From the Talmud:
You are not expected to complete the task.
Neither are you permitted to lay it down.
From Deep Economy by Bill McKibben:
...volunteer work of all kinds generated high levels of joy, exceeded only by dancing.
From Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel) by Pope Francis:
Our commitment does not consist exclusively in activities or programmes of promotion and assistance; what the Holy Spirit mobilizes is not an unruly activism, but above all an attentiveness which considers the other “in a certain sense as one with ourselves”. This loving attentiveness is the beginning of a true concern for their person which inspires me effectively to seek their good.
From The Road to Daybreak by Henri Nouwen:
Being poor is what Jesus invites us to, and that is much harder than serving the poor. The unnoticed, unspectacular, unpraised life in solidarity with people who cannot give anything that makes us feel important is far from attractive. It is the way to poverty. Not an easy way, but God’s way, the way of the cross.
From Made for Goodness: And Why This Makes All The Difference by Desmond and Mpho Tutu:
There are people with drive, energy and passion who espouse just causes and find the work soul-sustaining and life-giving. And then there are people with equal drive, energy and passion for whom the work becomes destructive. It’s not the projects they take on that are destructive. It’s not the dedication or passion that is destructive. Though their work may be motivated by passion for the particular cause and a deep-rooted sense of justice, for people who burn out, the work is also driven by a demon. The demon hidden behind the sense of purpose is the fear of not being good enough.
...Often people come to us not asking for advice or counsel. We don’t have to have the answer. We don’t have to solve the problem. They just want a listening ear. A listening ear can help people to work out their own wisdom.
From Respect in a World of Inequality by Richard Sennett:
Giving to others can be a way of manipulating them, or can serve the more personal need to affirm something about ourselves.
Lack of respect, though less aggressive than an outright insult, can take an equally wounding form. No insult is offered another person, but neither is recognition extended; he or she is not seen--as a full human being whose presence matters.
From The Story of My Experiments with Truth by Mohandas Gandhi:
I have noticed this characteristic difference in the popular attitude—partiality for exciting work, dislike of quiet constructive effort.
From The Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster:
Self-righteous service is impressed with the ‘big deal’...True service finds it almost impossible to distinguish the small from the large service...Self-righteous service is temporary...True service acts from ingrained patterns of living. It springs spontaneously to meet human need. Self-righteous service puts others into its debt and becomes one of the most subtle and destructive forms of manipulation. True service builds community.
From Joan Chittister’s commentary on the Rule of Benedict:
We are not capable of doing what we are about to do, but we are not doing it alone and we are not doing it without purpose. God is with us, holding us up so that the reign of God may be made plain in us. If we can become peacemakers, if we can control our need to control, if we can distinguish between our wants and our needs, then anybody can.
From Community and Growth by Jean Vanier:
The more we become people of action and responsibility in our community, the more we must become people of contemplation. If we do not nurture our deep emotional life in prayer hidden in God, if we do not spend time in silence, we risk becoming embittered… People who are hyperactive, fleeing from their deep selves and their anguish, live on illusions. They quickly become tyrannical, and their exercise of responsibility becomes intolerable, creating nothing but conflict.
The works of mercy don’t look like much. They don’t make much of a show, unless you are multiplying loaves and fishes the way Christ did. I always remember, however, that he did not keep on doing it, and they must have wanted him to.
-- Dorothy Day, quoted in Peter Maurin, Apostle to the World by Dorothy Day and Francis Sicius
Click here to return to the Readings page