I owe my friend Pie a post about my beauty regimen/essentials, but since that topic is something I don’t usually write about, I need more time to organize my thoughts— and my closet, actually— in order to come up with a compliant post on the matter. I’m working on it, Pie. I’m actually excited to do it but my things are in disarray right now (I haven’t properly unpacked from my last trip) but I promise to sit down and blog about it in a few days. 😉
Anyway, it being Easter, and while we’re on the topic of beauty, I figured it’s also timely to write about something which is right up my alley— the things I do to maintain my inner beauty. As most of you probably know, I’m a devout Catholic girl who tries her best to do more than the usual Sunday obligations. I say this not to brag about my spiritual life, but to impart something which is central to my being: my relationship with God. Some people in my life might not even know that I’m a lawyer because I don’t speak and act like one, and that’s fine with me, but I will be distraught if I’m told that I don’t act or speak like a Christian. So here’s my inner beauty regimen which I joyfully maintain all these years:
1. Morning prayers. Every day, even when I’m on vacation, even when there’s a deadline looming in front of me, and regardless of whether I’m sad or happy, I make it a point to start my day with my morning prayers. It’s the best part of my day– rising up and communing with God, telling Him my apprehensions and the things that I want to happen to my day. I spend at least an hour praying. Sometimes I talk, but most of the time, I just sit still and quiet down my mind as I bask in God’s presence. All these years, this is the only thing I’ve ever needed to take on anything that my day might bring.
2. Scripture Reading. I’ve made it a habit to read the gospel for the day without fail. Sometimes, the word of God is so alive that I’m moved to meditate on it further. Other times, they serve as instructions on how I should conduct myself or relate to a person I’m having difficulties with. Several years ago, I’ve taken to memorizing bible verses so that I can pray them even when I don’t have a bible around. When my father was on his death bed, I found it very helpful that I can recite Psalms 23, 51 and 91 by heart, as those were the prayers I recited to him hours before he passed away. This practice has helped me survive the worst crisis of my life so I recommend it to anyone who wants to find life in the word of God.
3. Scripture Study. A few years ago, I lived in a house called The Jerusalem House with people who are seriously considering living single for the Lord. One of our weekly activities then was to study scriptures complete with study guides and group discussions. I think that was the start of my love for God’s word which I nurture to this day. I must admit though that I haven’t been able to do this as often as I want to now. But I still make it a point to read at least one good book about God’s word a month. Right now, I’m reading “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like…” which is a book about parables written by a Catholic priest.
4. Spiritual discussions. I am blessed to have friends who share my faith. Thus, I never have any trouble finding people who can discuss my faith with me whenever I want to. It’s advisable to have a support group composed of people who understand what you’re going through and who walk with you without any judgment. They keep you grounded in your faith and remind you of God’s love in concrete ways. Most of my spiritual friends, I came to know from my prayer community Ang Lingkod ng Panginoon. These people have really helped me in my journey with God and they are the ones I consider as my life long friends. If you don’t have friends like these yet, I highly recommend that you find one. It really makes a difference to fellowship with people who love you unconditionally and to whom you can be accountable to from time to time.
5. Spiritual Direction. At this stage of my spiritual life, I see the need to be guided closely by spiritual directors who nourish my growth with constant spiritual guidance. Over the years, I have benefited from the directors of the Center for Ignatian Spirituality where I had my Retreat in Daily Life, and from the sisters of the Cenacle where I go for retreats. Right now, I am regularly seeing a Jesuit priest for spiritual direction and confession. These people have all helped me discern my major decisions and have accompanied me through difficult times, especially when God seemed distant. I think every Christian must have a spiritual director to guide him as he draws closer to God. Not only do they provide us with a heavenly perspective, they also touch our lives with the love of God and inspire us to be bigger than ourselves. At least that has been my experience.
6. Service. I used to be really active in my prayer community where I got to do pastoral work and outreach programs. I believe that part of God’s call is to be of service to the least of our brethren in whatever way we can. Now, however, I have deliberately chosen to confine my service to my family and to people within my circle. It does not really matter how big or small your service is as long as it is done in the name of God. My belief is that anything that makes other people aware of God’s presence in their life is considered a service that is pleasing to God.
7. Regular retreats and days of prayer. I make it a point to go on a retreat regularly, and to set aside some time to go to a place where I can pray by myself without any distraction. Among my favorite places are the Cenacle convent in Varsity Hills, QC and the Sacred Heart Novitiate in Novaliches. Sometimes, I go to Don Bosco in Tagaytay or I do my own pilgrimage in Manaoag. Doing this from time to time helps me find my center and redirects my path towards God especially when I find that I am overly distracted by the things of this world.
As you can see, my inner beauty regimen is not really extraordinary. But what I gain from it is eternal. And I’d like to claim— although other people would be the best judge of this— that it works.