Tuesday is my day off from ministerial responsibilities. Usually I'll spend the day at home listening to podcasts, watching Stargate SG-1, going to the dollar movie theater, scoping out a new eatery, and hiding at the Mall. I thoroughly enjoy hiding at the mall. It's one of the few places I feel solitude (but that's for another post). But lately I've been taking advantage of the classes at the Apple Store. Some of you may be surprised. I can hear a cacophony of voices raised in incredulity, "why don't you spend your day before the Blessed Sacrament in contemplation!" (<— no question mark because when people ask this "question" it isn't really a question. It tends to be a passive aggressive accusation). My only response to these people is an attempt at education. They may not understand the human requirements of holiness. Holiness is achieved differently in each person. It is not necessarily achieved by spending hours upon hours in prayer. Holiness is achieved, however, by integrating prayer and contemplation into the mundane activities of life. Holiness is achieved through becoming an integrated and balanced human person infused by God's sanctifying, transformative grace. Prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, Holy Reading, and other acts of piety have their place and shouldn't be neglected. However, watching movies, golfing, weaving, painting, and other leisure activities do have a place. We should strive for a life that is balanced in it's activities but intensely Christocentric in each activity.
I think Americans have a hard time understanding this. We are taught at a young age that activities that don't produce a tangible product are superfluous. Because of this we have a hard time understanding why leisure is a necessary component to holiness. This is why the life of the priest is not understood (even by priests). This is why the life of the religious, or monk is scorned in a production based society. The monk should make something. The friar should get a job. We privilege what we perceive to be productive over what we perceive to be unproductive. As American Catholics we perceive prayer to be productive and reading Robert Jordan to be unproductive. Prayer is in, art is out. When reduced this way, it's easy to see the Puritan influence on our thinking.
I'm reminded of the second Master of my Order, Blessed Jordan of Saxony, when I speak about this topic. On a certain occasion, the nuns asked him how much time he spent in prayer each day. His response was striking. He said that he didn't spend any time in prayer, he was too busy preaching. I'm sure the nuns were scandalized.
I wonder how many people take advantage of the Apple Store classes? More people should. The beauty of the architecture, and the products are enough reason to be there. I'm a Mac nerd so I love spending time at the Apple Store. But, to learn about new apps and product functionality that can help my workflow (the salvation of souls) defines my flavor of nerdy bliss. As long as Apple continues to offer classes that aren't simply introductory level I'll be there. I highly recommend you do the same. Don't have a Mac? No iDevice? I'll pray for you ... when I find the time.