The Power of Ritual
yes">Sleep, arise, walk the dog, iron clothing, exercise, change diapers and feed the family are examples of routines in the daily grind that can become mindless. Ritual, though, energizes the soul. If the fast pace of life dictates a plethora of mindless routines, one's actions become monotonous and void of meaningful activity.
In the words of Henry Van Dyke: "As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge."
And Amos Bronson Alcott: "The less routine, the more life."
And solemn, sacred cohesiveness to others in this repetitious act of meaningful ritual is seen in this quote from Maggie Gallagher:
"For faithful Catholics, communion is not just a nice ritual: It is the body and blood of Jesus Christ, and the ultimate sign of our willingness to be incorporated into the church."
Benefits of Ritual
Ritual invokes balance to all three dimensions of humanity's life. It can bring equilibrium to one's mind, body and spirit in the following ways:
- Focus clears the mind of needless clutter
- Calms mental stress
- Produces peace of mind
- Promotes discipline
- Provides sense of security
- Relaxes the body
- Rituals positively affect some or all of the senses, which calms the body.
Consider the rituals of the Catholic Mass: a) hearing the prayers/music/bells, b) smelling incense and candles, c) seeing the crucifix, d) passing peace through touch, and e) tasting the Eucharist.)
- Strengthens devotion
- Perpetuates the faith/deep meaning behind the activity
- Develops connection to one's self, to others and to God
- Induces peace
Routine to Ritual
Creating rituals takes discipline and thought, and the hectic grind of daily routines can be one's excuse for not developing them. But rituals don't have to be a new addition to life because those daily routines can be turned into rituals. Routines have to be accomplished, so why not cultivate them into rituals? For example, make dog walks a time for prayer. Pray blessings into each article of clothing you iron. Smile at those you pass on the trail during your morning run. Say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse. Light a candle every night on the dinner table. Be thankful for a new day of life with the first sip of morning coffee. Infuse rituals into your routines and your life will be enriched.
It could be said that some rituals are personal and therefore don't possess the element of cohesiveness. After all, how can an individual's unique ritual that is practiced in private bind him to anyone else?
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: power, ritual, routine, God, spirit, mind, body, Chaplet of Divine Mercy, prayer, rosary, grace
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