Balance at Critical Junctures in Our Lives"
Speaker - Fr. Paul Fagan, C.P.
Father Paul is the Retreat Director at the
Passionist Spiritual Center in Riverdale, New York. In 1986, he received a
Master of Divinity from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois and
was ordained as a Priest. He just completed a year of study at the Aquinas
Institute of Theology on the Campus of Saint Louis University where he was
working on a Doctor of Ministry in Preaching.
Outline of Talk
- It's interesting to note that I, the youngest of your speakers, am
talking about crises later in life.
- But losses can occur at any time. I lost a friend to a traffic
accident when I was a boy. This has affected by life's outlook.
- The medieval Rhineland Dominican mystics, such as Eckhardt, advocated
detachment as a way to approach balance in one's life.
- If we focus our lives on God, then the other things fall into
place. Then we can achieve balance.
- The homilist at a funereal yesterday quoted Ephesians: Live in a
manner worthy of the call you have received. He then related that
to the calls he had received in his life.
- Life is about relationships. We want balance among them.
But we want one imbalance: the relationship with God must be primary.
- A book I read recently: A girl awakes from a nightmare and rushes to
her mother's room. Her mother calms her, takes her back to her
room and tells her not to be afraid, that God is with her in the
room. The girl says, "That's okay, but right now I need
someone with skin."
- We must place our lives in the intimacies of relationships.
- Bernard of Clairvaux: Jesus is God's presence in the world; He anchors
our relationship to God.
- Jesus is always standing patiently waiting for us to open the doors to
- Solomon was willing to give up everything in pursuit of wisdom, an
attribute of God. God must be at the center, but Solomon detached
himself in order to acquire the wisdom to realize that.
- There is no perfect balance in life. We must live by our talents
and gifts, pursuing our relationships and friendships. A kind of
balance will come, especially if the primary relationship/friendship is
- Three aspects of friendship:
- Benevolence: desiring good for the other; recognizing God's hand
in goodness; desiring the best from ourselves for God.
- Mutuality: it's a two-way street; we give to God, and God gives to
us; we must invest in the relationship.
- Becoming another self for the other: main example: God's becoming
Jesus in the world for us. Scripture calls us to be another
self for God and others.
- A sign on the wall of a room where I stayed while in school:
"A friend is someone who . . .
- knows who you
- knows where
- knows what you
- still wants you
- My father died when I was young. It was a great loss to my
mother (they'd been married 40 years). But she had become involved
in ministry over the years and those relationships helped her to live
- But my mother told me once that her life was tough, since she had lost
most of her friends. She concluded that she would just have to
invest more in her remaining friends, including my sister and me.
- The critical junctures in life can occur early in life; they're not
always toward the end.
- Use the talents that we have and create relationships, the primary one
being the relationship with God.
- I ground my life in God. My
prayer (in effect): Lord, I don't know where I'm going, but I'll trust
you to guide me.
- Q&A (answers only)
- When my friend's mother died, he said he was quite sad because now he
was "nobody's child".
- I don't think a priest gets burned out unless he allows himself to
be. Some priests love buildings. I don't. I want to
- One's image of friendship depends in part on one's image of God.
Try to put the "skin" of friendship on your image of
God. It will help refine both images.
- My brother took a B.S. in business administration; but all he could
find was a minimum-wage job. He was angry at God, so he went to
church, sat in the last pew and gave God a piece of his mind. But
he did not hear any reply from God. I told him that if he'd been sitting
in the front pew, he'd have heard.
(The notes of this outline were taken by David
G. Price. They were wordprocessed by Patrick Lyons.
notes may not be reproduced without the written permission of the presenter.
This page was last edited on December 28, 2000 by Patrick Lyons.)