On the Eve of All Saints

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Hello there! 🙂 Since I, once again, missed my opportunity to write another installment of “7 Rambling Monday Takes” yesterday, I will be indulging in a rambling blog post comprised of all different sorts of topics . . .

It’s a glorious end to October over here, blue-skied and cool, and all the trees outside my window are reddening beautifully; I’m fittingly garbed in a sweatshirt, jeans and tennis shoes in celebration of this fine weather, and I’m glowing with the accomplished feeling of satisfaction a girl gets when she writes a long diary entry by hand. I have been woefully sporadic (although my attempts have been numerous and I have several full diaries) in this practice over the years, but once again I am going to try and be faithful to keeping a diary. I have a really nice one, in fact, that’s made by Eccolo, and I got it two Christmases ago (I believe) from my grandmother; it’s got an elegant green leather cover with some gold gilding and an embossed image of a tree on the front, with a “refillable” lined paper book you can tuck in on the inside. I hadn’t written in it since November of last year. Sigh.

I know, a blog sort of counts (since all I seem to do here is ramble ceaselessly about my life and my thoughts), but there is something irreplaceable about a true diary. Maybe it’s the handwriting (mine grows in flair in proportion to my level of excitement) and the lack of the Backspace key. Either way, I keep telling myself, “For posterity!” since I’m just the type of person who loves to think about her future great-granddaughter discovering an old diary of Great-Grandmother Mary’s in a musty attic somewhere. It sounds just like a Hallmark movie.

But to move on from that . . .

Renewing Baptismal Vows

The past weekend was a lovely one; on Friday, my aforementioned Baptism anniversary, we lit my Baptismal candle after dinner and I renewed my vows. True to my (only slightly) scattered nature, this meant I was flipping through my missal at the very last minute, attempting to decide which portions of the Old Rite of Baptism I wanted Dad to read aloud. All the while, I was getting ideas (which was not helpful in terms of keeping me focused on the then-current task) for how my future family could celebrate our future Baptism anniversaries.

Perhaps my ideas have been gilded slightly by the medieval feeling of Men of Iron (my brother and I are now on Chapter 28 of 34!), but I was thinking how I’d love for the family member in question (if they were old enough) to kneel before the family images of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts while holding their burning Baptismal candle, and answer the Baptismal questioning (posed by the father of the family) in that posture. Maybe they could wear white, too, and have their white linen cloth! (Ideas abounding here . . .) And if the person in question was too small to do all this this, well, then, the Godparents (who would already, hopefully, be celebrating with us) could either hold or kneel with the child and answer for him/her, just as they would have done at the Baptism itself. I don’t know . . . It’s all about strengthening our dispositions to live a holy life, and it just seems to me that this could witness in an even more powerful fashion to the beauty and obligation of living out one’s Baptismal vows!

But, to return to the point (perhaps I should have named my blog But, to Return to the Point), here’s the traditional questioning Dad posed to me Friday night, along with my responses (taken from the Missal, pgs. 1831, 1838-1840). I would love to incorporate a few more applicable sections from the Rite next time (and maybe offer my responses in Latin, since my replies are unfailingly simple), but it was still very moving:

V. Mary, what do you ask of the Church of God?
R. Faith. (Fidem)
V. What does faith offer you?
R. Eternal life. (Vitam aeternam)
V. If, then, you wish to enter into life (perhaps “enter into eternal life” could be said, since we’re now commemorating Baptism), keep the commandments: thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind, and thy neighbor as thyself.

V. Mary, do you renounce Satan?
R. I do renounce him. (Abrenuntio)
V. And all his works?
R. I do renounce them. (Abrenuntio)
V. And all his pomps?
R. I do renounce them. (Abrenuntio)
V. Mary, do you believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do believe. (Credo)
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, Who was born into this world and Who suffered?
R. I do believe. (Credo)
V. Do you believe also in the Holy Ghost, the holy Catholic Church, the Communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do believe. (Credo)

V. Receive this burning light, and keep the grace of your Baptism throughout a blameless life. Observe the commandments of God. Then, when the Lord comes to His heavenly wedding feast, you will be able to meet Him with all the Saints in the halls of heaven, and live for ever and ever.
R. Amen.

