Time is flying. I can tell you one thing, summer didn’t take its time for me this year. It passed in a blink. Maybe it’s because I was working on some big projects. (Announcement coming soon! Yay!) Whatever the reason, I’m looking at fall in an even more intentional way this year. I want each day to be lived with purpose and give it room to be special. Each day is special because it’s gifted by God. Therefore, each day should be lived intentionally.
1. Start living intentionally
When I talk with my spiritual directees, we regularly discuss living life intentionally. After all, being a Christian is 100% about intentionality. If a Christian isn’t intentional, we’re swept away by whatever is communicated by our culture.
God deserves your intentionally. So does your vocation. And so do you!
We can easily be tempted to compartmentalize our life. However, as Catholic women we are called by God to live an integrated life. This is the life of a true disciple.
To be an intentional disciple of Jesus Christ means living life with a purpose. Every. Single. Day. That purpose, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, is “to know, to love, and to serve God in this life and to be happy with Him forever in the next.” This should challenge us every day and in every context.
What do I mean?
To live an integrated life, our family, work, fun, and prayer lives should all be connected. In fact, they should all flow from our vocation. Prayer even needs to be connected to our particular vocations. Prayer helps us to live our common vocation as disciples of the Lord and our personal vocation as unique daughters of God within our particular state in life.
And daily prayer is not only part of our “to-do” when we’re living intentionally. It’s also what makes living an intentional life possible on all fronts.
2. Try some new things
I’m going to be working hard at making my prayer more authentic this fall. I want to invite the Lord to open my heart so I may be open to His grace and also cooperate with it.
The graces we receive in prayer help us to grow in the virtues of faith, hope, and love. So, if our prayer is not reflecting these virtues in our lives we can dare say our prayer might not be authentic. Further yet, if we’re not growing in our vocations, becoming a better wife and mother, or daughter, or sister, then something is off. Why? Our daily prayer helps us to grow in our relationships with Christ and how we live it. And because our vocations are so important, growth in Christian life and holiness doesn’t take place apart from or aside from our vocation.
So, as you begin your day as an intentional Catholic woman, start with prayer, and reflect on these questions to approach your day with the mindset of an intentional disciple of Jesus:
- How can I live intentionally today so others may see God at work in my life and be inspired?
- Do they see goodness and generosity, mercy and love in me?
- Can they recognize that I am a disciple of Jesus by the way I speak?
- What can I do with my children today to help them to draw closer to the Lord?
- How can I bring peace to a situation?
- How can I be more like the Blessed Mother today?
- What is God calling me to do today? Who is He encouraging me to help? What would He like me to focus on?
- What do I intend to do today to learn, to live, and to spread the teachings of Christ and His Church?
- How can I bring Christ’s love into my home or workplace today?
- How will I intentionally love that person I struggle with?
- What words won’t I use in order not to offend God, others, and honor the dignity of God’s design in me?
Prayer makes an integrated life, without division, or compartamilzation possible. A life of authentic prayer is a life of transparency and truth. Prayer helps us to see meaning and purpose in everything. A great gift from God!
3. Go on an annual retreat
I make a point to go on a retreat every year at the end of October, because I celebrate my baptism anniversary on November 1 and I use the retreat time to prepare to renew my baptismal promises on my baptism day. I anticipate the retreat and my renewal months in advance.
Did you know, in the Catholic tradition, it is customary to make an annual retreat?
My annual retreat is an intentional time set aside for me to breathe. It’s where I can take an honest look at how I am doing in my relationship with God. It’s a chance to really examine my heart and my intentions. And, make sure the path I’m on… well, does it need some correcting? Or, more steam? Or…something else?
I try to go to the same place each year. It has a huge lake. Hiking paths. Peace. On my way there, I always stop at my favorite Shrine for a day or two. I go to places I enjoy and that breathe life into me. I do this because God wants that for me. And, He wants that for you too!
What’s different about my annual retreat than other weekend getaways or vacations?
Quite a bit, actually! Silent prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, Holy Mass, and Confession.
Also, I plan my retreat months in advance. And, it’s not a response to burn out. It’s an attempt to not get to the point of burnout and to be a halfway point in my year that gives me the time to really be me: an intentional Catholic woman. It has a very specific purpose.
Again, the biggest part of my retreat is that I renew my baptismal promises before Jesus in the Tabernacle after receiving Him in the Eucharist. I claim once more the truths of the Catholic faith and that I am in this “game” for good. In my own words, I’m saying: “Lord, I ain’t going nowhere. Give me the strength to make it so. I trust in you!”
