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The first principle of the spiritual life: to keep God in mind at all times. At first glance this sounds oppressive! To think about God at every waking moment? But this isn't what "keeping in mind" means. It has to do with awareness—what is classically called, "recollection".
Awareness is not only discursive thinking. It's similar to what some call "mindfulness", providing the context or atmosphere for our conscious experience. Being recollected is a habit, a hermeneutic, a way of perceiving. And it is developed both intentionally and unintentionally.
It's received from the symbolic context in which we're placed or in which we place ourselves. It develops by our actual acts of thinking, whether simple or complex. But many of us don't grow up in a context where the Christian Mystery is communicated in all the symbols around us.
To grow in the spiritual life, we must order all things in our life (and in the world) to God, who is our ultimate end. But we aim at an end more perfectly the more our conscious lives are informed by that end, the more we are aware of that end, the more we think of that end.
It should be an obvious point, but it's easily forgotten. Again, this is indeed stimulated by actual thinking and pondering, whether more philosophical or more contemplative. But it's just as much created by surrounding ourselves with a symbolic and narrative context.
The symbols and stories that surround your day, your week, your life, do they speak of the Christian Mystery, of God and what he's done for us? Or do they tell a different tale: of superficial satisfaction, of production and consumption, of vanity and envy, or even of despair?
Ever wonder why a retreat to nature, to the wilderness, is so spiritually rejuvenating? Or a visit to a Gothic cathedral, or a city full of renaissance architecture? Or a idyllic country village? Or just a beautiful home? Our environment matters far more than we often think.
So too, when we experience the rhythm of a monastery, or a small farm, or a seaside town. Both time and place, in so many ways, inform the way we think and feel, the reasons that ultimately guide our actions. Much of this we take for granted, but it all remains most influential.
"Keep God in mind at all times." Yes, actively think of him often. Spend time in spiritual reading and meditation. Be attentive at Mass and when praying the Divine Office. But consider too the context in which you live, the place and the rhythm of time and the sights and sounds.
Consider the routines of your day, the kind of mundane activities that form the backdrop of your life. What story do they tell? Are they beautiful and evocative? Do they speak of creation, of meaning and mystery? Do they remind you of others, of history and tradition?
Do they slow things down, do they highlight and accentuate, do they reveal and yet respect? Or do they speed things up, condense and streamline, conceal and yet denude? And then, consider it from the supernatural perspective: how would grace build upon the nature of all this?
Harmoniously, revealing the deepest purposes God placed in these natural places and times and activities and symbols from the beginning? Or only violently, jarringly, always leaving a separation or disjunct between when you think of God and when you go back to "regular life"?
For human beings and not for angels, to keep God in mind at all times means to create a world and setting in which material life points back to the mystery of creation and points forward to the mystery of redemption, that leads us to reflect on and consider the real story.
Start to pay attention and take inventory of that context of your conscious life. Think about how you can change it, by place and appearance, by time and rhythm, by routine and ritual. Immerse yourself in liturgical time. Surround yourself with beautiful art and crafted things.
Listen to beautiful sounds, and habitually speak beautiful words. Consider your hobbies and amusements. Think about your mundane rituals. You can make all these things symbols of that deeper story. Then pay attention, and see how your thoughts naturally change.
You won't have to go far for subjects for your meditation and philosophical pondering. At the same time, be very careful about the media (TV, music, books, internet, games) you let in to your life. It will influence your mind in so many subtle ways, consciously and unconsciously.
Lastly, take custody of your thoughts. This is the hardest battle, but the saints are clear, it brings the greatest fruit. Find some short prayers to say throughout the day. Learn to gently consider the Divine Presence in those quiet pauses. Refer the beauty you see back to him.
And when you stop to formally pray, especially at morning, midday, and night, ponder how God has been present in your day. *Remember*, as the Fathers say, how God has been there all along, leading and guiding you. Connect the mundane with the sacral, and both with your heart.
Resources? I'd recommend:
- The Catholic Catalogue (amazon.com/Catholic-Catal…)
- The Little Oratory (amazon.com/Little-Oratory…)
- The Catholic All Year Compendium (amazon.com/Catholic-All-Y…)

No doubt @HaleyCarrots, @JessicaPtomey, @timothypomalley, @sancrucensis can recommend more.
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