Living a Christ-Centered Life, Filled with Meaning
It took me almost forty years to make my way into the Catholic Church. I feel a burning desire to make up for lost time… and to make the most of the second chance I have received. To that end, over the next three weeks, I would like to share my top three priorities and how they keep me focused on living a Christ-centered life, filled with meaning.
We tend to make things more complicated than they really are. When it comes to priorities, many of us have a check list of some kind that includes everything from going to the grocery store for milk to making sure our children get a great education. We confuse mundane tasks with what is truly important in life. If everything is important, then nothing is important.
When it comes to living a fuller, richer life filled with meaning, what are your priorities?
Since my conversion into the Catholic Church, I have thought and prayed a great deal about what is truly important and what Christ wants me to do. I tend to have a clear and unambiguous view of life and the more I try to discern the Lord’s plan, the more apparent it is becoming that I have just three simple priorities:
- I will serve Christ and love Him with all my heart.
- My family is my primary vocation.
- My workplace is also my ministry.
Seem like obvious choices? Perhaps. But in my professional life and through the ministries I am involved in, I meet hundreds of people every year who have no priority list. They often desperately want a list and don’t know where to start. Or perhaps they have the list I referred to earlier that only includes trips to the grocery store. Over the next three weeks, we will unpack each of these priorities and examine some of the specific actions we can take to help these priorities become reality for each of us in our pursuit of meaningful lives.
Priority # 1 is God — “I will serve Christ and love Him with all my heart”
What does this mean? How do we serve Christ? If we love Him with all our heart, is there room for anything else? These are questions which are probably running through your minds. I would suggest to you that we serve and love Him by being humble, obedient, serving others, being good stewards and surrendering to His will. Please consider these actions:
- Daily surrender and ongoing conversion is necessary. I learned early on in my faith journey that my surrender to God’s will and subsequent conversion was not a one time event. We must always put His will before our own and experience a “dying of self” in order for Christ to be in charge of our lives. I often find direction and inspiration in my favorite quote from St. Ignatius of Loyola: “Few souls understand what God would accomplish in them if they were to abandon themselves unreservedly to Him and if they were to allow His grace to mold them accordingly.”
- Prayer is the key. Would we give our family at least an hour of our time a day? Of course! Why can’t we give the Lord an hour a day? It’s not as difficult as we might think. Start the day with prayer. Before we check email or read the morning paper, offer the day and our burdens up to God, thank Him and ask for His forgiveness, help and blessing. Try praying the Rosary in the car on the way to work and seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother. Pray the Jesuit Daily Examen throughout the day. Think of prayer as any moment we turn our thoughts away from ourselves and towards God.
- Become passionate about the Eucharist. Want to fully experience Christ and be closer to Him? Seek out the True Presence of Christ in the Eucharist in daily Mass when possible and spend quiet time before the Blessed Sacrament in Eucharistic Adoration every week. St. Francis de Sales once said: “When you have received Him, stir up your heart to do Him homage; speak to Him about your spiritual life, gazing upon Him in your soul where He is present for your happiness; welcome Him as warmly as possible, and behave outwardly in such a way that your actions may give proof to all of His Presence.”
- Pursue Joy, not Happiness. Father Luke Ballman, a past Director of Vocations for the Archdiocese of Atlanta, gave a wonderful talk to the St. Peter Chanel Business Association a few years ago in which he described the pursuit of happiness as the “pursuit of the things of this world.” We think we are seeking happiness in the bigger house, nicer car, better job, bigger paycheck, but do these things really bring happiness? His point was that all happiness must be preceded by joy and that all joy is Christ-inspired! Seek out and surrender your heart to Christ to find joy… and you will also find happiness.
- Practice Detachment. Let’s ask ourselves if we really need “it”, what ever “it” is. Let go of the material things that are in the way of our prayer lives, church attendance, charitable giving, volunteering and certainly our relationships with Christ. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “Detachment from riches is necessary for entering the Kingdom of Heaven.” (CCC 2556)
Next week, we will look at a second priority. What is my number one vocation?
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