When you work for the Church, there’s a fundamental disconnect between what you are doing and the liturgical calendar. Before you object, let me explain. Your job and your spiritual celebrations don’t operate on the same calendar. By October, if you haven’t already planned Advent and have a good start on Christmas, you are way behind.
It’s the same for Easter and Pentecost and Ordinary Time and all the rest of the liturgical year. In order for the people in the parish to celebrate the liturgical events and seasons when they are supposed to, you have to plan months in advance, which means you are often out of synch personally. If you’ve ever thought about ordering the ashes for Ash Wednesday as you sang carols during Christmas Midnight Mass, you know what I mean.
While this same sort of disconnect happens in other areas, like retail sales, it’s especially hard for those of us who work for the Church. We want to participate fully in both the planning and the actual celebrations. We want to partake of all the excitement of the proper season, but our mental energies are often months ahead.
It can be frustrating.
Here are three ways that have helped me—and others—cope with this unique stress.
- Don’t try to celebrate while you plan. Although it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of planning, remember it’s still just planning. Don’t hum Christmas carols under your breath even if you are looking at what decorations you’ll be using for Advent. Treat the planning as a job and keep the actual celebrations for their proper time.
- Plan as far in advance as you can. While that sounds somewhat contradictory, it really isn’t. If you’ve planned your Mardi Gras Party in July, when Maudy Tuesday actually comes around, there will be enough time lapsed so that the event will seem fresh and fun to you. If you plan only a week or two in advance, then it really will seem like Groundhog Day and you are reliving the same event over and over.
- Focus on the spiritual when the actual events happen. Sometimes we get so burned out by all the “stuff” we have to do to pull off a successful parish-wide celebration, it really isn’t “fun” for us anymore. If that happens, shift your focus from the activities to the spiritual meaning behind it all. It might not make it more fun, but it will put your mind and heart in the proper place.
Sometimes we who work for the church have to make that sacrifice so that others can experience the celebration. It’s part of our job…but it can become part of our joy as well.