I’ve been reflecting on a virtue or a habit that our family as a whole could improve upon during this season of Advent. I recently read an article titled, “No, You Are Not ‘Running Late,’ You Are Rude and Selfish.” by Greg Savage. Hmmm….is that me? Is that my family? Rude and selfish? Because we do “run late” quite frequently. Of course, having young children means that you will have the occasional diaper blowout, temper tantrum, or physical injury just as you’re ready to head out the door. No amount of preparation can eliminate those last minute schedule changers. And there are seasons in life, such as the first few months with a new baby, that are times of adjustment and require some flexibility. But as Savage says in his article, “I am not talking about the odd occasion of lateness. I am talking about people who are routinely late.” Have I used my children as an excuse for hanging on to the habit of being late?
Part of growing in love and purity is to grow in generosity and to become more self-donative. So I’ve started thinking about how our family can be more routinely on time or even (gasp!) early to events and appointments as a way of respecting others’ schedules.
The Gospel reading about the multiplication of the loaves reveals that Jesus can take anything we give Him, however little, and give us back even more than we need. Sometimes this just starts with a simple desire.
“My heart is moved with pity for the crowd…I do not want to send them away hungry for fear they may collapse on the way.” Matthew 15:32
Jesus wants to give us what we need. He doesn’t want our good intentions to collapse under the weight of anxiety, tension, or frustration. But we must go to Him first.
This morning, instead of hustling my children into coats at the last minute so we could run out the door at an approximate time and hope we hit all of the green lights to make it to school on time, I readied them first for a Morning Offering. Nothing elaborate or long, just this simple prayer gathered around our holy water font with coats on and ready to go at a designated time:
“O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, the reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our Bishops, and all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen.”
And it worked! We were in the van with plenty of time to drive to school. Best of all, we’d all had a moment to breathe together–a moment of space in the midst of our busy morning to let God in and give Him our day. We gave God our time, and He gave us the time we needed. I heard a priest say recently on EWTN radio, “If you make the Morning Offering, I guarantee you, your life will change.” Not only did our family make progress in correcting our habit of being late, we also made progress in our prayer life!
Will our habits change overnight for good? Probably not. But I’ve been taking note of how long it really takes us to get out the door, locating shoes well before it’s time to leave, and packing up diaper bags the night before a morning outing. It just takes a little more time and a little more planning with a large family, but I think we can make being on time a habit. And when we are inevitably late at some point? A humble apology filled with sincere concern for the other’s gift of time is in order.
I’m hoping that, with God’s help, our family will gradually improve in this area and become a little more generous and thoughtful along the way. If Jesus could multiply loaves, He can certainly multiply our time. We just have to give it to Him first.