Is it Possible to Get Burnt Out As a New Convert By Doing Too Much?

Two people that I know have counseled me to just chill when it comes to Catholicism and not to go too fast so I don’t get burnt out.

I am naturally, a highly motivated, and curious person who absorbs knowledge like a sponge.

Could they be right?

Yes and no has been my personal experience. But for me it has less to do with “burning out” and more of losing a sense of balance and staying grounded in reality and not letting other responsibilities flounder.

For me I have to be careful about not getting a Pharissitical attitude and losing humility by becoming judgemental.

There is wisdom in nature and growing slowly like an oak tree gives the root system to deeply penetrate the soil, unlike a poplar tree which springs and growing quickly, but it’s roots are shallow.

The parable of the Sower and the seeds (which really can be seen as a parable of soil) is wise in it’s teaching of how the Word can take root, but not survive.

I recommend meditating on it. I do, often. :thumbsup:

First: congratulations once again and welcome home.

I was received into the Church in 2010. Here is my advice. Thomas a Kempis says in The Imitation of Christ that the zeal from our conversion to Christ should grow each day and not diminish. Often, he says, people are pleased if they retain a fraction of their original enthusiasm, and that’s why they make such slow progress in the way of virtue. (I’m not applying these words to your friends as I don’t know them.)

Study the lives of the saints, study their counsel, meditate on Scripture, pray, pray, pray. You can’t be too ambitious in prayer, as long as you ask God to give you the grace to make these efforts. Endeavor to pray from your first moment of wakefulness to your last moment of consciousness. Endeavor to pray the rosary, pray the psalms, pray while eating, pray while working, pray while driving, etc., etc. (Pray while writing forum posts!)

Learn the practice of silence. Learn to gaze with affection on an image of Our Lord or Our Lady. Place holy reminders everywhere. Commit songs and prayers to memory so they’re always bubbling forth in your mind.

Learn how to suffer for others. Mortify your flesh a little each day until you are detached from earthly comforts and human consolations. Offer all of these things for the salvation of souls.

Run, don’t walk! St. Paul calls it a race! This is the only life you get, and the only life in which you can earn a bright crown of glory. Time is passing by and it can never be regained. All of this might sound like alarmism, but it’s not. You have the chance to be a great saint. You’d never be able to do it as a mere human, but all things are possible through Christ.

Every day ask for your daily bread of grace. That’s the only way for your devotion to grow. One day at a time, one moment at a time, ask for the grace to work out your salvation. :thumbsup:

Run, sis! It’s the most exhilarating race you’ll ever be in! :blessyou:

Hi True,

I would say it’s possible to get a “burn out” feeling by trying to develop habits that are too far beyond what we are really ready for, especially in terms of energy. Time management could also be an issue if you have lots of other responsibilities. If you are doing about as much as you did previously, spiritually speaking (only now it’s Catholic), then I don’t see how burnout can be an issue. I also doubt it would be an issue if you are not forcing lots of activities out of a sense of obligation, especially if it were to cause you to neglect other needed areas of life.

Same goes for learning. If you’re enjoying the process, I doubt burnout is going to happen, though I guess you could get to a point where you will read less rather than more. I don’t see a problem with that, if you are reading some. We can go through personal cycles.

God Bless,

You always want to keep that fervor as bright as you can.

But it is possible to pace yourself wrong, or to apply it incorrectly.

Give thanks to God for His gifts this way, gratitude is important! :smiley:

‘You must always have prudence and love. Prudence has the eyes. Love has the legs. Love which has the legs would like to run to God, but its impulse to rush towards Him is blind and at times might stumble, if it were not guided by prudence which has the eyes. When prudence sees that love could become unbridled, it loans its eyes to love. In this way, love restrains itself and, guided by prudence, acts as it should and not as it would like.’

St. Padre Pio


Wow Jared. I want to frame this post.

Thank you!

I have also newly returned to the Church. In my initial enthusiasm I found myself wanting to sign up for every ministry, every retreat, every council, and on and on. I did force myself to hold back and show restraint for exactly the reason you mentioned.

I decided to devote my first year back primarily to prayer and study of the Bible. I belong to a once weekly prayer group, a once weekly scripture study group, once monthly Eucharistic Adoration and, of course, attend Mass weekly. I also spend time daily reading and learning about the faith and lives of the saints, etc.

I didn’t want to just be Catholic, I wanted to live Catholic, and I felt that would be impossible to do without a well-formed prayer life and a meaningful understanding of the Word of God.

I’m not saying that “I do this, so you should, too.” I’m only sharing what path I’m taking personally and hoping that it will help with your question.

I am bookmarking this!

TrueLight I was thinking about this and you said you had two people counsel you in the direction of chillin a bit so you dont burn out.

