Before I began to discern my calling to the priesthood, God introduced me to the most special lady that I had then chanced to meet, nor in the interim have I ever met her equal. God has blessed us with three beautiful, intelligent and wonderful children; all the while setting us on a path that has led us to the place where we are today.
Now, as a parish priest, I recognize that God has additionally called me to serve Him and His people in many wonderful and sometimes challenging ways. It does not mean that my commitment to the vows that I made to Samantha or the commitment that I have made to my children are any less, but it does mean that there is not nearly enough hours in the day to do everything that I would like to do.
Prioritization, therefore, becomes the operative word. On any given day, some of my priorities are going to change based on what may be expected of me or what is on the calendar. Wednesday, for example is a day that is largely consumed with preparation for that night’s Mass and Bible Study. Friday, barring a pastoral need, belongs to my family, and I try to devote that day as much as possible to helping around the house, helping with school, playing with the kids and spending time with my wife. Some days, the plan with which I start barely survives the light of day; that’s just the way life goes.
But as important as my wife, my children and my parish family are to me, there can only be one absolute priority that trumps all else; and by doing so gives everything else its meaning: GOD. By giving God our first attention, we open ourselves to His Grace which makes possible all the things that He has for us to do. He makes it possible to weather the storms of life and to delight in the simple pleasures that can too often pass us by if we are not paying attention.
When we awake in the morning and give thanks to Him for the night just passed and praise to Him for the promise of the day to come; when we seek Him out for strength in the face of a difficult problem or a dreaded task; when we ask for forgiveness and pray for his mercy; when we worship Him to the exclusion of all the distractions and temptations of this world; in these ways do we actively make God the priority in our lives.
To be a bit more specific, Dear Reader, may I suggest that we must commit to spend time with Him every day. In the Anglican tradition we do this in the Daily Office, prayers that are offered to God both morning and evening. To that end, we offer Morning Prayer at Christ Memorial every weekday at 7:30AM in St. Anne’s Chapel. We also spend time with God by reading and studying Holy Scripture, attending Bible study and Sunday School, and by following the examples of the Saints who have come before us.
We must give Him the worship that He has required of us. God set aside the Sabbath so that we would have time to worship Him, and so that we would have time to appreciate the gifts that he has given to us, like our families for example. There are many things that compete for our attention, but on Sunday, our attention should be fixed squarely on God.
We should give thanks to Him for His bounty by dedicating to Him the first fruits of our labor. The tradition and doctrine of the Church recognizes the tithe (10%) as the minimum that each of God’s people should give back to God through His Church. This is not a tax or dues that are owed so that we can be members; rather, it is a recognition that everything we have and everything we are is because of Him and Him alone.
Remember, Dear Reader, that God loved the world enough to send His only Son to die upon the cross for our sins so that we might live. Making Him the priority in our lives seems to be the least that we can do in return.