Friday, January 8, 2010

A Silent Heart

A word has finally settled in my heart to remember throughout this new year of 2010. Many others have similarly chosen meaningful words or themes such as now and yes and peace. There is an excellent thread on 4Real Forums where many mothers share their words for 2010 and why they were chosen. For me, it will be ~


When this word first came to mind, it was before I was reading about moms choosing a word or theme for the new year. The Lord simply put on my heart a challenge to work on the virtue of silence in the new year. I had long lost sight of any daily time of silence for prayer or reflection, and I had been seeking distraction and mindless occupation online and with television. As I began to read the choices of others, I discovered the depth of this lesson the Lord is trying to impress upon my heart.

I could see the Lord trying to teach me to reduce my constant need for chatter throughout the past year, but my pride did not welcome it. I attended mom's groups and mom's socials and homeschooling gatherings, hoping to find a kindred spirit with whom to share the struggles of my soul. At each meeting, to my dismay, I felt prompted to listen, to ask questions, and not to try to fulfill my own needs, letting God do that. In the fall, I scheduled a trip with a dear friend and planned in my mind the late night discussions we would have after the children were in bed. Her sweet little ones all got dreadfully sick, and our reunion and, thus, the extended conversations were cancelled.

It was after that disappointment I realized these deep thoughts were not meant to share with anyone except my God. Since at that point I was barely speaking to Him, this forced me to embrace my solitude. I often feel alone in large groups or isolated in small groups, like I do not quite connect with the others, and this has bothered me more than ever over the past year. But, once I began to embrace the solitude, I learned there is great peace to be found in the silence of my heart.

With a husband home more over the Christmas holiday, I was also blessed with a much-needed glimpse into a mirror. He is always able to make such astute observations about simple things that would make my life easier or my soul cleaner in a way that does not offend me or put me on the defensive (a true challenge). One such comment had to do with how much I talk and how many words I throw at the children throughout the day. Yes, throw. You know what I mean. I give them instruction every second of every day from our schooling to their hygiene and chores. Internally, I pledged to be quiet more.

Then, of course, on New Year's Day, soon after reading others' choices for words for 2010, the words in the Gospel of Luke jumped out at me at Mass ~

But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. ~ 2:19

The homily focused on several points, the last being to hold dear the treasure of our hearts and to deeply ponder His presence in our lives. This was fitting, as I had been reflecting throughout Advent on my spiritual journey of 2009 and how prayer was sadly lacking due to the absence of routine we had in the previous several months. A new aspect of Mary to imitate grew roots in my soul.

I also found this quote in my current daily reflection book, Thirsting for God: A Yearbook of Prayers and Meditations by Mother Teresa, on January 2 ~

Let us make this a year of peace in a very particular way: We will try to talk more with God and to God and less with men and to men. And then, from the silence of our hearts, we can preach the peace of Christ as he did, by going about doing good to others.

and this quote on January 4 ~

The apostles devoted themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word. Their example teaches us that the more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. Therefore, on the streets, in the slums, at work, in the home, we should pray with our whole heart and soul. We must keep that silence which Jesus kept for thirty years at Nazareth. Even now, he keeps it in the tabernacle, silently making intercession for us.

Mother Teresa's words often speak of silence, so I am confident I will be blessed with more wonderful quotes throughout the year that will challenge me to remember my commitment.

Having so many confirmations that silence would be a gift to my soul and to my family, I have chosen to work on being silent, keeping more in my heart, and then giving those hidden things to the Lord more than ever before in 2010.

What is your word, theme, and/or Scripture for this year and why did you choose it?

Sunday, January 10, 2010 ~ The Baptism of the Lord

Note: These Sunday & Holy Day Gospel Reflections are written so that mothers may prepare for Holy Mass in advance either as a small group or individually (especially since we are so often necessarily distracted during Mass itself).

Luke 3:15-16, 21-22

The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”


On the day of our Baptism, we were baptized "with the Holy Spirit and fire," as today's Gospel reminds us. These words evoke two thoughts in my humble mind. One is that we are continually reminded of that fire by the daily sufferings and purifications we all endure, some minor and some more tragic, all continually designed to remove sin from our spotted souls. The other is that if we were truly baptized with such powerful elements, how can we live each day with an awareness of these strengths in our souls?

In a new year, we are all optimistic. This is a gift of renewal for which I am grateful. We hope for a year of grace, a year filled with blessings and joyful memories. Nevertheless, we will encounter pain. There will be struggles, all designed to return our souls to their state on the day of our Baptism. Are we preparing for these? Are we hoping for these? Many of the saints asked the Lord to bless them with whatever suffering would best lead them to Him. Maybe the challenges of this year will be large or small, but I feel called to assure God that I will accept whatever He wills for the salvation of my soul. Will you join me in this difficult prayer?

The Holy Spirit has been described as a rushing wind or a raging fire. These are images that challenge me to examine the zeal in my heart for my faith and for my God and frown that I do not call upon His power more regularly. I am guessing I am not alone in the fact that my daily duties often control my thoughts to the unfortunate exclusion of doing them with the proper attitude and reflection on what should be driving my every word and action. When I am worthless and weak and even when I am on solid footing, I pledge to call upon this inner power and beg the Holy Spirit to lead me with every thought and deed.

Jesus Christ humbled himself to be baptized by John to demonstrate to us the importance of this sacrament. There is power in the grace we receive at Baptism, enough power that the skies can open, and God can declare, "You are my beloved Son[Daughter]; with you I am well pleased." I want that. Don't you?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Twelfth Night

It is the Twelfth Day of Christmas! I pray your holidays have been full of great joy and many graces (and not too many drummers drumming). Reality and routine are so hard for me (especially after a break), and I have been tempted to pull out my Shakespeare and read Twelfth Night all day! Shakespeare scrumptiously entertains me with this one!
(If you want to join me in reading some of the play, you can download an eBook version for free here in English, Finnish, or Catalan! You could read the children's version to your littles, which is available here. Or, you can download the complete audio play to your computer or mp3 for free here. Maybe I'll have to add the movie to my Netflix cue, too!)
Sorry for the Shakespearean divergence. Where was I? Without telling you, I took a blogging break for these twelve days, but I am itching to write again. So, I thought I would tell you what is coming up here in the next few weeks at Heart of a Mother. Here are the posts I am drafting...

My Word for 2010
(jumping on that blogging bandwagon)

Sunday Gospel Reflections
(will be back weekly)

My Journey in 2009
(including a little announcement)

Little Flowers Joy
(from our December meeting)

Prayer Pages
(inspired by a friend)

Encouragement for Grey Days
(specifically for homeschooling moms)

Young Girls' Book List
(for those advanced but innocent readers)

How to Take a Snow Day for Homeschoolers
(even if you don't get snow)

What else do you need to hear in the next few weeks or months? I know you read me (because I have one of those nifty blog counter services), but I rarely hear from any of you. I am not interested in making this blog a chatty place (more on why later), but I am always hoping to hear what you like and don't like about what you read!

May this blog be a space of comfort and inspiration to all of us on our spiritual journeys this year!

O God
Who on this day
through the guidance of a star
didst manifest
Thine Only-Begotten Son to the Gentiles;
mercifully grant
that we who know Thee now by faith,
may one day be brought
to the contemplation of the beauty of Thy majesty.
Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
Benedictine Monastic Diurnal