You are not an angel

‘You are not an angel’

I used to hear this remark made by an old priest. He said it to me when I was on a retreat with him. He said it more than once. I don’t think I ever thought deeply about this comment. But just now, reading a little on the life of monks in monastries, the Benedictine monk made the same statement. He wrote:

Monks are not angels. We have to eat, we need a sheltered place to sleep; monks do need to earn a living. Nevertheless, a monk, to be true to his name, must always resist the temptation to define himself and his way of life in terms of his work, what he does for a living. The works that we do are always secondary, and never necessary, to our identity as monks—save one thing.

The one activity common to all monks today and throughout history has been the constant daily round of prayer. The monastic vocation is essentially that. It is the call to a life devoted to prayer.

Does this explain my situation? Not really. After all, I am neither an angel nor a monk. I am simply a child of God, and now I do have much food for thought. I need to look at the activities of my life, those that take up so much of my attention, and let me see, am I an angel, a monk, a child of God or what?