As some of you know, I am trying to make Sunday mornings a little less stressful by leaving for Church on time — it’s going as well as could be expected. Trying to be patient with myself, because old habits die hard. 🙁
For the past few months, one of the causes of starting off on the wrong foot on a Sunday morning (besides my poor planning) has involved throwing on one of my go-to sweaters for Sunday Mass — only to realize that there was a very noticeable hole in it. 🙁
At first, I didn’t think much of it — I didn’t have time to think about it — but after a few Sunday’s of finding holes in my sweaters I realized that I had a moth problem!
What is it about moths? They don’t go for the cheap sweaters — no, they go for the good stuff, the dry-clean only stuff, the expensive sweaters that were part of my Sunday and special-occasions-only wardrobe.
I can not tell you how incredibly frustrating it is to a.) have to find another outfit becausese I’m already running late and b.) know that this hole wasn’t likely to be patched up good as new — and replacing it would mean time and money that I didn’t necessarily have.
And I tried to use all the skills I had to sew up the holes so they were incomprehensible to the human eye — and a few of the patch-jobs are convincing enough to be worn on Sundays or to special events — but a number of my sweaters were beyond repair. 🙁
At first, I was just angry about the whole thing: vowing to terminate any moths I encountered, buying cedar products, and hoping and praying not to find any more holes!
But almost every Sunday, I’d pull out another one of my “favorites” only to find little chomp marks in another sweater! And each time, the same verse came to mind:
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6: 20-21
Whenever I see patterns of calamity in my life, I have to remind myself that God often works this way with me. I’m a little slow in the lesson learning department, so it often takes multiple signals before I finally get it. 🙁
I was sure these holes were God’s way of telling me something. And it wasn’t just that moths are evil. 🙁
So, for the sake of my sweaters that were still intact, I figured I needed to learn my lesson — and quick!
So I went to the adoration chapel and let it all soak in. I thought a lot about that verse from Matthew 6. I thought about treasures and where my heart was. I thought about how important it is to slow down and ask God to show me where I was getting distracted — where I was losing focus on the things that really matter in life.
I thought about how sometimes the superficial things get in the way of the real treasures in our life. Possessions, appearances, job promotions, wealth, other peoples opinions of us, and the like — at the end of the day, they’re really not the most important things in our lives.
If we set our heart on these changeable things, we are going to end up missing out on the really important things in life.
This is where a healthy “detachment” comes into play. As Mother Teresa says, we need to approach the materials things of this world, “accepting what God gives to us, and giving what He takes from us”. That’s it. Appreciate the things you have been given, but don’t spend your life in pursuit of the passing things. It’s a simple philosophy that will save a lot of heartache.
And though the things of the world might be fun for a while, and we might even be able to hold back death and aging for a while, — eventually death comes to us all. Sad, but there you have it.
And if that was the end of this post, or the end of the story — it would be quite depressing! But the good news is that it’s not the end of the story — not by a long shot!
So what remains? Or perhaps the better question, is Who remains? Hey, this is Modern Catholic Mom — not Modern Atheist Mom — so of course, you know what my answer is going to be, right?
That’s right, one day we’re going to meet Love Itself — we’re going to meet Christ face to face and we’re going to see our lives flash before our eyes and we’re going to see every wasted moment, every moment of preoccupation with those things that don’t really matter, and we’re going to regret it deeply.
But we’re also going to see every moment of love, of sacrifice, of building up the people around us, of correcting in love, of serving the poor, the lonely, the depressed, the sleepless nights with our babies — all those moments we spent loving God and neighbor as ourself — we are going to wish we had done more of these things.
So the question you have to ask yourself, is how do you want your life’s story to play out before your eyes?
Do you want to invest the precious gift of time you’ve been given to pursue money or possessions or “likes” and “follows”? Or do you want to pursue lasting treasure in heaven? Honestly, Are we really going to care about any of those things on our deathbed?
And I’m asking myself these same questions, because I know they’re important ones to answer. The choice is ours, but what we choose will determine how our story is going to end.
One of my favorite saints is St. Lawrence. Lawrence was responsible for the almsgiving and care of the poor in Rome. The Prefect of Rome, a greedy pagan, thought the Church had a great fortune hidden away. So he ordered Lawrence to bring the Church’s treasure to him.
Lawrence promised to return in 3 days time with all the Church’s treasure. When he returned, he had no money, no jewels — he had only the poor and sick people of Rome who had been supported by the Church. When he showed them to the Prefect, he said: “This is the Church’s treasure!”
Lawrence was condemned to a cruel death for this act. He was slowly burned alive over a grill of coals. In the midst of this agony, he famously said “You can turn me over. I’m done on this side!” Best one-liner ever!
And in typical Catholic fashion, he has been named the Patron Saint of cooks, chefs, comedians, and even barbecuing. You just have to love a Church that never, ever lets death have the last word! Oh death, where is they sting?
And this is where I’m going to try to bring it all full circle. Wish me luck!
Our first parents lost sight of God, lost trust in Him, and tried to make happiness happen on their own terms. And death and aging came into the world — not as a punishment, but as a mercy. A mercy that has limited man’s lifespan to a mere 70 years or so — we have about 70 years on this Earth — 70 years to make a difference.
So the question remains, “what will I do with the time I’ve been given?” Because in the blink of an eye, it will all be over.
I’ve said it before, but I really want to paint the phrase, “Momento, Mori,” over my dining room doorway. It’s translates, “Remember your Death”.
I want to remember my death — I want to remember my death because I know it will help me to live this life to the fullest, to focus on what really matters, and to remember that in the end, only love and people are what really matter.
St. Lawrence got it right. Our treasures, the greatest gifts that we have been given are the people around us. They are the only treasures that will remain after this life.
And as a wife and mother, my greatest treasures are living right here with me, and perhaps even more scary is that I’m one of their greatest treasures too.
Nobody can replace my love for my kids and husband and nobody can replace your love for your kids and spouse either. You are irreplaceable.
Sweaters — they are replaceable — but you? Nope, not by a long shot!
Pursuing treasure in heaven is about keeping your eyes on your unique mission in life. And we don’t really need to make figuring out our mission so difficult. Honestly, you need look no further than your own family. Begin there. You won’t regret making loving them a priority in your life.
And yes, loving the stranger, the poor, the forgotten should be a real priority as well, but what good would it be to save the world and to lose your family in the process?
And if mission work in other places is really on your heart, bring your family with you as you go out on mission. Include them in all those dreams you have in going out to the world and doing something beautiful. Make it part of your family mission — think of what an amazing experience that would be for your kids.
Let’s be honest, sometimes loving the stranger is a whole lot easier than loving the family you know so well. 🙁 I mean, sometimes our family can be annoying, am I right?
But God is calling us to make loving our family a priority, and maybe love is truly love when there aren’t always warm fuzzies attached to it. Take heart, this mission is also where we’ll find our greatest joy in life — not always happiness in the moment — but a deep, profound joy.
When I think of my own story, that way that I want to be remembered? I hope that the people I knew best could use these 8 words to describe me: She Loved With Everything That Was In Her. That’s it. That’s what I want.
I want to go for broke in this life. I want to give it all away, all the love I could possibly give in this life, even down to my last dying breath. I know I have a long way to go, but it’s good to have something to aim for, right?
Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers out there and to all you women who are stepping in to be a mother for the motherless — you’re the best! Life just wouldn’t be the same without you.
Linking up with Kelly.