What is the first thing you say each day? What is the first thing you think of? For most people, it probably varies quite a bit. Some days it might be, “what a nice morning!” Other days it might be, “this is going to be a very busy day.” Most days it’s probably something like, “is that the alarm already? This sucks.”
Perhaps we should think more about our first thoughts and words each day. After all they set the tone for the day and define the attitude with which we’ll approach the challenges and blessings we are bound to face.
It is also a very special opportunity to pray. The first moments of our day are unique and important. Whatever we place there has special emphasis. If we make a conscious effort to give those moments to God, our prayer will take on a powerful quality that it can’t at any other time. The first moments of our day are a particularly difficult time to focus, which God will take note of. A prayer offered as soon as we wake up also tells God that he is first in our lives. Our day is centered around him, aimed at him, and for him.
What should we say? I propose The Morning Offering. Tell God that you’re thinking of him, and offer him your entire day before you really get into it. Waste nothing! The traditional offering goes as follows, but I recommend substituting your own personal petitions after “throughout the world…”
“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.”
This is one simple thing we can do in our constant quest for holiness. It might seem impossible to perform great acts of love and acquire the most difficult virtues. Our sins may seem like chains which bind us, and we can often feel helpless and weak in the face of them. The solution of course is the grace of God, which comes to us largely through prayer. We may be weak and broken, but God has given us Christ as a way to freedom (Galatians 5:1), and he has given us prayer as a way to Christ.
For this reason, as the wisdom of St. Therese of Lisieux suggests, we should focus on doing little things. You really are capable of starting your day with a quick prayer. That’s manageable, right? Maybe if you do that, and you make it a habit, you’ll begin to receive the grace to do things which you don’t feel capable of—things which seem much less manageable.