Friday, August 3, 2018

My Net

I love the Call of the First Disciples in the Gospel of Mark. There is something so powerful about that drop the nets moment.

The I'm loved moment.

The I know Him moment.

The moment when you hear His voice and know that everything for the rest of your life makes sense, because the rest of your life you will be following and praising Him.



"As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him."

I've been stuck on this passage for a few months. I've heard it so many times before. The call was always for those particular men some two thousand years ago...Simon, Andrew, James and John. He surely doesn't call to me.. Stephanie.

Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.

But He has called me.

So, I want to point out that Simon and Andrew had nets that were "theirs." These nets might have been equipment on "their" boat. Or maybe for that day, they might have been a friends' boat, but had brought "their" nets with them. The two disciples....owned a net.

Then they abandoned their nets and followed him.

The OLD life and their OLD net...the OLD ways of life before Jesus, can not suffice for this kind of trade. He is going to make them fishers of men. So these disciples are taking up the work of the Good Shepherd. It's as if Jesus literally left the old net, useless on the ground...and placed into the open hands of these men...a new net, one that will enable them to do the work they are being called to.

When you were married, God literally handed you a new net. You literally dropped the old ways of the life you had before, and you have been given a new net.



The net is your vocation.

He calls you to it.

He gives you the new net.

You become fishers of men...in your marital vocation.

And what a beautiful net this is too! You get the awesome privilege of co-creating with the CREATOR. It seems unfathomable and yet, we have held that tiny gift in our own womb, in our hands.

A net bursting with new life.

This net holds those people that you are called to disciple in your own home. So much of my motherhood journey has been a constant turning to and turning in to the very people who are right in front of me. It is a journey of being clumsy with my net. A journey of watching it come up empty many times. A journey of being so sure of how to use it only to find out it is a tangled mess.



You see, when you have these nets, there are times for casting like Simon and Andrew.

There are times for mending like James and John.

I was a little obsessed for awhile that the distinction even had to be made. Scroll back up and read it!  Why...why didnt St. Mark just say...fishing!??!? But...within fishing, there is a time for casting and mending...and you need to DO both in order to catch!

In your vocation of marriage there is a time for casting. Are we being open to Life? Are we inviting others into our home? Are we GOING OUT as a family to be the Hands & Feet of Christ? Yes. Go...cast it!



One's home could even be seen as one beautiful big net that can be used for the Sea of Humanity in the Work of the Good Shepherd. A home that, when people come in, they can breathe and settle and they may wonder to themselves this space is set apart for this family to grow toward Someone.



For Whom are they setting this space apart for?

They can wonder about these things while you feed them yummy food...this is homemade strawberry pie purchased at the market run by the farm across the river....aaaaallll for YOU.



Casting is SO fun! Go ahead....toss that net..fling it! But..if...if you DO too much casting...I wonder, if the net, might not hold up. I wonder if it gets worn, if it gets snags or holes.

SO WE MEND OUR NETS TOO!

In your vocation of marriage there is a time for mending! Am I listening to my body's needs and my mental health and do I need to prayerfully abstain in my marriage? Do we need to say NO to the traditional "event" we always host so we can pull in a bit as a core family? Are we GOING OUT so much, even if it is too serve Christ, that we are too tired to serve each other in our home?

Oh the net...the net can stretch and stretch and BE bountiful if cast out, but to make sure it holds, it needs prayer, retreat...mending.



On the other hand...to just mend. To be afraid to cast...well...that's not what a net is for. It is not meant to sit on the bottom of the boat, it will not catch anything there. The control of having it on the bottom of the boat, is nice..your net can stay nice and pretty that way...but Jesus gave you your vocation of marriage...so that you too can participate in the work of bringing more people to him.

Can we think about the ways we mend and cast? I know all too well the signs of a home and of a marriage that has been stretched to breaking point, but not stretched because it is catching men but because it is wrapped around and hauling in things that my vocation ISN'T about.

Are we patiently learning this trade we are called to??

I know one thing...I have a Teacher and he tells me the when and where of this trade, if I would only learn His voice.

