A friend once shared a memorable quote by a bishop who was preaching on the importance of making time for prayer and being with Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. The good bishop said, “If you want to show the Lord you love him, you have to spend time with him. Love is spelled T-I-M-E.”
These words should resonate especially in our modern day where a plethora of distractions often leave Our Lord and our families competing for our time and attention. Whatever the distraction may be in the moment (perhaps it’s reading this article) we should pause and ask ourselves, what’s so important that neither God nor my family could possibly interrupt? Can that email or phone call wait until tomorrow? Does that text message need an immediate reply? How many more Facebook videos do you need to flip through before you realize you’ve lost track of time (notice the clock on your phone is hidden when you enter the video feed)? Or how about the porn addiction you’ve been hiding from your spouse? Are these and similar distractions more self-affirming and life-giving than the family waiting for you at home or the Lord who waits for you patiently in every tabernacle?
Sadly, these distractions have transformed us into the “busybodies” St. Paul riles against in his letter to the Thessalonians:
“We hear that some of you are leading undisciplined lives and accomplishing nothing but being busybodies.”2 Thessalonians 3:11
As fallen men, it’s inevitable that we’re often quick to give a million reasons for doing what we shouldn’t instead of doing what we ought. Also, is it any wonder how despite all the advancements of modern ingenuity that we still feel less productive and accomplished? Why is that? Have the fruits of modernity produced anything that makes life more meaningful than for prior generations? How has modern culture helped families spend more time together, love our children and our spouses better, and urged us on to the sanctity God demands of us?
The answer is it hasn’t. However it’s not really the fault of where we happen to fall in the annals of history or the present state of the culture, but has everything to do with intentionality and action. The church and the world is in need of noble men of holy intentions and virtuous actions.
When we’re with our families are we present and engaged or are we spectators simply passing the time? Do we listen intently to our loved one’s needs or are we anticipating another email or text, or sitting on the couch with our noses in our Twitter feeds? Do we preoccupy ourselves with holy thoughts or with earthly concerns that fade into the night?
Of all the gifts we can give to our family, as the good bishop reminds us, none is more significant than the gift of our time. Being intentional means giving our time to the people and things that matter most and is our way of saying to them “you matter to me and my time with you is important.” One of the first principles of St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises states that “the way we prove to God our love is not by words but by actions.” This principle, as with God, holds true in our relationships with our families and friends.
From now onward, take a few minutes each day to reflect on the people and things that matter most while making an offering to the Lord and our loved ones through the generous gift of our time.