Monday, April 19, 2010

How Much Church Do You Need?

Dear Reader, in the worry that I had been sharing more of my personal life than I had cared to reveal, I sadly deleted this post and the many insightful comments it inspired. However, after a prayerful weekend, I thought better of it and re-posted this thought with as many of the comments as I could salvage. I know that Gabriella had left a wonderful comment about how my husband and I are both serving the Lord in the best way we know how, but sadly, that comment, and some others are lost. Please accept my apologies for my fickleness and know that I have carefully thought about and prayed over all of your words.

That's a question my husband asks me frequently. My answer is always the same: "I can never get enough!" I feel pained that Paul doesn't feel the strong and urgent need that I do to attend daily Mass and sometimes, twice on Sunday, depending on how my children and I are scheduled for singing, lectoring and serving. In addition, I like to go to adoration at least once a week, confession every other week and I run out to hear every speaker and program about church matters as often as I can. In other words, I spend nearly every bit of spare time that I have at church or in church related activities. Then, when I'm at home, I'm writing and reading blogs and spiritual books as well as praying with my family.

I had an aunt who was very devoted to the faith, and one of my sisters likes to tease me and tell me that I am just like her. It's actually a compliment, except that my poor aunt was often frowned upon and looked at as if she were an eccentric because she would carry her faith to extremes and push it upon others who weren't as deeply in love with Jesus as she was.

I do feel sorry for Paul. It's hard to love a woman who is deeply in love with someone else, and the competition that Jesus puts Paul up against is really impossible to compare with. My deepest prayer is that Paul will one day fall head over heels in love with the Lord as well, and be drawn beyond the basics of Sunday Mass and a few daily prayers because he is a fabulous husband and father, and I would love nothing better than to share my love affair with the Lord with him on a deeper level.

Paul works hard each day, from sunup to sundown, to provide for the needs of our family. He almost always has a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. He has a youthful spirit and enjoys playing sports and games with our children. He cooks dinner for our family nearly every night, and then sits at the kitchen table helping the little ones with their homework. He runs the boys to endless basketball practices and games and chauffeurs our children and their friends home from school every day. He is a non-stop devoted and loving husband and father and I am tremendously blessed by him. On April 27th, we will be celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary and these past nineteen years have been wonderful in so many ways, but I do think he would have preferred that I had stayed home a bit more often and played with the children, watched movies with the family and just spent quiet time talking with him. Maybe, instead of pitying him, I should be envying him, because he seems to have the true meaning of living the vocation to family life well in hand, whereas my fickle heart keeps me running back and forth, forever undecided about how best to live my life.

Is there such a thing as being too religious and overdoing it in the spiritual realm? Am I driving him away, I often wonder? Would I be loving Jesus more by loving His presence within my husband and children in our everyday activities instead of adoring Him in adoration? As I reflect upon the words in today's Gospel from John- "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."(John 6:29) I wonder if the work of God could be more fruitful in my life if I would simply follow the advice of St. Francis de Sales and live my calling to be a devoted wife and mother as I draw God into my home life more and more, instead of frequently leaving home to find God in the world around me.

Dearest Jesus, Mary and Joseph, guide my family in your ways so that we, too, can be a holy family, devoted to God in our daily lives and constantly aware of His presence within and around us in all circumstances. Let a childlike belief in Jesus be all we need to hold us together in our service to you. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you, save souls. Amen.


  1. I've been a reader for few months, but this is my first comment on your blog, which I enjoy.

    I think that you can overdo your religious practice. You've been blessed with a wonderful husband, and children. And from all you've written, you all seem to be involved in the life of your parish. You have much to be thankful for. But you have been given an important responsibility in nurturing your family. I think you are on the right track in recognizing that you have to be aware and serve the Lord by serving them. As it is written, there is a time for everything under the heavens. I think that now is the time to give your family the attention it deserves, and to remember that you are serving Jesus through them.

  2. Anne, I think it is important to remember that your marriage and family is your primary vocation, and the primary way in which you glorify God and bring about His Kingdom on earth.

    I believe it would be wrong to spend significantly less time with your husband and family in favour of prayer meetings and events that are not obligatory, especially when there is an opportunity for you all to be together, or for good couple-time.

    As your husband has asked you this question, it seems it may be affecting him, and is actually a cry for more love and attention. You do not dishonour Jesus by loving your husband and spending time with him, quite the opposite in fact, as you and your husband are together a Sacrament of Jesus' love for the Church:)

    I am sure, as you have sensed in your post above, that you will find the right balance.

    -from Pip

  3. Anne, take what you can use and discard the rest, okay :) ?

    Is there such a thing as being too religious and overdoing it in the spiritual realm? Yes, there is; just as there is such a thing as overdoing most anything. Compulsion and negligence often factor in, in some way or another, so it's often serious. I see signs of both in your post.

    The stakes are high, not just for you but for those to whom you are obligated. Consider also that there is no merit, no value, no glory in abandoning your vocation, in sacrificing your family, nothing worth loss of that magnitude. There is in fact, dishonor.

    An idea? Consider stopping EVERYthing, ALL the extracurricular busy-ness of a religious or spiritual nature - to get out of the spin or the grip of it all - for no less than a month, preferably longer. And most of it by far is extracurricular.

    You can't possibly do that? All the more reason TO do that, and: yes, you can. Will it be difficult, an (interior) fight even? You bet. BUT! Whether you admit it or not, right away you'll find relief. And in a little time you'll come to see and know the answers for you. The Lord will reach through it all and advise you, too.

    During this time, look NOwhere else but at your daily life and to Him. No books, no writing, no hours of prayer, etc., which are sources of distraction, interference, self-importance: sources of distraction from Him and from what is fundamentally important.

    Therein somewhere along the way will lie contentment, perhaps a cross, and sanctification.

    -from aspiring

  4. It is a tough balance, isn't it? Having gone from zero to 60 in less than a year, I often find myself wondering the same thing, especially when I don't sense the same enthusiasm from my husband.

    -from Meredith

  5. I'm glad you re-posted. Sometimes the humility of sharing what is personal can really help someone else too. Well done! :)

  6. Anne,
    Certainly, I am no expert, but look at the title of this post: How much church do you need? It doesn't say, "How much GOD do you need?".

    We look for Jesus in those around us. He and His Divine Love are in our husbands and children. Charity (as in "caritas") really does begin at home.

    Maybe it's who or what you're reading, hearing, etc. Maybe a re-read of Story of a Soul is in order?

    Again, I am not an expert and I know I struggle from the same issue, at times. I like the Pip's advice about honoring your husband. I would also add to that the suggestion of humbly listening for Christ's Voice in your husband's words.

    God bless you and thank you so very much for sharing this very real part of you!