Anticipation and Hope – Finding Peace

Have you ever looked forward to something? And in doing so, has the thought of that something completely spoiled the day you were having? I definitely had one of those days last week and I’m kicking myself for letting anticipation get the better of me.

A friend and I decided that for the rest of the summer, we are going to try to help each other out by doing some kid swaps. She has 4 kids, similarly aged to my own. So, this particular afternoon she was going to take my 4 for 2 hours. Next week, I’ll take hers. We’re offering each other a bit of respite and support and it’s such a great thing!

But, there’s always a but, the morning leading up to my afternoon of freedom was a disaster. Guess who had no patience, no tolerance, few smiles and frequent bouts of frustration? Yep, it wasn’t a pretty sight and I’ve had to apologize to everyone a few times over. I was so looking forward to time alone, that I started to want it immediately. Why should I have to wait? Why can’t these kids just [insert anything your mom has said about why you should leave her alone]. Why is there so much screaming, arguing, wanting, whining, pushing, etc?

These “why’s” where filling up my head, pushing me to behave in a manner I am not proud of. And under it all, was one more “why” that I should have been listening to along, one much more quiet but of much greater consequence.

Why are you reacting this way? What good comes from you losing your cool, expecting behavior beyond their age and demanding perfection when you yourself can’t keep it together? 

Conveniently, C.S. Lewis provides some insight into this particular situation. We are currently reading aloud The Silver Chair and are enjoying the antics of Jill, Eustace (John loves to shout and giggle his full name, Eustace Clarence Scrubb!) and Puddleglum. During the course of their adventures in Narnia and beyond, the group travel across a vast and harsh plain in search of a ruined giant city. They meet a Lady and Knight, who tell them not of a ruined city, but of a thriving one called Harfang. The children, who have been sleeping on the ground and existing on little but what they could catch, are overjoyed by this news. However, their joy doesn’t last long:

Whatever the Lady had intended by telling them about Harfang, the actual effect on the children was a bad one. They could think about nothing but beds and baths and hot meals and how lovely it would be to get indoors. They never talked about Aslan, or even about the lost prince…And though you might have expected that the idea of having a good time at Harfang would have made them more cheerful, it really made them more sorry for themselves and more grumpy and snappy with each other and with Puddleglum (94-95).

There is no sin in looking forward to something. We all have hopes for what will come, be it in a few minutes or years from now. There is something captivating about hope. It draws us in and points us forward.

The problem I was facing, and that the children in The Silver Chair were facing, wasn’t an issue of hope, but of anticipation. One of the definitions of anticipation is “The act of anticipating, taking up, placing, or considering something beforehand, or before the proper time in natural order.” I was anticipating this good thing that was coming to me at the expense of the good things right in front of me.

The theological virtue of hope is what I should have been dwelling in. The Catechism of the Catholic Church has some beautiful things to say about hope. At the very end of its paragraphs on hope, there is a quote from St. Teresa of Avila that really speaks to this particular situation:

Hope, O my soul, hope. You know neither the day nor the hour. Watch carefully, for everything passes quickly, even though your impatience makes doubtful what is certain, and turns a very short time into a long one. Dream that the more you struggle, the more you prove the love that you bear your God, and the more you will rejoice one day with your Beloved, in a happiness and rapture that can never end.

Impatience makes doubtful what is certain…..preach St. Teresa! How often do I get caught up in impatience that it blinds me to what I know to be certain. Hope is what gives us the strength to wait for the Lord, to be at peace with His timing. If we know our Scripture we know what has been promised – blessing, love, mercy, goodness, and ultimately, life everlasting with our Father in heaven.

We are given opportunities each day to grow our hopeful spirit. Instead of anticipating, or focusing all our energy on what is to come, we should focus on what gifts and goodness God has given us right now. Through a proper attitude of hope, we discover true and lasting peace.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Catholicmom.com – Self-Denial versus Self-Emptying

I have a hard time saying “no.” And I know, “no” is not a four-letter word, or eight-letter, or however many letters it takes to make it sound complicated. “No” should be a clean-cut breakaway from whatever we were holding onto or whatever was holding onto us.

