There is a quote popular among social workers. Credited to Forest Witcraft, the saying is:
A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove. But the world may be different, because I was important in the life of a child.
This quote is a stark reminder that our children ultimately reap the rewards of a kind, loving parent – or other influential adult in their lives – rather than running a rat race trying to keep up with the proverbial Joneses.
Have you ever heard of Annie Hawks? She was a Protestant songwriter who lived from 1835-1918, and is credited with composing more than 400 hymns. I was introduced by our priest to the only hymn of hers that is still sung over a hundred years after her death.
“I Need Thee Every Hour” is a hymn which struck me to the core. As I listened to the lyrics penned by this Christian woman, I began to feel a need to research a little about her. I found out that she wrote these words when she was up to her eyeballs in domestic life … including three young children.
Over the past three months, this song has been played almost daily in my home. I feel a nearness to God when I hear these words, when I sing the tune, and when I contemplate Mrs. Hawks’ life, and see similarities between her life and mine.
As a mother, I feel a connection with her as I stare down at the messes left by my young children. As a wife, I feel a connection with her as I contemplated how to live that vocation in an honorable manner. As a writer, I feel a connection with her as I draft even this small piece in my head. Her story, and my own, mirror the quote attributed to St. Frances of Rome:
It is most laudable in a married woman to be devout, but she must never forget that she is a housewife. And sometimes she must leave God at the altar to find Him in her housekeeping.
As I recently listened to “I Need Thee Every Hour,” I began contemplating the importance of having inspiration. It can be so difficult to get caught up with trying to outdo our friends and neighbors. It can be so easy to succumb to the peer pressure that there is no need for Confession on a regular basis, or small devotions that pull us away from entertainment and into the pews for Stations of the Cross, or public Rosary recitation, or even simply the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
As I pondered these words that Annie Hawks penned, I realized she had the right idea. Like St. Frances of Rome, Mrs. Hawks used her chores – the ones society says we should loathe and disdain – to bring her closer to God. And, while I am nowhere near perfect in my patience with my small children, Mrs. Hawks’ words have brought me indescribable inspiration. As a wife and mother in her thirties who still found the time to pen more than 400 hymns, she has provided me – a Catholic wife, mother, and writer – with the inspiration to keep searching for a deep, passionate relationship with God.
My last few articles on CatholicMom addressed God’s desire to have a relationship with us. But, this month, it’s time to view things from a different perspective. In addition to His desire for us, we must also have a desire for Him.
In Section 153 of the Diary of St. Faustina, the saint wrote of a vision she had experienced:
I saw two roads. One was broad, covered with sand and flowers, full of joy, music and all sorts of pleasures. People were walking along it, dancing and enjoying themselves. They reached the end without realizing it. And at the end of the road there was a horrible precipice; that is, the abyss of hell. The souls fell blindly into it; as they walked, so they fell. And their number was so great that it was impossible to count them. And I saw the other road, or rather, a path, for it was narrow and strewn with thorns and rocks; and the people who walked along it had tears in their eyes, and all kinds of suffering befell them. Some fell down upon the rocks, but stood up immediately and went on. At the end of the road there was a magnificent garden filled with all sorts of happiness and all these souls entered there. At the very first instant they forgot all their sufferings.
The road to Hell is paved not just with good intentions, but with a good time. It’s paved with the intentions to start living a Christian life. It’s paved with the intentions to go to Mass tomorrow. It’s paved with the intentions to make it to Confession. But it’s also paved with the failures to follow through on those intentions.
The road to Heaven, however, is rockier, bumpier, and perhaps a little lonelier. It’s not paved at all. Instead, it’s rocky terrain, filled with following through on the intentions. It’s the path that makes people scratch their heads when they watch you take time out of your life to go to Mass every weekend without regard to the other demands of life. It’s the path that has people raise their eyebrows when you apologize for not being able to attend an event because you need to go to Confession at that time instead. Sometimes, it’s even the path that sees you excluded from get-togethers because others think you may judge their choices.
Because the path to Heaven is so difficult, the Catholic Church, in Her wisdom, has given us saints to turn to in our hours of need. Those saints provide us with not just the ways to live as Christian witnesses, but also the strength and encouragement to do so when it is not the easy, or even safe, thing to do. Their examples serve to provide us with inspiration to not give up and join others on the easier path.
And we don’t just find inspiration from dead people. Rather, most of us can look around and find one other person in our lives who inspire us, not just to be a better person, but to perhaps live a life as a better Christian witness.
I returned to the Catholic Church a mere five years ago, when we lived in Hawaii. Since then, our family has lived in three more states, and I can guarantee there are women out there who can provide the inspiration to be a better Christian, to live a more devout Catholic life, and to enter deeper into a relationship with Christ even when everyone around you seems to be pressuring you to live a lifestyle that says otherwise.
However, in order to find those women of inspiration, we must be willing to watch for them. God will place the right woman in your path, if you are truly desiring to grow closer to Him. He will find a woman who will be your inspiration – regardless of whether or not she knows she has that impact. We must also be willing to go against the grain, and live counter-culturally.
But, for Him to do that, you must be willing to invite Him into your life.
One hundred years from now, it won’t matter the kind of car we drive today. It won’t matter the size of our bank accounts. It won’t matter how clean our house is on a regular basis.
Rather, one hundred years from now, what will matter is how we lived our lives as Christian witnesses. What will matter is how we impacted others and whether or not we drew them closer to Christ. What will matter is whether we were faithful to living as Catholic women, adhering to the tenets of the Catholic faith.
What will matter is how we lived today, for our eternity tomorrow.
And, in order to succeed, each of us must find our inspiration.
Where will you look for, and find, your inspiration to live as a faithful Catholic Christian? How will you find the strength to live for eternity?
Copyright 2019 Anni Harry