7 Rambling Monday Takes, Vol. 18 :: All sorts of things

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Explore previous rambling installments here πŸ™‚

1.

Some Monday mornings are more welcome than others; this one was definitely more than welcome! Getting up around 6:45 gave me over half an hour of spiritual reading after morning prayers/chores, before breakfast. The quiet, rainy atmosphere made it so calm and peaceful. Just recently, The Dash bought a used copy of St. Francis de Sales’ An Introduction to the Devout Life, and when he was over here on Saturday for a football game, supper, a little dancing practice (in which we finally got to try out the moves from his dance class I’d visited last Wednesday!), and haircuts, he brought it and kindly let me start reading it first. (One of the endless perks of courtship! The sharing of books!) I’m trying to take it slowly and absorb it little by little . . . I have so much to learn.

Providentially, the book came with an old miniature prayer pamphlet for the Holy Souls tucked inside; it was printed back in the ’50s, with a prayer for each day of the week for certain souls in Purgatory, such as “the soul most destitute of spiritual aid” and “the soul nearest to entering Heaven.” Beautiful and so timely, it being November and all! I’ll try and share them on this blog somehow . . .

On a similar note, this morning I also had time to read a little bit of Hungry Souls.

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2.

After breakfast, I folded some towels, but found myself strangely compelled to grab my long-neglected camera, tiptoe outside in the 40-degree rain and take some pictures from our back deck (see my previous post), although they’ll never do justice to what it was actually like . . . something about this morning was enchantingly beautiful! (I gracefully planted the arm of my sweatshirt in a puddle of water when crouching on my stomach for one shot, but oh, well . . .)

3.

Over the past hour, I’ve been be planning for my co-op class; tomorrow is our last class before we break for Thanksgiving week, and after that, I only have two more classes before we break for the rest of the year. How has it gone by so fast?!

Our chorus is doing “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” and “Beyond the Moon and Stars” for the upcoming Advent presentations. My own little class is doing an Advent song from Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, “Sitting with My Brothers”; and they are just impossibly cute when they sing it!

Also, I just realized that today is six weeks until Christmas Eve! I’m already looking forward to Advent and Christmas so much, and can hardly fathom that it’s been a whole year since last Advent! πŸ˜‰

4.

Other plans for today are laundry, cleaning up the girl’s bathroom, catching up on emails (a constant process with me), reading, and whatever else it is I realize I’ve been forgetting to do. I keep having to re-calculate, but I believe today is 33 days until The Dash’s graduation! It’s getting so close now!!! I’m so proud of him and prayerfully excited for him to be able to finally transition into working full-time and having a more normalized schedule.

Speaking of The Dash (my favorite thing to do!) . . . I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this here, but he and I have a daily tradition, sometimes forgotten but eventually resumed, of always making it a point to ask one another, “What were your highs and lows today?”

It’s just a small thing, and yet it really facilitates our being able to talk about the things that made us happiest that day, alongside the things that were hardest, no matter insignificant the reasons might seem.

Personally, it can be hard for me to spontaneously divulge (without prompting) if I’ve had a hard spot in the day. A more general question, such as, “So, how was your day?” makes me just want to share the good parts in cheerful sanguine fashion and smooth over the trying parts.

However, having The Dash ask me, “What were your highs and your lows today?” specifically asks me to share the best and hardest parts with him, talking about the reasons why, and visa versa. On a smaller scale, I think it’s been a hugely useful key in growing our communication skills and keeping them honest, healthy and intimate.

5.

A random fact: I realized the other day that Benedic has over 200 posts now, has been around for two years, and has received just over 25,000 visits. That is definitely a testament to the good-will of people who visit and aren’t driven away by my incessant ramblings! God is good!

6.

A pictorial demonstration of my Sunday outfit: it was the first time I’d worn the jacket and boots either separately or together, and they’re the sharpest clothes I own, apparently . . . πŸ˜‰

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7.