The Feast of Christ the King

Sunday was High Mass for the Feast of Christ the King. A very cold morning that dipped into the 30’s, at long last! However, our parish’s interior heating was working merrily well, and those of us who had dressed to compensate for the cold were shedding layers in the choir loft and turning on the fans while jokingly murmuring about offering it up as Purgatory (in the way that Catholics always seem to do) 😉

Over the past few years, it’s started to become a bittersweet feast for me interiorly: a feast of joy and love and adoration for Christ the King, of course . . . but as I knelt in the choir loft this Sunday, overlooking the solemn regalia of High Mass, the Propers (particularly the Gospel) stabbed me with a sense of grief that “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not,” . . . a sense of swimming within this blackness of confusion, deceit and dissolution that is our time, and that is permeating everything, down to the foundations . . . like smoke that prowls, billows and stifles, leaving behind its stains and its smell. Pope Paul VI termed it the “smoke of Satan.”

What does it mean to be living now, in these dark times? Where does it fit into time and history? To be kneeling in the choir loft on the Feast of Christ the King, overlooking the splendor of the liturgy, while being surrounded by all of this turmoil and, truly, desolation? A poignant sense of sorrow, of being overwhelmed? Difficult to find words for this . . . and yet, we have this Feast.

The rejection, contempt and agony Our Lord endured throughout His earthly Passion included His suffering, at least interiorly, all the rejection and hatred He is receiving now at the hands of those who have deemed evil, good and good, evil.

But He is the King Who has told us, “Take courage, for I have conquered the world.” He is the King Who commands us to hope, and to be faithful!

The Lamb that was slain is worthy to receive power and divinity and wisdom and strength and honor; to Him be glory and empire for ever and ever. Give to the King, O God, Thy justice, and to the King’s Son Thy judgment. (Introit)

He shall rule from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. And all kings shall adore Him, all nations shall serve Him. (Gradual)

 Pilate therefore said to Him: Art Thou a king then? Jesus answered: Thou sayest that I am a King. For this was I born, and for this came I into the world, that I should give testimony to the truth. Every one that is of the truth, heareth My voice. (from the Gospel)

Our Lord has seen fit to plant within my soul the vocation of marriage and family life, and in that same seed He has also gently allowed me to find, and lovingly helped me to nurture, the virtue of hope and the fruit of joy. And in the midst of all these rather sober reflections of mine, the Feast of Christ the King was filled with wonderful hope and joy; I was blessed to enjoy the company of very dear friends (while we celebrated an early Thanksgiving together), to spend time with the amazing man I’m courting, to hold and coo over my sweet Godson, and to cuddle some of my other favorite kids, all of which serves to create a perfect day for yours truly 🙂 I am so grateful for all of the blessings Our Lord has showered me with!

We have received the food of immortality and beg, Lord that we who are proud to fight under the banner of Christ our King, may reign with Him for ever in His realm above. (Postcommunion)

The Heroic Minute . . . and wrapping up . . .

Yes . . . now we come to this: trying once again to pick myself up instantly from bed, and (naturally) failing two days in a row. Such is my life. Granted, things have been busy and we’re almost managing to kick out the last of a month-long cold that’s been circulating through our family, which means schedules have been off . . . but still, it is so humbling to realize how hard it is to deny myself simply for the sake of denying myself, first thing. Hopefully, writing about it here (for all the world to see) will help . . . although, I think my Guardian Angel just whispered in my ear that I should probably be praying a little more for the grace to do it.

