Daring to Make Time for What Really Matters

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Daring to Make Time for What Really Matters


There is a paragraph in Evangelii Gaudium that every Catholic- lay, consecrated and ordained- should spend time reflecting on. Quite a few paragraphs, actually, but the one I’m referencing is this:

"At a time when we most need a missionary dynamism which will bring salt and light to the world, many lay people fear that they may be asked to undertake some apostolic work and they seek to avoid any responsibility that may take away from their free time. For example, it has become very difficult today to find trained parish catechists willing to persevere in this work for some years. Something similar is also happening with priests who are obsessed with protecting their free time. This is frequently due to the fact that people feel an overbearing need to guard their personal freedom, as though the task of evangelization was a dangerous poison rather than a joyful response to God’s love which summons us to mission and makes us fulfilled and productive. Some resist giving themselves over completely to mission and thus end up in a state of paralysis and acedia.” (81)

We should all sit and examine our consciences with these words. Laziness can hit us all, and it is not always apparent to us when we are caught up in a “culture of wellbeing,” to borrow a phrase Pope Francis has used elsewhere.

I know that I am not immune to it.

My wife and I were leading a training day in the Alpha course last weekend in Ottawa. We spoke a lot about the New Evangelization and about Evangelii Gaudium, and at one point my wife went off script and got emotional.

She spoke about how we often will say that we have no time. “But when something is really important, we make time!” she said. “We make time for what matters!"

She’s right, you know. And she would know. As she was assisting me in hosting this day she had our 1-month-old son in tow, nursing and changing him between talks.


Loved to share the stage with this beauty at #RunAlphaOttawa. #whatawife

A photo posted by Josh Canning (@catholicjosh) on

Now she’s a tank, and few people are as high-capacity as she is, but her point stands. If we care about bringing people to Jesus, we will make time to do it.

Have you avoided apostolic work that would make demands on your free time? Make you haven’t thought it, but have you behaved as though the task of evangelization was “a dangerous poison”?

Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Am I helping out with some evangelization program at my church, or somewhere else?
  • Am I reading important documents to help myself develop as a missionary disciple? (Eg. Evangelii Gaudium!)
  • Am I feeling defensive at the very idea that I should be doing something with my time other than what I feel like?

There are definitely times when I’d like to flee responsibility in mission. In complete honesty, there are many times that I don’t feel qualified to lead and I’d rather anyone else take the torch. Having a very real fear of public speaking, any time I have to speak to a large group, 95% of me wants to duck out of it.

But if I do, how can I expect other people to do it?

'Though it is true that this mission demands great generosity on our part, it would be wrong to see it as a heroic individual undertaking, for it is first and foremost the Lord’s work, surpassing anything which we can see and understand. Jesus is “the first and greatest evangelizer”. In every activity of evangelization, the primacy always belongs to God, who has called us to cooperate with him and who leads us on by the power of his Spirit. The real newness is the newness which God himself mysteriously brings about and inspires, provokes, guides and accompanies in a thousand ways. The life of the Church should always reveal clearly that God takes the initiative, that “he has loved us first” (1 Jn 4:19) and that he alone “gives the growth” (1 Cor 3:7). This conviction enables us to maintain a spirit of joy in the midst of a task so demanding and challenging that it engages our entire life. God asks everything of us, yet at the same time he offers everything to us.’ (12)

In this task, let us accept that it is so demanding that it engages our entire life. And let’s say yes to the Lord, because he always provides for more than he asks of us.

Let’s make time for what matters.


Related articles: The New Evangelization Entails Pain; and You Need to Embrace the Crisis that Wrecks You

She went off script and got emotional, saying "We make time for what matters!" Does evangelization matter? — Josh Canning

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