The following is a transcript from the Raised Catholic podcast. To listen to the podcast, click here.
Today is episode 7 – Be or Do
Well, hi friends. If it’s okay with you, I thought we’d start today with a question. Right off the top of your head, would you please complete the following sentence: For a Christian, or a Catholic Christian, the most important thing is to “b l a n k”. Let’s take a few seconds here to think about this.
So, just to repeat, the most important thing for a Christian is to ______________.
And okay. So, maybe in your mind, you answered something like ‘pray’ or ‘help your sisters and brothers’ or ‘not sin’ ‘go to Mass’ or ‘read the Bible’. Maybe you answered that the most important thing for a Christian is to… ‘love’ and that’s a great answer since it reflects what’s referred to as Jesus’s Great Commandment: Love God and Love One Another. But I’m wondering and actually just kind of throwing out a guess here: was your response, by any chance, an action verb?
And the reason I’m asking is that if you were born and raised Catholic, you may have gotten the message that your worthiness as a Catholic or as a Christian (by the way, Catholics are, of course, Christians). Anyway, you may have gotten the message that to be a good Catholic is mostly about what you do: go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days, pray the prayers, do the service, receive the sacraments, make the pilgrimage, check those boxes, check, check, check. And if you’re like me, maybe there wasn’t a whole lot of emphasis in your faith formation about the part of our faith that is not up to us at all.
Today we’re talking about being versus doing and about how to balance these two seemingly opposite ideas within our life of faith. The best example I can think of here is of Mary and Martha. Remember them from the Book of Luke chapter 10? Well, in this story, there was a house full of people and Martha was running around doing all of the prep work to serve them and her sister, Mary, was just sitting there, so Martha asked Jesus to get Mary to help her and Jesus said …no. Well, most mothers I know think Martha got a seriously raw deal here, because I imagine they all wanted to eat dinner that day and it wasn’t going to make itself! But then when Jesus said that the fact of Mary just sitting there listening – was better than all of the work that Martha was doing for others, well, it’s kind of hard to believe. Can you imagine Martha’s response?! I think I know what I’d say.
As Catholics, we are given a kind of formulaic approach to our faith, a list of things to do (and many things not to do), but seldom are we taught or encouraged around the idea of contemplation, or of how to reflect, wonder, or rest in God. In this increasingly chaotic world today, it’s abundantly clear that our inner lives are suffering. Anxiety and depression are rampant, especially now during this time of upheaval. And the world knows it – as a result, lots of people are returning to the practices of meditation, breathing techniques, and yoga, not to mention therapy and this is all so good – friend, I personally benefit from every single one of these things I mentioned – but it does make me wonder at the lack of emphasis and resources we are receiving from the institutional Church these days about how to connect our troubled inner lives to an all-knowing, all-loving God just when we need Him the most.
God is the source. And sometimes it can take a lifetime of trial and error for us to realize: we are not.
As Jesus said, good fruit comes from good trees, and if we are to bear good fruit in this broken world, we’ll need to dig our roots down deep to the source of all goodness and learn to be still and to take it in. My friend, I have many ideas for you in the show notes about how to do just that: books, apps, and beautiful practices like meditation and adoration, but maybe Jesus’s Mom, Mary can be a guiding example for us today about how to be still and connect with God. When Jesus was born, there was a lot of commotion, excitement, and visitors, not to mention all the animals. Lots of people were excitedly discussing what it might mean that Jesus had finally entered the world, and about what to do next. And in the midst of all that activity, what was Mary’s reaction? In the Book of Luke we read, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
It takes strength to be the still one in a crowd of busy-ness, and Mary was both strong and counter-cultural in that moment. You and I can be that way, too. The world or the Church or social media can profess their active and loud way, but you and I can stop, treasure, and ponder, just like Mary did. We can sit, breathe, rest, listen, and find what Jesus Himself called the better way, and let what we gain from this time be the very fuel that moves us forward. You and I – we can do this, and we and our world will be much better for it.
Before I pray for you today, I’d like to thank those of you who have subscribed, rated, reviewed and shared this podcast. It really helps to get the message out to more people, and I truly appreciate that. If you need me, you can find me on Instagram @kerrycampbellwrites or at my blog at mylittleepiphanies.com. I would love to say hello to you there, so please reach out!
Okay, friend, settle into your seat now or if you’re walking, maybe give yourself a pause and look at the sky, take a breath in and out. My prayer for you today takes the form of a meditation we heard from a dear friend, Fr. Joe Callahan, during a retreat called cursillo. I am sure I’ll talk more about Fr. Joe and cursillo in upcoming episodes, but for now, close your eyes, take a breath in and out, and let us pray. Imagine Jesus standing before you. Place your concerns at His feet, take another breath in with me, and listen as He speaks to you, His beloved.
Be still and know that I am God.
Be still and know.
God bless you today, my friend, I’ll see you next time.
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