he college professor whom I respected most was the director of music at the cathedral in Albany, New York. He had been the director there for over forty years before he retired, fighting through multiple sclerosis for thirty years. One of his most common pieces of advice was “don’t go into music.” Naturally, as I neared graduation and expressed my desire to continue my studies, focusing in liturgical music, he had some great wisdom.
He reminded me that working for the Church can consume your whole life. With what was obviously a bit of regret, he warned me to never let your work interfere with your family life. Your whole weekends can be gone, you can spend extra hours or days at the office, church, or organ console, and before you know it, your children have grown up without a parent.
There is a balance that all of us who work for the Church need to find, especially those of us who have families at home. For myself, I constantly remind myself that music in the liturgy is my job. Yes, it is a job that I love, and its connection to my faith naturally gives it a deeper meaning in my life than another job might. However, it is not my vocation. My vocation is to be a husband and father, and if my job interferes with that, then something is amiss.
The best way to do this is to be jealous with your days off. I’ve found myself, on more than one occasion, thinking that I’ll put in an extra day at the office, and I’ll shift my day off to later in the week. This never happens. Without fail, there will be a funeral or some other emergency that comes up and you will lose your time with your family altogether. Take days off when they come, and spend them with family. Make time to pick the children up from school, even if it means going back to work in the evening or bringing work home with you. Remember that you work for your family; your family doesn’t revolve around your work.
I always tell people that I am blessed to be able to do what I truly love for a living, to have a relationship with God and offer praise to Him through music. At the end of the day, though, there needs to be a separation between job and vocation. If I had to do the most vile jobs to provide for my family, I would do it. Thank God if you can do what you love and make money doing it, but do not let it consume your true vocation.