"Sweet Lord, you are meek and merciful." Who would not give himself wholeheartedly to your service, if he began to taste even a little of your fatherly rule? What command, Lord, do you give your servants? "Take my yoke upon you," you say. And what is this yoke of yours like? "My yoke," you say, "is easy and my burden light." Who would not be glad to bear a yoke that does no press hard but caresses? Who would not be glad for a burden that does not weigh heavy but refreshes? And so you were right to add: "And you will find rest for your souls." And what is this yoke of yours that does not weary, but gives rest? It is, of course, that first and greatest commandment: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart." What is easier, sweeter, more pleasant, than to love goodness, beauty, and love, the fullness of which you are, O Lord, my God?"
Is it not true that you promise those who keep your commandments a reward more desirable than great wealth and sweeter than honey? You promise a most abundant reward, for as your apostle James says: "The Lord has prepared a crown of life for those who love him." What is this crown of life? It is surely a greater good than we can conceive of or desire, as Saint Paul says, quoting Isaiah: "Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him."
from On the Ascent of the Mind to God by Saint Robert Bellarmine
"As we contemplate this Mother, whose heart a sword has pierced (cf. Luke 2:35), our thoughts go to all the suffering women in the world, suffering either physically or morally. In this suffering a woman's sensitivity plays a role, even though she often succeeds in resisting suffering better than a man.
It is difficult to enumerate these sufferings; it is difficult to call them all by name. We may recall her maternal care for her children, especially when they fall sick or fall into bad ways; the death of those most dear to her; the loneliness of mothers forgotten by their grown-up children; the loneliness of widows; the sufferings of women who struggle alone to make a living; and women who have been wronged or exploited. Then there are the sufferings of consciences as a result of sin, which has wounded the woman's human or maternal dignity: the wounds of consciences which do not heal easily. With these sufferings too we must place ourselves at the foot of the Cross."
...As we honor our Blessed Mother, our Lady of Sorrows, we honor her as the faithful disciple and exemplar of faith. Let us pray as we do in the opening prayer of the Mass for this feast day: “Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, His Mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings. May your Church be united with Christ in His suffering and death and so come to share in His rising to new life.” Looking to the example of Mary, may we too unite our sufferings to our Lord, facing them with courage, love, and trust.
"How splendid the cross of Christ! It brings life, not death; light, not darkness; Paradise, not its loss. It is the wood on which the Lord, like a great warrior, was wounded in hands and feet and side, but healed thereby our wounds. A tree has destroyed us, a tree now brought us life" (Theodore of Studios).
Since our topic in Chapters 10 - 12 of Graced and Gifted discusses organization, I would like to share my kitchen drawers with you. I have found that preparing meals is a lot less stressful when you know where your tools are. It doesn't take a whole lot of time or money to create a good organizational system in the kitchen.
It might seem odd to have pens and pencils along with oven mitts, but the phone happens to be right next to the oven. So, it works. The white plastic baskets were purchased at WalMart for around $2 total.
In this drawer, I have covered the bottom with non-slip material. The knives used most often are towards the front, with those used less often at the back. These utensils are next to the oven, since that is where the meats will be prepared and pizzas cut.
The island is where I prepare my baked goods and do other meal prep. You can see I have some of those white plastic baskets again. As for the cookie cutters, there's no real point in trying to keep them neat. They have their own separate space.
I chose a drawer that is out of the way to put the items that aren't used as often, but that are still needed. Again, utilizing the non-slip material.
I splurged on the silverware drawer. We have deep drawers on this side of the kitchen due to the bar, so I needed an extra-large organizer. This organizer costs around $20, and it was well worth it. I even purchaed one of these for my bathroom drawer. It's perfect for all the stuff we need to primp ourselves with in the morning.
I like to have all the appliance manuals in the kitchen. They are good to have on hand. But if you are lacking space, make a separate file in your filing cabinet. So, if you have a question about the oven, you'll know exactly where to find the information. It's also good to have a stain marker on hand to make quick touch-ups to your cabinets.
My cabinets have actually stayed organized since I took these pictures, and it's not because I'm some amazingly organized person. I thought through where the most logical place would be for each item - where would I use it in my kitchen. Once you do that, and come up with your organized layout, it's easy to keep it up.
I hope this encourages you to go organize your kitchen or some other area of your home that could use some help. Be sure to measure your spaces before you go shopping for baskets and such.
Cleaning Management from Graced and Gifted by Kimberly Hahn
As you manage clutter, you simplify the cleaning process, but cleaning still must be done. The best book for cleaning organization that I have read is called Sidetracked Home Executives: From Pigpen to Paradise, written by two sisters, Pam Young and Peggy Jones. I read this book during a night of labor with my firstborn, and if a book is funny during labor, it is a good read! These sisters were more disorganized than anything I imagined possible, and they found a way, working together, to bring order out of their chaos.
These easily sidetracked homemakers have given many people hope. One of their mottos is "We Change Lives With 3 x 5s!" They list all possible jobs for cleaning any room in the house (in the back of their book) in terms of daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly and seasonal chores.
For each room they recommend that you list one task per note card, color-coded based on frequency: blue for daily or every-other-day jobs, white for weekly or biweekly jobs, yellow for monthly tasks, orange for seasonal jobs, red for holiday tasks, pink for personal tasks. Twenty-five years ago I could not afford colored note cards, so I cut construction paper to the size of index cards and created the same system. Today you can download the information you want, customize it for your home and print cards yourself.
Once each task is listed separately, time the jobs and designate any task as a mini-job if it takes less than ten minutes - many tasks are five-minute (or less) jobs. Determine a time each day by which you will complete the daily jobs. When you are ready to begin, closely follow the cleaning routine that you have set up, noting challenges. The secon week, only make slight adjustments - you are working on a new habit. The third week, evaluate and fine-tune only.
