Regina Coeli Report: Aug-Sep 2016
In this issue of the Regina Coeli Report, we discuss the importance of recreation and leisure, particularly for our youth.
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Letter from the District Superior
As I write this page, I am looking back at the summer quickly fading away. Some of you will be sorry to see the best season of the year slip away like sand through the fingers. Others will give a sigh of relief for having survived the ordeal of having their children in close quarters for three long months. Keeping up the morale of the troops takes a lot of thinking, energy, and inventiveness from both parents.
Perhaps you took advantage of some of the children’s camps available in your area. Others may have decided to hit the road and quench a thirst for adventure under new skies. Allow me to share with you the ways a father of nine met the challenge this year:
The big issue is, after breakfast and morning chores, to motivate them. You have to be behind them to get them en-thusiastic about various chores or projects, to avoid being disheartened before a long day ahead of them. They may be sluggish getting up and ready for work the first days but, in the scorching heat, they soon find out that heavy chores are best done early in the morning!
"Each week after a full work load, I would make sure to carve three to five hours to be with them. Recently, we pur-chased a ten acre property, and the kids enjoy exploring the woods, trees and birds. Lately, I requested a wooden bridge across the creek, showing them a few models, using what left over timber they could find around the property. Dad acts as the mentor and they take their own initiative and slowly learn a trade: at least that is the plan!
"Gardening, too, is healthy and gives them a sense of beginning and finishing with tangible results. They learn some-thing about the circle of life. Each group of boys and girls has their own chore and project to do and we rotate the teams. Usually, we try to match their temperaments. You know that they are growing up and responsible when you see them taking ownership of the job, be it the chickens or the sweeping and cleaning chores or the building project. It is nothing glamorous, but it is the day by day chore which brings home this valuable lesson that patient and hidden labor contrib-utes to joy of the entire family.
"There are some indoor activities and Mom does a great job with craft projects. One of the boys took an interest in cooking, and he is the first to help seasoning the meat for the barbecue—he’s not bad! On occasion, they drop by the library and read a while or bring back a good old movie to watch. We do allow other kids to drop in as long as it does not disrupt the family.”
I am sure that we all can come away from reading these lines with some ideas for ourselves and those entrusted to us for the next holidays. If children are an investment for the next generation, they certainly force parents to be fully invested too.
With my blessing for you and your families, Yours in Her Immaculate Heart,
Fr. Jürgen Wegner
As a third grade child, one day, I came home and told my family that we had discussed values at school. My father was intrigued by this and asked me what I valued most on earth. My face betrayed some signs of deep thinking before I uttered the answer that play time was my first priority. This did not sit well with Dad who was fuming at me…”
This story was related to me by a former third-grade student of mine. The story made me call to mind the words of St. John Vianney, a man not par-ticularly inclined to softness: “Playing is the privilege of your age.” Although far too much of today’s society is geared towards pleasure and entertainment, there is much to say in favor of our schoolchildren—re-gardless of their age—running in a well-groomed field or acting at being soldiers and firemen. Who is not happy to see their child imaginations transcend-ing the limits of the bedroom or backyard?
It is thought that kids who take games seriously are the ones best prepared for the ropes of adult-hood. Can we say the same of grownups who take games all too seriously? Might we not rather think that they are receding into childhood?
Yet, no one will objects to supporting the local football team or, better even, playing baseball with other friends on the block. The week has been a tough one and we need to get our mind off the drudge of a soulless job! For all too many out there, the weekdays mean the world of “total work,” which turns a human person into a senseless and thought-less automaton. And so, the urge of leisure—of liberation—is like oxygen to one who has been suffocating.
To see the purpose of life as liberation is one of the themes of German scholar Joseph Pieper in his book, Leisure, the Basis of Culture. Modern society allows short slivers of time carved out for idle leisure in order to better resume work. One of Pieper’s main points is that the Greeks had it the other way around. Instead of using rest for the sake of work, they used work for the sake of rest: “We are not-at-leisure in order to be at-leisure.”
Pieper illustrates his argument by the term the Greeks used. Leisure in Greek and Latin is a positive noun, scholè and otium. By contrast, the opposite term is in the negative in both languages: ascholè and negotium—best translated in English as “non-school” and ‘busy-ness.” In Greco-Roman culture, rest and leisure meant not idleness, but a full blown activity undertak-en for its own sake, e.g., the delight before an artist’s masterpiece or the wonder at God’s creation.
Pieper explains that life is made to be free. To be exact, he speaks of leisure as a spiritual freedom. In his mind, leisure is always connected with cult, which is the foundation of all culture. Culture is that treasure of human wisdom produced by the noblest of men who had the most profound view of life. But this sense of achievement and purpose in life is linked with the sense of awe and adoration of the creature before its Creator. And so we naturally move from cult to culture to leisure. We go from “holy days” to “holidays.” Genuine leisure is best exemplified with the rest of the seventh day, when God rested from the work of creation. Work is seen as a prelude to the Sabbatical rest, the doorway to the “re-creating” of the soul in God’s beatific repose.
To finish the story of my former third grader, I was told that he read his Pieper and learned his lesson. And now, although not a monk, he is a priest who has adopted the motto of St. Benedict: ora et labora—pray and work. He has left behind the things of the child in favor of a fuller life, one oriented toward God and the salvation of souls.
BOOK REVIEW: Leisure: The Basis of Culture
One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago.
Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure, a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.
Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture and ourselves.
Available from Angelus Press: 143 pages – STK# 8427 – Softcover – $14.95
Purchase this title
Further topics covered in the full newsletter:
- The Importance of Parish Events
- Photos from Various Parish Activities and Celebrations
- Our Lady of Fatima Pilgrim Statue Itinerary
- Angelus Press Conference
- Upcoming Retreats
- U.S. Pilgrimages
- International Pilgrimages
- Eucharistic Crusade