Wednesday, May 23, 2007


From Fr. Joe's homily on Monday at Franciscan University:

"It is the prayer of petition (bringing our requests trustingly to our Father) that brings the soul to peace. If the soul is at peace, the person will be filled with beauty. If the person is full of beauty, there will be harmony in the family. If there is harmony in the family, there can be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, then there is the potential for peace in the world."

What struck me here is the truth of "the person being filled with beauty" when the soul is at peace. And I thought of how often I interrelate with my children, especially my son, without that beauty. I've been thinking about beauty in our home in terms of the decorating and the physical space, but of course the beauty of the soul is preeminent. So often it seems so many things are more necessary than beauty. That beauty is all fine and good if you happen to have space for that luxury. More and more, however, I am seeing that there is such a thing as Beauty that is reflective of the Divine. Mankind is to know God in His Truth, Beauty, and Goodness (CCC 319). Therefore we, His body, need to present these to all at all times. So, beauty is not really an optional part of life.

This meditation prompted a question for me: How does beauty say 'no'? I've just come back from receiving Jesus in Holy Communion and my 5 year old son is animatedly waving his bottom back and forth in the pew, knocking me into my 2 year old daughter and thinking it is quite humorous. Does beauty don a Pollyanna mask and say "There, there son, let's sit still and pray to Jesus now!" Uh, no. By the time I get the first "there" out, he's got his nose in my face and grabbing for my daughter to yank away whatever is in her hand, just because. And the masked anger in me will explode out and it will not be a good scene.

So, what does beauty do with real flesh and blood children who are immature and occasionally act it when it is not appropriate?

I think I got an answer to this in today's homily from Fr. Dennis. He spoke on the necessity of love to maintain the unity in the Body of Christ. He quoted St. (Padre) Pio as telling a seeker that the time to forgive someone is while they are doing the hurtful thing. In this way, before he is even finished with the hurting action, I am done forgiving and therefore I am preserving the relationship and not letting the devil poison the relationship and bring division, hatred and discord, and all those mean, nasty, ugly things.

Now, I know my son does not act out his immaturity in order to hurt me, but in a way, I am "offended." Perhaps it is wrong for me to be offended at all. Perhaps not. But in my context I realized that forgiving means making peace in my heart about what is happening. Truly understanding. This does not mean condoning the behavior, but understanding where it is coming from, which is immaturity. Occasionally from hunger or other needs. If I am at peace with it, then I don't get bent out of shape. I can absorb more. I can take in getting knocked over by his errant bottom and make it part of my prayer rather than a distraction from it. And I can hold him close to me and give him the attention he craves. Occasionally I have to patiently correct him, but this is different from barking at him and venting my anger.

However, this peacemaking has to be a conscious choice, I find, just like forgiving, so it makes sense to be on the alert while the annoyance is happening.

Beauty says no by forgiving. Beauty says no by gently correcting when necessary. Is not this how God deals with us? Whenever God corrects us, He already has forgiven us and is just wanting the relationship to be made right and brought back to peace. But God does not constantly correct us and show us every last thing we do wrong or not as good as we could. He allows us to feel a lot of that for ourselves.

1 comment:

Willa said...

Loved the idea of beauty in parenting. That is my spiritual bouquet for today! : )

Your story about your son reminded me of my frustration when my whole crew were younger and mass was quite a Via Dolorosa experience for me. I remember praying about it and getting a response to the effect that I was talking too much. My little children weren't hearing my words. I started trying to communicate with touch and a short word or sign, not just at mass but at other places too. Not just when I was correcting, but when I was approving. I don't know if your boy is the same type as mine but I thought I would mention it just in case it relates at all. God sometimes speaks to me in silence, by vision or touch or by a single phrase. So that was my thinking process in trying to speak to my children sometimes, that way.