By: Matthew Kelly
If you polled people on the streets of any city in America today and asked them to list five words to describe Catholics, I suspect only a small percentage would say prayerful or spiritual. The tragedy, however, is not how people perceive Catholics, but the possibility that the perception may reflect the reality. It is a generalization, but as Catholics in this modern climate, we tend not to take our spirituality seriously.
Each issue carries an imprimatur
from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
Over the coming weeks of Lent, I invite you to reflect with me on seven pillars of Catholic spirituality. These anchors of our faith combine 2,000 years of spiritual wisdom into a handful of spiritual exercises. They may be ancient practices, but don’t let that fool you into believing they’re not relevant to your life in the modern world. These practices are dynamic and ever fresh.
A tree with deep roots can weather any storm. Sink these roots, the seven pillars of Catholic spirituality, deep into your life, and you’ll weather any storm. You will also come to know the abundant life that Jesus invites us to experience both here and in eternity.
PILLAR ONE: CONFESSION
Ash Wednesday: Turning to God
Jl 2:12-18; 2 Cor 5:20–6:2; Mt 6:1-6, 16-18
Repent means “to turn back to God.” We need to do this many times a day.
Thursday: A Call to Order
Dt 30:15-20; Lk 9:22-25
Walking with God demands that we bring order to our lives and put first things first. We’re all imperfect but perfectible.
Friday: A Clear Conscience
Is 58:1-9a; Mt 9:14-15
Place your sins at the feet of Jesus in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. God sees your unrealized potential.
Saturday: Getting to Know You
Is 58:9b-14; Lk 5:27-32
The more we get to know ourselves and our own brokenness, the more we’re able to accept and love others.
PILLAR TWO: DAILY PRAYER
The First Week of Lent
Sunday: A Daily Habit
YEAR A: Gn 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Rom 5:12-19; Mt 4:1-11
YEAR B: Gn 9:8-15; 1 Pt 3:18-22; Mk 1:12-15
YEAR C: Dt 26:4-10; Rom 10:8-13; Lk 4:1-13
Prayer is central to the Christian experience. Growth in the Christian life is simply not possible without prayer.
Monday: At Our Best
Lv 19:1-2, 11-18; Mt 25:31-46
We’re at our best when we pray simply to be with God and seek his ways.
Is 55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15
Focus on those thoughts that encourage you to love God and the people around you more.
Wednesday: Into the Silence
Jon 3:1-10; Lk 11:29-32
Quietness is essential to growth in the Spirit. It will help us develop resolute hearts and peaceful spirits.
Thursday: The Abiding Question
Est C:12, 14-16, 23-25; Mt 7:7-12
The saints all asked: God, what do you think I should do? When you ask the same question, you’ll discover your mission.
Friday: Gentle Dialogue
Ez 18:21-28; Mt 5:20-26
Are you concerned that you don’t know how to pray? In your heart, say to God: I don’t know how to pray. You’ve already begun praying. Open your heart in a gentle dialogue.
Saturday: The Deep Places
Dt 26:16-19; Mt 5:43-48
God challenges us to abandon our doubts and fears and cast our nets into the deep waters of the spiritual life.
PILLAR THREE: THE MASS
The Second Week of Lent
Sunday: Why Mass? Why Not!
YEAR A: Gn 12:1-4a; 2 Tm 1:8b-10; Mt 17:1-9
YEAR B: Gn 22:1-2, 9a, 10-13, 15-18; Rom 8:31b-34; Mk 9:2-10
YEAR C: Gn 15:5-12, 17-18; Phil 3:17–4:1; Lk 9:28b-36
Mass isn’t irrelevant to our lives; maybe it’s our lives that are irrelevant to the Mass.
Monday: Soothing Waters
Dn 9:4b-10; Lk 6:36-38
To transform our lives, God’s Word needs to linger in our minds and sink its roots deep into ourhearts.
Tuesday: Looking Ahead
Is 1:10, 16-20; Mt 23:1-12
Read and reflect upon the comingSunday’s Gospel. Pick a word or phrase that jumps out at you. If the Word is to transform us, we need to allow it to sink into our lives through repetition and reflection.
