Idle hands are the devil's playthings.
The aspirancy period for my brothers and I in diaconate formation has officially ended. We now have the summer to prayerful discern if we wish to formally declare to the Church that we want to be ordained. At the end of the summer we will face our second scrutiny and the Church will determine if they want to officially invite us to candidacy for ordainment. Please pray for my brothers and me that the Holy Spirit guide each of us to the decision God wants us to make. Pray also for our spiritual protection as the spiritual attacks will increase the farther we travel down this road. You may believe that it is all mumbo-jumbo but I can tell you for a fact that the devil is real and he does not want good, ordained ministers.
Our summer assignment is to write a personal reflection on one of the daily scripture readings. Sunday’s reflection is to be a two page typed reflection. The goal of this exercise is to get us to start thinking as preachers who will one day be prepared to give a daily homily. For you non-Catholics a homily is akin to a pastor’s sermon except it is focused on the daily gospel readings and how they are relevant to our modern lives. We are not permitted to preach on whatever subject we choose. A good homilist is a godsend. A bad homilist is a cure for insomnia or worse.
On top of this we also are to pray the Liturgy of the Hours at least for the morning and evening periods. We are always encouraged to do more. We were warned about getting behind and missing multiple days. We had the same assignment last year, only with fewer days during the week required. I managed to do a reflection for every day during the summer last year and post them for others to read and respond to. Some of my brothers did likewise. We got in a pretty good habit and it wasn’t overly difficult to keep up with the assignment. This year it has been a bit tougher for me to keep my head above water.
During the last month or so of formation my work schedule started to ramp up. As soon as summer break hit so did my workload. I have been assigned as the point person on a very important project and I have had some late hours and increased travel. I have even had to do a few 24+ hour days. This has made it very difficult to get on a schedule of reading, reflecting, writing, and prayer. I am not worried that I will catch up but it is making me very conscious of my spiritual life.
One of my favorite instructors always says that if the devil can’t make you bad he will make you busy. I never fully grasped what that quote meant until this past week. The devil actually loves two types of holy men – the ones he can convince to walk away from their vocation and the ones he can corrupt in their vocation. If he can’t corrupt you he will make you busy.
A busy man quickly uses the time he would normally spend in prayer doing busy work. A busy man spends reflection time and time he normally spends with the Lord doing busy work. Once the devil is successful in getting a man to do busy work and stops him from his time of prayer and reflection he has started to corrupt him. Then once he can make you busy he can make you bad. A question you can ask any ordained man who has walked away from his vocation and get the same answer every time is when did you stop praying? It is a common thread for those who leave a religious life. The stronger the prayer life the stronger the spiritual life.
There are times where I get to the end of the day and I realize that I didn’t read the daily readings, I haven’t written my reflection, and I haven’t prayed the LOTH. How did the day get away from me? Then I examine my day. Did I eat today? Yes. Did I sleep? (most days) Yes. Did I watch TV or play any video games? Yes there to. Did I engage in any unnecessary social media or text messages? Of course I did. It becomes apparent very quickly that I don’t really have a problem with being busy but I have a priority problem. I must learn to reorder my day so that the big rocks go in the glass first. What are the big rocks? Eat, sleep, family, prayer, and exercise. I must reorder my life so that I touch each of those areas at least a little every single day. The more I touch those areas the happier a person I will be. Putting in a twenty hour day at the office never makes me happy. Reaching the line, “May the Lord bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.” always fills me with happiness. Everything else in my day is just filler.