In two of my recent Pastoral Letters – the one about the Future of the Diocese and the follow-up Letter about the Year of the Holy Spirit – I have been encouraging everyone in the Diocese to adopt and to put into practice six holy habits. First, to keep Sunday special, as a family day, by attending Mass, the ‘source and summit’ of the Christian life, supporting your parish community. Second, to resolve to spend at least five minutes a day in prayer, at whatever time you find best, using the Scriptures, maybe the Gospel of the day. Third, to keep Friday as a day of penance in honour of the Lord’s Passion, intentionally serving the poor and needy. Fourth, at least once a fortnight, to pay a private visit to church for a short period of prayer before the Tabernacle. Fifth, to go to Confession once a month or so, like a spiritual check-up when you can personally experience God’s love and mercy. And sixth, to join a small group for formation, prayer and fellowship, where you can share with others your own experience and hear what God is doing in the lives of others. I went on to say that these six holy habits, if we adopt them in the right spirit, entrusting ourselves to the Lord and His grace, offer a practical programme to bring about deep spiritual renewal in ourselves and in our parish communities. Each habit is a kind of ‘peg’ or portfolio on which we can hang further prayers, hopes and projects. Thus, Sunday Mass: how can we enhance the variety, beauty and solemnity of our parish Liturgy? Could I prepare better for Mass, arriving in good time, reading the Gospel and the prayers? Daily Prayer: what helps do I need to pray and to know the Bible better? I enjoy myself following the daily calendar and getting to know the saints. Friday penance: what does poverty mean in my area and how can I help? Visits to church: do we keep our churches open? How can I hear more clearly the voice of Jesus calling me? Monthly Confession: how can I best to prepare? Join a group: many groups would welcome new members – or why not start a new one?
Over the next weeks in e-News, I am going to explore in turn each holy habit to help us reflect more deeply on what is being asked and how we might respond.