"God made us for joy. God is joy, and the joy of living reflects the original joy that God felt in creating us." (St. John Paul the Great)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Holding Fast

This morning I read from the Office of Readings for the day:
My son, hold fast to your duty, busy yourself with it,
grow old while doing your task.

Admire not how sinners live,

but trust in the Lord and wait for his light.

God's blessing is the lot of the just man,

and in due time his hopes bear fruit.

-- Sirach 11:20-21a, 22
This reminder comes at a good time. Our family is in the final stretch of what has sometimes seemed an endless project: graduate school. Yes, it is my husband that is the student, but graduate school is a family endeavor -- an endeavor we began before having children!

For my husband, this final stretch means working like a madman on the final chapter of his dissertation until he starts teaching again in two and a half weeks. Unlike a certain priest friend (you know we love you!) who was "released from his [other] duties" to focus on writing his dissertation, a husband and father cannot be so liberated. I am so proud of him. It is extremely difficult for him to leave us -- as difficult as it is for us to be without his presence -- maybe more difficult. He's gone each morning by about six, and he leaves again after dinner for a few more hours. And the work won't stop when he does begin teaching again. And this spring he is teaching his first graduate course. He is "holding fast to his duty" and has said he will complete the dissertation by March 7 -- "or die trying."

For me, this final stretch largely means being a single parent, which is hard enough, but also maintaining the house and our school. I am proud of me, too. It is a lot of work. I was thinking of this passage from Sirach this evening as I wiped off the counters for probably the sixth time today, as I asked (!?!) one of the kids to sweep the dining room floor for probably the fifteenth time, as I watched The Baby enjoy her bath (while fretting about all the things that needed to get done before bed). But, really, I love my duty. as hard as it gets some times. and I find great JOY in being with my children as much as I am. And while I would like to be leaving for Mexico for a much-needed vacation, as my sister is doing tomorrow, I will instead busy myself. happily. with my duties. I will hold fast. This time of trial will pass.

This reading from Sirach I think is a good one to reflect on as we begin a new year, the first week of Ordinary Time. When one thinks about it, most of our time is ordinary. Learning to hold fast to our duties, growing old while doing our tasks, trusting in the Lord and waiting for His light is a way to sanctify the ordinary and, thus, make it extraordinary.

The goal is fixed. The end is in sight. And our hopes will, we trust and pray, bear fruit.


  1. Wonderful reflection, Michelle. A great reminder for me, too, during our move! Some days I feel very unmotivated to pack up our entire house. And also keep up with the daily duties of wife, mother and homemaker. (The laundry and dishes won't clean themselves! =) So, this Bible verse was perfect. Hang in there! The end is near! March 7 isn't that far off!

    Oh, and I enjoyed catching up on your other posts, too. Your son looks so different with his tooth missing! Growing up!!!

    And the artwork by your kids is great!

  2. And our hopes will, we trust and pray, bear fruit.

    Ditto our hopes for your family.

    The case could be made that Sirach is the most underappreciated book in the Bible.


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