A quote I read recently that made me smile:

Now I’m not saying all women must marry and all women must have children. God’s plans, and the working of natural laws, not to speak of social influences by the dozen, make marriage and children just “out” for many women. But I do emphatically say: We must acknowledge and teach others to acknowledge that home-making should be considered woman’s most important job.

-from Reverend Hugh Calkins, O.S.M.’s The Woman in the Home

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A mammoth October daybook in which I catch up on things at great length (Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 7)

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Read previous installments here πŸ™‚

This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

Monday, October 1st, 2018 A.D. Commemoration of St. Remigius, Bishop and Confessor. From Butler’s Lives of the Saints: “At the age of twenty-two, in spite of the canons and of his own reluctance, he was acclaimed Archbishop of Rheims. He was unusually tall, his face impressed with blended majesty and serenity, his bearing gentle, humble and retiring. He was learned and eloquent, and had the gift of miracles. His pity and charity were boundless, and in toil he knew no weariness . . . The South of France was in the hands of Arians, and the pagan Franks were wresting the North from the Romans. St. Remigius confronted Clovis, their king, and converted him and baptized him at Christmas, in 496. With him he gained the whole Frank nation. He threw down the idol altars, built churches and appointed bishops. He withstood and silenced the Arians, and converted so many that he left France a Catholic kingdom . . . He died in 533, after an episcopate of seventy-four years.”

St. Remigius, pray for us; pray that God would send us good and holy bishops!

It’s also the eighth day of the St. Therese novena (if one is leading up to her Old Calendar feast on the 3rd), and the twenty-eighth day of my renewal of Total Consecration . . . which I’ve been very imperfect in doing, honestly, but am trying to press forward with better commitment.

Outside my window . . .

Somewhat overcast. We had beautiful blue skies yesterday, perfect for Sunday, following a week of torrential rain. Today isn’t quite so blue . . . but no rain, at least!

The leaves are slooowly being convinced to abandon green. The temperature is not yet convinced to drop, alas . . .

Also . . . this is such a girlish thing, but The Dash and I have not gone out for any intentional couple photos since March of this year. March! It’s killing me!! Those were our six-month photos, but it’s just been too hot and unappealing to have another round since then. As soon as things turn blissfully autumnal, I am intent on spending a day getting pictures with him somewhere picturesque and romantic πŸ˜‰

Sounds throughout the house . . .

Right now, I’m listening to the soundtrack for North & South by Martin Phipps. I love its wistfulness and romance!

Through the walls, I hear my brother playing guitar; lunch break has just settled in here πŸ™‚

The air conditioner running. When will my disconsolate spirits be eased by the coming of cold temperatures? πŸ˜‰

Time has passed since I started this post, and now I hear my brother’s and mother’s quiet voices . . . more school. This school year has entailed a pretty hefty load for the last two students left in our family!

Cabinets being shut, dishes clattering . . . not sure why . . .

Upon a quick venture downstairs, I’ve discovered Lena and our youngest sister are making apple muffins. I approve of that πŸ˜‰

I am wearing . . .

A light-gray top (cap sleeves, with a cute kind of miniature turtleneck), the softest blue denim capris I’ve ever worn (they’re like butter!), a black ponytail on my wrist, light makeup.

Oh, and speaking of makeup . . . recently I did something that probably no one else notices, but I’ve really enjoyed; that is, I stopped wearing eyeliner 99% of the time. It wasn’t that I was wearing an inordinate amount (it was pencil and a charcoal/gray/blue color, so not even very dark, and I wore it to just enhance) but I came to a crossroads of being just tired of putting it on, and wanting to lean towards a more natural look for most occasions. I kind of wanted to follow the muse, What am I realistically going to wear as a wife and mom?

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Honestly, I’ve loved not putting it on and having a slightly fresher look for my face, while still feeling put-together and dressed in the way a small amount of makeup does for me.

