Before I get started, thank you to everybody that answered my call for company on Twitter. :) I see Cam over there now, as well as some others, and I'm really having a good time with this and hope that I continue to meet more people there. Please do reply to my Tweets over there or send me a message! I'd love to talk to you.
Ok, so my increased involvement at Twitter has had a very good spiritual side effect. During the day, I'm thinking more and more about Catholic things that I see on there. Prayers, events, news items. And a few people recently mentioned the Year of Faith. That, combined with the unfolding vocation story that I mentioned in the past week or so of the young woman I follow on Twitter (@ChanningDale) that is entering a Carmelite monastery in a month, has gotten my little mind whirling. (Definitely check out her podcast for as long as it's still available, she discusses her vocation story in depth on there. You can find it on iTunes as "This Catholic Life.")
How well am I doing living out my vocation? And what have I been doing to fully embrace this special Year of Faith? Those two questions have been on my mind this week.
Mike teases me that he's glad that I sacrificed being a nun so that he could marry me. :) But how well am I doing in my vocation as a wife and mother? It's always important to evaluate that and not take it for granted that marriage is in fact a vocation, not just a lifestyle choice. I felt called to marry Mike, and we both felt strongly that we were called to welcome children into our marriage. That part was very easy, really. It's the day-to-day stuff that I know that I struggle with, as I'm sure most people do. I'm very happily married and I love my children, but am I the best wife and mother that I could be every moment of every single day? The simple answer is no.
So here is where the Year of Faith ties back in. Do I take advantage of what the Church has to offer me to boost me spiritually in my vocation? In many ways yes, but of course I could always be reaching out more. I frequent the sacraments. I pray daily. But have I done anything special this year to maximize the Year of Faith that the Church has set up for us to benefit from?
It's interesting, but as I look back on my year (the liturgical year, that is) I would say that my spiritual life has in fact been more vibrant. I've been putting more into it, and although I'm far from attaining the way of perfection :) I'm getting more out of it. And it definitely corresponds with when the Year of Faith began.
I had a particularly nice Advent this past year, and then shortly after Christmas I did the consecration to Jesus through Mary via the book 33 Days to Morning Glory. That Marian consecration, in hindsight, seems to me to have been a quiet leviathan in my spiritual life. At the time, no fireworks were shot out or anything, but when I look back I'm astounded by how much I've been ardently working on my spiritual life since then and trying harder to be more patient in my vocation as compared to before. I attribute this directly to the consecration.
I read the other day that we're approximately 6 months into the year of faith. So it seems an appropriate time to take stock. I feel very happy in my faith life right now, but I'm not getting a halo anytime soon, I'm still very much in need of grace. So, what else could I do to grow closer to God?
I need to keep up with daily Mass as often as I can. I haven't made it yet this week, so I'm going to prioritize that tomorrow (the feast of St. Anthony of Padua!). I'd also like to start slowly (sigh) reading through some Catholic classics since I haven't read most of them. I'm terrible about deep theological reading. I have read Introduction to the Devout Life (a very accessible read) and The Story of a Soul (also lovely). But I haven't read any other major work of a saint or Church Father. This Catholic librarian needs to get busy, clearly. There are *tons* of these available for next to nothing on Kindle. I'll update you on my progress.
I'll leave you with an amusing anecdote. Right around the time Mike and I got engaged, my good friend Rose and I (who was soon to be engaged but also had nun longings like I did) decided to go on a retreat to discern whether we were in fact following God's will for our lives. We found this remote retreat place for laypeople run by a group of monks a few hours drive away. You could rent a small cabin and there was a chapel on the grounds as well. It was in the woods, so lots of time for prayerful contemplation.
Now, we're city girls. Definitely not what you would call "rustic." We did know that there was no indoor plumbing, and that the heat source was a wood burning stove. We thought we were prepared.
We arrived, filled our jug with water and proceeded to our cabin. We managed fine during the day. I don't even remember what we ate, but we had come prepared. The no running water thing was a bit of a challenge, but we persevered. I held my breath a lot in the outhouse and felt very Pioneer Woman. We went to the chapel and prayed.
Then night fell. Not having grown up in the country, I wasn't really prepared for how DARK it gets at night. Everything was fine until one of us needed to use the facilities and went out back to the outhouse with a flashlight. Discovery of a spider as large as our hands now present in the outhouse was immediately reported to the other. A mutual decision was made that further use of the outhouse simply wasn't possible. Whereupon the heavy cover of darkness became, let's just say, quite indispensable.
Next came our preparations for bed. We loaded some wood into the stove thing, got it lit, and settled in for some spiritual reading. All was well. We drifted off to sleep.
I awoke with a start, noticing that I was quite warm. I'm not sure what had happened, but it had become so hot in our cabin that I had a hard time seeing Rose on the other side of the room since the air was so wavy. I immediately pop open the windows and checked the time. It seemed like we'd been sleeping for a long time.
We'd been sleeping for maybe 30 minutes.
I woke Rose so that we could be sure and not asphxiate to death. We got the stove situation righted and tried to go back to sleep. I tossed and turned a lot.
The next day, we got up for Mass and were faced with a crisis about the spider-infested outhouse. With the light of day, we obviously had no choice but to use it, and we felt that our time in purgatory should be reduced due to our heroism.
I look back on that time with much fondness. The friends that I made after I came back from law school have been so wonderful.
I can't go on a retreat right now, but perhaps I can create a "home retreat" with some solid spiritual reading. I will let you know how things go. :) But I'm thinking spiders won't be involved this time...