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I wish to raise the question and challenge of how does one “grow in devotion”? Does it mean simply more rosaries, more time in Church, or more saints that we ask to intercede for us?
All of this may be well and good, but when I speak of “growth in devotion,” I am thinking of something else. I am thinking not of devotional activities, prayers, but how we find, contact and serve God in our overall, everyday way of life. To put it another way, I am speaking of a devout way of life and asking how we might lead a devout life 24 hours a day.
St. Ignatius Loyola speaks of growing in devotion, not by more prayers but through something much more encompassing. His bottom line definition of devotion is the ease or “ability to find God in all things.” In other words, we find God not only when in the chapel at prayer, or at Mass, or in private devotions in our homes, but in our daily, everyday lives. Ignatius wants us to extend the devout life from the times of formal prayer, in specific times and places, to cover and encompass our everyday lives.
This concept corresponds to the ninth step of the “Way of the Heart,” where it is explained how the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network “is formed by those who make themselves available to collaborate in Christ’s mission through the daily offering of their lives, in any place or situation they may be.”
How do we accomplish this? We are not only to pray to Jesus Christ and develop a personal rela-tionship to him, we are to imitate him. Thus, devotion to the Heart of Christ, for example would and should lead us not only to love Jesus, but to put into practice in our lives the sacrificial and merciful love that we see in the Heart of Christ. So too our devotion to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, and at Mass, in the Eucharist, leads us to imitate his way, and put into prac-tice the way, the teaching of Jesus. Attending Mass leads us to mission, to act like Christ in our everyday life.
Fr. Peter Schineller, SJJogues Retreat Center
Cornwall, NY (USA)