Are these people who know you well? People who know what your typical pattern of behavior is? Was it a spiritual director or one of the priests who instructed you?

Not asking for you to actually post who they were, but more of my trying to understand why someone would advise you this way.

If they are people who know you well, perhaps they know whether or not if you tend to throw yourself wholehearted and then burn out. Is this a normal behavioral pattern for you? To throw yourself completely and totally into something that definitely lights you on fire only to have you burn out?

Is it a spiritual director who is seeing things that concern them?

Remember we here on CAF really dont know you at all nor what your typical behavior patterns are . If these two people do know you, perhaps it’s wise in at least looking closely as to why they feel a need to make such a suggestion. Their suggestion “may” carry some weight if they really know you well.

If they don’t know you any more than we do, then that too is something to consider when evaluating their advice…

If they dont know you, perhaps you can talk to the priest who gave your private instructions about what was said to you and see what they have to say.

Seek wisdom in this is my thought. :slight_smile:

It is totally possible to burn out on parts of the spiritual life, when things get oit of balance or wrongly prioritized.

Look at it like eating. You have probably been so hungry that you just grabbed everything and stuffed it in your mouth and ate it so quickly that soon you were so full that you didn’t even want to look at food…

But imagine that you are at the finest banquet, with the King and Queen of Heaven and Earth. Your attention would be more focused on God and Christ and Mary than they would be on your food, right? And even tho you are extremely hungry, you wouldn’t gobble all your food, or grab it out of the hands of others?

No, you would eat slowly, your attention more focused on Christ than on your food, but eating because you know you need to eat.

Keep your focus on the three Persons of God, on Mary our Mother and the saints our brothers and sisters, and on those around you here on Earth. Learning is good, but secondary.

Yes. A balance is needed in the spiritual life. It is better, for example, to pray one Our Father very well than a hundred poorly. We don’t want to equate the number of our prayers or devotions or works with our progress in the spiritual life. Slow and steady wins the race, right? I have read many times and many places warnings against taking on too much, too soon. It is a manifestation of hidden pride and spiritual gluttony and very common in beginners on the way of perfection and may be harmful to the practice of true devotion.

Interesting description. “Spiritual gluttony”. Never thought that gluttony could have a spiritual component to it. Makes sense though. :slight_smile:

Thanks Blenderx!

How very perceptive of you. :smiley:

Both of them have not known me for long.

One is the priest who gave me instruction. I believe he mentioned it because he was watching me gobble up a new spiritual book every week in addition to what he was giving me.

The second person is a woman who has known me for a little for two months. We chit chat after mass for about 15 minutes or so and she was very supportive of me during my instruction. I mentioned to her today that I just received prayer ropes and she didn’t know what they were. Then I told her I was going to Vespers soon at the Eastern Church and she said, “Your priest is right. You better slow down before you burn out.”!

I told her that I wouldn’t and that is just my personality.

Spiritual Gluttony! What a delicious, and at the same time, concerning phrase.

Is it possible to be a spiritually glutton? :frowning:

If I may, sis…

Spreading yourself too thin by being involved with many ministries is one cause of burn-out. I say focus on one ministry first. Enjoy it and offer it as your sacrifice.

If possible find a spiritual director. He/she can help you develop your prayer life even more.

I say walk instead of run (sorry Jared). Though it’s a race, it doesn’t matter who get’s there first. How can you enjoy the “scents and the scenery” if you hurry? How can you relish your walk with the Lord if you run?

God bless and welcome home sis! :slight_smile:

I think there is something to "burning out’.

I was received into the church at Easter Vigil this year. While I have had my struggles, as everyone does, I found that the biggest problem was holding a standard too high. If I sinned, I’d get so down on myself that I’d doubt I could be a “real” Catholic. I’d obsess about it to the point where I’d discourage myself so much that my faith was shook a couple of times.

However, I’ve now learned that while we should aim for holiness, we should also expect to fall short from time to time. I’ve just taken approach that I’m a work in progress and things have been better since then. :thumbsup:

I guess there’s nothing wrong with having a rich spiritual life. But if it starts to cost you your other obligations and responsibilities (i.e. your kids), then I guess that qualifies as spiritual gluttony. Unless you’re a contemplative or a monk. I hope others can clarify.

Unfortunately, yes. Spiritual gluttony is when we seek spiritual feelings from our practices and are always after sensible devotion. St. John of the Cross especially warns us against this. We are only serving ourselves if our motive is to feel good all the time and always be on a spiritual “high.”

If your motive is to please God and acquire virtue, and not to chase pleasant spiritual emotions, then you shouldn’t worry.

:slight_smile: That’s OK. God made us with different temperaments. I believe True and St. Paul may have similar personalities, and that’s why I encourage her to run like St. Paul did. (Keeping in mind the very prudent advice she has received from everyone else.)

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