Yesterday I underwent a personal organizational project which involved taking one of my brother’s giant dry-erase boards from his room (with permission), cleaning it (a task) and making a monthly calendar out of it (also a task). I changed my mind two or three times about the color-coding process, but overall it went fairly well. I just needed to see the things I needed to do and the projects I needed to keep up with, if you take my meaning. Currently, it’s on the wall next to my desk, making me feel structured and efficient . . . ha 🙂

Mom and I were discussing the idea of having all our Christmas gift shopping/creating done by the beginning of Advent, in imitation of a friend’s practice and in order to leave that holy season free of a lot of that “rush”. We do have a lot to plan for this year, it feels, notwithstanding the fact that we draw names for our own family’s gift-giving . . . I would love to hand-make more things this year than I usually do, and I have some ideas, but of course we’ll see how it all pans out! Good intentions and a dash of optimism are all you need to get a job done, right? (Riiight 🙂 )

And as a final note, I have changed my blog signature to Latin! Going off what I had before, I’m confident it’s still fairly decipherable . . . Have a lovely rest of your day!

Latinsig2

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The Rose (or, Desires and Analogies)

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McTurk’s eyes, so like a monkey’s, Philippa had often thought, brilliant in his wizened face, expressive, oddly sad, holding prescience of things far beyond himself, looked at her through the grille and must have seen her distress. Philippa’s usually pale face had a spot of color on either cheek, her eyes, usually so level, were looking down, her fingers, usually quiet under her scapular, were drumming on the sill. McTurk put his hand through the grille and stilled them.

. . . “I will learn,” said Philippa. “I shall hold my tongue, keep myself back, efface my meddlesome self–this me.”

“You can’t,” said McTurk.

“Why not?”

“For the simple reason they will never let you. To deny your gifts would be cheating. We can overcome our second natures, my dear, but not our first . . .”

In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden

Last night, as I was trying to fall asleep with a mild headache (due to my helplessly restless mind!), I asked Our Lord and Our Lady to give me some light. Light to see. Lately, in this period of “living in the quiet,” so many thoughts and questions have been flowing through my mind, to God and to myself, about life and discernment, my natural desires, my true needs, my vocation, my abandonment to God and lack thereof, my holiness and lack thereof–everything. I’ve been writing about these thoughts so frequently; and, like every person, each day finds me a little older, a little different, and a little closer to eternity. I’m not remaining the same. Sometimes it feels difficult to keep up with my own words; or to make my words keep up with me.

So last night, you see, I was asking Our Lord and Our Lady to mercifully send an analogy floating into my mind. I love analogies. They help me think more clearly, see things more simply, like a child. Analogies to do with the Faith are my spiritual “aha!” moments. I most certainly am one of the reasons Our Lord condescended to speak in parables . . . otherwise I’d be constantly squinting about things.

As nearly everyone who knows me, or who reads this blog, has ascertained, in my heart I desire marriage and motherhood very, very much. And the desire is just not abating. What has changed in me, over the course of time and thanks in no small part to my experience of the Latin Mass, is my desire for God’s will in my life, and I attempted to share this in my most recent article on 1P5.

Entrust yourself completely to My will saying, “Not as I want, but according to Your will, O God, let it be done unto me.”

-Our Lord to Saint Faustina, Diary, 1487

I am young, obviously, and not an expert on anything to do with the spiritual life, with the Faith, with loving God . . . not with anything. (Except the best kinds of chocolate, and the best film moments in The Lord of the Rings. I’ll claim a little expertise there.) And so I pray; I think; I write; I read; I pray some more; I speak to those who know far more than I do; I speak to those who are in the same place as I am; I try to continually be open to God’s will, to be constantly united to Him in a spirit of love and prayer (ha! How often I fail at that on a normal day!) and I oscillate between various modes of trying to show Him that I do want His will to be done in my life, which surely must make Him smile with infinite, paternal love.

Everything I’ve written to do with God’s will, I believe in with all my heart. The complete surrender of oneself and all one’s desires to God, the complete openness to, and desire of, His will, is the narrow, rocky path that every Saint traveled up on their sojourn to heaven. It’s the one I’m trying to follow in my own clumsy fashion.

But last night, I was beginning to realize that I, in my interior life, had been sometimes mistaking authentically surrendering myself and my desires to God’s will *with* striving mightily not to think about these desires of mine and to simply give God an empty heart until He tells me, for sure, what my vocation is, and enables me to do it.

I guess it’s rather a fine line. But striving to squelch my desires in an effort to leave myself completely open to God’s will was becoming increasingly difficult to do. To put it mildly. Because whenever I would feel incapable of not thinking about how much I truly desire to be a wife and mother . . . I would be confronted with the thought that I might not be desiring God’s will so much after all. This became something of a slightly torturous impasse, which led me to where I was last night, in bed, praying for light and for an analogy.

Put your heart aside. Duty comes first. But when fulfilling your duty, put your heart into it. It helps.

-St. Josemaria Escriva

I think I fell asleep while praying. Earlier this morning, I woke up with the same thoughts circulating; I rose, dressed, said my morning prayers, got ready to stream the FSSP’s daily Mass with the rest of the family. Today, in the Old Calendar, is the feast of St. James and the commemoration of St. Christopher. I stuck bookmarks into my Missal (because I stubbornly don’t want to move my ribbons), knelt, and prayed as Mass began.

And, for whatever reason, I began thinking of St. Therese, and flowers.

There is a moment in the wonderful film Therese (starring Lindsay Younce), where she has just left Rome and returned to her family’s house, having been unable to obtain permission to enter the Carmelites, even after her audience with the Pope. She is lying in bed, looking wistfully at a picture book of St. Joan of Arc. In her narration, which punctuates the film, she then remarks, “I never gave up hope that God would grant me my desires.”

Something about the childlike trust of her statement pierced through the clouds and filled my heart, this morning while praying along with the Mass.

I want to give God all of me. That is, after all, what being a Saint means–you have given yourself completely to God, without holding anything back, for love of Him. Now, for reasons of His own, God saw fit to allow me to grow up with these fervent desires in my heart. I have prayed so much that I’ll know and do His will in my life; and so far, He has permitted these desires for marriage and motherhood to not only remain, but to be purified, to strengthen, to flower. I am drawn to the Sacrament of Marriage because it was instituted by Christ to beget life, to bring new precious souls into His kingdom, and so that the spouses can offer one another love, loyalty, encouragement and mutual assistance through this vale of tears; they help one another to become saints.

These desires are part of me. I am open to changing. But, in this context, I can’t change myself; Our Good Lord would have to change me, if that’s what He wanted. And so, with this in mind, I am not really giving God all of me if I attempt to give Him my heart, empty of these longings.

I do not want to spend my time praying for things I want, so to speak; every time I pray, I want to tell God that I desire His will, and not my own; but at the same time, I can’t hide some of my deepest desires from Him in prayer. I shouldn’t! He is my Father, my Creator, my first and last Lover. I exist because of His love for me.

Whatever God wants.

-St. Gianna Molla

As I thought of St. Therese during the early part of Mass this morning, I was presented with the similarity of desires to flowers. (And I apologize to the male readership of this blog. I may have just lost you 😀 ) The desire for the Sacrament of Marriage is a good desire. Even if, for whatever reason, it is not God’s will for me, it is something good.

So let’s call my desire for Marriage a rose, growing up since childhood in my heart. I didn’t truly know the full beauty of this rose, and so my desires to keep the rose and eventually receive a whole bouquet of them certainly weren’t perfect. But over time, my mind and heart have learned more from God, have become clearer and purer through His grace, and the rose is growing and unfolding in me, under the sight of God, daily. This rose is a desire for something good, something beautiful; it fills my heart with a fragrance that brings me both spiritual joy and longing.

