A Hidden Life is a beautiful movie. The majority of the film is silent, with little music and few moments of dialogue. It highlights the story of Blessed Franz Jagerstatter, who lives on a farm with his family. As the Nazis work to draft him into World War II, Blessed Franz struggles between good and evil, and his resistance toward violence has his neighbors turning against him. In the meantime, he and his family continue to work the land and care for each other. Even while the characters are in chaos at times, the beauty of the landscape that surrounds their home is consistent. The silence allows me to notice the beauty and awakens a desire to live out true leisure.
It seems that Blessed Franz understood true leisure. He knew the value of hard work, alongside love in caring for his family. Though hardship still arises, the beauty of their environment and simple living reminds me of God’s constant presence. Even as Blessed Franz and his wife wrestle with fear of the future, they don’t run away from their emotions or their work. Instead, they acknowledge their internal experiences and responsibilities to the farm and family life. They continue to have faith in God.
There is a beauty in silence, in a contemplative interior life, and I need more of it. I desire my own hidden life through holy leisure. Unfortunately, my phone can be a constant distraction to living into this stillness in which Blessed Franz surrounded himself. Earlier this semester, one of our directors spoke more on being transformed by the renewal of our minds and the hold screens and social media seemed to have on people. He said that St. Therese of Avila talks about prayer as being a gateway for the soul. This means we need to watch for what we allow to enter our soul or it can become our worldview. Allowing the Lord to enter in is the most fulfilling for us, because it keeps Christ as our worldview. But instead, screens vie for our attention and become the worldview, stealing us away from reality or changing our reality to whatever we see. This takes away the contemplative and interior life we’re trying to cultivate.
As I’ve returned to life on mission and changes have arisen, I’ve noticed how easy it is for screens to steal me away from reality. At the end of a long day, as my mind buzzes with questions, the on-going to-do list, or processing the day’s events, all I seek is rest. Or if it’s a quick break from one thing to another, I am pulled into social media’s worldview that does not leave me satisfied. Like a candy bar that is sweet but leaves you hungry, I finally click offline only to find my head still crowded, my body still tired, and with less time for true rest.
Chris Stefanick wrote in a post on the Sabbath saying, “Rest isn’t the same thing as sitting and scrolling.” Like Blessed Franz, I want to live in reality. It is in reality that we experience God. True leisure helps us to keep in touch with reality, to be sober and alert. When I return out of breath from a run, allow a book to be the first thing I read in the morning, spend some time emerged in a piece of writing, cook a small meal, study the Catechism or scripture to be filled with Truth, have an intentional conversation with a friend, or take time for silence within my day, these are the things that give me life. They allow me to enter into reality instead of trying to run from it.
Of course, Christ is at the center of all of this. We need to begin with prayer and go to Christ before filling our lives with more things to do. True leisure finds meaning with Him front and center in our hearts. Paragraph 319 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “God created the world to show forth and communicate his glory. That his creatures share in his truth, goodness, beauty—this is the glory for which God created them.” We were made for the beauty of reality in Christ which we long for and that which ultimately satisfies us.
I am far from perfect when it comes to social media addiction, but I desire a contemplative interior life and to be continually transformed by the renewal of my mind. I still think there is some goodness to social media, especially with Catholic posts. But there must be buffers of intentionality and moderation, which I continue to strive toward, otherwise the cycle continues.
The Lord created us for a life of abundance and for Heaven. Here’s to beginning again and seeking the Lord in all things.
“We must go courageously on the way of suffering, whether we begin sooner or later. They may build many beautiful streets today, but they cannot change the way to heaven. This way will always remain rugged and rocky.” – Blessed Franz Jagerstatter