Shortly after the storming of Omaha Beach on D-Day, Private Harold Baumgarten, 29th Infantry Division, 116th Infantry Regiment, B Company, testified to the struggles and turmoil of that fateful day. "As we approached the beach, the bullets started hitting our LCA. The Company B boat on our left was hit by a shell and blew up. The splintered wood, metal, and body parts were raining down on us from about fifteen feet above. Our young British sailor wanted to drop the front ramp in the twenty-foot-deep water and motor away. Lieutenant Donaldson pulled out his Army Colt 45, pointed it at the frightened seaman, and bellowed, 'Take us all the way in!’ The sailor's fear was well founded. He saw the boat explode on our left, heard all the explosions and gunfire around us and saw the teller mines attached to the wooden pilings in front of us. Finally, the boat stopped, and the front ramp went down in neck deep water.”
Most of us can only imagine what a moment like this would be like. We see movies, read stories and, yearly, we honor those who threw themselves into the fray. But, what led to the success of the D-Day invasion, and in fact, every successful invasion like it? There was a plan. Strategists and generals, tacticians and logisticians will gather together and plan the attack. They think of all of the possibilities. They pour over their own and the enemy’s capabilities. In the end, they come up with a plan. Sometimes the plan seems implausible; sometimes it seems almost impossible. People might even look it over and then stare at them as though they had potentially lost their mind. “Are you crazy? It’ll never work.”
Well, we are in a battle in our everyday life. The stakes are high. There’s an enemy. We have our capabilities, our resources, and he has his too. Sometimes we’re aware of our weaknesses. Sometimes we can be a little foolhardy. But in the midst of the battles, we need a plan, a strategy that will get us to heaven. With it, we win; without it, we might not. Why leave it to chance?
So, here’s a Daily Plan of Life, a strategy for victory. If we live it, we will begin to see victories, it will grow and improve and we will develop the “spiritual habits” to be saints.
Daily Plan of Life:
- Wake up immediately with your alarm. This is called the “Heroic Minute” because it begins the day with a small act of heroism, of self-mastery.
- Make a morning offering. It can be simple, something we say from the heart that gives our day to God and asks for his graces.
- Spend 15 minutes a day (at the start) meditating on the Gospel. It is good to choose the Gospel of the Mass for that day (you can find it easily on http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/021314.cfm or many apps for smart phones). Some might say that they have no time to do this. Here’s a quote from St. Josemaria Escriva that rings in my ear every time that temptation hits me. “You haven’t been praying? Why, because you haven’t had time? But you do have time. Furthermore, what sort of works will you be able to do if you have not meditated on them in the presence of the Lord, so as to put them in order? Without that conversation with God, how can you finish your daily work with perfection? Look, it is as if you claimed you had no time to study because you were too busy giving lessons. Without study you cannot teach well. Prayer has to come before everything. If you do not understand this and put it into practice, don’t tell me that you have no time: it’s simply that you do not want to pray” (Furrow #448)
- Say the Rosary. This might seem tedious but I can promise you, there are few weapons in the daily battle as powerful as this. Think of it- you are mediating on the life of Jesus Christ through the eyes of the one who knew him best, His Blessed Mother. Think of the Rosary like a soundtrack to epic scenes. The words lift us up to a moment of encounter with Jesus. The words lead us to The Word made Flesh. This mystery had cosmic repercussions on the world and will do the same in our soul.
- Go to Daily Mass if you can. Sometimes it will be hard, but it is SO worth it. If it’s not possible, then make a spiritual communion of some sort, telling Our Lord that you want to be with Him and receive him spiritually that day.
- Do some Spiritual Reading. Most of us have a commute and can read or listen to an audiobook. This is a great way to grow in our knowledge of the Faith and the spiritual life.
- Examine your conscience at night. It is the way we review the battle field of the day. We think of what we did well (how we responded to the graces given that day). We think of what we did not do well (the sins we committed or weaknesses shown). And we make a practical resolution of how we can live the plan and our life better tomorrow.
- Make an Act of Contrition and go to bed at a reasonable hour.
Follow the plan. It will transform your life and more and more battles will be won. Some might say (and we might even say it ourselves) “Are you crazy? It’ll never work.” But it will. The plan is our way of being like Lieutenant Donaldson, screaming out as the bullets flew past his head and fear filled the air, “Take us all the way in!”