Latest Posts

Post Library


Fending off Compassion Fatigue

September 10, 2021

Dear Companions on the Journey,

I was recently reminded by a community member of the many opportunities we at the Paulist Center Community offer for people to be involved in making the world a better place by working for social justice. Looking at this week’s bulletin and beyond, I am kind of overwhelmed by the opportunities that are out there. In addition to Creation Care, there are many opportunities:

Our recipient of the 2020 Hecker Award, Fr. Bryan Massingale, reminds of our commitment to be a community of inclusion, especially with regard to race and LGBTQ community;
We have received a wonderful report from our Sister Community, Hacienda Vieja, about their scholarship program which we are helping to support (here is their greeting and here is a report); and,
We prepare to support our friends at Haley House with their free clothing room.

So many causes calling for our attention and support. At the same time, I was keenly aware of feelings of frustration and what I and others call “compassion fatigue”: a kind of paralysis brought on by too many issues, too little time, and a feeling of powerlessness. “There is just too much stuff out there!” as one person put it.

If you are feeling compassion fatigue:

Choose one (or two) issues about which you are passionate;
Decide a) to read more, and consistently, about that topic, and b) do something each week about that issue;
Resist the urge to go after the crisis du jour in favor of being faithful to the issue that touches your heart;
Pray, remembering you can’t do everything, but you can do something. Focused action is effective action; scatter gun spurts bear little positive effect. As Pope John is reported to have said: “Lord, there are so many burdens on my mind. But right now, I’ve got to get some sleep and so I leave the world in your hands.”

On the other hand, if you don’t have an issue or two that move you to consistent, positive response, then it’s time to get one! Work until “compassion fatigue” is a problem!

What do you think?

(Next week I will be sharing an reflection and assessment of the results of our survey. This will be the last opportunity to particpate.)

About two weeks ago, we sent our a Survey, crafted by our Pastoral Council, about members’ attitudes and feelings about returning to regular in-person worship. Here it is for the last time for those who may have missed it. We hope you will take this chance to let us know how you are doing and we thank you in advance for your time and participation.

Take Survey Here

Thank you so very much!

We conclude with the prophet Micah 6:8:

Our Faithful God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

And let us pray for/with one another.

Michael McGarry, C.S.P.
Director, the Paulist Center