Life and the Catholic Balance


Taking a bit of a break from the prophetic walk through the Catechism, I decided to post some thoughts on random musings in the wake of Memorial Day weekend.

Balancing Act

Balancing Act

This last Sunday evening my family invited another family over to our home. We walked a mile or so to a Pizza place, had our meal, and walked back for an after-dinner adult beverage and good conversation, all while enjoying the warmest Wisconsin weather we’ve had all year.

The family in question are relatively new to our area, and we have hit it off quite well. With eight children, our family alone keeps us busy enough that we do not socialize with other friends and families as much as we think we should, but every now and then we “make ourselves” do it, and are never sorry for the experience.

I have found that these new friends of ours see life in a similar fashion as my wife and I. This is not necessarily something I can say completely with many of our other good friends. So, despite our other friendships, there are certain opinions I keep to myself, or minimize in conversation.

Tim is an ER doc. I enjoy talking to him because he is an example of a doctor who truly feels that this is his calling, and it always has been. It isn’t about the money, nor is it about the prestige. His experiences also give him a unique perspective on certain things that I simply don’t have. But despite our different experiences, our conclusions are much the same.

And the conclusion has to do with balance. I’m not talking about the “work/life” balance that we always hear about. I’m talking about the balance that a Catholic needs to optimally operate and evangelize in this life of ours. It is about not making secular things evil that aren’t inherently evil, and not elevating religious practices and small “T” traditions to doctrinal and fundamentalist levels so as to lose site of what is important in the Mass and Liturgy, and our own Catholic lives.

As we discussed some things, Tim at one point took a pause and offered some nice words of wisdom. It was in the context of eating healthy and exercising and trying to stay healthy. He finally said, “You know, I’m a God-fearing man. And I go to work every day to see people who had no idea that morning that today would be the last day of their lives. And so many of them ate right, exercised every day, and were healthy people who didn’t know that the drunk driver would cross the center line and hit them head on.”

I wondered for a moment where he was going with it, but he continued. (I’m paraphrasing all this, despite the quotes…) “I try to eat healthy, I exercise… but if my blood pressure increases, I’m not going to poison myself with blood pressure medicine. If I have high cholesterol, I won’t take a pill. If I want a brownie, I’ll eat a brownie (as he reached for a brownie). I know I need to take care of myself, but I’m also of the belief that the good Lord is going to call me when it’s my time for Him to call me.”

It was interesting to hear a medical doctor call medicine “poison.” And for the record, I am not passing judgment on anyone who chooses the medicinal route for their health issues, I’m just passing on the conversation.

As we talked further, Tim was not talking about letting yourself go to hell in a handbasket and just letting the Holy Spirit take it from there. The Holy Spirit has too often been used as a cop-out for taking on difficult work or trying to do things in a better way. What he was talking about was proper balance and perspective. He’ll still exercise, because as long as he’s here he believes it’s his obligation to take care of himself. But the perspective is not egocentric. He’s not concerned about never suffering, or squeezing every last moment out of his life by doing everything right. No, he’s an ER doctor who owes it to God and his patients to be in good condition to carry on his work. He wants his kids to eat right as a responsible parent, but he still recognizes that some treats are enjoyable and don’t have to be entirely avoided.

It would do well for all of us to reflect on where we are a bit out of balance. Most of us are with respect to some thing or another.

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