Wednesday: Giving, Receiving
Jer 18:18-20; Mt 20:17-28
We go to Mass to give ourselves to God and, in return, to receive God. Open your heart, mind and soul to God.
Jer 17:5-10; Lk 16:19-31
We’re pilgrims on a journey, called to be responsible stewards of our own lives and mindful of the needs of others.
Friday: Delivered From Evil
Gn 37:3-4, 12-13a, 17b-28a; Mt 21:33-43, 45-46
God of peace and serenity, protect me from all anxiety. Guide me to make good choices, so that I may not sin.
Saturday: A Gift for Us
Mi 7:14-15, 18-20; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
The Mass is designed to help us. God gives us rest, renewal and communion with him and others through the Mass.
Ads contrary to Catholic teachings should be reported to our webmaster
. Include ad link.
PILLAR FOUR: THE BIBLE
Third Week of Lent
Spirit and Life
YEAR A: Ex 17:3-7; Rom 5:1-2, 5-8; Jn 4:5-42
YEAR B: Ex 20:1-17; 1 Cor 1:22-25; Jn 2:13-25
YEAR C: Ex 3:1-8a, 13-15; 1 Cor 10:1-6, 10-12; Lk 13:1-9
Ask God to help you make the Bible an integral part of your life. Prayerfully reflect on the truth God sets before us.
Monday: Our Catholic Tradition
2 Kgs 5:1-15b; Lk 4:24-30
Thank God for revealing himself to us in creation, the Scriptures and the life of the Church.
Tuesday: Rich Gifts
Dn 3:25, 34-43; Mt 18:21-35
Through many people, ages, languages and styles, God has revealed his Word and truth to the world.
Wednesday: Scripture, Our Guide
Dt 4:1, 5-9; Mt 5:17-19
How has Scripture helped you through the difficult circumstances of your life?
Thursday: The Gospel Challenge
Jer 7:23-28; Lk 11:14-23
Examine the ways you live, love, work, think and speak in light of the Gospels. Don’t adopt a gospel of convenience.
Friday: Stories of and for All
Hos 14:2-10; Mk 12:28-34
The Bible tells of people who have tried and succeeded or struggled and failed in their quest to walk with God. What stories direct your life?
Saturday: Ever Fresh, Ever New
Hos 6:1-6; Lk 18:9-14
The Word of God deserves to be approached with reverence and awe. It is constantly new and fresh.
PILLAR FIVE: FASTING
The Fourth Week of Lent
Sunday: Yearning for Love
YEAR A: 1 Sm 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Eph 5:8-14; Jn 9:1-41
YEAR B: 2 Chr 36:14-16, 19-23; Eph 2:4-10; Jn 3:14-21
YEAR C: Jos 5:9a, 10-12; 2 Cor 5:17-21; Lk 15:1-3, 11-32
May my resolve strengthen, my stony heart be broken and my mind become more focused on our loving God.
Monday: Prayer and Fasting
Is 65:17-21; Jn 4:43-54
We fast to cultivate the inner life. Authentic fasting draws us nearer to God and opens our hearts to receive God’s many gifts.
Tuesday: Turning Back to God
Ez 47:1-9, 12; Jn 5:1-16
Fasting that involves no conversion of the heart is useless. What can I give up today that will help me turn back to God?
Wednesday: Christian Practice
Is 49:8-15; Jn 5:17-30
God of fasting and almsgiving, accept all that I have and all that I am willing to give up in honor of your love.
Thursday: Rewards of Discipline
Ex 32:7-14; Jn 5:31-47
God of discipline and self-possession, help me control my longings and cravings. With fasting and discipline, help me become the-best-version-of-myself.
Friday: Fasting, Feasting
Wis 2:1a, 12-22; Jn 7:1-2, 10, 25-30
Fasting is to the body what prayer is to the soul. Fasting is the prayer of the body. Bodily fasting leads to spiritual feasting.
