From last week’s column in the Catholic Weekly:
“Very often we feel restricted in our situations, our families, or our surroundings. But maybe the real problem lies elsewhere: in our hearts. There we are restricted, and that is the root of our lack of freedom. If we loved more, love would give our lives infinite dimensions, and we would no longer feel hemmed in.”
That quote is from Fr Jacques Phillipe in his book Interior Freedom, and it was brought it to my attention recently through an online workshop I signed up for at the start of Lent.
This workshop, called Restore and written by the author and mother of nine, Elisabeth Foss, was such a grace to me over Lent. But it wasn’t an easy few weeks.
It was written for mothers who are suffering, or feel at risk of suffering burn out, and while there was a focus on caring for ourselves and allowing ourselves sufficient rest, the writer was also interested in addressing the root causes of the burn out in the first place.
This meant prodding some wounds, which was definitely not comfortable, and my mood wasn’t helped by my getting the flu at the same time.
After going to confession where I cried through the act of contrition, thinking there was no way I could refrain from sinning again, basically acting out of the feeling of being hemmed in, the priest suggested that I needed some deeper healing or at least a longer talk!
Indeed I did, and what I really needed, what I think we all need, was that interior freedom to accept once and for all, and again and again, the peace and hope that only the risen Jesus gives.
What a relief, and happiness, is reaching Easter after all of that!
And now, on Divine Mercy Sunday, the joint cannonisation ceremony of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII which is a huge day of celebration for all the Church.
These men who could so easily have remained bound by their circumstances; one a manual labourer who as a young man was the only surviving member of his family, the other the son of a very poor and uneducated farming family, found interior freedom through their love of God and the vistas that taking on their role in the Church opened up for them.
So too, I can choose to see my life as a very restricted one of being ‘only’ a wife and mum and small-time writer bound by very ordinary life circumstances and common grievances, or I can choose to see the big picture and take on in each moment, through this ‘little’ life, my role in the Church alongside these two great men and all the saints and holy men and women who make up the living body of Christ.
Within which there are no limits.