So I’ve been thinking.
I’ve been having a lot of conversations with people lately about food. It seems everyone is on a special diet to help them feel better. So we go gluten free, low FODMAP, cut out milk, limit caffeine, cut out processed food, go organic free range, eat brown-not-white, and avoid flavour enhancer 621 (it makes me hyper).
I suppose it’s all about looking at what we put into our bodies and how it affects our wellbeing. As far as conversations go, it can be a deathly boring subject, but it got me thinking – what kind of diet is my soul on? What do I watch and read and do that is healthy for my soul? What do I watch and read and do that is toxic?
I think I’ve mentioned before that I’m a Catholic. One of the – I don’t know – “membership requirements”? – that we have is that we go to Mass once a week on a Sunday unless we’re really sick or something. Please wait a minute whilst I shudder inwardly at the abysmal grammatical mess I just created. I don’t even know where to begin fixing that sentence. Please forgive me.
Maybe a new paragraph will help. A lot of people I know take issue with this obligation and think my church is a cranky parent who likes to make rules and boss people around, as if the church itself is somehow separate from the people that form it. These people say things like “it doesn’t really matter if you go to church or not, so long as you are a good person” (because it’s one or the other – take your pick) and “you don’t have to go every week – it’s too hard. Just go when you can – God will understand” (because parties, sport and wandering around Bunnings should always take priority over your spiritual health).
The thing is, Sunday Mass is supposed to be the minimum I do to look after myself and my community spiritually, and if I commit to it regularly, it becomes a part of who I am. It makes me think of something my friend did the other week.
I had some friends over at my house to watch the Grand Final / gossip and eat food whilst the Grand Final was playing. My friend, whom I will call Lydia, turned up with bags and bags of fruit (and a cask of delicious vodka cranberry, which counts as a fruit), which she then proceeded to transform into healthy fruit platters. As we munched strawberry and pineapple and felt very virtuous (and drank vodka cranberry and felt rather tipsy), we praised Lydia and her healthy generosity. It was at this point that Lydia made a sheepish confession: she had eaten KFC for lunch and the fruit was part of a rueful attempt to get back on track.
I feed my soul a lot of junk food. Every day I feel like I battle an onslaught of Buy-Now-Pay-Later, Post-Baby-Bikini-Body, Give-Your-Little-Precious-a-Head-Start-in-Advanced-Calculus, Kim Kardashian, First-World-Problem-Facebook-Rant, What-Does-Your-Loo-Say-About-You, Miley Cyrus, She-Bought-a-Jeep, Seven-Signs-of-Ageing, What’s-Hot-and-What’s-Not, Who-Wore-it-Best, Adultery-Dot-Com.
One hour a week feeding my soul fruit in the form of Sunday Mass doesn’t seem like a big ask. I need to be challenged on the way I treat those around me. I need to be reminded that what I buy really isn’t that important, it’s who I am that counts. I need to love the Lord my God with all my heart and all my soul and all my strength and love my neighbour as I love myself and all that. And it’s the minimum, it really is. And sometimes I only do the minimum. Far too often I turn up at Mass only to realise that the last time I spent in prayer was a week ago in Mass, whilst holding a wriggling baby and saying “Shush”. I need more wholefoods in my spiritual diet. And I need to cut down on the junk.
So what does this mean? Here are some things I need to work on:
- I’m cutting out the sort of radio where the announcers make a career out of being cruel and then cut to a song extolling the virtues of anonymous sex before half-an-hour of blaring ads. Light FM might be a little daggy, but it’s got my vote.
- I’m not ready to cut out TV completely, but I want to cut right back – especially the sort where I’m just staring at the screen for the sake of it, to ‘relax’.
- If I were to spend as much time catching up with those friends who give me joy as I do fiddling about on social media, I would be a much happier person.
- I need to stop reading the sort of magazines that teach me to hate my body and feel depressed and wrinkled and fat.
- I need to spend more time with God in prayer.
