Our day started out rough. I was tired. I went to bed way too late for the time I need to rise. You see, it is in everyone’s best interest if the mom of this family wakes up and gets ready (including coffee and prayer) before the kids. So, I did it anyway, despite my tiredness.
I appreciated this explanation
of the act of rising being a mortification of sorts. I had not thought of it like that before, and actually thinking of my little, but at times hard, act as a mortification makes it even more desirable to strive for. Especially if you knew my temperament as well as I do =)
St. Josemaria Escriva said: The heroic minute. It is the time fixed for getting up. Without hesitation: a supernatural reflection and … up! The heroic minute: here you have a mortification that strengthens your will and does no harm to your body.
So, I already was tired this morning when the clan trickled down from their cozy beds on the second floor. A fall chill was definitely in the house, and everyone was moving a little slowly. Thankfully, we didn’t have to be anywhere until 9:15 a.m. The older girls have today off on this
their school patron’s feast day.
I’ve been bombarded with requests to get the fall clothes out, and today I agreed. But only after chores. Since we’d be at doctor’s check-ups this a.m., I advised them to do chores before we left so we could do fall clothes this afternoon.
And that’s when it all fell apart—tears, complaining, disobedience and more tears. “Can I please run away?” was the question running through my mind. But where would I go, really? My husband was going to work (lucky guy =) But this is my place. And of course I must remain …
So what was happening to us at that moment this morning? Were the kids tired just like me? Were they cold? Were they lazy, resisting their chores? Or was our family actually being attacked, spiritually?
Perhaps, it was a combination of all of those possibilities, but since it happened and since we got through it, I’ve been contemplating the reality of the last possibility …
It simply makes sense. It’s the Feast of the Archangels. It’s our school’s patron’s feast day. I had just read some beautiful prayers and reflections about St. Michael in the Magnificat. And this list of explanations doesn’t even begin to consider my husband’s recent powerful experience on a three-day silent men’s retreat. Or my Catholic women’s conference that fanned the flame of my faith. Or that we’re striving for holiness in small ways, like praying the family rosary on Sunday night (and it went so well!)
As a friend reminded my recently, all of our sufferings and trials (no matter how big or how small) are part of the mystery and wisdom of the cross. I never was promised an easy journey, and I am pretty sure you know that, too. Look at where Jesus’ journey led Him. To the cross. And just like He embraced His cross, He asks us to follow Him and embrace ours, too. We will be asked to do big things in our lives, but He will never ask us to do them on our own. With His grace and strength, we will have more than enough to be faithful to His requests. We cannot be perfect, but we can be faithful. And because of our faith we know the end result of choosing this path: Heaven and all its splendor! But first we must embrace our crosses of life, and walk this sometimes hard path to holiness. I think that’s why it’s called a mystery. To have the joy of the Lord, to feel the love of the Lord, to experience that burning desire for Him, even when life deals out the hard stuff … According to the world, that is sheer madness! To God, it is the way. It is wisdom. It is power and truth.
The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God … Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish? For since in the wisdom of God the world did not come to know God through wisdom, it was the will of God through the foolishness of the proclamation to save those who have faith. For Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are called, Jews and Greeks alike, Christ the power of God and wisdom of God. (1 Cor. 1:18-24)
But what can make an already challenging situation even more difficult is that the devil doesn’t play fairly. As we strive for holiness and actually make steps toward virtue, he will try to pull us down. We will feel that attack in very blatant ways, and also in ways that are a bit more uncertain or unclear (like my morning example). We must not give in to his lies and tricks! We must persevere and plead St. Michael to defend us in battle …
During the times when life seems hard, and maybe even unbearable, I am grateful for the reminder of all the ways the Lord provides us with help—His grace, His mercy, His love, His Mother, His Body and Blood, the prayers of the saints, the protection of the angels, the wisdom of the Church, supportive friends, our children and our spouses uniting together. We are not alone on this journey, and that gives me great hope and encouragement! I hope it does the same for you.
So, on this feast day, I pray that I may turn to the Lord in thanksgiving and also in petition. Cling to His promise. Pray to St. Michael to fight for me and my children. And ask the Blessed Mother to shelter us in the crook of her arm, as any loving mother would do for her children.
O Lord, the angels’ sheer delight!
Their life reflects your splendor bright;
As we today their praise declare,
May we their joy forever share.
Saint Michael, be our refuge here,
Preserve us from all useless fear;
Through you may God his peace bestow
On all the nations here below.
Saint Gabriel, be with us this day,
Reveal God’s will to us, we pray;
As Mary once did answer you,
May our response be firm and true.
Saint Raphael, heal our sinful heart,
May God his grace to us impart,
And may you guide us on the way
That we may never go astray. Amen.