Friday, September 25, 2009

Distractions

Even the most devoted Catholics will find themselves off the path suddenly without even realizing it.  It happens to me all the time, especially being involved in ministry. I start out on the right track, the greater goal in my sights and my feet firm on the path ahead.  I think this is true of many of us.

Eventually I find that if I'm not careful, I start fixating on certain details.  Don't get me wrong, details are all very important, and of course require attention.  Not ALL of my attention, though; not even most of my attention.

No matter who you are or in what you are involved, details can completely derail us. Like when you're walking through a park or on a trail, and suddenly you're walking through a swarm of gnats?  It's like that, but instead of just closing our eyes, shewing them out of our way and continuing onward like we should, we start running around in circles and furiously waving our arms at them, and for a spell, our destination slips out of view.

What is our destination, anyway?  For all of us involved in one ministry or another, I thought it was bringing Christ into the world.

Isn't it?

For the last couple of weeks, I've been in a Papal Encyclical discussion group.  We started with Pope Benedict XVI's most recent Encyclical letter, Caritas in Varitate, and have been really diving into it quite extensively.  In it he writes:

Truth, in fact, is lógos which creates diá-logos, and hence communication and communion. Truth, by enabling men and women to let go of their subjective opinions and impressions, allows them to move beyond cultural and historical limitations and to come together in the assessment of the value and substance of things. Truth opens and unites our minds in the lógos of love: this is the Christian proclamation and testimony of charity. (Introduction, #4)

Subjective opinions and impressions.  Cultural and historical limitations.  Aren't these these very details that most often distract us from what we're here on this earth to do?

Of course in this Encyclical, Benedict XVI is directly addressing global and multi-national issues, but Truth applies universally, whether we're talking on a national or global scale about issues like the environment or health care, or evangelizing in our own communities or parishes.  How often have we seen organizations or programs struggle to maintain participation, when new ideas and thoughts are squashed over the narrow-minded opinions and impressions of its members about a myriad of issues from proper pen color to personality types? or by an unhealthy attachment to unimportant cultural practices, or to those "glory days" of how we did things before? 

When we allow ourselves to get caught up in all the wrong things, we fight Truth--we fight Christ Himself.  If you are involved in ministry, spend some time in reflection, but not on the organization itself.  Focus instead on Truth, which is Christ and His Church, and how that Truth can enlighten and enliven your ministry before even entering into a dialogue with others.  This way, when we begin to act, we can be assured that we're acting in Christian love, not in some human agenda.

4 comments:

Mary said...

Focusing on Christ can be accomplishied by going within to the Interior Castle described by Teresa os Avilla. Here we find Truth. If our ministry is to evangelize as we are called to do by our baptism then the whole world is His Church. How charitable must we then be? Only the guidence received from Christ himself could strengthen us for the task we are given to do and be here on Earth.

Gina said...

Mary, thank you for reading, and for your endorsement of Interior Castle.

The gnats I describe here in this post are often those reptiles lurking about the mansions, and they lure us right out. Teresa describes it as a "cooling of charity".

www.ccel.org has an online copy of Interior Castle.

Karen said...

Ahhhh, My wonderful Teresa of Avila! How I love and admire her!We need to try and keep those reptiles out, close our draw bridge and contemplate upon the Love and Mercy of our Lord so that we can do HIS work without distraction. ...not an easy task in this day and age.
Thank you Gina, for sharing such wonderful information. Karen

Gina said...

Karen, yes we absolutely DO need to pull that drawbridge up, and cannonball those reptiles off the roof!

Thank you for reading, and for supporting my work!

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