Vain hobbies and interests


I’ve been trying to grow closer to Christ for the last few months, and have been thinking of vanity (as in triviality, foolishness) of much that I do.

I have always been very much into hobbies, but I realize upon reflection that must of them do not bring me any spiritual reward, and only serve as a distraction from what is most important. My heart longs for perfection, but I fear that there is still an attachment to the world and its allures.

So, for example, I decided to drop interests which are clearly pointless, such as archery, or bushcraft, but I am not clear about other things.

For example, I have a degree in music, but at this moment I don’t see how I could use this for the service of our Lord, as I neither play the organ or sing. I could compose music in His glory, but I think my time would be better spent in prayer and study of His word. Yet, I don’t want to waste the knowledge that I have.

Or how about learning Latin? I want to learn it because it’s the language of the Church, and because it’s beautiful, but is this not a sort of self-interest? I don’t know, and I don’t have any clear guidelines.

I guess my question is: how do you decide where to prune and where not to prune? How do you distingish between a vain pursuit and a useful one?

There’s nothing wrong with recreation. In fact, it’s good and necessary. If you just do intensely spiritual things all the time you will burn out.

Music is a great gift, even if it’s not religious. Sports like archery and bushcraft are wholesome and good for your mind and body. If you’re neglecting duties because of them, okay, cut back. If you’re engaging in them purely in order to make others look inferior, okay, maybe avoid competitive sports, or better yet work on your pride. But they are not pointless if they refresh you, or help develop and maintain the mind and body God gave you. The Lord is glorified by this too.

We can and should, of course, invite the Lord into our recreation, as well as into everything else we do; but this doesn’t mean we have to be saying constant Hail Marys or passing out tracts, reciting Bible verses, or conjugating Latin verbs. We are not angels; we need rest. When we rest, we are better equipped to work.

For me, Latin is not the language of the church as such. Nice to know it I guess but it’s not the original language of the church.

We know them by their fruits. If a pursuit brings you closer to God, continue it. If it draws your heart away, drop it.

Learning Ecclesiastical Latin is very good, since it is the official language of the Church. Praying in Latin is a powerful experience, especially when you understand the language a little!

Thank you Father, that says it!

Thank you, Father Jones. That’s a very practical criterion, that I shall use.

Recreation-wise, I actually find studying relaxing and recreational (I used to have fun studing trigonometry!) and find myself very much renewed by what most would consider to be hard work… I often find studying theology easier than reading the Bible, something I have to work on :slight_smile:

You could study to be an apologist? I found that the more of the bible I read and fill myself with that the things I wanted to do changed.

With something like music, God Himself will show you through His church how to use it. IMNAAHO.


Even priests have hobbies! One can glorify God in any pursuit, it is in your attitude and where you heart is. Archery is not against God, neither is “bushcraft” (don’t know exactly what that is, but I assume it is some sort of wilderness or survival activity). If it is something you can enjoy, being outdoors in God’s amazing creation, I wouldn’t drop it just for the sake of being more holy. Use discretion and try not to think in terms of absolutes.

Grow closer to God through acquired contemplation, and your hobbies may simply drop away, or they may remain but you will be detached from them. Detachment from the things of this world is the key. You do not necessarily have to eliminate everything.

All things done in the name of the Lord are good and holy. There is nothing inherently sinful about practicing archery. If you enjoy it, go for it. If you don’t, then stop.

Same with writing music or learning, if you enjoy it, do it. If not, then don’t. None of these as hobbies would interfere with being close to the Lord. Usually, doing something you love and are good at actually brings you closer to God, and further away from destructive habits.

I love praying the Rosary in Latin.

It sounds like you think God created you to be a miserable old man. God gave you talents and he gave you a mind, so that you could use them. He didn’t give you them so that you could disregard them and sit in your room and ‘contemplate the divine essence’. It is good to have hobbies and interests. If you don’t you will end up a miserable old man.

Play is a necessary part of life, and to refuse to play will lead you to be a miserable old man. As the bible says, you must be as a child to come to God. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. The ability to let go of your worries, and just play a game is an indispensable part of the human personality. At the end of the day nothing is vain if it helps develop you as a person. It doesn’t have to be religious.

I also have to ask if P. JPII was a sinner because he liked to ski. Was that an evil and vain persuit for him? I can’t imagine any way that could be conceived as being religious or ‘giving glory to God’ in the sense that you mean. I tend to think that he understood that God gave you your life to be enjoyed.

What would make it all vain would be if you became a miserable old man who looked upon everything as vain.

What great answers.

Your question hits close to home. I, too, have a degree in music, and I once struggled with the question of whether it was right to ‘waste’ my abilities on music when I could have served the world with Really Important Things like saving lives through medicine or promoting good causes with a legal degree.

I came to the conclusion long ago that when I’m that strongly drawn to something, it is what God wants of me. In the years since earning the degree, I have used my music for many things that I believe have made people’s lives better–which is what God must certainly want from all of us. I’ve played for church and nursing homes, taught many students, established a school band.

As a teacher, I believe that I touch my students’ lives and give them a gift that will be a joy to them throughout their lives. You may find that is true in teaching archery, too. Or if you excel at it, just like plenty of other athletes, you may give the glory to God. Or simply the fact that you’re involved in something you love may put you in the path of those God wanted you to meet.

On a personal level, when life is difficult, I can sit down and play my piano for two hours straight, and suddenly I’m back in a better place to continue living well for my children and those around me, rather than grouching at someone or climbing under the covers and refusing to come out…or drinking! :wink:

I think God gives us all things like this, and for you it may be music and archery both.

BTW…although organ was actually my first instrument, I haven’t touched it in years. I also don’t sing.

There are people out there writing all kinds of music that glorifies evil of every sort. Think of all the great music that has glorified God. Think of the impact of a beautiful piece like El Shaddai, or any ballad or pop music that inspires and uplifts people. These things matter.

I just looked up what bushcraft is, and according to wikipedia, it’s “a popular term for wilderness skills in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, …”

Personally, my interest in being in nature has greatly increased as my faith has increased. When you see how trees stand effortlessly for a hundred years or more, or how a beautiful wildflower thrives when no person has planted or cultivated it. Part of God’s design of nature was for it to be pleasurable for us. Being out in nature with few man-made objects makes me feel closer to God than when I’m sitting in my house. My husband recently commented that we live in a big city, and we don’t know a lot of basic living skills such as growing food or building a dwelling. He says that makes him feel helpless sometimes. We have started vacationing in a rural area so we can hike and be closer to nature. We have a dream that someday we’ll be brave enough to camp, but for now we stay in hotels. I don’t think you have to give up your love of the outdoors because of your faith. Quite the opposite. I have gained a huge love of nature and how God designed it, often for our enjoyment.

People like YOU that have a gift, keep people like ME, who have no such gift, alive. If music didn’t exist I would literally never have made it as far as I have. In my darkest hours, music has let me know that there is a God and that He loves me.

Thank you, Juliane. Although I went from high school straight to college and a music degree–because I felt very strongly called–it took me awhile to realize that we all need each other and our many variety of gifts.

Our younger son has the gift of music (both of them can play piano, but the younger one has more natural ability). I don’t know that he would be able to make a living from it - there are so many talented people that it’s more likely to be an avocation and not his primary vocation - but we’ve told him that it IS a gift from God, no doubt about that. He can play just about anything after listening to it for 5 minutes, and has a nice singing voice on top of it. Right now, he doesn’t want to invest any more effort to do serious training in voice or instruments (or reading music) and that is his choice. But music is a great gift that can help others to draw closer to Christ.

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