If I have any knowledge of the bones of Catholicism, it comes from my parents. My dad prayed in front of us. He read the Liturgy of the Hours and wore the scapular. He had a medal of the Jerusalem cross he also wore every day. He would pray the rosary en route to dropping us off at school, and always sang at mass. As I grew older, he would put theological works in front of me all the time, even mailing them to me as I struggled with three or four children. I admit I avoided them as my kids do vegetables. But gradually, (as I hope my kids one day will acquiesce to eating plant foods), I began to seek them out. Today, they are my go to reading and not just when I have insomnia. It took 40 years for me to fall in love with the writings of Catholicism, to fall deeply in love with the word.
If I have an understanding of the service component of faith, it is from my Mom. She has always had an open door heart. When my grandmother was sick, she made room in our house to take her. When my cousins needed a home while their mother recovered from a serious illness, we made room. When my dad’s brother needed occasional check-ups and care and car rides, she worked to make it part of our lives. When there wasn’t anyone needing us directly, she worked teaching at our elementary school teaching children about the faith and about service, both at the liturgy, and at the local soup kitchen. These past few years, she has spent serving my father in his Alzheimer’s.
Service is not volunteering. It is how one responds to the needs of another. A teacher who is paid, can still be serving if they are doing all that they do with great love. An expectant mother who is simply watching what she eats, is also providing a service, she is acting out of love for her unborn child. It is not the big grand concerts or marches that reveal who is serving one of the least of these; it is the little acts of love done day after day, hour after hour, unthinkingly, but constantly. We are not always mindful of our actions, (and this is good as it would lead to ego trips), and that illustrates to the world that the devotion, the dedication, the service is not for the accolades, but for love. There is a joy in the routine of this daily work; it is a form of route faith, like saying the rosary, like the structure of the mass, habits or scaffolding of being that reflect the deeper heart. The deeper one’s faith, the more one seeks to serve, until service is constant and necessary, like breathing.
So today, we seek to be aware of all the ways in which we have been blessed to serve, and to be served, and breathe deeply in, the gifts of being served, and of being able to serve. Link up your blog or list the ways in which you have either been blessed or been a blessing to others, then go and visit those who have participated. Know that you are not alone in trying to somehow scratch out some meaning from the day to day routine, and trust that 30 years from now, your kids will probably eat vegetables and maybe even, pick up the rosary or the Liturgy of the Hours. Trust that all of this that you do today, will sink in deep.
Copyright 2013 Sherry Antonetti