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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Escapism

My guess is that we're all familiar with the idea of escapism. After all our current culture is all about this disorder. No one wants to hear something negative, and if someone is suffering and reaching out from that darkness, people express they are " sending positive thoughts!".
Unless the bad news is titillating or scandalous gossip, no one wants to face real suffering, or real sacrifice. They want flowers and joy and sunshine all the time, and have an impression that if they just stay "positive" and "think happy thoughts" that nothing bad will ever come their way.

I must offer a disclaimer here: I am not
condemning the importance of a positive outlook, or joy in life, etc. etc. If we go around all the time as gloomy gus's expecting that everywhere we go we'll get bad service or experience disaster, well...it's not surprising that happens. I had a friend once who complained constantly about the bad service she received everywhere she went. I observed that she tended to take an imperious (not rude, exactly, just an "I've already judged you incompetent and I don't like you") attitude. She threw off such a wall towards others that they knew before they even spoke that they could not please her. And I watched them do their best, I even watched some of them fumble, likely from nervousness as they correctly perceived she was only waiting for them to screw up.

This made some people defensive, others just...bumble a bit. I can relate completely and it's one of the reasons I'm not in food service. If someone makes me defensive, there's a chance they'll be wearing whatever I happen to be holding at the time. If they make me bumble...same outcome.

She was always unhappy, and I think at her core, she was an unhappy, angry person, and as that was expressed in everything she did, others reacted to make sure she got exactly what she expected, even if they didn't realize that's what they were doing.

On the other hand, people who are joyful and truly happy tend to have an outlook on life that isn't contrived or purchased in paperback form at the airport in an overpriced shop. The truly joyful people may have their soup spilled all over them by a completely incompetent server, and yet they laugh and try to lessen the server's mortification. They give others the benefit of the doubt, they treat others with respect, and as a result, are in turn treated with respect. Their openness makes them approachable, and if they are pleased with the service they receive as they go about their day, they are sincerely thankful, make eye contact (even if they are shy and the contact is brief), and as a result...their experiences are positive.

It has nothing to do, you see, with "being positive". It has to do with the actual disposition in the heart of the individual. An angry person can read all the self help "be positive" motivator pulp that's been published since it became popular in the 60's or 70's, but the reality is that they don't need to learn to "think positive". They need to know themselves well enough to realize why they're so angry or unhappy or fearful, and get to the heart of that.

They need to recognize that their questions won't be answered through trendy paperbacks, but through addressing their very real suffering to the God who loves them and awaits them on the other side of the cross they refuse to bear.

Escapism.

Popular escapism has become the foundation of our current culture. The reality is that no one wants to face...well...reality. They want to live their lives in denial that bad things happen, and especially that they are a part of it, might have caused it, might be actually suffering from it.

In fact, escapism is actually...hedonism. Seeking fulfillment in THINGS or money or prestige, yet the people who have those things...aren't happy. Yet this crowd, in order to make their hedonism and constant seeking of self-fulfillment through their own actions, have re-defined our vocabulary, taking anything they think is "inconvenient" and warping it to make their actions and escapisms seem to be ordered.

The disorder of our day is in the improper definition of terms, and the relativism that has resulted from the deep defect and disorder of escapism run amok.

What Irony

I'd love to hear from those of you who have discerned your Vocation, and either considered or entered the seminary or religious life. It may apply more to those who have looked to cloistered/contemplative communities, but I've noticed (as I mentioned in the last post) that people who are not Catholic or maybe anti-Catholic often ask strange questions of discerners of all sorts.

I know of priests who were asked what they were "escaping". I myself have been asked, even recently, why I'm trying to "escape". It tends to be the knee-jerk question of a disconnected person to immediately assume that someone who may want to die to themselves and the world is seeking to "escape".

My theory is that this question is one God is asking them in the deepest recesses of their souls, akin to "Why are you running from Me? Why do you persecute Me?".

