By intentional living, I mean that my life has to be specifically oriented toward the Lord. Everything I do has to be toward His greater glory. In other words, I have to live the way the saints did, with heroic virtue. (Being human, I will probably stumble. Praise the Lord then for the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.)
Fr. Z wrote about heroic virtue, the quality that defines a saint, the other day. I'm going to quote him here:
"But Father! But Father!”, some of you are about to say. “Heroic virtue? Really?Heroic virtue isn't developed overnight. I can name several places in my own life right now where I can do better to develop that heroic virtue. I can take a set time out of my day for prayer (Divine Mercy Chaplet takes 5 minutes to say!). I can read scripture instead of that new chick lit book before I go to bed. I can read about the faith.
How can any of us aspire to such a thing! That’s sounds terribly difficult!”
It isn’t easy, but it is possible.
We are all called to be saints. God wouldn’t ask something of us that isn’t possible. And when He asks things that are hard, He also provides the means and the occasions. Even in your suffering, for example, or your obscurity, you can serve Him. God knew you before the creation of the material universe. He called you into being now, in this world. Of all the possible worlds God could have created, He created this
world, into which you would be born. He has a plan and purpose your you, if you
will embrace it.
I teach a group of kids on Sunday mornings. They range in age from 9-16. Some haven't been baptized, and some are from families who are coming back to the Church after some time away. None of them have made their First Communion nor have they been Confirmed. When we came to the Feast of the Epiphany, our first class back after the Christmas break, I challenged them to make a "New Year's Resolution." It was to be one small thing that they can do in their daily lives to show love for others and love for God. Maybe it was to say a decade of the Rosary every day. Maybe it was to talk to one lonely person at their school every day. Or to help do one extra thing around the house every day. Something that they could do and that they would do. I have made it a point every week to remind them of their resolutions and to encourage them in these things. It takes 6 weeks to change or to start a new pattern of behavior. In a few more weeks, we'll revisit these resolutions and see how we're doing. If we've got the new pattern mastered, we can add something else (like, bumping it up to two decades of the Rosary, etc.).
You don't run a marathon without training for it. You start out running short distances and then you gradually work up to that 26.2 miles. I believe that the best way to cultivate that heroic virtue within myself and my family is to start with one small thing and do it faithfully for a while and then to add something else to do.
One of the best things I've read on this is "Introduction to the Devout Life," by St. Francis de Sales. I am also seriously afraid right now that I may have co-opted this great work. If I have, I am so sorry. Anyway, you should buy it and read it. Or borrow it from the library. It's written for people who are living in the world, not in a cloister. How to cultivate devotion in your daily life of taking care of your kids and husband. And he just makes sense.