"I was finding it hard to commit to a prayer time because I couldn’t decide whether I should spend it in spiritual reading, praying the rosary, reading Scripture or maybe there was an ideal combination of these devotions that I was missing," Mirjana writes. Pixabay

Speaking Out: Progress on my Lenten practice

By  Mirjana Villeneuve, Speaking Out
  • March 16, 2018

As Catholics, we’re challenged to pray daily. Apart from Sunday Mass, there are more possible ways to pray than I can even list, and I find it hard to decide what to focus on. 

Ironically, this leads to me making no decisions about what I will do, and consequently choosing to do nothing. I find myself pushing prayer to the back of my mind and going days at a time without visiting the chapel on campus, or even so much as opening my Bible.

So this Lent, I really felt called to get my prayer life back in order. As Ash Wednesday came around, I quickly realized that the first step to reordering my prayer life was to stop trying to control it. 

Since I began university I’ve received daily readings in my inbox each morning, which I read while I drink my coffee. Other than that, before Lent this year my prayer time would consist of a three-second apology for not praying, right before I fell asleep at night. As frustrating as it is to admit, this was becoming my norm. 

I was finding it hard to commit to a prayer time because I couldn’t decide whether I should spend it in spiritual reading, praying the rosary, reading Scripture or maybe there was an ideal combination of these devotions that I was missing.

I wanted to be at the chapel at the ideal time too, when it wasn’t too busy and I wouldn’t be too distracted. Because of this, the minutes leading up to prayer were an inner whirlwind of possibilities and strategizing. It was a battle with no clear winner and some days, it would leave me paralyzed. 

Perfectionism was infiltrating this area of my life, making me more concerned about what I was going to do than who I was going to be doing it with. I had to let go of this and just get myself to the chapel, in front of the Blessed Sacrament. 



St. Teresa of Avila says, “Prayer is nothing more than spending a long time alone with the one I know loves me.” Prayer is not a devotional to-do list, it is a relationship! Forced to make a decision before Ash Wednesday, I set aside a spiritual book I had received for Christmas, resolving to bring it, my Bible and my journal to the chapel each day. But ultimately, I resolved to focus my energy on spending the time I had with the Lord who loves me. 

God is Love, He is made of Love and that is what He does. This Lent, with decidedly more prayer time, that is what I am doing. I am letting Him love me and asking for the ability to love Him back as I should. 

Honestly, it’s hard. Prayer is not the only part of my life that perfectionism has a grip on, and worries about everything else I have to do take up most of my headspace. 

When this happens, I simply say, “Jesus, I surrender myself to You, take care of everything,” hoping that even if my headspace is crowded, He will see that my heartspace is still open to Him, and will be everyday this Lent, and, please God, every day after that. 

(Villeneuve, 21, is a third-year Concurrent Education student at Queen’s University.)

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