The Heroic Minute: An Opportunity for Spiritual Victory
For two months I have been starting my days with the practice of the Heroic Minute. I discovered it through a friend doing a popular ascetic challenge that was created to introduce modern Catholics to the spiritual fruits of bodily mortification. Challenges like these present you with a strict long-term regimen of ascetic practices, but I hope this reflection convinces you that adopting this simple act alone can lead to real spiritual growth.
St. Josemaría described the Heroic Minute as “the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and… up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body” (The Way, no. 206).
When you first start doing the Heroic Minute, you certainly feel like you are doing harm to your body. Sleep is healthy and necessary, and here you are depriving yourself of an extra 5 to 10 minutes or even a half-hour of sleep! However, the Heroic Minute has a way of multiplying your time, and it bears many other fruits.
The Heroic Minute Helps You Put First Things First
This practice prompts you to focus on the ends of your day: what you need to accomplish and the purpose of those tasks. For the past two Lenten seasons, I took on the penance of “giving up” the snooze button, but I have never made this practice a part of my life beyond Lent. This fall, though, I decided to offer up this small bit of suffering for those I serve through my work.
A few weeks ago, I made a point of posting a social media story every morning after I said my morning offering. The story usually involved a picture of my prayer book and a time stamp. One day, I polled viewers on the question: “Which minute seems more “heroic” to you?” The options were:
- 4:45 a.m. when you say no to snoozing and jump out of bed
- 9:30 p.m. when you say no to more scrolling on your phone
A majority of responders chose the latter, which points to a key aspect of this practice: The Heroic Minute isn’t about white-knuckling through life, and forcing yourself up in the morning, but about being prudent and just in the administration of our time at all times of the day. We can give it up to endless scrolling or TV in the evening, or we can use our time to rest so that we can attack the next day.
The Heroic Minute Helps You Have a Child-like Faith
St. Josemaría encouraged the faithful to say vocal prayers in the morning “like little children” (Furrow, no. 473), and this advice made more sense to me after taking on the Heroic Minute. By hauling yourself out of bed and praying words you did not formulate yourself, it can help you understand the true meaning of offering your whole self—your mind, body, and spirit to the Lord.
When I first took on this practice, I would roll out of bed directly onto the floor and say the morning offering slumped over my bed with my eyes still closed. Though that may not have been the most saintly posture, I did not give myself a moment to mentally play out the difficulties of the day ahead, but focused solely on the morning prayer of self-dedication.
The Heroic Minute Gives You a Small Spiritual Victory to Start the Day
St. Josemaría spoke of spiritual life in martial terms, but warned the faithful that this warfare is to be found in the challenges everyday life. He wrote that “To be faithful to God requires a constant battle. Hand-to-hand combat, man to man — the old man against the man of God — in one small thing after another, without giving in” (Furrow, no. 126).
For many, the first challenge of the day is overcoming our desire to put off the “million pinpricks” ahead, but it is also one of the most difficult. Dedicating yourself to this one spiritual practice lets you start the day with a victory that will most likely pave the way for more.
Guest post written by Rachel Jurado. Rachel is the Executive Director of Chesterton Academy of the Holy Family in Lisle, Illinois. Before joining Chesterton, she served nonprofit organizations as a fundraising consultant. She has an M.A. in English from the University of Notre Dame. Connect with Rachel on Instagram @proseandpopery and online at www.proseandpopery.com.