Fire and In laws, it’s Momily Monday.

It’s round two of Momily Monday! Find this week’s Gospel here.

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This weekend was spent with my in laws, and on Saturday night we built a bonfire in a Sunday Gospel coincidence, except for the whole daughter in law being against her mother in law part. There is something both beautiful and terrifying about a fire, especially when children out number adults 57/2 (somewhere around 4 million marshmallows were consumed, mostly by Josie.)

The enthusiasm of its fevering flames mesmerize and captivate while its fervor and power repel the gazers from recklessness or out of order behavior, reminding us that if there are any two things that ought to be respected it’s a burning fire and probably also the woman who raised your spouse.

The thought of Jesus using such a powerful force to fulfill his mission is thought provoking. On Valentine’s Day three years ago, my parents house caught on fire with all of us home, and if there is anything that I learned that day its that a route towards safety is something for which to be thankful and to cling. Additionally, Valentine’s Day is the worst.

Fire gets us moving in the right direction, quickly, and with intention. Or else, it absorbs and mercilessly destroys leaving little evidence of what originally existed. To me, this imagery is how I understand the tension between the Peace vs. Division to which Jesus refers in this week’s Gospel. Peace implies a sort of motionlessness, and maybe even complacency. Fire, however, gets the behind bouncing, causing division by necessity, for the reality is sort of simple: run towards safety of the truth, or get burned.

As a mother of three, with a household of five, division is something to which I relate. The transition from man to man defense (parenting two kids) to zone defense (three children), is one in which my husband and I sometimes end up punting, often with zero points on the board, and if there is anything that leaves my love for God and family sizzled and burnt out, its that. Yet it’s the struggles and division that often show us where our weaknesses are, and how much we need God to be #1 MVP, or else, we too will be left consumed by something other than the fiery love of our creator.

It’s also in the dividing times that we yearn for a clearer direction, which hopefully draws us closer to the Big Man. So this week, may the love of God fuel our family life and mesmerize our hearts, scorching out the bad, and igniting the ambivalence. And, when I burn dinner, I’ll consider it living the Gospel.

(and as far as Mass grades go, James and I braved the big church together while Josie and Rita took advantage of the cry room with their father due to poor attitudes and uncontrollable 10 month old yells. He gets an A for participation and thoughtful questions even if he was unaware of the high volume of his voice when asking, “But mom, why do you eat Jesus!? That is NOT nice.”)

May your hearts be full and your laundry piles low. And I’d love to hear your take on the Gospel in the comments! I find it difficult to make a real bible study…

MOMILY MONDAY

Momily Monday

During our engagement Jim had the opportunity to take a class with one of those famous theologians that sells a lot of books. The only catch being it was a seminarian only class on how to write a good homily, a skill I was positive my fiancé did not need. Would they try to once again claim my bethrothed to join the ranks of the collared and celibate?! Would he start parting his non-partable hair and wearing white tennis shoes and pleated khakis for sports like the days of novitiate past?! No. He would marry me, have a baby a year, and I would start writing Momily Mondays: reflections for moms on the internet using a favorite literary device to help prompt a Good Godly discussion about how the Gospel applies to a life with car seats, cut up food, and a shower every third day. While they may be led by a mom who offers little to no canonical insight about the spiritual life, she does have a good understanding as to why the terms “teething child,” “swollen feet,” “soccer practice,” and “NFP” are actually spiritual battles of sainthood occupying most of our households.

This week’s Gospel Lk 32-48 (a long one):

The richness of the readings and Gospel this week are most certainly beyond the reflecting abilities my diaper changing mind, so the following are a few points inspired by the mom-praying minutes spent after receiving Communion during which my children straddled the kneeler while having a (relatively) quiet, yet definitely innappropriate battle between a saber tooth tiger and Darth Vador figurine as the baby gnawed on the car keys.

There is no one more deserving of a “you have your hands full,” than the Big Man, yet He has the patience and tenderness to refer to us a “little flock” and begin a story hour far beyond the deep intellectual richness of his mind full of tales to earn eternal life. There were most likely many other tasks to which the Son of Man needed to attend, yet, he understood the will of his father in this exact moment, offering patient instructions detailing how much good stuff there is in store, and how much he wants to give it to us, rather than doing what I do and saying “go ask daddy.”

And as my priest reminded, each of us has been given “much,” and has much more waiting at the finish.

I couldn’t help but think of the moments I get caught up on laundry when it might be better to read my people a story or play, or simply be. Or, when I’m frustrated by the amount of (swear word) I have to clean up everyday, how much more effective my parenting would be if I tackled the task with more patience instead of angry brooming, feeling the more gratitude for the baby wipe than I do most other things. Or when I have no energy at the end of a day and I’m short tempered with my husband for no good reason at all, other than I’m being a brat too proud to say “would you mind spending some QT rather than reading that weird book about mold? (true story)”

This week, for me, is a call to attend to my conscience, so as to know the will of the moment with clarity, and without guilt or anxiety, or at least, less of it, because sometimes everybody poops at the same time, and if things are going to be messy, at least I can be calm. And while I treasure my husband, and children, how often do I rush or forget prayers, depleting myself of the true source of strength, and, therefore, grow frustrated when all I have to offer for dinner is fruit snacks and cheese, creating feelings of guilt and other crappy things for I am clearly not the “faithful servant…distributing the food at the proper time” or even of the right substance. At first read and listen, this Gospel sounds a little scary, especially all those parts about the beatings and the end times, but the instruction is really quite simple: Follow the conscience, the greatest gift we have and the source of human individuality and freedom, so as to do the will of God. Each of our hearts, at a different place, with a different number of children, financial level, intelligence etc…is only expected to follow their conscience. As we grow closer to God, the conscience becomes clearer and demands upon itself the choices that are best and most fulfilling. So today, my conscience said “take the kids to the grocery store and try not to have a terrible time.” Maybe in a few weeks I will be a little holier and dish out fewer candy bribes for not throwing avocados and basil.

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And for the record, the picture indicates a terrible time, so maybe I’ll do better tomorrow.

For me, this week, the story of the young woman trapped in the car who asked for a prayer partner, a request that has sparked the reporting of what seems to be and most certainly feels like a supernatural miracle, is truly the most convincing, and in a powerful way refocused my mind and heart. At the hour of what seemed to be her death, she continued to follow her conscience that felt the need to pray, so much so, that she called out to a group of strangers, and her life was saved in a moment of mystery and miracle. Her treasure, in the last moments, was to be with God in a moment of prayer. At first hear of this amazing story, I focused solely on the priest, but then, I began to wonder if I would have the courage to ask a stranger to pray with me in a moment of such intense scariness, like her, and my prayer this week is that I can be that humble.

HAPPY MOMILY MONDAY! If even one of you comments and shares a little love for God and the Gospel I will consider this a success, and if none of you do, I’ll probably do it again next week anyway.

Finding it increasingly difficult to find time to pray, join a discussion group with women who still have most of their original hair color or understand what its like to bring kids to Mass and listen at the same time, or that a trip to the grocery store with all of your kin is actually grounds for canonization? JOIN ME FOR MOMILY MONDAY! Share your thoughts in the comments below and enjoy a Gospel reflection discussion in the comforts of a messy house at an unscheduled hour of your choosing.