Sunday, October 10, 2010
The other day I was reading a daily reflection in the Magnificat monthly publication, in which the author made the case that whereas normal, sinful people get lonely very quickly and are always in pursuit of crowds and noise to distract them from their loneliness, saints are so absorbed in God that they seek solitude to give Him their undivided attention. Again, in other sources, we come across the idea that it is a terrible thing to be afraid to be alone with oneself. So it is.
But I don't think it's quite right that everyone should strive to be a hermit, either. As in the story of Martha and Mary, if everyone sat at the Lord's feet and listened to Him, no one would prepare meals or look after the guests-- the Lord may choose to do this Himself, as He multiplied loaves and fish or allowed the disciples to catch so many fish their nets were bursting-- but we must observe that He chooses to allow regular, work-a-day sweat to see to most necessities. He could, too, I suppose, have designed children to be able to look after themselves, much like fairies and elves in the old tales. But He didn't. So we have to conclude that mundane, annoying, noisy, dirty work is not merely drudgery that slow choosers or latecomers (Marthas) are saddled with, but that it is actually beneficial for a person to be so employed.
In the meantime, what about the Marys? There are numerous people in the world who, though unconsecrated, are single and living alone, and to all appearances they have an ideal life: what have they to do but contemplate the Lord's word and grow in peaceful righteousness, safe from the hustle and bustle of a family, free to dedicate themselves to worthy causes? I would say that though their trials are different, they have just as many as the Marthas. When they can't feel the Lord's love or hear His voice, solitude is a heavy burden indeed. Martha's main cross may be to keep loving her family and stay even-tempered through a never-ending cycle of chores and accidents and squabbles and needs and whining. In contrast, even when she feels unneeded, unloved, useless, foolish, and confused, Mary's cross is to keep faith that there is a God, her loving Father, and a unique reason for her existence.