I encourage the women I offer spiritual direction to to do the same. That is, make time for an annual retreat. Many of them aren’t able to travel or go away though, so, I created a free stay at home retreat guide they can use to guide them. You may find it helpful too!
Whether you travel to a retreat house or stay at home and cozy up on your couch, I hope you do make time for a retreat in the last months of this year or maybe early on in the new year.
Burnout is real. We need time to rest and have exclusivity with God. We are made for Him.
By the way, we’ve talked about retreating. But, maybe you’re wondering about taking a pilgrimage, or a vacation, and you’d like to know how they’re different. You can read that here.
4. Embrace the things you love (Here are my 3 favorite things about fall!)
1. Falling in love with my favorite Saints again.
I regularly refer to October as the “Month of the Saints.” The Church celebrates many well known Saints during the pumpkin months: St. Thérèse of Lisieux, St. Margaret Mary Alocoque, St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Teresa of Ávila, and St. Pope John Paul II. Every year, I look forward to these days to celebrate these men and women who have taught me so much not just in their writings, but through the stories of how they lived, loved God and others. How do I celebrate? Praying the Divine Office, a prayer that’s identified with the particular Saint, cooking up a unique meal, finding a wine with a label that identifies with the Saint, traveling to a church, shrine or chapel that honors the Saint. I call this “Liturgical living”. It is life giving and makes everyday exciting!
2. The slow and cozy days.
Maybe it’s because I enjoy autumn so much, or it’s because my big projects typically end at the end of the summer, but fall typically tends to be a time for me to slow down and ennjoyyyy. I take advantage of the crisp, still days for long walks and road trips to holy sites. Or even hot toddies with my parents by the fire pit. A couple of October’s past, I made my way up the East Coast to visit Acadia National Park after a retreat with the Sisters of Life. However, I wouldn’t mind a repeat of this in any season. (Email me to get my itinerary from that trip!)
3. Fall baking.
Girl, the smells of fall are heavenly, aren’t they? I was stocked up with Apple and Pumpkin diffusers weeks ago. But, my mother was already bringing out the autumn smells back in mid-August by baking dozens of her famous molasses cookies. Oh, I wish I could bottle up that amazing nutmeg and cinnamon smell and send it to you. Because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I am going to be baking up some new autumn breakfast treats this week and venturing into themed meal ideas as the days get chillier. Here’s one breakfast idea I hope you’ll try with me: Apple ring pancakes!
5. Find your fall “must-haves” (these are mine)!
- Consecration to Mary: Year round I try to faithfully live out my “consecration to Mary” that I did for the first time six years ago this fall. When I consecrated myself to Jesus through Our Lady, I said “Mary, everything about me, my life, my relationships, my possessions, they’re yours!” So, I try to live my day in total dependence and trust on Jesus through Mary. I re-consecrate myself each year. I do this with the help of 33 Days to Morning Glory or True Devotion to Mary.
- Hot drinks at the ready for morning prayer: I almost have to have something hot in my hands for morning prayer. Even more so as the weather gets cooler. Having something warm and tasty motivates me to get to my prayer chair in the morning. Do you think this might help you be more motivated to head into prayer in the morning hours? If so, get eight hot drink ideas here. Mix them up or stick with one as you dive into the Word of God and conversation with Jesus.
- Primally Pure Autumn Home Collection: Are you looking to fill your home, your sacred space, with all the best scents of autumn? You can do that while even staying clear of toxins. Primally Pure (my go-to) has an Autumn Home Collection that will help you celebrate the season, feel festive and feminine! Get 10% off with my code (AMANDA10).
We live our lives in seasons. These seasons aren’t always in the traditional sense of weather. Though they can be a great reminder of a bigger picture for the journey of faith!
I am finding myself in a season where I am more convinced that I want to be more who God desires me to be because I love Him, I love my family, friends, and the woman I journey with. I also need to give the vocation God is calling me to a fighting chance. God, my loved ones, etc., they all deserve the best version of me. I am going to do my best to give that to them. Why do I have a feeling God and your loved ones deserve the same from you?
Again, for you and me, this requires living intentionally.
Every day, we are invited to snuggle closer to God, through prayer, and within the context of our vocations. Living the life of a Catholic woman, a Christian disciple is full time, and takes effort. And, God designed you for this intentional journey.