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In a State of Grace But Burnt Out: What Can I Do?

Souls At Rest by Charlotte OstermannNote from Dan: Rarely will you find a soul yielded to God who does not also experience a great deal of peace. These souls often have one thing in common, their faith is revealed in the way they live. They recognize that God is their provider and thus honor Him as such – with rest. If you have less peace than you would like to admit, more anxiety than you would like to have, maybe it is time to return to God’s provision for a simple path to peace – a path that begins every week anew with the sabbath. I know of no better treatment of the subject than the one we recommend here. Charlotte Ostermann has given a gift to us in revealing the wisdom of God’s call to rest. If you heed the call, you will begin a path of peace that will draw you ever more deeply into the heart of God and the “abundant life” promised and offered through Christ.
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA for post on burnt outEditor's Note: Today we welcome Charlotte Ostermann to our writing team. Charlotte is a convert, an educator, poet, singer, speaker, and retreat designer. In addition to the books she has written (which you can see in her bio below), she has also been widely published in a number of different periodicals (also listed in her bio). Her book about the Sabbath rest, Souls at Rest: An Exploration of the Eucharistic Sabbath just came out in December! She is a member of and spiritual mentor with the Family of the Apostles of the Interior Life, in Kansas City, Kansas. We are blessed that she has joined our writing team. Please make her feel at home. 

So, without further ado, Here is the question Charlotte answers for us today:

I’m feeling burnt out and a bit lifeless spiritually. I’m living in a state of grace. I’m a committed Catholic. I don’t know what else to do to revitalize my spiritual life. Can you help?

That lifeless feeling you describe may be what our Church fathers called ‘acedia’. Burnt out, spent, listless, going through the motions, flat – all speak of that same condition. What you need is profound, healing, spiritual rest. The rest that is to be found in Christ, and that makes us more fully alive is ‘holy leisure’.

What does holy leisure look like? Only you can fully answer that question, but I can give you some guidelines.

  1. Holy Leisure is Eucharistic

In the Blessed Sacrament, God gives us perfect nourishment for the spiritual life. The problem is that we are not perfectly able to receive, to appropriate, all the goodness we are given. As you consider how to provide for the healing rest your soul needs, keep your focus on the essential component: the Real Presence of Christ.

  1. Holy Leisure Begins with the Sabbath

Sabbath-keeping wasn’t abolished by the coming of the Messiah, but fulfilled. Our Eucharistic, Sunday Sabbath is a fountain of refreshment, the source of the deep rest your soul craves. As you consider what you need to do, or not do, to keep the Sabbath day holy, you’ll be designing a ‘setting’ for the ‘jewel’: the Blessed Sacrament.

Holy leisure will begin to permeate your whole life, if you let your soul enter into it fully on Sundays. Sunday is the place to begin learning how to sanctify every day. Have you ever noticed that ‘any time’ is ‘no time’? God, in His wisdom, taught His people to set apart a day and place careful boundaries around it so as to protect a sacred encounter. St. Pope John Paul reminded us not to live ‘for the weekend,’ but to cultivate true Sabbath-centered, holy leisure.

  1. Holy Leisure is a Tonic Remedy

For some people, ‘acedia’ starts with laziness. Their spiritual torpor, or sloth, is rooted in the lack of activity, firm intention, virtue and hard work of day-to-day life. For others, the same inability to move themselves toward spiritual goods, or to approach the spiritual life with zeal, is caused by their constant busy-ness, distraction from self-examination and goal-oriented doing. For one, keeping the Sabbath holy – sacred, set apart for Christ – may mean taking up actions that provide spiritual discipline, serve others, bring them into community and exercise the will. For the other, the Sabbath day may need to be a space carved out of activity for non-doing, contemplation, quiet and solitude.

As a tonic medicine restores the body to a balanced, healthy ‘tone,’ a holy, Eucharistic Sabbath day restores and refreshes your whole being when it counteracts the particular imbalances of the rest of your week. Think of yourself as a stringed instrument. Are your strings too slack, or too tight to play beautiful music?

