Duty before Holiness
There is a mistaken notion that assumes that holiness consists of shirking duties for spiritual pursuits."Duty before everything else, even before what is holy." - Saint Padre Pio
This is a misplaced, romantic concept of holiness that attaining holiness means escape. It's also not consistent with what the Catholic faith teaches. The Catholic faith teaches that true holiness comes from the fulfillment of one's duty within their vocation.
So if you're a priest, your path to holiness will look much different than if you are a married person.
However, the thing that unifies both vocations or states of life is their faithfulness to their respective duties.
So what is a duty?
A duty is an action which places a certain responsibility upon the person. Duties are not usually optional. They are the things which everyday existence is based upon. For a priest, it may be reciting the breviary. While for a married person a duty might be to work a 50 hour week to provide for their family. Holiness follows the call of duty.
Today's culture is obsessed with guru "spirituality," Spirituality is seen as a sort of escape from everyday existence. Think of vacation advertisements that usually begin with the line... "need a get away?" Instead of embracing one's duties with all of their humdrum banalities, our society is telling us to "get away" from the thing that most unites us to our state in life. The problem with this logic is that the vast majority of life is spent in the fulfillment of basic duties. Forsaking these duties for a more "lofty aim" prevents full spiritual maturity.
It's like building a house without a foundation. There is nothing exciting about the foundation and furthermore, it's hidden. Yet without it the house can not exist. The same goes with the fulfillment of one's duties. Duty is usually mundane and done behind the scenes. A person's spiritual experience will be grossly under developed; perhaps just dotted with some "peak experiences" if they fail to incorporate their daily duty into their spiritual life. Separating the two is is like being a spiritual drug
addict; only wanting to get high and avoid real everyday living.
Striving to follow Gods will for our lives means understanding that we are where God wants us to be at that moment. Then we need to accept that God is in control of everything in our life; the good, the bad, and the boring. Holiness follows the call of duty. Our God is a God or order. Orderliness is Godly. Does God want us to go to Bolivia and feed the starving children? Yes i'm sure He does. But if your wife is sick and your eldest son is seven and has special needs, this may not be the time to catapult yourself into the foreign missionary field. Your path to holiness is to be priest prophet and king to your little family. It is no less meritorious, and certainly no less holy.
"Put your heart aside. Duty comes first, but when fulfilling your duty, put your heart into it. It helps".
-St. Jose Maria Escriva