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The one thing you most need after a day (or week) that just wouldn’t end

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And it’s not a big glass of wine, though that’s good too …

Last Friday was the end of a really looooong work week and for once — thanks to a Texas sprinkling that had made the dirt just wet enough to be sticky – the kids had been bathed and put to bed earlier than usual. My husband was upstairs praying the Stations of the Cross with them as they wound down and nodded off. The house was quiet, and I was just getting ready to find a movie to distract me, but first – you know the drill – I checked email one more time.

One of them caught my eye – a prompt to “put the kids to bed early.” Hey, that’s what I just did, I mused. And it’s delicious! So of course, I clicked into a blog post from Allie Casazza titled “3 things for the hard days of motherhood.”

I had the first one down, obviously, but her second and third tips were good too: She suggested doing just one thing (not 100 things!) to make tomorrow easier, and then sending an encouraging text to a friend.

Good tips, but that third made me think of something Pope Francis had said last week at his Wednesday audience to the general public. For the last several weeks, he’d been using this occasion to talk about Christian hope, and recently his words really struck me:

“St. Paul reminds us that steadfastness and encouragement are transmitted to us in a special way through the Scriptures, that is, by the Bible.”

I read that line a couple times and let it sink in. Encouragement is transmitted to me by reading the Bible.

It reminded me of how in college, we’d joke about putting our chemistry notes under our pillows before a test, so that our brains would pick up the formulas by osmosis.

That wasn’t the image Francis was going for, I know. This is the pope who emphasizes that “prayer isn’t a magic wand.”

But he was saying that reading the Bible would put me in contact with a God who is always rooting for me … the One who “never tires of encouraging us.”

The Second Vatican Council, echoing Hebrews, speaks about the Bible as the living word of God. It’s hard to really grasp what that means. But two more phrases from the Council clarify it further:

For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them. 

God, who spoke of old, uninterruptedly converses with the bride of His beloved Son. 

The bride is the Church, i.e, you and me. So this God, the one who “never tires of encouraging us,” who “never tires of loving us,” is there, at the end of a long day, ready to converse with me … eager to hear about my day and why it was hard, and to speak with me about it. And he gets it. And he gets me.

How many people in this world are longing for someone to talk to at the end of a long day! And because of our faith, we know we always have that Someone, who is found everywhere, and whose encouragement can be easily grazed in Sacred Scripture.

I have seen this to be true in my life. Having randomly chosen to read through Ephesians, I’m finding both encouragement in Paul’s exhortations to us, and also a measure of historical and theological context on the book, and the faith of the early Christians,  by paging through the Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture.

So yes, after a long day, we can put the kids to bed a bit early. And use those other tips as well. But then, we can do what will renew and restore us best of all. Open our Bibles and our hearts, and get in contact with the only One who will transmit encouragement to our weary souls … practically by osmosis.

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