Today, I had a sort of a revelation during my time of praise that I wanted to share with you all. But if you will bear with me, I would like to preface it with my recent experience in order for it to be fully explained.
For quite some time, I had gotten away from daily praise. And to be honest, my whole prayer life in general was really lacking. I certainly wasn’t being faithful to our call and commitment in the Emmanuel Community. The one thing we were really faithful to as a family, besides Sunday mass, of course, was our nightly prayer time as a family, which includes a couple of choruses of a praise song, a song to the Holy Spirit, petitions, and the daily Consecration. There had been life changes and difficulties and a multitude of excuses for why a dedicated prayer life just wasn’t working out. And I was seriously conflicted within myself because on the one hand, I truly felt like I just didn’t know how to find the time, especially with a baby/toddler who either had me up throughout the night or who became increasingly difficult to bring to mass or adoration. And how could I possibly find time for personal prayer, unless I decided to forfeit some oh so coveted sleep? On the other hand, I truly, deeply believed that a life of holiness and prayer MUST be possible. There must be some way for me to be able to live this call that we have in the Emmanuel Community to praise, spend a long time with God in prayer each day, daily mass, daily time with the Scriptures. Other moms must be doing it and it must be possible! But the thought overwhelmed me. How can I fit all of this into my life?
When we moved to a new city last May, I saw that they had a noon mass at my new parish and I thought that would be so perfect, a great way to try to get back to daily mass where I wouldn’t be trying to run out the door in the morning. Well, that was a bit of a disaster – lunch time, almost nap time, lots of energy time for my little guy. Sometimes we would go to mass as a family at noon during the week, and that was okay, but just me and my little one was so difficult! But I really felt like I needed to make it a priority to go to daily mass and my other option was…7:30AM! Aaagghhhh!!! This was so early, but at this point, wake up time tended to be 6 or 6:30, so why not give it a try. And amazingly, that 7:30AM mass was exactly the right thing for us and it quickly became part of our daily routine.
So I had found a way to go to daily mass and I thought I would just stick with that for a while until it was part of our life before trying to add more. Then, realizing spending daily time in adoration was maybe expecting too much, I knew it was time to spend dedicated prayer time and time with the Word every day in our home prayer corner. And while ideally in my mind, prayer time should be in the morning, the only way I knew I could do it and be faithful to it was to take time every night before I went to bed. So I started with 15 minutes every night where I would read Scripture and take time to meditate on it and spend time with our Lord. Now I’m up to 30 minutes every night. And absolutely there are some nights where I am SO tired, that I just don’t know how I can take that time, but the most important thing, as we have heard so many times in the Community, is to be consistent, to be faithful. So every night I take time to pray. And most nights now, I go up earlier, before I am too tired, so that I can have a good prayer time. It has been SUCH a gift to be faithful to this prayer time. The first 30 days I kept thinking to myself, “It takes 30 days to make a habit.” And the next 30 days I thought, “It takes 60 days to secure that habit.” And now I’m at right around 90 days. And it truly has become a beautiful habit that I look forward to every day, my daily appointment with our Lord.
I knew that I still needed to re-introduce daily praise into my life, but I just didn’t know how to add yet another prayer time. Then one day, during my daily (nightly) prayer time, I happened (in an amazing way) upon this Scripture: “Offer praise as your sacrifice to God; fulfill your vows to the Most High…Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; I will let him whose way is steadfast look upon the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50: 14, 23). When I read this, I was convicted. There were no more excuses. I needed to MAKE time to praise. I decided that the only time I could do it was to wake up half an hour earlier, before my son woke up. So I did that for a week. It was challenging, but a real gift. And that weekend we praised together as a family. Then something happened…Covid 19! Now my husband was working from home and we no longer had any daily appointments. I was no longer getting up early to go to Mass with my son. So we started tuning into the Live mass with ESM NYC and I started praising in the morning with my son. It turns out he loves it! We get some little instruments and I give him his little children’s Bible and we praise. It has been such a joy.
And that brings me to today and today’s praise. While I was singing To You Honor and Glory this morning, I had my eyes closed, and in my mind’s eye I was transported to heaven and my song entered into the eternal praise of the angels and the saints gathered around the throne of God. We all had our arms lifted in praise and were filled with joy in His presence. It brought to mind the Kingdom of God, which is not of this earth, but of which we can already participate. One of the important teachings about our daily praise is that we offer a joyful praise, whether we feel happy or sad or anxious. It is always a joyful praise. And when I entered into this eternal praise this morning, I understood that every time we praise, we are placing ourselves within the eternal praises of the angels and the saints in Heaven. This is our true reality. This is the place where mourning is changed into dancing, where the dead are raised to new life, where we dwell in the unconditional love and joy of our Lord. This is the Kingdom we are called to build here on earth. And this is why our daily praise is so necessary, so needed. In our daily praise, we proclaim God as our King, as our Victor, as our Savior. His Kingdom is here with us, especially when we praise, when we offer our “sacrifice of praise” each and every day. And this praise is truly the source of our joy.
I cannot even begin to express the joy and the gratefulness I have to be a member of the Emmanuel Community, with brothers and sisters who are striving for holiness and who help us, help me to live this daily life of prayer and praise. Please pray for me to continue to be open to the grace of our Lord to faithfully live this call to the graces of the Emmanuel Community. And I will pray for you, my dear brothers and sisters to be faithful to your call.