Without a full-time pastor, nobody’s really present for all five weekend Masses in my parish. But me. Three sacristans share duties, and two of them switch off every other weekend at the four English-language liturgies. So they come close twice a month. We have four semi-retired priests and a deacon. But their limit is usually two.
I found my Sunday energy levels sagging when I began serving here last summer. I realized a few changes–changes within me–were necessary.
First, pray more. Not just pray for myself, but for the people I was called to serve here. I suppose I could have offered up a thought that they could bump the Spanish-language Mass earlier than 4pm. Counting my wake-up before 6am and scrolling ahead to my homing about twelve hours later, maybe there was a notion that the day could be compressed a bit more in the afternoon. But I’ve come to enjoy the rhythm of three morning liturgies back-to-back, then ninety minutes for lunch and a break before the last rehearsal.
It also helps that I’m not the boss of music ministry at the last Mass. My Spanish is pretty limited. As is my familiarity with the repertoire. It’s good for me to just be a player, and get to know the Latino community. Still, by the end of Mass, my natural introverted preference is screaming for retreat to a cave.
Two, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed it is easy for my sleep rhythm to go out of whack. It’s not just about the impaired ability to function on a half-night’s sleep. (That seemed so easy in high school, university, and in grad school.) Last night I was in bed before ten, and what a marvelous feeling it is to wake refreshed ten minutes before my alarm went off at 5:55.
Three, eating and drinking is important on Sundays. I’ve gotten into a good habit of cereal or a shake/smoothie/iced cap before I shower, and a mid-morning snack (a handful of nuts or a granola bar) while I warm up the 9:45 singers before Mass. (The donuts in the social hall are too much of a danger, though a small juice seems about right.)
I never paid as much attention to my body’s signals for better health when I started in full-time parish ministry around age thirty. It’s probably never been more important as it is now, especially if I want to continue to serve, and serve with a healthy body and attitude into my seventies.
Except for Charles, I don’t think any six- to ten-hour-a-day church ministers tune in here. But if you wish to comment, what are your strategies for managing long days when you have to be at your best for God and community?