One of the (remarkably few) things I have learned in my life is that mornings are very important. I was going to say critical, but that would be a bit of an exaggeration. A day that starts off with a lazy, lousy, loser morning can still be redeemed. In fact it is a microcosm of the Faith to insist that redemption is always a possibility for any day, as long as that day is still that day. I have had more than a few “Good Thief” days in my life, brought into the realm of redemption only by a midnight Act of Contrition, or a late night confession.
But we do not want those days. We want days to be more like Blessed Mother days, or at least St. Joseph. We want the days that start out right, go on right, and end right. Even if the day can be redeemed, no matter how late, with that redemption comes the sorrow of contrition, and Augustine’s lament “Late Have I Loved Thee, Beauty ever ancient, ever new. Late have I loved thee!” The cry, “Lord Have Mercy” is never unheard, but it comes with the knowledge of insult and ingratitude offered to the One Who Grants us Mercy, and the corresponding sadness of regret.
Days that start off right are more likely to go on right. And for the same reason that the Devil attacks the family hoping to gain a foothold in the developmental years, he also attacks the morning, hoping to gain a foothold in the newly awakened consciousness from which he can launch attacks throughout the rest of the day.
Does that sound a bit melodramatic? The devil attacks our mornings? Really? Well, it is a statement I do not make without authority, and in any event, it is experimentally verifiable. Anyone who has a disciplined, regular habit of morning prayer knows all about the millions of reasons why ten minutes more of sleep would be just the thing right now; why God won’t mind ten minutes less of my time than usual “Just this once;” why it’s already too late this morning, I’ll pick it back up tomorrow morning; why I’ve missed too many mornings this week, but not to worry, we’ll start in again hardcore next monday. Those who do pray every morning, and have it as a reliable habit, do so because they have fought their way through all these excuses, all the distractions, all the discouragement, all the dryness, and the habit is the result of that long history of fighting for the morning.
Still don’t believe me? Try it. Resolve right now to make a morning prayer time every single morning for the rest of your life, rain or shine. Feel that sense of discouragement, that sense of, “Whoa, let’s not talk crazy, here. One thing at a time. How about a one week trial run?” These are attacks on the morning. The enemy does not want you to take control of your mornings. He does not want you to start your day humbly offering it to God and asking His grace and protection.
That is why morning prayer does not just happen, because there is a spiritual resistance that must be overcome, and we are not sufficiently motivated to overcome it.
O Lord, grant us the grace of offering every single morning to you for the rest of our lives. Take possession of the first moment of every day, and let us start each day in your power and grace. Amen.