Does life sometimes feel overwhelming? With work, school, family, friends, rest, prayer, volunteering, cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc. it can sometimes seem like there are never enough hours in the day to give attention to the things that are important. When you’re being pulled in a million directions it’s easy to feel like you’re doing too much, but also that you should somehow be doing more.
Recently Monsignor Stuart Swetland, host of Go Ask Your Father™ and Chief Religion Correspondent for Relevant Radio®, stopped by A Closer Look™ to discuss how to feel less overwhelmed and start living a more balanced, holy life.
One of the first strategies Msgr. Swetland suggested is to establish your priorities. Rather than living your life by your to-do lists and goals, rather look at each day as a gift the Lord has given you, and seek first the Kingdom of God and how you are being called to build that Kingdom. If your alarm goes off in the morning and you are already dreading the day ahead, consider that none of us know how many days we have on the earth, and so we should appreciate each and every one.
“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad of it!” he said. “Each and every day is precious time, given to us by God, to fulfill the things we are called to do here and now. We know as Catholic Christians that we’re a pilgrim people. We’re just passing through, we have no lasting home here and now. But we know that what we do here and now matters now and it matters in the hereafter.”
Living a more balanced, holy life begins by recognizing that each day is a gift from God, and that is an invitation to ask the Lord what He wants us to do with each day He gives us. Too often, we think we need to do all the things, when the reality is that trying to do too much can actually hinder us from living out the vocation to which God has called us.
“I think that lots of people sometimes don’t figure out how to balance all the things that God is calling us to do,” Msgr. Swetland said. “God is calling us to serve Him in various ways. So there is a proper time for prayer each and every day. There is a proper time for work. There is a proper time for rest and leisure. There is a proper time for study and formation. … But in each season of our life we are God’s. We are called to a particular vocation. And what we should do with each and every day is fulfill that vocation by living a balanced, holy life.”
It’s possible to do many good things – go to Mass, feed the hungry, visit the sick, work to build a culture of life – but if the Lord is actually calling you to rest, to spend time reconciling a relationship, or to spend more time in prayer and study, then all the good you are doing isn’t actually helping you live your vocation. A Closer Look host Sheila Liaugminas pointed out that this reminded her of a popular phrase, saying, “If the devil can’t make us bad, he makes us busy.”
Pointing to last Sunday’s Gospel reading, Monsignor Swetland pointed out that Martha is the model of those whose weakness is not being bad, but just being busy.
“Martha was doing something that was required of her society,” Msgr. Swetland explained. “She was doing the duties of hospitality. She was doing a good, but at that moment in the Lord’s life it was the wrong good. And I think that’s what we can be tempted into doing. Something that is good, but still wrong. It’s not the good that we’re supposed to be doing.”
So how do we know what the Lord is calling us to, or what the right good is on a particular day? By staying close to the Lord in prayer, so that we can hear His voice in our lives as He guides us down the path of peace.
“Sometimes the right good is sleep,” Msgr. Swetland said. “Sometimes the right good is vacation. Sometimes the right good is study. Sometimes the right good is work. And we have to balance all of that. And always something we have to put in there is prayer.”
Listen to the full conversation below: