You know what should be against the law? Having to deal with insomnia while you have a newborn. Last night I woke to feed the baby around 3:30 AM, and she went right back to sleep. I, however, did not. I would describe what went through my head as I lay awake glaring at the ceiling, but Simcha Fisher did it for me. That’s what it was like — complete with distress about rhubarb.
Anyway, after a couple hours of the baby sleeping soundly while I engaged in the downward spiral of “I can’t sleep!” –> “I’m so mad that I can’t sleep!” –> “Now I really can’t sleep because I’m too mad to sleep!”, I finally drifted off. And ten minutes later my three-year-old appeared at my bedside demanding breakfast and a morning cartoon. I got up, shuffled behind her, taking note of everything I hated as we went through the house. I got her a stupid granola bar and some stupid milk, flopped down on the couch, and proceeded to systematically ponder everything that’s bad about my life, followed by some ruminations on all the ways that today would undoubtedly be a terrible day.
Let me just tell you, it’s not the most pleasant way to greet the morning. So I thought that for today’s post I’d do another installment of our year with St. Francis de Sales, this time where he offers four practical tips for how to not be a grouchy troll like me. I think I need to print this one out and tape it to my bathroom mirror, with a large note at the top that says “SHUT UP AND DO THIS:”
St. Francis de Sales’ Four Tips for
Starting Your Day the Right Way
1. Give thanks
Adore God profoundly and thank him for the grace of preserving you during the preceding night, and implore his pardon if you committed any sin during the course of it.
2. Recall the goal
Remember that the present day is given to you in order to gain the future day of eternity, and make a firm purpose to employ the day well for this intention.
3. Make a plan
Anticipate what tasks, transactions, and occasions for serving God you may meet on this day and to what temptations of offending him you will be exposed, whether by anger, vanity or some other irregularity. By a holy resolution prepare yourself to make the best use of the means that will be offered to you to serve God and advance in devotion. On the other hand, carefully prepare to avoid, resist and overcome whatever may be encountered that is opposed to your salvation and God’s glory.
It is not sufficient simply to make this resolution; you must also prepare means of putting it into practice. For example, if I foresee that I will have to discuss some matter with a man who is emotional and prone to anger, I will not only resolve to keep from giving him offense but I will think of pleasant words to prevent his anger or get the assistance of someone who can keep him in good humor. If I foresee an opportunity to visit a sick person I will arrange the time and the comforts and helps I can bring to him. So also for the rest of such things.
4. Ask God for help
This done, humble yourself in the presence of God and acknowledge that by yourself you can do none of the the things you have decided on, whether of avoiding evil or of doing good. As though holding your heart in your hands, offer it along with all your good purposes to his Divine Majesty, beseeching him to take it under his protection and strengthen it so that it may turn out successfully in his service. Do this by such unspoken words as the following or their like: “Lord, here is this wretched heart of mine, which through your goodness has conceived of many good affections. Alas, it is too weak and miserable to do the good that it desires to do unless you impart your heavenly blessing. For the purpose I humbly beg your blessing, O merciful Father, through the merits of the passion of your Son, in whose honor I consecrate this day and all the remaining days of my life.” Invoke our Lady, your guardian angel, and the saints that they may assist you in this effect.
All these spiritual acts must be made briefly and fervently and if possible before leaving your room, so that by means of this exercise, whatever you do throughout the day may be watered by God’s blessing. I beg you never to omit this exercise.
[Subtitles and emphasis mine.]
There you go! Four tips for getting the day off to the best start from a Doctor of the Church. Now, if anyone needs me, I’m going to go see if I can interest my children in the Watch Mommy Take a Nap game.
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