Two weeks ago, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to a crowd of the faithful who gathered outside his summer residence to pray with him.  (See this CNA news article for August 21, 2006).  He spoke to them about the danger of excessive busyness and the importance of taking time to slow down in our lives.  The Pope’s words are important for all Catholics.  In today’s busy world, we all need to slow down.  The Pope quoted St. Bernard, a Doctor of the Church who lived in the 1100s and warned that being too busy can result in spiritual suffering, loss of intelligence, and the loss of grace.  If we become too busy physically, we can hurt ourselves spiritually.  

In today’s world, we are constantly busy.  Technology has given us nearly-instant communication and transportation.  We are always doing something – we have continuous access to entertainment at our fingertips.  Our world is also filled with noise.  Radios, i-pods, and cd players give us constant access to music, while cell phones ensure that even when we are alone, we always have someone to talk to.  People today spend very little time in silence, whether they are waiting to catch a flight at the airport or stuck in traffic.  We are surrounded by a busy, noisy society that places very little value on peaceful silence and reflection.  But the more we fill our lives with noise and activity, the fewer opportunities we give ourselves for quiet prayer and reflection.  

When people are too busy, they tend to be irritable and get stressed out easily.  They are in no condition to glorify God through their lives, and they are too busy to see the grace of God at work in the world around them.  That is why it is important for us to slow down and take some time to grow closer to God.  Instead of thinking of God for just a few minutes when we wake up or fall asleep, our prayers to God should be constant throughout the day.  Slowing down will give us more time for reflection in our daily lives.  We will be able to see God in the small things that happen every day, to recognize God in the beautiful creation that surrounds us and in the people that we encounter in our lives.  We will be able to spend more time throughout the day thinking about God, and as a result, we will be more fully able to offer our entire day and everything that we do to glorify Him.  

In addition, the more time we spend in silence, the better we are able to hear God.  God does not speak to us loudly over a megaphone; rather, He speaks to us in the quiet stillness of our hearts.  Therefore, it is important that we know how to listen to Him and hear His voice.  In today’s busy, chaotic world, we can easily miss His voice if we do not slow down long enough to listen.  Only in silence and prayer can we truly hear what God is saying in our hearts.  It is important to our spiritual health that we do not become exceedingly busy to the point that we are never able to hear God speak in our lives. We need to make sure that we are able to spend an adequate amount of time in reflection and prayer.  

I see the problem of excessive busyness as being a major problem among teenagers as well as adults.  Many young people are involved in school, sports, clubs, and other activities.  They are often busy from the moment they wake up until the moment they go to sleep.  This way of life can become dangerous for teenagers, as it can for anyone.  A schedule that is overly busy is not healthy physically or spiritually.  We need to remember to allow ourselves enough time to see the goodness of God in our lives.  The Lord tells us, “Be still and know that I am God,” (Ps. 46:11) and this is important advice for us to follow as we strive to live as Christians.