Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Figuring Out A Mother’s Way to Heaven, Trying to Achieve a Domestic Monastic Life.

Figuring Out A Mother’s Way to Heaven, Trying to Achieve a Domestic Monastic Life.

 Right now I am reading Father Jacques Philippe’s, The Way of Trust and Love, A Retreat Guided by St.Therese of Lisieux.  I haven’t read Story of a Soul yet, and I am wanting to. I have been hearing over and over again the same quotes from my children’s Holy Heroes Glory Stories and their kids books about Therese about finding a totally new way to Heaven, like an elevator up to God. And how small I am- I like to call it insignificant. Where does a housewife who homeschools her kids fall into step with this “little way?” How about all those little sacrifices my kids offer up daily in the form of sacrifice beads or the bean jar. It’s really not just a novelty for getting kids to think about God during Lent or an attempt to get them to love God.
  I also just read Brother Lawrence’s book, called The Practice and Presence of God. I liked how Brother Lawrence explained how he was able to train himself to constantly think about God. Probably pretty hard for a housewife who has a lot of distractions. I am not living in a monastery where there is more peace and solitude. But doesn't the idea of being able to meditate and letting your mind wander constantly in the presence of God just sound so amazing? God is your mind’s baseline.  Yea, how can I ever achieve that? Well I can’t. It’s not very likely in my current vocation.
  However, what I am getting out of all this extra Lenten reading so far is that my vocation as a mother and wife am provided with opportunities through the day to offer up sacrifices which are just as pleasing to our Lord as well.  Everything we do as moms can be an offering. It’s almost like I can live a “domestic monastic life”, if I take the time to just make the offering. There isn't the solitude of a monastic cell and good brother’s around me in prayer.  But to compare I do have the house and it’s many rooms and company of children and a husband, that comes with being a wife and mother.  And perhaps I can form a habit like Brother Lawrence did, and offer it all up as sacrifices for God’s glory, and that will lead me to being in my mind, in the presence of God all day. This constant movement from one motherly obligation to the next is the rhythm that God gave me to use as a path to heaven. This seems to be my “little way”. The way of a housewife.

  How about that work lunch we occasionally make for our husbands, or how about each and every meal we do make? Or the picking up of our kids toys, unloading dishes, brushing their hair and teeth? Or how about the easy crock pot meal? Grocery shopping? Folding clothes-thanklessly. Really, do I expect them to thank me for folding their clothes every week? No and it’s a necessity, we need that chore done in order to live and exist.  Why can’t I take each of those opportunities to make an offering. After all that’s really all I have time for literally.
  Making sure kids are on time to gymnastics, or their soccer game? Or volunteering to bring a friend in need a meal? Taking the time to browse sale ads in order to save some money and live frugally. What about reading a bedtime story to the kids, or bathing them. Aren't these all little acts of love? Can’t these acts be offered up? How about teaching my kids math and how to print their letters? Filling the gas up in the van, so I can take my kids somewhere, like the grocery story or to mass or the zoo?

  We all know about the big sacrifices...like using natural family planning (NFP), and yes we really have no other choice, but we all recognize it as a real sacrifice don’t we? What about making a Holy Hour, or extra Masses during the week, those are sacrifices that are easily identified, and the people who do them are easily identified as they are out in public. Are these sacrifices greater than when I in own limitations, as a mother and housewife, offer up preparing a meal each night for my family? If these little acts of love I am showing as examples can’t be offered up, than Heaven really is much harder to achieve. This is the littleness I think that St. Therese must be talking about, and those sacrifices- that’s all I have.

   My littleness is being a housewife, and without realizing it earlier, I limited myself even more by homeschooling our kids. Now that I am very restricted in my time and abilities, I have made myself even more insignificant. I won’t have the opportunities to volunteer at Church and be well known for being on a big school fundraiser, or church council, or be the person who heads up the next Church ministry. I won’t be the well known family who sends our kids to the best private schools or makes a huge donation and gets a plaque with our name imprinted on it. That will never be us.. at all.

  My family life literally is my path to heaven. I find some comfort in knowing that there is a path laid out before me. I don’t need to search or look to outside sources for a way to Heaven. It’s already here in front of me. It's in my face literally, when I change that diaper or mash up a special meal for a toddler who still gags, or when my 5 year old wants to throw a tantrum about eye therapy. Coming to this realization has been a blessing, it’s a realization I need to recognize over and over throughout my life. I stumble and forget, especially sometimes I do the chore at hand with less than a cheerful attitude. I hope you all are having a good Lent and are firmly hanging in there with your Lenten promises. We are getting close to the end. It's good to re-examine them half way through. Pray for me and I will pray for you all too to do well the rest of Lent.

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