November 5, 2014

Some Fraternal Correction from Charles Borromeo

As it does every year on his feast, there came yesterday in the Office of Readings some fraternal correction from St. Charles Borromeo:
One priest may wish to lead a good, holy life, as he knows he should. He may wish to be chaste and to reflect heavenly virtues in the way he lives. Yet he does not resolve to use suitable means, such as penance, prayer, the avoidance of evil discussions and harmful and dangerous friendships. Another priest complains that as soon as he comes into church to pray the office or to celebrate Mass, a thousand thoughts fill his mind and distract him from God. But what was he doing in the sacristy before he came out for the office or for Mass? How did he prepare? What means did he use to collect his thoughts and to remain recollected?
A spiritual life is incompatible with our tendency to compartmentalize. I can't live a spiritual life some of the time, only during the times I have piously decided to call 'prayer.' I will never learn to use well my distractions in prayer if I live distractedly the rest of the time. As Pope St. John XXIII put it, "My day must be one long prayer."

I may wish to be holy but if wishing doesn't turn into a practical willingness in the little things, then my wish is probably vainglory. What I mean is that as long as I only wish to be holy I risk admiring the holy self I imagine I want to become, and this instead of paying attention to the people and circumstances God has put in front of me on a particular day, and the graces that I'm invited to accept through them. It is surrendering to these graces that will make me holy, not just wishing to be so.

1 comment:

Judy Kallmeyer said...

Easier said than done, right Father! Distractions are abundant and it is really hard to keep fully focused on the Lord throughout my day. But I do try to lasso my wandering mind with little thoughts and quick whisperings to Him. I sometimes wonder if these little whispers can be more important than a half hour of meditation because they come from a heart full of love and desire for Him any time of the day. Since I fall asleep during any time of meditation, at least I am aware of what I am doing when I send up these small offerings.