Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Motivation for holiness

I happened to read something put out by a motivational company. It stressed a sound psychological principle, that we can often act ourselves into feelings, rather than the other way around. If I'm feeling blah, getting involved in some activity can help to make me feel interested and excited.
It also talked about putting pictures of success into our minds, like visualizing. I think there's something to that. But because this was secular, it was talking about even using pictures outside of ourselves of things we'd like to get, like houses and cars, etc.
Those things are only consumer goods and aren't the really important things in life. But I was thinking about how the Church has always used that principle to motivate people to think of God and heaven.
Using religious images in our homes and offices is a way of keeping God in mind. I know that after a while I can get used to them and not really notice them any more. That's why praying with icons or other images is helpful, since it gives us a chance to focus more closely on that image. Thinking about our ultimate goal tends to generate thoughts and actions that lead us to it.
What do you think about this?


Robin L. in TX said...

I agree with you, Sister. I have always hated domestic work, especially cooking and cleaning the kitchen. The kitchen is where I most felt like an unappreciated martyr.

I started by bringing it to the confessional, and that helped some. But the greatest graces came when I offered up cooking more often and focussing on the kitchen for my lenten offerings. I began by placing a Crucifix on the window above the sink, so that whenever I felt like a martyr, I would remember what Jesus did for me.

My husband tells me my kitchen is turning into a church, but he doesn't complain about the meals and cleanliness there now. As for me, I really enjoy cooking and cleaning for my family now--I offer a lot of it up for them and feel joyfully buoyant doing it!

As for the idea of acting our way into feelings, I think that this is why we talk about love being an act of the will. Too many people divorce when the feeling of love first deserts us. They never make it to the stage where you have to think about why you first loved your spouse, and then take the initiative to treat him with the same joyful, loving spirit you did in the beginning, even if the feeling isn't yet there.

Nagging and complaining will never bring the love back, but loving him usually will. The fact that the love is greater and stronger than ever is something too few couples realize anymore. God is good and blesses us when we live by His Laws.

In Christ's peace and joy,

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thank you, Robin, for your wonderful insights. The kitchen example is a really practical one. This is a problem in the convent, too. It seems that sometimes the ordinary tasks of kitchen work-- like just doing the dishes-- cause conflict when very few show up to do them. I have to admit I have sometimes fallen into the trap of feeling resentful and annoyed about this. Your idea about offering it up and focusing more on what Jesus did for us is a great reminder to focus on what's really important.

Karen said...

Dear Sister Lorraine,

I have been telling my kids that happiness is something you CHOOSE, not something that HAPPENS to each of us.

An example from my life: We were friends with a couple who had three children. The youngest daughter was around 4 and quite naughty - spoiled and willful! I dreaded being around her. One day I was asked to babysit her for the whole day, morning to night. I said yes, but I could feel my resentment towards her beginning even before she came to the door. I was not looking forward to our day together.

It must've been the Holy Spirit prompting me, because I started thinking of things we could do together for the day: hanging laundry on the clothesline, doing dishes, folding clothes, cooking, etc.

Little Courtney loved the attention and enjoyed being asked to help me! When we finished our chores, I dolled her up with green freckles and a pretty necklace to wear, gave her a small allowance for helping, and we both had happy memories of our day together.

I learned a great lesson that day - life is what you choose to make of it. And people respond to love and kindness in an amazing way!

Sr. Lorraine said...

Thanks, Karen, for that great story. It's really true that we can choose our outlook and attitude and thus choose happiness.