Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Shot of Grace

Odd how it is that when things are going so pleasantly, I have nothing to say. Betty Duffy once wrote a post about right now being the golden age (which I'm not going to look up and link to at this moment, as that's one of the things that bogs me down and keeps me from posting; you can go search her archives yourself, which will be a fruitful and fascinating endeavor). That's how I feel: right now is the golden age, the time I'll look back on and think, "Everything was perfect then." I have the minor stupid frustrations of the parent of a bunch of energetic young children; I have the constant nagging suspicion that my house is full of piles of carefully sorted junk; I have an increasing awareness of my own sinfulness and tendency toward petty and pathetic sins. And yet. I am happy and productive and at peace.

A month ago, Darwin and I went out on a long-overdue date night. We poured out our frustrations to each other, and were surprised and relieved to find that we were both feeling exactly the same way: that we were at the end of our reserves. All these years we've benefited from good early training, from the constant prayers of our parents, and from basic good choices we've made along the way. Yet it seemed like we were depleting these reservoirs of grace, as it were, and had nothing of our own to keep filling them. The thread running through our whole discussion was one of weakness and discouragement, as if we needed a real shot of grace to pick us up off the floor before we could begin to take even the most halting of baby steps toward making life changes. I knew I needed to pray more, and yet I felt like I needed a infusion of grace (that word again; everything comes back to grace) before I could even say a rosary.

By ourselves, we were not enough.

After chewing on the situation from all angles, we decided to make one change, and make it permanent. We get up early, together, and get completely ready for the day. Then we go downstairs and say Morning Prayer. This sounds ridiculous even as I write it. For ten years of marriage we've not had a set morning routine, nor a shared prayer life. We never felt like we needed it, and when we did need it, there was nothing there.

There's an epitaph for you: We didn't do anything we didn't need to do. And suddenly we were in need, and there was no was no there there.

This has been great for the old perspective. Knowing that one is a fallen creature and actually realizing that fact are two different things. My own inadequacy has been borne in on me, and I'm glad. Here's an example: I've been talking for a month about my new-found awareness of the importance of the rosary. There are so many people to pray for, so many needs to bring to God, and I can't take all of them on my shoulders. I want to give them to Mary. Yet the first time I've said a full rosary in ages was this weekend.

So now: we get up, and we pray together. There's still not much order to our lives, though that's mitigated by the happy, lazy days of summer. Our long-term planning problems are not solved; the next school year is still a hazy blur in the distance; once again, I need to cut out the late-night snack. But I am at peace. I'm trying a new thing: begging God to supply what I lack and provide my husband, my children, my family, my friends, everyone, with what I can't give. And I'll keep tossing back those shots of grace as quickly as He pours 'em.


Enbrethiliel said...


Well, there go my illusions about you and Darwin as the perfect power couple. =P

Amber said...

Good for you both - that sounds like a great idea.

I've been slowly realizing that I need to be getting back to Adoration on a regular basis. Now that it is summer I'm planning on taking the kids during Friday morning Adoration, but I don't think I have the energy to get out the door for the Sat. Evening Adoration by myself. But something is better than nothing, right? I think it will need to be part of the school year schedule too... But I'm just starting to think about that.

Practicing Mammal said...

I think Catholic families can take on the burden of needing to appear totally awesome. We don't want anyone criticizing our family size, our faith, the way we live out our nice to hear your honesty about the end of the rope.
Years ago I had a wonderful, holy old priest (in a similiar moment to what you share) tell me how to pray for my marriage. He said, in his thick French Canadian accent, "When you were married, God made a covenant between Himself and you and your husband. It was a promise that He cannot break. But you must ask for the grace for a successful marriage and family life. He cannot refuse you, He promised. But you must ask, and you must ask every day. From that day forward, before I even get out of bed, I do ask.

"Heavenly Father, please provide me with the grace that you promised in the sacrament of marriage to be a good wife and mother. Please get me through this day with that grace." PM

JMB said...

I know your children are still very young. I wish when mine were that little I had spent more time praying (daily mass, adoration, rosary) and less time food shopping when the sitter came. I could have used a lot more grace back then. I commend you for your efforts. Every good habit starts small and grows.

Donald R. McClarey said...

My wife and I have said our prayers together before going to bed from the first day of our marriage. I highly recommend it.