Lenten Procrastination

By Father John Donovan/ SUN contributing writer
Throughout the month of March I am scheduled to give several different talks, reflections and retreats that require separate preparation, study and time to think. I have barricaded myself away with my resources and computer to prepare my outlines, reflect and eventually write. I have been extremely busy and many have commented even anti-social. Yet, what I have “accomplished” is improving my solitaire and hearts skills, reading about topics that are unrelated to those I must prepare, have given exegetical and anthropological lectures rather than homilies and now possessing a very clean car and quarters. My income taxes are looming as well and there are elements of my job I have not even begun to approach. My form of procrastination, or as I like to refer to as processing my thoughts, is to busy myself further with other work rather than sit down and do what may be unpleasant. The unpleasantness for me is not the varied topics, it is the commitment to words I will use and insecurity that it could be less than perfect.

Our Lenten exercises of prayer, almsgiving and penance also loom. There are certain disciplines that traditionally I will follow in the season. The sacrifices I may make are a bit of struggle now and then, and with the occasional sighting of purple there are reminders of what I need to be doing. There is an element of Lent that reminds me of my imperfection, that I strive for in so many other ways. Often, my words and thoughts tell me “I have got it, it is done, gone forgotten.” Yet, my heart tells me; “wrong again, it is still there, it still needs to be accomplished.”

As unpleasant as it can be, to dredge up hurts and anger, why isn’t it easier to let go of them. Just as I think I have extended forgiveness, I dwell and fester and am no further ahead. Lent is a time to address these things head on and take the action. Yet, procrastination, fear, doubt, sometimes prevent us from doing this, can we admit that we are less than perfect, maybe even culpable?

Men and women have come forward seeking assistance in discernment regarding vocations. Often they express the lack of confidence that they are good enough to be of service to the church. For you see, they are less than perfect. To one and all, yes, we are less than perfect, we procrastinate and deceive ourselves thinking we can be perfect. Listen to the words of Peter in the scriptures, in full humanity, there is less than perfect. Was he not too called? Could you be as well?

As much as we may procrastinate our tasks, this Lent, be open to addressing why. In our humanity, we are called, less than perfect as we are, to take the risks, meet the challenges. Be it forgiving a hurt, overcoming a disappointment or insecurity or contemplating our vocation, let’s not put it off. Let’s get to work!

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