When God asks me to give Him everything I am, He isn’t asking me to first tear the rose from my heart, trample it or hide it, and to give Him an empty heart in case He should wish to plant in my heart another flower–a desire for a different vocation. He is too tender for that. He is simply asking me to show Him the rose, in all its beauty and its potential; and to offer it as a gift, whole and entire, to Him. He is asking me to open my heart and show Him the rose in all trust and vulnerability. He alone can take it away from me, and give me either a hundredfold of what I desire, a bouquet of roses–or something different; something better.

He alone knows what He wants of me. But I realize now that my very desire for the Sacrament of Marriage can be a made into a gift to Him; not a sacrifice to be burned up, to be torn away, but a beautiful gift, a flower–a gift that exists and puts off fragrance, instead of the gift of forced emptiness and me constantly saying in tones of muted distress, “I’m waiting! I’m waiting! Tell me!”

So from now on, I give Him the rose. I show it to Him with excitement, with love and with hope. Like a child. And if He gently takes it from me and instead presents me with the lily of perfect chastity, I’ll rejoice. I see now that that’s all He’s asking of me for today. I want to give Him everything–and this rose, this desire for Marriage, has become deeply a part of me. It’s His, either to transform or to allow to remain. It’s highly possible this rose is the sign of my vocation, and the thought of that brings me delight and peace beyond words. I can’t describe, or even begin to imagine, the utter joy and peace of soul I will feel if He gives me a good, holy husband and beautiful children. Sometimes just contemplating this brings me to tears–and they’re tears of wonder and joy. Not of pain or even loneliness or impatience. Just wonder and joy and fullness.

But even if this vocation is not what He has in mind, I trust Him. I thank Him for the rose, for the desire, for the gift. I accept the present moment with all my heart, and I look forward to the future He has written for me with gratitude. My heart is ready.

For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of affliction, to give you an end and patience. And you shall call upon me, and you shall go: and you shall pray to me, and I will hear you. You shall seek me, and shall find me: when you shall seek me with all your heart.

-Jeremias 29: 11-13

“Fight, resist, grow not weary, but persevere!” (Thoughts on the Struggle)

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Dearly Beloved: Godliness is profitable to all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. A faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we labor and are reviled, because we hope in the living God, Who is the Savior of all men, especially of the faithful. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth: but be thou an example of the faithful, in word, in conversation, in charity, in faith, in chastity. Till I come, attend unto reading, to exhortation, and to doctrine. Neglect not the grace that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with imposition of the hands of the priesthood. Meditate upon these things, be wholly in these things: that thy profiting may be manifest to all. Take heed to thyself, and to doctrine: be earnest in them. For in doing this thou shalt both save thyself and them that hear thee.

1 Timothy 4:8-16 (today’s epistle for the feast of St. Anthony Mary Zaccaria)

This morning I woke up . . . and I immediately had to pray for courage. Sometimes it just takes so much courage and resolve to continue persevering on the path of virtue when one feels discouraged, messy, disappointing and heavily imperfect in essentially everything to do with the spiritual life. (Psst . . . guess what! I’m not perfect! 🙂 )

Yes, some days are simply harder than others. Often, it’s the result of my neglecting little things that add up to significant spiritual protection and an invigoration to do good; I don’t make as much of an effort to be wholehearted in prayer; I fill up my mind with noise; I indulge myself instead of making a sacrifice. (The list goes on!) But some days, the additional presence of crosses reveal to me my own human weakness and spiritual frailty to the extent that I feel so discouraged and am begging for courage and for Divine help.

On the subject of crosses, I’ve also been contemplating my lack of offering up my regular temptations and weaknesses as crosses to God. You see, on any given day, I find it far easier to identify plain old physical pain, whether mild or intense (we all have our share of both!), as a cross, an instance of redemptive suffering, that I can offer up to God. Physical pain is, after all, mostly out of my control; and maybe because of this, it seems like a clear opportunity to show my love for God by bearing it patiently and uniting them to the sufferings of Christ crucified.

