Perhaps you came into your motherhood with certain preconceptions. Since motherhood is your vocation, you know God is calling you to it, surely he will equip you? Yes, but not always in the ways you might think.
Laura Fanucci has an answer to beat all the too-pat solutions to spiritual practices. Instead of shoehorning in our old spiritual practices, embrace the new ones the Lord has given you. Common acts of service, love, and forgiveness are also imbued with God’s presence.
About the Author
Laura Fanucci has a Master of Divinity from Saint John’s School of Theology-Seminary. She is also the mother of 3 boys on earth, and 3 little ones in the arms of the Lord. Laura blogs at Mothering Spirit.
Please, if you only read one blog post today, make it hers, not mine. In February, the Fanucci’s lost their identical twin girls shortly after birth. Her love and grace is the face of such baffling loss is transcendent.
The Messy Grace of Parenting
I loved all of the sections. Truly loved. So to not give too much away, I’m going to focus on my top 3. The eucharist, reconciliation, and the anointing of the sick. As Laura says, their repeatable nature forms the rhythm of our spiritual lives. Just so, the little home moments form the rhythm and routines of our mothering lives.
Firstly, Laura explains her new understanding of corporeal sacrifice from being a mother. Whether your child grew in your womb or your heart, raising a child is physical.
Birth, breastfeeding, carrying a child in your arms for years, imparts a physical change on your body. Mothers give of themselves in an act of what St. John Paul II called self-donative love.
In the redemptive suffering of our flesh, God welcomes our human contributions. He gives us a beautiful opportunity to participate in the same kind of love that led Christ to the cross. The same kind of love that is made present in the Eucharist.
I love how Laura sums up the forgiveness. She recounts a homily heard at a penance service years ago. The priest emphasised the need for forgiveness in the home. That we come to church for the Sacrament of confession not to be better at church, but to bring the grace home. To live gracefully.
How does reconciliation look from His perspective? I never thought about this before reading Everyday Sacrament.
Parenthood gives us a window into God’s view. When our children carelessly lash out, or purposefully hurt us. The answer isn’t to parent better and make our children perfect. God alone is perfect. All of us fall short of that glory. The answer is to love. And loving your human child takes forgiveness.
Anointing of the Sick
In 2012, my husband’s grandfather lost his lengthy battle with cancer. We drove 10 hours to spend what time we could with him, and tell him that we were finally expecting. His mental state was foggy with pain medication, but the joy in his eyes was crystal clear.
During our visit, we had the privilege of witnessing Ralph receive the anointing of the sick. This Sacrament, once called extreme unction, is not meant to heal the body.
Certainly the graces of God are efficacious to any ends He desires. But the intention of the prayers of anointing are not a mere physical respite. What good is a delay of our eventual death? The anointing, just like the terminal patient being anointed, sets its view upon the eternal.
Laura focuses on the non-sacramental analogues to the anointing of the sick. The caretaking hands of a mother, the strong arms of a massage therapist, and the sympathetic hands of a prayerful stranger.
All of her stories have a thread in common. A simple combination of witness and physical touch, powerfully heals our spiritual wounds. I believe this is the heart of mothering. To minister to the broken human hearts of our family members, and knit them together with the love of God.
Why this book?
I appreciate Laura’s honesty. Her searing, brutal, views of the truth. Infertility sometimes gives way to hard, hard babies, who challenge everything you thought you knew of motherhood. But it is also worthy. Just like her book: there is no how-to, but there is a poetic beauty.
In the introduction, Laura reports throwing a parenting magazine in the trash. At 3 months postpartum, she wasn’t ready to reflect on the transcendent beauty of motherhood. But that is exactly what each page and paragraph of her book conveys. The timeless, bittersweet, raw beauty of co-creation.
I wish I had a time-traveling media mail envelope. If I could send one book back to pregnant-me, I would send Everyday Sacrament. In the flyleaf, I’d write myself a simple note: Buckle up, buttercup. You’re in for an awe-inspiring ride.