What do we desire the Christian community to be? What do we believe Jesus wanted it to be? A vibrant community where the people care for each other with their time and money. Nobody is left hungry. Pregnant mothers are not alone. Sinners are accepted but also challenged by accountability and propelled by forward momentum. Everyone is also fed and strengthened with solid teaching and friendship. Sounds nice, eh? Make’s being a Christian pretty easy too. Maybe too easy… What about when it doesn’t work out that way? What if it’s a disaster or a circus where you’re at? Where do you turn?
We must certainly know how to take care of ourselves and make use of first aid in our own spiritual life. And when we are unable to be carried along by the stream of a fervent simply observance that is completely ordered according to the best and most living tradition, then we must know how to help ourselves. When the stream is dry, we must know how to leave our boat and walk. The fact remains that it is simpler, easier, more secure, and ultimately more perfect if a monk can live purely according to the spirit of his vocation, interested in his monastic conversation more than in his own interior reactions, and more concerned with te love of God and his brethren than with the incessant quest for signs of virtue in his own conduct.
-Thomas Merton, Mystics and Zen Masters, p.158