Thursday, November 4, 2010

IT'S MY BLOG AND I'LL POST WHAT I WANT! (or is that selfish?)

Is there such a thing as good selfishness? Then again if it is beneficial is it selfish?

Saint Charles Borromeo (who feast day it is today – patron of our minor seminary here in Cleveland – say a prayer for the boys) said in a sermon given at the last synod he attended and which is found in today’s Liturgy of the Hours, “Are you in charge of a parish? If so, do not neglect the parish of your own soul, do not give yourself to others so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You have to be mindful of your people without becoming forgetful of yourself.”

He wisely points out that if you give yourself completely away, you become no good to anyone and end up causing more harm than good. Perhaps it is actually an act of selfishness to think, “I must do it all. Nobody else can. If I don’t do it, it won’t be done (well, right, quickly, or at all.)” In reality if you don’t do it, perhaps the Church will still survive, perhaps the world will not end, perhaps souls will still get into heaven, and perhaps you will live to work another day.

This is a message for all. Everyone can find themselves in this role. Most devastatingly I see it among well intentioned people who dedicate themselves to the care of a very sick loved one. This is very high and noble thing to do. It is an act of mercy. It is one of those things that Christ calls His sheep to do in order to enter into heaven. And sometimes there is no choice but for a person to work themselves into the ground because there simply is no other help.

But, way too often, perhaps because of an over developed sense of responsibility, or guilt, or love, or wanting to please God, or even to look good or just a fear not too, the well person spends themselves so deeply in the care of the sick person that they end up dead long before the sick person does. After all the sick person receives care, but rarely does anyone take care of the caregiver.

Caretakers: TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF! It is not selfishness to make sure that you don’t end up not being able to take care of the persons you love. It is not weakness to reach out to others. It is not cruel to admit that you are in over your head. Are you responsible for another’s health? Do not neglect the health of your own soul, do not give yourself to another so completely that you have nothing left for yourself. You must be mindful of the other person without forgetting yourself lest you find yourself with nothing left to give and in need yourself.


Margaret C. said...

Absolutely right on, Fr. V.

Michelle said...

Put your own oxygen mask on before helping others.

Thanks for a timely reminder...

Fr. V said...


Well said

MJ said...

When my boys were young some more experienced moms would tell me to take care of myself or I wouldn't be healthy enough to take care of my young ones. Many moms try to do everything for children, husbands and home and it takes its toll.
"I must do it all. Nobody else can" What we need to remember is that by trying to do it all, whether at home, parish or work place, we are depriving someone else of an opportunity to serve. Sometimes people wil hesitate to contribute because they know a particular person will always step up and also maybe they won't be able to do whatever it is to that persons "standards".

frival said...

This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings, which I all too often fail to follow - "in medio stat virtus" or roughly "in the middle stands virtue". We can easily be tempted to do too little or too much - the trick is figuring out how much of what we ought to be doing, finding the right people to do the rest and realizing that sometimes some things just won't get done any time soon.