Encouragement

From the Little Soldier, to a newly ordained priest.

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It reads, “Father Noe. Congratulations! God called you to the sacred order of Priesthood. I know it is a hard life, but it is a good path to heaven.”

I have to brag just a bit. He just turned 7 last month. He had no help from me or from older brother and sisters. Dear Fathers, take heart, do not be discouraged. This little one loves you and prays for you.

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Gentleness

Each day I pray for my children, a specific virtue for each. Well, for Mini-Me, I have been praying for gentleness. She is a lovely girl, full of life, an independent and free spirit, but she can be very harsh with others (read: siblings) and with herself, both in her tone and actions. She is so very much like me. “Let’s get down to business, people. I don’t have time for your crap.”

One morning it hit me: I’m praying these virtues for my children, and they are all things that need to be strengthened in my life, too. Mini-Me will not become gentle unless I model it for her. And how can I model it for her if I am not gentle with myself? I can pretend and pretend, but unless I first become gentle with myself, I will never pass on that oh-so-important virtue to my daughter. As type A, high-strung women, gentleness is a struggle. I tend to see the mess, the job, the to-do list before the person. “Oh I ran you over? Try moving out of my way next time!”

Let’s see what my friend Sirach has to say about this: “If a man is mean to himself, to whom will he be generous? He will not enjoy his own riches. No one is meaner than the man who is grudging to himself…My son, treat yourself well, according to your means” (14.5, 6, 11). Too often, we as Christians feel that we must be so incredibly hard on ourselves (or maybe it’s just me); that mercy and gentleness were meant for everyone except us. How wrong. The Church developed the saying Nemo potest dare quod non habet. You cannot give what you do not have. (I think my confessor has said this to me about a million times.) We cannot give mercy unless we have mercy. We cannot give forgiveness unless we have forgiveness. We cannot give gentleness unless we have gentleness. And we do not have _____ (insert virtue here) if we cannot practice with ourselves.

Can gentleness with ourselves be taken too far? Lead to self-indulgence, making excuses for poor behavior? Sure can! All vices are virtues that have been twisted, disordered. I’m definitely not a pro at this gentleness thing. My first inclination is to steamroll anyone who gets in the way of my “tasks.” Like, right now the Little Soldier is driving a lego motorcycle through my hair and I want to toss him out the window so I can finish this blog post and work on dinner. But our Lord’s grace is working on my heart, and I keep the Blessed Mother as my role model. Virgin of all virgins! To thy shelter take us; Gentlest of the gentle, Chaste and gentle make us.

Feeding the Soul

I’ve been re-watching Star Trek: Enterprise on Netflix. One of the episodes this week was “Breaking the Ice” from season 1. In it, Trip grabs a piece of pecan pie in the officer’s mess and sits down with T’Pol, who criticizes his choice, stating that the dessert is mostly sugar and will not be beneficial to his body. “It might not be good for the body… But it sure is good for the soul,” Trip replies. Oh how right he is. Food not only nourishes our bodies; it nourishes our souls as well.

No journey to holiness would be complete without food. The human body needs food not only to survive but to thrive. And not just any kind of food. Good food, delicious food, beautiful food. Prince Myshkin in Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot, states that “beauty will save the world.” One of the simplest ways I can bring beauty into my world is through the simple act of preparing food for my family. Like so many other aspects of my life, I have often treated food in a purely utilitarian manner–we need nourishment, it doesn’t matter how it comes. At one point, I was even a proponent of being able to get all my nutrition from pills! With the grace of God, the advice of a good priest, and issues of Bon Appétit magazine, I set out to bring beauty to this barren part of my domestic life. So from time to time I will post photos of some of my better dishes. Especially on Sundays, I try to put more effort into the meal. What better day to throw my heart and soul into cooking? I’ve just been fed by my Savior from His precious Body and Blood. Now I go into the kitchen to carry on that work of feeding souls in my capacity as wife and mother.

Here are some shots from three different dishes from three different days.

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This is butter basted salmon with hazelnut relish from the June 2014 issue of Bon Appétit.

