In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment, when Quirin’i-us was governor of Syria. And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And … Continue reading
Hey Everyone! Advent starts tomorrow – Happy New Year! Check out this great post from Healthy Family to do your very own Jesse Tree this year. The site offers full-color or black-and-white images for your child(ren) to color, too. These … Continue reading
With just under a week left before the Christian New Year(!), my mind is lately fixed on December, shopping, and decor; but I think I’ll try a shift in focus this year. Without a doubt, December is my favorite month. … Continue reading
Reading The Rule of St. Benedict and Mother Teresa’s Humility List has been a big wake-up call. Despite the fact that life has been movin’ right along, I have gotten myself into a bit of a rut of spiritual inaction; but, encountering the saints in this way has been manna for my hungry soul. The challenge in both St. Benedict’s and Mother Teresa’s guidance, however, has been the required further interpretation for married laity. While I’m glad to give it a shot, St. Francis de Sales’s Introduction to the Devout Life offers direct instruction for the lifestyle.
Chapter 1 blew me away (can’t wait to read 2 & 3!). St. Francis discusses what true devotion is, and I have to confess that his clear definition was entirely fresh to me. I guess I previously thought devotion to be a step or two beyond feeling love for God or another person; much like being in love or knowing with unwavering certainty that you would die for the cause, so to speak. The definition as provided by St. Francis is remarkably simple, yet another challenge from the Church Triumphant:
But, in fact, all true and living devotion presupposes the love of God…for that Love one while shining on the soul we call grace, which makes us acceptable to His Divine Majesty;–when it strengthens us to do well, it is called Charity;–but when it attains its fullest perfection, in which it not only leads us to do well, but to act carefully, diligently, and promptly, then it is called Devotion. - Part 1, Chapter 1
And there it is. To speak more plainly, true devotion is the love of God in virtuous, unhesitating action. It’s consistent, quick to move, doesn’t think twice, yet makes a considered decision. With only this knowledge I was forced to an examination of conscience. How often I’ve driven for long periods of time and thought to myself, I could say a rosary right now or pray a chaplet. On my way home: I could stop by the adoration chapel. When I start my day: I could read Scripture and journal. But something gets in the way - I get in the way. There’s always the radio, something not-really pressing calling me home faster, or the morning Facebook check. When I was working, I believed all the excuses I made about being too busy or needing to do something else instead of pray; but now that I’m home with a low-maintenance little one, I can’t buy those false justifications anymore. It’s time that I have, and true devotion I lack.
Now for the chicken part:
St. Francis has this great analogy addressing the different types of souls. He says that ostriches don’t fly, chickens fly briefly and rarely, but eagles and swallows soar almost constantly. And so it is with souls – some people never get off the ground because they never focus on God; “well-meaning people” as St. Francis puts it, who haven’t developed true devotion, attempt flight by good actions, but it’s inconsistent and infrequent; and those who are truly devout fly to God swiftly and frequently.
I know I’m a chicken and in retrospect, I think I have been for a good portion of my life. The thing about being an ostrich, chicken, or eagle is that it’s not limited to your spiritual life; the behavior spreads to other areas too. What’s been so freeing, though, is that in coming across St. Francis de Sales’s Introduction and more specifically his definition of devotion, I feel capable of achieving new heights. Now that I know what it is, I can practice it in my relationship with God as well as my marriage. Humility, obedience, and devotion all work together so well. To be a truly devout Catholic or devoted wife, I should strive serve God, serve quickly, and without tooting my own horn.
- Two weeks after my surgery and I’m finally getting back to posting. The procedure went well and I’m relieved that life is returning to normal. I couldn’t lift anything for a couple of weeks, including Liam, so for a few days he was in the care of various local extended family and then my Mom flew in from Omaha to provide an extra set of hands, too. God has been so good to us – I don’t know how we would have managed without so much help and prayers from everyone!
- I’ve started Christmas shopping! I get such a thrill out of getting good deals and steals, especially on Black Friday. Though I don’t usually brave the die-hard, cut-throat crowds at the mall, I’ve vowed to my sister that I’ll go out with her at whatever early hour this year. I’ve celebrated Black Friday online in my pajamas at 10 a.m. but never 4. Life is about experiences! and I can’t wait!
- We’re still transitioning from living in an apartment to living in a house – we have so much wall space! I’ve been printing pictures to frame and hanging shelves in any tiny span of free time I get. I have come to understand and believe in the power of 5 minutes.
I’m in the middle of Family Birthday Season – we have 7 birthdays beginning mid-September and ending December 2nd and then Christmas totally comes out of left field. Usually Birthday Season and Christmas take us by financial surprise. While excited and eager to send cards and gifts, the lack of preparation beforehand shocks me into a spending freeze. So yesterday at brunch at my in-laws’, I suggested that we do our annual name drawing for Christmas gifts a little early this year. With expanding families on both sides, it’s difficult to handle gifts for everyone so we’ve been drawing names for the past few years. I’ve already started getting ideas for people and I’m determined to keep costs way down, while not sacrificing quality, of course.
This year is unlike those prior because I was ready for Birthday Season on Sept. 1 and with the names drawn for Christmas, I’m hopeful to have any and all gifts purchased on Nov. 26. I’m a big fan of Ebates.com – a website that refunds a percentage of your online purchases - and on Black Friday, they double the percentage you get back. Add that to the deals stores already have on that day (free shipping plus major discounts) and you can save a huge chunk of change. Last year I saved over $200 shopping through Ebates on Black Friday - hit snooze and avoid the crowds. No strings either.
Aside from fantasizing about stocking-stuffers before Halloween, here is a current snapshot of my life:
- It’s Monday! which means there’s a freshly baked something in my cake display – a new routine I accidentally started a month ago to enhance Andrew’s experience of me being a stay at home mom. This week – chocolate chunk brownies :)
- I may be having surgery soon. Since Liam was born, I’ve been having occasional, yet severe, gall bladder attacks. Appparently this is pretty common in women who have been pregnant and often results in removing the gall bladder entirely. While I’m not looking forward to it, I hear the procedure and recovery time are no big deal. Nevertheless, prayers would be appreciated.
- For about 10 hours/week I watch Andrew’s and my niece, Mary Elise, who is 5 mos – just 6 weeks younger than Liam. While the house is usually filled with baby coos, hiccups, and occasional crying, the only sound I hear right now is my own typing. Both babies are down for their naps with barely a protest from either one. Bliss.
- I have an appointment for spiritual direction this week on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary! I am writing down all my questions re: humility and other virtues in application to being a catholic wife and can’t wait to receive guidance.
- To add more sweetness to my life, it has finally cooled off here in NWLA. Driving around two weeks ago, the bank clock reported an oppressive 102 degrees and now it’s struggling to get to 72 for today’s high. To ward off the chill in the mornings, I whipped out our duvet and down comforter and excitedly made the bed. A made bed is a warm bed. It may not be empirically true – but it feels true.