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...
5 Ways to Foster Your Daughter’s Vocation to the Convent

5 Ways to Foster Your Daughter’s Vocation to the Convent

Recently, I wrote up a little piece about fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life. In it, I shared a few tips for creating a family environment where a vocation could flourish should one exist.  What can  I say? I have three sons and, as most of us Catholic moms do, I sometimes dream about one of my boys becoming Il Papa. Since I have three girls as well, I figure it’s only fair to share a few of the ways we try encourage them to consider the religious life.  As cool as it might be to have a pope for a son, having a Little Flower for a daughter wouldn’t be half bad. Am I right? And now, 5 Ways to Foster Your Daughter’s Vocation to the Convent: 1) Talk about it! Yes, I am repeating myself a bit here, but this point cannot be stressed enough. The only way to ensure that your child ever sees a vocation to the religious life as a viable option for her life’s work is if she hears about it, and often. Make a point of including “nun” or “sister” in your lists of “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up,” so that they will too. 2) Visit the sisters.  It’s not always easy to have the sisters over for a cup of coffee or an evening of conversation.  This is why it is so important to bring your daughters to the sisters. Make an effort to get to know the local order or orders and then invite yourself over. Most sisters I know are happy to have visitors,...
Yoda’s Advice for Following God’s Will

Yoda’s Advice for Following God’s Will

I like Star Wars.  The Force, the light sabers, the odd little aliens; all of it.  Yoda is my favorite (and yours too, if you’ve got good taste, but I digress).  The things he says, the way he says them, all of it adds up to  just about as perfect as a character can get.  My favorite line?  “Do or do not.  There is no try.”   It applies to so much more than just lifting ships out of swamps with only one’s mind.  To my mind, it’s the perfect way of thinking about following God’s will.  We must simply do it, because anything less isn’t actually doing it. Do or do not.  There is no try. — Yoda Here’s an example: I have known since I was in college that my vocation was to be a wife and (I hoped) a mother.  Realizing this vocation, I also realized that I was called to be a full time wife and mother, and when the time arrived, to be a homeschooling mother.  Fast forward about 10 years.  My husband and I had been married for almost seven years when he lost his job.  We had five children at the time, and had been a single income family.  Now, we were a no-income family.  There were people who asked us if I was going to get a job, to help out with the finances.  There were people who were surprised when we both said no.  We both knew that I had a job, and that I had, in fact, something far more important: a vocation.  Knowing that it is God’s will...
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...
The New Chivalry

The New Chivalry

He took a towel and tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.  (John 14:4-5) On Holy Thursday, I watched our bishop wash the feet of twelve individuals, just as Jesus washed the feet of his disciples on the night he was betrayed.  Regardless of status or stature, a person washing the feet of another looks humbled.  The shoulders are hunched, the back is bent, and the person doing the washing is on their knees on the bare ground, a position of complete humility. It is springtime, and weddings are aplenty.  One of the traditions performed at many weddings is the garter toss.  I find it to be utterly revolting tradition which involves removing an undergarment from the bride and tossing it to a pack of lustful bachelors only to end up hanging on a rear-view mirror as a trophy of degradation. One such event happened at the wedding of a couple I knew in college.  Matt and Julie married last week, and when the time came for the garter to be removed, Matt did something unexpected.  As Julie sat in her chair, Matt approached her with a water basin and a towel.  With perfect tenderness, he humbled himself and made a beautiful gesture of his service to her. As husbands and the spiritual head of our households, we are called by Christ to imitate the same dedication of service to our wives. Service doesn’t simply mean helping out, but means humbling ourselves, putting our wives before us alwaysAlways...