Saturday: Holding Fast
Jer 11:18-20; Jn 7:40-53
God of perseverance and strength, I put my faith and trust in you. I know it’s difficult to fast, but I will not give up.
PILLAR SIX: SPIRITUAL READING
The Fifth Week of Lent
Sunday: A Path to Virtue
YEAR A: Ez 37:12-14; Rom 8:8-11; Jn 11:1-45
YEAR B: Jer 31:31-34; Heb 5:7-9; Jn 12:20-33
YEAR C: Is 43:16-21; Phil 3:8-14; Jn 8:1-11
Reading is to the mind what prayer is to the soul. Spiritual reading ignites our desire to grow in virtue.
Monday: 15 Minutes a Day
Dn 13:1-9, 15-17, 19-30, 33-62; Jn 8:1-11 OR, IN YEAR C, Jn 8:12-20
Just 15 minutes of spiritual reading every day can stir your soul. Thank God for the beauty and bounty of words.
Tuesday: Touched by Jesus
Nm 21:4-9; Jn 8:21-30
May the words of the Gospels penetrate my hard heart and narrow-mindedness.
Wednesday: Models and Mentors
Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95; Jn 8:31-42
God, allow me to learn from those inspired with your Word, so that I'm willing to improve myself each day.
Thursday: Growing in Faith
Gn 17:3-9; Jn 8:51-59
Identify the teaching of the Church you find most difficult, then study it. Approach this humbly.
Friday: Growing in Knowledge
Jer 20:10-13; Jn 10:31-42
God, guide me as I expand my knowledge of Catholicsim. I long to know you and defend my faith.
Saturday: Our North Star
Ez 37:21-28; Jn 11:45-56
When we view everything in relation to our call to become the-best-version-of-ourselves, everything finds meaning.
PILLAR SEVEN: THE ROSARY
Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion: The Power of the Rosary
Is 50:4-7; Phil 2:6-11; YEAR A: Mt 26:14–27:66; YEAR B: Mk 14:1–15:47; YEAR C: Lk 22:14–23:56
We remember Jesus’ passion and death by praying the Rosary.
Pray: Third Joyful Mystery—Birth of Jesus.
Monday: Mary, Our Model
Is 42:1-7; Jn 12:1-11
Holy Mary, through you I hope to know and love your son.
Pray: First Sorrowful Mystery—Agony in the Garden.
Tuesday: Turning to Mary
Is 49:1-6; Jn 13:21-33, 36-38
Holy Mary, to you I send up my cries, to you I sing my hopes for myself and the world, with you I pray now and forever.
Pray: Second Sorrowful Mystery—Scourging at the Pillar.
Wednesday: At Our Side
Is 50:4-9a; Mt 26:14-25
Holy Queen, at your side I suffer the loss of your son. With me you suffer too—for my losses, inequities, weaknesses and longings.
Pray: Third Sorrowful Mystery—Crowning of Thorns.
Holy Thursday: Way, Truth, Life
Ex 12:1-8, 11-14; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Jn 13:1-15
Jesus, may I strive to be all you created me for, spreading the love of God and the truth of our faith wherever I am.
Pray: Fourth Sorrowful Mystery—Carrying of the Cross.
Good Friday: Transformed
Is 52:13–53:12; Heb 4:14-16, 5:7-9; Jn 18:1–19:42
Help me transform my soul, die to sin and death, and be reborn in your love and eternal life.
Pray: Fifth Sorrowful Mystery—Crucifixion.
Holy Saturday: Courage Incarnate
Ex 14:15–15:1; Rom 6:3-11; YEAR A: Mt 28:1-10; YEAR B: Mk 16:1-7; YEAR C: Lk 24:1-12
Jesus, you knew that life doesn’t end on the cross. It was only the beginning of a new and glorious eternal life.
Pray: First Glorious Mystery—Resurrection.
Matthew Kelly is a best-selling author, world-renowned speaker and business consultant. His titles include Rediscover Catholicism and Rediscover Lent, from which this text is taken.
NEXT: The Role of Community in the RCIA by Msgr. Richard Hilgartner