From the Spotlight to the Hidden Life

I used to be a youth minister.  I worked in a church where I was in front of people all the time. Talking, leading, and ministering. I had to be on top of my game, spiritually speaking, if I was going to be effective.  Sometimes it was more about deepening my personal relationship, but sometimes it was that outside pressure that kept me going to the UnknownChapel and waking up for daily Mass.  And so there I was, at the Church all the time because I was the face of the youth in our church. I was in the spotlight.

And then I got married. And immediately the kids started coming and I was now at home. All the time. It was more of a hidden life now – for most of the day it was just me and babies who can’t talk. The way I was used to praying involved daily mass and frequenting the adoration chapel, and I no longer had those luxuries for my prayer time. And so my priorities became eating, dishes, and laundry, and it became difficult to find time to pray. “They don’t even know what prayer is; they wouldn’t notice the difference if I prayed or not.” Or so I thought. I convinced myself that my spiritual life wasn’t as important now that I wasn’t in the spotlight.

But I was incredibly wrong. I remember when it hit me. I was in line for confession examining my conscience. It has been a while, but I hadn’t really done anything that bad. I’m a mom now, so I don’t really have time to sin, right? And then I started to recall every time that my husband and I had fought. Every time I had lost it and yelled at the kids, every time that I had failed to discipline in love. I realized that my spiritual life was more important now than ever before because I was responsible for the souls of these tiny children who do not know any better. That I am accountable to my husband and our vows to be leading him closer to heaven.

So while the hidden life, the “interior house life” of a mom may seem inconsequential, it will impact your family and society for generations to come.

I think of Mary, who we know so little about in the Bible, but yet she was the most important person in Jesus’ life. Her role was so great, and yet so hidden. With every newborn comes an adjustment in routine and schedule. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of prayer; I think it increases it.images-2

So now it’s time to be motivated out of love for God, love for my vocation, and love for my family to be striving for sanctity and to find time to pray. Not just to say grace before meals and bedtime prayers, but to find time to be anchored in prayer and to be more like Mary.

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:6

 

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Is going to Church on Sundays enough?

I met a nice young college student at a ministry fair this weekend. He was studying criminal justice and went to church on Sundays. “Oh that’s so nice,” commented the woman sitting next to me. “I’m sure that makes your mom happy.”

“Is there FOCUS or a Newman center where you are?” I asked.

They had some Catholic thing, but he wasn’t in to the “whole youth group thing.”  I get it. There’s more to life than ice breakers and snacks. But the encounter with that young man has been nagging me all week.

That’s because there’s more to life than “just going to Church on Sundays.” We in American have this “good person” philosophy. If we do “good” things, go to Church on Sunday, and are a “good person,” than you will go to Heaven. That’s it.

But our “good person” theory is completely out of touch with reality, and out of touch with the heart of the Gospel message. If my goal in raising my children is just that they are good people who go to Church on Sunday, then I have missed the point of Catholic parenting. Of course, I do hope they are good, and that they go to Church, but I hope and pray for more than that as well.

In last Sunday’s gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  The answer that Jesus is tvan_hornthorst_adoration_children_800x583he Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God – that changes everything. It changed Peter from a loud mouthed fisherman to a fearless leader and the first Pope.

The Incarnation. God becomes man, takes on human flesh, conquers human sin. That’s more than being a good person. It’s being united to the Divine and bringing that relationship with the One who is God into every aspect of our lives. It affects our decisions, our vocation, and everything about us. It brings the Kingdom of God to here and now. A relationship with Jesus is what I hope for my kids.

You see, I am afraid of what this country will look like when my kids are in college. We are all comfy with the ability to go to Church every week and think we have religious freedom. But our government and our culture is increasingly hostile to Christianity. Is forcing a baker to make a cake for a gay couple religious freedom? Is forcing nuns to pay for contraception really religious freedom? This is only the beginning, folks. And if our kids are simply good people who go to Church on Sunday, will they really defend their faith to the point of shedding blood?

MV5BMTA0NjA3MzI5NTleQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDMzOTg0MTg@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_If you haven’t seen it, go watch “For Greater Glory.” I think it’s still on Netflix. It chronicles the war in Mexico in the early 1900’s of the government versus the Catholics. They took away Catholic schools, and then Catholic Churches, and then Catholic priests, and then Catholics. The government tried to eradicate Catholicism completely only 100 years ago. And America supported their government, but thankfully the Catholics won. Look at the life of 14 year old Jose Sanches del Rio who chose death over renouncing his faith.

Look at what’s going on in Iraq, and PLEASE make a donation to help those Christians through Catholic Relief Services. To them, their faith is life or death, heaven or hell. Do you think they are shedding blood because they are “good people?” Or because the Gospel has cut them to the heart, and they are nothing without Jesus. Look at the first Christians and think of the Colosseum. Would our world and history as we know it be the same without these brave martyrs? Do you think they were content just to be good enough to go to Church on Sunday?

Mark my words, we in the United States are not immune to persecution. It’s coming our way, and how will we answer? “Don’t shoot, I’m a good person?” I challenge you, going to Church on Sundays is not enough. A living, breathing, relationship with the Word made Flesh is enough, and that’s our goal as parents for our children.

“The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.” -Tertullian (2nd century Church Father)