by Apostoli_Viae


10
13

Should I Seek "Balance" in the Spiritual Life?

Some insist that we must be balanced in our lives and especially in our spiritual commitments. A seminarian once reported that a family member said he was trying to be too holy and this is not necessary - is this a healthy perspective?

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  • Diana von Glahn

    Diana von Glahn

    How can there be balance when nothing else matters? Crazy.
  • Dan Burke

    Dan Burke

    @DVG - right! "Balance" is usually just a codeword for comfortable mediocrity.
  • Margaret Honoré

    Margaret Honoré

    Listened recently to a Fr, Ripperger conference and he talked about the need for balance WITHIN the spiritual life, referencing the responsibilities of our state of life, e.g. the need for a wife and mother not to neglect care of her household chores and her children’s needs or neglect of her husband in order to spend more time in consolation-filled prayer. I think this is a different kind of balance than Dan is speaking of here: more like spiritual gluttony.
  • Dan Burke

    Dan Burke

    @Margaret - yes - maybe. My point is that saints are always flailing toward heaven. They must, as Fr. Ripperger points out, be true to their state, which is, in part, what it means to be a saint. But they must be true with abandon, diligence, total self-giving!
  • TINA TOCCO

    TINA TOCCO

    What I get from this is that the seminarians family member wanted him to compromise. If we compromise, we are like Dan said comfortable mediocrity. There is no room for mediocrity. I am reminded of a very simple homily I recently heard, that if we as Catholics don't standup for truth in the church, be warriors for Christ, and lead a prayer-filled life, in the Sacraments, and so on, we compromise. We settle for mediocrity. It sounds like this seminarian is becoming more like Christ, he is moving forward to holiness because he is allowing through his formation to let Christ dwell in him and use him to show a real thing, that we can be holy, we can strive for Heaven. As St. Filippo Neri is known for saying"Paradiso, preferisco Paradiso!" I prefer Heaven! If we dont try to live as saints, who do we look at as models today on this earth? Who are the examples in our everyday lives, physically? I cant wait for people to be moved by that seminarian one day. It's more of what we need. Anything less than "trying to be Holy", sounds like a compromise to me. When I think of balance, I think of playing it safe, but it is so far from safe, spiritually speaking. If I play it safe, I dont stive. I dont go beyond and search for expectations in God alone.I can just compromise. But God is in that beyond. How will I achieve pure holiness if I dont go over and beyond to find Him and to live for Him. What is a healthy perspective for me, is to live a radical life for Christ, to go beyond, especially in these times, to save souls, to save our own soul, to constantly strive for that holiness and our inheritance. Balance + Compromise= Comfortable mediocrity
  • Laura Bradford

    Laura Bradford

    I have a friend who is making great effort to hear and do God's will. Yesterday she confided in me that the obligations that she and her husband have are creating an "upside down" pressure as they are dipping into retirement funds to keep above the water. In addition her obligations are causing her to miss or get to church late and family time with her husband and adopted 17 year old Chinese daughter, who has many ailments, is diminishing and she knows soon her daughter will go off to college. She also has adult children with children and one with a severe developmental disability. She takes care of the grandbabies often. She coached the cheerleaders in the Fall along with a number of various other volunteer activities that are attached to her church. She also cares for her elderly mother who lives 45 minutes away. She bemoaned that she is not getting housework done and is exhausted and frankly she looks exhausted. Within the conversation she said she feels called to help the pregnancy center by volunteering 2 hours a week. Thinking that this was the devil enticing her with more good things, but taking away from her vocation, I suggested that she not volunteer at the pregnancy center until life is more calm. Her response to me is "if you were on a road and going to a meeting, would you stop if someone threw a baby out the window of a car". Of course I would, but I wasn't sure how to respond beyond that. So, I guess I was encouraging balance but I also thought I could see the devil tempting her with goods that add to her frenetic life and that she needs to slow down and take time for her husband and daughter. Am I wrong? Any AV insights would be very valuable as I am sure this topic will come up again with her.
  • Diana von Glahn

    Diana von Glahn

    @Laura, you might recommend that your friend check out the book we recently read in AV: Discernment of Spirits by Father Timothy Gallagher. I remember, in the book, he mentions this very example, someone who is being torn in many directions, trying to "do the will of God", but really just doing too much and not focusing on what God wants him to do. God wants us to do His will. How do we know what that is? Primarily, by our vocation. Your friend is a wife. Her primary vocation is to God, then to her husband and family. Everything else comes after that. Her argument about babies being thrown out of cars is an unfair one. Of course, any Christian worth his salt would stop. But the fact is she's not being accosted by babies being thrown out of cars. She's looking for a bunch of things to spend her time doing while missing the most important thing: MASS. If her self-created obligations are preventing her from doing one of the things God Himself told us to do--in the Ten Commandments, no less--then she needs to reevaluate her priorities. Anyway, if she reads this book, there's a spot on example of how the bad spirit tries to take us away from God by suggesting all these things for us to do.
  • Rita Kierski

    Rita Kierski

    I like Dan's comment about how saints are always flailing towards heaven. I love a recommendation I heard on a Discerning Hearts podcast. To overcome temptations in the desert, a guardian angel appeared to a saint who showed him how to work in two-hour time blocks, then stop, pray, read, and reflect. Giving God more of your time and focused attention is always a good idea! I believe the balance comes with time and through the Gift of Knowledge. "We witness the efficacy of the Gift of Knowledge in the holiness of the saints. Through the outpouring of the Spirit's grace, the saint's possessed sure judgment in all matters of faith and practice so that they never strayed from straight paths of justice and right faith...The Gift of Knowledge instills in us a solid sense of balance, proportion, and judgment." ("The Gifts of the Holy Spirit According to St. Thomas Aquinas by Fr. Peter John Cameron, O. P. )
  • Laura Bradford

    Laura Bradford

    @ Diana, thank you for your thoughtful reply. The challenges that I am facing are that my friend is an evangelical and not Catholic and her sense of doing God's will is accessed through her emotions and prayer about those emotions. She will not read a book as her mind is always flustered. So my little bits of advice are just about all I have. Her decision making is all rooted in emotion, which is foreign to me as I operate in the world of logic. You have, however, encouraged me in that my thinking is on the right track, even if she will not listen. I am discerning becoming a spiritual director and needed another set of ears/eyes? to evaluate my thinking. I very much appreciate your insight. Thank you.
  • Heather Voccola

    Heather Voccola

    Extremists unite! I don't have a television either....

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