I had a plan for that last point this morning. I set the alarm for six o’clock and snuck downstairs for some quiet prayer time and maybe a sneaky bit of blog time as well before the rest of the family got up. I started digging around in search of the nifty devotional I’d recently purchased when I heard the distinct clomp-clomp-clomp of a small person making his way down the stairs. There stood Harry, tousle-haired and bleary-eyed, wearing only his night-nappy (he’d thrown a tantrum the night before and refused all pyjamas that didn’t have Batman on them. His Batman pyjamas were in the washing machine.).
“I want a cuddle, Mum.”
I tried to patiently explain to Harry that it was “still night time” and that he could “go back to bed had have a bit more sleep”. Harry shook his head.
“I just want a cuddle, Mum.” and settled himself on the couch. I sighed and continued my search for the devotional. Harry giggled, “I’m right here, Mummy!”. He thought I was looking for him.
And so I made my prayer whilst holding my three-year-old third child, feeling his small heart beat in his narrow chest and smelling his golden hair. I gave thanks for him and his healthy, sturdy little body. In a few short years, he won’t want to be held like this. Last night I was short-tempered with him. He kept climbing on me in a bid to win my attention. I’d had enough of being a Mummy for the day and I just wanted five minutes with NOBODY TOUCHING ME. So I prayed that God’s grace might enter my life, that His light might shine through all the cracks of my shortcomings and imperfections. Most of all I prayed that I might remember to pray when I needed to most. It was beautiful and profound, it really was.
Then Harry dirtied his nappy and woke his baby sister and poured cornflakes all over the floor.
But I picked up the broom with a serene smile (after changing two nappies and fixing two breakfasts). I felt peaceful and recharged.
It’s amazing what a healthy diet can do for you.
Pingback: Soul Diet
Beautiful, simply beautiful! As far as the food diet, I had to look up low FODMAP! I have to do brown, not white; white does not agree with my system! The idea of a soul diet is so good, and so neglected! But I especially liked the part about going to church once a week being the minimal we can do to take care of ourselves and our community spiritually. Our actions (or lack of them) do affect others! Yes, the minimal is church, loving the Lord and others, praying, and reading the Scriptures is the minimal, and we often have a hard time doing even that! May the Lord help us in our quest to de-junk our lives, and get ourselves back on track! Great post, and thanks for the link!
Thank you, Sheila! I think the low FODMAP diet is a largely Australian phenomenon. It helps people with IBS (which stands for “we have no idea what’s wrong with you, but it’s something to do with your bowels and we’ve ruled everything else out”) I need to work more on my scripture reading (what can I say – I’m Catholic), but at least if I go to Mass every Sunday for three years, I would have had the bible read to me, cover to cover!
Thank you for your lovely, warm comment
We shall discuss this blog post at dinner on Saturday as I’m sure I’m one of those joy bringing people you mentioned… It has been much too long between posts your writing is good for my soul!
You are indeed!! Can’t wait to catch up – we can talk all about the wonders of Sunday Mass!
I am not Catholic, but my Unitarian Universalist Church-going does exactly the same thing for me and I appreciated the way you expressed it. Thank you.
I’m so glad you could relate. After I wrote this, I was worried it was a little too Catholic, but I knew my readers would be sophisticated enough to apply the general ideas to their own faith experience!
I love it! “These people say things like “it doesn’t really matter if you go to church or not, so long as you are a good person” (because it’s one or the other – take your pick) and “you don’t have to go every week – it’s too hard. Just go when you can – God will understand” (because parties, sport and wandering around Bunnings should always take priority over your spiritual health).”
I get that all the time and I dont understand that logic. I was raised catholic and mass once a week was the base requirement but as an adult i understand why. The idea that if you are a good person then you dont need church is like saying a good car doesnt need an oil change.
would love to have you as a guest writer sometime 🙂
Wow! What a compliment! Thank you. To be honest I felt I was getting a little didactic in that section, but there comes a time for “laying the smackdown” as my husband would say! I’d be happy to write a guest post sometime – although I’m so new at this, I’m not exactly sure what that means!
If we dont ‘lay the smack down’ then we arent the salt of the earth now are we? 😉
I’m new to blogging too and I dunno all it entails BUT i will find out and get back to you.
What it means is that someone who is not a regular writer for that blog writes a post that is suitable for its readership for publication on the blog.
