Because 0.89% of My Time is Not Enough

Sometimes it’s dangerous putting a calculator into my hands. I can come up with some pretty wild ideas. This past Sunday, when visiting a different parish while on a trip to Georgia, the priest mentioned in his homily that if we only think about being Christians once a week during mass, then we are only giving Our Lord 52 hours a year, or only 2.167 days out of 365. Gulp! That’s nothing.

Later on, I played with this information a little bit. Figuring that sleep accounts for 8 hours a day, that leaves 16 hours a day for when I am actually awake. 16 hours times 365 days = 5840 hours a year that I am available to practice living life as a Catholic Christian. Now, if I only practice my faith by going to mass for 1 hour a week, as the priest mentioned, and I am only giving Our Lord 52 hours a year of my time, then 52 hours divided by 5840 hours equals 0.89% of my time.  Think about that for a moment.

How is that even remotely close to this?

Therefore, you shall love the LORD, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength. Take to heart these words which I enjoin on you today. Drill them into your children. Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:5-9)

If you said to yourself, it’s not, then you are thinking like me. Surely compartmentalizing our Catholic faith into just attending mass weekly is not enough to earn the “well done my good and faithful servant” kudos (Matthew 25:23). Nor is it enough time to fulfill the command to,

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19).

We have to do more. We have to find a way to give more of our time to the service of the Lord. One way is for us to consecrate our daily work to Him. Think about the number of hours we throw toward that task. At least 2080 hours a year. So up from .89% of our time to a whopping 36.5%. But even that is far from the mark.

I ran across this short poem by Toyohiko Kagawa recently that left me thinking,

I read in a book 
That a man called 
Went about doing good. 
It is very disconcerting to me 
That I am so easily satisfied 
With just 
Going about. 

Over the next few days, I intend to look into various ways to go about fulfilling the passage in Deuteronomy above. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

  • Athos

    Even as a Protestant pastor, I stood in wonder at people who wanted to be "saved" (i.e., avoid hell), but didn't really want spend actual TIME in the sacred precinct of church. Get real, Beavis! It was hard enough just getting to "preachin'" and/or Sunday School.I now find that Catholics occasionally rush into Mass somewhere by the Epistle Lesson, or – worse – during the homily, and leave before the final blessing. Again. if they don't want to spend time in contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament (what some wise person called "wasting time with God"), what makes anyone think they want to join the vast multitude of angelic beings all enjoying the Beatific Vision for Eternity? Not judgin', just askin'. And THIS before football season even starts … Cheers

  • Sarah Harkins

    Excellent post, Frank! It's a great call for all of us- no matter how much we do, do always strive for me and never be content to stay where we are in our spiritual journeys.

  • Allison

    As much as I enjoy our parish priest's homilies – and he is an EXCELLENT homilist – it always is interesting and refreshing to hear another parish priest's perspective on our faith.

  • Frank

    @Athos, that's the question I'm asking myself!@Sarah, "miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep."@Allison, Which is one of the blessings of going to mass when on vacation too. There just might be a message that one needs to hear from the same source, but at a different venue.

  • Will Duquette

    Hear, hear!I think under some circumstances, you can include sleeping as well. A number of the psalms address sleep. There's one from Night Prayer that talks about lying on your bed at night and pondering the Lord, and another that derides those who work long hours while the Lord showers blessings on others while they sleep. (That one seems to have to do with having many sons, so perhaps it's not exactly about sleep….)Point is, if you go to sleep with the Lord and wake up with the Lord, perhaps you can include the hours of sleep as well.

  • Michael (NZ)

    @ Frank…and promises to keep…Such considerations are worthwhile – making us think. As long as we don't go on a guilt trip now, because we may be doing less than what we could. Do keep on trying – do not confine our Creator to Mass or between two binders of a Book. But do keep on trying to do more, and if you fail now and then, remember: "A Saint is but a sinner, who never stopped trying"!

  • Anonymous

    One thing my Spiritual Director is telling me these days is "A friend is a mouse click away, family is a phone call away, Jesus is only an AWARENESS away". I have the problem of being able to 'pray' i.e. interact with Him only when I'm in a chapel / church etc. But if I could learn to be aware of His presence more often (since He's not limited by time, space or anything else), I am sure my 'prayer' would be so much more and I would move faster towards receiving that kudos.Rose

  • Frank

    @Rose, exactly!

  • Ready

    If we count sleep, the percentage drops even lower for most folks! :) I'm suddenly imagining the accuser on judgment day holding the calculator pictured above (and along with it, the pocket protector, etc.)Grace and peace to you all!

  • Allison

    The Liturgy of the Hours is a great tool for keeping us focused throughout the day. I especially love the night prayers."Lord,may our evening prayer come before youand let the faith our lips professlive in the prayerful thoughts of our hearts."~Liturgy of the Hours, Evening Prayer for Tuesday in Ordinary Time, Week IV

  • Anonymous

    The "easiest" way to stay always in the presence ofthe Lord ( by that I mean awareness…we are alwaysin His Presence) is to ask your Guardian Angel uponrising to give you little reminders through-out your day…just a whispered "Jesus" calls Him to mind…and acknowledges He is ever before you! Good post and excellent homily.

  • Frank

    Lots of great suggestions so far. Keep 'em coming!

  • ThereseRita

    As a sixty-year Catholic, I have to say that Commentor #1 is correct. Sad to say, like a married couple who take each other's presence for granted till one of them dies, most Catholics take the presence of the Lord Jesus in the Eucharist very much for granted. I often think of: "To whom much has been given…" The method of "awareness" that helps me the most during the day is to locate where the nearest Catholic Church is geographically from where I am. When I'm home, fortunately that's only a mile away. Then I just make Spiritual Communions throughout the day with Jesus present in that tabernacle. Of course, that's not necessary but it helps me focus. Its esp wonderful that our parish has bells that ring every hour during the day so that's a lovely reminder!

  • @GodnChzburgers

    Thoughtful post. But the NAB translation of Dt 6:7a, "Drill them into your children," had me laughing. I get the point – but it doesn't seem to fit in the words you expect to find in the Bible.

  • Anonymous

    To Anonymous: I had the same problem re having to be in a church.But this constant desire to be in His Presence took hold of me and going to Mass daily and Eucharistic Adoration paved the way for that Awareness during the day. It's just there all the time now.

  • Anonymous

    In our diocese, each parish has Eucharistic Adoration for one day (24 hours) a month; our parish adoration begins after the morning mass (about 9:00 to 9:15) and continues until about 8:15 to 8:20 the next morning. If our date falls on Sunday, the period of adoration is shortened, not starting until after the 1:30 p.m. Spanish mass, and interrupted by the 5:30 p.m. mass.Consider visiting the Lord Jesus for an hour (outside of the Sunday Mass) each month. It provides some quiet time to listen; maybe the King has a message for you. Even if not, He will notice that you are present (thought borrowed from St. Francis de Sales.)Raise your percentage from 0.89%!TeaPot562