Habit #1 – Participate in the Sacraments Regularly.
Sunday Mass is a given. To be effective you must also participate in a regular habit of Confession (once a month is a good start) and regular daily Mass, when possible. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament can be tagged on to this as well.
**“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” -Acts 2:42
Habit #2 – Dive Deep into Prayer.
Prayer is the link between God and man. We cannot expect to be good Catholics if we aren’t in a personal relationship with God. The foundation of this relationship is a personal daily prayer life.
**”Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thes 5:16-18
Habit #3 – Build Virtue and Root out Vice.
What virtues do we lack? These are what we need to focus on. Pick one virtue you need to improve and work on it. If we can improve in one virtue, then it generally helps raise up others. While doing this try to root out any vices you have, especially those that control you regularly.
**”Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” -Phil 4: 8-9
Habit #4 – Know Scripture and Church Teachings.
The more we know about Christ and His Church, the more there is for us to love. The more we can apply to our lives concretely. But, it starts with educating ourselves and knowing what he really taught, not just what we think he taught. This is a life-long process.
**“All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” -2 Tim 3:16
Habit #5 – Practice Joy No Matter the Circumstance.
Easier said than done. Joy is a disposition, not a feeling. Don’t confuse Joy with happiness, which comes and goes. We can practice joy through an act of the will and when strengthened by grace. How could Mother Teresa continue to serve the poorest of the poor even though she suffered in the depths of her soul? Joy.
**”Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Phil 4:4-7
Habit #6 – Spiritual Direction.
We should live in a constant state of discernment, asking – what does God want from me now? This puts a high value on living in the moment with an eye on combining our will with God’s. A good spiritual director is invaluable at helping accomplish this. They can be an objective observer of our lives and the movements of the Holy Spirit.
**”Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” – Acts 8:30-31
Habit #7 – Share Your Faith.
To keep something as treasured as the truth, goodness, and beauty of Christ to yourself is a selfish attitude. Effective Catholics evangelize regularly through their words and deeds to all. Pope Paul VI said, the Church “exists in order to evangelize.”
**“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” -Matt 28: 19-20