Our parish pastoral council has introduced this threefold theme for the year for our entire parish here at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Grande Prairie, Alta. The homilists often use it as a framework for their homily or for any church activity or concern we may be having. It is an effective and inclusive way to give a holy structure to the year’s work and growth both within the church as well as in our own lives. In the month of May just past, when honour and recognize our holy Mother Mary, I have been contemplating how this parish theme relates to me as a parishioner living out my vocation as a busy wife and mother.
The first directive is to “be humble.” We may find this virtue one of the “easier” ones to embrace as a parent. Scripture tells us, “Do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you” (Rom 11:18) and in Luke 14:11, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Motherhood seems to bring many chances for humility. I feel naturally inclined to have life be less about my own promotion and have more of an unselfish approach to ensuring my family has their own needs met. It is difficult to be arrogant when you do not have the time or attention to your appearance you may have once had, time or money to buy designer clothes or possibly even to shower. I cannot recall the last time I felt “exalted” on my own accord and I see Christ as the one to do that for me now if I allow him to do so through the building up from friends, colleagues or others.
The second directive is to “live in mercy.” We read much about mercy lately as Pope Francis has declared this the year of mercy and many articles and discussions have been the result. These discussions often seem lofty and international and yet I know there are many concrete opportunities to experience mercy in my daily life.
How often do we find ourselves being aggravated by the little things our spouse or children may say or do when we are exhausted, distracted or late? This papal focus on mercy, as well as our parish focus on mercy, has inspired me to be more patient, loving and listen more intently to both my child and my spouse. Most surprisingly, I feel the Holy Spirit calling me to have more mercy on myself. Parents, especially moms, can often be overcome by guilt at not bringing “Pinterest” pages to life, having the biggest or best vacations to experience and put on Facebook, or not making every waking moment productive and in service to others. Jesus is calling me to be gentle to my own self, have mercy on me, in a beautiful way, born out of the fact that I too, am his child.
The third directive is to “experience joy.” This has been another surprise for me as I assumed I was living joyfully, as this is my usual temperament. I began to see it as more than just being happy for a good portion of the day, or even the absence of irritation. Psalm 118:24 tells us, “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” As a mother, I get incredible joy out of seeing my child learn something new, making me laugh, being able to thoroughly enjoy a day out as a family, and to feel a part of a unit that Christ has made. We can see each day as a gift from God, a day that God has made for us, and we can be glad in that.
There are things that call for our attention, but experiencing joy on a regular basis may need to be more of a focus than we are currently allowing ourselves to have. When I am joyful, I find my entire family to be more joyful. It helps to set the tone for all of us. My joy is a gift I can give to my entire family and friends if I allow God to foster that within me.
I am grateful for the call of our parish community to “be humble, live in mercy, and experience joy.” There is a bulletin board up in the church where parishioners can fill out ways or times in their lives when they felt any of these three virtues. This is a beautiful representation of the faith lived out in our communities and the way church is carried forward into our community and world. I look forward to seeing it “bloom” not only for me but for others as well.
Moore is a freelance writer from Grande Prairie, Alta.