by Clemens Pater
Do you begin and end your day with God? Is your first and last (conscious) thought each day of Him? As we develop a plan for holiness, we will do well to set the “bookends” of our day. How do we begin each day? When the day ends do we “crash” on the bed, or conclude our day by giving everything to God?
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev 22: 13) (Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek Alphabet.) At the end of the Book of Revelation - also sometimes called, “The Apocalypse”- Jesus Christ tells us that He is the beginning and end of all things.
We can begin our day with the “Morning Offering,” a simple prayer entrusting all that happens to God. When the alarm goes off we can offer a brief prayer, “My God I offer You everything that happens this day,” or a longer prayer that we have learned. The point is that we become aware of Our Lord with us. Our Lord accompanies us in all the momentous decisions of the day; in all our most mundane daily tasks; in all our trials and sufferings; in all the simple joys.
The Catholic doctrine of Grace reminds us that:
- when we are in the state of Sanctifying Grace, and
- when we act out of a motive of love of God; all that happens can be meritorious or helpful to our salvation.
Likewise we can offer up our sufferings and sacrifices for the help and intentions of others. A Morning Offering prayer each day is a wonderful way to start. With our eyes fixed on God, and everything done for Him, we choose that important motive for all our actions: “I offer everything for love of You, my God.”
In the work of growing in holiness, we should also make a prayerful reflection at the conclusion of the day. We take stock of our blessings, but also our sins. We make an Examination of Conscience.
This can happen anytime, but it is fitting to do it at the end of our day. We review the situations and choices we have made, often in light of the Ten Commandments or some other moral guide.
We can begin very simply by asking God the Holy Spirit to help us know and be sorry for our sins.
We can “walk through” the events of the day; or we can review the Commandments or some other list that we have found helpful.
Briefly we call to mind our sins and failings and express sorrow for them with an Act of Contrition or prayer of sorrow. We can make a resolution to do better in the future, with God’s grace and help.
The practice of a daily examination of conscience can help us to make more complete sacramental Confessions. As we establish this habit, we are reminded more frequently of the resolutions that are helpful to us to grow in holiness.
Along with the daily examination of conscience, we may also have other prayers that we offer right before we go to bed. For those who struggle with temptations against chastity or purity, the practice of praying the Hail Mary, three times, and using Holy Water to bless ourselves, has proven helpful.
In our prayers at the end of the day, we may also commend special intentions to Almighty God: interceding for our spouse and children, our parents and siblings, or others who have asked for our prayers.
Our intention is to direct our first and last thought of the day to God from Whom all blessings come; and to God, the ultimate goal of our life.
These simple practices are important elements of a Plan of Life that will keep us on the narrow path to Heaven.
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(There are many different and meaningful versions of these prayers.)
A Morning Offering
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer Thee all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Thy Most Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in thanksgiving for Thy favors, in reparation for my sins, for the intentions of all my relatives and friends, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father. Amen.
An Act of Contrition
O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell; but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.