Abstaining from parties, frivolity to focus on one's vocation?


#1

Dear Friends on the forums,

Is it appropriate for some people to abstain in general from parties and frivolity to focus on their calling, if they sense that our Heavenly Father is personally pulling them away from worldly celebrations to help others almost exclusively?

My feeling is that there is nothing at all wrong for most people to enjoy dances, parish parties, all kinds of celebrations and humor. Our dear Lord Jesus was often found in the midst of all kinds of celebrations. He said that that was a good thing, “while the Bridegroom is here.”

But is it appropriate to join in these activities, when one feels very strongly that the suffering in the world calls to them keenly, that our Dear Christ Jesus whispers in our heart not to celebrate while so many are in distress?

Is is necessarily a matter of merely being overly scrupulous to feel this way? Or do you know some examples of modern -day laypersons who have chosen to quietly work with our brethren who are suffering, and who feel a deep connection with them, and therefore feel that( other than Holy Days and religious celebrations and the Mass,) that they, while not judging others, are not called to join in “worldly” entertainments, parties and things that are frivolous?

I have for a long time found that for me, seeing so much suffering first hand and also seeing so much suffering in the world, that I have no heart for attending parties or celebrating worldly things. I prefer to work within my small ministry, and to refrain from frivolity. My real joy comes from finding ways to help others, because people in need are truly Christ coming to us! “The Joy of the Lord is my strength” might mean a different kind of joy for one person and a different path for another. Do you agree?

I do not go around sulking or moping at all, and have a joyful spirit of good will, which I think is different from being “humorous,” or cracking jokes to lighten everything in that way.

Isn’t “good will” really giving others hope, helping them help themselves and sometimes immediate charity, helping in emergencies? Mother Teresa always said how wonderful it is to smile at people and give them hope. That is my hope! I totally agree with her on this and act accordingly, and would never judge someone else if they enjoy all these other added things life offers. It just seems that each person has a unique calling.

An Example: It seems to me that if we knew a friend who had just suffered a death in the family or something tragic, that no one would expect that person to be “jovial.” So if we really feel that all the world is our real family, how can we celebrate while so many are hurting so desperately?

May God our Heavenly Father accept my thanks for all the friends who have been so kind to me on these forums! Thoughts and wisdom are most welcome!

Kathryn Ann:heaven:


#2

If you don't feel the want for attending parties, then do it unless there is a seeming obligation (a close friend's wedding, baptism, ordination).

I personally stayed away from parties during my high school years, because I knew the types of things that would be present at those parties and knew it wouldn't be good for me or my character. So, I abstained from these parties. Even in college, there were many parties to which I was invited, but didn't go either because of what I knew would go on, if I wanted to focus on my studies, or if I just simply did not feel the urge/want to go.

So, I reiterate: If there is no obligation to go, then it would be perfectly alright (in my humble opinion) to not go.

God bless


#3

We are the religion of balance. We do not ban alcohol, dancing, etc. in moderation.

We cannot truly experience and be thankful for the joys and celebrations in our lives unless we truly experience the sorrows and pains. Both are part of our lives as human beings and all our part of lives in Christ.

There are times in our lives where one will be more dominant than the other. It is vitally important to pray and talk with a spiritual director or seek out a priest to help us discern if the desire to remove ourselves from enjoying life is a true call from God or motivated by other reasons.

Being a follower of Jesus is the way THROUGH life, not the way to AVOID life


#4

[quote="bzkoss236, post:2, topic:298382"]
If you don't feel the want for attending parties, then do it unless there is a seeming obligation (a close friend's wedding, baptism, ordination).

I personally stayed away from parties during my high school years, because I knew the types of things that would be present at those parties and knew it wouldn't be good for me or my character. So, I abstained from these parties. Even in college, there were many parties to which I was invited, but didn't go either because of what I knew would go on, if I wanted to focus on my studies, or if I just simply did not feel the urge/want to go.

So, I reiterate: If there is no obligation to go, then it would be perfectly alright (in my humble opinion) to not go.

God bless

[/quote]

Hi bzkoss236,

I have much in common with you, as I didn't attend most parties and all the football and sports games in high school. Back in those days, there were drugs and arrests at many parties, so instead I kept busy in the theatre department. We learned Shakespeare and other classics, and actually had a very wholesome "esprit de corps" and deep friendships. All this helped us in our English classes too, and we liked to produce little scenes from classic theatre for the whole school to help them understand everything from Greek Drama to modern theatre. I think what we had was a sense of good will towards others, rather than focusing on personal happiness or "success," although inner joy was certainly there.