I’m tempted to join the cheer squad for this very thoughtful blog post, but while I heartily agree with your list of spiritual junk food (and could possibly contribute to the list) I have to politely disagree with a few things.
I think I agree with those who think that you don’t have to go to Mass every week as long as you’re a good person. I don’t think Mass is a requirement for spiritual nourishment, and although it may be a good way of getting spiritual nourishment it is hardly guaranteed to provide spiritual nourishment.
What do I mean by spiritual nourishment? Well, in keeping with the analogy I’d have to say that spiritual nourishment is that which leads to spiritual health. And then I’d have to ask, would I measure spiritual health? Well, I measure spiritual health by whether or not you’re a good person. So being a good person is the point, and not every good person goes to Mass, let alone every week.
My problem with the typical “as long as you’re a good person” proponent is that they set the bar so low. What they mean by a good person is someone who doesn’t kill anyone, abuse children or animals, or mug old ladies. I’m not sure that’s quite what Jesus had in mind. “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me” was probably more what along the lines of what he was thinking.
I’m not saying that going to Mass every week, or even every day, is a bad thing. My point is that going to Mass, or any other spiritual practice, is not an end in itself but a means to the real end.
Brad, thank you for this very thoughtful comment. I agree that going to Mass is not an end in itself, but a means to the real end. However, I would also add that it is an essential and necessary means.
At the moment I’m listening to Bleak House on audiobook. In it, Dickens describes the character of Mrs Jellyby, a woman who strives tirelessly for the poor in Africa whilst her children are neglected and her family falls apart all around her. She has good intentions and does a lot of good works. But I don’t think she prays much. I see Mrs Jellyby as a model of how I might turn out if I didn’t pray or go to Mass (which is essential to keep my prayer life healthy).
I think it’s worth noting that Jesus was a faithful Jew. There are many stories that involve Jesus going to the temple and nothing to suggest he was anything but observant in practicing his faith. If Jesus needed to attend regular services with his faith community, I can’t really believe that I’m holy enough to get away with not going.
So, we need to attend Sunday Mass to keep ourselves spiritually healthy, but there’s another aspect to it as well. It is our responsibility to provide our time and talents and, above all, our presence to take care of the spiritual health of our faith community. St Paul describes the church as one body with many parts. I don’t think it’s very fair on the rest of the body if the left index finger is consistently MIA.
We’re only human. If we don’t make a habit of attending Mass (or the equivalent communal prayer service which, interestingly, all major religions seems to have) we will fall out of prayer and have no companions to help us and no ‘autopilot’ that habitual attendance provides. It is pride that makes us think we can go it alone. It is false humility that makes us think we’re not missed. There might be a person out there who can read a lot of well-written books and do a lot of admirable acts and manage to achieve saintly holiness without ever falling off the wagon, but I’m yet to meet her or read about him at any point in history ever. There, of course, are plenty of ‘good people’, and I’m not knocking them (nor am I saying those sinners who struggle along at Mass are necessarily ‘better’), but God calls us to be more. To be holy and to be whole.
PS I think you should get back to blogging, only this time go with WordPress and – you know – TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT. I would read it. You write well.
Okay, I’ve set up a WordPress account and got a domain name. I’ll let you know when I start writing.
Not sure what “Huzzah!!” means but it sounds positive? First post is up.
Huzzah! I’m there!
Huzzah = Hurrah = Hooray
Surely you know this?
Dear katelikestocreate, your posts and comments are wise and inspired — I enjoy reading them! Keep listening for God and I will do the same. It is good to find community, even the online kind, to make connections with others on the journey. Keeping you in prayer,
Thank you so much, Amy!
Thanks for taking the time to reply to my comment, Kate.
I had a feeling Bleak House would come up in this discussion! Don’t ask me why, I could just tell. I’m not going to take up the Mrs. Jellyby line of argument because I don’t feel that I can do so in the spirit with which I’d like to have this discussion. This is primarily due to personal failings (mine, not yours) and secondarily due to the fact that the detours needed to build my argument would take us far afield from the topic at hand.
