As in life, we all need rules in our homes. Everything and everyone would decend into chaos without them. So, as parents, we discern the best rules and routines to establish in our family life. No doubt we come up with good ones that serve admirable purposes. But it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that there is one rule that should govern and give meaning to all others — the rule of charity.
Love. “For the greatest of these is love,” writes the Apostle Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians. One of the reasons we establish rules in our households is to support the development of virtue in all its members. However, it is impossible to truly develop any other virtue without love. For as St. Paul says earlier in that same passage, though I may do any number of worthy things “but have not love, I am nothing.”
I recently came across these words of St. Vicent de Paul:
“Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity.” (Epistle 2546)
I sat with these words for a moment, contemplating their relevance to my family’s life. Most of our rules and routines at home stem from a spirit of love. In fact, because we love our children we establish rules that will move them toward truth, goodness, and beauty. But I realize that in the middle of enforcing rules and the disciplining that comes when they are broken, I can often find myself removed from (dare I say in conflict with) the loving intentions that birthed the rules from the beginning. Continue reading
It is that time of year. Summer is coming to a close, and Labor Day is right around the corner. The back-to-school, back-to-sports, back-to-busy-days time of year is nearing. And that usually means that we have to adjust our schedule — or actually create one. This process can often induce a couple of different reactions, depending on your personality. If you are a super-planner, you get jazzed and your new calendar gets a color-coded overhaul of when and where you do what. If you are not a planner (the word “agenda” makes your skin crawl), you immediately start flinching at the thought of being confined to a “rigid schedule.”
But I want to suggest an approach to our daily schedules that is neither rigid nor non-existent. I would call it living with intention. Being an intentional person is a lifestyle that encompasses much more than just how we schedule our time, but for now I’m just going to apply this concept to how we intentionally schedule activities. Being intentional does require some amount of structuring our time (sorry, free-spirits, if that is not what you wanted to hear), but that doesn’t mean creating rigid schedules that don’t allow for buffer time or flexibility to enjoy the activities and people that pop-up unexpectedly. Continue reading
I recently held a local workshop focusing on how to rightly order the important things amidst urgent tasks in daily personal and family life, and one of the topics we discussed was our misuse of time. We often claim that we don’t have enough hours in a day, and we also seem to believe that just a little bit more time would relieve the pressure that we feel to accomplish all we need to do. I’m going to free you of the wishful thinking for the impossible — these beliefs are false!
We don’t need more time; we need to prioritize the time that we have. More time wouldn’t diminish interruptions and distractions; it would just create more. One of the reasons that our domestic churches aren’t thriving is because we are making poor use of our hours and minutes in daily and weekly life.
Author Charles Hummel wrote, “…everyone has all the time there is — twenty-four hours a day. But what an astonishing variety in our use of that time and the results of our choices!” He goes on to say that, in the end, “how we use our time depends on our goals. We make the hours count for what we think is important” (The Tyranny of the Urgent).
What I think that he is hitting upon is this: we might say that certain things are our priorities; but ultimately, our use of time reveals the things that truly are most important to us. I think that we are mostly unconscious of this, letting urgent needs or what is most compelling at the moment be the thing to which we turn our attention. The good news? We can begin redeeming our time at any moment. I have a couple of general principles for doing just that, as well as a tool that I think can help us. Continue reading