Why I’m slimming down my liturgical planner

2019 diary by Busy B

For the 3rd year since its launch, I have failed to get a Blessed is She liturgical planner, as the costs related to the shipping from America are so high it would more than double the already significant cost, and for the 3rd year I will soon endeavour to turn my planner into a liturgical planner of sorts. However, unlike last year, I am slimming down: I bought a week to view with enough note space to carry on my Mass journalling instead of a day to view. The layout of my Busy B diary is spread on two pages unlike the Moleskine diaries I used to have before my life became, on some days, quite hectic. This should limit the amount of blank pages on the days where I don’t really have anything going on but freewheeling work for the back end of running a business or any of my various projects. since I didn’t put to-do lists or anything of the sort in it, just meetings, events and deadlines.

I’m not just slimming down as a diary format: this format will not allow me to write down every saint in the liturgical calendar, and I’m OK with that. The number of feast days I have in some day marked in the past year, despite having them all at the top of my page, was limited. Over time, the little writing near the date blended with the background. The feasts of saints I have a particular affinity with were in my mind regardless, and on some of their feasts I have even made it to Mass. I’ve been listening to a few podcasts about liturgical living, and even discovered the book Drinking with the Saints which I intend to buy myself as a birthday present, and taken the decision to just pick a few saints I really like, and at least one feast a month and make plans to mark it in a special way (mostly food related, but marking the feast of St Thomas More by binge-watching Jeremy Northam in the Tudors will more than likely happen).

I have been hesitant over switching to this model for a fair bit: a part of me was reluctant to let go of an ideal of what a good Catholic looks like, but I don’t think the planner I had this past year was very helpful in fostering a richer spiritual life. If anything it was a blue on white reminder of my inadequacy at living out my Catholic heritage compared to the actual success at reading the Bible in a year through a Protestant app alongside the Anglican Mr Knightley. In a way, it became more of a distraction from what being a Catholic really means: while the communion of saints is a helpful guide to holiness, it all begins and ends with Jesus, present body blood soul and divinity in the Eucharist. Sometimes the stereotype that Protestants have that Catholics believe in salvation by work is rather founded, as we give the impression that we have a list of Catholic things and we are ticking boxes of what we do and think that makes us better Catholics, and the attitude of many doesn’t make such prejudice much of a stretch. Mostly, I often worry that my own behaviour veers towards legalism (I assume that’s just what humans are like) and I begin to worry more about respecting a Church regulation than whether or not I’m in a healthy spiritual state (my take is that when I do that, the answer to the latter is that I am not).

I’ve talked about goals a lot lately, and there’s more of that coming, and I think in terms of doing I have done rather well. In terms of being, not so much, so my goals for next year will start with doing less. I have a tendency to what Blaise Pascal called “divertissement”, or being busy just to avoid confronting feelings. One of the hardest penances that a priest gave me after Confession was to sit still and don’t think: while most people find meditation and mindful an easy way to feel better, I struggle to clear my mind and stop it from spinning. I’m a known insomniac (hello #CreateLounge crew) and I have a mind that just.doesn’t.stop. Ever.
I need to give myself permission to just do nothing without fear of being lazy. In fact, I need to give me permission to think nothing. Earlier this month, my phone network was down the whole day and my commute was not spent working towards inbox zero and texting the group chat, but just letting the worship songs I know backwards go one after the other while mentally singing them. The following day I had been in the office 1h when I was already at inbox zero despite missing out on one day of clearing out stuff. The world didn’t end.

The words “impostor syndrome” are thrown around a lot, especially among entrepreneurs. It’s usually about doubt around our professional capabilities. For me, it’s also about living with this idea that you need to hustle hard or you’re lazy, which hits really hard with my inability to accept that I am ill and like my iPhone battery my 100% is 75% of a healthy human’s capacity, and getting lower and lower. While I force myself to try and give myself time to rest when I really have to, I haven’t managed to shift the feelings of inadequacy that come with it. A lot of what goes around in Christian circles is a reminder that prayer is a key aspect of action, as it prepares us for a meaningful one. I shouldn’t feel like time to just be still is time wasted, and yet I do. This is my main thing to work on in bettering myself in 2019. That and actually attending my barre classes…

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