It won’t surprise most people, even Catholics, that what we’ve been through for the past 30 months has created indifference: a lack of interest, concern or empathy for the plight of others. Although an individual is commonly known for his compassion, the past two and a half years have created exhaustion and fatigue.
This condition is called “compassion fatigue” in the mental health field. It refers to the weariness felt by providers due to the number of emotional appeals made by those in need. Some call this condition “burnout”.
You might be in some level of indifference or exhaustion due to the ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19, the economic inflation experienced every time we walk into a grocery store, or gas prices that fluctuate unpredictably and cause many of us to question the necessity of driving to a number of planned destinations.
As Catholics, we have four remedies for indifference. First, our Catholic identity offers us a daily antidote to the diseases of time. The pinnacle of our Catholic identity is the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist, which is a saving reality, especially when we feel overwhelmed. We also venerate over 3,000 Catholic saints, holy men and women who exemplify the Christian life. We experience God’s presence through the seven sacraments at key times in our lives. We honor the Virgin Mary and her obedience to bear and give birth to the Son of God. Our identity as Catholics reminds us that we form a community of faith in the holy and precious name of Jesus as we strive to transform the world.
- Do not give in to the disease of indifference. Take the time this month to better understand the Catholic faith and allow it to inspire you to help fight the misery in the world today.
- Reach out and help another person in Jesus name. Embrace our Catholic identity and social teachings, as well as our critical thinking skills and life leadership to become a more virtuous person.
- Learn more about critical thinking skills.
Second, our Catholic social teaching provides us with specific ways to extend compassion to one another, which helps us deal with indifference. It is difficult to remain indifferent to the needs of others when we are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, who calls us to care for others in His name. The greatest antidote to feeling indifference is to look at the broken body of Jesus and know that he went to the cross to show us how to be one body in his name by his presence, offering compassion to the others who suffer.
Third and fourth, we are encouraged to develop our critical thinking skills and life leadership skills, which help us to become virtuous, or morally good and holy. Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, explains that critical thinking skills are basically a gift from God that should help us order our world. He encourages us to ask these questions: What is critical thinking? How is this a gift from God to us? How does critical thinking order our thoughts and actions? Finally, we must ask ourselves: how will critical thinking order our heavenly victory and peace when we have accomplished these earthly tasks?
Life leadership skills in the Catholic tradition are often referred to as servant leadership, which is the form of leadership most often espoused by Pope Francis. John 13 teaches us that we are to be servants to all, which is best modeled as bottom-up, not top-down, leadership. The servant leader places service above self-interest, listens to affirm others, inspires confidence by being trustworthy, and nurtures others by helping them become whole.
The best cure for exhaustion or indifference is to serve others and care about their situation. You could offer to volunteer in the food department, as food insecurity has become a reality for many families. You could provide a fully equipped backpack for a child to start school this fall. You could offer to work at a homeless shelter in whatever capacity is best for you and your family. These few suggestions will help counter the disease of indifference that is sabotaging our culture.
Be someone who makes a difference against these difficulties and allow Christ to fill you with his compassion for others in need, while allowing you to experience the healing ointment of his touch in your own life. .
Soucheray is an Emeritus Certified Marriage and Family Therapist and Fellow of St. Ambrose in Woodbury. Learn more at his website ifhwb.com.
Category: Simple Holiness