Friday, July 2, 2010

Resting Well

God The Catechism reminds us that, “To God, all moments of time are present in their immediacy” (CCC 600). We, one the other hand, move through time and experience the seasons and years as they pass. As we move into the summer season, our culture invites us to rest and relax. Finding time for recreation is important. Many people in our culture are living frantic overscheduled lives. Many families cannot even find time to eat together once a week. Often the culprit isn’t our employment, but children’s sports.

Finding time to rest is important, but even more important is how we rest. In his book Furrow, Saint Josemaria Escrivá wrote;

I have always seen rest as time set aside from daily tasks, never as days of idleness.

Rest means recuperation: to gain strength, form ideals and make plans. In other words it means a change of occupation, so that you can come back later with a new impetus to your daily job. (Furrow 514)

I am not suggesting that you cannot catch up on the sleep that you have missed by not keeping a schedule during your normal work time. You may need to sleep in and of course you will wish to socialize and not follow the strict schedule you use during work. It is very easy though, to fall into a pattern of disordered life which leaves God out of the picture.

For me at least the hardest time to keep up my scheduled prayers is during weekends and breaks. It is even more difficult if I travel and visit relatives. You would think that with more time on my hands it would be easier to pray, but this is not always the case. If we remember that our prayer life is a battle, we cannot like Switzerland in the Second World War, declare ourselves neutral and stay out of the conflict. If we are not progressing forward we are likely sliding backwards.

With some effort we can plan our vacation so that in includes our spiritual life. Could we maintain a daily schedule of prayer, or read some spiritual book? Could we use the time to attend Mass more often? At a bare minimum have we planned out how we will make our Sunday obligation as we travel. With use of the internet it is difficult to claim ignorance. Of course this does mean we will spend the whole day in spiritual exercises. We can still go fishing, or hiking, boating. We can still spend time with family and friends.

As fathers we might also reflect on our responsibility to provide a healthy environment for our children. If you have teenage boys or girls and you plan a trip to the beaches in the south of France or Spain your family is likely to be shocked by the visuals. While clothing optional beaches might be the extreme, we might ask about the effect of regular beaches and swimming pool environments on our family. If you have the option to take a wilderness float trip, or hike instead this might be a better choice. Saint Josemaria Escrivá wrote about this in his book The Way,

'There's no denying the influence of environment', you've told me. And I have to answer: Quite. That is why you have to be formed in such a way that you can carry your own environment about with you in a natural manner, and so give your own 'tone' to the society in which you live.

And then, if you have acquired this spirit, I am sure you will tell me with the amazement of the disciples as they contemplated the first fruits of the miracles being worked by their hands in Christ's name: 'There's no denying our influence on environment!' (The Way 376)escrvia-3

Notice that Saint Josemaria talks about living in “a natural manner.” While we may make different choices than our neighbors, we don’t have to act odd or annoying in order to live our faith well. Our fashion choices and may be more modest and our beer consumption will hopefully be more tempered, but we can still have fun. We can develop our own environment wherever we might be. St. John Chrysostom notes, “It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop, . . . while buying or selling, . . . or even while cooking” (Ecloga de oratione 2).

It is also worth noting that God holds us accountable for our use of time. Recreational time is an opportunity for the cultural formation of our family. We might visit a museum, study a foreign language, or read a great book. We should try to lead our family away from the ever present screens. We might plan to travel to the Ozark Mountains where even AT&T has no bars of phone reception!

The main idea is to plan our summer and resist the easiest path which is frequently not the best one. Our spiritual life takes constant effort. We must not let down our guard.


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