The spiritual art of planning

Filed in Work by on January 29, 2014 3 Comments

plan by David Armano http://www.flickr.com/photos/7855449@N02/5042953763/

Nowadays, a lot of my life involves scheduling, planning, organising, juggling. Doodle polls are becoming a very dear friend in the uphill struggle of conquering multiple jam-packed diaries to schedule a meeting. Maybe (although I’m not too sure) I have a charism for administration – (is it possible to have a charism for something you don’t enjoy all that much?!). I admit, though, that drawing order out of chaos is satisfying.

When days are ordered well and events are well-organised so that their fruit-bearing potential is maximised, you come to appreciate the art of planning. I call it an ‘art’ because it requires creativity, flexibility, dynamism. At the same time, it requires us not to micro-manage so as to suffocate life. I wouldn’t say that I am that great at it, but I am learning more every day.

Why would I say it is a ‘spiritual’ art? Well, I think it flows from Baptism. We know that we have a priestly, prophetic, and kingly aspect to our Christian lives.

In the priestly aspect, we offer up our sacrifices, the small sufferings of our day.

In the prophetic aspect, we speak words of encouragement or teaching to others.

In the kingly aspect, we order our lives towards God’s will.

I think each of these is an art. But the third aspect is what I’m interested in here. We each have a little ‘kingdom’ which is our own life. (And if you are a mum or a dad, the ‘kingdoms’ of your children’s lives overlap with yours, too.) Governing our kingdom most importantly involves governing our hearts – learning wisdom, growing in virtue, being aware of and mastering our passions, deepening our interior life, increasing our self-control.

Governing our outward lives is part of this. How we spend and order our time, how we order our homes and our lives, is intimately linked with virtue and interior life. Who doesn’t feel more at peace when there is order in their life – both exterior and interior? Pope Francis has recently called for us all on the ‘digital continent’ to “slow down!” and in my own life I find it easier to live with “deliberateness and calm” as he puts it, when everything is ordered, when there is space to think, and time to rest. Much of this comes down to planning, in today’s frenetic world.

I’ve found that catechists are among the busiest people I know. I know some absolutely brilliant catechists who are forever saying ‘yes’. They are able to because, thanks to a strong prayer life, their spiritual reserves run deep, and, coupled with the art of planning, they squeeze a lot into their lives.

And yet, we must not forget that our task to order our lives flows from our Baptism. Only someone who is truly rooted in God, knows that, but for Him who is the Source of all this new spiritual life gushing forth, nothing would be possible. The best organisational skills in the world could not produce fruit from a life that was not deeply sunk into Christ. Living from the grace of our Baptism, however, we can learn these skills to make the most of the created goods God has given us – not least, our time.

[First posted at Transformed in Christ].

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About the Author ()

Hannah Vaughan-Spruce is an experienced catechist and youth worker, who now works for the Diocese of Portsmouth. Some of her Jericho Tree articles were first posted at her personal catechetical blog Transformed in Christ. They are used here with permission. See http://www.transformedinchrist.com/

Comments (3)

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  1. mags says:

    ‘The best organisational skills in the world could not produce fruit from a life that was not deeply sunk into Christ. ‘
    With great respect I disagree Hannah.
    There are many people in this world of other faiths, and many people of no faith at all, whose organisational skills have brought great fruit into both theirs, others and our own lives.

    • Mags – sorry it wasn’t clear. I really meant spiritual fruitfulness. I was thinking in terms of evangelisation, pastoral planning, catechesis (the theme of my blog). Of course, in the secular/natural realm, there is a great amount of ‘fruitfulness’ of many different sorts. But I was trying to say that spiritual fruitfulness always comes from Christ.

  2. mags says:

    Thank you for clarifying Hannah, for us as Christians I am sure that is true, people of other spiritualities may of course disagree. I do believe that from chaos, creativity inspires order, and order often produces beautiful fruit, and this (most especially for people of deep faith) reflects something aspiring and reaching out to the greatest of inspirations, the order of Gods creation ~ and this across the boundaries of All faiths.

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