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How to Start Your Day in Holiness

November 5, 2015 by  
Filed under Fr. Najim, Holiness, Prayer, Spiritual Direction

How to Start Your Day in Holiness


We learn so much from our parents, good habits and bad.  Maybe that’s why I’ve always been conflicted about waking up in the morning.  On the one hand, my father has always risen before the BlackSeaSunrisesun; he’s the earliest riser in the family.  On the other hand, my mother, well, that’s a different story.  Although she gets up early for work, the truth is that on the weekends she has the ability to sleep until…let’s just say she can sleep pretty late.  Honestly, I think I inherited my mom’s sleeping gene.  I’ve always loved sleep, and getting out of bed has tended to be an effort for me; yet, I have continually made an effort to get up early.  Therein lay the conflict.

I really do love the early morning, and I’ve become more of a morning person as I’ve gotten older.  Since I live at the seminary I have to be up early—which means I go to bed pretty early as well.  We begin our day with meditation in the chapel at 6:30.  Prayer is a great way to start the day.

I truly believe that the way we start our day has much to do with how the rest of our day goes.  And if we want to live each day in holiness, then it makes sense to try to have a holy start to the day.


Here are some suggestions for beginning your day in holiness:


1. Gratitude and the Morning Offering

ElGrecoStDominicInPrayer[Mirror]St. Paul told us that we should be transformed by the renewal of our minds (Romans 12:2).  That being said, what are your first thoughts in the morning?  If your first thoughts are negative, if you’re dreading the day and not expecting God’s blessings, then that’s a really bad start to the day. However, if you turn your first thoughts to the Lord in gratitude for a new day, you have chosen to begin the day with an uplifted heart and joyful spirit.  You have chosen to begin the day in God’s presence, and that’s a holy start.

Each morning, as soon as you wake up, offer a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord for the new day and all the blessings He will give to you.  Offer your day to Him with a traditional prayer or a prayer in your own words.  You might even consider getting on your knees and praying the words of St. Paul: today “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phillipians 4:13).

2. A slow, quiet start is best

People constantly rush.  They rush out of bed because they’ve hit snooze too many times.  They rush to shower and dress.  They rush their breakfast.  And then they rush out the door only to rush more as they drive.  Rushing is a really bad start to the day.  I don’t think the Lord wants us to rush—although it is inevitable at times.  Recall the fruits of the Holy Spirit: stress and rushing are not included in the list!  Rather, peace and gentleness are.  It’s much better to begin the day slowly, meditatively, aware of God’s presence and the peace He desires to give you as you begin this new day.

So don’t rush into the day. Try to be deeply aware of God’s presence as soon as you awake.  Go slowly.  Breathe.

3. Wake up early and pray

WhiteCupOfBlackCoffeeThe gospels tell us that Jesus woke early in the morning to pray.  There’s something sacred about the morning, a sacred stillness.  In order to begin the day slowly, it may mean you need to wake a bit earlier.  Now, I can honestly say I know how difficult this is.  But it gets easier, and you even begin to look EstudoStudyBibleforward to it.  My best and most productive days are the days I wake up early.  I like beginning my day with a cup of coffee and prayer.  I enjoy spending time in silence and doing some spiritual reading.  I love being attentive to the morning stillness.  What’s great is when I’m up early enough to pray, have some time to focus on my tasks for the day, and maybe even have time to write.

4. Your first penance

Waking up early may not be easy, but living in holiness is not always easy either.  Another one of my favorites saints, Josemaria Escrivá, called it the heroic minute.  How true!  When the alarm goes off, it’s our time to be heroic and tell the body: I know you want to sleep, but it’s time to get up and serve the Lord.  Living in holiness means that we need to keep the sometimes-unreasonable demands of the body under control (one of the fruits of the Spirit is self-control).  If we want to be holy, we need to learn sacrifice; and one of the best sacrifices we can make is getting out of bed early and as soon as the alarm goes off—or even before it goes off.

