"Self-care" Part II

In the previous article, we examined the dangers of the idea of “self-care,” as defined by the world—taking “care” of yourself by indulging in materialistic pleasures, or even in engaging in what can seem to be healthy activities, but which are not done for love of God.

Since that is not how we should be taking care of ourselves, how does God want us to care for ourselves? 

On a basic level, since humans are made up not only of souls but also bodies, we do have to take care of the body that God has given us. This can be done in very simple ways: ensuring we get enough sleep, not missing a meal (unless, of course, we have a good reason such as when we are fasting according to the Church’s norms) and getting a healthy dose of physical activity. 

We also have to get rest—and here we don’t merely mean sleep or the lack of physical activity. The third commandment, to keep the Sabbath day holy, can shed some light here: “Just as God rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done, human life has a rhythm of work and rest. The institution of the Lord's Day helps everyone enjoy adequate rest and leisure to cultivate their familial, cultural, social, and religious lives” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2184).

We can examine how we spend our Sundays—do we ensure that we go to Church, and if possible with our families? Do we spend time with God in prayer, meditating on His Word and adoring Him in the Eucharist where possible? Do we make a special effort to spend time with our families, and best of all, in praying together—perhaps the rosary or another kind of family devotion? Do we try to complete whatever homework we may have before Sunday, so that instead of being distracted by thoughts of “I’m dead if I don’t finish this essay by tonight,” we can give all of our attention to others? 

On yet another level, a more spiritual one, Jesus Himself told us directly where to find rest: “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29). Jesus Himself is rest for our souls, and we can experience this when we imitate Him in His humility and meekness. 

But how can we find rest in being humble, when our pride and selfishness always wage war against us when we try to control them? 

As much as dying to our ego is painful, the peace of no longer being enslaved and dominated by our pride is much greater than the momentary satisfaction of “having the last word.” As St. Paul puts it, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do. Instead, I keep on doing the evil I do not want to do. And if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it” (Romans 7:18-20). Sister Clare certainly died many deaths in order to silence the voice of pride in her, since she had gone to acting agencies that tried to inculcate in her the mindset that she was superior to everybody else, yet she herself said that she was not truly happy. Father Henry also emphasized greatly the importance of this virtue: “humility, humility, humility!”

Of course, without the grace of God in the sacraments and prayer, there is no way that we will be able to obtain this virtue that we so long for. That is why Jesus not only told us to take His yoke upon ourselves, but to go to Him first! Those who want true rest will run to Him in confession and in the Eucharist, allowing His gaze to renew our strength. Let us also go to our Lady and ask Her to obtain for us the grace to be a humble servant of the Lord just like Her. She will take us up into Her arms and help us walk on the path to go straight to Heaven—the least “tiring” path because it is the shortest one and, with Her presence to comfort and strengthen, also the sweetest one.

“Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall. But those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40: 30-31).

-Winnie Ng, Singapore