It’s interesting that you should mention Jesus being an observant Jew, and for two reasons. First, as a Jew he didn’t go to Mass much, or at all come to think of it. Of course, as you mention, he was probably observant and went to synagogue. But that merely supports the point I’m trying to make – Mass itself isn’t essential or necessary. The second reason it’s interesting is that even though he may have attended synagogue more often than Hanukkah and Passover I don’t think he went every week. Why do I think that? Because he often went to wilderness areas where I don’t think they held the regular services. In particular, there was the 40 days in the desert, which, depending on what day of the week he started, represent 5 or 6 missed synagogue attendances. I also don’t seem to recall Jesus ever instructing anyone about the virtues of weekly religious attendance. My memory is, however, imperfect so feel free to quote me the relevant chapter and verse if I’m wrong.
I don’t doubt that it’s necessary to be part of a community in order to be a good person. I merely wonder whether going to Mass every week is a necessary or sufficient condition for it.. The aspect of taking care of a faith community is a very important one, and one that I’m sure genuinely motivates you to attend regularly but there are many people who could miss six weeks and not endanger the health of their spiritual community. As far as one body and many parts, the left index finger regularly going MIA would indeed constitute a problem, but the 1,257th nose hair would probably not be missed. I have heard of bodies sans left index finger that still function quite well though.
I understand what you’re saying about your need to go to Mass, but I have to disagree with you about going to Mass being an “essential and necessary means” to the real end. To continue with the food/diet analogy, I’d say that going to Mass is eating oranges rather than obtaining vitamin C. You can get vitamin C in any number of ways, eating oranges is only one way. You can obtain spiritual nourishment in many ways, and going to Mass every week is only one of them.
I’ll finish with a story that I hope suggests I understand where you’re coming from, even if I don’t think you’re quite right.
A man is looking about for a church service to attend one Sunday, and the only one he can find is a Quaker meeting. He sits there for quite some time and nothing happens. He finally whispers to the person beside him, ‘When does the service start?”
“The service starts when the worship ends” is the reply.
I have a few extra thoughts:
1. It is certainly a trap of blogging to get detained by a persistent and pesky dissident or, even worse, a troll rather than writing the next blog post. I doubt that either of us will convince the other to change their view, but I think a respectful sharing of differing views and of the reasons for them can be a good thing.
2. I was just sitting in the sun in the garden/jungle that is our backyard, doing some reading and sipping tea, occasionally glancing up to see what the dogs were up to, when it occurred to me that I hadn’t really offered any alternative examples of spiritual nourishment.
My line of thinking in this matter was sparked by an interview with Catholic monk Thomas Berry. I’ll fish a couple of quotes out of the interview to try to indicate the broad outlines of that line of thought. The main idea Berry presents is the difference between a cosmological (shamanic) and a historical (prophetic/priestly) religious worldview. Don’t worry, Berry wasn’t a pagan tree-worshipper – although he has probably been accused of being that by conservative types (with whom I am very familiar with because I have certainly been one of those at various points in my life) – he was a practicing Catholic.
“The spiritual structure of western civilization… [underwent] a profound change from the experience of the divine in the cosmological order – in the world around us – to the experience of the divine as manifested in the particular historical moments of particular communication between the divine and the human.”
“We have lost touch with the natural order of things. For example, which day of the workweek it is may be more important to many of us than the great transition moments in the seasonal cycles, and which hour of the day it is – will I get to work on time? Will I avoid rush hour traffic? Will I get to watch my favourite television program – may be more important to us than the transitional moments in the diurnal cycles.”
To me, Berry’s list of things that distract us from the touch of the divine hand bears a remarkable similarity to yours. The difference is that you are operating from a historical religious viewpoint – being in touch with God in the institution (Mass/Eucharist) that began with the historical act of Christ in the last supper – while Berry is operating from a cosmological religious viewpoint – being in touch with God through natural cycles. I am not trying to say that one of these points of view is superior to the other. Berry himself would certainly not say that.
I also think that these cares can distract us from caring for other human beings. Which leads me to my last thought.
