by Father Peter J. Daly
I wish I could find time to pray.
I wish I could find time to think.
I also wish I could find time to read, exercise, write and sleep.
It seems like there is never time for any of those things.
Busy people are stretched. The life of a parish priest, like the life of a parent of young children, is filled with interruptions. Whatever is at the door or on the phone or pops up on the computer screen always seems to demand our attention. It always seems more urgent than praying, reading, thinking, exercising or writing.
And yet, without prayer, reflection, exercise and study, we dry up. Pretty soon we have nothing much to offer.
Parish priests are no different from any number of other busy people. Public officials, doctors and teachers, to name a few, all find themselves busy with moment-to-moment demands and hardly able to study or reflect.
Lots of people feel like they are a day late and a dollar short.
But if we look at our lives carefully, there probably is time. We just have to rearrange.
First of all, there is the television.
Since I eat alone, I watch TV during meals. But there is always that distraction time, late in the evening when the TV eats up an hour.
If I went to bed earlier and kept the TV off, I would have more time for sleep and prayer. The tube is mostly a waste of time.
Then, there is the computer. Too much time is spent on e-mail and searching websites. One thing always leads to another.
It is best to confine e-mail to a half-hour in the morning, best to not get on Facebook or Twitter at all, and best not to text unless necessary.
Technology is a great “junk time” waster.
There is also the calendar. Use it.
Scheduling prayer, exercise, study and writing on the calendar is not a bad idea. If we treat those things like appointments, we might actually do them. After all, we schedule Mass each day, and we manage to make it to Mass.
Why not schedule evening prayer and reading time?
People might think that this is being selfish, but it is necessary.
Long ago, I started setting aside time for homily preparation. It is absolutely necessary. Scheduling helps.
Finally, there is the grace-filled little word “no.” By saying “no” to some things that are not central to our lives will mean more time for the things that are central.
Recently, someone called me and asked if I could lead a parish mission in another state. No.
Can you be on our committee or write an article or take another job? No.
Because I need time to pray, think, exercise, write and sleep. I will be a better priest and a better person if I concentrate on those things.