As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Sunday, September 20, 2015


One of the things that really touched me reading about Mother Teresa was that her sisters live in complete poverty.  A vow of poverty is not out of the ordinary for religious, but there are different ways different orders live them out.  Most often even if the individuals take a vow of poverty the order does not, so the order can own property, accept donations, and acquire goods and finances for the ongoing expenses of their ministry.  Not so with the Missionaries of Charity.  They do not keep anything - and the reason for this is that Mother Teresa wanted to rely completely on God to provide for their needs.  One section of the book I read recounted how Mother Teresa taught her sisters to not worry about anything beyond the present.  She said that if her sisters thought about the work that lay before them tomorrow, they'd never be able to sleep.  They took care of thousands of the poorest of the poor every day - fed them, bathed them, sheltered them, administered medicine.  All of that takes a lot of money.  Yet they never accepted anything beyond what they needed for the moment.  She would always tell people that she didn't worry about it, that wasn't her job.  Jesus was the one who wanted this work - He's the one who needs to worry.

While I don't think the average person is called to live at that level of physical poverty, I can't help but be ministered to by their example of complete trust in God.  It certainly has called me to look at my own life and the ways I seek comfort for myself that prevent my complete reliance on the Lord.  Having seven children in my care makes it a bit impractical to just sell off all my things and expect the Lord to make up the difference, but there is another way I experience poverty on a daily basis - and that is a poverty of time.  The older our children get and the more in number, the less time I have.  This year it seems has been relentless.  I posted a while back about how crazy the summer was, and now three weeks into the school year things are still not any different.  We spent the whole summer looking forward to Fall when things would slow down - and now we're here and things just keep on coming fast and furious!

My husband asked me the other day when I supposed things would slow down.  And I said, quite truthfully, that none of our kids are even teenagers yet, which means it is likely to get way worse before it gets better.  And he laughed this real deep belly laugh that took me by surprise, and really dissipated the tension of the situation.  Somehow the acknowledgement of the reality of the situation gave both of us the freedom to accept life as it is - crazy, busy, poor on time.

And what if I lived each day as the sisters of the Missionaries of Charity do?  What if, like Mother Teresa, I simply trusted that this was God's work, and that He's the one who needs to worry about it?  If I went to bed at night not worrying about how I'm going to be in this place or that, and get school done, and take the kids to appointments or have people over or get away for that retreat I've been hoping to attend?  What if instead I just trusted God to accomplish those things, that He would give me what I need to do the things He wants me to do without completely self-destructing?

People ask me all the time, "don't you ever get stressed?" And I always answer, in complete honesty, "yes, all the time."  I want to be in a place where, like Mother Teresa, I can instead respond in complete confidence, "no, this is God's work - He's the one who needs to worry."  Handing over my concerns to God and living in the moment, in full awareness of my own poverty - that I am nothing, and have nothing but what He gives me to fulfill the work He has called me to do.  And trusting that He will give me everything I need to do the work He sets before me, which is indeed very blessed.  For a God who exists outside of space and time, all things are possible.

In what areas of your life do you experience poverty, whether physical, emotional or spiritual?  May we all learn to cast our burdens on Him and live secure in His providence, trusting Him to make up the things we lack.

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