Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Setting Heavenly Priorities in the New School Year


Deacon Gene McGuirk offers simple prayerful habits that will last a lifetime and help you grow in holy perfection until God calls you home.

Where should we set our priorities when the summer is over and the new school year begins?

The Church teaches that the purpose of marriage is the begetting and educating of children. That implies that the children should do their best to become as well educated as possible.

There are only Ten Commandments. The first three commandments center on our relationships with God. The fourth commands children to honor and obey their parents.

When parents make educational decisions, their children should accept them, obey them, and do their best.

Educating for Eternal Life

However, the rule to educate the children has a more complete direction, which is to educate the children for eternal life. The students should be educated for Heaven, not Harvard. As the new school year begins, how do we set our priorities to be Heaven-centered?

When we get to Heaven, we will always be in God’s presence. The trick now is always being in God’s presence here on Earth. Being in God’s presence requires a good prayer life and the consciousness to keep ourselves in that mind frame.

Many of the saints have proclaimed the necessity of prayer to obtain salvation. For example, St. John Chrysostom taught, “As moisture is necessary for the life of plants, to prevent them from drying up, so is prayer necessary for our salvation.” He also said, “Prayer vivifies the soul, as the soul vivifies the body: As the body without the soul cannot live, so the soul without prayer is dead and emits an offensive odor.”

One way to constantly remind ourselves that we are always in the presence of God would be to use the Particular Examine. This means developing a “trigger” that will be that reminder.

So, for example, every time you hear the phone ring (the particular examine is the ringing phone), you make an ejaculative prayer to let God know that you realize He is with you.

Your Particular Examine is something that you would choose. Perhaps, “Thank you, Lord, for always being with me.” You could set your watch or computer to give off a ringing sound every hour, use the phone’s ringing, or every time you see a tree.

You choose something in your life and that would be meaningful to you.

Each day should begin with morning prayers on our knees as we get out of bed. If practicable, we should go to Mass each day too. Each study session should begin with a prayer to offer this time to God for His honor and glory and prayer to your guardian angel and patron saints to help you do your best. You could also look up the patron saint for the subject you are studying and ask for his or her help.

To help keep everything that day in the presence of God, we should use all of the daily devotions that the Church offers. For example, grace before and after meals, the Angelus at noon and six P.M., the Divine Mercy chaplet at three P.M., family Rosary in the evening, and night prayers, on the knees, before going to bed.

It is also important to make good habits of the Virtues, Gifts, and Fruits of the Holy Ghost. Look up the definitions of these holy practices, and consciously try to develop these holy habits in your life.

Making Our Year Holy

Besides assisting at daily Mass, we should keep a regular schedule for Confession when possible. Once every two weeks for Confession is close to ideal. Many indulgences include a condition of having gone to Confession within eight days of the indulgenced practice. If we go to Confession every two weeks, we will always meet this condition.

Confession’s graces will help us advance in holiness by making us more able to resist temptation.

We should also keep up with the whole liturgical year. Develop devotions to certain saints, and be aware of their feast days, especially if there is a special novena to that saint. Be observant of the Catholic practices of each liturgical season, like fasting during Lent.

These prayerful habits will last you a lifetime and will serve you to grow in holy perfection until God calls you home to Himself.

About Deacon Eugene McGuirk

Deacon Eugene McGuirk directs the Academic Counseling Department at Seton Home Study School. Married for over 30 years, he is the father of 4 children homeschooled through Seton. He was ordained a deacon in 1988. Meet Deacon Eugene
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