  1. Holy Leisure Leads to Interior Freedom

By continuing to live a sacramental, Catholic life, in a state of grace, you have nurtured and sustained the life of Christ within your own being. You have already begun to move toward greater vitality and fullness of life by identifying your need for something more, and asking for help. Now, by considering how to design the Sabbath day that corresponds to your own personal ways of getting ‘unstrung,’ you are engaging self-awareness, creativity and free will. The result – growing interior freedom – is the opposite of the acedia that weighs down and casts a gloomy cloud over your life in Christ.

I hope you’ll enjoy this approach to designing your sacred Sabbath, and grow more deeply rested, more free and joyful, each week.


Art: Charlotte Ostermann and book cover used with permission, all rights reserved.

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About Charlotte Ostermann

Charlotte is a Catholic convert, home educator, freelance writer and editor, poet and spiritual mentor with the Apostles of the Interior Life. She's the author of Souls at Rest: An Exploration of the Eucharistic Sabbath, Souls at Work: An Invitation to Freedom, Catholics Communicate Christ: How to Serve the Church as a Writer and Making Sunday Special. She has earned the Maryvale Institute "Certificate in Art, Beauty, and Inspiration“ an approach to the arts rooted in the Catholic Catechism. Her feature articles and poems have been published in Envoy, Canticle, Hereditas, Thessauri Ecclesiae, Mater et Magistra, St. Austin Review, and Gilbert magazines. Charlotte lives with her husband, Russ, and five of their eight children on a "farm wannabe" north of Lawrence, Kansas. She sings in the Sursum Corda Polyphony Ensemble and at her home church, the St. Lawrence Catholic Campus Center. She's a member of the Catholic Writers Guild, the Catholic Creatives Salon and the Contemporary Religious Artists Association. Charlotte has spoken for home educators, women's retreats, moms groups, C.S. Lewis Conferences, and more. Her topics include poetic learning, aesthetic education, true beauty, creativity and faith, the art of dialogue, holy leisure, literature and life, interior freedom. Do you need a speaker? See for more information.

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  • Patricia

    It is so life- giving and refreshing to see a person’s Catholic Faith as the spring/fount of creativity, inspiration, and productivity in contemporary society. As one grows closer to God in their spiritual journey, one discovers more of who they are “in Christ”….who God created them to be in a unique and special way!
    Resting in God enables one to get the message because they have turned the dial to the right channel and have set aside time to listen, Enjoyed this post!

  • Blake Helgoth

    What it your life situation makes this very difficult? What is one with a depressed spouse, a child with Asperser’s and a father with cancer to do? I’m almost always needed.

    • Patricia

      Maybe you could ask for some volunteers from your church or local hospital to give an hour of their time to relieve you. There are stay-at-home moms, retirees, transferees, unemployed, and others who are in helping professions and many other regular people who would be willing to give an hour a month. If you have insurance, you could ask for a home health aid . If you had a few of them you could align them to give you a break for a few hours every week. It is important to keep up your physical, mental, and spiritual strength with rest, prayer, and spiritual refreshment.

      • I love Patricia’s creative ideas for you, Blake! My whole approach to Sabbath-keeping involves facing the various realities that constrain you and coming up with a response that begins to open up the interior space that can get so cluttered and closed. Sometimes that response may be only a symbolic one – you might, on the Sabbath, try to move as slowly as possible, investing each movement with greater awareness, or place a vase of flowers where you will see it constantly as you move through the day and be reminded that the natural tasks do open up to supernatural beauty, like seeds to flowers. You might let Sunday be a day for journaling about your feelings and needs. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you know yourself and find ways to serve others without becoming numb to your own needs. Sabbath-keeping can be so very small that it fits into even a life cramped with cares and brings a breath of fresh air. For instance, choose a particular phrase of Scripture to meditate upon as you go through all the repetitive motions of other-care, or create a ‘Sunday prayer” to utter at each hour, or during each act of service, such as “Lord, accept this service as my prayer for Sabbath rest.” St. Francis Cabrini is my source for the idea that someone so busy with caretaking can ask for their rest to come through such a prayer. God bless you for being a vessel of His grace to these needy souls!