I think I would still wear a little eyeliner for special pictures or really dressy occasions, but most of the time now, it’s off.

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

Well, Saturday I made cornbread muffins from scratch! I don’t recall having done that before. We were having a potluck dinner dance that night at our parish, so I pulled an apron on over my dance attire (it was a Southern barn dance theme, so yellow plaid for me) and threw together a recipe Mom had found. I was hot, but it was fun, and I was proud in that classic girl-who’s-just-made-muffins way.

A note on projects . . .

So, the Rooted & Grounded in Charity post series has finally wrapped up! Honestly, I hadn’t intended for that to be my last post, but I ran out of September and so therefore, the last post it became πŸ˜‰ I thoroughly enjoyed it, but find myself excited to return to normal blogging, too. There are so many random little things I can post about now . . . although, of course, courtship inspiration material is never-ending, and may appear here at any time . . .

Teaching at co-op is going well so far this year! I adore the kids (they are so precious, and to have some of them recognize me and come up to me outside of co-op just melts my heart!), and as any sanguine would, I enjoy getting out and seeing so many families; even the 70-mile round trip of driving is fun (especially when every song that’s special to The Dash and I’s relationship is streaming through Bluetooth on an intentionally crafted Spotify playlist . . .). Granted, being the homebody that I am, I’m more than happy with the fact it’s just once a week . . . but it’s still delightful. I finished planning for tomorrow’s class a few hours ago. It’s hard to believe that tomorrow will end the first quarter! Quarter 2 will involve a lot of preparations for Advent presentations, which I’m thrilled about ❀

I’ve been journaling almost every day for the past few weeks. I haven’t done this consistently for what feels like so long, but I’ve made it part of my morning routine as a way of putting down everything on my mind . . . it’s so beneficial. Also, I journal in pencil . . . it takes some sort of mental pressure for perfection off of me, but I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

In any event, it’s easy to journal when you have something so lovely like this hardbound piece of feminine perfection (subjectively speaking) which was discovered at Wal-Mart for $5:

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I recently cleaned out my inbox (that short phrase contains a gargantuan amount of inferred work), reorganized my folders, and caught up on at least 90% of my sadly neglected correspondence. That was so gratifying to get done!

In an attempt to not waste nearly all of my teenaged years, I’m attempting to re-write an old story . . . or, really, to just delve into it again and let it surprise me. Again, it’s in pencil. I was able to work on it both Friday and Saturday and am determined to keep at it, if only to email scenes to an interested cousin to whom I’ve promised installments at some point. The things we do for cousins.

Also, I rearranged my desk last week, putting my monitor on the left side and freeing up the right-hand desk space for writing (like it’s supposed to be, but occasionally I’ve changed it up for variety’s sake). It feels like a new work space and I love it!

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I am reading . . .

Ah! Last month, I read Crime & Punishment.

On a whim, I checked it out (on The Dash’s card . . ) when he, Lena and I were at a library one afternoon in August. It amazed me. The psychological depth of Raskolnikov, in particular, was beyond compelling, and the ending genuinely surprised me. It was pitiful, engrossing, morally instructive in a masterfully artful way. I’ve never read anything like it but would absolutely read it again, simply because the characters “lived” inside my mind in a way I haven’t experienced in a while.

Also, at the end of August I read By Love Refined: Letters to a Young Bride by Alice von Hildebrand – a birthday present. I devoured it in two or three days and I love it to pieces. I highlighted a passage from nearly every letter, and I think it would be a wonderful thing if every young woman hoping for marriage were able to read and absorb it. It edified me in so many small ways, and confirmed me in the joy and worth of the state of life I’m anticipating so eagerly.

“Union necessitates that the two persons remain fully themselves, clearly separate – yet bound to each other by “the golden chords of love.” A husband and wife who love each other become one, but in so doing, they don’t cease to remain fully themselves, two clearly distinct individuals. In fact, mysteriously, through loving union with each other they each find themselves and their own unique individuality in a new and deeper way.”

