How to be a better Catholic may be simpler than you think.
How to Be a Better Catholic
Do you wonder sometimes how to be a better Catholic? A better Catholic woman, wife, and mom?
When you gaze upon Jesus crucified and contemplate His suffering and death do you sometimes feel unworthy? Inadequate? Or unsure about how to live your life well and faithfully? You know you want to live each day for God, but in the midst of dirty diapers, bills to pay, and teenage attitudes, how do you do it?
The short answer is living well one day at a time is how to become a better Catholic. God calls you to Him every day. How will you answer?
Live one day at a time.
This sound very simple, doesn’t it?
All you have is today, this very moment. You do not know if you will have tomorrow or next year. God allows each of us to live one day at a time. You have the opportunity each day to choose Him or to turn away from Him.
Our days are made up of many choices. What time should I get up today? Should I start a load of laundry before or after breakfast? Do I yell at the person who just cut me off as I was driving or not? Should I watch TV, read my Bible, clean, or sleep (or try to do all four!) while my toddler is napping? Do I take the time today to say a kind word to someone I see or just walk on by?
Each day is a new opportunity, a clean slate. If you made some choices yesterday that you didn’t like, learn from that and make different choices today. You can make the decision to do that.
To get your day off to a good start, think about God and offer your day to Him. You may want to pray a Morning Offering each day before you get out of bed. You can pray this short prayer or use your own words to offer your day to God.
The focus of a morning is to offer your day to God: all your thoughts, words, and actions. Doing so can help you to be more mindful of God and your thoughts, words, and actions throughout the day.
Learn more about God and your Catholic faith.
Think for a moment about when you and your husband first started getting to know each other. Did you want to spend all of your spare moments together? Did you talk often to each other when you were not together? When you love someone, we want to know all you can about him.
You love Jesus, of course. You can spend more time with Him. Get to know Him better. It will help you to love Him more and it will be easier to follow HIm.
So, just saying “learn more about God” is not very specific. How can we do that? Here are some ways:
Talk to God. Take the time to listen, too; don’t let your communication be one-sided. (Guiltily raising my hand here about this one!) Maybe you can set aside short time periods in your day to pray if planning one long time to pray (and with kids, long can be 10 minutes!) is not realistic for you. Or you can try both ways to pray and see what works best for you.
We read in the Bible that St.Paul tells us to pray always. It is important, though, to remember that praying always does not mean on our knees praying all day. When you work to pray always, you are trying to keep our focus on God in your day and have Him be a part of your life throughout the day. When you offer your day to God in a Morning Offering, you are offering Him your thoughts, words, joys, and sufferings of the day. Therefore, all of these parts of your day have now become a prayer offered to God. It is then a matter of remembering this as you go about your day.
Try different ways of incorporating prayer into your life to find out which is best for you. Remember, too, that what works best now may change as your kids grow and your life changes. Your prayer life will change and grow over time.
Read the Bible.
This is a great way to learn more about God. We learn about the love of God the Father for His people in the Old Testament and we get to know Jesus in the New Testament.
Are you unsure of how to begin reading your Bible more? Here are some ideas to help you out. You can set a timer for 15 minutes and read your Bible. You can read one chapter a day. You can read the Mass readings of the day. There are many ways you can read your Bible each day. Pick one and just dive in!
Receive Jesus in the Sacraments.
The Sacraments of the Eucharist and Confession are available to us frequently. You can receive the Eucharist by going to Mass on another day in addition to Sunday. You can choose a day to go to Confession in the months between the penance services your church holds once or twice a year.
Jesus gives us grace in the Sacraments. We can all use a bit more, can’t we?! When we have grace (God’s life) in our souls, we have an extra supernatural power inside of us. God works in us to help us to live our lives as He calls us to.
Receiving the Sacraments more often not only gives us this grace, but also leads us to examine ourselves (how we are living our lives) and draws us into prayer. This helps us to understand more how God works in us, to get to know and understand Him better, and to know how to live our lives more closely united to Him.
Study the Catholic faith.
