Faith is a Routine, not a “Quick Fix”

As I move into summer, I often think about how my daily routines change. My kids are out of school, so we don’t have to scramble in the morning getting ready. I don’t have to pick them up in the afternoon. We don’t have after-school activities and homework to deal with. I also don’t have the house to myself to do my work. All these changes got me thinking about routines in general and what it means to have a healthy, spiritual routine.

Healthy Routines

Most people understand the benefits of healthy routines. The results from a routine are often greater than the individual benefit of each part. When you feel physically healthy, you usually can’t pinpoint the exact cause of it. It’s not due to a specific workout, diet, night’s sleep, or vitamin. It’s the combination of those healthy activities that produce an overall desired result.

I think the same thing can be said about feeling spiritually healthy. It’s not a specific devotion that will put you at ease and feel some sort of existential joy. Rarely, does someone come out of a Mass feeling completely transformed. I don’t look back at my evening prayers and think, “wow, that totally changed my life!” It’s the combination of praying the Rosary daily, reading theological books, going through the Bible in a Year, attending Mass, and participating in the parish which gives me a sense of spiritual joy and moral direction.

The Lie of “That One Thing”

Too often, we either look for that “silver bullet” or dismiss a practice because of a single lackluster experience. We are always on the lookout for that one thing that we think will make us happy. Our consumer culture banks on that desire that this one specific product will make you happy. Politicians do it too. They promise that if you support them, you will get the life you desire. But as many successful people will tell you, happiness isn’t found in one easy step. It usually takes hard work and patience to obtain worthwhile goals.

On the flip side, we often give up good habits because they are hard, or we have a single bad experience. Many people stop going to Mass when they hear a homily that doesn’t confirm their vices or non-Catholic beliefs. Instead of working to understand Catholic teaching and try hard to live up to it, it’s easier to quit and blame the priest for saying something “mean.” Or they give up praying the Rosary or reading the Bible after a few attempts because they didn’t immediately feel any different.

What Makes a Successful Routine?

Those who are successful stick with good habits even when they are challenging or don’t seem beneficial at a particular moment. There is plenty of evidence that exercise, sleep, and diet lead to better overall physical health. But you can’t give up on them just because you don’t feel completely changed after a single workout or good night’s sleep. The same goes for our spiritual health. It takes time for those healthy practices to transform you. But we have plenty of evidence from the saints and maybe people in our own lives that these habits do work when you stick with them.

In my life, I can’t point to a specific Bible verse, book paragraph, Rosary decade, or homily to explain why I keep trying to live the Catholic faith. That’s like trying to find the specific vegetable I ate or the particular pushup that made me feel good one day. It’s the combination of those Bible verses, homilies, books, novenas, and Rosary prayers that create that spiritually healthy lifestyle.

My challenge to you is to ask yourself, “Am I living a spiritually healthy life?” Are you investing in your faith every day? Are you praying every day? Are you learning Catholic teachings (from source material, not what some “catholic” commentator proclaims)? If we truly believe that our faith leads to eternal happiness, then are we working towards that goal every day?