Eating Scapulars and Peek-a-Boo with Icons

That sounds like it could be another book title, right?

That's how my sweet baby and I spent our morning, though. I was able to attend a beautiful morning of reflection at our parish. She's the world's easiest baby, so I actually had an opportunity to pray and go to Confession, and attend Mass. She was content to chew away on my scapular for most of that time.

We followed that up with some prep for Passion Sunday tomorrow (which is different than Palm Sunday). The girls and I are on the sacristy team, which mostly means just keeping altar cloths and tabernacle veils clean and ironed, altar candles fresh, and occasional liturgical veiling all the statues and icons for Passion Sunday. We pretended they were playing peek-a-boo (which is this little girl's newest game).

The theme of the morning of reflection was "Glorious Wounds," and it was basically reflections on suffering and the value of suffering. As I sat there, holding this little love, I remembered all the suffering of love that I endured last year. I have spent so much time reflecting on the grace of those four pregnancies, and the opportunity to suffer in love. I have been kind of quiet on this blog this year, because I've been having some quieter crosses. I'm sure you've gone through periods like that in your own life. As I was sitting in prayer today, various concerns heavy on my heart, I had one of those brief glimpses of realization. As I listened to the priest reflect on the gift of suffering I remembered, "Oh, right. This life is passing. The opportunity to suffer and offer up that suffering is ultimately an opportunity to love." It is so hard to remember that in the moment, though, isn't it?

The crosses of anxiety and depression are adding to all of this, and sometimes I have a really hard time remembering to offer those up. When I'm in the midst of a good day, or a day that is only mildly anxious, then I can hear a talk or read a quote about suffering and think, "Yes! What a gift! I am so grateful for the crosses in my life!" In the midst of that same suffering, though...not so much. In the midst, it just seems too heavy, sometimes. 

I was thinking of the "heroic minute" the other day. Have you heard of the "heroic minute?" St. Josemaria Escriva described the moment when you're supposed to wake up as the heroic moment - you could either hit the snooze button, or you could leap out of bed and heroically overcome your drowsiness and embrace the day. That sounds great, and when I'm not sleep deprived, or struggling with anxiety or depression, I tend to be a morning person and could see myself embracing the heroic minute. I sometimes feel discouraged that it's so hard for me to get my day going, but then the other day, it occurred to me - God isn't sitting up in heaven with a stopwatch and judging us all by the same standard. For some of us (especially those struggling with depression, anxiety, grief, etc.), and at some points in our life (like when we have a baby that wakes up a million times a night, ahem) then just getting out of bed in the morning is heroic. I have definitely had mornings when I struggle to get out of bed, not because I'm a lazy person but because sometimes I am physically or mentally weighed down. On those mornings, I am called to offer up that suffering to God, pour an extra cup of coffee...and just let the fact that I got out of bed be heroic in and of itself.

If you have never gone through a patch like this, that will probably boggle your mind. But if you have ever been sleep deprived, or struggled with something mental health related, or gone through a period of grief or illness...then I hope you find comfort in that reminder. There is heroism in your daily struggle. I think there is a good analogy in the Stations of the Cross. By the time Jesus got to the point of the Stations, he had already been up all night in a state of grief and had been scourged. When He fell down the first time while carrying the cross, it must have been hard to get up. When he fell down the second time, it must have seemed even harder. But when he fell down that third time? Can you imagine how difficult it was to get up that third time? Was his love for us any less in that moment? On the contrary, the harder the Way of the Cross got, the greater His love was. 

And so it is for us. One who suffers much is invited to love much. 

It is often so hard to do this. But sometimes, we are given a glimpse at the value of suffering in love. When I wonder about the value of suffering, when I question my faith, I look at this wall, and I remember four times in my life that Jesus invited me to suffer for the love of another...and each time it was so incredibly worth it:

Each of those pregnancies and post-partums had their share of suffering. But I look at these four beautiful children (three of whom I get to hold in my arms every day, and one who I hold in my heart always) and that suffering seems like nothing. I look at them and I feel like the gift of their lives is something so infinitely greater than hyperemesis gravidarum, or post-partum depression, or even the grief of miscarriage. My suffering for them has been so little in comparison to the joy of simply knowing that they exist and are called to sainthood.

And so I imagine it is for Christ, on the cross. Crucifixion is one of the worst ways to die, and added to that is the incredible grief of holding all of our sins and dying for them. But do you know what Jesus did? He also thought of each of us by name, holding the image of every person who ever was or ever would be in his heart, and he thought, "This suffering is so great, but it is as nothing compared to my love for you." 

And so, sometimes, in the midst of this passing life, the suffering we undergo can seem like too much. Even little sufferings can seem like too much (indeed, sometimes the daily sufferings of our vocations are the hardest to bear with patience). But this life is passing. Even if we live to 100 years old - a century is nothing in comparison to eternity. 

This is the hope that keeps me going, and that is renewed in my heart each Lent. This is the hope reaffirmed each Holy Week. 

Speaking of Holy Week...would you like a little peek inside the new book?? I usually like seeing the inside of picture books before buying them. Here's a peek at a few of my favorite pages...

Thanks to everyone who has already bought a copy! Interested in getting a copy of your own? There's still time to get one before Holy Week!


  1. We're loving our book! Beautiful illustrations and great explanations to walk kids through the Holy Week liturgies.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts