The Splendor of Recreation
by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
One might be surprised to discover that Saint Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274), in his monumental Summa Theologiae, addressed the topic of "play." What is the place of recreation in the Christian life?
In his "Second Part of the Second Part" (II, II), the "Angelic Doctor" discussed the value of play under the heading: "Regarding Modesty in Outward Bodily Actions" (Question 168). Just as the body needs rest from its labors so, too, the soul needs repose, which "lies in slackening the tension of mental study and taking some pleasure."
Saint Thomas used the famous story concerning Saint John the Evangelist related by Cassian, a fourth century Christian writer. One day, several persons found Saint John relaxing with his followers. These onlookers were scandalized that the Beloved Disciple of Jesus--the inspired author of the Fourth Gospel and three Epistles--would be recreating. The Apostle asked one of the amazed to shoot his arrow. Then, Saint John inquired whether he could continue shooting the arrow indefinitely. No, the man argued, because the bow would eventually break. The Evangelist keenly observed that our souls, also, will "break" if we do not provide them with obligatory rest.
While play is good, Saint Thomas sounded a trio of warning:
1.) "The pleasure should not be sought in anything indecent or harmful." (Even the non-Christian Cicero classified some jokes as discourteous, imprudent, obscene or shameful.)
2.) We should take care not to lose our direction. (Saint Ambrose, Bishop and Doctor, commented that the harmony of our good works could be destroyed when we recreate if we do not exercise caution.)
3.) Our play--like other actions--is "to suit the person, place and time, and to be duly adopted to circumstances." (Cicero remarked that relaxation should fit both the hour and the person.)
Saint Thomas, based on Aristotle, wrote that one specific virtue is connected to play: "cheerfulness or well-turned wit . . . A wise and virtuous man will sometimes turn to them" (that is, "playful words and deeds").
Two other inquiries were also posed. Is unnecessary play evil? Is too little play sinful?
First, Saint Thomas contended that yes, truly superfluous play is wrong because it is excessive to the rule of reason. For instance, if one were to use improper gestures or words or those that would harm another, this recreation would be immoral. Or, a similar activity is wrong if the playing "is mistimed or misplaced or unsuitable to the business in hand or to the company."
Second, this Dominican master of theology taught that yes, not enough play is sinful because it is defective to the rule of reason. He straightforwardly submitted: "It is against reason for a man to be burdensome to others, by never showing himself agreeable to others or being a kill-joy or wet blanket on their enjoyment." Moreover, "those who lack playfulness are sinful, those who never say anything to make you smile, or are grumpy with those who do."
Rest and enjoyment are not "ends" in themselves but rather assist us in the pursuit of authentic holiness: the everlasting attainment of God in Paradise.
If we have not heeded Saint Thomas' counsel, now is a perfect time to experience the beauty of recreation. May God be adored in our work and in our repose!
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125
More Catholic PRWire
Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718
A Recession Antidote
Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.
Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell
Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell
Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Franchising to Evangelize
Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Three words to a deeper faith
Relections for Lent 2009
Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell
World Food Program Director on Lent
Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Glimpse of Me
The 3 stages of life
Sex and the Married Woman
A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Modernity & Morality
Just a Minute
Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Edging God Out
Burying a St. Joseph Statue
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell
Easter... A Way of Life
Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
by Catholic Online
- 10 emotional prayers for healing and hope in a world of tragedy
- 'I'm too ashamed to go to confession, what do I do?'
- What is fasting and why does it matter?
- The Tragic Reason Mass Shootings Happen, and it's NOT the guns HD Video
- Daily Reading for Saturday, February 24th, 2018 HD Video
- St. Polycarp: Saint of the Day for Friday, February 23, 2018
- Daily Readings for Friday, February 23, 2018
- Spiritual Warfare and the Help of Angels HD
- St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr HD
- Daily Reading for Friday, February 23rd, 2018 HD
- AmericaĂ˘Â€Â™s pastor, Billy Graham passes away, age 99 HD
Learn about Catholic world
Inform - Inspire - Ignite
Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained
Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need
Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online
Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye
Today's bible reading
Products and services we offer
Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books
The California Network
Inspiring streaming service
Learn the Catholic way
Teacher lesson plans & resources
Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education