It is evening of the first Sunday of the fall season, and in this northern city the leaves began changing weeks ago and the ground, streets, sidewalks, are covered with a golden leaf carpet.
I have been carrying a conversation in my heart for some days now, which I had with a young adult: in search of a deeper relationship with Christ.
In search of their vocation: yet experiencing an inability to decide, to commit, as they readily admitted, something more and more common among this generation than in previous ones.
It was a comment from one of you who read this, and thank-you always for your kind words and I do pray for you all, which motived me to compose this.
The comment was about “…who we turn our eyes to. It is He.”
We become what we contemplate!
The person who spoke with me at some length admitted the countless hours they spend each day watching television, playing computer games, surfing the net.
In a word they are contemplating the restlessness and negativity, the violence and other disorders of the culture of death, more than they are contemplating Jesus and the things of Jesus.
How can I state that we become what we contemplate?
Try this at home, or in your rectory, wherever. Take a sheet of paper and simply note when you start something like tv or computer games…..be honest no matter what it is you watch….and by day’s end you will have a sense of how much time is spent with that.
Next day do the same thing with: prayer time, spouse time, children time, for priests the focus should be on time with Jesus in Holy Mass, Divine Office, adoration, visiting the sick.
Make any variation on the list you wish, the idea is to get an objective picture of just what has the most of my attention, or at least before whom/what I spend most of my time.
If I am a priest and spend more time with television or the net than I do in adoration or with Sacred Scripture, something is really off base because I will become what I contemplate.
If I am a wife, mother, husband, father and spend more time after the day’s necessary work is done watching soaps or sports than being with my children before it is their bedtime I will become what I contemplate.
We are speaking here too of a type of addiction: am I addicted to what is not essential to my holy vocation, my relationship with real people or is Jesus, is my vocation and those real people within it, my prime focus, my prime love?
The young adult who spoke with me was shocked when I suggested the first step in discernment and commitment is a choice to shift my prime attention, my prime contemplation, away from what distracts and numbs to a focus upon and contemplation of the One who fulfills us, Jesus.
I am not opposed to television. I have one, under obedience, in the poustinia. But I keep a cloth hung over it and on the cloth a picture of a priest celebrating Holy Mass to remind me that television is to be used sparingly [though I admit this Sunday I did watch a barn burner of a football game!].
I have a computer and could easily misuse it by playing games or surfing, so the screen saver and background image is of Jesus, Divine Mercy.
The choice of what/whom we contemplate is one which we must struggle to make throughout each day – but if we embrace that struggle then we will become like Him whom we contemplate.