But currently, I’m still reading Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture by Michael D. O’Brien (deep and rich) and The Privilege of Being a Woman by von Hildebrand (also deep and rich). The Dash and I are reading the Book of Tobit (RSV) together. I’d love another novel, though . . . hmm, what about North and South?

Contemplating authentic femininity . . .

From The Privilege of Being a Woman:

The female psyche is more responsive to the personal than the impersonal. Women respond thus intuitively, without much deliberation, because they “feel” that persons rank infinitely higher than nonpersonal things . . . Edith Stein further claims that women are more interested in wholes than parts. Their minds do not dissect an object; they grasp it in totality . . . Because their minds and their hearts are closely related (their minds work best when animated by their hearts), their grasp of persons and objects does not fall into the traps which threaten specialists, who no longer see the forest because of the trees . . . {John Bartlett} expressed: “Woman are wiser than men because they know less but understand more.”

Courtship is such a tremendous blessing, and The Dash and I are unified on the path and timeline we believe God is asking of us, but it doesn’t make it always easy, or doesn’t prevent some weeks from feeling long and mundane . . . the past few weeks have had some great moments, but on the whole have been rather hard. That’s just part of life and is sanctifying if I approach it with the right disposition!

But it’s also thought-provoking . . .

Waiting to meet someone is incredibly hard, and I empathize so much with girls who are waiting to meet their future husband; I’m also learning that waiting to be able to move forward to betrothal and marriage (and all those large and small joys that come alongside them) with the person God has sent you is its own kind of Cross. This is when heroic love in little things is called for; St. Therese’s Little Way!

Things are rather intense on both sides of our courtship. The Dash has just a little over 2 months left until he graduates college (hallelujah!) and a huge slew of obligations containing, but not limited to, work and school and everything. My side is certainly less busy than his, although I’ve got duties and tasks of my own with teaching and family, helping out, writing . . . however, as a woman, my heart is operating under theΒ  consciousness of everything that is challenging, hard, worrisome or time-consuming for myself and The Dash, at the same time.

Like the quote above expresses, I find myself instinctively grasping things in totality. The totality of The Dash and I’s current spot in our relationship; the totality of how this is an intensely demanding season of life for him and my wishing I could help somehow, even in ways that I can’t; the totality of feeling and caring and thinking about it and all of its tangents . . .

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One night, my youngest sister was trying to instruct me on how to take a “natural” selfie. We figured out that I just needed to open my mouth, since apparently I talk enough to render that my “natural” look . . .

Right now, some things are really hard; some things are simply part of the daily grind; some things bring joy; some things require perseverance. As a woman, I sense and feel and carry these things in a very distinct way; one that God intended from the beginning of time. Courtship awakened this deep aspect of femininity in my heart in a way I hadn’t experienced until now. And that’s what I would want to try and find the words for, for any lovely and faithful young woman who’s waiting to meet the man she will love and is struggling to remain brave. Her womanhood is going to make love a beautiful cross. Her love, her courtship, is going to start asking her to become an adult, a woman. Instinctively, her heart is going to carry the totality of things without much compartmentalization . . . which is a dazzling gift, and yet can be very heavy.

It’s a lot sometimes πŸ™‚ But . . . it’s the privilege of being a woman. And I am so very grateful.

On living the Faith . . .

Daily Mass stream; fighting the daily interior battle for faithful prayer; coming close to completing my yearly renewal of Total Consecration, but having been totally humbled by how patchy my efforts have been; picking up Lives of the Saints for today’s post and knowing I should read from it daily; trying to live virtuously and humbly rely on God for the strength to do anything virtuous at all. Sometimes it is so hard to do the smallest things well. Often, it is so easy for me to be lazy about praying. But we can only begin again today.

