Friday, 08 February 2019 01:03

As Iron Sharpens Iron

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Recently my husband and I attended a one-day diocesan marriage conference.  It was such a treat to listen to a variety of speakers who were devout in their faith, well-educated and able to deliver their messages with the perfect balance of humor and seriousness that the topic of marriage and family life merits.  It was a time to learn a few new things and to remember some things we had been taught before.  Couples were given time to go to reconciliation, spend time in prayer together before the Blessed Sacrament, and to sit, talk and reflect on their marriages.  It truly was a beautiful day, a much needed pause for reflection and renewal in the middle of the busyness of family life.

At the end of the day a couple with whom we are friends invited us and a few other couples to go grab ice cream with all of our families.  One by one we each got ice cream for ourselves and our children and proceeded to get everyone situated at picnic tables in the shade outside the ice cream stand.  We were 8 adults and 14 children ages 11 down to 9 months so it was a very busy and bustling 20 minute period of time!  It was a warm afternoon so moms and dads were handing out napkins, wiping hands and faces of little ones, scrambling to help lick up melting ice cream cones all while talking about the day and laughing along the way.  

It was in this moment that I made a profound realization of a truth that I had already been living out in my “daily grind” The truth was this: while the speakers “experts” at the marriage conference were wonderful to listen to and helpful in the information they delivered, my real day to day inspiration and encouragement to live out my vocation as a wife and mother excellently is more influenced by these good Catholic friends in my life who are in the same state as I.  These 3 other Catholic couples are striving daily to lead lives of great virtue and holiness, to love each other well and in turn love their children well.  They are in the “thick of it”; nursing babies as well as morning sickness, toddler temper tantrums and school age energy, demanding careers, homeschooling commitments, and active parish life responsibilities.  None are perfect but all are continuously working hard to love the Lord, Our Lady, the Church and her body. These couples encourage me with their words, with their prayers and with their silent examples.  

In a world where the “expert” is so often positioned on a pedestal, it’s worth it to take some time to remember that there is much to learn from the people God has placed in the midst around us as well. It is prudent as well to take some time to assess who we surround ourselves with.  We should ask ourselves a few questions:

Who do I purposefully surround myself with?  Do I want to love my spouse and children well? Do I want to love God well and lead a life of heroic virtue?  If so, who am I spending my time with? Who are we as a family spending our time with? Are they people who are loving their spouses, children and God well?  Are they attempting to live lives of heroic virtue?

Do I ask these people to pray for me and my family and in return, offer prayers for them?  

Am I humble enough to see my deficiencies, recognize the opposing strengths in others and ask them the simple question of “how do you do it?”  

How do I encourage my friends to live a more virtuous life?  Does my example of loving my spouse and children set a good example to others of how to do the same?  After all, in true friendship the giving and receiving is reciprocal as opposed to one-ended.  

If true Catholic friendships are lacking in my life, what are some things I can do to build some new ones?  Have I considered looking at parish ministries?  Take a look at your parish life as well as other diocesan opportunities for a chance to begin to build such relationships.

Our Lord is so good that He gives us the examples of the saints, our priests and other religious as well as Catholic speakers and authors.  And He gives us beautiful, holy friendships that we are called to live as “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17).  So ask the Lord to give you these friendships if you lack them, and if you are blessed in this way already, ask Him to continue to strengthen and build the friendships He has gifted you.  

 

Monica MartinezMonica is a married mother of 6 in Florida who is an enthusiastic convert to the Catholic Church and a lay member of the Home of the Mother. For many years she was a teacher and counselor in the public school system but now she labors with love in her home teaching and counseling the hearts of her own children.