The people who are immediately assuming that you are trying to escape something, at their very core, are envious. They are desperately desiring to escape, and the echo of God's own voice reverberating in their conscience finds an outlet when they meet someone who IS truly responding to God's call to know Him more deeply. They can't tolerate the sound of His knocking, and so they take out their confusion on those who recognize the knock.

How should we respond when someone asks if we are trying to escape?

My first answer is this: Consider the source and humbly search your own heart. ARE you trying to escape?

I dealt with this question a few years ago, and it could be that at the time, it would have been seeking "escape". Such a "vocation" doesn't survive, for there's nothing to hold it. Escaping the world doesn't make a good priest or religious. In fact, it creates a bitter ex-Catholic or schismatic or even an apostate. Be honest with yourself if the person who asks you this question is someone who is faithful to the teachings of the Church and knows you well (and doesn't have a personal agenda with regard to your future!)

But since often that question comes from someone who truly has no idea what they're talking about and certainly doesn't know you well enough to give them a dignified answer, well, sometimes it's fun to think about how to respond to such a query.

NOTE: I have edited this post: the humorous part can be found here. You may still want to check out the combox for responses to those questions, or simply click on the link. Many responses were captured in the new post.


15 comments:

makemeaspark said...

Help the paranoids are out to get me!

You know that whole thing about the Builderburg group? well I shouldn't have tried to expose their conspiracies......

Adoro said...

LOL!

Donella said...

I have no worthwhile comments to give you regarding vocations...I'm more in the "how did I get here" phase rather than the "what does God want me to do with my life" phase. I'm excited to read about your upcoming summer trips, though.

Just thought I'd mention though, that I do find I have a tendency to be a gloomy gus to an extent. I can always find something to complain about if I want to, though I'm trying to make a conscious effort not to. Prayer is definitely helping me with that. :-)

Oh, found your blog via Conversion Diary about a week ago.

Easter A. said...

Hi. Easter here. :-)

You are nuts!!! LOL. :-) I loved it all. You sound just like A.J. Jacobs. I am reading his book, The Year of Living Biblically. And yes, he is from New York! Hee hee hee... You must know now that I am one of those who are naturally joyful. Daily Eucharist keeps me sane and gives me joy, indescribable joy. BUT I do have my moments and I do have my own "places" to escape to. When it gets worse, I do adoration. :-) Wonderful forms of escapism!

Loved this post! Aloha!

Putting your blog on my sidebar... :-)

Easter A. said...

p.s. I giggled. Several of them. Just as I do when I read A.J.'s book. LOL.

Warren said...

Oh I love the list of reasons!

Other reasons to be a Nun, or a religious Brother:

- I'm looking for a high-powered high-paying job in the non-profit sector.
(You might have to say that several times before people 'get' it.)

- I'd like to have more free time to pursue my hobbies.
(This might actually work if your hobbies are Eucharistic Adoration, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, Serving the Poor and Homeless, Teaching in Schools, and silently contemplating the Beautiful Face of our Saviour on the Cross.)

- The Sisters just got a 72" Plasma TV, and satellite TV, and you're an NFL/Nascar/golf/hockey junkie.

W

angelmeg said...

IC better look out, you are giving her a run for her money. This was a clever bit of irony.

Sadly it isn't just those seeking religious vocations who get silly questions. When I quit my job in the parish and didn't immediately start looking for a replacement job everyone was concerned and kept asking when I was going to go back to work. After two years they are still asking.

I just smile and say when God tells me to go back to work I will. Obedience and humility are my watchwords.

It really makes them steam.

really not funny said...

SERIOUS response: Entering religious life, you CAN"T escape anything... instead of running from, you end up running into several things: yourself mostly, God, truth, the best and the worst of human nature.

NON-SERIOUS responses:
I'm not trying to escape. I LIKE kneeling all day and fasting on bread and water.


I'm a closet anorexic, and this life lets it stay in the closet.

It's a life of ease... no bills, no bad people, no worries.

Adoro said...

