Loaves, Fishes and Spiritual Writing

On the Ask a Catholic Editor Facebook page yesterday, Heidi Hess Saxton of Servant Books (Franciscan Media) observed,

one of the many important differences between journalism and spiritual writing: the ability of the writer to process events in a way that uncovers Truth. Journalists tend do “hide” themselves in the writing process. Spiritual writers “reveal.”

My immediate inclination was to conclude that I’m a journalist. I’m a “nuts and bolts” girl.

And when I heard the Gospel for today, I could relate to the Apostles, because I think many of them were “nuts and bolts” people too. Remember, one of them was a tax collector!

…it was already late and his disciples approached him and said,
“This is a deserted place and it is already very late.
Dismiss them so that they can go
to the surrounding farms and villages
and buy themselves something to eat.”
He said to them in reply,
“Give them some food yourselves.”
But they said to him,
“Are we to buy two hundred days’ wages worth of food
and give it to them to eat?”

I’d worry too! It’s the Martha in me–she was a “nuts and bolts” girl too.

Nuts and bolts are important. They hold the whole thing together. But sometimes I can be so focused on those little fasteners that I lose sight of exactly what they’re holding together!

DSC_0318The Apostles did that. How would they possibly feed thousands of people with what little bread and fish they had?

Martha did that. How would she ever be able to offer Jesus and his entourage of followers proper hospitality without her sister’s helping hand?

Jesus let the Apostles know that they needed to trust. He let Martha know that her priorities were misplaced.

There’s a time and a place for nuts and bolts. And there’s a time to let the details fade into the background so you can see the whole picture. I’m not just talking about writing here, either.

What can I do today to trust more–and let God take care of the details?

A Grumpy Kind of Morning: #WorthRevisit

This is shaping up to be one of those days where things just don’t fall into place, where you have to push and shove and jam every puzzle piece and hope it will lock into the right spot–because if not, it’s locked into the wrong spot and God help you when you try to get it back out.

I’m going to need a little extra help today–not because anything big has gone wrong, but those little things are going to be the death of me. For example:

  • The Kid missed the bus. Again. I didn’t want to have to leave to drive him, because…
  • We have a contractor coming to do some repair work around here. He spoke to Hubs yesterday while I was not home. Hubs told me the contractor would be here today, but hadn’t asked the guy what time he’d be here. I don’t do uncertainty well in circumstances like this.
  • Middle Sister woke up and told me that the contractor had said he would not be here today but would start on Thursday.
  • I found this out just 10 minutes too late to be able to get to daily Mass (which, I’m sure we can all agree, I could have used).
  • I have to untangle some stupid prescription red tap regarding pen needles for The Kid’s insulin. I placed an order yesterday with our long-term prescription plan, who apparently contacted the endocrinologist for confirmation, who sent the renewed script to CVS, who cannot fill it because we have to use the long-term prescription source for stuff like this. I’m already 2 phone calls into the process. What’s the over/under on how many more I’ll need to make before it’s worked out?

All stupid little things, so why am I sitting here ready to break out in tears over them?

For this Worth Revisiting Wednesday, I’m looking back at another day 3 years ago

And the walls came tumbling down.

Not the walls of my home (thank God!) but the emotional walls that I use to hold everything in and keep it all together.  Sometimes there is just way too much for those walls to hold.  And usually it’s some stupid little thing that causes them to cave in.

Erasmus Quellinus II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Erasmus Quellinus II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Who’s the patron saint of people who sweat the small stuff? Maybe it’s Martha:

Martha, you are anxious about many things. –Luke 10:41

That’s me, in a nutshell.

Art: Erasmus Quellinus II [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Scholastica, Benedict, Mary, Martha and Me

On this feast of St. Scholastica, Father M. read the Gospel story of Martha and Mary, then began his homily with the familiar story about St. Scholastica’s prayer to prolong her brother’s visit–which was answered with a storm so severe that St. Benedict was unable to depart. benedict and scholasticaFather mentioned that Benedict was concerned about following the rules–under the Rule he himself had written–and wanted to end the visit in time to return to the monastery by nightfall. Scholastica, on the other hand, wanted to savor the time of prayer and conversation with her brother, and wanted him to stay. When he refused, she took the matter straight to the top. Benedict realized that the storm was no coincidence, and when he called her on it, she replied, “I asked a favor of you, and you refused. I asked a favor of God, and he granted it.”

BOOM.

Father went on to preach about the Gospel. It’s one of my favorite passages–even more so after what was said today. First, he said that it’s not a bad thing, in and of itself, to be concerned about serving a meal. That’s a great comfort to me, as I’m all about serving meals. But here’s the best part:  Jesus wasn’t chiding Martha because she was working on serving a meal to her guests. He was chiding her because she didn’t take into account Whom she was serving.