Our parish is going to start offering an evening Low Mass on First Fridays; I am so excited to have the opportunity to be able to attend First Friday and First Saturday Masses, back-to-back, at “home”!

Yesterday’s Mass was That Mass at which all the littles in the congregation had their turn for a meltdown, with that muffled chorus of outraged screams emanating from the narthex that doubles as a cry room. Although their dear parents might have found it a tad stressful, I couldn’t stop smiling at the sounds of our community: a community bursting at the seams with new life and lovingly accepting the noisy, messy beauty of its youngest generation. If I’m blessed with children one day, I have no doubt they’ll join the ranks of screamers (on occasion).

Prayerfully . . .

So many things on my heart to pray for, but especially for a friend who very recently suffered a tragic loss. Your prayers for the repose of a certain soul and the comfort of a family would be so appreciated.

And we are embarking on the month of the most holy Rosary! It seems the perfect time to post a prayer, long ago prescribed by Pope Leo XIII for the month of October, after the recitation of the Rosary:

To thee, O blessed Joseph, do we have recourse in our tribulation, and having implored the help of thy thrice-holy Spouse, we confidently invoke thy patronage also. By that charity wherewith thou wast united to the immaculate Virgin Mother of God, and by that fatherly affection with which thou didst embrace the Child Jesus, we beseech thee and we humbly pray, that thou wouldst look graciously upon the inheritance which Jesus Christ hath purchased by His Blood, and assist us in our needs by thy power and strength.

Most watchful Guardian of the Holy Family, protect the chosen people of Jesus Christ; keep far from us, most loving father, all blight of error and corruption: mercifully assist us from heaven, most mighty defender, in this our conflict with the powers of darkness; and, even as of old thou didst rescue the Child Jesus from the supreme peril of His life, so now defend God’s Holy Church from the snares of the enemy and from all adversity; keep us one and all under thy continual protection, that we may be supported by thine example and thine assistance, may be enabled to lead a holy life, die a happy death and come at last to the possession of everlasting blessedness in heaven. Amen.

Sig

A birthday (accompanied by musings on my face and a new year of life . . .)

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Yesterday was my birthday . . . I turned 22 years old, and I seem to have also turned the corner of reaching any really “special” age milestones until 33, when, in accordance with a long-lived joke amongst some of my dearest friends, I leave my “irresponsible tweens” at last and become a proper adult! (If you know of hobbits, you know of what we speak.)

Maybe we’re sticklers, but in our family, we children know the precise hour and minute in which we were born. Until it reaches that miraculous moment on the clock, we’re not legitimately our new age. Being the first baby, I took the longest, unsurprisingly . . . and so my brother set alarms in several places, all of which went off at 5:02pm and I officially became 22. The Dash had walked in only minutes before and so (with amusement at our oddball Donellan traditions) was able to join in the ecstatic outcry that I was finally 22.

It was a wonderful, wonderful day, spent with the people I love most in the world. I was able to get up fairly early, have my usual prayer time, eat waffles with my youngest sister and have a good workout before leaving with Mom and the siblings to Adoration, Confession and Mass for the feast of the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, my dear patron. The Dash had a break between classes and was able to join us for Mass ❀ I couldn’t have been happier or more grateful to God for that time! Afterwards we ran into several friends, and I even got a beautiful priestly blessing from Fr. A., who was delighted to hear that the young man I was with was “connected” to me πŸ˜€

Later on, my family, The Dash and I all had dinner together (oven chicken strips, homemade biscuits, salad . . . an amazing combination you really should consider), and we had the usual candle-blowing, present-opening ceremony. Lemon cake with vanilla glaze . . . perfection. The presents and cards were all incredibly sweet and lovely and so thoughtful . . . books such as Harry Potter and the Paganization of Culture (I’ve wanted this FOREVER!) . . . the most heartmelting hanging photo, handmade by Lena, with The Dash and I’s special song lyrics handwritten around it (pictured at the top of this post) . . . makeup and nightgowns (I really wanted nightgowns–my erratic brain finds them charming and feminine), Oolong tea, beautiful monogrammed stationery, and football tickets for The Dash and I’s one-year courting anniversary next week (a total surprise!!). We spent some time outside, then came in and danced for a bit, watched a movie . . . it was just such a wonderful day. I’m so grateful to simply be alive and surrounded so undeservedly by such love and goodness and grace.

