I can’t imagine a guy with the potential for more day-to-day stress, pressure, and overall responsibility than the pope. (With the possible exception of the President of the United States and the committee who decides what colors will be fashionable this season.) Yet somehow, Pope Benedict XVI (that’s the sixteenth for all you non Super Bowl fans) manages to stay relatively Adultitis-free.
Just last week, the pope gave a speech advising everybody to, um, chill out. Too much work and busyness is no good for the soul, he said. And it can make you stupid, too. I am paraphrasing a bit, but here’s the direct quote:
“It is necessary to pay attention to the dangers of excessive activity, regardless of one’s condition and occupation, observes (St. Bernard), because — as he said to the Pope of that time, and to all Popes and to all of us — numerous occupations often lead to ‘hardness of heart,’ ‘they are no more than suffering for the spirit, loss of intelligence and dispersion of grace.'”
Slowing down, what a concept! This statement was made while the pope himself was kicking back at his summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Italy. To me, it’s a good sign that he practices what he preaches.
So as I take on this weighty responsibility of diagnosing the pope’s Adultitis level, I find myself giving him a pretty positive (or is that negative, in medical terms?) prognosis. And not just because I’m Catholic. He ranks pretty high up there when it comes to maintaining perspective, being honest, and — ahem — having faith. And of course, judging by the statement above, he has a good handle on slowing down to delight in the little things. Plus, the Pope Mobile is pretty sweet.
You may notice from the little Adultitis-O-Meter, I didn’t give him a completely clean bill of health. Why not? Well, all of the outfits and pageantry and the pomp and circumstance… they’re a little stuffy. Just once, I’d like to see the guy wearing Mickey Mouse ears, or sweatpants, or this t-shirt. Kids do like to play dress up, but not THAT much.
Still, if we all scored as well as Pope Benedict XVI, our world would be a much better place. And we should all take his message about slowing down to heart. We all need a break from time to time — no matter how important your job may be — or we won’t be any good to anybody. And if anyone gives you a hard time about taking a little time for yourself and the fam, relax.
The pope is on your side.