| By Father Andy Laframboise

Getting Off the Merry-Go-Round

Did you ever play on an old-fashioned merry-go-round in a park? Someone would get on it, and others would race around trying to spin it as fast as they could. I remember doing this at a local park growing up. Whenever you finally jumped off it took a little while to stabilize, as you were so used to just going around in circles. I look at these things now and I ask myself, “Why did I ever do that?”

While I have not been on an actual merry-go-round in a while, sometimes my life can feel like one. The priesthood is a very busy life. It is blessed beyond compare. I continue to be humbled at God’s call in my life, yet many of us priests certainly can relate to the idea of just going around in circles as we respond to various demands and needs that are part of our lives. My guess is that all of you can relate to this as well.

Do you ever feel like your family life is a merry-go-round? You keep going around and around, running from one thing to the next. Volleyball practice, doctor appointments, work, grocery shopping and a host of other things occupy our time, attention and energy. While this cannot be escaped completely, it is helpful to get off the merry-go-round sometimes to think strategically about one’s life and take stock of where we are and what we are called to do.

What might this look like? Taking time to pray and ask the Lord, “What is the greatest wound in my marriage and family life right now? Lord, what is your plan for my marriage and family life?” Perhaps something has gone missing that needs to be put back in, or maybe the Father is inviting you to do something new and creative in living out your mission as the domestic Church.

Has the Sunday worship of God been set aside as you go on the merry-go-round? Time to get off and put that back in the picture. Have you been neglecting time with your spouse due to work commitments or activities involving children or grandchildren? Time to put that back in the picture.

In his Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis writes in the character of a senior devil giving his nephew advice on how to lead humans away from God. It is an excellent work that gives us insight into the nature of evil and temptation. At one point he says, “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” Satan wants nothing more than to keep us on the merry-go-round so that we cannot hear the loving voice of our Good Shepherd guiding us to verdant pastures.

We can turn to Mary to help us get off the merry-go-round. Mary is our mother who is rushing to the merry-go-round to slow us down so that we can get off and stop spinning.

This is my suggestion: carve out time for an extended period of prayer. Consider going to church and spending time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, especially during eucharistic adoration. Ask the Father, “What is the greatest wound in my marriage and family right now? What is your plan for my marriage and family right now?”

Dialogue with your spouse or children about this. Ask for Mary’s intercession in diagnosing the wound. She can help us stop spinning so that we can live as God wishes us to live and receive the graces he wishes to lavish upon us.

Father Andy Laframboise is pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Parish in Reese and St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Parish in Vassar, and director of priestly vocations. He holds a licentiate in Sacred Theology in Marriage and Family Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.