Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

Sea of Galilee at Sunrise

Catholic Faith Corner

Living in the Light
of Jesus Christ

A Rest Test for the Stressed

Some (or most) days do you feel trapped in a hamster wheel? Your to-do list is a mile long. Taking a break, a rest, or, horrors, a nap seem out of the question. You are depressed, anxious, and feel an ulcer coming on. You don’t remember when you last laughed, had a good time with friends, or dabbled in your hobby. Beware! Rest is as essential as food and exercise. It keeps you energized, productive, creative, healthy, and happy. Henry David Thoreau said, “The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure.”

Genesis reports that even God rested for a day after the work of creation, and all he did was say, “Let it be.”

Jesus: A Balanced Life

            Jesus had a full schedule during the brief three years he had to save the world. He had to teach throngs of people including his sometimes slow-witted apostles. He was expected to help the hundreds of hurting people who clamored for healing. He cast out evil spirits. He preached in synagogues. He traversed Israel from town to town. You would think that a sense of urgency would make him forego rest. But not so.

            In Mark’s Gospel Jesus carries out a jam-packed ministry. Still “In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1:35). Later when because of the crowds, he and the apostles had no leisure even to eat, he invited, “Come away … and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). In a boat with the apostles, he lets himself fall asleep!

            Jesus invites you too:  “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11: 28).

A Parable

Two woodsmen were engaged in a contest to see who could chop the most wood. Periodically one man would walk away for fifteen minutes. “Aha,” thought the other, “I’m sure to win.” But at the end of the contest, he was shocked to find that the disappearing competitor had chopped far more wood than he. Puzzled, he asked, “How could this be?” The other man replied, “Every time I walked away, I sharpened my ax.”

Resting is a way to “sharpen” yourself. Once rejuvenated, you can accomplish far more and be in better spirits. You probably don’t really need to accomplish all that you think. At the end of your life, your achievements, your awards, your gold watch, won’t mean as much as who you’ve become as a person. You may ask, But what about my work? Don’t worry. God will take care. My friend says that some days she thinks God stretches time for her, so she manages her tasks well.

So rest from time to time. Don’t feel guilty. You are probably innocent of the sin of sloth! A wit remarked, “Those who don’t come apart for a while might come apart”! Recreation (re-creation) times make for a richer life.

A Test

Your answers to these questions will reveal if you are taking good care of yourself and enjoying the precious life God gave you.

• When is the last time you took a vacation?

• How often do you spend quiet, alone time with God?

• Do you suffer from insomnia because of thinking about all you must do?

• What do you do for fun? When was the last time you did it?

• Do you take afternoon naps?

• Is your first thought on waking “Yay, another day!” or do you recall jobs you must do?

• How is your blood pressure?

• Are you depressed?

• Do you pride yourself on being a workaholic?

• Have you been cranky and snapping at people?

• Do you bite your fingernails?

• Do you have digestive problems?

• What do you do on Sundays, our “day of rest”?

• Have you made a retreat or a day of recollection recently?

Lent and Rest

Lent is a time of transformation. This year you can aim to be a better, truer version of yourself by treating yourself to enough rest. Farmers let fields lie fallow for a year because they know that letting the soil rest will yield better crops the next year. Tend the soil of your soul. Read a novel, go on a hike through the woods, listen to music, paint a picture, crochet. Take a break from social media.

This week’s Time magazine carried an article titled, “Rest Actually Takes Hard Work.” It concludes, “In today’s always-on world, few things are harder to do than rest. But few things are more worthwhile.”

•  What is the best way you’ve found to rest?

• What is your hobby? Your favorite pastime?

Here is a peaceful, calming hymn for you:

3 Responses

  1. Excellent! I passed the questionnaire with flying colors. I guess at age 72, I’ve finally learned about self-care. Thanks, Sister Kathleen

  2. I think i only have a couple things i could work on, so feel im on the right track.
    Ive never taken day naps, but I’m getting better at it as Ive aged!!! Love line dancing for my “fun”….
    Thanks for your articles.

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Jesus depends on us to spread the Good News of God’s love, offering the world hope and joy. Mary Kathleen, a Sister of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, responds through writing, speaking, giving retreats, and teaching. Her motto, adopted from Eddie Doherty’s gravesite, is “All my words for the Word.”

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