Wednesday, September 4, 2019

{From My Commonplace}

Just as powerful for mothers as for children:

"He was St. Joseph's assistant now, learning from him how to do the village carpentry, to make yokes and ploughs and the rough cottage furniture, learning to do it all in St. Joseph's way. It was a rude unskilful way we may be sure, and the clumsiest joiner nowadays would turn out more shapely work. Our Lord might well have been St. Joseph's teacher, and shown him how to do better. But that was not what He wanted. He was there in the shop to humble Himself, to be obedient, and thus to teach us something far more important than good carpentry. What He wanted was not to do the work in the best way possible, but to do it as He was told."

from Mother Mary Loyola's First Communion


  1. "But that was not what he wanted. He was there in the shop to humble himself." What a beautiful, humbling, inspiring quote! Ever since becoming Catholic I've been struck by Jesus's humility - that he became human, and that he continues to hide himself in a piece of bread. I've never thought of his work with his father in the same way.
    Thanks for sharing!

    1. I know, humility of this sort is not a theological point that was emphasized in my upbringing, and yet it really underpins all of Christianity! And all of Mason's educational philosophy too. :)

  2. Can you help me understand better? I can understand that Jesus humbled himself in being a child, and working as a carpenter. But why not in the best way possible, but the way he was told? I suppose he could have done it far better, outshining his father, and that's a way of being..God..but he humbled himself. He didn't need to outshine. But does this apply to us here? Do we want to only do as we are told? That makes me think of very uncomfortable examples. Please share more!

    1. One of my own take-aways from this passage is that there ARE more important things than being right. Perhaps it's my personality as someone prone to perfectionism, but I have a deep need for things to be done "right," and that desire goes unchecked or isn't put in proper perspective, that can lead to my overstepping my role in all areas of life, or to my damaging relationships. Of course, with my not being God (ha!), my idea of "right" is often just my own version of rightness/perfection anyways! But the fact remains that even if my "right" really were so much better than what someone else could put together, it still wouldn't be best for me to put it over my relationships with those people. I have a place to fill in my relationships in the world, and it isn't just to do all things as well as I can do them -- it is more difficult and more nuanced than that.

      For example: with my own children, do I let them develop along their own lines, or do I control the way they act or develop because of my own perception of who or what they ought to be? My role isn't to control them, my role is to guide. So in stepping in to make sure things are done right, I am actually doing my job wrong. Does that make sense? I could say the same for my husband -- just because I think I'll do a better job of something with the kids or in our home doesn't mean I should go ahead and do that when he's managing things. That kind of mindset can be very damaging, but I see it all the time (and have fallen into it myself).

      I think for me this passage speaks less to being obedient to a particular person or institution and more to being obedient to my vocation and, through that, God himself.

      I could honestly say a lot more here because my mind went in all kinds of directions when I read this! But I am heading out to Seattle in about an hour and need to pack! LOL Would love to hear your thoughts if you have some you'd like to share. :)

  3. Thank you so much for your comment.

    1. Your version of right isn't always right
    2. Your vocation as a mother and wife is to guide but not correct just so that things are done by your standards of right
    3. Your obedience is to your vocation and through that to God

    I'm so glad you clarified that because I couldn't get out of the "right" lens I was seeing it through! I kept thinking of totalitarian governments. "What He wanted was not to do the work in the best way possible, but to do it as He was told." I kept envisioning blind obedience, and the deliberate eschewing of beauty for something crude and awful. I kept thinking of historical examples of governments enforcing rigid principles and I was shuddering when I thought of blind obedience to that kind of power, where one has to leave behind their conscience or even their opinion of what art is, what music is, what religion is and bow down to the reigning power.

    I am so glad you shared your examples, because you read it but somehow in a wonderful twist, that you can be the totalitarian government, and that you need to impose less and be obedient more, and your obedience is not necessarily to a person or institution.

    Could you recommend a book on vocation as a wife and mother?

    Thank you for this wonderful exchange. I really enjoyed it.

    1. Hi Helen,

      It really is a rich idea to think through -- I am constantly shifting and reexamining and learning more about what obedience really means!

      Charlotte Mason has been SO inflential in my understanding of what she calls "authority and docility," or how the right practice of authority and docility work together for both healthy and holy relationships with those of whom we're given care (our kids) and also those who we own our allegiance to (whether that is our vocation, our husband, church, state, God -- all a bit different, of course!). I find her to be my go-to when it comes to parenting advice!

      The Hidden Power of Kindness by Fr. Lovasik is one that has helped me in my vocation. I also really like anything by St. Francis de Sales.

      It's funny, though, that some of the things I think have impacted me as a wife and mother have been things like my kids' books, articles on education from the Parents' Review, and other unlikely sources! Living ideas are everywhere! :)

  4. Thanks so much! I stumbled across Introduction to the Devout Life two days ago in the Adoration chapel and so I thought I can read a little bit each week. I read some of Lovasik and it has been very helpful. I was having difficulty staying kind in the midst of being busy and somehow he (Lovasik) helped me illuminate all the sacrifices and made them much less burdensome...