication of how we might persevere in the life of prayer and enjoy the benefits that God intends. It is not always easy and sometimes we may struggle, but help is always available from wise spiritual guides who may be consulted either on the page or in person. If things are getting difficult, don’t struggle in silence – ask for help!
Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. (Ephesians 6: 18)
Sunday 25th June, Trinity 3
Wednesday 28th June, 10.00am Mass (St. Irenaeus, Bishop)
Friday 30th June, 7.00pm Fortieth Anniversary of Consecration Mass at Holy Cross, Marsh Farm
Preacher: The Reverend Canon Graeme Rowlands SSC, Parish Priest & Vicar of S. Silas, Kentish Town
Saturday 1st July, 12 noon Patronal Festival for the Feast of St. Peter
Preacher: Father Paul Norwood SSC, Vicar of St. Martin’s, Bedford
Sunday 2nd, July Trinity 4
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
no mid-week services this week
Sunday 9th July, Trinity 5
8.00am no service
9.30am Parish Mass (Father Leslie Drake SSC)
no mid-week services this week
Sunday 16th July, Trinity 6
8.00am no service
9.30am Parish Mass (Father Mike Still)
Wednesday 19th July, 10.00am Mass
Friday 21st July, 7.00pm Mass (St. Mary Magdalene)
Sunday 23rd July, Trinity 7
Wednesday 26th July, 10.00am Mass (St. James the Great)
Friday 28th July, 7.00pm Mass
Saturday 29th July, 12.30pm Parish Picnic at Reveley Lodge
Sunday 30th July, Trinity 8
Wednesday 2nd August, 10.00am Mass
Friday 4th August, 7.00pm Mass (St. John Vianney, priest)
Saturday 5th August, 12 noon Richborough Family Festival at St. Albans Cathedral
Drinks will be served after the service in Bishop Norman’s garden. Bring your own picnic.
Sunday 6th August, Transfiguration of Our Lord
Pray for all those who are new to St. Peter’s and for a deepening fellowship amongst us.
Pray for the House of Bishops and the General Synod that they may remain faithful to the scriptures.