I went to Eucharistic Adoration this morning with a sincere desire to be still and listen. I have too much “noise” in my life these days and I wanted to offer up my burdens in prayer to our Lord, ask for help and patiently listen for His response. My mind remained calm and peaceful for only a short period of time before the usual cacophony of annoying voices in my head began to sound off with, “Why hasn’t Jesus answered me yet?”, “I wonder if my 9:00 am meeting will go well.”, “I have a million emails to answer.” and “I wonder what’s for dinner.” I was in the chapel for five minutes and I was already in trouble!
Rather than give in to frustration, I decided to think about my actions recently and examine where I was falling short. I said a quick prayer and asked for guidance as I replayed the events of the last several months in my mind. What I realized as I recalled the highly caffeinated and frantic pace I have been keeping was that I was acting like the workaholic I thought I had rid myself of several years ago when I converted to the Church. Instead of enjoying the quiet prayer and reflection I so dearly love early in the morning, I was filling that time with work on the Integrated Catholic Life eMagazine, answering emails, doing research on a book I am writing and planning for the 3rd Annual Atlanta Catholic Business Conference which was held on January 29th. The Jesuit Daily Examen that provided me brief moments of prayer and reflection throughout my busy day has recently been crowded out by meetings, calls and other excuses. The laptop has been getting pulled out lately right after the kids go to bed rather than my usual 9:30 p.m. This is the time when my wife and I usually enjoy some quiet time together. I feel like I am racing towards the cliff and I need a course correction.
Quiet prayer was not working and reflecting on my recent hectic schedule was a little deflating. So, I decided to focus on my spiritual reading to look for inspiration and help. I have found great comfort and wisdom for over five years in the writings of Francis Fernandez and his wonderful series of books, In Conversation with God. I turned to the meditation for today in Volume 3 which is on the dignity of work. The light bulb went off for me a few minutes later as I read the passage I so desperately needed: “Work should not take up so much of our day that it occupies the time that should be dedicated to God, to the family, to our friends… If this should happen it would be a clear sign that we are not sanctifying ourselves through our work, but rather we are simply seeking self-satisfaction in it. It would be another form of corruption of that divine gift. This deformation is perhaps more dangerous in our day because of the false reasons for which many people work. We, ordinary simple Christians in the middle of the world, should never forget that we must find Christ each day in and through our occupation, whatever it may be.” I have allowed myself to think that my hard work in my professional career and service to the Church was always for others, when perhaps one of my motivations has been for my own self-satisfaction. It is hard to admit, but I think there is some truth to it.
I circled back in my mind to how I had begun my hour of Adoration when I asked our Lord for help. From the gift of self-awareness he gave me in reflecting on my recent behaviors, to the realization that I need to make some changes and the epiphany He revealed to me in the writings of Francis Fernandez, Jesus absolutely answered my prayer today. He gave me everything I asked for and everything He knew I needed. I have some hard work and a lot of prayer in front of me to make the necessary changes. I usually share practical suggestions and action items in my writing on how we can effectively live out our faith or make changes, but not this time. I need to restore peace and a sense of balance. I will detach myself from the world a little, place Christ back at the center of my life where He belongs and offer up my work for His glory (and not my self-satisfaction). Please keep me in your prayers as I will pray for all of you who may be struggling with the same problem.
I will share more on this challenge in the months ahead…