Not to Seek for Rest?

The JB posted this prayer by St. Ignatius of Loyola last month:

O Lord, teach me to serve you as you deserve,
To give and not to count the cost,
To fight and not to heed the wounds,
To toil and not to seek for rest,
To Labor and not to ask for any reward,
Save knowing that I do your will. Amen.

JB went on to comment:

The biggest enemy is complacency, and the “not to” phrases above are all about complacency. Counting the cost, heeding the wounds, taking a rest: they all ask the same question. “Haven’t I done enough for now, Lord? Don’t I deserve a little break here?” Can’t I just be pleased with what I have done, instead of considering what I haven’t?

I agree completely, except the fourth line of the prayer haunts me. I know how I am. I can go pretty strong on a task and my commitment will not falter. But I also know that I need a break every now and then. Without a break, my motivation and determination tends to dull. The fire in my belly begins to smolder. I need a rest in order to rekindle the fire, to stoke up my motivation and press on with renewed vigor. But that fourth line makes me feel inadequate, as if I am not trying hard enough.

And then there is the first part of today’s gospel reading from Mark 6:30-31:

The apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

Aha! Jesus knew that the apostles needed some time to rest. I don’t feel so inadequate now.

BUT WAIT, as Father Ken discussed in his homily last night, there is more to the story. In last week’s reading, Mark 6:7-13, Jesus had commissioned the apostles to go out and preach repentance; “The Twelve drove out many demons,
and they anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them”. This week’s reading is about their return. Imagine how excited they were to report all the miraculous things they had done. Each of them in turn would say “I did this” or I did that”. Each of their reports would begin with “I”. But did they really do all those miraculous things? Jesus knew that they needed some down time to rest, to pray, to meditate and reflect on recent events—a kind of mini attitude adjustment.

This type of rest is not an opportunity to sit back and ask as JB says, “Haven’t I done enough for now, Lord? Don’t I deserve a little break here?” No, this type of rest is what I seek at times, the time to pray, to meditate, and to recharge the batteries. Everybody needs a little attitude adjustment every now and then.

(But the fourth line in St. Ignatius’s prayer still bothers me a little…)

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