Thursday, July 18, 2013

Life of Self-Giving and Self-Denial

"The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle. Spiritual progress entails the ascesis (the exercise of self-discipline) and mortification that gradually lead to living in the peace and joy of the Beatitudes. Without mortification there is no happiness on earth." (Taken from the Handbook of Prayers)
Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel by driving out to the Carmel of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.  The cloistered Carmelite convent can be found in Agnew, Nebraska and is the home to 29 nuns.

My thoughts on the above picture really don't pertain to our day beside the fact that Dominic is captured here in all of his innocence.  The longer I know him and get to know him he really is a saintly child.  There is just something so different about him that I've only read in the books about young saints.  He views the world very much like his patron St. Dominic Savio.  Tonight during prayers, he asked if he could read his new favorite prayer to the family.  What a honor it is to know this child.

The doors are always unlocked, but were locked this day because Bishop Conley was celebrating a special mass that evening for the feast.  We waited around patiently only to happen upon a kind priest that eagerly let the kids in and attempted to arrange a rare visit with the sisters.  We weren't able to see them face to face, but we were able to speak with one sister through the turn.  

The children with Fr. Elias, the priest we met.  He is originally from Nebraska, but joined an Franciscan order in Kentucky.  I felt the holiness zone around him and would love to bet on the amount of sacrifices and penances he did that hot summer day in his full habit.  His mother is in a nursing home in Lincoln and he asked us the sweetest question. After visiting with him, we parted ways. He found us a while later and asked if we would send his mother a copy of the picture.  What a good son to remember his mother even as they have gotten older!
I wish I knew the extent of sacrifices these sisters do each day.  I wish I had their clear vision.  I come in waves and understand often the point of our existence on THIS earth.  I know this side is passing.  I know this side is where we EARN eternity.  I wish I just didn't shutter at the cross so often.  
Let's listen to Our Lord, "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in very little is dishonest also in much."  It is as if he were saying to us:  "Fight continuously in the apparently unimportant things which are to my mind important; fulfill your duty punctually; smile at whoever needs cheering up; even though there is sorrow in your soul; devote the necessary time to prayer, without haggling; go to the help of anyone who looks for you; practice justice and go beyond it with the grace of charity."
Ever the holy one.
Always the holy one.
Thomas, Dominic, and George discussing how the countryside reminded them of the shire.  They asked several times if they could run and explore the grounds.  Dominic told me later they made plans to visit New Zealand where the movies (The Lord of the Rings) were filmed in hopes of finding the real hobbit shire.  If not, they plan to build a replica in our backyard.


  1. Such sweeties. If we could only remember to live as simply, and with such an openness and trust, as children.

  2. I think I know that Priest! Is he a Franciscan Friar of the Immaculate? Did he used to live in MA? I think he belongs to the order where my parents are 3rd Order Franciscans...what a small world?!?!?

  3. We visited "our" Carmelites for the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, too. It was a HOT day and the chapel wasn't air conditioned. I was wearing a long skirt and it was sticking to me and my kids were somewhat wild-I told my husband that I would describe the experience as truly penitential. But what struck me was how uncomfortable the sisters must have been in their habits and how beautiful their mortifications are and how little I love the cross. Even their vision is so mortified-I tried so hard to see them through the grill! They have such a beautiful vocation and visiting them is such a good reminder of the holiness we are called to in the married vocation as we prepare for Heaven and build up the Kingdom on Earth. Not to complain about our sufferings but to embrace them with love and be co-redeemers with Christ! Lots to work on for me! Thanks for the beautiful post!

  4. Oh, what an absolute treat to see your beautiful family at the Carmel! My very dearest, best friend is within those walls, having given herself to Our Lord. It makes me wonder if any of your little girlies will one day follow in the footsteps of St. Therese and her sisters someday??? :) Thank you for sharing!

  5. Hi! Started reading your blog recently - love it! Totally surprised to see Fr. Elias - I know him!! When I was in college in Indiana he was at the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate friary there and would come onto campus to help us have Eucharistic Processions through our big, secular campus. What a nice surprise to see his picture here! God bless you :)

  6. I happened over to your blog this afternoon looking for some inspiration/support re: having a large family of close together children, most of whom are girls, and was surprised to see this post! My sister-in-law is a nun at this convent- Sr. Pauline of Christ. :-)

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