We originate from a family and are destined to be members of families, even if for some it involves the unconventional family of religious life or a special role as uncle-mentor or aunt-confidant. St. Paul’s insight is right on, “each of us must be free to devote oneself to the Lord’s affairs,” but his application is wrong, at least in terms of how we understand things today. We should never think that putting food on the table or “wasting” quality time with the children in our care or, indeed, pleasing one’s spouse is any less about being devoted to the Lord’s affairs than, say, going to church or serving in a food pantry.

Doing every duty and undertaking every responsibility of my life, doing so with love, and even finding the right balance–that is letting all my activities become “the Lord’s affairs” as they ought to be. Then, what a wondrous life I’ll be living!

—Fr. Terry Charlton, SJ, joined the Chicago province and now serves as assistant provincial in Eastern Africa. He is the co-founder and chaplain of St. Aloysius Gonzaga High School for AIDS orphans from the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya.