At this point in my existence I wonder if
I’ve squandered my subsistence
on the byways,
and the tryways of life.
Yesterday while attending a training at the YMCA, I overheard a young woman talking to a senior in high school who was counting down the days to his graduation. They discussed how busy and hectic their lives are. She told him: “Just wait until you get into college. You’ll be getting about eight hours of sleep a week.” He said, “I’m running on about three right now.” They chuckled together.
When I hear claims like this, I wonder:
– How can they do that? I need my regular seven or eight hours of sleep every night if I want to function at my best during the day. (Yes, sometimes I even sneak in a nap in the afternoon to get my allotted time.) I have met people who really, genuinely need only about four or five hours of sleep a night, but my guess is that this must be rare.
– Could they be lying? If so, why? Our culture glorifies busyness, so people fear being labelled as lazy or unproductive. Everything has to be a competition, so people need to show off how tough they are.
I refuse to fall for this type of thinking. While it isn’t wise to overindulge in anything – including food and sleep – we do need to take proper care of our bodies. When we eat healthy foods, get regular exercise, and arrange our schedule to obtain the proper amount of sleep each day, we’re able to put our very best efforts into our work and studies. Sure, sometimes we’ll have to get by with less – but we shouldn’t allow this to become a habit. (For example, we might need to give up some TV or internet time to get our work done and go to bed earlier.)
There’s no need to feel guilty for taking care of ourselves. Our bodies are designed with a requirement for rest – so there’s no point in pretending we’re superheroes. We’re all just human beings doing our best.
Try this mantra: “Rest is fine.”
I recently read an article that said the Pope doesn’t give out the Eucharist during Mass because he doesn’t want to be seen accidentally giving Jesus to some obstinate, unrepentant sinner such as a politician who supports abortion or gay marriage. This attitude drives me crazy because it makes me want to say, “Well, what about all the priests who are, right this minute, sexually abusing children and having affairs with adult women?” It’s okay for them to receive Communion, huh?
The issue also brings up the question of who belongs to the body of Christ. If Christ Himself is the Head, then who makes up the body? Depending on interpretation, there are several possibilities.
The body of Christ is:
– Just Roman Catholics who are in the state of grace (not conscious of being in a state of mortal sin). But who makes this decision? Each person makes the decision for him/herself based on conscience. So if a person doesn’t believe he’s in mortal sin, then he’s not in mortal sin. (However, the Catholic Church says this conscience isn’t valid if it hasn’t been formed “properly” to believe what the Catholic Church teaches.)
– Just Roman Catholics. Nobody else.
– All Christians (or maybe certain Christians, such as Anglicans and Lutherans – but not Presbyterians or Baptists).
– Anybody who claims to belong or wants to belong. This one makes a lot of sense to me because if a person wants to belong, who are we to say that he or she cannot or doesn’t belong? To me, the very fact that people want to belong, means they belong.
– Anybody who loves God and strives to share God’s love with the world. Now we’re including people from non-Christian religions, or even no religion. Why not? Jesus said that no one can come to the Father except through him, so that means that anyone who loves God has gone through Jesus (even unconsciously) to connect with God. Anybody who knows and loves God has first been known and loved by God.
– All people without exception, including atheists. We could argue that all souls are part of the body of Christ even when they don’t know and don’t seem to care. All people carry a longing, a yearning, for something that just cannot be satisfied by anything in this world. That empty space is meant to be filled with God. Nothing else can satisfy. People may spend their entire lives chasing food, sex, drugs, money, possessions, education, power, etc – but they will remain restless until they learn to rest in God.
Given all these possible definitions of the body of Christ, I incline toward the ones that are more inclusive rather than exclusive. I don’t believe Christ would turn away even obstinate sinners who approach Holy Communion. I don’t believe Christ would turn anyone away. His mission is to bring everyone to God, the Father. I honestly don’t understand why people must conform to certain teachings of the Catholic Church in order to be acceptable to Christ.
So maybe we can say that all people are part of the body of Christ – but each person has the right to choose for him/herself whether or not to claim the membership. If a person presents him/herself to receive Holy Communion, then that person has been called by God to partake and shouldn’t be denied. Any denial is based on man-made, exclusive rules and regulations.
I may continue grappling with this issue for a while, so feel free to share your comments.
Lisa and I collaborated on this one:
“As the deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.”
– Psalm 42:1
Still water becomes stagnant;
running streams refresh.
A true seeker will never find the answer -
She can only hope for signs along the crooked path
leading of course to new questions.
The Catholic Church, based on Chapter 11 of the book of the prophet Isaiah, lists seven gifts of the Holy Spirit that are conferred on believers:
3) Right Judgement (or Counsel)
4) Courage (or Fortitude)
6) Reverence (or Piety)
7) Awe in God’s Presence
At first, I found this teaching confusing because it seemed that wisdom, understanding and knowledge were basically the same thing. In quiet contemplation, I realized we need all three because: Knowledge is in the mind; Understanding is in the heart; and Wisdom intuitively combines and transcends them both.
Come, Holy Spirit – and renew the face of the earth!
Upon waking, I thought, “O Lord, not another day in the trenches.” Yes, I do unfortunately feel this way on many mornings. It’s tough to muster the energy day after day to fight our necessary battles. In spiritual warfare, we use our daily duties to fight for truth and goodness – to spread peace and love – as soldiers of the Spirit. We might think of ourselves as soldiers for Christ, but the truth is that God is God. We can fight in whatever name or image we have of God as long as we remember that God is Love.
I often feel fed-up and overwhelmed with the endless wars, killings, and explosions that we hear about in the news. I wonder, “Why do I keep going day after day, struggling to do my small part in the world, when it really seems to make no difference?” I know the answer: It DOES make a difference, even though we cannot see it now; there are millions of other soldiers of the Spirit who are in the fight with us.
One of my yoga students asked me why, if yoga is about peace and love, there are “warrior” poses that we practice regularly. The reason is that those poses (as well as many others) prepare us for spiritual warfare: They keep the body strong, flexible, stable and balanced – while building mental endurance, perseverance and self-confidence. Spiritual warriors must be physically and mentally strong because the battle is intense day after day. There is never any rest.
So – although I’d much rather sit in front of my computer drinking red wine and eating cheddar cheese (or curl up under a blanket with a good book and cup of hot cocoa), I know that my duty is to stay in the battle. My commander is God Himself.
Our task is to continue the fight despite exhaustion, fear, anxiety or despair. Just because the situation looks bleak, doesn’t mean it’s really that bad. We cannot see the whole situation. So we trust that our God (everyone’s God) is putting all our individual daily battles together in a way that works out for the best; we know that we are fighting on the side of Goodness – and in the end, Goodness prevails.