Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Homemaker's Vespers

While our Sisters and Brothers in monasteries are chanting Vespers (usually between 4:30 and 6:00 pm), we who live 'in the world' may well be in the busiest time of our day. The world, at Vespers-time, is right in the middle of rush hour. It is when many are leaving work, pouring into roads and trains to make the journey home. Some of us are preparing an evening meal, knowing that growling tummies will not be soothed if we hide away in prayer corners to sing and chant praise.

So we do what must be done. Many times we're content to be exactly where we are. Sometimes, however, the grass can look greener inside the monastic fence, and I will admit that 'rush hour,' for me, is a time when my own grass can seem seriously withered. This is due in large part (for me) to a kind of physical and mental lagginess that tends to hit in late afternoon, and has for as long as I can remember.  It's the time of day when I'm tired, draggy, and most likely to feel, well: grumbly.  

Through the years, I've learned that I am not the only person to be washed out at that time. Yet this is when people have to get themselves home from work, food must be prepared, and children may need a bit of extra referee-ing.

When the body is exhausted and the mind is reeling from a day's work, even the humdrum tasks of late afternoon can seem immense. 'I remember reading,' said our friend Rose some time ago, 'that obedience to one's superior is more meritorious than all the self-imposed mortifications, fastings and prayers. Then I realized my superior is really my vocation as a wife and mother. Therefore, my duties and responsibilities of motherhood must come first. And, done with the right intentions (as St. Francis de Sales says, 'for the greater glory of God'), all my actions are lifted up in prayer.'

Those in a cloister come to Vespers out of obedience. They gather to pray when they feel like doing so, and when they do not.  

When my day starts to bend toward evening, it is time for a particular kind of 'Vespers.'  It's a time when I can offer my duties, my care for those around me, any rush-hour hassles I may face, and even my own dragginess, to God.  

By being made into an offering, these can become my evening prayer.

'Some people might think it contradictory to speak of 'contemplative' in the same sentence as 'mother of a very large family.' But it is the contemplative spirit that has helped me survive the chaos that is natural when raising a number of children.... The cloister in my heart is a place of refuge.  It is a place where I can retreat from the world no matter where I am; in the middle of a crowded mall, or in a busy grocery store, or in my own kitchen.' - Rose


Painting by Von Bornin

This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.' 


  1. Oh, this is just lovely Nancy. Yes, that late afternoon time, especially with children, can be particularly trying. You have expressed how to live during this time beautifully. Our obedience, service, and cheerfulness in the midst of difficulties is truly an act of devotion.

  2. Reminds me of St. Catherine of Siena's cell. Because she refused to marry her father punished her by making her take care of their large household and wouldn't even allow her a bedroom of her own. She made a cloistered cell inside her heart.

  3. Just beautiful.........
    Dear God, preserve the Catholic Family.
    Holy Family: Ora Pro Nobis
    I try and imagine, what life must have been like, when the MAJORITY of Catholic homes had many children.
    How different must have been, how a Catholic man, and wife must have looked at the world.
    How much more sacrifice, and commitment must have found a home in their hearts.

    Dear Jesus: Mercy

    1. When I was growing up, many Catholic families had a number of children. Sacrifice and commitment were definitely part of the picture. I was the younger of 2 children (13 years apart) and SO wished I had lots of brothers and sisters!! But even in smaller families, sacrifice and hard work were embedded in normal life. Families with more than one car or TV or phone were unheard of, and I didn't know any mothers who worked outside the home. That started changing (swiftly) by the time I reached my teens. Leisure time was hard-earned and simple, and the adults seemed to enjoy it much, much more than we do now... in this age of taking recreation for granted.

      Dear Jesus: Mercy. Indeed.

  4. I suppose I feel an absence of a reality that I suspect was once more common. When I study that picture,
    they appear to be of some means, but it is clear that there is something greater than themselves that disciplines them. A higher call that supersedes their station in life.
    A satisfaction in doing God`s will, and the Grace that comes with it, is my take,

    Recently I listened to a priest speak about his generation, he called it the ME generation.
    All those generations that came before that lived for others, and seemingly in one generation the focus changed.
    To be about me, I have to be all about HIM.
    Can we miss what we did not have? I do
    As the days, and year tick swiftly past, I am learning, more, and more about God`s wise, and loving ways.
    I have 4 children, I wish I started sooner. I lament, having the patrimony of my faith hidden/taken from my generation. If only those simple truths were once more simple, embraced, and well known again.
    I pray for their return.

    I truly enjoy your blog. Thanks for the time you make for it, and your readers.

    1. Ah yes, the ME generation. I wonder what history - specifically Church history - will say about these times.

      Oh, I definitely think we can miss what we did not have! I join in your prayer for the return of simple truths, and for them to be well known and embraced. You put that so well.

      Thank you so much. I am grateful for the ways God provides for us all to encourage one another along the way.


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