Where to begin in the spiritual life?


I gave a talk to the men at my parish this morning on my conversion to Catholicism. At the end, one participant threw up a softball for the benefit of the others. He asked, me, “If someone wanted to go deeper in their faith, where should they start?” I thought it was a great question. How would you answer it?


To get start, start from the basic - daily Scripture reading and prayer, and build on from there.


I agree. That was one of my answers.


I would say that the first step is prayer. Even before reading the Scriptures, because if they’re not read prayerfully, they’re just a bunch of books.



Scriptures is one and also the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Other things to consider reciting the Rosary and the divine Mercy chaplet and attending adoration.


I agree with this order so far - depending upon the person of course:

  1. Daily Prayer Habit - Start simple
  2. Regular Participation in the Sacraments
  3. Reading the Catechism
  4. Reading Scripture

In my mind the following are more advanced activities that follow once the basics (above) are covered.



The Rosary definitely! It’s so easy to learn but it will take a lifetime to master (if there is any such thing as mastering the Rosary). I would suggest picking up a Rosary prayer book as well just so you have a starting point for any rosary meditation.


The spiritual life is a relationship with the Holy Trinity. I would examine my personal relationship with each member of the Trinity. How have I seen the Father act in my life? How do we see the Father act in Scripture? In the Mass? Through the life of Mary? Through the lives of the saints? The same for the Son and Holy Spirit. Keep a journal and write down the inspirations you receive.

As far as practices: Mass and the Sacraments, Scripture, and the Rosary have been a great help to me.


Aside from the obvious (frequenting the sacraments and regularly examining the conscience) I’d highly suggest the book Way of a Pilgrim, which discusses the use of the Jesus Prayer (it varies, but generally comes out as something along the lines of: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”). That prayer, used for prayer of the heart (contemplation) is absolutely phenomenal! You can pray it anyone, without any aids or having to keep track of anything. All you have to do is bask in the glory of our risen savior!

After that I’d suggest readings by one of the great saints with whom God has chosen to bless us. Anything from the desert fathers of the early Church to the early Western monastics (remember, Roman Rite Catholics and Eastern Rite Catholics - and Orthodox Christians - can be helpful to each other due to our shared beginnings) and recent monastics and popes can be extremely useful. The most important thing is to learn how to pray, how to open your heart to Christ, and how to let him lead you. It’s not about learning how to do something, it’s about learning how to let Christ do something in and through you, by the power of His grace. :slight_smile:

In Christ,


find someone to serve, some opportunity for service above and beyond what is called for in your job or daily work, serving the Church or God’s poor (and not only the materially poor).


You were all very helpful in helping me think through this - here’s the answer I came up with…



I loved reading The Way of the Pilgrim. It helped lead me to contemplative prayer.

For those not familiar, the Pilgrim is a Russian peasant, who in the turn of the 19th century, goes on a quest to learn what it means to, pray without ceasing. He travels from one spiritual master to another in the various monasteries in Russia. Each master instructs him on some aspect of the spiritual life, but all tell him to recite the “Jesus Prayer,” as often as 500 times a day. He begins to become perplexed about it, until he realizes, that the prayer becomes so much a part of him, that its as though he’s praying it not stop, interiorly.

Anyway, its a good book to read.



Jim - thanks for the summary on this. I have had an Orthodox friend recommend it. It sounds more intriguing now.


The guys might be interested in this program, too. From EWTN. Check it out. (It’s supposed to be “for the guys”… but my mom and I watch it, too. :rolleyes: ). They have lots of great tips!



Make a challenge to them to begin daily prayer. Somehow figure a way to hold them accountable.


This is true, but I just wanted to add - not disagreeing with you at all, just adding - I heard some desert fathers said that even the Jesus prayer can be harmful if not prayed with humility and if the person cares too much about contemplation and not enough about simply serving God. If you say it only once a day, that doesn’t really apply. But if you say it 100 times a day, like a Rosary, it can even lead to spiritual delusion if the person is not watching their pride and sinfulness. Basically all I’m saying is, prayer is definitely a big part of growing spiritually but it mustn’t be something separate from our lives. Which I’m sure we’ll all agree with :slight_smile:

God bless!


That’s the tricky part, keeping in focused on Him! I know I can find myself thinking “Hey, I’m doing pretty good with this prayer thing,” and then only after feeling proud do I realize, “All good things come from God.” It’s hard to keep humble, but walking the walk is of ultimate importance. Prayer helps you keep focused on Him, but it’s only half the battle of a Christian life - as opposed to “knowing,” which is half the battle of a G.I. Joe life, hehe.

In Humility, Should God Grant it!


PBP - good advice. I followed it - here’s the post on the challenge rcspiritualdirection.blogspot.com/2009/01/how-can-i-go-deeper-in-my-faith.html

I will work on the accountability as God allows.


I am new here, this is my first letter to whoever reads this.
I am not a Catholic and I have read the rules of this forum. I will abide by those rules even though if I would not have made some of those rules if I were the Administrator. Having said that I ask that anyone reading this, please do not get the Idea that these rules are bad. They are not bad. I understand why someone would make it this way.

I want to ask, if you begin with the basics of the spiritual life as some have said, in the Bible and prayer what are you hoping for? If you say, a word from the God I pray to or an answer to my prayer, then maybe you are not looking for a relationship next but an affirmation that your on speaking terms with your object of prayer.

Why not begin with believing what is true about the one you seek anything from?
It is my observation that anyone who hides behind rules of engagement with the one they want to talk to, it is because they are afraid of that one or what they can do to them should they be found out for who they are.
I read that Jesus loves you. Start there and don’t hide behind the rules.

  1. To know and serve Christ more fully.
  2. This is assumed in this forum.
  3. Or, they are an honorable person
  4. Odd accusation - hiding? I don’t know anyone here who is hiding. We are simply using a forum provided by someone (Catholic.com) who has guidelines for use - it is merely adult and honorable behavior.

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