Overall, Americans work very hard, especially in this part of the country, where people are industrious and enjoy working. At the same time, there is a craving in our own human make-up that beckons us to take some time for the most important parts of our lives other than making a living. As important as that is, there are higher values like giving time to the Lord in prayer, putting first things first and coming aside to truly rest our bodies, minds and spirits.
I truly admire parents who often juggle many different priorities and still manage to get a lot done. But even that multi-tasking style of life needs time and space so that one can regroup one’s energies, reflect on what the most important things in life are and to answer the most important question one can face. That question is: What is and are the main thing(s)? As one motivational speaker reminds us: our task is to keep “the main thing the main thing.” Jesus in his invitation to the disciples was trying to “keep the main thing the main thing.”
I have become very fond of the life and writings of a wonderful Benedictine monk of the last century in Belgium, Abbot Columba Marmion. Marmion was the founding prior of the Benedictine Abbey in Louvain, Belgium in the early part of the last century and gave frequent spiritual conferences to the seminarians at the American College in Louvain, my alma mater , which I wrote about in a recent Compass insert several weeks ago. He inspires me because he writes so much about the spiritual life of ordinary Catholics and priests and religious in such an alive and vibrant way that draws one into a deeper life of prayer.
He was quoted in the Magnificat magazine from one of his works on the spiritual life: “Now prayer – the life of prayer – maintains, stimulates, quickens and perfects those feelings of faith, humility, trust, and love which together constitute the best predisposition of the soul to receive an abundance of divine grace.”
It is really only contact with God that will truly refresh and recreate a flagging spirit. As exercise is to the body so prayer is to the soul. We can not live healthily without it. We will lose our moral compass and things will disappear into a meaningless repetition and rhetoric that can not fill up the craving or the deepest part of our lives.
This is why the church requires all of us to attend Sunday Mass. The soul needs the nourishment of the word of God, contact with others in the faith community and most especially the holy Eucharist which is food for the soul and for our earthly journey. In addition, Dom Columba Marmion explains “… prayer keeps the soul in frequent contact with God; it establishes … and keeps going a fire-hearth in the soul as it were – one where even if it is not in action all the time, love’s fire is all the time smoldering at least.”
“Come away and rest” awhile with Jesus at Sunday Mass and daily Mass, in a quiet visit to the Blessed Sacrament in your parish church, in a contemplative reading of the Bible, in a quiet walk in nature, in a family or personal recitation of the rosary. That’s the call of Jesus and the Marmion solution. True peace is waiting for you.