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  • Writer's pictureFr. Vili Lehtoranta

The Necessity of Rest and Pleasure

Dear faithful,

In July I had my first real vacation since Bishop Dolan died. I went to visit Finland and Sweden, for the first time in five years, and came back rested and refreshed. The Sisters have had, or will have, their little break and times of recreation during the summer months. These summer days should be spent well, before the school and the regular schedule again start in September.

I put some photos of the trip on my website, if you wish to take a look.

We might not think about it, but it is a Christian and Catholic teaching that one’s life must not be too strenuous and filled with work at all times. St. Thomas Aquinas writes in the Summa (II-II, Q. 168), that a man, because he cannot always be at work, since his power is finite and equal to a certain fixed amount of labor, needs bodily rest for the body’s refreshment. The soul needs rest, too, and the weariness of the soul needs to be remedied by resting it with pleasure.

In that same article of the Summa, St. Thomas also tells a story from the life of St. John the Apostle. Some people were scandalized on finding St. John playing with his disciples. The saint told one of them, a man who carried a bow, to shoot an arrow. And when the man had done this several times, St. John asked him if he could do it indefinitely. The man said that if he continued doing it, the bow would break. St. John replied that in like manner man’s mind would break if its tension were never relaxed.

Everyone, therefore, needs some rest and recreation. Unfortunately the world often presents Christianity as penitential beyond measure, filled with doom and gloom. My mother, when she was a girl, used to listen a very popular anti-Christian pop group called The Beatles, who in one of their songs sing: “Was she told when she was young that pain would lead to pleasure? Did she understand it when they said that a man must break his back to earn his day of leisure?” So the world thinks that the lot of a Christian is nothing but pain and suffering, and it’s only in Heaven one can rest.

True Christianity, i.e. Catholicism, is nothing of this kind. It’s true that God said: “With labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life.” (Gen. 3:17) But to all who are tired in serving God in this world, Jesus says: “Come to me, all you that labour, and are burdened, and I will refresh you.” (Matt. 11:28) And St. Paul writes: “There remaineth therefore a day of rest for the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, the same also hath rested from his works, as God did from His. Let us hasten therefore to enter into that rest; lest any man fall into the same example of unbelief.” (Hebrews 4:9-11)

The Sodality of Charity recently hosted a game night, where not just the Sodalists but also all the parishioners were invited to spend a fun evening together. When I started the Sodality three years ago, Bishop Dolan gave me only one direction for its activities, namely that those children must have fun. Our Oblate group is also united to the activities of the parish. The Oblates are very much an active group, and as parishioners they enjoy of all the refreshments of body and soul of which St. Gertrude’s is known.

On July 2 we lost a devout and faithful parishioner, Mrs. Jean Bischel. She was Sister Ulrica’s grandmother, and her son is married to Sister Eulalia’s aunt. Jean and her husband Kirby knew Bishop Dolan ever since he was a young priest. By her help and prayers she supported many generations of Traditional priests. Bishop Dolan sometimes commented that I was kind of a protégé of the Bischels, since I was very close to them ever since I first visited St. Gertrude’s and during my studies in the Seminary. Jean was very close to Bishop Nkamuke, too, and a great friend of his mission in Nigeria. Please say a little prayer for the repose of her soul.

Yours in the Charity of Christ and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,

Fr. Vili Lehtoranta


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