Do not become utterly absorbed in activism

Pope Benedict XVI

“Do not become utterly absorbed in activism! There would be so much to do that one could be working on it constantly. And that is precisely the wrong thing. Not becoming totally absorbed in activism means maintaining consideratio — discretion, deeper examination, contemplation, time for interior pondering, vision, and dealing with things, remaining with God and meditating about God. One should not feel obliged to work ceaselessly; this in itself is important for everyone, too, for instance, every manager, too, and even more so for a Pope. He has to leave many things to others so as to maintain his inner view of the whole, his interior recollection, from which the view of what is essential can proceed.” – Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World

Wow. What an important message for anyone involved in any kind of activism. Actually, for anyone who does any kind of work, period.

How easy it is to become totally absorbed in our passions – so much so that we find ourselves working on them constantly. Even if they are all good things (righting wrongs, seeking justice, helping others), it can end up being “precisely the wrong thing.”

Don’t feel obliged to work ceaselessly. Instead, maintain “consideratio” and allow the “view of what is essential [to] proceed.” It will make you a better activist, too.

8 comments Add comment

Good Saints February 28, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Very good points. After getting back from a recent silent retreat, I made some resolutions about this very thing. Family life has been much easier and less chaotic since.

dbond February 28, 2011 at 6:19 pm

So true, Matthew. If we do not maintain a balance in our life, we will burn out one way or another. Even Our lord got in a boat and rowed out a ways for a little peace and quiet. We can get to a point where we cannot hear ourselves think, or hear God talk.
Sent this to one of my sons who is a workaholic. He’ll get there.

Disciple February 28, 2011 at 8:21 pm

This is so true. And no matter how many times I am reminded, I still get tangled up in activity and neglect the interior life. I need to finish reading The Soul of the Apostolate…and then read it again. And the Pope’s book too.

joshua williams March 1, 2011 at 4:36 pm

It is true, to be so tangled up in today’s life and consumed with harsh reality’s of the society we have created( or allowed) that we start missing the whole! and fade into a lessor understanding of faith at times. however to be engulfed in the constant battle against evil, persistance and curage to face “the impossible” is key to our existance; God’s work is never done, never finished, life is never over, only new beginnings. We must therefore follow our heart and sole and let faith be our guide to the wicked, for only there will we truly understand the meaning of faith in life. and only at that moment will we understand part of why we are here; what exactly we were created for.(our blessing of life…..

Martha Wiggins March 2, 2011 at 8:26 pm

I love how Pope Benedict XVI speaks so clearly to us, and especially how he speaks to our every day spiritual walk. I recently wrote a post entitled, “Get Your Rejuvenation Code Here.” In it I describe taking time out for a ‘Jesus Binge’ as a way of replenishing our spirit. I spend time in Stillness before Him everyday. It is my fuel, my energy to make it through my day, and how I keep my focus on what is most important of all. Thanks for the post, Matt.

Kathleen's Catholic March 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Phew. Praise God for such advice from our loving Holy Father. Perhaps I am coming from the other side, as comments here seem to be from folks who are very much involved in activism. I am not. Right now, I feel very much called to focus on my children and husband (who has been ill). However, sometimes I feel incredibly guilty as I watch my friends and family work for just causes, and they work so hard I can’t imagine how they do it. Thanks so much for helping to ease my guilt. You are helping me to stay focussed. God bless!

Christopher August 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

Thank you for the reminder, and I think Thomas à Kempis woud agree. ;)

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