        • Zee

          What a beautiful response Charlotte. God bless you.
          Blake , may God grant you grace and strength and bless you and your family.

      • Kathy Quade

        I am unable to attend Mass (I watch it daily on TV). In my parish, I cannot find anyone willing to take me to Mass once in a while. I have a limited income and cannot afford a taxi to take me and bring me home. So in a way I understand what Blake is talking about. The answer you gave him is very good, but we live in a world lately where not a lot of people are willing to go out of their way for others. However, my daily Mass experience keeps me close to the Lord.

    • Rose

      Blake, I have been in your position, still am. I understand how difficult it is to find time that is yours alone. It is difficult to find others willing or able pitch in and lend a hand, give a bit of time to lift the yoke from your shoulders and carry it for a while.
      We that God has chosen as caregivers have a very special and blessed existence. A rare space where we are needed every moment of our lives, where we can give our all and still more is called for. Where it never seems that the yoke will be lifted. But it will, someday, and we look back at the labor we have done and know it was a labor of love. We are doing What God has given us to do. Without rest, without comfort, without recognition, without pay, without thanks. It is a blessed act of humility and an expression of God’s love.
      Know you are walking a blessed path, rocky and narrow, carrying the cross that God has given you. Know that God has entrusted you with the lives of some of his most fragile flock.
      My dearest prayers are: “Thy will be done.”, “Jesus, I trust in you.”,
      The prayer of St. Francis, the litany of humility, and hymns I keep in my throat and heart as I care for God’s sheep.

    • Rose

      This is Rose again, I was unable to finish my comment and so returned with this.
      Remember that God is Love and you are manifesting that love with the care you give. Remember that God is eternal and does not measure time like we do, so one moment spent with God in our time frame is much different than a moment to God. A caregiver does not have long periods of time for themselves, but we can always carry a prayer on our lips and in our mind, thanking God for the cross we bear, praising His name and praying for those we care for.
      Read about St. Martin de Porres, ask him to pray for you.
      God bless you and all caregivers!

  • ” protect a sacred encounter” – a great way to refer to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If we contemplate the meaning of sacred encounter we are led to many places in the Bible where God personally manifests Himself to man. Of course we can start with Adam, Abraham, Moses, and keep going until the birth of Jesus when we became gifted with a permanent sacred encounter through the Mass where, if we are in the state of grace, we receive Jesus in His body, blood, soul and divinity. If Mass is merely routine and nothing more than a duty to do, if we cannot see deeply into it, we fall into acedia and finally into mortal sin. Relationships require work. Our relationship with God requires work. Your post gives us a great starting place. Good work, Charlotte.

    • Thank you! The connection to the work of relationships is such an important one: without the interior spaciousness that Sabbath rest provides, I know I am not as able to be fully present to my family and friends.

  • Pamela

    Your words are timely for me, Charlotte. I just ordered two copies of your book–one for myself, one for a dear friend who inspired me to finally slow down and truly honor our Lord’s Day. While she has been an excellent role model, I think we will both benefit from your insights. Thank you!

    • Pamela, I think the best way to read Souls at Rest would be with a friend! I hope ya’ll enjoy it.

  • HerHeartbeat

    Welcome Charlotte!
    It’s always a happy event to have another ‘family’ member join us! God bless you as you share your many gifts with us!

  • LizEst

    Welcome to our writing team Charlotte! Thank you for this refreshing post! So necessary!

  • Welcome, Charlotte. Great advice.

  • Pingback: It’s Been a Great Month!()

  • “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (1Peter 5:6-7). This is the leisure that you can carry everywhere.

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