3. Christ’s standard for being a good person needn’t require heroic self-sacrifice or motherly neglect. Let me tell you another story:
Just a couple of weeks ago I was walking out of a bookshop, holding a book about my favourite saint in my hand. Strolling down Lonsdale St, anxious to get to the tram that would take me to work on time (how prescient Berry was) I witnessed a scene that has stayed with me since. An attractive young lady was walking beside me holding a bag and a cup from McDonalds. We passed a beggar with a hat and a sign on the ground. I barely had time to think that i didn’t have any change (I pay for everything on credit card, but that’s another story) when the attractive young stopped briefly, gave her items to the beggar, and continued on her way. I don’t know whether she bought the items with the explicit intention of supplying the poor man with sustenance, or whether she had bought them for herself and gave them away because she was spontaneously touched by the man’s plight. Either way, who do you think was closer to St. Francis (or Christ or God) – the man with a book about him (i.e. me) or the lady with (and then without) the McDonalds food? I think we both know the answer, and we both know the answer would be the same regardless of whether the young lady had ever attended a religious service in her life. I might add that this act certainly wouldn’t be a cause of neglect for the young lady’s family, yet I think it was exactly what Jesus had in mind.
I often have discussions with Maynard (your habit of inventing pseudonyms has rubbed off on me) from church about how to balance meeting the needs (wants?) of your family with helping those less fortunate. Neither of us has come to a firm solution to the issue, and ultimately everyone has to make up their own mind.
I took your advice and posted a proper blog post before returning to this discussion. It took a lot of discipline as I’m really enjoying this thread: it’s making me think a lot harder about the topic than I otherwise would. As usual, talking to you makes me feel smart – but I think you have that effect on most people. This is a compliment, by the way – I don’t mean I feel smart talking to you in the same way that I might feel smart in comparison chatting to Niall from One Direction. Rather, you bring the conversation to a higher intellectual level that challenges me to work my brain.
I fear I might have used up all my A-material in my last comment, but still, reading your comments has sparked off a few more ideas that I wouldn’t mind exploring here. I agree that we probably won’t change each other’s opinion, but that this does not make the discussion any less valuable.
A common criticism I encounter when discussing my faith is that my beliefs are immaturely formed, that I am merely following the rules set down by the Pope and don’t think for myself. This always stings a little, because I wonder, deep down, if it’s not a little bit true. I’ve mentioned before on this blog that I am a pathological Good Girl and enjoy learning and following rules. Is my entire faith founded on my law-loving temperament?
I think about this a lot, and here’s what I came up with in my defence:
While I enjoy following rules, I like to think I don’t follow them blindly. I spend a lot of time thinking about the moral rules I choose to follow and the principles that underpin them. The Church helps because her magisterium provides a moral framework moulded by generations of great thinkers. I don’t always agree with every church teaching, but notions of sanctity of human life, dignity of the human person and primacy of prayer, which underscore these teachings, resonate with me.
I was reflecting on the rhythm of weekly attendance. Why a week? Why not a day or a fortnight or a month? This got me thinking. Of the different groups and organisations I’ve been involved in, the ones that seemed to work best met on the same day every week. Fortnightly meetings are always confusing (is it this week or next week?) and monthly ones need a calendar (is it the third Sunday this week? Is it the fifteenth today?), but weekly meetings become an institution. You don’t have to fit them into your schedule. Your schedule has to fit around them.
I have a strange gut feeling that there is something innate about the cycle of a week that resonates with us. I’m not sure what – days and months fit with natural rhythms of our bodies and our environment. I’ve noticed this in small children. I’ve tried to do some things (like grocery shopping or play group) on a fortnightly cycle, but my toddler tends to resist. When I do our activities on a predictable weekly cycle, he relaxes and goes with the flow. There is nothing in the natural world that points to the natural cycle of a week (unlike days, months and years), although the bible does describe it in the first story of the first book. It might just be how we’re conditioned, and I have absolutely no science to back this up (like most of my arguments), but I think there is something to be said for this once-a-week business. The strange thing is, this idea formed in my mind before your second comment about Thomas Berry (which, I think, describes the week as an artificial construct)
One of the other reasons I go to Mass every week and not a Quaker prayer service has to do with my need to meet God in the sacraments, and particularly in the Eucharist. While this is something I feel deeply about, it is a complex topic which perhaps belongs to another discussion. I’m pretty sure we have different views here as well, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Who is Maynard?? I have my suspicions but am still unsure. Whoever he is, invite him to join the discussion. I’d love to hear his views.
