On our recent pilgrimage to Spain, “close calls” seemed to be one of the themes of the trip. We began our trip with a close call with a terrorist attack in Barcelona.
We moved on to a close call with a firecracker. There we were, watching an amazing display of fireworks in San Sebastián. I was literally turning to put my baby into our stroller when this blazing ember flew past us, hit the stroller, and proceeded to fall directly in the seat and burn a few serious holes in it! Could have done without that excitement.
Then there was our last day in San Sebastián. We decided to hike up to the fort on Mt. Urgull to take in some of the most breathtaking views the city had to offer. Everything was going splendidly — until, that is, our older kids began to get too far ahead of us
As we zig-zagged around the paths that led us past some incredible views, we suddenly became eerily aware that the noise and laughter of our older kids had stopped.
We increased our pace as quickly as we could with two littles in tow, but there was no sight of them. We began to call out their names, but no answer.
Not only did we have a train to catch, but none of us had any familiarity with this path, and so I began to worry a bit. Then a few more minutes went by, and I began sending frantic texts in hopes of finding my daughter.
The following is the actual text:
Keep in mind that the time between the “We are adopted” texts and the corrected “We are stopped” text was about 3 minutes — three very long minutes. Long enough to conclude that surely my older children had all been kidnapped.
It was like I was stepping into all the worst movies I had seen as a parent — especially that scene from Taken. Have you seen that movie? It stars Liam Neeson as a retired CIA agent, whose daughter’s decision to travel to Europe has ended up in her being swept up into a human trafficking ring.
Just to enlighten you as to the world of crazy I navigate on the daily, here you go, the actual speech from Taken that I was preparing if anybody — who wasn’t my daughter — happened to answer her phone on the other end…
“I don’t know who you are, I have no money, but what I do have is a very particular set of skills — skills that make me a nightmare for people like you. If you let them go, you’ll never hear from me again , but if you don’t, I will find you and I will kill you”.
In my defense, before I had kids, imagined conversations like these never even entered into my imagination — so I blame my kids entirely for my crazy. Okay, my mother also has something to do with it — she did tell me it was a “must-see movie” before I went to Europe. Thanks mom. 🙁
There is a point to this story. The point is that sometimes we parents can lost sight of the real enemies in our lives. We want to protect our kids from danger, but sometimes we fail to recognize the threats right in our midst.
Most of us will never find ourselves in a moment like Liam Neeson in Taken, but that isn’t to say that we don’t have equally dangerous enemies prowling about seeking the ruin of our souls and the souls of our kids — hello, St. Michael prayer, thanks for making that clear!
Our Lady of Fatima warned about the “attack on the family” and the errors spread by communism — and that’s no coincidence. Sometimes we forget that one of the greatest targets of the communist party was the family.
A friend of mine once shared a book she had read on the tactics that communists implemented to try to destroy family life. Husbands and wives were intentionally put on different work schedules — school schedules, youth activities, and an early entrance into the workforce all compounded the separation.
The reason the communists went to such effort? It was to strengthen the power of the Communist State and destroy the influence of the family. The truth was that the Communists knew they wouldn’t last if the family unit remained the strongest unit — and so, abortion was legalized, families were separated and the ideas of the state began to have more influence than the ideas put forth by the family.
Interestingly, Fatima happened just as Stalin and Communism were rising to power. Mary warned that the errors of Russia would spread — and they did.
But she also offered a solution to combat the errors of Russia and the attack on the family: the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary — to be performed by the Pope and the Bishops in union with the Pope. Years went by, and for many reasons, it was never fully accomplished.
The world saw Hitler rise to power and he adopted the same Russian methods of tearing apart the family by establishing the Hitler Youth Camps and Youth Movements in Germany. He attempted to replace mother and father with Führer and Reich. Eventually, the Nazis fell, but others have taken their place.
And then John Paull II stepped into the scene, and Our Lady’s requirement for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart was finally completed. Lucia, one of the visionaries at Fatima, confirmed that Pope John Paul II’s consecration in 1984 successfully satisfied the requirements for the consecration of Russia.
The Pope did his part, so why hasn’t an era of peace thoroughly taken root?
The answer lies within all of us. We have a part to play in the effectiveness of this consecration. Mary spoke of the need for the 5 First Saturdays Devotion, for penance and conversion, and of the importance of family.
Family life is crucial. It is in the family that we learn how to give love and how to receive it. It is in the family that we learn how to ask for forgiveness and how to offer it. It is in the family that we first establish our relationship with Christ and His Church.
It is in the family, that our kids will learn to refute the errors of Communism, atheism, utilitarianism, and all the others “ism’s” that are incompatible with our faith.
It all begins in the context of family.
Which brings me to the danger of “busy-ness”. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself literally running from thing to thing — mind you, mostly “good” things — but it’s to the detriment of “better” things.
I don’t doubt that being too busy is just one more way that the devil is trying to attack the family. It’s almost an American virtue to be busy. We are tempted to jump in on every good activity being offered to us. We have a fear of missing out and of falling behind.
Well, I am here to say that we need to stop the insanity, people. Nobody is happy running from thing to thing — even if they’re “good things”.
Without enough down time to appreciate the “good things”, they soon become burdens; even good things can become bad things if they’re tearing our families apart.
We can find ourselves so busy that we fail to “choose the better portion” — to sit with Jesus, to rest in Him, and to create an envionment where our kids can do the same.
But just making time for more prayer isn’t enough. We also need to make time for good old-fashioned fun as a family.
We need to make time for those moments with family, where we find ourselves laughing till we cry — or if you’re a mom whose given birth to 6 kids, laughing till you wet your pants. 🙁 Too much information?
Anyway, sometimes we forget that family time is not just a “good thing” — it’s one of the best things, and that the world of “busy” is slowly destroying it.
Being too busy is killing us, it’s killing our family life, it’s killing our creativity and our joy and our happiness. And for what?
What gain are we really getting from all these activities? Perhaps more importantly, what are we losing?
Maybe it’s time we sit down with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and think about it. Maybe it’s time to make a concerted effort as husband and wife, mother and father, to recognize those things that are killing our family. And then, maybe we need to take them out — Liam Neeson style.
Maybe it’s time.