One of the cancellations this spring was our annual RCIA Retreat. It is a day of prayer and reflection filled with anticipation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that await the Candidates and Catechumens at the Easter Vigil. Practical advice on how to live life as a new Catholic is also a focal point of the retreat but now that wisdom must be passed on virtually rather than personally. In conversation with one of our RCIA Candidates, a mother of two boys in elementary school, she presented me with these questions:
In all our learning and our faith journey this far, I am in search of guides on how to balance it all. What does it look like to thread our faith through each facet of our lives? What does it look like to parent catholic and to work as a catholic and to not allow ourselves to put other things in front of God? I guess we all will search for that balance for a long time.
There are so many mothers that I admire here at St. Margaret, so I reached out to a few of them with these questions so that our candidate could hear from someone other than myself. My intent was to just forward their email replies and be done. What came back were words of beauty and strength of character and ordinary lives threaded with the gift of faith and forgiveness and perseverance. My heart was moved, and I knew they needed to be shared. Thanks be to God each Mom agreed and as we approach Mother’s Day, we will share these with you.
I remember that as a new mom and a new Catholic convert I was on the search for guides to show me how to integrate the faith into all of life--what does it actually look like to prioritize a relationship with God while balancing work and family? I felt like there was so much I didn't know about how to be a Catholic mom. I was intimidated by the formal prayers and the unfamiliar lingo (phrases like "offer it up"). Joining a Familia group was key for me to demystify some of these things and see living models of the faith in fellow moms--the relationships built there have been lasting.
Over the last few years, I have found guides, but of course, the journey to live out the faith is lifelong. I'd like to share some of the books that have served as guides for me along the way--I'm sure there will be more to come:
- On daily rhythms/prayer life/practical duties as a mom: A Mother's Rule of Life (Fr. James recommended this to me during confession once and though I did not adapt everything I found it very helpful and inspiring)
- On work-family "balance" from a Catholic woman's perspective: One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both
For praying as a couple:
- A Psalter for Couples
- On parenting and family life: Parenting with Grace
- John Paul II's Theology of the Body (Check out the classes at Ruah Woods, or introductory books by Christopher West)
- Pope Francis's "Amoris Laetitia"
For living and celebrating the liturgical calendar as a family: Catholic All Year Compendium (Start small and don't feel pressure to do more than is realistic. There are so many ideas in this book and it can be overwhelming but it's a helpful resource with so many creative ideas.)
- Holy Heroes - free weekly mass prep and activities/videos and "Glory Stories" audio stories about the saints
- Magnifikid and other resources from Magnificat publishers
An example of the faith:
This last one might be a bit of a tangent, but I am fascinated by Dorothy Day, her conversion story, and the way that her newfound faith radically altered her life and service to the poor. Her autobiography, The Long Loneliness, was formative for me and I think of it often when I am wrestling with questions about how to live out the Catholic faith in daily life and work.
Guest Post Written By: Amber Lapp
Part 4 of the series will be posted May 6, 2020