Sunday, September 21, 2008

It’s About Time

Time management can be a challenge for some of us, myself included. Seems like I never accomplish everything I want to do, but the essentials always get done somehow. Over the years, routines develop and days are filled with certain responsibilities of varying importance. Making adjustments for new demands on our time can be difficult, especially as we get older.

Our new pastor has many ideas and goals he wishes to accomplish in our parish. He has been here less than three months, and already I have been asked to assist with a number of projects. So far, I have been given a box of 13 video tapes to review for possible use in catechesis, been asked to serve on two commissions, assist with building a new confessional, recruit men for a proposed St. Joseph Club to meet on Saturday mornings, and help organize an effort to dedicate every home in the parish to the Sacred Heart. I was even called to the rectory at 10:30 one night to disconnect a faulty light fixture. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind helping out where I can, but at some point, time becomes a premium. I also maintain the parish webpage, assist in the selection of music for the weekend Masses, help out the choir and repair the antiquated church organ. We also have a St. Vincent de Paul conference of which I am a member.

Outside the parish, I work full time, serve on a civic board, do community service, write for a blog that I like to keep up at least monthly, and have a family I like to see once in a while. I have the usual chores around the house and yard work in the summer. People often assume I will take care of certain things, and I do to the best of my ability. One might think I am busy twenty-four hours and day, seven days a week, but I am not, and that brings me to a conundrum. How much is too much? When is it okay to say no? Should I feel guilty because I enjoy one or two evenings a week when I can come home from work and relax?

There is no doubt that most of us spend way too much time wrapped up in the ways of the secular world at the expense of our spiritual health. Our pastor has lamented the fact that efforts to provide spiritual enhancement for our parish go unappreciated. It is difficult to get people to attend parish events, faith formation classes, even Eucharistic adoration. It is quite sad actually. And yet, I find myself feeling a certain dread about further impositions on my time when these opportunities arise.

Earlier this month, a couple in a neighboring town offered an opportunity to honor the birthday of our Blessed Mother with a Sunday Rosary and luncheon in their garden. Our pastor encouraged members of our parish to attend. The next day at end of the weekday Mass commemorating Our Lady’s birth, our pastor asked how we would feel if someone planned a birthday party for us, and no one showed up. I am assuming from his comment that the Rosary was poorly attended. I don’t know because I did not attend either. Is our Blessed Mother offended or disappointed that I did not go? I hope not. I do try to pray the Rosary about four times a week.

I guess the point of all this is that I feel a little burned out at times. I realize my priorities are not in the best of order and that brings on some good old fashioned Catholic guilt. Does Our Lord want me to jettison a few responsibilities in order to spend more time in prayer or adoration, or can I do as well by serving others? Is it okay to reserve some down time for myself, or am I being wasteful if I lie on the sofa to watch a ballgame? I need to give all of this much more thought, but right now I don’t have time.