We live in an age that promotes transparency and the sharing of information indiscriminately. Good or evil, with blatant disregard for the souls of those who might happen upon it, information and facts are being regurgitated and spewed out upon the face of the earth like some new form of pollution. The industry of sensationalism is creating a thick layer of toxic information waste on the surface of the planet that its poor inhabitants must wade through on a daily basis. Searching for the information we need increasingly resembles dumpster diving. The clouds that store our precious data also allow an endless torrent of acid “news” rain flooding our souls.
Saint Martha will help us avoid activism in the spiritual life if we are open to receiving the correction of Christ as she did. Activism is similar to the dispositions we see in workaholics, but one is a religious malady while the other is human. Both are similar in that they cannot stand to be passive. Passivity is characteristic of death, irresponsibility, weakness, apathy, despair, etc. The activity of a workaholic is not noble in and of itself, but it creates the illusion that one’s life is full rather than empty. It is based on the presumption that the activity of work itself is always better than not working. A healthier conception recognizes that human life is more than just work and requires a balance of activity and passivity. This balance can only be established by discovering a truly human finality.
As we grow and develop in the Christian life, it is important to recognize that the struggle for holiness takes place at deeper and more hidden places in our soul. Perhaps we’ve grown in virtue enough that what people can judge of our actions is beyond reproach – perhaps we’ve become like the “just man,” mentioned in the psalms. At that point, temptations to sins of the flesh – gluttony, lust, greed, etc. – may seem to have vanished. Temptation does not only come from undisciplined flesh however. Temptation is also planted, sown in us by an enemy. So when certain struggles of the flesh seem to have vanished or dried up, new and more subtle seeds of evil are being planted in us. Undisciplined and impenitent flesh is fertile soil for obvious sins of the flesh, but self-discipline and self-control are fertile soil for the hidden sins of the spirit. The goal of the spiritual life is not to eliminate temptation – if we begin to believe that we do not experience temptation anymore, and that because we do not we are more perfect, we are preparing the ground for sins of pride, arrogance, self-importance, vanity, etc. It would be better for us to continue in the sins of the flesh with humble recognition and tears of repentance, than in claiming victory over these sins to have our spirit puffed up with pride.