Tips for a deeper relationship with Jesus

Father John C. Cregan, a former Marine lieutenant colonel in residence at the St. Rose of Lima Priests' Retirement Villa in Annandale, serves as a spiritual director to seminarians at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. The retired priest describes spiritual direction as "developing and strengthening a relationship with Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

His suggestions for deepening a relationship with Jesus:

Pick a time to pray

Discipline is necessary for a strong prayer life, so select a specific time to pray each day. People have busy lives, Father Cregan said, but "don't cheat on the Lord" with excuses.

Tend to your health

In order to grow spiritually, it's "important to take care of yourself physically," he said. Getting enough rest, exercising and eating well help "so you don't get overwhelmed by physical limitations," he said. Bodily health is connected to prayer life and "discerning God's call in your life."

Chose a prayer word

Pick a word to say as a short prayer when stress and anxiety become overwhelming. For example, saying the word "Jesus" might mean: "Lord, have mercy," "Lord, forgive me," or "Lord, help me."

Having a prayer word "can make the whole day a prayer," he said.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016