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A super sweet handmade card from my youngest sister

It’s such a staggering mystery of love–life, that is. In Adoration, it was impossible for me not to contemplate how God could never have made me. And yet He drew me out of nothingness, impelled by Divine love, by the thought of me in His Mind that had been in existence for all eternity. Poof! When the time was right, He fashioned my immortal soul and my teeny body. With all of my idiosyncrasies, quirks, endless facial expressions, temperament, faults, strengths, and every single action and choice I will ever make . . . I was meant to live from all of eternity.

It’s just a mind-boggling thought.

Especially when you take into account my facial expressions.

This morning I was looking through all the pictures taken last night, and I was constantly caught in that middle ground between squirming embarrassment and humbly amused acceptance for how God made me . . . I have a remarkably expressive countenance. HIGH expression production. If you watch a video of me, it makes a little more sense. The fluidity of motion and transition between expressions has a tolerably softening, normalizing effect. If you look at frozen pictures, however, it looks like I own dozens of personalities that emerge at the most insane but highly amusing moments.

Some photos are a little too much, but I did pick out several of the moderate ones . . . and no, it’s not at all my intention to degrade all these expressions, but rather to happily poke fun at them πŸ˜‰

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Firstly, the cake. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the countenance of an impish little kid.

The initial bites of ice cream were incredibly cold against the roof of my mouth, for some strange reason, however, which brought on this expression:

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Cold!!!

As you can probably gather from the following shots, I am caught mid-sentence quite often.

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Then there’s the wrinkled-nose laugh . . .

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The subtle smirk . . .

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Lastly, the pensive moments . . .

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Needless to say, I was having a great deal of fun yesterday πŸ™‚ “The best birthday ever,” as the saying goes, but it truly was, because 1) The love of a family just keeps growing, which sweetens every single birthday, and 2) It was technically my first birthday spent with The Dash, and with us being “us” (although we were on the brink of courtship on my last last birthday and he called me that night *sigh*, it still wasn’t nearly so lovely as this was πŸ˜‰ ) To have him at the table while I read his card and opened his gifts, and being able to hug him, was such a gift! Courtship birthdays are awesome! I am so richly blessed in the love of my family, The Dash, and my friends ❀

Sig

 

 

 

 

Baptismal joy (now I have two Godsons!)

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Pictures are by my brother πŸ™‚

Time for some news! πŸ™‚ This Sunday I had the privilege of becoming Godmother to another precious little boy (who also happens to be my second cousin)! What a joy it is to be a Godmother! My awesome cousin (baby’s uncle) was the Godfather. It was so wonderful to be able to visit with family over the weekend, celebrating Father’s Day, my grandmother’s birthday, and the newest member of the Body of Christ, all at once!

I’m still contemplating how being a Godparent is a tremendous responsibility. It’s something I never thought would happen to me while still being a single woman, and yet here I am with two adorable Godsons! It can be easy to focus on the happiness of the Baptism and the fun of being known as a Godmother . . . and forget that being a Godparent means so much more. Twice now, I’ve solemnly promised, before God, to help the parents of two sweet boys raise them in the Faith. Depending on what happens in life (although, God-willing, it would never come to this!), there’s the possibility I would wind up becoming become the primary leader for either Godson in living a life of grace, in obeying God’s commandments, and in knowing the teachings of the Church.

