Pious Daydream: Is it actually pious?

Pious Daydream: Is it actually pious? July 18, 2023

This past Sunday, I was sitting in Mass, daydreaming. The calming music, the repetitive responses, the often boring homilies…it’s natural and human to get distracted. Usually, I dismiss the distractions and direct my attention back to the Mass. This time though, the daydream caught my attention. It caught my attention, because it seemed like a pious daydream. What could be wrong about that?

I was daydreaming about martyrdom. Of how my heroic death would lead to the conversion of thousands, especially my close non-Christian friends. What would my last words be? Would I echo the martyrs of the past with a resounding Viva Cristo Rey! Or would I be original, promising my persecutors continuous intercession from the newest saint in Heaven? What miracles would God work through my intercession? 

Perhaps I might call this a pious daydream. After all, what gives glory to God more than a martyr? 

But the thing is, I wasn’t being martyred. And it’s unlikely that I will ever be faced with martyrdom in its fullest sense. A gun to the head and a chance to renounce Jesus in exchange for my life. 

And if I were faced with this situation, would I really have the presence of mind and courage to leave behind heroic, poetic last words? 

My daydream of martyrdom was nothing short of pride

Because while I was daydreaming up a future, heroic version of myself, I wasn’t reflecting on how I was currently withholding forgiveness from my father; I wasn’t asking for grace to pray more consistently; and I certainly wasn’t glorifying God who was physically present before me. 

This goes to show how sneaky the devil is. He took a good desire—the desire to witness the faith to my loved ones—and twisted it into a self-adulation. I indulged in the satisfaction of seeing myself a hero. But it was completely fictional. 

Not more than a month ago, I lied to my non-Christian friends so as not to admit I was going to Confession. Many times a week, I fail to be self-sacrificial within my own family. And in my career as an ecologist, I have often been too afraid to ask for time off to go to Mass. Time and time again, I fail to witness my faith and I fail to be self-sacrificial in the small things. And if I fail on a small scale, it’s unlikely that I would succeed at the big scale. If I can’t bench press 50 pounds, I won’t be able to bench press 100.

Therefore, daydreaming about martyrdom is not pious. Not only is it unlikely to happen to me, but even if martyrdom is my destiny, I’ll never arrive at that level of courage through daydreams. 

Have you ever found yourself in a seemingly pious daydream? Feel free to share it with me in the comments! (Or on Threads @birdloversmusings) 

I’m willing to bet almost every Catholic or Christian has found themselves indulging these types of daydreams. How then should we respond? Here are the top three things that came to mind for me.

  1. Pay attention to the moment. If you’re in Mass, focus on the prayers. If you’re at work, give it your attention! We only exist in the present. God can only act on our lives in the present. Instead of daydreaming of a fictional future, work on living virtuously in the real present. 
  2. Ask for the grace to view yourself through the lens of truth. This truth is likely going to be painful and not as gratifying as your daydream. Where are the places you need to improve? If you continue on the path you’re currently on, what will your future self really look like? It might be painful, but it will allow you to work towards something real.
  3. Identify the underlying good desire. Are you daydreaming about helping feed the hungry? Or like me, are you daydreaming of martyrdom? How can you live out this desire in a realistic way in your day-to-day life? 

 

I’m not sure if I would go so far as to say these “pious” daydreams are sinful. Are they something that need to be halted in their tracks? Is it okay to indulge these daydreams as you get ready for bed? How do you handle these daydreams? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

By the way, I have an account on the new social media platform Threads! Feel free to follow me @birdloversmusings. I intend to be pretty active and respond to comments!

 

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