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Asparagus with bacon and hard boiled eggs (Bon Appétit July 2014). Should have plated this one differently.

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Cucumber fennel salad with herbed yogurt (Food & Wine Aug. 2013). Was supposed to be goat yogurt, but I couldn’t find any.

“A man of cheerful and good heart will give heed to the food he eats” (Sir. 30.25).

She works with eager hands…

A friend’s daughter is going to a summer camp where the Extraordinary Form of the Mass will be offered everyday. One of the essential pieces of clothing for this camp, therefore, is a veil/headcovering/mantilla. She asked me if I knew where she could get one. Do I! I have a drawer dedicated to head coverings. Well, after the great Easter Vigil conflagration (my veil + handheld candle = I’m on fire!), I was down by one. For some reason, my daughters have lost/torn a number of theirs, and I didn’t really want to lend out my pashmina scarves. I had, late last year, purchased a yard or so of decent lace from JoAnne Fabric as well as trimming. So I made one for her. Here is how it turned out.

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Not bad. Definitely not my handmade Spanish mantilla quality (uh, no, I didn’t make the mantilla–husband bought it for me), but still pretty nonetheless. But if I ever learn how to make lace myself, watch out!

Abandonment Revisited

Yesterday as I was drinking an iced coffee (summer drink of choice when it’s typically around 80 degrees in my house) and reading St. Faustina’s Diary I came across this passage: ” I do not fear at all being abandoned by creatures because, even if all abandoned me, I would not be alone, for the Lord is with me” (#1022).

Later in the day, I was reading The Word Among Us, a disposable missalette that I “borrowed” from the chapel on base. There are daily meditations based upon one of the readings for the Mass. This one in particular was based upon Matthew 10. 26 when Jesus tells His disciples not to be afraid. The meditation suggests when we are fearful, we need to remember. Remember the cross and resurrection, the Father’s love and protection, the Holy Spirit dwelling within. And then “Remember that you belong to Christ and he will never abandon you.

God speaks. Repeatedly. If only we will listen.

Ps. 62.11 “Once you have spoken, twice I have heard you.”

Please Welcome….

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The newest member of our family, Octavia, the friendly shower spider.

She’s been there (in the corner of my shower) since we came home from our camping trip. She must have been lonely outside, so she moved in with all her belongings (not much). She’s quiet, unobtrusive, understanding, doesn’t eat much or make any mess, and listens to everything I have to say. I think she’s a keeper.

Abandoned

“For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you.” Deuteronomy 4.31

From the need to be understood
From the need to be accepted
From the fear of being lonely
Deliver me O God
Deliver me O God

And I shall not want, I shall not want
When I taste Your goodness I shall not want
–Audrey Assad I Shall Not Want

Lately I’ve been struggling with feelings of abandonment. My husband is gone, has been gone for a looooooooooong time, and has been incommunicado for 90% of that time. Also, my swimming friend has been out of the country for a couple of weeks, a dear friend just left for another country yesterday, and I took my oldest son to camp on Tuesday. Seriously?? Everyone is leaving me!! Cut it out, people. I know, I know, I have many good friends still here. I didn’t say I was being rational about the whole thing. 

On Monday I cried out to God. Sobbed, kicked, yelled. Finally calmed down enough to reach out to Him, to say, “My God, don’t leave me, too. Comfort your little child.” 

On Tuesday, while driving along I-84 to take my son to camp (sob, sniff, cry), I received this in my inbox: “God’s job, I think, is to keep lovingly disrupting our lives, and our job is to see if there are fresh opportunities for faith hidden within those disruptions. As a result, God keeps finding fresh ways to shake up our complacencies and challenge us to resist the seductive temptation to play the victim” (from Startled by God). Phew. I certainly needed that. God gives me these little–yes, little– disruptions, these little abandonments as opportunities! Opportunities to grow in faith, to depend upon Him a little more, to strengthen relationships with other friends, to realize that all others will fail me at some point, but He will never leave or forsake me (Deut. 31.6). Because He is God, and not man (Hos. 11.9). 

Comfort your little daughter, O Lord. My Jesus, I trust in You!