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Me with Baby, the Godfather, and some extended family πŸ™‚

And even if it (hopefully!) never comes to that, I’ll still always feel the responsibility of praying for them every day and of being a loving, encouraging, Godly presence in their lives as they grow into young men. I want to be able to radiate a motherly love of God to them in whatever way I can. Only Our Lord knows how this will look over the coming years, but I pray I’ll be ready for whatever is asked of me.

I’ve been an Associate Member of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers ever since I was nineteen or so, and I look forward to being enrolled as a full member (who participates in the graces of the Confraternity) as soon as I’m married! Becoming a Godmother has brought me into a special state of spiritual motherhood, however, and I’m grateful for the prayers of the Confraternity, especially in light of the two Godsons in my life. I pray this prayer every night for them!

O Mary, Immaculate Virgin and Sorrowful Mother, commend our beloved children to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Who refuses nothing to His Mother.
Holy Guardian Angels, pray for them.
St. Joseph, powerful patron, pray for them.
St. John, beloved disciple of the heart of Jesus, pray for them.
St. Augustine, pray for them.
St. Anthony, pray for them.
St. Aloysius, pray for them.
St. Anne, mother of Mary, pray for them.
St. Elizabeth, pray for us.
St. Monica, pray for them.

Sig

Labora (A Woman at Home Post)

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Happy feast day of Pope St. Julius! πŸ™‚

It just occurred to me how easy it is for me to cheerfully describe the joys and interests of life as a young woman at home. The Faith, family life, courtship life, friendship, tutoring, femininity . . . all of these things absolutely delight me. Writing about happinesses and about blessings is so necessary, and is the default for the sanguine, I’m thinking.

But . . . womanhood at home is hard, too. It is work. Labora. It is labor–the labor of pursuing virtue, the labor of struggle, and of making choices between little things, in which reside either heaven or hell. I am slowly learning that, if choosing young womanhood at home means choosing joy (which it does), it also means choosing labor, struggle, and sometimes suffering. If remaining at home (by which I mean in the family atmosphere) augments that which is beautiful about being feminine, it also emphasizes that which is most difficult. If it enriches a girl’s natural good inclinations, it also sharply highlights her habitual failings. It isn’t my nature to bring difficult things to the forefront . . . and yet they are there, nonetheless! Choosing to remain a young woman at home is simultaneously very beautiful and quite hard.

In my life right now, labora means something like these things . . .

It means battling for the heroic minute. It means rolling over in bed, turning off the alarm, and confronting Self lying in the bed beside me, fuzzily whispering at me not to get up, because I need rest, because last night was a late night, because today will be a long day–or, at least, because I can simply lie here and rest briefly without going back to sleep. I’ve chosen to be home, I don’t have “a job,” so why get up until I want to? It means mumbling through the Regina Caeli, it means wrestling with myself. It means getting up . . . or failing to.

It means going downstairs and finding dimness, chilliness (if the morning is cool), and observing the silhouettes of scattered throw pillows and unfolded blankets and other little piles from family time the night before. It means turning on the lamps (and the heat) and straightening things up (one of my chores here at home). It means making coffee if I forgot to assemble it the night before. It means either fully waking up to my good mood (fortunately, I usually wake up happy in the morning, or at least peaceful!), or dealing with an unexpected groggy/cranky/stressed mood and contemplating how I’ll present myself to my siblings and mother when they get up (my dad already being gone to work). Sometimes it means practicing my expression and my words for when they’ll walk into the kitchen.

And then it means kneeling down and offering my full morning prayers, which normally seem at least slightly longer than I have initial willpower for. It means either persevering, or cutting them short with some excuse that seems quite reasonable. It means sometimes getting consolations: sometimes not. It means fighting the imperfections in my prayer, those mainly of distraction. And then it means either choosing spiritual reading, or reading up on my phone. And then it means having breakfast and either being generous with my time towards my newly awakened siblings, or not so generous and rather distracted. It means choosing to watch Mass if I have legitimate time for it, or postponing it “just a little while.” It means starting my laundry or waiting an hour. It means embarking on my work and various obligations, or peeking at blogs. It means adhering to a hierarchy of daily priorities, or randomly following whatever is my newest interest or desire. It means choosing work first or choosing leisure first.

