While I personally have never been in a relationship, I do have several friends who have, and they often ask me for advice or simply tell me how their relationship is going. One thing I’ve picked up on is that when you’re in a good, healthy, relationship you feel a constant need for the other person. Not in a “they are mine and mine alone” but in the sense that they’re your other half, without them you feel incomplete, like something is missing from you.
So why don’t we feel the same way about Christ?
The Church is Jesus Christ’s bride (in a metaphorical sense); people often treat this in a light way and don’t think about it very often. But this is actually a really powerful thing. Each of us makes up part of the church, therefore we are each a bride of Christ (regardless of gender).
According to this article the ideal amount of time for a married couple to spend together is 15-30 minutes a day, 2 hours a week, 1 night every 3-4 months, and one weekend a year. Translated: You should be spending 15-30 minutes connecting with your spouse a day, in addition that you need 2 hours a week, a full night (or 8 hours, however you’d like to refer to it) once every few months, and a full 2-4 days a year. That’s giving your spouse, your complete and undivided attention. No kids, social media (unless talking solely to your spouse) or anything else that distracts you from talking to your spouse and just your spouse.
Therefore, spending at least that much time with Jesus should be our goal. It sounds like a lot, but is it really?
Let’s take a look at a breakdown of what that could look like in a week:
- Sunday – Mass (1 hour of weekly time), 15-30 minutes journaling reflection on the readings after Mass
- Monday – Rosary on the way to and from work.
- Tuesday – Divine Mercy Chaplet
- Wedensday – Adoration hour (1 hour of weekly time) and 1/2 hour of Bible study
- Thursday- Rosary on the way to and from work
- Friday – Stations of the Cross
- Saturday – Confession with 15-30 minutes of performing an examination of conscience
Obviously, the daily activities could be the same for each day of the week, or you could try other practices. Right here is a list of things Catholics can do to improve their spiritual life. Most of the ideas in that list can also be done on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis. Perhaps knock off a day or night in your calendar for a “date with Jesus” and do one of them. Something like reading a book related to the Catholic faith or painting a small icon are two good ideas. As for good practices you can try to do on an annual basis – a spiritual retreat is a great time to reconnect with God. Think of it like a vacation with Jesus.
So we know the amount of time we need to spend with Jesus, and we know what we can do in that time. But have you realized why this is important yet?
According to a study done by the Pew Research Center, 13% of Americans are former Catholics. Let’s think about that in perspective for a minute–that means that 6 out of every 50 you know who are Catholic are likely to leave the Church. In addition to that – only 17% of Catholics are between the ages of 18 and 30.
Shouldn’t we be focusing as hard as we can not to be part of the group leaving the church? While the sex abuse scandals and inadequate faith formation cause a vast number to leave, the core reason people leave is that they were Cradle Catholics who never had a conversion experience to help them truly understand why they’re Catholic.
Many people talk about how in arranged marriages they find they can “learn to love” someone. However, we’re Christians and that means we’ve been raised that “Jesus loves us, our one thing we have to do is love him. Otherwise, we’re at fault” We never make that choice to love Jesus, despite what might otherwise happen to us. It’s that choice to love Jesus no matter what might otherwise happen, that’s central to the analogy of Jesus as the bridegroom and the church as his bride. In order to practice that love we need to work on our relationship with him, by building in intentional prayer to our daily life, as well as praying without ceasing.