“Is Stations of the Cross in the bulletin?” “Who submitted the invoice for the parish mission speaker? “The confirmation retreat is the weekend after Ash Wednesday. We can’t order pepperoni pizza for Friday! Change the order!”
If these concerns sound familiar to you, you might be a church employee! Lenten considerations look a little different if you’re on a parish staff. It can be easier to feel like Martha rather than Mary. But the Lenten invitation to conversion and sacrifice is extended to every person, even – and perhaps especially – when faith is your job. Read on for a few ways to enter into the season of Lent in your heart, not just on your ministerial to-do list.
Prioritize Personal Growth
Many of us have certain Lenten resolutions we return to year after year, and it usually involves fasting from an indulgence. This is a powerful spiritual practice! Alongside cutting something out, this year consider adding something in. Namely, feed your soul. Exhaustion, overwork, and even burnout aren’t foreign to the parish world. This Lent, commit to prioritizing your relationship with God. As the saying goes, “You can’t give what you don’t have.” Take time for Lenten spiritual readings, meditating with the Gospels, or slowly digesting Lenten devotions (such as reading the Passion, the Stations of the Cross, or the last words of Christ). Remember to prayerfully consider your Lenten resolutions well in advance of Ash Wednesday!
Remember Why You’re There While You’re There
Whether you keep an immaculate desk or your paper stacks are a bit more “busy,” you likely spend a lot of time there. Place an inspirational Lenten quote or Bible verse prominently on your desk, wall, or a nearby bulletin board where you’ll see it regularly. Sign up for daily Lenten reflection emails, like Tracy Earl Welliver’s “Everyday Stewardship Lenten Reflections.” When you sit down at your computer in the morning, take a few quiet moments before you open anything else. If something urgent just can’t wait, set a reminder on your phone to take a midday meditation break. For action-oriented people, breaking away from your to-do list to take time for God can be its own kind of Lenten sacrifice!
Make Lenten Commitments as a Staff
Before Lent starts, the pastor or the collective staff can determine a common Lenten commitment. Stop daily at 3 p.m. to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet or gather in the morning to read the day’s Gospel. Maybe you decide on fasting as a staff. No sweets in the parish office this year! Or perhaps it’s a paid day of retreat together with an offsite Lenten day of reflection. Whatever you decide, this can be an opportunity for shared spiritual growth.
How will you grow this Lenten season?