By Fr James Areerchira SVD
Recently I was reading the book “Seeking Spirituality” by Ronald Rolheiser. I found this book to be a good guide for those who are seeking spirituality. According to him, three main things hinder one from interiority and spiritual experiences. They are “Narcissism, pragmatism and unbridled restlessness”. To get a general understanding of them he writes, “Defined simply, narcissism means excessive self-preoccupation; pragmatism means excessive focus on work, achievement, and the practical concerns for life; and restlessness means an excessive greed for experience, an over-eating, not in terms of food but in terms trying to drink in too much of life”. When I reflected further on this, I realised that many of us have those things in us, but we are not aware of it. Many times, we justify our actions using self-justification. Let us reflect on them one by one bit more.
Today we live in a society where, social media, Facebook, Twitter, Zoom and selfies have a big influence on our life. One tries to get the attention and approval of others by promoting himself or herself, self-images, one’s own deeds. Many are desperate to get the ‘likes’ of others on their Facebook post. Today I listened on radio about an incident that happened in America where one elderly man was drowning in a river and a group of youths were watching it, filming the whole things and laughing. We are going in the wrong way when we just care about our own business. Where is the question of loving one’s neighbor? We are excessively self-centered. For a narcissistic person’s life, he or she may not have time for God and others.
I have come across people who are always busy. Once they finish their work, they are busy with their studies. As soon as they complete one degree they register for another degree. Some study till their death. Studies are good but the question is, does that person have time for God, oneself and others? We all need to remember that the moment a person dies he is a dead person. He is no more a doctor, professor, judge or president. All the status, qualifications and degree certificates will be of no use for him or her. The question we all should ask is whether I loved God and others?
Gilbert Carlo SVD in one of his meditations says, “Human minds are like a restless monkey, it likes to wander around”. Many times we are restless, and we want to go as many places as possible. People are busy in planning for holidays, celebrations, meals, festivals and gatherings. On a few occasions when I went for buffet meals, I would watch carefully how people ate their meals. Many times, I noticed people were restless and they wanted to try all the foods available. I wondered whether they were enjoying the food at all. In a hurry they swallowed the food fast and rushed to the next items. To really enjoy food, we need to take time. To enjoy the company of others we need time. To enjoy the presence of God we need time.
To give a simple example, in the past I have a seen a person who constantly yawned during morning prayer and Mass and showed restlessness if the main celebrant gave a homily that was a bit long. During the day that person occupied his life with many works and activities and by evening he got very tired. During meetings I observed that he wanted his ideas and opinions to be taken as the best, if not he got discouraged.
Let us remember that no-one is perfect, except God alone. We need one another and we learn from each other. So let us have time for God, others and oneself. Unless we listen to our loved ones we cannot understand and love them. Only in silence we can listen to our loving God. In silence He talks to us. So let us have quality time for God and others.