As a mom with four young kids, I say “No” or “No thank you” quite often. “No, you can’t climb/jump/twirl on the table.” “No, the books should be put away instead of strewn across the floor.” “No, you can’t eat rocks/boogers/legos.” No, no, no.

I also have to say “no” to myself. Some days it feels like motherhood is one gigantic exercise in self-denial. “No, you can’t read right now, the dinner needs to be prepared.” “No, there isn’t time for you to sign up for that exercise class, the kids have art camp/husband has to work/the baby needs to nap.” “No, you shouldn’t get 18 lbs. of fresh apricots to make jam, even though it’s delicious, the work involved is too much for this weekend (true story, folks).” No, no, no.

I was really getting frustrated, especially about that apricot one. I love to create, be it a sewing project, a blog post, or yes, close to 10 pints of jam. A lot of these projects are for someone else or in service for my family, but they fill me with joy as well. Here was a good project, that would bring me some fulfillment and something tasty to the table. I felt like I was drowning in self-denial, completely trapped by the constraints of family responsibilities.

Thank goodness I have been working on a project that involves some deep reflection and reading on St. Paul’s Christ Hymn found in Philippians 2:5-11.

Continue reading at Catholicmom.com

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

The Crown and why Mary’s is Different

I’ve been watching Netflix’s The Crown lately. I enjoy historical dramas, and historical fiction, both TV and books. It has been so interesting to learn about Queen Elizabeth II and the people around her. Of course there have been inaccuracies, or dramatizations but all in all I have greatly enjoyed it.

I recently watched an episode where Elizabeth is struggling with a decision regarding her sister, Margaret. Margaret has had quite the time trying to find her way in the world and was struggling with politics, protocol and the Church in her efforts to get married. Ultimately, the decision falls to Elizabeth as head of the family and head of the Church of England. At a certain point, Elizabeth is having formal photographs taken in all her “get up” – full crown, blue sash etc. As she poses, the photographer recites this somewhat speech in the background to set the tone for her.

“All hail sage Lady, whom a grateful Isle hath blessed. Not moving, not breathing. Our very own goddess. Glorious Gloriana. Forgetting Elizabeth Windsor now. Now only Elizabeth Regina”

Elizabeth finds herself torn in two. She is both sister and queen. As a sister, she wants to help her sister in her quest for love. As queen, she is compelled to deny her sister because of Church tradition and political ramifications. Elizabeth, as a mere human, simply isn’t capable of holding both facets of her identity at the same time. She has to choose.

All this talk of queenship got me thinking about another queen, one far more powerful than Elizabeth could ever be. Our blessed Mother of course!

What is so incredible about Mary is that this scenario that Elizabeth faced – am I to be queen or sister – never happens with Mary. Never does she choose between being our Queen and our Mother. Let’s face it, there are probably a whole host of moments in each of our lives where a queen would have ruled one way but our mother would plead for our second chance.

When I watch Elizabeth as queen I see the distance it puts between her and her children. It’s not so hard to assume that Mary, Queen of Heaven is now more distant than simply, Mary, our Mother. But not so! Pope John Paul II said:

Thus far from creating distance between her and us, Mary’s glorious state brings about a continuous and caring closeness. She knows everything that happens in our life and supports us with maternal love in life’s trials.

Taken up into heavenly glory, Mary dedicates herself totally to the work of salvation in order to communicate to every living person the happiness granted to her. She is a Queen who gives all that she possesses, participating above all in the life and love of Christ.

Mary is solely focused on our salvation. Her whole purpose, both as queen and mother, is to draw us closer to her Son. Her Queenship isn’t about gathering power, but as JPII said, she “gives all that she possesses” so that we might see Jesus a little more clearly.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com