In prior columns, I’ve explored the ideas of a morning offering and of time set aside to listen and hear God. Now, for the “plan” part of the plan for a peaceful home.
We begin by offering the day to the Lord, opening ourselves to the grace He freely offers and ensuring that even our failures are redemptive. Then, during a time of spiritual reading and meditation, we listen to Him, and we resolve to do whatever He tells us to do that day. Usually, I write this resolution in a little notebook, where I can refer to it and remind myself of it throughout the day. The resolution fits within the context of my daily life, my work in the world, my vocation in the home. And it’s that “daily life” component that needs a clear direction.
Several times a year, as the seasons change or my children enter significant new stages or my husband’s work schedule changes, I sit down and write out a master view of the way life should go. This is a thinking activity. I plot in the sports practices and ballet lessons. I think through household tasks and determine a way to make them household routines.
As much as possible, I aim to make habits of as many duties as I can. I know that once something is a habit, once it is done in the same way at the same time over and over again, it is not nearly so difficult to accomplish. But habits begin as intentions and all of life works better if it’s lived intentionally.
This thought process might take a great deal of time the first time it’s done. For many women, planning incorporates several segments of a busy life. There are plans for children’s activities, their schooling, their chores. There are grocery plans and meal plans — hopefully one correlated to the other.
There are household management, meals, and yard and garden plans. In many households, there is Dad’s work plan and there is Mom’s work plan. Each component requires consideration of unique intentions. And then, they must be meshed into a coherent master plan.
It sounds daunting, and very time consuming and it can be. But once the time is invested, the plan “pays for itself” in time saved. No longer is there a fruitless scramble to do the important things. No longer is there an expensive last minute carryout dinner. No longer is someone digging through the laundry pile, hoping to find a pair of clean socks. Once the plan is written, it’s offered to God first thing in the morning and we beseech Him to help us have the discipline to stick to it.
St. John Bosco writes, “During the day we practice what we have resolved to do in the morning. We also have to bestir ourselves to expressions of love, gratitude and humility toward God, ask Him for as many graces as (we) may need. Let us always remember that God is our Father, and we are His children.”
We beg God to help us to discern His will from moment to moment. Sometimes, answering His call means that we deviate from our plan. I’d even go so far as to say that it often means that in a household with small children. God knows there will be interruptions, deviations and reconsiderations. He wants to meet us in those moments and show us the way He wants us to travel. Without the original plan though, we might never even find ourselves at the crossroads. The original plan sets out on a purposeful journey.
We bestir ourselves continuously to expression of love, gratitude and humility. Traditionally, Catholics pray the Angelus at noon and the chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 p.m. Many families pray a rosary in the evening. It is a beautiful habit to say grace before meals. These can all be planned “points of pause” to deliberately place ourselves in the presence of God. When we’re tuned in spiritually, we will naturally call upon Our Lord and the saints throughout the day, offering silent prayers of petition and praise, and weaving them into the tapestry of a holy, peaceful life.
We need to have a plan. The master plan can be created once and revised seasonally. But it must be consulted daily. How many of us fall into the trap of planning, planning, planning and then failing to execute because we don’t really even try to follow the plan?
The plan promises peace; why not claim the peace it promises? Why not move myself beyond the inertia of indecision and lack of resolve? I want to prayerfully plan and then to prayerfully go about my daily rounds. God wills it. I look forward with confidence to the peace I’m promised.