And so..how do we know the when and where of fishing, I will leave you with St Peter. Oh dear St Peter...who announces he will go fishing...and we read...that he doesn't catch anything until the Resurrected Lord tells him the when and where to cast:

After this, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathaniel from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee's sons and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, "I am going fishing." They said to him, "We also will come with you." So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, "Children, have you caught anything to eat?" They answered him, "No." So he said to them,

"Cast your net over the right side of the boat and you will find something."



So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. John 21: 1-6





Thursday, May 3, 2018

My Little Catechist

Hello friends! Spring is here in Virginia and with it comes the fullness of a school year coming to a close. Our homeschool mirrors the schedule of the public schools (save for the getting up in the morning) and many of our activities, like dance and t-ball, will wrap up this month.


This ushers in the summer pace of swim team, watermelon and popsicles, and hot midday afternoon read alouds in the AC.

My third daughter is about to receive her First Holy Communion on Sunday.



My heart is always so grateful for the work of Sofia Cavalleti through Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and I have made this known to most everyone at my parish that...I gave of my time to the ministry of Sacramental Preparation for Children this past year in order to help my own child prepare.

There was One Face of God I was after to share with my daughter, and that is...the Good Shepherd. My children all know that this is where my heart finds its home. This Shepherd Who pursues me...UNTIL He finds me. When I sit in this thought, I can feel confident IN my unworthiness. He loves us so so much and with SUCH joy.



We are in the midst of the days leading up to this MUCH ANTICIPATED time. A thought springs up inside me, what if we lived every day in this kind of joyful anticipation in receiving the Eucharist. I truly feel like my daughter, in her beautiful gown that her sisters, her mother, and grandmother wore, will feel like the whole Mass is wrapping her up in the words....

FOR YOU!

All for you dear child. Yes, yes believe it...all for you.

And so the abundance and enormity and divinity of this GIFT can make us feel all sorts of feelings...and I sense that stress, a good stress, of wanting to do THIS well manifesting in her.

But she muses about things...all week she has been saying things like...

"It really is so simple the way we come up to get the biggest gift. I think Jesus is happy that I am excited."

So...I sat with her and her littlest sister last night in the church parking lot because we were going to Holy Communion rehearsal. We were enjoying our Chick-Fil-A because it was a night where some of the family was at a tball game and some of us were at the church. As I was strapping baby sissie into her carrier my little catechist said,

"I am not really worried about messing up."

And I say.. "You won't mess up! How can you mess up receiving as gift?"

She says, "Yeah, I think Jesus doesn't mind if I don't do everything right. I mean even if I drop the bread that's ok."

To which I panicked a little inside but said joyfully, "Oh you WON'T drop the Bread. Jesus wants a joyful heart."

And then her reflection brought her to this moment...

Jesus said "This is my body, take and eat. He didn't say...This is my body, take and eat it perfectly."



Oh.

Yes.

Yes you're right.

You mean, little one, that...He wants me broken?

He wants my sin?

 He wants my disordered priorities?

He wants my hypocrisy?

We place the image of the Good Shepherd on the small altar in the new pasture of the Church, as the sheep are gathered and we think about the words of Jesus. How "Body and Blood" sound like such BIG words...and then we say, "Body and Blood is another way to say ALL OF ME."

The Good Shepherd gives all of HIMSELF.

It isn't close to a fair exchange Lord, but this is my offering. The mess and the struggle and the darkness and the trying and not trying and failing. All of me...All for you. Perfectly imperfect.



Thank you Lord for my child who, God willing, comes to you with GREAT confidence this Sunday. Thank you for being so gentle and good and kind.







Saturday, March 3, 2018

The Withered Hand


Then he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and it was restored as sound as the other. Matthew 12: 11-12



It was as if He had said it in the depths of my heart. Stretch out your hand Stephanie. Stretch out your mind. Stretch out your heart. Your own plans are limiting. Stretch Stephanie to my Will. If you say it Lord...and He did...and then in my arms I held my sixth child.

I held gift. My hands were filled when I opened them.