How to Reach Catholic Level: Expert ... Pray the Day (with Infographics)

Is your New Year's Resolution to reach Catholic Level: EXPERT? Here's how. 

Pray without ceasing. 

1) All Day: Prayer before meals
2) Morning: The Holy Rosary
3) Noon: The Daily Examen
4) 3pm: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy 
5) Bonus: The Liturgy of the Hours (also called The Divine Office)

1 Thessalonians 5:17 tells us to "pray without ceasing". But how? A man's gotta eat, right? 

Well, grace before meals is definitely a good start. If you're not already doing this, DO IT. Don't eat any more unblessed food this New Year. Also, if you're a father, you need to be leading your family in the blessing before the meal. Invite contributions from your wife and kids, too. My little girl, Lucy, usually has about five intentions to add to our blessing before dinner. She even asks that we pray for her imaginary friend. 

If the basic Catholic meal blessing (see below) feels a little rote or tired, try adding a short litany at the end in addition to taking intentions. My litany tends to be a little long, as least my family thinks so. I ask for intercession from all the kids' saintly namesakes, oldest to youngest, as well as my and my wife's Confirmation saints. 

Image result for catholic meal blessing graphic

Morning Rosary
Would you rather have a good day than a bad day? I recommend praying the Rosary first thing or as near to it as possible. In your car on the way to work is a good time. Here's a pretty thorough infographic on the Rosary:

How to pray the rosary infographic

Daily Examen at Noon
Next, here's an infographic on the The Daily Examen, a prayer urged by St. Ignatius and considered by some, including St. Pope John Paul the Great, to be the most important prayer of the day, after the Rosary. 

Mid-Afternoon Divine Mercy Chaplet
The Chaplet of Divine Mercy is an excellent way to round out your day in prayer. Begin the day with the Rosary, pray the Daily Examen at noon, and then say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00pm. 3PM is a very special time of the day for reflection, as it corresponds with the time of Christ's death on the Cross.  

Bonus: The Liturgy of the Hours
Pray like the monks! Saying the Liturgy of the Hours (also called The Divine Office) is an ancient practice beginning in the very first centuries after Christ. It's also a skill that is best learned beside those who do it well. It takes practice. If you don't have a monastery, seminary, or religious community nearby to learn from, this website is a great place to start: Universalis. In some parishes, there are even groups that meet at the local church to pray the Divine Office together. 

Here's one last infographic showing the "hours," the periods of prayer during the daily Divine Office:
For the work-a-day monk, people like you and me trying to live common lives of holiness in the midst of all the hustle & bustle and the nitty & gritty, here's a way to pray the day, "Seven Times A Day":

1-3) Prayer before meals: 3 per day (plus snacks)
4) Morning: The Holy Rosary
5) Noon: The Daily Examen
6) 3pm: The Chaplet of Divine Mercy 
7) Prayer before Bedtime

God bless!

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