"In Wisdom is a spirit intelligent, holy, unique, manifold, subtle, agile, clear, unstained, certain," Wis 7:22
A few years ago I was asked to fill in for a while as a pastor. I readily agreed but it was soon clear that there was too much on my plate. I could not continue my primary work as director of formation for our younger brothers and function as pastor. For the first time in my life, I had to go the Provincial and say that although I wanted to help, I couldn't. The energy and skill to do several things at once was not there. Although I was embarrassed, it was a good decision, a wise one. Such was not always my style.
When I was younger and became agitated or anxious with too many things to do at the same time, I would panic and do whatever was directly in front of me. I would wash a dish, clean a floor, anything to get away from the feeling of helplessness. This was not a good practice but it happens to most of us at least occasionally, and when it does we are very far from the ideal of wisdom spoken of in today's first reading. We do not act intelligently, clearly, certainly. When we need to stop, breathe, pray and seek help and guidance, we rush to do tasks that are not a priority and often wind up making a bad situation worse.
St. Leo, Pope and Doctor, received the title great because he didn't panic, didn't act rashly, but somehow kept his focus at a time in the church's life that would have been overwhelming for most of us. With the Pelagian and Manichean heresies gathering steam and attracting followers and Attila the Hun threatening to overrun Rome, Leo did not panic. Rather, he became an ambassador. He wrote direct but kind and inviting letters to those proposing heresy and met with Attila directly to dissuade him from plundering Rome. More important, in a Christmas sermon, he spoke not with the arrogance that can sometimes accompany power, but with the humility that insists we are equal as sinners. Only humility, Leo reminded his listeners, allows us to search for ways to work together for the good of the entire church.
Today pray for the faith to slow down no matter how heavy the burdens you are asked to carry.