It means choosing to deny myself something small throughout the day, or simply eating whenever I want to. It means giving my attention and care to a sibling who is hungry for a little time, or finding an excuse to get back to the computer. It means embracing the present work with contentment and purpose, or it means constantly living in futuristic expectation of what may never come.

It means going out for my tutoring work, but coming home again and–despite my lack of energy–making up for all the time I’ve spent away from a family who misses me. It means choosing cheer and not tired reclusiveness; it means choosing the funny stories instead of the vague details.

It means scrubbing algae out of a shower, getting soggy food scraps out of the sink, folding underwear, rubbing shoulders.

It means crying from hormones; it means hugging someone else who is crying for the same reason; it means offering to cook or clean or assist with school when I really don’t want to, and before I’m asked; it means being patient when someone else is having a bad day; it means making someone’s bed when they deserve to make it themselves. It means trying to use my feminine intuition to sense if someone needs to talk, needs a shoulder to cry on, needs a break, needs a defender, needs a helper, needs a joke-maker, needs a prayer . . . although sometimes it might feel like I’m the one who needs these things. It means choosing to accept sicknesses and potential medical issues with trust, and prudently combating them when to not combat them is far easier.

It means using my funds unselfishly when I want to save it all from the motivation of having security: putting gas in the car, buying someone a snack. It means serving when I am tired; it means choosing against irritation. It means remembering to pray whenever, wherever I or someone else is in need, especially spiritually. It means imitating Our Lady when all I want is a fuzzy sweater, a bar of chocolate, and a bed to curl up in. Sometimes, if there must be a choice, it means dressing modestly instead of comfortably, or instead of what appears to be slightly cuter or newer or just simply different when all your clothes begin to appear the same to you. It means eventually leaving my hair alone and choosing to leave the mirror. It means defending the purity of my thoughts and resolving, again and again, that reason would rule emotion.

In family, in friendship, in courtship, it means having conversations I don’t want to have. It means being honest when I would rather not be honest. It means forgiving and guiding and listening and submitting. It means developing my femininity concretely through tasks, through creativity, through reading . . . without being lazy and without being guided solely by my own whims. Again, it means remembering and choosing to pray forΒ  grace.

Most of all, sometimes, it means choosing (through an act of will!) to not be wistful or even envious towards someone who is ahead of me; of young women who are married to their beloveds and building homes and raising children of their own. It means absorbing and enjoying the pictures and words of others that capture the beauty of traditional life and of virtue so well . . . and yet being mindful that life is far more than pictures and words. It means striving to be compassionate and encouraging, choosing just the right words for those who are not even where I am. It means not settling for where I am in my own courtship, but striving to become a better woman for God’s sake, and the sake of the wonderful man who asked me to court him!

So yes . . . labora can mean all these things for a young woman at home . . . and far beyond. It really is simply the Christian calling; it is the laying down of one’s life, it is the carrying of the Cross. It is always a battle for virtue and holiness–for me, specifically, it always seems to boil down to a battle against laziness, against a day that is steered by what I want to do, instead of what I should do. May God give me renewed grace to combat my faults, and let us all pray for one another!

But even with all these difficulties and trials, my life as a young woman at home has had, and continues to have, beauties and graces that far exceed the struggle! Again and again, Chesterton’s words breeze into my mind, filled with truth and with challenge:

“Women were not kept at home in order to keep them narrow; on the contrary, they were kept at home in order to keep them broad. The world outside the home was one massive narrowness – a maze of cramped paths, a madhouse of mono-maniacs.”

Indeed, being a woman at homeΒ demandsΒ that she becomes broad, broad in virtue and in heart! And what a beautiful thing that is πŸ™‚

Sig