Fr. Friedel and I were talking and we both decided it would be a good idea if you all heard from me, your Parochial Vicar, from time to time. So here it goes!
Something that stood out to me when praying with this Sunday’s Gospel was the line, “the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace.” When the landowner returns at other times, he gets people to work who are “standing idle” or “standing around.” What came to mind for me was the larger topic of work, leisure, and idleness.
As Christians, work is something good and dignified. It is easy to forget that Jesus himself was a laborer for the vast majority of his life. The Eternal Begotten Son, the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity, the Word through which the universe was created– Jesus Christ, decided to be an ordinary hard working carpenter for most of his years on Earth. In Genesis, mankind through the person of Adam was commissioned to cultivate the land, in other words, to work, and bring order to the world around him. Ordinary labor is a lofty and noble calling.
What is not good for a Christian is idleness. Some of you may have heard the expression, “Idle hands (or an idle mind) are the devil’s workshop.” In other words, when we are idle, we are more likely to be tempted to do something wrong or at least not good for us. However, it would be dangerous to think that we are called to be workaholics as Catholic-Christians. In the United States and other modern societies, productivity, busy schedules, and efficiency are common idols for us. So what is my point? Idleness is something we should avoid, but leisure is something we should pursue.
We are made to work as human beings, and that is good, but the most noble thing for us to do is authentic leisure. When God created the Sabbath for people to rest on, it was not mere idleness he had in mind, but true rest and true leisure. In authentic rest and leisure, we do things that are not idle, but are restorative and order in our lives. Primarily, we worship God and come to learn more about him. Not simply because we are commanded to, but because we receive life and nourish our souls when we do so. Other forms of leisure would be authentically connecting to other people, to playing music, cooking a nice meal and sharing it with others, gardening, or anything that is truly good, restorative, and nourishing to us, particularly in a spiritual sense. Unfortunately, many TV shows, websites, and social media platforms do not really nourish or refresh us deeply.
One form of leisure I would encourage everyone to engage in would be reading, particularly books that really nourish our minds and souls. Primarily, it would be something spiritual and religious, although there are other types of books that are nourishing for us, such as classic works of fiction. There are a wealth of good Catholic books out there. MY LIFE CHANGED once I started making reading a regular practice. I think every Catholic should do at least 5-10 minutes of reading a day and even more on Sundays. Not because it is some requirement for us, but because it is truly nourishing and refreshing. We as human beings need food for our physical bodies, but we also need mental food for our minds and souls. I could recommend a million, but I will only recommend a couple books to get you started! Let me know if you want other suggestions or specific recommendations!
- Searching for and Maintaining Peace by Jacques Phillipe (one of my favorite authors)
- Spiritual Warfare and The Discernment of Spirits by Dan Burke
- I talked previously about Discernment of Spirits in one of my homilies recently!
- The Better Part: A Christ-Centered Resource for Personal Prayer by Fr. John Bartunek
- This book has reflections on different parts of the Gospels and offers points of reflection and personal prayer.
- He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciszek
- An incredible story of a priest who was imprisoned in solitary confinement and a prison labor camp for over 20 years. It is an interesting story and spiritually nourishing.
Father Michael Trummer