Do I have a morning / evening routine?

"It is you who I invoke, O Lord.
In the morning you hear me;
In the morning I offer you my prayer,
Watching and waiting."
Psalm 5:3b-4

Yesterday I was asked the question, 'Do I have a morning / evening routine?'

The answer is 'Not really. No.'  When I was better organised I did, and I am endeavouring to return to the routine I had for most of last year.

My morning routine last year was as follows:
  • 6-6:30am - wake up, pray the Angelus.
  • 6:35am - make myself a cup of coffee.
  • 6:40am - 7:40am - Pray the Office of Readings, Morning Prayer and read the Mass readings of the day.
  • 7:40am - 8:20am - Get showered and dressed and leave for work.
  • 8:20am - 9:00am - Pray the Rosary in the car on the way to work.
I wouldn't necessarily encourage anyone to follow the same routine.  I think it depends on your goals and what it is you are doing in life.  I'm also not really a breakfast person but a lot of people are, so it would likely not work for all.  

I didn't have an evening routine other than night prayer immediately before bed, but you might opt to have one.

To create your own routine, you need to allocate a set amount of time (say 30 mins to one hour).  You can then structure how you plan to spend this time.  In my humble opinion, it is far better to keep some consistent elements, such as prayer, making a beverage, making your bed, but adapting the specifics to suit your needs.

Tim Ferriss, the author of five books and a famous podcast, has written about his morning and evening routines (which you can find by searching 'Morning Routine' over at tim.blog).  He has made a video about morning routines here.  I think his recommendation of spending a minute making your bed in the first few minutes of the day is a good one.  As James Kearly wrote in his book, 'The Man Plan', the state of your bed is the state of your head (he allegedly got this saying from someone in jail).  I would however supplement the Rosary or the Jesus Prayer for his meditation time.

Jennifer Fulwiler has written some blog posts on the routine of monasteries and the Missionaries of Charity, which I would recommend reading to help you create structure in your morning or day.  The main ones are as follows:
A word of caution - I found that praying the Office five times per day started to create a routine in my life, which I loved.  Whilst my amount of reading reduced, it didn't appear that much else in my life changed despite fitting in an hour of prayer throughout the day.  But, I did find that when this routine was interrupted due to travel for work or anything else, I quickly became aggressive and impatient and found myself falling back into many sins.  

I had a Priest remind me when this habit started to slip and I was frustrated by it that I am not a Priest or religious and therefore am not bound to recite the office.  Self-reflection also reminded me that routine can become an addiction also if we are not willing to let love for others interrupt our usual routine without committing sin in the process.  Lastly, I often need to remind myself of two comments made by St. Francis De Sales in his book, 'Introduction to the Devout Life':
  • "One Our Father said devoutly is worth more than a hundred prayers hurried over."
  • "... if you have a gift for mental prayer, let that always take the chiefest place, so that if, having made that, you are hindered by business or any other cause from saying your wonted vocal prayers, do not be disturbed, but rest satisfied with saying The Lord's prayer, the Angelic Salutation and the Creed after your meditation."
  • "If, while saying vocal prayers, your heart feels drawn to mental prayer, do not resist it, but calmly let your mind fall into that channel, without troubling because you have not finished your appointed vocal prayers.  The mental prayer you have substituted for them is more acceptable to God, and more profitable to your soul.  I should make an exception of the Church's Offices, if you are bound to say those by your vocation; in such a case these are your duty."
  • "If it should happen that your morning goes by without the usual meditation, either owing to a pressure of business, or from any other cause, (which interruptions you should try to prevent as far as possible,) try to repair the loss in the afternoon, but not immediately after a meal, or you will perhaps be drowsy, which is bad both for your meditation and your health.  But if you are unable all day to make up for the omission, you must remedy it as far as may be by ejaculatory prayer, and by reading some spiritual book, together with an act of penitence for the neglect, together with a steadfast resolution to do better the next day."
If you can get a morning / evening routine setup, that would be excellent.  Hopefully these resources and thoughts may be of some use to you.

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