Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Attention to Souls

(This post first ran in 2009.) 

There are a few blogs I read that are written by priests. One might think that because our vocations are so different there isn't much we can learn from one another. But one would be mistaken. One priest's blog that I read regularly often speaks to me in my vocation as a mother.

Father* writes:
"Spiritual attention to souls." This is a wonderful line, absolutely wonderful. In the Gospel today, St. Mark speaks of the pity of Christ, that he looked upon the people because they were like shepherdless sheep. Do our parishioners feel the same way?

I apply this to my motherhood. Am I paying spiritual attention to the souls entrusted to my care? Do I ever leave my children shepherdless sheep? Have I left them in any way? What am I neglecting? How can I better shepherd them?

Is our Mass simply functionary? Is our seat in the confessional always empty? Do we try to shed our duties yet demand respect for our position?

When, as a mother, have I demanded respect for my position even while putting my own desires first? Is the "seat in the confessional" of my vocation -- my open, listening ear, my heart, my willingness to be fully present to my children -- empty?

Or, as St. Josemaria writes, is the altar the "centre and root" of our lives? We all feel the tension here. We all have days when the confessional is hot or the music at Mass is terrible or when we would like to do something for ourselves but the phone just keeps ringing.

Christ is the centre and root of my life, and it is through my vocation -- through marriage and motherhood -- that I serve Him. When there is tension, how do I approach it? Resolve it? When the tedious chores seem neverending and the bickering is building to a crescendo and when I would love to duck out of my duties for just a little while, or (oh, wouldn't it be heavenly?) go on a retreat -- or, who am I kidding, just have a day off, for goodness's sakes -- what do I do? How do I handle it? Who and What is at my center? Do my children feel the tension when it arises?

Even with the tension, how well do we do with this mission of having the "spiritual attention to souls?"

How well indeed?

What a beautiful examination of conscience this priest has provided. He may think he is writing for priests, but he is writing to each and every one of us who wish to serve God. And, oh, how much we all have to learn from one another in our seemingly disparate vocations.

*The original post had a link to the blog, but Father no longer maintains the blog. 

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