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Back in 1977, when I was a graduate business student, one of my professors taught us a saying that he felt was vital for us to understand: “Time is a statement of priority.” It’s really quite simple: The way we spend our time says a lot about what we consider important—and what we don’t.
As we examined time and priority, we reviewed some studies on the matter. We found that approximately two-thirds of most people’s time goes to work and sleep. That leaves one third, about 55 hours per week, for everything else. Leisure, exercise, and hobbies take up about 20 hours. Meals account for another 15 hours. So now we’re left with just 20 hours out of a 166-hour week. Chores require about 7 hours; caring for other people about 5 hours; and miscellaneous items take up about 8 hours.
Of course, these are averages; your usage may differ. Still, the point is clear: our lives are awfully busy. Most people have a hard time squeezing anything extra into their days, including time with Jesus.
A Plan for Lent. What does this have to do with Lent? Everything! Lent offers us the perfect opportunity to step back from our everyday responsibilities and assess our spiritual well-being. “How can I know, love, and serve God better? How can I be a better person, a better parent, a better priest or religious, and a better servant for the poor?”
It’s not just the Church asking us to do this; it’s Jesus himself. He is asking us to look at our schedules and find the time to pray a little more because prayer brings us into his presence. He is asking us to decide on a particular fast because fasting produces miracles. He is asking us to hear the cry of the poor because he has a special love for all the hungry, homeless, and needy people in the world.
I’m sure you agree that the way we spend our time reveals our priorities. I’m also sure you agree that it’s good to step back from our daily responsibilities to see if we are giving sufficient time to the most important priorities—to Jesus, to our families, and to the mission of the Church.
That’s why we need to make a plan for Lent. We need to look at our schedules and make time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It’s also why we should examine our lives and ask, “Am I giving sufficient time to the highest priorities in my life?”
If you set up a Lenten plan for yourself and your family, you will be blessed. You will find yourself more peaceful, more considerate, and more loving. And just as important, you’ll also find yourself less irritable, less anxious, and less selfish. All because God fills us with living water when we seek him.
I hope that this special Lenten edition will help you set time aside for Jesus. May we all see miracles in our homes, our parishes, and our world during this season of grace!