See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. - James 5:7

Monday, September 26, 2011

The duties of our state in life.


Or doing it 'my way'...
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Most of the troubles in my life can be more or less traced to my failure to be faithful to the duties of my state in life, from job troubles, to religious and spiritual difficulties, to family problems - I can blame myself. 
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While wondering/pondering how and why there seem to be so many problems in those we often look up to - namely celebrity priests and apologists - it occurred to me that the failures we see in one another may be connected to our failure to give 'pride of place' as it were, to the greatness of ordinary life - comprised and defined chiefly by the duties of our state in life.  As this is very much part of the doctrine of the 'little way' of St. Therese, I thought it might be good to share something from one of her 'apostles', Pere Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD (1894-1967), for the fifth day of the novena to the saint.
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The fifth day of the novena to St. Therese.
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The judges chosen by God to save Israel were not always holy people.  Some of them did not come to a very brilliant end.  We observe in them all kinds of faults.  Yet God saves Israel through them and assures them of victory.
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There can also be, and will be in the New Testament, apostles, persons who have accomplished great things and were not themselves holy when at the height of their mission and works.
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In the Life of Teresa of Avila we come upon a remark which is somewhat terrifying for priests, or apostles in general.  She writes: 'At the Last judgment, how many of these trees will we see who appeared like beautiful oaks, branches extending far and wide, sheltering birds of the air that take refuge in them, yet when the come to the Last Judgment we see that tree with its trunk eaten away by the worm of pride and vanity.'  They have achieved some good works - but their work has not profited them, and may only gain them condemnation. (Perhaps the famous priests who recently left ministry?)
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The fruitfulness of a person's apostolate simply proves that the mission given was divine and that the Holy Spirit truly mandated it and has brought it to completion for our sake.
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We often think of the apostolate as some form of work in the parish or society.  We see it as a particular commitment, something extra which we add to our ordinary duties.  We call this our apostolate. ... But the apostolate considered in its essential reality is made up of the duties of our state in life. 
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What will our apostolate be then?  Our role in the Church, ordinarily, is the sum total of the duties of our state in life.  A priest has received the ministry of the priesthood.  This priesthood, this commitment it requires of him, obedience to the bishop and the Church, may oblige him to fulfill one or another particular function or apostolate.  But what is it that makes him truly an apostle?  What is his essential function as an apostle in the Church?  It is to be a priest, and to carry out the essential duties of his priesthood.
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At the other end of the spectrum, let us take the married woman.  She has received the sacrament of marriage.  What will her essential apostolate be within the Church?  Obviously, the procreation and education of children. - Where The Spirit Breathes,  Marie-Eugene of the Child Jesus, OCD

8 comments:

  1. I second that.

    Anyway, what are the duties of the state of life of someone who is not married and not professed religious? I try to wonder that sometimes myself - right now, I have negative duties, i.e. to be faithful to my marriage bond bodily and more difficultly, emotionally.

    But what if my annulment goes through? I do not think I want to enter religious life - in fact, the only reason I would would be out of fear that I would go to hell if I don't. I don't even want to think about being married again right now (unless it's to my wife), and I'm afraid to want that or to love that anyway, since so many saints seem to think of marriage as only for the woefully incontinent (St. Alphonsus, etc.).

    So is it really just that I'm expected to do my job as teacher and translator well and to be charitable? That seems too easy. I know I don't use my time well, but I also panic every time I have down time - afraid that I'll have anything done for fun or relaxation counted against me. I can only pray for so much time in a day, and even then it's so hard to concentrate.

    I always feel like when I did I'm gonna be judge for everything I didn't do, and I won't have any excuse. Does anyone fulfill their vocation perfectly? Like I've said, Theresa of Avila was told she would have gone to hell for chatting and having visitors. I think it's best I'm not a professed religious - I'd drive myself crazy with morbid fear.

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  2. I'm praying for Shadowlands now.

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  3. Mercury,

    You may find this reflection helpful:

    http://www.christendom-awake.org/pages/jsaward/laity1.htm

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  4. Mercury--

    As a single gal and non- professed religious--and currently in not any kind of meaningful reltionship--is probably not much different than how you're living your life now...go to work, do the best job I can, go home, take care of th ehouse and pets, take care of me, but also find a few moments each day to do something I love.

    Maybe now is the time to delve into that pile of books sitting in the corner waiting for the rainy day, or the hobby you're been wanting to try or get restarted in, or that exercise program you've been wanting to start at the gym, or the volunteering you have been wanting to do at the animal shelter. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor that needs some help with their yard.Or that wine-tasting class at the community center you've been wanting to take. We all deserve some "play-time". Especially if you have a stressful job.

    Yeah--I know about only wanting to pray so much :) But each day I also tell the Lord that I want to say "yes" to anything He sends my way....and it may be something as simple as making coffee at work for the umteenth time because everyone drinks coffee yet no one makes..and to do it with joy..

    Sara

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  5. Sometimes I feel guilty cause my job pays well and is so easy - it's so natural to teach English for me that I could almost do it in my sleep. Sometimes I try to "work really hard at it", but it doesn't matter, cause even then all I do is end up just a bit more prepared for class. And there's really only so much I can do ahead of time anyway - most of my best work and greatest lesson plans have been done a day or two in advance. I can hardly ever get anything useful done weeks or months ahead of time.

    Maybe I should volunteer somewhere. But I also like going to Mass every day, and we only have daily Mass in the evening here (ha! some people wish they had that). I'll see what I can do - I'll speak with the priest.

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  6. A Random Friar8:22 AM

    I always tell people: do NOT canonize anyone at his or her funeral. Who can understand the human heart? Only He who made it knows its depths and shadows.

    Likewise, avoid speaking ill of others. You know not their struggles either, or if they have vanquished great foes, but yet have stumbled in this life.

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  7. To: A Random Friar
    Re: "Do not canonize anyone at his funeral."

    Remember and listen the stories of a man's or woman's life: while at the funeral home, the church, and at the grave site. Sing. Laugh. Pray. Eat afterward, in fellowship. Listen to every shared story you can. Accept the human failings, the missed actions and opportunities. Let the past hurts be buried now. Just remember the lovely stories you hear. Feel wonderful to have known him.

    Cousin Kurt - he squeezed 85 years of living into just 55 years of life. We followed a Mass of Christian Burial with two eulogies, one from Kurt's son, and one from his sister. Through stories - and with joy - they shared family memories, as moments in time. They wonderfully captured a father's, a brother's life. While listening, family and friends smiled, laughed and nodded in appreciation of the man, foibles and all. It was lovely.

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