If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts. (Ps 95:8)
These words resonate with anyone familiar with the Prologue of St. Benedict’s Rule, in which he urges the reader to trust the movement of the Spirit and put God’s word into action. The Prologue is a strong exhortation to take hold of the gift of one’s life and give it over to serving Christ and the Gospel. Do it today! Have a bias toward action!
In these early days of the year, many of us have done an annual review of 2022 and have made some “resolutions,” commitments to make changes in our behavior—either to shore up good practices or to learn new ones. We want 2023 to be a year of learning and focus. But as James Clear notes in his helpful book Atomic Habits, many such resolutions fail because we don’t break them into small enough steps. Here counts how a man who wanted to start a program of regular exercise began by driving to the exercise facility, parking near the entrance, and looking at the building. After a few days he ventured in; a few days later he stepped on a treadmill for the first time. Perhaps a week later he signed up for a three-month membership and began to exercise with some regularity until it became a part of his routine. When he missed, he had enough resilience to resume.
So, it is in our spiritual life. We often don’t appreciate how challenging it is to create and sustain new, grace-filled habits. But the psalmist and St. Benedict assure us: The grace is in the small steps!