Guilty as charged. Every single time.

I guess that’s why I have a soft spot for Martha.

St. Benedict, in his efforts to stay true to his Rule, forgot whom he was serving during his visit with his sister. It took her prayer and God’s answer in the form of a thunderstorm to show him that his sister, like Mary of Bethany, had “chosen the better part.”

Sts. Benedict & Scholastica image source: Wikimedia.

Tuesdays with Martha

That’s SAINT Martha, not Martha Stewart.

The ladies at Suscipio have learned that Tuesday is the day traditionally associated with the devotion to St. Martha, patroness of stressed-out homemakers everywhere.

I’ve got a soft spot for her myself. And I think it’s neat that Tuesday is “her” day, because in my house, Tuesday always seems to be that tough day in Homemaking World. (On Monday, everyone is off to work and school and the house is quiet and I quietly putter around here getting all sorts of things done. On Tuesday…well, Tuesday is always another story with its special brand of crazy, especially during soccer season and even more especially when you have failed to plan ahead because you got caught up reading Catholic sci-fi…but I digress. Time to hide the Kindle until after dinner.)

Click on over to Suscipio if you, too, have a soft spot for St. Martha. Pray the novena for your intentions and for those of all the other women who seek strength, encouragement, and support.

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Long Day Ahead

I’ve been up since 4:45, so I’m two hours into the day already.  I’ve finished my Big Travel Mug of coffee (it’s half-caff; I’m easing up) and have moved on to my Big Cup of Water.

There’s a lot to do today, which is probably why I was up so early.  Later this morning my Secular Franciscan fraternity will meet with our Regional Minister and others from the Regional Council for our Regional Visitation and Paperwork Jamboree.  It’s not supposed to be a stressful time, but because it’s outside the norm of our regular meetings, it’s a stressful time.  And I’m the fraternity minister, so any missing paperwork is on my head.

I’ll be getting there early to unlock the meeting room and put the coffee on–and turn the heat on, since Mother Nature has finally gotten the memo that it’s February.

I’ll also be getting there early because the back of my van is fully loaded with enough groceries to feed a spaghetti dinner to 105 people, which is what I’m doing tonight.  It’s the annual Cub Scout Blue & Gold Dinner.  Fortunately, it’s in the same building as my meeting this morning, so I can unload the van once and be done with it.  When the meeting is over, I’ll put on my apron, change out of my “confident shoes” and put on my sneakers, and start making spaghetti sauce.  A lot of spaghetti sauce.

Yesterday I rolled and baked 225 meatballs.   That’s a lot of meatballs.

When the meeting is over and I have closed up the meeting room, I will appreciate the quiet in the building.  I’ll be the only one there for a few hours.  While I open cans of crushed tomatoes and stir in the garlic and oregano, I’ll have time to decompress.  Never underestimate the value of cooking as an aid to decompression.  (I get to be Martha and Mary all at the same time–yay for multitasking!)  I made sure to load up some good playlists so I’ll have music, and since there will be no one else in the building, I can sing as loudly as I want.  Or I can just enjoy the quiet, which will come to a sudden end when the Cub Scouts show up.

There’s a long day ahead, but I’ve got the tools to get through it:  coffee, an entire bag of fun-size Milky Ways, “confident shoes,” an apron, a Sharpie, my favorite music, and prayer.  A lot of prayer.

Real Person, Real Saint

Today is the feast of Saint Martha, one of my very favorite saints.

It’s the saints like Martha that give me hope for ordinary people like me.  So many times we put the saints on a pedestal.  We think that they were always perfect, always praying, always doing the right thing.

People tend to do that with their heroes, saintly or otherwise.

But we never get the chance to put Saint Martha on a pedestal.  She starts right off by ratting out her sister to Jesus, their honored guest.  And Jesus gives it right back.  He lets her know that she is just way too stressed out and that she’s letting her anxiety get in the way of her hospitality.

I’ve had way too many “Martha moments,” and I’m not talking about Martha Stewart.  I’m talking about the Screaming Meemie Party Mom who often inhabits my house before we have company.  It isn’t pretty.  It isn’t fun, for me or anyone else.  I’m sure Saint Martha wasn’t having fun that day either, especially when she was embarrassed in front of all her guests as Jesus took her to task.

She redeemed herself later, though, when she confidently proclaimed her faith in Jesus and who He was.

Saint Martha reminds me that saints are, in fact, real people with real faults, real challenges, real attitudes and real faith.

Saint Martha is the patron of cooks, servants, homemakers, single women, laundry workers, innkeepers, dieticians and travelers.

Read an interview with Julie Davis, another Saint Martha fan, right here!

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