I have mentioned before that waiting for a place in Bishop Carlos’ parish I stay in the family of Beatriz and Pepe. I participate in family life full of rituals like children going to school in the morning and their return, family dinner when we wait for Pepe to come back from work, plays and trips, doing homework and other duties.
I know this all so well from other homes that I visited during our meetings or programmes. But normally it was for 2-3 days and now it’s a bit longer. Ten days have passed since I landed in Mexico and there are another ten to go.
My favourite ritual has become the evening rosary. Of course, when we go somewhere, for example to a sanctuary of Mary, we pray on the way but if we are all at home, we meet together, preferably in the children’s room, when the kids are in pyjamas and ready to sleep. .
I remember all these homes where rosary is prayed with the whole family, every day. In the beginning it will always be difficult but slowly it becomes a wonderful part of the day that you look forward to. Can you imagine something more beautiful than a family that meet for rosary? It is so good to see a small daughter that falls asleep on her father’s lap during the prayer. We can lose so many grudges, purify so many desires. Perhaps we could continue with the rosary, even though October has come to an end?
Our 10-year-old daughter stubbornly says “no” to my right and just request. It doesn’t help when I point to the generations of traditions of children listening to parents, or when I remind her of many parental “graces” granted on that day. Neither does the lifted brow, nor the list of consequences. It’s late, both parties are tired, we hit the wall – escalation is there. Two women of such different age, shouting out towards each other the sentences that hurt.
Later she cuddles up to me, all composed of worry and sense of guilt, and I tell her” “My beloved Daughter.” “Say that more often to me,” she answers. “Do I say that too rarely?” “Yes”.
And I wonder what a great Pedagogue He is. In our anger, shame, regret, sense of guilt and injustice tangled into each other – and in all our mission statements of “I’m never going to trust anyone” – He comes with the words: “My beloved Child”. He enters the trench we’re hiding in, the dark wardrobe of doubt and resentment, and He takes the grenade and the gun away from our hands, and wipes away the war paint of mistrust from our face. He disarms with His love. He encourages with His forgiveness. A gentle and patient Parent, who does not resonate the storm which takes us into possession. I would like to be able to act the same way. And I ask Him, please, say that more often to me, so that I was able to do the same.
Kamila was born on August 25, 2013 and is the third daughter of Agnieszka and Rafal, whom Fr Jarosław (excuse me, now Fr Jay) tenderly calls “Brussel Sprouts”. They stand behind the organization of the Programs for the Development of Marital Relations in Belgium. Moreover, Agnieszka has helped me create the English version of this blog and recently she has been patiently translating the posts on her own.
We would like to offer our somewhat delayed congratulations from the bottom of our hearts and wish all that Heaven can give to Kamila’s whole wonderful Family!
And for all the parents, in particular those feeling the toil of parenthood, a little anecdote. Sue Hilgers told me once the story, in which their already adult daughter Teresa, reproached for some trifle by her Dad (she is known to be the apple of his eye), replied: “Wait, I’m the supreme gift!” 🙂 It was of course the quotation from Pope Paul VI’s encyclical – the document which inspired Dr Hilgers to develop the science of NaProTechnology: “Children are really the supreme gift of marriage and contribute in the highest degree to their parents’ welfare” (Humanae Vitae 8).
So let our children hear it as often as possible. Let them wake up and go to bed with that news in mind. “You are a fantastic gift for us!”. “You are one of a kind!”. “You CAN do it”. “I’m happy to see you!” (not because I believe you’ll fulfil my expectations, ambitions and dreams).
Let the children be strong with our love, so that they don’t need to compensate it anywhere else. “Anywhere” may leave wounds for the rest of their lives.
…with families are sometimes risky. They may end up in giving you a new identity which you’ll find difficult to live with. Meaning: it’s definitely more than you are, and still you may feel obliged to accomplish the goal of fulfilling the expectations.
That’s how it was. Two days ago I went to the beach with a group of families. I seemed to be taking my trip solo, but on the way we were walking together. When we got to the beach, some families went left and some right. I stayed independent in the middle. After a time I decide to check the temperature of the Baltic Sea. I noticed a large shallow area, going far into the sea. To the left and to the right of it the water was knee-deep and deeper close to the shore, and here you could walk for many meters and only your feet beneath your ankles got wet. Froma distance it might look like the way of moving aroud the see in a Gospel-like manner. So I didn’t have to wait long for response. One of the children cried out: “Look, Mum, God is walking on the water!!!” It turned out I stand for “God” in their language.
