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We Live in a Busy World

In mid-October, I went on retreat for a week.  I was at a place in Pennsylvania on a quiet road surrounded by woods.  It was very peaceful and I was able to do a lot of spiritual reading and fruitful reflection.

Then, I came back to St. Michael’s in Newark, NY and have been the busiest I have been since I became the pastor here at the end of June.  Your first thought here might be to think the busyness is because I was away for a week and needed to catch up.  Actually, only a little of the busyness had anything to do with being away.  The rest has been just a convergence of meetings ranging from having some parishioners confirmed at the Cathedral to a quarterly financial meeting to a special deanery meeting.  No one of these required a tremendous amount of my time.  It just all added up to a lot.  It also happens that I am doing my next adult faith presentation this week (“The Roots of Catholic Social Teaching”) but I did a lot of the preparation for the presentation before I went on retreat.

Lest you think I’m writing tonight just to complain about being busy I am not.  I do have a point.  When I get busy, I get irritable.  This might sound like a normal reaction and, in a way, it is.  What I want to mention here is why I think I get irritable.  Certainly, it starts with the fact that when I get busy, I feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done.  I’ve gotten better here about realizing that not everything needs to get done right away.  Still, when I get busy, I find myself rushing through things just to get them done.  That means I might make mistakes or, at the very least, don’t give something the attention it deserves.  What I most worry about here is that when I am busy, I find it difficult to give things the deeper thought that I feel they deserve.

I do my best to prioritize.  This can be a challenge for all of us.  Then, there is the person who thinks their situation is an “emergency” so I rearrange my schedule to meet with them only to feel like whatever their issue is, it isn’t an “emergency” to me.  I emphasize to me because this is a place of learning for me in the last couple weeks of busyness.  Through God’s grace I realized there were two reasons it wasn’t an emergency for me.  First, it wasn’t “my” problem.  Secondly, they involved situations I had expressed with other people.  They were bad situations where they did need some spiritual advice. It really was urgent for them.  I just had seen similar situations before so I can see a path forward easier than they could, which, as I think about it, is the very reason they came to me, hoping that I could give them some advice.

As I think about it, I just thought about a third reason the situation didn’t seem like an emergency to me.  Both in my own life before I was a priest and through my ministry as a priest, I have come to realize that many things just aren’t as urgent as I first think them to be.

So. in a way, I am thankful for the people who came to me recently with their “emergency” so I could discover what I have just shared with you and to remember, if I let him, God will help me through it all to get done what really needs to be done.


Fr. Jeff

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