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The Heroic Minute

I love to sleep and really early mornings are not my favorite. 

I do love sitting on the porch at the lake or the beach, in a quiet moment with a cup of coffee and a good book or my Bible.  But in my current situation, getting a start on my day like that is nearly impossible, because as soon as I pour my coffee, it’s guaranteed that at least one of my five kids is going to come bounding down the stairs (and, I don’t live at the beach unfortunately).  Now, I am not complaining because they generally wake so happy, but from the time the first footsteps hit the floor until I leave for work is nonstop crazy. 

So that quiet time I wanted to spend with Jesus?

Well, I have to get up REALLY early to make that happen. 

And as I said, it’s not a strong suit of mine.  

There have been phases in the last few years when I was better at starting my day with quiet time than others, but when I am doing the best, is when I’m living out what St. Escriva calls “the heroic minute.”  I think the concept of the heroic minute was my first introduction to the saint that really got my attention.  If everything in our day, down to our smallest moments, can be sanctified for Jesus, then the first minute of the day is no exception.  Escriva writes in The Way:  

Conquer yourself each day from the very first moment, getting up on the dot, at a set time, without granting a single minute to laziness.  If, with the help of God, you conquer yourself in that moment, you’ll have accomplished a great deal for the rest of the day. It’s so discouraging to find yourself beaten in the first skirmish! (191)

The heroic minute.

It’s time to get up, on the dot! Without hesitation, a supernatural thought and…up! The heroic minute; here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does not weaken your body. (206)

I could quote the entire chapter on mortification, but really you should just go read it! 

“Unless you mortify yourself, you’ll never be a prayerful soul.” (172)

Isn’t this so true?  When I allow myself the comfort of hitting the snooze button a 2nd, 3rd, or let me be honest, a 7th time (seriously—I’m the Queen of the Snooze button), I miss precious moments that I could have spent with our Lord and started my whole day off with God.  Instead, I’m now in a rush, yelling at people to hurry up, and running out the door, without the least thought of God.  It’s the opposite of prayerful, and predictably my day will probably be rough.  

When I get up extra early, to have that few moments of Bible reading and prayer time before the children storm my space, my day is always better. 

I find that I am more patient, my aspirations (ejaculatory prayers) come more frequently, and I weather the bumps in the day a little better due to the added grace.  But that heroic minute doesn’t have to mean a concentrated time of prayer spent with God.  It simply means we don’t let the devil get us down in that first moment. 

I’m not gonna lie, I fail in the heroic minute more than I succeed these days, but after learning about it, I am much more likely to at least start with a morning offering or a “Good Morning Jesus” even when I failed to jump right up.  On the good days, I start my morning more intentionally.  And on the bad days, well, I try not to be too hard on myself, and just resolve to try again!  

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Anna Ostrom

Anna is a Catholic wife and mother of five children. She is thankful to be married to a stay at home dad extraordinaire, who keeps the family ship righted while she is working as a pediatrician. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, read-alouds, and searching for the world’s greatest children’s book.

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