Let me begin by giving some context on what it means to be ‘devoted.’ Devotion comes from two Latin words, “De-votum,” which means “according to a vow.” The most solemn vows each of us make are the vows of baptism. In that sacrament, you are bound to God and God is bound to you in a familial relationship. God becomes your Father by grace and your deepest identity is that you are now God’s beloved child. For the rest of our life, we must strive to grow in this most important devotion, our sacred baptismal vows that bind us to the love of God.
So should you have devotion? Most certainly. We are all called to be devoted to God as our loving Father. What, then, should this devotion look like? First and foremost, our devotion is increased through attending Mass every Sunday and going to confession regularly. The sacraments were established by Jesus Himself to help us grow in our bond of love with God. Yet beyond the sacraments we should pray, and there are many options for what form of prayer best fosters our life of devotion.
Within the rich history of our faith, we have been blessed with many saints and spiritual movements that foster devotion in a particular way. Here are just a few of the many forms of devotion: in adoration, people rest in Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist; the Franciscans strongly identify with the poor Christ; the Rosary enables people to draw close to Jesus through Mary; the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is devoted to Jesus’ love for the poor; the Divine Mercy Chaplet brings consolation especially to those experiencing sin or grief. When you first choose a devotion, you may try different ones to see if they resonate with you spiritually. Adoration and the Rosary are two devotions that have been widely practiced in the history of our faith, so I recommend starting there.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that any particular devotion serves a greater purpose — it is good if it helps you fall more deeply in love with God. If it becomes a source of stress or you find yourself in the mentality — “I have to get this done!” — that is the moment to take a step back and reassess where you are called in your devotional life. I will leave you with the timeless advice of St. Josemaria Escriva, “Have few devotions, but be strong in them.”
Father Archer is associate pastor of St. Peter Parish in Kirkwood.