God was speaking to me today of fear and trust.
The first reading for mass today was from Isaiah. The verse that particularly struck me was “Say to those who are of a fearful heart, ‘Be strong, fear not!'” (35. 4). I think my anxiety boils down to having a fearful heart. I fear that I’m not teaching my children well enough, that my confirmation class won’t learn what they need to, that I won’t touch their hearts. And why do I fear? Because I’m relying on my own strength, not God’s. I have to empty myself of self, stop relying on myself and my abilities, and completely surrender to God.
Then in The Noonday Devil I read that “Holiness consists of such a state of poverty that at every moment one is obliged to ask everything of the Holy Spirit, one is dependent on him, convinced that without his grace one can do nothing” (p.177). In my mind I know this to be true, but I seldom put it in to practice. It’s not me who is going to get anything done or teach anyone or plant any seeds. It’s God.
This brings me back to the spiritual childhood that I’ve studied and tried to implement. Since I am human and not divine, I’ll never “graduate” in love or perfection. I’ll never “attain” in this life. I have to remember, every moment beginning again. Conversion of heart, day after day, minute after minute. Even in heaven, Bl. Newman says, we will be in this state of spiritual childhood: “and so on for eternity I shall ever be a little child beginning to be taught the rudiments of Thy infinite divine nature” (Lead, Kindly Light p.120).
Lord, remind me that I am Your child. That I always will be. I’ll never graduate or complete a level. Remind me to begin again each day, each moment. Help me to trust Your strength, Your knowledge, Your power.
Hail and blessed be the hour and moment
In which the Son of God was born
Of the most pure Virgin Mary
At midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold.
In that hour, vouchsafe, I beseech thee, O my God,
To hear my prayer and grant my desires
Through the merits of Our Savior Jesus Christ
And of His Blessed Mother. Amen.
Today starts the St. Andrew novena, prayed 15 times per day from his feast day of Nov. 30 to Christmas Eve. It’s a novena I try to make every year. Inevitably I miss some days, but I do my best.
My verse from Psalms yesterday spoke of consolations (Ps. 94.19). Today in my spiritual reading (Lead, Kindly Light) I read, “O my God, let me never forget that seasons of consolations are refreshments here and nothing more. They are only intended to prepare us for doing and suffering” (p. 112). With both the bad and the good we can say, “This, too, shall pass.”
I experienced a great consolation today: adoration in my super-liberal parish. With Latin and incense and everything. My God, an answer to a long-standing prayer. My God, prepare me for what you have prepared for me to do or to suffer. Maranatha.
A few days ago I was restless, nervous, anxious. The only thing that brought me peace was adoration or private prayer. I tried to read my Bible, but more than a few verses and I was back to that feeling of anxiety. I tried to read St. Teresa of Avila’s autobiography; same result. Picking up a book by my favorite author lead to sighs and tossing it aside after a few moments. Even Facebook, texting, and reading email, my normal diversions when I begin to feel restless all brought on anxiety and that feeling of “this is pointless” and “I’m wasting my time.” I spoke to my confessor about it. His diagnosis–I read way too much and I need to cut back.
Too much Bible reading? Too much spiritual reading? Too many emails about how to grow in faith and virtue? Yes. There can be too much of a good thing, where that good thing actually becomes harmful. I had reached my saturation point with the printed word.
Now instead of reading three emails per day about the faith, I read none. Instead of four separate books of the Bible for lectio divina, I read one. Instead of a chapter of spiritual reading, I tackle a paragraph. Even in non-spiritual reading I have tried to cut back. Sometimes we have to take a break from the doing and just…be. God will tell us, through anxiety, through restlessness, through discontent, when our lives are out of balance.
Look to Him. Rest in Him. Stop doing so much and take time to be. “I am who I am,” says the Lord of all Creation. May I be who He created me to be.
A shot from our first day of school. I am still working on lesson planning and we still don’t have all our books, but we jumped right in. At least for today, we moved up to the giant table in the dining room. It seemed to work well. First day of school music was courtesy of Aradhna, their live concert album.
Since the children are beginning a new school year, I decided, at the prompting of the Scholé Sisters and Sarah at AmongstLovelyThings, to create a loose syllabus for my own education. Here is what it looks like. I am not expecting to get through all of these books this school year. It’s just to keep me on track and keep me growing as a mother, a teacher, a woman!
A Well Educated Mind (in progress)
Beauty in the Word
Towards a Philosophy of Education
I Thought It Was Just Me
Daring Greatly (again–it’s that good)
Gifts of Imperfect Parenting
Teaching from Rest
Sonnets from the Portuguese
Anna Kamienska Astonishments
The Tale of Holly HowMargaret Frazer
Into Your Hands, Father
St. Faustina’s Diary
Edith Stein Essays on Woman
Something Other than God
The Romance of Religion
Deep Calls to Deep
Praying the Name of Jesus
My Peace I Give You
Creativity (not books, per se, but areas I would like to improve/learn)
Spenserian penmanship (in progress)
make French pastry (I made puff pastry! 9/5)
History/Science (I’m a little light on this area. Suggestions?)
Astronomy app (learn constellations, major stars)
Here’s hoping for a restful, beautiful school year for both the children and me.