I like the idea of good will towards others, rather than transient celebrations, for myself. I would never judge someone else for enjoying themselves the way God calls them.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and message.:heaven:
Kathryn Ann


#5

Hi Coachdennis, :knight1: here are my thoughts after reading your response and I thank you most kindly for your ideas. I’m sure you see in my original post my firm point on not judging others for enjoying any celebrations or preaching that we should avoid or ban anything. if one discerns that personally abstaining from certain celebrations, if this is one’s calling from God, I also could not judge anyone who refrains from certain things.

For so much of the world, war, disease, hunger and extreme poverty, prevent any worldly celebrations or gaiety. For these reasons, I would never doubt a person’s desire to refrain from such gaiety either. The saints do inspire us to do what we may to help alleviate suffering.

Certainly, your idea of checking in with my spiritual director is a good one and I’ve been doing that. We are in contact often, and I was just wondering what my friends here on the forums had to offer in their own experiences.

On Balance in the whole of the world:
Mostly, I feel a stronger connection to those in distress, and helping alleviate that distress through whatever humble means God gives me (prayer, work, charity, friendship, acts of kindness) than with those who feel no connection to others as true family and instead focus on celebration where others in distress cannot join them.

Balance within one’s own spirit is one thing. Balance in the whole of the world is quite another. I believe we must realize that the reason we are instructed to* give one coat to another if we have two,* speaks of Christ’s desire to balance the world as a whole. ** ** We must look outside ourselves more often for the balance Christ speaks of. Just because someone feels balanced within himself or herself does not mean that the world is fair or balanced. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” means to me that there is much work to do in the fields of the Lord.

Goodwill towards others then, may be one person’s joyful calling while inner, self-balance is what others seek. Certainly the two goals are not mutually exclusive! Being a follower of Jesus is an individual path in some ways, and yet quite communal in another. We must look outside the windows of our comfortable, privileged lives and see the world crying out for the true balance that only Christ can provide and which he often He inspires us, in different ways, to address. Abstaining from worldly celebrations in order to do God’s work does not seem to be avoiding life at all. Indeed it seems to be grasping the reality of other’s suffering and if one is called to focus on that, it may be a way of celebrating Christ’s love for the entire human family.

I thank you for your taking the time in sharing your special insight.
It is always good to hear from friends on the forum!
Gratefully,
Kathryn Ann:heaven:


#6

[quote="Kathryn_Ann, post:1, topic:298382"]
Is it appropriate for some people to abstain in general from parties and frivolity to focus on their calling, if they sense that our Heavenly Father is personally pulling them away from worldly celebrations to help others almost exclusively?

[/quote]

I can think of three examples, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Faustina, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The last two experienced a strong instance on Our Lord's part to stop attending at a party or a carnval. And it is appropriate to say that the same grace works with all men for deliverance of the world. The Catechism says "Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything...One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven". For those who stay "outside", everything remains enigmatic." (CCC 546) If people do not give everything there vocation will only be a enigma. Hence, the vocation crisis we face. Not to say that the answer shows the simple reason for the crisis, but it is one factor in complex reality.


#7

[quote="animalis, post:6, topic:298382"]
I can think of three examples, St. Theresa of Avila, St. Faustina, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque. The last two experienced a strong instance on Our Lord's part to stop attending at a party or a carnval. And it is appropriate to say that the same grace works with all men for deliverance of the world. The Catechism says "Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything...One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to "know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven". For those who stay "outside", everything remains enigmatic." (CCC 546) If people do not give everything there vocation will only be a enigma. Hence, the vocation crisis we face. Not to say that the answer shows the simple reason for the crisis, but it is one factor in complex reality.

[/quote]

Oh, God bless you animalis, this is so inspiring to be reminded our of our dear saints! :getholy::angel1: And your quoting the Catechism is most helpful indeed! It makes me feel that just because one's call is different from another's, we are all living in God's love.

