Blog di FORMAZIONE PERMANENTE MISSIONARIA – Uno sguardo missionario sulla Vita, il Mondo e la Chiesa MISSIONARY ONGOING FORMATION – A missionary look on the life of the world and the church
A providential suspension in our daily routine is a valid occasion to relax physically and to nurture the spirit. It can be also an opportune time to cultivate the inalienable demands of spirituality…
“I would say that it is both of them. In fact, the word “vacation” (from the Latin term vacuum) may mean “empty space”: suspension of the working activity, a sweet doing nothing, but it may also indicate “fullness” of attention paid to oneself, (the necessary recuperation of psycho-physical energies, relaxing readings, visits to cultural places), to nature and to others among whom, at the first place for the believer, there is the encounter with and listening to the Lord. Boccaccio had this in mind when he wrote, “I would consider right and honest, in the honour of God, to spend the vacation in prayer more than in reading novels”. In this sense, vacation is an otium, a free time opposed to negotium (nec-otium), which is a time for things of obligation.
The vacations time, which anyhow not all men can enjoy, should first of all become a fullness of relations, culture and spirituality.
“Understood as free from”, the free-time is a rather recent reality. In fact, in the olden times it was the privilege of a few. Most persons lived to work if they wanted to live, so much so as the time not spent in working could appear even wasted, as the cobbler of the novel by La Fontaine wittingly says; “What a pity to have feast days every now and then and to have a curate who keeps on filling his preaching with some new saint”, to be celebrated of course, abstaining from work…. …
One of the greatest aspirations of the workers movement of the ‘800 –eight hours to work, eight to rest and eight to dream- began to become a reality only in 1914, when Henry Ford established that, in his car factory, the working time per day should be eight hours.
It has even been said that, since work is not the end of life, but only a means to live, the free time does not come after, but before the working time. Of course, it is the matter of a paradox but, perhaps, it is not entirely unfounded”.
“There is a delicious dialogue in the very much known Little Prince, which could suggest an interesting reply to this question. “Good day, the little Prince said. Good day, the shop-keeper answered. He was a shop-keeper of prodigious pills which quenched the stimuli of thirst. One pil per week was enough for a person not to feel the need of drinking. Why do you sell these pills? the Little Prince asked. Because it allows a remarkable economy of time, the shop-keeper answered. Experts have calculated that we save 53 minutes per week by selling these pills. What use is being done with these 53 minutes? The Little Prince asked. Well, one does what one wants…Well, the Little Prince said. If I had 53 minutes to use at will, I would go slowly, slowly towards a fountain.…
See: walking at slow steps towards a goal, perhaps observing nature attentively, is certainly a good way of spending our free time. If, then, this goal is a Fountain with capital “F”, we understand well the metaphoric sense of this story by Saint-Exupèry. He is the true source. The Samaritan woman understood this at the well of Jacob; the first disciples understood it when Jesus said to them, “Come with me to a solitary place and rest for a while”. Is there any better way to spend our free-time? The invitation of Jesus is not less actual than it was yesterday. Thanking God, those who welcome the invitation today are not few, as I have been able to see recently”.
“The thought goes to the Book of Genesis, to the deep meaning of the “rest” with which God concludes, curiously I would say, his creation. He brings it to its end…by taking a rest. He creates man on the sixth day, on the seventh day He enters the communion with him and the whole cosmos. Communion with the Creator is the landing of history, the harbour to which it is directed. History finds its fulfilment on the seventh day, in the communion with God. It is a reciprocal contemplation between God and man that gives sense to our chronological time and that will be the perfection of the eschatological one.
The invitation of Jesus addressed to his disciples at the end of their first mission –Come and rest with me”- is a clear invitation to anticipate today the beatitude of the day without sunset. I think that this orientation is not yet sufficiently “evangelised” in the ecclesial life; I think that there is an unbalance on the temporal horizon, on the side of the things to be done. The last but one things put the last ones in the shadow, among the Christians themselves. It is urgent to recuperate the Biblical vision of history: to live in the last-but-one things in such a way as to give sense to the last ones”.