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Making the Church Beautiful Starts At Home

March 1, AD2014 4 Comments

\"SherryIt began because I\’d put off housecleaning. (It\’s bad for me spiritually to do this because then I get vexed by time constraints in addition to mess). I went to my two daughter\’s room and found a great disappointment. (Again another potential spiritual snare).

I\’ve been trying to help my daughters take on the responsibility of putting away their clothes. Sympathetic to the difficulty of the process, I\’d sorted piles to let them put away underwear, pj\’s, shirts, pants and dresses, each in separate stacks. I\’d told them my expectations. They seemed excited. It didn\’t happen that afternoon.

I\’d reminded them the next morning. At 11 today, I went upstairs. The piles have been picked over, with whatever remained, semi-destroyed. I felt thwarted. I felt annoyed. I felt angry. I\’d made it so simple. They couldn\’t do this? Not even this? I also felt that familiar near occasion of sin resting on my shoulder, pointing at the mess, at the casual indifference of my children to requests, to authority, to do what I\’d asked. The growl threatened to get a serious harangue going in my brain. But I told myself, they\’re children. They\’re children, we will keep working on it and next time, I will stand and direct them to do this while I watch, to establish the expectation. I put away what was there because there\’s a fresh bumper crop of laundry coming this afternoon so the lesson would get taught.

And I wondered if God ever sighs as He lays out things so simply, and still we miss the mark. Love one another as I\’ve loved you. Pretty simple. And He gives us time. And still, after all the signs and wonders, after being fed and fed and fed, after answering prayers, after providing miracles, we\’re still at square one, not doing it, not paying attention to the fact we\’re not doing it, messing up what He laid out so neatly to make it easy, because we\’re busy not caring about the task or the request or the authority.

It got me to thinking about recognized saints, people who stopped, who listened, who worked to obey, and thus trusted God\’s authority over their lives in a way the rest of us don\’t. How many were there? The thought teased until I began a google search. There are many conflicting sources. One says, over 10,000. Another very thoughtful piece I found puts the probable total at somewhere between 810 and 920, which means in the whole history of the world, in the history of Catholicism, less than 1000 people have really really really paid attention.

Not a good number. But it made me feel a bit better about my daughters running through the laundry piles like so many fallen leaves. The Church can\’t get more than 920 of the 107,602,707,791 ever born to be known saints, even though currently 1.1 billion are Catholic! Granted, there are more saints that we do not know, but if there are currently over 7.2 billion people and we make up a 7th, then I think we have an obligation to try and get that known witness number up.

My thoughts returned to my own children as I collected papers scattered in several rooms. The grades were inconsistent. We\’re planning a family meeting, to discuss goals and how to meet them. Several of my children have the brains to make honor roll, but they\’re not pushing themselves to do the harder extra work necessary to get more than what their sheer talent can manage. We\’re going to talk strategies, desires, end objectives. Not because they have to make honor roll, but because they should put their hearts into their one job they must do as children, become educated.

Perhaps the Church needs to talk to its children about making honor roll, because that\’s a job we\’re supposed to not simply aspire to, but must seek if we are to truly live. I don\’t know about you, but I\’d like to see the year 2014 as the year of the surge in saints that started a century of saints. The Church is supposed to be the full means by which we receive salvation, the method by which we may become saints. But too long, we\’ve lived in the Church as the Cubs or Notre Dame, coasting on past glory, content to continue just playing every year, rather than create a luminous present and eternity.

What does it mean?

It\’s time to wean ourselves from milk and learn to eat meat, to be grown up in faith and in life, and to say daily the scariest best prayer I can think of, \”Please Lord, let it be done to me according to your will, and let me know it.\” We have to copy Mary\’s fiat, body, mind and soul, and live it. The theme this year for our family\’s prayer life is \”Make the Church Beautiful.\” That includes the hearth, the home, the individuals, helping them discern their talents and flourish, bringing them to be better witnesses in this life, of the fuller life. The wry part of my brain reflected on the mess left by my children and smirked, perhaps enduring this is the road for my sainthood? I said a brief prayer for my children and told my brain to shut up.

It’s going to be a long slow road to sainthood for me, marred by my visceral intolerance of the inconvenient and lots of laundry.

© 2014 Sherry Antonetti.  All rights reserved.

About the Author:

I am a Catholic writer, happily married, and mother to ten children. Past publications include the Catholic Digest, Faith and Family Live, National Catholic Register, the Catholic Standard, East Texas Catholic and the Washington Post. I have a regular column at www.catholicmom.com and also a blog, Chocolate For Your Brain, with the I don't know what I'm doing blog address of http://www.sherryantonettiwrites.blogspot.com. My first foray into fiction is slated to hit the internet in May of 2013, The Book of Helen.

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  • nannon31

    There were 800 martyrs at Otranto alone.

    • Sherry

      Yes. My focus was on the recognized sanctification of these people, and of the reality that we should be shooting that high. We should be aspiring to sainthood, a holy life –that is what we must seek to be. None of us seek to be martyrs, that is a grace given, a holy death.

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  • David Peters

    Sherry, this a very good article and I love the phrase “Make the Church Beautiful”! I’m thankful that God works in us. He helps us to grow, and to learn and blessed, as we walk with Him. God bless.