The first time I started my novice training in Carmel, my instructor said "No one is ever going to print you a Thank You Note in the Church Bulletin for completing your quiet prayer time, but you still need to do it!" I assumed that idea also applied to canceling church volunteer projects in order to attend to the needs of my individual family. Yet here is the actual email correspondence with my priest last week.
Setting: There is a desperate need for volunteers to take the Eucharist to our local hospital. This once a year training meetings has sat on my calendar for 3 months. Fifteen minutes before I am supposed to leave, I finally accept that my four month old son is not going to cooperate that day. I wrote my parish priest the following email.
Sorry, I had to cancel my plans to attend your Hospital Ministry today. I have a colicky newborn son who won't settle today.
I believe I'll need to postpone my involvement in this service for at least six months because my son is pretty unpredictable and has high needs. In the meantime, I'll have lots of opportunity to pray and offer up sacrifices for this ministry.
Thank you for all your work in bringing Hope to the sick.
Here is my reply:
Glory be to Jesus Christ! You have chosen well. Your vocation should come before your apostolate. Prayer is important! As Tennyson wrote: "More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of." May God bless you and your family!"
Knock me over with a feather! When does someone THANK me for putting my high needs baby ahead of filling a spot in a thin volunteer schedule? But it's right. There is a orderly process for service work (or charity, as we call it in Catholic lingo).
If you have some hidden act of service in your life that is keeping you from signing up for volunteer projects that you want to do and getting your name printed in the Thank You Box of the church bulletin, please consider this post as your personal thank you note! Thank you for keeping things in their correct order! Don't get discouraged. When you have a prayerful heart, you are connected to the whole world. Remember that "more things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of."