I loved your story of the St Francis Bookshop and the book on St Francis. Your humility does you credit. I would have to suggest here that a single instance does not define a person, we are each on our own path to holiness and it’s not a competition. Also, while I won’t embarrass you here with specific anecdotes (although I could), I have known you for a long time to be a person who cares for the sick, visits the ‘imprisoned’, befriends the lonely and helps the poor. You might not have had change or a bag of McDonalds to give, but I know you well enough to know that (had the McDonalds lady not been there) you would have looked the man full in the face when you apologised for your lack of change and would have used a tone of respect that recognised his innate dignity as a human person. This is a rare gift and would definitely give the man with the book about St Francis Good Person Points.
I think that’s enough from me for now. I still think you should write a blog. Just sayin’
Not really sure where to go with the discussion at this point, so I’ll have a think about it before I do. I’ll just comment on a couple of things that are tangential to the main post.
First, I’m not sure if you know Maynard or not. He, his wife and three children are relatively new (compared to your family) of the community at SFX but they are very active and are genuinely spiritual and kind people. I gave him the moniker Maynard because he is an economist so if you know him you could probably guess his identity by now. I might mention your blog to him tomorrow if we see him at Mass.
Second, I will probably blog again. I even have a title in mind. When, and about what, I don’t know at this stage.
Third, I want to mention the “common criticism” that you said you encounter when discussing your faith. I think that, as you suspect, the criticism is probably a little bit true – but just reply by saying “Tu quoque.” The philosopher Bas Van Fraassen, who converted to Catholicism as an adult, wrote an article about science and interpretation. He talks about three friends of his, and quote what he says about the first two:
“The first, A., believes the Biblical narrative, for the most part. When necessary, he fills the gaps. I asked him how Peter knew, in the Transfiguration, that those other persons were Moses and Elijah? Perhaps, A. replied, Jesus told them, or perhaps he heard Jesus greeting them by name.
B. is a woman from the South. As is common there, she was not taught evolution in school, but only ‘creation science’. Now enrolled in a college biology program, she fervently believes the story of evolution. When necessary, she fills the gaps. I asked her about the eye. In the early stages, that curious growth, 5% of what could eventually function for vision, could have had no survival value. Well, she said, some genes piggy-back on others; some early evolutionary stages of organs had other, now unclear, functions — some such thing must have happened.”
Very few people follow the Cartesian Method of Doubt and subject every belief they hold to exacting tests. In fact, I’d go so far as to suggest that nobody does.
I’ll leave it there for now as I have to go fishing, sort of.
I suppose the best direction to take the discussion now is to focus on what I can agree with you about, and your mention of the rhythms of the weekly cycle suggests to me where that might be. I’ll have to be quick because I’m supposed to be writing an essay about how academic libraries can use open access materials as part of their library collections and it’s due tomorrow.
My main quibble with your original post was over phrases like “essential” and “bare minimum.” If I was going to suggest a bare minimum for a Catholic or a Christian I’d look to something other than weekly Mass attendance. I think that weekly Mass attendance can certainly be valuable, and there are plenty of good reasons to attend Mass weekly, I just don’t think those reasons make the activity essential.
One of those reasons has to do with rhythms; not the rhythm of the week, but the rhythm of the year. The value of weekly attendance is not to be found in individual Sundays as isolated events, but in a whole series of attendances of the course of the year. If you ran three times per week for a year, the value wouldn’t be in any particular run but in the year’s worth of running. Although I argued that we are out of touch with God’s action in the natural cycles of the world, the Church has not ignored those cycles. Instead, it built the liturgical year around them. Of course, its adoption in the southern hemisphere makes much less sense because it’s out of whack with nature. Still, there is a distinct cycle within the liturgical year, with different periods of preparation and celebration and different themes.
i’ve often thought that the reason that religious institutions developed was to maintain that sense of connection by not fully giving in to the demands of empire. In nature there are periods of feast and periods of famine (not necessarily total famine, but less food at any rate). In the liturgical year, at least if followed properly, there is feasting and fasting. I’m sure you can extrapolate and think of many other examples.
