House projects aside, last week was also a week of celebrations in our domestic church. With all the unrest and uncertainty of the world and within our lives, this was a week we really looked forward to. On the 28th we celebrated my 31st birthday and on the 30th, Jon and I celebrated five years of marriage. Here are highlights from our week.
The day before my birthday we made an afternoon trip to Colonial Beach, VA, which to our surprise was an easy 45 minute drive, give or take. It was a perfect Spring day – 80s, moderate humidity, and the beach was bare making social distancing practically effortless. Despite the little presence at the beach, what felt so normal was sitting on the sand, listening to & watching the waves crash, and walking along the shore.
The rest of the day the kids kept telling us how much they loved our day together and kept asking if we could come back. It was so good for us to be out there; so healing – physically and mentally. Also a really awesome part about this particular location is that the town’s Catholic Church and rectory was literally behind us, so the reality of Christ’s True Presence in the tabernacle only being 100 yards away was comforting. It was an “I’m here” nudge.
On the drive back, Jon surprised me and said we’d have the opportunity to attend Mass privately for my birthday. Of course, in true Fatima fashion, I cried tears of joy. It was really the perfect gift.
The morning of my birthday Jon and the kids made waffles from scratch (thanks to Magnolia Table Volume 2), fruit salad with simple syrup + mint, and bacon. Of course, bacon! Then we got ready for Mass. This would be the first time the kids would attend (Jon and I attended 1-2 times since quarantine began to help assist with live streaming), and as expected, they were super disruptive at times.
After Mass I asked our pastor if he could hear my Confession, and he happily obliged. I hadn’t cried that much during a Confession in really long time. It was so freeing and healing for my soul, and I am so grateful for the gift of that powerful sacrament.
The next celebration was our wedding anniversary. It’s so crazy to think about how time has flown, and how crazy this journey has been.
To celebrate, we first attended Sunday vigil Mass at our former parish and the place where we got married, St. Rita in Alexandria, VA. I can’t tell you how much we missed this place, and it was good to see our former pastor again; he baptized both James and Lucy. To my great surprise, the kids were very well-behaved and were barely disruptive. I guess that was their anniversary gift to us! We also got to receive the Eucharist for the first time in three months. More tears.
Afterwards we got our wedding cupcakes from Buzz Bakery, picked up a tray of Italian food from Mia’s Italian Kitchen in Old Town, and went back home to feast as we finished watching the rest of our wedding videos.
I also wanted to share a reflection I had earlier that morning. This year has been the most difficult year of our marriage thus far, so much so that our cross felt too heavy to bear at times. Though we suffered in more ways than we could have imagined, we also experienced a new depth of God’s grace and mercy in ways we hadn’t before.
The Magnificat reflection I read was from Blessed Charles de Foucauld, titled “Our Only Concern: Following Him”:
All we are trying to do is be one with Jesus, to reproduce his life in our own, to proclaim his teaching from the rooftops in our thoughts, words, and actions, to let him rule and live in us. He comes into us so frequently in the Holy Eucharist—may he establish his Kingdom within us!
If he gives us joys, we should accept them gratefully: the Good Shepherd gives us such sweet grasses to strengthen us and make us fit to follow him later along dry pathways.
If he gives us crosses, we should embrace them. To be given a cross is the best grace of all: it is to walk hand-in-hand with Jesus more closely than ever, to relieve him by carrying his cross for him, as Simon of Cyrene did. It is our Beloved’s invitation to us to delcare and prove our love for him.
In torments of soul and bodily suffering, let us rejoice and be glad; Jesus is calling us, telling us to tell him we love him, and to go on telling him as long as our suffering lasts.
Every cross, great or small, every discomfort even, is an appeal from our Beloved, asking us to delcare our love and goon doing so while the cross lasts. When we think of it like this, could we not wish that our cross could last forever? It will last long as Jesus wishes. However sweet it may be, however greatly loved, we desire it only as long as it is Jesus’ will for us. Your will, not ours, Brother Jesus.
As for ourselves, we should think no more of ourselves…. We should think only of you, our beloved spouse. We want not what seems good to us, but what is good to you. We ask nothing for ourselves; all we ask is your glory. Hallowed be thy name; thy Kingdom come; thy will be done in your children, in all men.
May these things be done in us. May we give all possible glory to you throughout our lives. May we do your will—may we give all possible solace to your Heart. That is all we want and all we need. We are at your feet, do with us as you will—whatever it may be, do it according to your will. We have no will, no wish except to fulfill your will, to do what seems good to you.Blessed Charles de Foucauld
After having read that, I knew God was speaking so clearly to us. It was an acknowledgement of the cross of Christ that we, too, bear and the guidance we needed for what we are to do next, so that we can move forward faithfully as husband and wife and as parents for the next fifty, sixty years.
It goes without saying that there is just so much happening in our world, and even within our own family. Our week of celebrations was without a doubt the reminder we needed to remember the joy of our salvation to propel us forward in faith and confidence in following Him during tumultuous times. Yes, there’s unrest and uncertainty in our lives, but our joy is not dependent on these circumstances. True Christian joy is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In your charity, please keep us in your prayers! Know of ours, as well.