Catholic Husband

Love / Lead / Serve

Scriptural Confession

I went to confession last weekend for the first time in many months. I try to go every other week, but things have been crazy busy. The priest was a visitor, whom I’d never met before. In our conversation, he quoted an obscure Bible verse, Malachi 3:8.

Thanks to my completion of the Bible in a Year last year, I immediately had context. After finishing my penance, I pulled out my Bible, and read the whole chapter.

What’s always incredible about the Bible is how timeless it is. It’s a story, a history, of a nation of people who are just like us. I may have better technology and living standards than they did, but I make the same mistakes.

Despite my failings, God always reminds me of the unfathomable depths of His mercy, greater than any sin I may commit. And if I doubt, I can read the words He spoke to the prophet Malachi thousands of years ago and half a world away, as if He spoke them just for me, “…put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.”

Five Minutes

Spirituality is a major component of what it means to be human. We have a connection with our Creator that is far more personal and intimate than any other in the created world. The main channel of building and developing this relationship is through our prayer life. As with all things in life, it ebbs and flows, and it becomes far too easy to let ourselves get in the way.

A prayer life is the cumulative efforts that we make to spend time with God. But prayer is far more simple. If you have five minutes to be quiet, to be still, and to raise your mind to God, that’s all you need.

Building anything great happens one step at a time. You don’t need a plan to get from where you are to your ideal prayer life. You just need five minutes, today, to start.

Potential Energy

The most enduring success that any of us can enjoy is often the result of extensive efforts over time. Years of quiet, diligent work results in “overnight success.” Although those around us can see the finished product, almost everyone misses the tiny wins that led to victory.

Sustaining any good habits over time, in pursuit of a personal goal, is never frictionless. Life ebbs and flows, with easy days and hard days. On the hard days, it’s easy to quit, especially if progress isn’t apparent. When we reach plateaus, we lose the instant feedback loop, and backsliding becomes a viable choice.

In those plateaus, it can be helpful to think of our good habits as potential energy. As I continue to store up daily reps of good choices, I build towards a brighter future. At some point, my body chemistry will be primed and ready to start losing weight again. Would I rather be firing on all cylinders or have to start cold? At some point, my spiritual life will reach spring again. Would I rather meet the change as a springboard to greater virtue, or have to start all over building a habit of prayer?

We can’t always see the change happening, especially within ourselves. The only thing that we can perceive is our daily actions, and the trajectory that they send us on. We can either be primed and ready for the next phase of growth, or start behind the 8-ball. Storing up potential energy now prepares us for the explosion of personal growth that’s right around the corner.

The Genius of Mass

Most Catholics ignore their obligation to go to Sunday Mass. Their reasons are myriad, but it’s a big mistake. Sunday Mass represents the most brilliant and disruptive hour of the entire week.

For 167 hours every week, we have ceaseless demands on our time. We have to menu plan, grocery shop, clean the house, do the laundry, drive the kids around, update the budget, answer email, work, wash the cars, mow the lawn, walk the dog, pick up the house, clean up messes, shop for clothes, open packages, order supplies, and so much more.

For one hour a week, we have to do none of that. We don’t have to worry about the report that’s due, the sink overflowing with dishes, or the cars that we haven’t waxed in nine months. It’s the one protected hour when we can finally rest.

This is a glimpse into the Heavenly reward that awaits the diligent among us; a total absence of busyness. Calm, stillness, peace. This is the genius of Mass, a weekly reminder that we don’t have to toil forever. Something much better awaits us.

Bottomless Tasks

I start every Monday with a fresh set of hours to work, and a full task list. As the week progresses, more and more tasks are added and a few get checked off. My task list will never be empty, and the sooner I accept that reality, the better.

Although most of us work in the knowledge economy, our labor is a production line. Things are completed, new things are added. There is no end until you change jobs or retire. That’s a good thing in that it ensures our economic viability. It’s a bad thing when we act like just *one* more hour will get us to where we need to be.

Life is impermanent, always ebbing and flowing. By definition, you’ll always be ahead of your work or behind it. Adding more hours to your schedule will get more done, but is unlikely to have an overall meaningful impact.

The best way to ensure your productivity and success at work is to take care of yourself. Don’t sacrifice exercise or family time for work; it won’t pay off. Don’t let laziness steal work time away from you, you can’t get it back. Accept that your task list will remain full, be grateful for the blessings of work, and do your best when the clock is running. Then, when work time expires, leave the rest. It’ll be there when it’s time to clock in again.