And today at dinner one of the boys told his mother that he’d “played with Jesus.” Ufff. I felt a bit relieved. Maybe in a few days I’ll get down to my own identity: a priest. But even that identity is so obliging. To set example for children, to make the world of prayer safe, close, and warm, and to ispire the longing to become part of that world – that is really obliging.
That is to continue the thought of our M from the previous post. Wether you are a Mum or Dad, Wife or Husband, Piest or Sister – you need to grow to match your name. The lives of the others depend on that. The way they discover the dignity of a person depends on that.
The other day I went to the cinema to see “Mud” (USA 2013). In choosing the film I took a blind shot, so to speak; I guess if I’d known before how difficult that movie was, I’d have waited for the newest “Star Trek”. It is a difficult film, because with the eyes of a 14-year-old boy we watch the world in which adults just fail to be what they were meant to.
When the boy’s father says that he and his mother are going to file for divorce, the boy expresses his deeply-rooted natural belief that in marriage people should love and support each other. “That is not so obvious,” his dad replies, thus declaring the bankruptcy of the relationship with his wife, and – for the boy – announcing the end of his own safe world.
There are more noteworthy secenes. For example, when the father and mother are trying to prove to their son who is more to blame, who’s worse in their marriage. And they don’t see that their child couldn’t care less about that, because his world collapses the moment their unity breaks. Or the scenes in which you see that they’re so overwhlemed by their own problems that they don’t find time to continue the conversation with their son beyond the brief “are you hungry?” or “where’s that black eye from?”.
So much depends on us, adults, parents – no matter how “incompetent” we sometimes feel in that role. And it’s not only important what and how we act seperately, but what we create together as a couple.
Group 1 slowly begins their retreat in our retreat house at the seaside – the House of the Holy Family. Participants have been coming here since Saturday. As the school year in Poland hasn’t finished yet, the retreat is intended for a group of families with small children who don’t go to school yet. So you can see toddlers and babies everywhere. The pace is slower, because many of them require to be looked after round-the-clock, but even the older ones need constant attention. In the chapel the parents are trying to keep the children close, and the children – to get as much free space as possible. In the dining room the parents struggle to feed the kids before the ones who can already walk set off for the next exploratory journey on their own.
Most of the wives present here normally stay at home to take care of the children, and most of the husbands spend most of their time at work. Now that the family can be all day together, the fathers are besieged by their children. You can hear every now and then: Daddy, daddy, look! come! help me!
Time stops at evening Adorations. Children, after playing outside all day, fall asleep quicker, making it possible for their mums and dads to take a moment of prayer. It is particularly moving to see the husbands and fathers pray. How precious this time is. What a beautiful sight. I offer them to St Joseph.
I state this with certainty, looking ath the face of our little Son. I could do it for hours on end. .
There has been so much joy and emotions for the two weeks. How much peace and gentleness such a Little One can bring into family, He can extract so much good and warmth from the family members. Though so small and helpless, He influences us so strongly – if only because whoever looks at him, smiles.
And he does not only come to take from us, although I must admit that taking care of such a baby is rather difficult. But when we remember that a child is above all a blessing, all other things come more easily…
My daughter is in a football ream with a girl who hasn’t got one hand. She’s doing really fine. She plays fantastic. All of them seem the happiest people in the world, when I look at a fragment of the workout.
Sometimes we think that if we haven’t got something, have lost it or it has been taken from us – it is our curse. “We lived in poverty, we couldn’t afford anything”, “the father never talked to me”, “I was the smallest in the class”, or “I have been used”. But deficiencies may be a powerful driving force. “I did not have many things, but I learned Spanish on my own”. “I talk a lot with my son so that he has better memories than I have”. “I was small, but the fastest runner”. “I shall never use another person”.
These are only examples. You are who you are thanks to what you have been given. But your uniqueness and beauty also result from all that you didn’t get. And you have so much more richness – yes, in the “failure” and “suffering” compartment – which you can use once it’s been healed and changed, and employ as your greatest talent, your personal gift.
Such an arrival in the world obliges to thanks. In the hospital they said that it was a perfect birth. Numberless text messages in overflowing mobiles of the parents show that many people gave us their kindness and supported us with prayer. What’s more, it turned out that those prayers flew to the Giver of life in different languages. In such circumstances you can have a perfect labour, I recommend it.