Donella ~ I have that problem too, sometimes, and I'm guessing we all do. By the way...I'm STILL asking "How did I get here?" :-) God is amazing, isn't He? Conversion Diary...Jen is awesome, isn't she? Thanks for visiting me. And, prayers for YOU as you discern. I'll be jumping over to read your blog later today!

Easter A. ~ I'm just a nutjob here, typing away! :-) LOL, only thing is...those things aren't escapism. You're going right to the source of all things, not escaping!

Warren ~ ROFL! Thanks!

Angelmeg ~ So....when are you going back to work? ;-)

Really Not Funny ~ Exactly! LOL, love your responses!

Easter A. said...

Adoro, I did know. I was playing along. :-)

Thank you!

I've been here before so I've gotten to know your heart. It is beautiful!

Blessings...

Adoro said...

Everyone, I have edited and moved the fun part to a new post, which can be found here:

http://adorotedevote.blogspot.com/2009/06/top-reasons-to-enter-seminary-or.html

Anonymous said...

My vocation is to be a wife and mother. Prior to that, I was deeply interested in joining a cloistered order and had narroed it down to a local carmelite order or the poor clares. I became detached from most things and people in my life (yes, I still had and have close friends, but was learning distance, dependance upon God, and minimizing my need for external validation/approval.) I greatly reduced the number of items I owned and mentally planned what to do with the rest.

I met my husband and though interested tried to remain distant. We became very good friends. He was one of two people who believed I was considering religious life. We started dating with the understanding that friendship was our priority. On a Benedictine life weekend, I realized that religious life would be exactly what I thought and wanted, but I found myself needing to "share" the experience with the man who is now my husband. I found him in any spontaneous prayer, but not in a distraction sort of way.
I was given the grace to see what my pitfals in the religious life would be.
I choose to marry my husband, although even while I was engaged I went through another mini discerning period. He knew and it broke his heart, but his love for God and for me was such that he honored it.
I am a very blessed and happy homemaker with a 2yo daughter and a son due in 2months. The discernment and preparation process I went through in my intention to become a religious, prepared me to be the wife and mother I am.
There were various comments along the way from the vocation director at the Benedictine retreat, my priest (who married us), and the lack of responses from certain communities that served to guide and confirm my path.
There are days I still "wonder", and yet I *know* that I am growing closer to God and doing His will, even with minimal consolations and when I don't "feel" like praying.

Sorry this was long, but hope it encourages you during your discernment. My family didn't take me seriously, but they are protestants. As a child my husband was interested in the priesthood, but his parents destroyed that. We believe that one day God may be calling him to the permenant diaconate, but we know that now is not the time, and that if God wills it, He will let us know that *and* when.

Samantha

Adoro said...

Samantha ~ Thank you so much for your comment, and it's just fine that it's long!

Discernment is hell, isn't it? It's a terrible thing to go through, and yet, so necessary. If we didn't do it, we'd end up in the wrong place entirely. It's so beautiful to see how God brought you through all of that, let you put everything to rest so that you could focus all on the family He planned for you!

God bless, and prayers for your husband as he discerns the next step! (And you, of course!)

Hidden One said...

Discernment is Purgatory. Getting it wrong is Hell. Getting it right is Heaven.

Anonymous said...

That someone would think that those discerning their vocation to religious life is possible "escapism" is ironic, isn't it? To me it seems that if someone has that inkling in their soul that they may be called in that direction and do not take the necessary risks to really discern-then there lies the escaping. It's a bit of an unconscious projection in a way. People can't imagine being "cut off from the world" or "limited participation" in things of this world-cloistered or not. And there is the projection, because, perhaps, those thinking that someone who is discerning religious life may be "escaping" something are those who are attached to this world a bit too much. They are actually the ones "escaping." Escaping into the world and their attachment to it shows in the question they pose. Those of you in discernment: You are an inspiration in your bravery to detach from the world and look to the next in what God's will truly is for you while you are here-whatever that may be. There is no escapism in that. God Bless You in your Journey.
~Kris