What we set out to do doesn't get done, and a whole basketful of miscellaneous tasks takes its place. But if I've gone to Mass, I know that the day has not been wasted.
I definitely got it backwards, upside-down, and inside-out this year. Instead of committing to attending daily Mass for Lent, I started going the day after Easter. If truth be told, I probably could have made it a habit before. In fact, I know I could have. But probably not on Thursdays.
It's funny how easily Thursday meetings at 8 a.m. became my excuse for not going to Mass on the other four weekdays. Actually, it isn't funny at all. The word "sloth" comes to mind. But that's how at least some of us humans work, isn't it? We're experts at taking a small obstacle and turn it into a reason for not even trying. We let the fact that we can't do something every day keep us from doing it some days. Thursdays were that for me.
Now that I'm working independently, though, my schedule is largely what I make it. The Thursday morning meeting is no longer an excuse. So, I've been setting my alarm earlier and getting myself to 8 a.m. daily Mass -- except on Mondays, when the 12:10 Mass at another parish is my best option.
I can already see the benefits. I'm not starting the day telling myself how tired I am anymore. (If that isn't a perennial excuse for just about everything, I don't know what is!) But I'm also not starting my day's work with the sense that it all depends on me. Even though that's more true for me now than it's ever been before, morning Mass reminds me that I can and should depend on God.
Don't get me wrong, discipline and diligence are virtues. But the God who gives himself to me in Holy Eucharist will not abandon me to what I can muster through my own arms and ingenuity. My heavenly Father wants to provide for me, and I can trust that he will. Instead of rushing over to my desk with a mental list of what I can or will or might accomplish over the next eight hours, I can thank God first, and seek his counsel and direction. When I do, it changes everything because it changes me. I can receive not only the gifts of God but God himself. In time, I may even begin to understand how giving my gifts to God and neighbor is a poor substitute for giving him (and them) the substance of myself.
Some days are productive, and others just aren't. The day we anticipate and plan often has a way of getting away from us. What we set out to do doesn't get done, and a whole basketful of miscellaneous tasks takes its place. But if I've gone to Mass, I know that the day has not been wasted. And I know that even if I fail, there will be a place for me at the table of the Lord again tomorrow.
I also know that I am not alone. The people at Mass with me are traveling the same road. They are there to thank God and depend on his goodness and mercy just like I am. Even though we don't all know each other, when our pastor says, "Good morning, everyone," it feels like we are family. That's because we are.
This week, I caught myself thinking that I should skip Mass and catch up on some work I really need to get done. Old habits die hard, and good ones take a long time to establish. I expect the temptation to live my life on my own power will always be there. That energetic go-getter spirit is just part of my personality. But if there's anything that can rein all that in, I know I'll find it at daily Mass.
- Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a Catholic convert, wife, and mother of eight. Inspired by the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales, she is an author, speaker, and musician, and provides freelance editorial services to numerous publishers and authors as the principal of One More Basket. Find Jaymie on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.