Friday, June 05, 2009
Thank God It's Saturday
Vacations and weekends. Aren't those things supposed to be a time when people get to relax a little more. The opposite thing happens. Having any time off from work or the day to day drudgery means that we try to cram in the 'fun' (exhausting) or run all the errands we can't get in during the week because of the day to day drudgery work schedule.
I decided to tackle this question today, since we have all weekend to work on it.
I've got the "tortured by my imperfections" part down pretty good. It's the "life of heroic virtue" part that gives me trouble. Between sheer cowardice (go look for trouble? me?), a tendency toward bone-idleness (can I do that tomorrow), and frankly not facing many challenges in daily life, I feel totally inadequate to the challenge most of the time. I have a small icon of St. Maximilian Kolbe above my desk, and feel intimidated every time I look at him. Even St. Therese had chronic illness to contend with. I have a mortgage, a wife who loves me but who stopped going to church/confession/anything sacramental years ago, and two lapsed daughters. Most of my troubles in the life area are of my own making. Tiny, tiny, tiny little crosses, really. And an easy-to-manage problem with diabetes. I worry that having led "a life of somewhat mediocre virtue" isn't going to cut it.
I'm no slacker in my Catholicism, really, but I'm wondering what I've missed, and what I can do about it. All ideas not involving physical self-flagellation welcome.
I remember a priest in the local ghetto saying to me once that he resented the idea we seem to have in this country that anyone can be anything. The people who have this idea point to people who have someone managed to get from the ghetto to Yale or some other such symbol of success. The priest said, "Those people were extraordinary. Not every person is extraordinary."
I suppose the operative word here would be 'aspire'. In this country, any person can aspire to be anything, unless you are a woman who aspires to be a Catholic priest. Other than that, you are good to go.
I'm not sure you can be a woman baseball umpire either, now that I think about it. But I digress.
We can't all be saints either. Actually, I take that back. We can indeed all be saints. Not all of us can be canonized saints.
If you are dead and in heaven, you are a saint. The Church recognizes certain individuals, once they are dead, as being in heaven through the process of canonization. And the first thing you need to get the attention of the Church to be a canonized saint is that you have to have heroic virtue.
You have to have been extraordinary. So dear reader, you can let it go. That's not to say that you have the chance of a snowball in a blast furnace of ever becoming a canonized saint. You could make it. YOu never know.
Certainly, your safe, fearful, lazy life style is getting you nowhere on the road to a statue with a halo and a prayer card in the back of the church (or a medal in my shop!).
But don't beat yourself up for being normal.
Do beat yourself up for a lack of effort. "D" for effort, for you mister.
There are so many things you could be doing (on the weekend and your vacation time) it makes my head spin. You could visit the sick, head over to an old folks home, deliver meals on wheels, drive someone who can't drive, volunteer at a homeless shelter, gather and drop off clothes to the Catholic Charities, read to some children, rock sick babies, mow someone's lawn, wash someone's car, buy someone groceries, pay for somebody's lunch while they're not looking, mop the Church floor, make a cake for the bake sale, walk somebody's dog.
But you don't have to do that all tomorrow. It's like exercise. If you weigh 300 lbs. and you try to run a marathon, it's not going to end well. We have to get some of that fat off your soul.
So, pick one thing. Go over to old Mrs. Sanchez, who can barely walk and offer to sweep her driveway or whatever she needs over there. Something alone those lines. Go to the old folks home and sit in the day room and chat with a few people. That type of thing. And do that once a week.
Just one thing. Do just one thing.
And, as they say, one thing will lead to another. We already have made a to-do list. It is called the Corporal Works of Mercy. You can skip Bury the Dead. I don't think you're allowed to do that legally, unless that's your job.