Friday, April 8, 2016

The Heroic Minute Challenge: Day 5 Preparing For the Heroic Minute the Night Before

I blew it this morning. My alarm was set for the "fixed time" of 6:00AM, and I woke up exhausted. Without even thinking, I immediately hit the snooze button. After the first snooze rang, I re-set the alarm for 6:30AM and rolled over for a few more minutes of restless sleep. Laying there attempting to sleep, I started thinking about what was going wrong. The conclusion I came to was that the Heroic Minute does not begin when the alarm rings, it actually begins the night before. Last night, I was blessed to give a teaching on Pope John Paul II and the Gift of Mercy (more on JPII's Heroic Minute to come) to a local women's group. Both tired and wired from the evening, the long drive, and the large Diet Coke, I lay in bed, poked around on Facebook for a while and finally dropped off to sleep, about three hours after my normal bedtime and with no night prayers of any kind said.

Starting to see something wrong with this picture?  I sure am....

Nearly a week into this challenge I am finally beginning to see clearly that the Heroic Minute is about so much more than just the first moment of the day.  Living out the Heroic Minute in the morning must flow out of a lifestyle of living out little heroic minutes throughout the day. I did not set myself up for success this morning, because I failed to prepare adequately the night before.

Here are ideas for developing a night-time routine that sets the stage for the Heroic Minute....

  • Examination of Conscience...St. Josemarie Escriva writes extensively about the importance of a nightly examination of conscience and the perils of not performing one. Not sure what this entails? It is really simple - an examination of conscience is an honest review of the your day with an eye towards where you have fell short of living up to the Lord's will, both in sins you may have committed and in good actions that you may have failed to take. These nightly examinations of conscience should lead to repentance and the recitation of an Act of Contrition. If done regularly, the nightly Examination of Conscience is a great help in preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 
  • Examination of Consciousness...One of my Franciscan University of Steubenville professors, stressed often that in addition to the traditional Examination of Conscience, which focuses on our sins, we should also perform a nightly Examination of Consciousness. This is a review of the day with an attitude of gratitude - noting when and where the Lord blessed us during the day and thanking Him for those blessings and graces that we received. 
  • Night Prayer...I have an on again, off again "habit" of praying the Liturgy of the Hours Night Prayer before going to sleep - I am absolutely convinced that when I do pray this before bedtime, my sleep is much more peaceful. If you don't have time to complete all of Night Prayer, you can begin by reciting this small portion of it: 
"Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake; watch over us as we sleep, that awake, we may keep watch with Christ, and asleep, rest in his peace."
  • Enlist some heavenly help... Several readers have commented that they have asked their Guardian Angels, the Blessed Mother and their favorite saints to intercede for them so that they can live out the Heroic Minute - what a great idea! I plan on starting this tonight - I need all the help I can get! 
  • Set your alarm for a reasonable time. Although the Heroic Minute is ideally the same time everyday, life happens. Late nights, sick children, special occasions and last-minute deadlines all require us to be flexible and reasonable in what we can expect of ourselves the next morning. It is ok to admit that we need a few extra minutes of sleep and adjust our morning routine accordingly - something that I should have done last night (along with all of the above suggestions.)  
What are some of your night time prayer routines? Share them in the comments below!
Interested in taking the challenge or catching up on some missed days? Click here to find out more information...


  1. Clicking over right now to see the beginning of this series! Love Jose Maria the idea of the Heroic Minute...don't always like the follow through!

    1. Thanks for stopping by Jenny - I hear you about the follow - through. I am hoping for myself that 14 days will be enough to create a habit...We'll see....I am planning on adding a link up so if you are interested in sharing your own Heroic Minute experience and linking - just let me know! Blessings!

  2. I struggle with night time prayers. I am usually so tired I just fall into bed. I do fine with a morning prayer routine, though. I guess we just keep trying...

    Robyn Dolan

  3. So far I don't see any of your "failures" or "short comings." I don't think you've blown anything or missed an opportunity. Remember God has a plan for us all. He already knew you would hit the snooze, go to bed late, have interruptions, etc. That's the purpose isn't it? In what you see as lost opportunity's, or failures is actually what is teaching you and therefore teaching us. If you were perfect, had the perfect prayer life or rose on time everyday, where would there be room for growth, learning, reflection? I like knowing I'm not alone in what I see as a missed opportunity to praise or give thanks to God. It help's me to dig deeper and to try harder, to be more mindful and to strive to be a better version of me.

    Jennifer T

    1. Great point Jennifer! I know I learn far more and grow far more (and appreciate and depend on the Lord's mercy and grace) far more in my failures than in my successes! Thanks for sharing!