St. Josemaría Escrivá calls it the “heroic moment” — that space between sleep and waking when we assent with our entire beings to overcome the creature comforts of slumber and cozy bedding and instead rise to face the morning.
The heroic moment is our first victory of the day. Instead of hitting the snooze button, we get up and get going. Sometimes, I have to ask for the grace and strength just to meet that moment. And I do. The day begins with prayer. That’s a good thing.
I have found that no matter how well organized I am before a baby is born, there is some re-shuffling of schedules and routines to be done once baby arrives. It’s no secret that this time I was a bit unprepared. I spent six weeks on bedrest and delivered six weeks early. After some time in the NICU, baby Sarah Anne has continued to chart her own course. She’s as demanding as she is darling. Still, we are creatures of peace and order and when those things are absent in our lives, we seek them.
I’ve learned that such order — both interiorly and in my environment — is less dependent on my Martha Stewart tendencies and more dependent on my Blessed Mother tendencies. While this birth was difficult and demanding and disruptive, it bore great fruit in my soul. Still, I was amazed to find that spiritual growth conveys peace and order to my home — more peace and order than all the management schemes and homemaking notebooks and chore charts could ever yield.
While on bedrest, I had a lot of time for prayer and since I was well aware that delivering this baby could be life-threatening, prayer took on a sense of urgency. After the baby was born and all was well physically, I was disoriented in my home. I thought that it was the physical disarray that was bothering me — my 14-year-old had been in charge of housekeeping for nearly three months. Feel free to imagine the chaos.
To be sure, the mess was troublesome, but the spiritual shock to my system was far more important. My soul had grown accustomed to a spiritual plan of life and I was going through withdrawal. I was able to be up and about and thoroughly immersed in the world and my prayer life suffered for it.
What surprised me is that once I put the spiritual pegs back in place, the environmental peace followed. I knew that I had plenty of time to pray during bedrest. I learned that I must claim that time now and that if I do, God grants abundant grace and strength for everything else that is necessary for the day.
My day must begin in the presence of God. Before I open my eyes, I thank Him for granting me anew a chance to love and serve. It’s a quick silent prayer before my feet hit the floor. And then, baby in arms, I sit and rock and nurse and pray a morning offering.
A morning offering is an opportunity to turn all the work of the day into prayer. This means that whether my day looks like a success to the world out there, it is absolutely successful in heaven. God can take my failures and shortcomings and He can make them holy offerings for the sanctification of souls. The reality lends a whole new meaning to the overused “It’s all good.” With a morning offering, it all is.
Because my day — my work and my play — has been offered to the Lord of my life, every action I make becomes an occasion for silent prayer to Him. I am mindful that this is not really my day, but His.
Because I work for Him, my work is careful and it is cheerful. I am surrounded by eight children all day long. Their needs are pressing and at times overwhelming. I am often faced with circumstances beyond my control. It doesn’t always look very tidy and together. I am mindful that my home and my circumstances might not look successful to my neighbors or my friends, but they are holy in my Savior’s sight.
A morning offering is only the beginning of a peaceful, orderly day in a peaceful orderly home. Next time, we’ll review the rest of the spiritual plan for peaceful home management.