Something out of Nothing

My mom was here for a visit. Yay!! We reorganize all my decorations – it was a big job. I had bins, boxes, more boxes and random bags of decorations, ornaments, window clings and Easter eggs for days. Many hands make the work light, and it is so true. While she was here we were talking about memories, of course.

One morning, my mom was asking the kids what I did during the day. Rosie, my sweet Rosie, said that during the day I do “nothing.” My mom reminisced about how her mom would be cleaning the floor, or dusting, or anything and the phone would ring. My mom or one of her siblings would answer the phone and say “Sure my mom can talk. She’s doing nothing.”

We started talking about how, as a mom and honestly, as any person, we are very rarely actually doing “nothing.” Just right now, though you may be sitting down, you are reading. Or you could be stirring a pot of tomato sauce for pasta or flipping bacon for breakfast. You might be exercising, watching TV or rocking a baby to sleep. We are always moving, always working, always playing. Even when you are sleeping, you aren’t doing “nothing.” You’re sleeping!

In this sense, we are always working. Our bodies are always working, our heart is pumping blood, our lungs are expanding and contracting, we are smelling, seeing and hearing. Our minds remain active and more often than not so are our hands and feet. Pope John Paul II’s Laborem exercens (1981) is about our relationship with work and how it is through work we come to know ourselves and our Creator. When God created Adam and Eve, he commanded them in no uncertain terms to work. They were to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill and subdue the earth. Notice how the work our first parents were called to is creative work. As images of a creative God, we are capable of participating in the continued creation and renewal of the earth.

If we are called to work, and the work we are given has been directed by God, then the work we do in our fulfillment of our vocation is holy work. Our work, whatever it may be, has the potential to bring us closer to God and to one another. We might scrub floors, change diapers, balance accounts, engineer electrical systems or direct traffic. When we do our work with our best effort and with love for God and neighbor, it is sanctified and so are we.

This might sound sweet and naive. After all, work is more often than not hard! We have to go back to Genesis for the reason, and then look ahead to the Gospels for the reward. Our first parents, though called to be creative, also sinned. The command to work was not taken away, but toil was added to it. Now they were to be fruitful and multiply, but they also had to toil or struggle to make the ground produce food. Work became hard. Death entered the equation. If this was the end of the story, work would amount to a whole lot of nothing.

Now look ahead to Christ. Jesus did not simply pronounce us saved. He did not creatively leave us His Body and Blood and call it good. Jesus, the Incarnation, suffered, he toiled for us through His death on the Cross. The Paschal Mystery is where our salvation lies – Jesus death and resurrection. You cannot have one without the other. And so when we toil, when we work hard to do the will of the Father, we can unite ourselves to Christ crucified. Our work is purified through His work and we collaborate with Christ for the building of the Kingdom of God. All that nothing just turned into a whole lot of something.

  • To learn more about these ideas you should read Laborem exercens, especially the first and last chapters.

The will of our Father is different for each of us and therefore we each have our own unique work. Right now, my work is finding a cheerful, dedicated attitude toward keeping up with my house cleaning. I am also embarking on a new consulting/contractor position as a facilitator for online classes to help form and train catechists and adults in the faith. In August I’ll be lesson planning for our next homeschooling year. Each of these has their own elements of the Cross, of toil and struggle. But thanks be to God I can also see how each of them is bringing me closer to Jesus, closer to holiness.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

Catholic T-Shirt Club Box Review

A little box arrived in the mail yesterday for my Rosie. When I found out I would have the opportunity to review the Catholic T-Shirt Club Box, I knew my 4 year old girl would love to review it with me!

Rosie with the Catholic T-Shirt Club box
Rosie with the Catholic T-Shirt Club box

As you might have guessed, this subscription box has a Catholic T-Shirt. You get to pick your T-shirt size, even for little ones. There are different levels of subscriptions, some of which include sacramentals like prayer cards, rosaries or scapulars. Rosie’s box was themed around Padre Pio and his quote: “Do not forget the guardian angel who is always with you.”

Rosie received a t-shirt, a guardian angel craft and a book about Padre Pio. She immediately wanted to jump in and make the craft. Her little angel is in her room now, watching over her while she sleeps. (She named her Rosie, surprise surprise).

Padre Pio kids book
Padre Pio kids book

I think that this box is a great gift idea for so many occasions. Graduation, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, or even as a way to celebrate a special moment like the first month of school. There is even a box that has 2 of everything – perfect for a newlywed couple or as an engagement gift.

Here are a few quotes from Rosie:

A box just for me?!

Wow, I didn’t know a shirt could come in a box!

Mommy, can I make my angel now??

When can I wear my new shirt? I love it!!!

This is a great box and I definitely recommend you check it out!

Rosie's new shirt and angel
Rosie’s new Padre Pio shirt and angel

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Book Review: Born to Soar: Unleashing God’s Word in Your Life

As many of you know I have been trying to stay more organized with a pen and paper planner. So far, so good! Not only am I more organized and peaceful about my schedule, I am finding it is easier to remember things I want to write about (because now I have a single place to write them down!) Discovering the benefits of journaling seemed to be the next logical step in the “pen and paper journey.” As luck would have it, the opportunity to review a book that is part scripture reflection, part monarch butterfly life cycle, and part journal landed in my inbox that same week!

Melissa Overmyer’s Born to Soar is a unique book that integrates so many ideas but in a new and creative way. She bases the structure of the 6 week study (this can be read individually or in a group setting) around the life cycle of the monarch butterfly. Jumping from each stage – egg, caterpillar, cocoon and butterfly – Overmyer takes the reader, or perhaps I should say the participant or reflector, on a spiritual journey that starts with how God made us and travels through the Eucharistic as spiritual food, cocooning with God, and the practicing and strengthening our virtues. The reflections take on their fullest potential in the final chapter/week where Overmyer explores the ways we, as joyful, fed and transformed people are called to spread God’s love with intensity each and every day. 

This book truly embodies the oft-mentioned phrase “You get out what you put in.” If you want to hunker down and really commit to 6 weeks of daily prayer and reflection Born to Soar would be a great choice for you. Each week has not only an opening reflection that is linked to one of the stages of monarch development, it also has excerpts from John of the Cross’ poetry for added spiritual wisdom. There are journaling questions that can be done individually and then, when desired, discussed in a group study. Finally, each day of the week has a daily Scripture verse and journaling prompt. There is ample space to journal which I appreciated. 

Born to Soar brings a fresh take to long standing desire for many people. How do I make time for God? How can I incorporate more Scripture, journaling or reflecting into my day? This book not only provides the text, it is itself a journal which you can come back to time and again to see how you are maturing toward your imago state, the place of fullness of being, in the presence of God.