“If I were not tired at this hour of the day, it would be a sign that I hadn't fulfilled my duty.” (Pope Saint John Paul II).
There was a morning back there a few weeks ago, when everything felt really awful and overwhelming in our household. I was not feeling well (thankfully I did not have the coronavirus), my children did not feel like completing their home-school activities, we missed our extended family and friends, and lockdown seemed to stretch out before us endlessly, filled with duties that I had neither requested or consented to…
It is difficult to know what to do on days like that. After all, back in the far-distant past before lockdowns, I could have dropped my children off at school and tried to meander my way through a workday with cooking, cleaning and paid work until pick up time, and I would at least have had a small break from my duty as a mother to recharge and begin again when the children returned home from school. But we do not live in those long-ago times from before lockdowns, and these days we cannot simply drop children off at school and try to mentally repair our mindset when we are having a very difficult morning. Instead, we must push on with our duties!
And so, on that morning those few weeks ago, I did what many other mothers around the world have done during lockdown, when they are as lucky as me… I drove my children – and myself – through the drive-through of our local McDonalds! And there we sat – with our extremely unhealthy breakfast – inside our car with the windows rolled down and the food and drinks in our laps. Munching away happily. We enjoyed eating that breakfast (of lunch-foods) together very much indeed. And when we were done, we threw away our garbage, rolled up our windows, buckled up our seatbelts and moseyed on home to begin our day of home-schooling, working from home, cooking cleaning, washing and all the rest!
I have been reflecting on that morning very much over the last few days and weeks because that little drive through made a very big difference to us that day. You see McDonalds for us was like an oasis in the desert. It was a respite from the relentless toil of a week filled with the mundanity of lockdown, where we could not move around or socialise or play in the ways that we were used to.
During lockdown, the thing that I miss most of all is our family routine of Sabbath worship. One thing that my family has always structured our weekends around has been Holy Mass on Saturday night – and usually a nice family meal afterwards. Those days seem a thing of the past. We have not been able to do such a thing since early last year in the days when we were still making jokes about the “Rona”…
That trip to McDonalds was a reminder to us that this too shall pass – at least, that is what it was to me. It reminded me that though it is demanding to perform the duties required of a good Christian mother and wife and daughter and sister and friend and employer, it is rewarding too, and there is joy to be found in the work!
Once, when Pope Saint John Paul II was to meet with Blessed Alvaro del Portillo late in an evening, Blessed Alvaro heard the Holy Father shuffling tiredly as walked down the corridor and into the room. Blessed Alvaro worried that the Holy Father was very tired. The Saint replied, “If I were not tired at this hour of the day, it would be a sign that I hadn't fulfilled my duty.”
It is a beautiful thing, this duty of ours... Sometimes, it fatigues us. Sometimes, it overwhelms us. Sometimes, it grieves us. But always, it fulfils us.
Servant of God, Mother Angelica said, “It is your duty to speak the truth, and everyone can either take it or leave it. But truth must be in us. We live in such a poverty of truth today.”
This life is fleeting and will soon be over. We can rest for all eternity. For now, there is much work to be done in performing our duty for God – much work, and much reward!
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.