Here are some things you can do once you’re up:

  • BredeLilleBredeWritingDeskDetail2Spend time in quiet prayer with the Scriptures.  Read a little of the gospel and just spend some time in quiet reflecting on what you’ve read.
  • Take 10-15 minutes to read from a spiritual book and spend a few moments in prayer about what you’ve read.
  • Spend some time offering thanks to the Lord.  Just close your eyes and thank Him: thank Him for the day, for the blessings He will give you, for your family, whatever comes to mind.  Gratitude is a powerful way to begin your day.  “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good” (Psalm 118).
  • Have a conversation with the Lord about the day.  Talk to Him about your appointments and to do list.  Talk to him about what you are looking forward to and what you are dreading.  Ask Him to help you be aware of His presence throughout the day.

A slow, prayerful start to the day doesn’t mean that you’re day will be perfect or that you’ll be deeply aware of God’s presence all day.  However, it’s certainly a great way to start, and you’ll feel more peace and strength as you begin the day.


Editor's Notes: 

Art: Black Sea Sunrise, Bogdan, 2008-08-12, CC by SA; Mirror of St. Dominic in Prayer, El Greco, between 1586-1590, PD-US; A plain cup of black coffee, Jon-Isac Lindberg, 16 November 2012 own work, CCO Universal Public Domain; Personal Bible Study, Steelman, 15 April 2007, CCA-SA; Details from the main building-Lille Brede-at Brede Værk, Twdk, 25 August 2012 own work, CCA-SA; all Wikimedia Commons.

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About Fr. Michael Najim

Fr. Michael Najim is a priest of the Diocese of Providence. He is Pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Westerly, Rhode Island and has been the Director of Spiritual Formation at Our Lady of Providence Seminary and Chaplain of LaSalle Academy, a coed Catholic high school in Providence, RI. He is the author of Radical Surrender: Letters to Seminarians, published by the Institute for Priestly Formation. He also blogs at Fr. Michael Najim's Blog.

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  • Michelle

    Thank you Father.

  • James Toups

    Excellent! Thank you.

  • I really like the idea of discussing one’s appointments with the Lord. That’s a really good idea. This was an excellent post!

  • CLudwick

    Wonderful way to begin a day! Thank you.

  • Joan

    Thank you Father for these really lovely and helpful suggestions.

  • Ellen Dooley Corsiglia

    Thank you Father for sharing your thoughts, I have the next week off of work and will take to heart what you’ve written and start my day off getting up earlier and being intentional to offer gratitude and prayer for the new day.

  • Levine Kalikuela

    Thank you very much Fr. Michael Najim for your Excellent sharing on how to start my day in Holiness, I feel challenged for I am one of those who finds it hard to wake in the morning, but now you have helped me with the steps to follow in order to begin my day with my lord and in that grow in Holiness. Thank you Fr!

  • kcthomas

    Thank you Father. The present generation seems to be different. They prefer to sit late instead of early rise. However I feel the early morning silence,freshness,cool atmosphere all are beautiful and enjoyable…capable of good thoughts,aspirations and hope

  • Diana Marie Winkler

    Thank you Father, I like that you mentioned a few times about choosing…..It is about choosing what it is one wants for their life. Choosing to go to bed earlier so we may arise earlier to spend time with the Lord. As soon as I open my eyes in the morning I say, “Thank you, Lord, for this day, thank You for You and the Angels being with me during the night.” I think when we start the day off with gratitude and not dread it helps to set the tone for the day.We make choices in our lives all the time. We must choose to do what lines up with the Word of God and not that of the world. Spending time with the Lord is a guarantee that no matter what happens in our lives we rest with the assurance we are not on this journey alone. One thing I do is to memorize some Bible verses to help me along. This week I have been saying Philippians 4:13 to encourage me and here today I read it in your article!! I take something like that as a confirmation that the Lord is wanting me to keep reminding myself of those words to help me over a little “bump in the road.” This article came at a very good time! God bless you for sharing it with us.

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