REFLECTION: The danger of routine PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 January 2015 11:41



WE  have to be forewarned about this danger. This is a constant threat to us. Given our human condition that has to contend with the tricky duty to put our act together since we are made of different parts, not to mention the divisive effects of our sins, we need to be on the lookout for routine to subtly seep into our system.

Routine is the opposite predicament we have to the more common ones of laziness and idleness. It happens when we do things mechanically. It’s action without the spirit, deeds without love.

It’s using our hands and mouth with mind and heart somewhere else. It gives us a false sense of being there, yet the fact is that we are not really there. It tends to make us showy, using clever rhetoric and histrionics, but without the substance.

Yes, we can appear busy for a time, occupied with so many things, and can even manage to show some good fruits of our labor, and yet miss the main point. We can look good on the outside, but the inside is quite empty and a mess.

It’s what is being referred to in the Book of Revelation, addressed to the angel of the church of Sardis, “I know your works. You have the name of being alive, and you are dead.” (3,1)

This is how one saint, St. Josemaria Escriva, describes the danger of routine: “I must also warn you against the danger of routine—the real sepulchre of piety. Routine is often disguised as an ambition to do or embark upon great feats, while daily duties are lazily neglected.” (Friends of God, 149)

In our current world culture that is heavily leaning on image-building, putting make-ups and doing make-overs that could easily lead us to pretensions, hypocrisy and deception—in short, that could easily undermine our consistency, integrity, unity of life—we have to double up our guard against routine.

Nowadays, the make-up and make-overs that people do are more to mask some negative or ugly physical features rather than to enhance one’s real if inner beauty. They are meant more to lie than to purify the truth of our dignity we have inside us. We have to correct this anomalous attitude toward this otherwise legitimate use of make-ups and make-overs.

Besides, our current world culture pressures us to be very Interested in big things that would have vast social or public impact, but at the expense of giving due attention to the ordinary little duties of our day.

This is a dangerous situation that would make us most prone for routine to set in. We can plunge into a frenzy of activism, motivated not by love but more by pride, vanity, greed, lust, etc. We get into a self-destructing process.

We need to see to it that we are truly in touch with God, that we are motivated mainly by love and not just by any practical and mundane value, because outside of this context of God and love, all  our work and efforts can only invite routine to come in.

With routine, any task or initiative that we do cannot last long. That’s simply because with routine we actually would be detached from the inexhaustible source of love, goodness and energy. It would lack a self-perpetuating and continually-renewing principle.

That’s why we need to examine ourselves more deeply, trying to probe into the real and basic motives of our intentions and actions. If at the end of the day, we get tired not only physically but also spiritually, then we have a clear indication that we have been working more out of routine than of love of God and of others.

Obviously, protecting ourselves from routine requires continuing training and formation as well as daily battle against the enemies of our soul. We need to learn to pray, to get in vital union with God even while we are in the middle of the world.

We have to learn to discipline our senses and feelings that usually get carried away by the many allurements of the world. Better said, our senses and feelings do not have the capacity to discern what is good and evil, what is safe and dangerous with the many things we handle in this world.

We have to learn how to look for time and space to be especially close to God, because only when enjoy an abiding intimacy with God would we be able to avoid routine. Hopefully, such practice would sooner or later make us a real contemplative in the middle of the world doing things out of love, and not just out of routine.