Wednesday 19 February 2014

The free time of a consecrated person, and the perfection of love

Sometimes a young religious asks: what does it matter what I do with my free time, provided I do all that I am supposed to do? And I don't know what to say. But this passage from Jordan Aumann is interesting in this regard:
Although religious have a definite schedule for community exercises, they also need a plan of life for their personal exercises. Community prayer and spiritual reading provide important material for meditation and private recollection, but there is still the question of arranging those hours that are left to the personal initiative of the individual religious. It is a strange paradox to find in a religious house certain individuals who attend the community exercises regularly and perform their duties faithfully but use their free time to do absolutely nothing. It is as if they erroneously believed that they should do nothing except that which is explicitly demanded of them by their rule or their superior. 
This is obviously a serious misunderstanding of the function of the vow of obedience, for it is precisely in those hours of freedom from explicitly commanded duties that the religious manifest the intensity of their desire to perfect themselves. The religious, therefore, whether living in a cloistered community or in one of the active institutes, will always have some free time that can be put to good use or simply wasted. It is for these free hours that the plan of life should provide, and it is in this area that the zealous religious will prudently arrange a schedule of life allowing for reasonable relaxation and at the same time preventing slothfulness. [Spiritual Theology (London / New York: Continuum, 2006) 373-76]

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