Have you ever been asked by someone, “Why do Catholics do ______?” and you didn’t know how to respond? It is important for all Catholics to know their faith. Now, our Catholic faith is so rich and has a long history (over 2,000 years!) that there is a lot to know. Start with the basics, like: What do Catholics believe? What are the sacraments and why do we have them?
Here are some resources if you are looking for ideas to get started:
By a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a YouCat (which is the Catechism geared to teens) to have as a reference and to read. The Catechisms explain the Catholic faith and what the Chruch believes in and stands for.
Dr. Scott Hahn is a Catholic apologist. He was a protestant minister who converted (with his wife and family) to the Catholic faith after much study and prayer. He has videos, resources, and information about his many books on his website. Check your local library for his books.
Fr. Mike Schmitz has many short videos as well as audios of his homilies on Catholic Bulldog. He is a great and engaging speaker.
Kelly Wahlquist is a Catholic speaker and evangelist to check out. Her website has posts written by her and links to other articles she has written.
Ascension Press has many resources available for sale to help you learn more about and grow in your faith.
Think about God and the life of Jesus.
Spending time thinking about God and the life of Jesus can help you to understand Him better.
One way to do this is to ask Him to walk with you as you go about your day. You can think about Him and what His life was like or think about the recent Gospel you heard at Mass. You may want to think of Jesus as a child as you tuck your little ones into bed.
Opportunities to think about God and the life of Jesus are all around us!
Think about Jesus’ great sacrifice for you in His suffering and death.
This can be a tough one for some. It can be easier to see the joys Jesus had and miracles Jesus did rather than look at His suffering and death. Yet, in His suffering and death, His great love for you is revealed. Thinking of Jesus’ suffering and death is a way to better understand and accept His great love for you. If this is difficult for you to do, ask Him to help you. He will.
Think about how much God loves you.
God is amazing. He created the world and all that is in it. He created all of us. Jesus became a man (the Word incarnate), suffered, and died for the sake of your salvation. Now that is LOVE! He chose to do this for you, so you can have eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. Ask Him to help you to understand how much He loves you.
Teach your children about God.
When we teach, we learn more as well. Teaching our children about God and bringing them up in our Catholic faith is part of our responsibility as parents. You can find catechism books, children’s Bibles, and biographies of saints to read with them. There are free coloring pages and craft projects at Catholic Icing that you can do with your kids. You can pray with them and teach them their prayers.
Kids love stories and enjoy hearing about when their parents were growing up. Share your life with them and talk with them about your own faith.
Learn more about the saints.
There are so many wonderful saints in our Church!
If you have a favorite saint, you can learn more about her or him. Perhaps there is a saint you have heard about a few times and have always wanted to learn more. Spend some time learning more about him or her.
If you don’t know where to begin, Franciscan Media is a website where you can learn more. In our Church, each day is the feast day of a saint, so there are many to learn about. You can read about the saint of the day or find one that interests you to learn more about.
Trust in God.
This simple statement is not always easy to do! When you trust in God, you show Him that you are willing to let go of the hold you have on your life and place your life in His hands. By doing this, you show Him that do love and trust in Him.
If this is difficult for you to do, pray about it. Ask God to help you to trust fully in Him.
Invite God into your life.
God gives each of us free will. He will not force Himself into your life. He waits, loving you, for you to invite Him in. He loves you so much that He died for you. He wants to be involved in your life with you, working together as a team.
As you read the Bible and pray, you learn more about God. Tell Him about yourself, too. Yes, He already knows all about you, but He wants to have a relationship with you, so take some time to talk to Him about yourself, too.
To invite God into your life more, you can ask Him for advice, share your joys with Him, tell Him your sorrows, ask Him for help in your struggles, and just spend time with Him in prayer or adoration before the Blessed Sacrament at church.
God is waiting for you. Invite Him in.
Is working to become a better Catholic simpler than you think?
Becoming a better Catholic comes down to knowing your Catholic faith, spending time with Jesus Christ in prayer, and trying your best each day to live as He calls you to live. One day at a time is all He asks of us.