If your children (or someone you hired) help you clean, add instructions to the cards, so they know how to do each task. Either designate who should do the chores and when, or shuffle the cards and have the children draw one. Include on the card what supplies are needed to complete that chore, and store those supplies near the point of use. It may not save you money on supplies - unless you find them on sale - but why not at least save time by having cleaning supplies located in each bathroom, for instance, or in a designated closet on each floor?
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve those people throughout the world who live and die in poverty and hunger. Give them through our hands, this day, their daily bread, and by our understanding love, give them peace and joy.
- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Father, you guide your people with kindness and govern us with love.
By the prayers of Saint Gregory give the spirit of wisdom to those you have called to lead your Church.
May the growth of your people in holiness be the eternal joy of our shepherds.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
It’s important to understand that healing involves more than the wound. A wound can usually get better; and most pain will eventually subside. Situations resolve, and life goes on. But the need for healing remains. Why?
The need for healing remains because of what happens to us when we are harmed. Perhaps you are critically injured in a car accident. After surgeries and painkillers and then weeks in rehabilitation, you get your life back. Only it’s not the life you had before. The life you return to has absorbed a whole new realm of fear and helplessness. The weeks of dealing with pain have changed the way you operate from day to day. The recurring memories of the crash have formed new, disturbing patterns inside you. Long after the scars fade, you will need healing.
We are shaped by what happens to us. Every wound—the death of a loved one, a lost friendship, a long illness, a disruption due to change in job or income, a dashed dream—each event and emotional season works on us at every level. If we do not allow God to infuse every day with fresh faith, life can devolve into a misshapen and fearful existence. If we do not cultivate trust in God’s constant care and the Holy Spirit’s ability to renew us constantly, our lives might become mere long memories of hurt and disappointment. If we do not walk with the compassionate Jesus, inviting his friendship to strengthen our hearts and minds, we could easily become more defined by our wounds than by our gifts.
It’s quite common to hear someone say, “Oh, I’m over it,” when referring to a difficult situation she’s come through. “I’m moving on now, but thanks for asking.” Our culture is so focused on action and productivity that we feel an obligation to recover quickly from whatever has hurt or discouraged us. But if we get quiet and sit with our deeper wisdom, we become aware of how profoundly we’ve been affected by events. We may need to cry or take a walk or stare absently out the window.
When we come to such a moment, it’s time to pray. It’s time to ask God for the healing that can reshape what the hurt distorted. I confess that ever since the accident I am much more fearful of driving. You admit that since that horrible break-up you have shut out nearly every person who’s tried to get close to you. We are living out patterns that owe their power to bad memories. God means for us to live out patterns energized by hopefulness and peace.
Does being wounded block your service to others or your ability to receive God’s gifts in any way? If so, describe how it does.
Set aside time this week to be quiet and in prayer. If necessary, do this with your spiritual companion. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the patterns in your life that indicate a need for continued healing.
When most people refer to balance, they envision a successful juggling act. A balanced life is one in which, simultaneously, I keep all my projects going and all my relationships healthy. I achieve this balance by sheer strategy and willpower.
In Christian spirituality, balance has more to do with temperance, which means that we allow our deepest principles to hold our passions in check. As Paula Huston explains in chapter 2 of By Way of Grace, temperance has been misconstrued in popular language to mean an unhealthy denial of life’s pleasures. But from earliest times Christians have valued spiritual balance.
St. Ignatius spoke of people having “disordered affections”—being ruled by desires rather than free to make wise choices. When we don’t practice temperance, eventually our affections will become disordered. A temperate person honors her desires and passions as gifts from God, but she does not constantly rearrange her life according to the ongoing flux of those desires and passions.
I’ve discovered that whenever I feel pushed, desperate, or hurried, that’s a signal that I need to apply some temperance. When I am driven to act—by my fear, my need to impress, or my own impossible expectations—I allow my perfectly good passions to run away with me. Passions themselves are not bad, but they were never meant to be in charge either.
Most of us can relate to Paula’s story; her desire to give her daughter the perfect wedding led to weeks of frenzy and overwork. One time, when my sister and brother-in-law were visiting, we’d had a full day of sightseeing and had returned home to cook a nice dinner. At about 8 p.m., I started pulling out ingredients to make an apple pie, and my sister stopped me: “Are you on speed?” she asked, laughing at my insistence on providing a homemade dessert. I decided that it was more important to relax and watch a movie with my family than slave over a pie we were too tired to eat anyway.
As an editor, I have to practice temperance; otherwise I would never finish making a manuscript “perfect.” As a writer I practice temperance when I decide that, no, a sixteenth rewrite of that scene is not necessary.
Parents must practice temperance when it’s time to let go of children, even though we know we could help them organize their lives or choose their friends. Our good desire to help those we love must be tempered by wisdom.
One of the best gifts of temperance is that it frees us to enjoy our loves. When I write, I can throw myself into it completely. And when temperance tells me it’s time to stop writing and do something else, I can put down my work and enter the next thing wholeheartedly.
Identify situations in which you feel pushed, or hurried, or desperate. Can you describe what’s going on, and how you might apply some temperance?
Welcome to our blog! The Joyful Hearts are a Catholic Mother's prayer and study group of Bryan/College Station, Tx who meets bimonthly at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish of College Station. Babysitters care for our children across the hall while we meet, lap babies are welcome in the meetings.
Together we pray for the intentions of our church and all of its leaders, members and ministries; our families and friends, and our community and world. Through scripture, intercessory prayer and praise, we strive to support and encourage one another in our faith and our vocation as mothers.
Outside of our meetings, we also meet up for playdates and to celebrate holy days with our children. We hope you will join us soon!