Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Leisure of the Heart


In one of the diocesan bulletins, a seminary professor recalls seeing a quote of Ludwig Wittgenstein which made him think. "Religion is, as it were, the calm bottom of the sea at its deepest point, which remains calm however high the waves on the surface maybe." He goes on to explain his thoughts on the subject. 


This he says gives some objectivity to the concept of religion. However, this is not the way believers will choose to describe their faith life. To express one's belief as religion is awkward to most believers. The common way is a life of faith.


When the word religion is used we are talking about a system, the cultural aspects of our faith, and its role in life. When we speak about faith life we are speaking about our relationship to community, our inner life, an encounter with God, and our response. 


Religion has little to say about the paradoxes of life experienced by believers. Living faith life is not readily seen nor measured. On the other hand from a religious point of view the study of the believer's way of life, the life in society, community, the believer's actions, attitudes, and virtues can objectively be scrutinized.


Society can give answers on how they objectively see the church. Wittgenstein was not a believer but had great respect for religion and worked seriously to understand the mysteries in life, his words should be taken seriously.


Our society is now extremely confused, it seems all are suffering from a form of hysteria and responding accordingly. The media also has lost a great deal of its reliability and the writer feels is promoting conflict in society. 


Society should help to integrate, bring together, condole, and care for the weak but those with this mentality are difficult to find. We who are religious and members of the Catholic Church should be desiring this internal quiet, peace, and gentleness. This genuine peace and gentleness do not come with extreme concern only for one's safety, well being, and benefits. It arises from those that have within them a stillness, leisure, in Latin the word Otium describes this attitude well.  


Augustine used this word otium often to describe an inner quiet that allows the virtues to grow, easy inner leisure that allows a contemplative outlook on life. This is the background to our Sunday obligation. This is also time away from making a living for the family to enjoy life, free oneself from selfishness, and to work towards the building of character. We can say it is time to give ourselves over to the movements of the Holy Spirit.


We who have been born for the eternal, this leisure and peace are what is desired of us so as to give it to others.

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