The Law of Withdrawal and Return
There is such a thing in the order of the world and in the order of the Spirit as the law of withdrawal and return. We never become strong in one area unless we have prepared for it with a withdrawal and retirement. When St. Paul, for example, met Christ, he went into Arabia for three years. He, this Pharisee of Pharisees, this strong Jew, came out of Arabia, and said, 'There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free.' That withdrawal made him a different man when he returned. Julius Caesar went to Gaul for eight years--the withdrawal--then came back eight years later and crossed the Rubicon and saved Rome. Our Blessed Lord was thirty years obeying, three years teaching, three hours redeeming. And the spiritual life is conditioned upon that. This idea of saying that we are too busy to do anything else, to pray or make a holy hour, means that we are not doing well. There is no withdrawal, no gathering of forces. Athletic contests have moments of respite. So in the military, momentary retreat can make for a strong offensive. So we have to withdraw spiritually if we are ever to be strong.