The value of the Sabbath lies not only in attendance at religious services, but in rest. And I think we lost something precious when we gave up the idea of a single day of the week where everyone rested from work unless performing a service essential to matters of life and death (pikuah nefesh, as the Jews call it). In my opinion, the command to keep the Sabbath holy goes beyond attendance at a religious service.
Finally, as you have already guessed, we probably disagree about the Sacraments. Weekly communion is not so common in the Eastern Orthodox Churches as it is in western versions of Christianity. Unless they’ve undergone a period of preparation and gone to confession they won’t take communion. But you mentioned this issue might best be discussed another time, so I won’t go too far down that road.
As for Maynard, he was ill and not at Mass this week. I’m pretty certain he’d agree with you, rather than me, on most of this stuff, but maybe not for the same reasons.
Great stuff! The world is a crazy place to live, especially for those who are striving to improve themselves and follow Christ’s example. I enjoyed the explanation that church attendance really is the minimum we can do to keep our souls nourished correctly. I feel that people often look at tending to church “obligations” merely as a way to outwardly show that they are trying to be good, but in reality, the people who choose to go to church in order to be spiritually fed are getting much more out of it. Keep up the great and thoughtful posts!
Thank you, Elder Dunford! I kinda hope God sometimes sneaks up on the smug types who turn up at church to look good, and surprises them somehow, that something gets through to them…
Hi there, thanks for visiting Love and Be Loved. I enjoyed your post very much. I smiled many times while reading it — especially the cuddly, poopy parts ;). I have lately found myself thanking God for God — those times when you know it’s not your own idea, but you’ve done something truly profound, like turning cuddle-time into one of the truest and most sincere prayers ever. Many blessings to you!
“Thanking God for God” – I like that! I forget sometimes to recognise God’s grace for what it is and in my arrogance think I made it happen! This happens especially when I think I’m doing things for God and that he ought to be impressed, when really I’m just drawing on His grace and then showing it to him!
I loved this post! I think about soul diet too when my kids are being fussy about what to eat and I feel impatient. I try to remember than what I put in their soul, my words and example, are even more important than what I put in their bodies. Sometimes serving grilled cheese (again) with a smile and some cucumber slices is better than trying to force feed homemade veggie soup with a loud voice and stern looks. I don’t always succeed with the smile, but like you say, it sure is a lot easier on the days when I feed my soul with prayer.
Oh, I agree! I have a theory that there is an inverse relationship between the amount of effort put into a meal and the probability that the children will eat it. I can slave over an elaborate casserole or risotto and the kids turn up their noses – but give them some sausages or chicken nuggets (or grilled cheese!) and they wolf it down!
I’d love your homemade veggie soup!
Excellent theory! Maybe the less you care, the more likely they are to eat…less of a power struggle. I find mine eat more if they can choose some stuff from a platter in the center of the table, rather than having to eat what’s already on their plates. If it is their choice, there is less to rebel against. Pretty presentation seems to help, too. Sometimes I get my older daughters to make a fruit and veggies platter on a flowery tray. I’m also a fan of the immersion blender….they can’t pick out what they can’t see! Hehehe!
I agree – so often it’s about power, not about food. If they feel like they have some small measure of control over the situation, they’re less likely to resist. Also, when they’ve ‘helped’ prepare dinner, they’re more likely to eat it. I like your platter idea, too. Of course, there are still the days where you do everything right and they still don’t eat!
Super insights. Beautiful! Thanks for all the reminders.
Thank you so much for your lovely and generous comment!
I would like to thank you for this post. It’s when we let life get in the way that we lose our way and our sense of self. We also do not fully appreciate all that we have. Talking about your 3 year old brought tears to my eyes. Time is fleeting. Treasure this time you have with them and thank God every day for bringing these blessings into your life. Regarding charity, I like what Judaism teaches: Start with you and your immediate family, then your extended family, then your immediate community, then expand it out but you always start with you.
Thank you so much for this lovely comment. You gave me such a boost! I agree with what you’re saying about charity. If we don’t look after ourselves, we’re not much good to anyone and if we don’t look after our families, nothing else that we achieve matters all that much. Thank you again!
