In section 81, Pope Francis seems to suggest he wants us all to work long and hard. But Evangelii Gaudium will prove a bit more subtle than quick dismissals of “Pope Francis wants us to be communist pushovers.” Let’s read, then discuss:
82. The problem is not always an excess of activity, but rather activity undertaken badly, without adequate motivation, without a spirituality which would permeate it and make it pleasurable.
The question seems: are we doing what we love? Why did we get into ministry to begin with? To serve? To be holy? To have power?
As a result, work becomes more tiring than necessary, even leading at times to illness. Far from a content and happy tiredness, this is a tense, burdensome, dissatisfying and, in the end, unbearable fatigue. This pastoral acedia can be caused by a number of things. Some fall into it because they throw themselves into unrealistic projects and are not satisfied simply to do what they reasonably can. Others, because they lack the patience to allow processes to mature; they want everything to fall from heaven. Others, because they are attached to a few projects or vain dreams of success. Others, because they have lost real contract with people and so depersonalize their work that they are more concerned with the road map than with the journey itself. Others fall into acedia because they are unable to wait; they want to dominate the rhythm of life.
The diagnostic list:
- being unrealistic
- being impatient
- attachments and vanity
- lack of perspective
- desire to dominate
This is insightful, and a useful tool for bishops and pastors and directors who employ others. Certainly, a skilled spiritual director will be watchful for such things from those in his charge. And we ministers can be watchful too. And any believer too–these qualities certainly apply to real-life jobs and relationships.
One of the biggest failings of church leadership today, a lack of tolerance for the unpleasant:
Today’s obsession with immediate results makes it hard for pastoral workers to tolerate anything that smacks of disagreement, possible failure, criticism, the cross.