But once I leave the realm of physical pain, I often fail to see other kinds of suffering as legitimate crosses waiting to be offered up for God’s glory and the good of other souls. For instance, there’s the possibility of a kind of emotional suffering, sometimes the result of bad days, or chemical imbalances or hormonal deficiencies that can bring up waves of stress, irritation, fatigue, sensitivity or feeling blue. Like so many other women, I experience the latter cause semi-frequently, and when it happens, almost anything in the daily, Catholic family home life I love so much can become, interiorly, like nails on a blackboard. And yet I often fail to offer this sort of suffering up as an act of redemptive suffering, and consequently lose clarity and purpose until I feel lost, discouraged and like I’ve been offending charity all day . . . whereas if I’d remembered to offer it up as a cross, God might have poured more grace upon me, as well as more spiritual insight and peaceful resignation as to the kind of struggle I was in.

And then I consider my particular brands of weaknesses: the sinful inclinations I find myself having to fight against the hardest, the most frequently. While my sins are always and only my fault, the struggles and weaknesses themselves can be offered up as crosses if I only I remember to do so. For instance, I spent at least four or five years of my girlhood in an intensive ballet environment; and while it was a Christian atmosphere with many kind people, I realize now that the sport itself helped impress me with a real self-consciousness in regards to how I look and appear to others. I haven’t danced ballet since I was eleven–but I still carry that weakness and struggle against self-consciousness, and the frequent propensity towards vanity today. This weakness and struggle is something I can offer up to God as a cross, for His glory–and I suspect that the more frequently I remember to offer it up to Him, the more my soul will open to His grace, to be equipped to fight the vice.

We may not understand God’s reasons for allowing our particular suffering, but we must always trust that we can endure with His grace, and that there is reason for it, whether it is for our correction, purification, penance, to help us realize how radically dependent we are on Him, or whether it is for His appeasement.

-Fisheaters.com, “Offering it Up”

But this all circles back around to courage and perseverance in the daily struggle. Any crosses or weaknesses of mine aside, I still sin, often. As the Incensing of the Offerings at High Mass implores, “Incline not my heart to evil words: to make excuses in sins.” I can’t excuse my sins . . . but I can continue persevering. To paraphrase St. Augustine, the duty of every Christian is to fight as though everything depends on him, but to humbly trust and pray to His Creator as though everything depends on God. To daily arouse true conviction and contrition for his sins, and yet to press forward towards holiness without any discouragement, but rather with hope and confidence.

If I only do the first, I’ll flounder quickly into discouragement and despair. If I only do the second, I’ll sink under pride and presumption. To do both is to continually commit to a wholehearted balancing act, to traveling the smooth, humble, daily middle ground–to pursuing authentic virtue. How simple, but how hard that is!

Some days are oases of spiritual consolation. Everything is clear; I desire to be holy, to be a saint, to do God’s will because it is God’s will. But other days are a battle, continually slogging uphill. And because they are a battle, they matter more to God; they are far more precious than the days when I sigh happily with how easy and sweet everything is. They are greater opportunities for grace and for my growth in virtue. They teach me to cease relying on my own strength, and to turn to Him for my every need so that He can teach me how to employ all my strength in the battle for sanctity.

And this battle for sanctity? Right now, I find it all encompassed by family life (and if God wills I should be a wife and mother one day, I’ll continue finding it there all my days!). I find it in sacrificing my time and inclinations for those of my parents and siblings. In being patient with their faults, and humble when they point out mine. In taking the time to listen compassionately to their anxieties and upsets; in helping cook, clean and do housework with cheer; in praying with my family, in loving my family, in forgiving my family and in asking them to forgive me. In being content with home, with simple goodness and simple work, with vocational discernment, in the face of the spirit of the world that taunts me elsewhere. In short–in growing in Divine charity.

In closing, I came across the passage from Fr. Lasance today, and it was just what I needed:

Think you that He does not know your struggles and temptations, the manifold dangers which beset the soul He purchased with His own most precious blood? Or do you think He has not the same power which He possessed when as a man He walked among men and came so frequently and so mercifully to men’s rescue and relief; or that He does not feel the same fatherly love, that He is no longer desirous to aid and deliver you? Why these foolish doubts? Go direct to Him, confidently invoke His help; say to Him: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Pray with lively faith, with childlike confidence, fight, resist, grow not weary, but persevere!

Then will you assuredly feel that strength and consolation are poured into your heart; then will you appreciate the truth of St. Paul’s words: “God is faithful who will not suffer you to be tempted above that which you are able, but will make also with temptation issue that you may be able to bear it.” You will find that God is true to the promise He made to each one of us by the mouth of His prophet: “Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb? and if she should forget, yet will I not forget thee.” How touching, how consoling is this assurance! Surely it must inspire the coldest, the most despairing heart with confidence and hope!

(Fr. Francis Xavier Lasance)

Deo Gratias!

The Twenty-Three Hours

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On Election Day, there will be a ballot waiting for you. With names listed on a common sheet of paper, the ballot serves as an understated symbol of a long, long whirlwind of political dirtiness, emptiness, false promises, and meager hope. Today, the entire political theater has finally been distilled to a list of names, followed by a dry collection of ambiguous proposed amendments.

On Election Day, there will be politicians poised, breathless to discover the new extent of their power, or lack of it. On Election Day, Christ the King will be forgotten and shunned by many in favor of party, ideology, and money. There will be waiting, watching, entreating, cajoling, cheating. Others will look to Christ the King with eyes of fear or something like despair.

On Election Day, the political world will seem vast, and our part to play very small, if not yet rendered completely ineffectual. Months of campaigns will have distilled down into an anticlimax: into our relatively short drive to the nearest voting site, into our comparatively brief wait in line, into our short scribbles as we darken the ovals beside many names we do not trust so as to leave ovals blank beside the names that make our intestines cringe. No heroic music plays as we slide our ballots into the machine. We get our cheery I Voted stickers, and we walk on, wondering if we have made any difference when there is all the difference to be made.

On Election Day, babies will be aborted. Crimes will be committed; injustices will continue to unfold in the name of law; the moral atmosphere of America will continue in its rotting stagnation, even if it does pause a little to see whose hands are next destined for the reins.

On Election Day, people like us will wait tired-eyed in front of screens, hounding the statistics, dreading the outcome we fear most, hoping against hope for the one we desire. People will pray fervently, if at a loss as to what exactly should be prayed for. Many will feel as though they are faced with simply choosing the lesser evil. It can be a demoralizing, dark feeling. It can dominate the day.

And yet one fact remains that is all too easy to forget. Today, only one hour or so will belong to our vote on the election. The twenty-three other hours, meanwhile, will belong to the ordinary.

Twenty-three hours on Election Day will belong to the mundane tasks at work, on errands, and most especially inside the domestic church; feeding babies, wiping runny noses, folding piles of laundry, cleaning the toilet, cooking dinner, picking up eighty million LEGOs, reading books, praying as a family, sleeping . . . living, like any other day, in the imperfect but Divinely designed microcosm of the journey to sanctity that is the home and family.

Our vote is only a tiny part of what we can do for our country on Election Day. The vote is a rare occasion, and while it’s our duty to cast it with a well-formed conscience, the vote and the politics surrounding it also have the potential to be given more credit for power and importance than they’re due. The ordinary, meanwhile, is the easily forgettable; but within the ordinary lies the powerful promise of God’s grace; both for ourselves, and for our nation.

Today, on Election Day, let us humbly offer the drudgery, the ordinary tasks, the small acts of love and sacrifice in our domestic church, along with our vote, for the sake of our nation. Let’s not forget that our homes can change our nation for the better more than a single vote ever could.