Thanks to both of you for the reminder that we have to begin with ourselves and our families. For me, it’s easy to get caught up in external things, and let life get too hectic. I periodically need to remember that I need to slow down and take care of my soul, because I can’t give what I don’t have, namely peace and joy.
It’s true that our families are our unique mission, the beautiful and challenging place in which we are meant to grow into the best people we can be. It’s an important mission, raising the future citizens of the world, and caring for little ones made in God’s image.
Many blessings to all my fellow moms out there! You’re making the world a better place, one lovingly changed diaper at a time! 😉
Oh, thank you so much, Anna! I often fall victim to my own ego in wanting to change the world in ways that are visible. I can’t see how doing a load of washing contributes to that! The more I do this motherhood gig, the more I come to realise that it’s all about rhythm and pace. I need to slow things right down, even if that comes at an expense to my ego! Thanks again for the delightful comment!
You’re awesome! Thanks for the heads up and for your warm response. It’s so fun chatting with you from across the world here in Canada!
Wow! Canada! That makes me think of Anne (Anna?)of Green Gables! Will you be having a white Christmas?
I love Anne of Green Gables…played her in a drama class in highschool….fitting as I had long redish brown hair, a stick figure, and a penchant for dreaming, writing, and yapping the ears off my “bosom friends”. I love how you name your family members in your blog after literary characters…you chose some of my favorites!
It is actually supposed to snow here this week, although being on the opposite side of the country as Anne, the Westcoast, it’s much milder. Many umbrellas….
My Scottish Mum spent a year in Australia as a kid and remembers spending Christmas at the beach!
That’s it! My mental picture of you is now forever fixed as Anne Shirley! Have you listened to the free audiobooks online? They do a great dramatic reading of the first three Anne books.
It does get very hot here on Christmas Day! But we persist with our roast dinners regardless!
Thank you for your lovely comment
By the way, you need to update your profile: when I clicked on your link to take a peek at your blog, it took me to ‘sweet madness parenting’ instead of ‘just east of crazy land’. Now I’m off to change a nappy, lovingly!
Hi! Just wanted to thank you for your kind words and thoughtful responses on your blog. Best wishes and many blessings to you!
Thank you so much, Amy – best wishes and many blessings to you as well!
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Hi Kate! I see that both you and I were featured on Seton’s Facebook page and I just visited your blog for the first time earlier today! And now I’m back to visit again and I am so glad I did! What, how, when, where, why I’m feeding my soul spiritually is on my mind daily and I love how this post of yours is so me and so true about me 🙂 I think we have alot in common as I too try to sneak a quiet, prayer time each day, but sometimes my prayer time is blessed with a little blessing that visits 🙂 Thank you for giving me some good “food” for thought 🙂 God bless!
Thanks so much, Tracy! I had a great time visiting your blog as well. I got ridiculously excited when Seton featured us. Thanks again for your lovely comment 🙂
Nicely written. I especially like how kind and thoughtful you are in replying to commenters (sp?). Thanks for stopping by The Brass Rag. Please come back and see us often. Yours is a voice we would love to hear from.
Thanks Cheri! I’m only just getting to know the community of writers’ blogs (I’m already familiar with mummy blogs and crochet blogs) because I’m only just starting to think of myself as a ‘writer’. I’ll be sure to stop by The Brass Rag again. It’s an exciting discovery!
Merry Christmas! I am so pleased you read and “liked” my blog. Like Cheri, I am new this blogging business, but I have so much to say about so many things and can’t figure out what I think until I write.
I am on the gluten-free bandwagon much of the time, no white stuff, low fat, only vegetable carbs, etc. It’s difficult but I actually find that prayer helps-soul food, as you say. Writing feeds my soul as does solitude in nature. I enjoy my alone time at home as well, but I find it too easy to be distracted. Right now, I’m sitting in my backyard next to the pool. We have a view of the local mountains to the south and further away, to the north. I find my mind wanders up the dry trails and the wind dances across the water.Very peaceful and good for my soul.
I will add your blog to my list of pleasant distractions.
Happy New Year!
Agreed. I definitely feel spending quality time with the people we cherish has been lost in the times. Social media has succumb our society.
Thank you! It’s so true and so easy to get swept along by. I need to place limits on the amount of time I spend on Fritter!
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