Dust if You Must, Because You Must

Dust if You Must, Because You Must

I recently came across this poem: Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better To paint a picture or write a letter, Bake a cake or plant a seed, Ponder the difference between want and need?   Dust if you must, but there’s not much time, With rivers to swim and mountains to climb, Music to hear, and books to read, Friends to cherish and life to lead.   Dust if you must, but the world’s out there, With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair, A flutter of snow, a shower of rain. This day will not come round again.   Dust if you must, but bear in mind, Old age will come and it’s not kind. And when you go – and go you must – You, yourself, will make more dust.   by Rose Milligan (The Lady, 1998) While I appreciate the sentiment of realizing there are more important things than housework, and I even realize the futility of it (since things always get dirty again), I also think that there is something wrong about this attitude. I was affirmed in this by a homily at Mass the Sunday after I came across the poem, when Father talked about examining our consciences, and specifically mentioned not being thorough in the housework. As Christians, we are called to become virtuous, and part of becoming virtuous is becoming moderate. We are to be moderate in our recreation, and moderate in our housework. Both are important to live a fully human life. To prove my point, one only has to look at monasteries of sisters or...
When Catholicism is in Your Bones

When Catholicism is in Your Bones

Since we moved to Minnesota, my family and I have been meeting a lot of converts, many of them my husband’s colleague at the Catholic university where he is a professor. It seems that more of them than not are converts. The other day a distinguished colleague asked my husband, “You are a cradle Catholic, aren’t you?” After my husband assured him that he was, his friend said decidedly, “Then it is in your bones.” Every year I live, I realize more and more how Catholicism really is “in my bones.” There is something about being Catholic from infancy that takes over one’s whole life, and the further one is from one’s conversion to the faith the more time the Catholic sense has had to set in. One of our convert friends, Brantley Milligan, wrote a piece for Alethia about 4 Things that Catholics do that Rightly Scandalize non-Catholics. It seemed to me that his first point on how Catholics don’t talk enough about Jesus missed something genuine about Catholicism. Mr. Milligan says that, “Even among otherwise faithful Catholics, it sometimes seems we can spend a lot of time talking about the Church, the clergy, the Pope, the Mass, moral teachings, the Sacraments, and yes, Mary and the saints – all important things – but hardly ever mention Jesus.” I would disagree and say that by talking about these things, Catholics really are talking about Jesus. At a recent play date with other Catholic moms, they singled me out as the only non-convert in the group. For a moment I agreed and then I looked at the eight children...
Vocations: When Giving Your All Is Only “Enough”

Vocations: When Giving Your All Is Only “Enough”

As a wife and mother, I sometimes tend to feel put upon by all the “work” that goes into fulfilling these vocations, especially during a rougher than usual week.  There’s laundry, cooking, sweeping, mopping, scrubbing, dish-washing, hand-holding, play-button-pushing, medicine-dispensing, DVD swapping, refereeing,  and, when all that is done and the kids are in bed, there’s somehow always more that needs doing.  Let’s face it: these co-vocations of spouse and parent require a lot. Sometimes, if we’re not just getting it all done be are doing it well, and not receiving “Mother of the Year” awards from all who know us, we may be tempted to feel that we’re under appreciated.  At least I know I’ve felt it before.  As people, we have a desire to be recognized for our contributions and accomplishments.  We want others to let us know that they know we’re doing our best, that we’re giving it our all, and that our all is ah-may-zing. Here’s the only real problem with this: it isn’t. See, by taking those vows during our weddings, we promised to do all of this, and to do all of it to the best of our abilities, every day, for the rest of our lives.  We vowed before God and our spouses “to love, honor, and cherish” each other.  Those are all verbs, all actions, all ways in which we promise to fulfill our vocations of marriage, and for many of us, parenthood.  All that we do everyday as spouses and parents is exactly what is required of us.  We don’t deserve awards for doing the dishes.  We deserve admonishments for not...
Quiet Time

Quiet Time

Monday of Holy Week is already upon us.  How did that happen?  One day it’s Mardi Gras and we’re living it up, eating cheese steaks and (separately) chocolate, and then, bam!  We’re standing for the longest Gospel of the year and wondering why we wore the high heels.  Maybe it’s because of all the time we’ve spent focusing on the Holy Father(s) and the conclave and all of that, but Lent seems to have flown by, for me at least.  And here we are, in the “home stretch.”  Praise God! Every Holy Week, whether I feel as if I haven’t sacrificed enough during the previous five (as is often the case), or I feel that there is little else I could have added to my penance, I find myself wanting to do more.  This year, I’m going back to an oldie but goodie for my final push: I’m giving up noise. Now, living in an apartment with six kids this may seem like an impossibility, but I assure you it isn’t.  There is noise from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to bed (and with a new baby, often in the middle of the night as well).   I’m not looking to do anything drastic because, as St. Therese taught us, most of us won’t get to heaven by big acts but by small ones done with love.  When I say I’m giving up noise I don’t mean that I’ll be able to spend time in total silence, with only my thoughts and prayers, in complete communion with God.  That would be impossible, and it’s not...
A Papal Focus for Lent

A Papal Focus for Lent

I won’t lie.  Until about five minutes ago, I had no real idea as to what I was going to write for today’s post.  In my head, thoughts about Lent, Ash Wednesday, the Holy Father, and Sts. Cyril and Methodius were running a muck, each vying for the spot.  (Also running through my mind: how to get a two month old to sleep and how to simultaneously quiet down both of her sisters.)  Finally, something my seven year old son said during our family Rosary came to me and I had it.  Allow me to elaborate. We had been watching all of the news coverage all day long, much to the chagrin of my TV and video game deprived children.  You see, I have an intense love for not only the pope, but the papacy and everything surrounding it.  I was practically a John Paul II groupie (in a good way), following him from here in Newark in 1995 to Paris in 1997 to Rome, twice, in 2000 and 2001.  I was glued to my set, as most of us were, when JPII so publicly passed away; I was six months pregnant, trying desperately to remember as much as I could so that I would be able to tell my children about him and all of it one day.  Sadly, I didn’t make it to anything when Benedict was here, but I watched it all, drinking it in, making memories again.  I was happy with the choice and couldn’t wait to see what he would bring.  I was not disappointed. Though some might argue otherwise (ahem, FoxNews.com), Benedict did...