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"St. Josemaría, A Train, & Motherhood" by Charlene Bader (CatholicMom.com) Image credit" By Oleg Sergeichik (2018), Unsplash.com, CC0/PD[/caption] Often, the moment-by-moment intensity of parenting young kids so overwhelms me that I accidentally block God's presence from the everyday ruckus in my life. Oh, I ask Him to bookend each day -- morning prayer (before the kids get up), examination of conscience as I fall asleep -- but all that mayhem in the middle? There just doesn't seem to be space for Him. Surely God has more important places to be than in my kitchen in Conroe, Texas, convincing my 3-year-old to wear pants. Surely He would prefer a quiet church to my loud house ... Or a safe tabernacle to my rough-and-tumble crew ... Or a cloistered convent where everyone's capable of praying without kicking the person next to them! And yet, St. Josemaría Escrivá, a Spanish priest and founder of Opus Dei, is helping me realize that God's favorite place to be is simply ... wherever we are. In a homily on October 8, 1967, Josemaría counseled:
There is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it … We discover the invisible God in the most visible and material things. (St. Josemaría Escrivá)
We might say, with a little envy, "Well, what would he know? He's just another solitudinous priest who could never comprehend the decibel level of daily life in my household!" And yet, do you know where St. Josemaría had one of his most profound visions of God? It was on a rush-hour train in Madrid, crowded with passengers. Maybe Josemaría stood up without a seat, holding an overhead railing; maybe someone repeatedly bumped against him as the train jolted along the tracks; maybe someone on one side chattered nonstop about nothing while someone on the other side grumbled for them to be quiet. That sounds something like motherhood, right?! Yet, somehow, within the cacophony of that crowded train, St. Josemaría unexpectedly encountered God: in a passing, transcendent moment, he understood God as Father in a way he never had before. Hours earlier, Josemaría had struggled to hear God's voice in the quiet atmosphere of his parish, and yet here on a train, surrounded by the clamorous city of Madrid, Josemaría could hear and understand God with complete clarity. He began to exclaim, "Abba! Father!" People must have thought he was crazy. Or, I don't know, just another day on the train with weird commuters. As moms, how many of us, while earnestly living our family vocations in the everyday world, have had others glance our way and wonder, "Is she a little crazy?" Every one of us! I have no doubt that every person who has ever taken a small child out in public has experienced the blessed humility of divine vocation crashing into public reality. In my most hectic days, St. Josemaría's extraordinary encounter with God on a crowded train in Madrid is a comforting thought. God desires to be fully present with every one of us, wherever we are -- driving in rush hour, praying in Adoration, printing copies at work, with kids at the store, even wiping someone else's pee off the toilet seat for the thousandth time in a week. God's favorite place to be is… wherever we are. Where will you discover, as St. Josemaría described, "something holy, something divine" in this hectic, ordinary day?
Copyright 2020 Charlene Bader