This is all very powerful and also very comforting as I seek to understand some of the mysteries of our Faith. In fact, perhaps some may actually know and feel and obey their unique calling while not understanding it perfectly while here on earth. The spirit may speak to us on one level of understanding, and it is humbling to know that we might not understand all things just yet, but that we just obey in the spirit!
Gratefully,
Kathryn Ann:heaven:


#8

I cannot see anything essentially wrong with this attitude, although I would ask my self if I enjoy parties or not. If you do not, then it is not much of a Sacrifice to give it up. It should also not be used as an excuse to separate your self from people, to keep a convenient distance to the ones entrusted to you by natural circumstances.

But like others and you your self has said, the most important is of course to talk to your spiritual director about it!


#9

Hi, Dear Nils, You make some excellent points and I thank you for all of them!

I wasn’t much of a party person in my teens and early twenties, and was a very busy mother from then on. It was only in the last ten years that I have learned to appreciate nice get-togethers at my home and at the parish. When there were parish dinners and celebrations, although I was very shy about being a guest, I loved to help be a “server,” so that I could find a way to talk to people.

It is a very bittersweet and interesting spiritual journey to be feeling drawn to leaving all those very dear festivities with friends. Those times I would miss. Other things I might not, and have never been attracted to, such as lavish parties, drinking alcohol, etc…

Parish events and having church friends over for the occasional holiday gathering has been a new experience for me. In high school I avoided all the parties because there were dangerous drugs at most of them, back in the 70’s. So while I continue to talk to my spiritual director, I really appreciate your feedback and those of others here.

All these questions bring to mind the fact that there will always be family holidays, and how that would differ from other celebrations. We can hardly not celebrate Thanksgiving with family! That is one kind of holiday. Then there are real Holy Days, the wonderful Christmas Season and Easter, which like the Mass, are all part of God’s invitation to spiritual joy, which is different from other kinds of festivities which are secular in nature.

I feel that the kinds of festivities that concern me are secular, lavish events taking place while so many people in the world are suffering. Somehow, there is a question of appropriateness here. People all over the world suffer so much. I feel, “how can I do this, when I can be devoting the time I have left to alleviating their distress?”

So I have much work to do in discerning just what kind of “festivities” it is that I seem to be feeling compelled to consider giving up, and as you said, one must discern “Why?”

It is true that if one is abstaining from something that one doesn’t like anyway, that’s not a sacrifice but simply avoidance behavior. That is a very excellent point. Yet when one has learned to appreciate the little festivities, and if it is a hard thing to give up, then it is good to make sure it is God that is simply drawing one closer to Him and doing the asking. And it is necessary to know what boundaries and details are to be considered!

Bless you for taking the time to reply!
Gratefully,
Kathryn Ann:heaven:


#10

KathrynAnn, see if you can find copies of Maria Von Trapps books in your local library. She wrote others besides “The Sound of Music” - and the actual book is very different from the movie. In them she talks about ways that her family celebrated things like Christmas, Easter, and other Holy Days. It was very different than the way ordinary parties were conducted then - and certainly there were plently of lavish parties with drinking and dancing going on then!

You may find an example there for what you are longing for. I will say though that most parish events and quiet evenings with friends at home are not the kinds of celebrations/parties we need to shun. You are still in the world and the matriarch of your family, so do not take the model of consecrated religious life too far. You want to be able to show your children and grandchildren (and other families in your parish) the way to enjoy life without having to have loud, obnoxious parties or constant entertainment.


#11

Oh, wonderful ideas and I love the book suggestions, Mrs. Sally, thank you so very much! There IS a difference between the many different ways of sharing joy with others. I can’t wait to get those books, as I’ve never heard of these.

I have heard that the real story was quite different, regarding The Sound of Music. My mother actually met the real Maria many decades ago, and Maria was not exactly as depicted in the movie either. It’s always fun to learn about the real person behind the stories. I love biographies, especially historical biographies by people who made a difference, and of course I enjoy reading all about the lives of the saints who inspire us all.
Gratefully,
Kathryn Ann


#12

There still are drugs and arrests at many parties, only now they’re accompanied by stabbings, shootings, gang fights, people getting drunk and falling off of balconies/roofs and being killed.


#13

[quote="Deo_Gratias42, post:12, topic:298382"]
There still are drugs and arrests at many parties, only now they're accompanied by stabbings, shootings, gang fights, people getting drunk and falling off of balconies/roofs and being killed.

[/quote]

Thank goodness, I'm not invited to * those*!


#14

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