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Constancy is a gift. Ask for it!

January 14, 2008

Chers Amis,

January’s crisp air was so clean and full of promise! The skeins of tangled Christmas lights had been stowed in the attic and the minimalistic look in my yet empty living room was down right therapeutic after the joyous sensory overload of the holidays. It felt so liberating tearing my tattered tabbed 2007 pages from my Covey planner and snapping in the bright, firm 2008s,  I wanted to break into my rendition of "These are a few of my favorite things". A new start!  A clean desk!  Fresh, color-coded calender and To Do files! Joy!

Two weeks later – Real life (and hormones) return. The dog bites, the bees sting, and you’re feeling sad.    Last Saturday I was in one of those moods.  When you just feel down  – and drained – and ready to give up. Does this ever happen to you?  Blessedly, it was the second Saturday of the month so it was the day for my monthly, early morning spiritual retreat and Father spoke about the beauty and challenges of the New Year.   Each month, Father chooses a virtue.  January was Constancy. Without it, even our best plans and resolutions wither. I found Father’s talk so helpful, I thought I would share a little with you. 

Constancy is perseverance, fortitude, follow-through, finishing what you start, will power at work.  It is looking ahead to see if you have on hand what it takes to complete the task you’ve begun.  Then, it is asking yourself what motivation you need to fuel your work and whether or not you have purity of intention. Who are you doing this for and why? So often when we make our plans, they are just that, ours and we forget to pray, to focus the supernatural and spiritual dimension of all we do. If we want to grow in constancy and see the fruits of our plans, our number one priority should be prayer, taking the time to come closer to Christ. 

Sometimes it is HARD to find time for prayer and it seems like if I stop for 5 minutes my whole rhythm of the  day will be off.  It won’t. When I plan personal meditative prayer in my day it all flows better.  Life happens, but it is critical that we keep trying.   Father told a wonderful story about how he once took a friend to compete in a major US marathon.  He asked his friend what his best time was so he could meet him at the finish line and drive him home.  The friend told him and went and ran the race.  A few hours later, Father looked at his watch and realized he had better amble over to the appointed area as his friend should be arriving in 30-45 mins.  He was surprised to see his friend coming toward him at that moment.  He had already finished the race and looked refreshed.  Father asked if the runner realized that he had cut 30 min off his best time and if he was surprised.  Yes and yes.  His friend said that as he was running through the city he saw a church that he and Father had visited previously.  He stopped running and made a 5-10 minute visit to the Blessed Sacrament and then continued his race. Father was astounded and yet understood the power of putting God first in our schedule. This was obviously miraculous, but so is chasing, teaching, and loving small children 24/7 – just in less obvious ways.  Constancy is running the good race, struggling to the end without giving up to discouragement or indolence.  Running WITH God  and getting up when we fall.

When do you give up on resolutions?  I get so frustrated when things get difficult.  I begin to question if this was meant to be, if I am supposed to do this, why is it so hard?  Father talked about how the problem is usually a sense of weariness and discouragement or annoyance at repeated actions/efforts that seem fruitless.  This weakens the will and we decide to take a break or sleep in or quit. (Anyone?)  So how do we foster constancy and succeed with our plans?  Here are a few of the suggestions Father gave us:

  • Remember that perseverance is a gift from God that is acquired in prayer.  Ask for it!
  • Take your vacation in Heaven.  Life is short and eternity is long.  Get up and keep running.
  • Be courageous.  Be not afraid when things go wrong.  Look at what is going right.  (I have a bad case of the glass half empty syndrome when I’m down. Do you?)
  • We do need downtime – Plan breaks within structure. Put time for getting outside, taking a walk or run, seeing a moving IN YOUR SCHEDULE.  But choose something virtuous and healthy, don’t always be a couch potato.
  • Plan ahead and say ‘no‘ when you have to.  Ask "What does God want me to do."
  • Use the spiritual means available. Don’t squander graces you could obtain from the sacraments or prayer.
  • Delegate when you have to. Busy people often micromanage  (Who? Me?)  Give others the opportunity to serve.
  • Rapid Recovery – When you fall, get up as quickly as possible and don’t beat yourself up about it.
  • Have some system of accountability such as a friend/dh that can remind you about your plans
  • Smile and shine – try to do whatever you do with charity and elegance
  • Pay attention to the person you are with and turn off distractions. Be TRULY with them.
  • Do little hidden acts of charity
  • Do whatever it is with purity of intention, without pride or vanity. Do it for love of God and the other

So make plans, de-clutter, reorganize, resolve – and add a dose of Constancy.  I am going to do my best to finish what I start, especially the little things and to live "A work begun is a work finished." Constancy, as Martha would say, "Is a good thing" and it is one of my favorites – I just need more of it!



5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 14, 2008 7:23 pm

    I don’t remember how I stumbled across your blog, but this was exactly what I needed to hear today. Thanks for sharing.

  2. January 14, 2008 7:24 pm

    Beautiful Marjorie, happy new year and happy January!! love,

  3. January 15, 2008 8:10 pm

    Thank you for sharing what you heard at your retreat. This is a very encouraging post. I love the Sound of Music photo too.

  4. January 16, 2008 6:28 pm

    I really thought this post was great. I have it bookmarked and will return for inspriation.

  5. January 16, 2008 7:32 pm

    “Remember that perseverance is a gift from God that is acquired in prayer. Ask for it!”

    Thank you for sharing this. You have no idea how much I needed to read it.

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