Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
When I first became a stay-at-home mom back in 1993, the sense of isolation in our apartment overwhelmed me.
The whole world seemed to be running along without me. I went for walks every day and learned the names of the dry cleaner lady, the pharmacist, the photo developer at the grocery store and the receptionist at our complex because I wanted someone to say, “Hi, Sherry,” every day.
Pushing a stroller on the streets of Houston is hot, muggy work, but I needed to connect with the outside world. I loved my husband and my son, and I knew it was a great gift to be home for our baby, but I still climbed the walls.
Rain (frequent in Houston) made daily walks sometimes impossible. Not having a car, I told myself that I’d learn guitar, Spanish and gourmet cooking. I applied to, and got into, graduate school. I told myself I’d get in shape at the local gym. I vowed I’d read a book per week.
Every time in subsequent years, when we’d bring a new child home, there would be a week or two of craziness, where I’d once again try to be almost anything but Mom. To this day, I cannot really play a guitar, and I know only a few words in Spanish. The gym membership has been an uneven relationship at best. I also tried being a news junkie but that left me angry and discouraged at best. (I especially wouldn’t advise it these days).
Every time, those promises became nags that made not doing them somehow feel like a failure, and doing them, a chore. That’s in part because I didn’t want to do these things for their own sake, but for the badge of having done them. I wanted a distraction.
Over the years, what steadied me, what helped me to cease fighting the vocation even as I embraced it, was listening to the Mass every day as I’d patrol the home. I’d put it on the radio wherever I was, and it kept me from feeling removed from the world. The mental and spiritual food of the Mass gave me the grace to handle all the minutiae of daily life and I learned that in the minutiae lay all that God asked of me — to love them well, to feed his sheep, to serve in all things and not run from what God asked.
All these projects everyone wants to accomplish. They’re good things. They may be a means by which we come deeper into our vocation, and they can bring about sweetness, light, knowledge, joy and memories. They're also distractions from the overwhelming nature of this crisis — and honestly, there are times when we need distraction. But we also need to be steady in this unsteady world. The Mass is how we can begin to be to the world what it needs.
So put on the Mass in your home, and make it part of your daily routine. You will find that your mind is quieted, even if your house is not. It will give you an hour (or so) of contemplative Mary time, even if you are doing the business of Martha. The Mass will help you to handle the minutiae, for nothing is impossible for God — even problems as seemingly intractable as this one.
The grace is there in the Mass for the receiving. We need only to seek it. These days, we can sit and give that hour, becoming a gift to the Church itself.
We are the Body of Christ, and by being that to each other, we will get through this together, even as we are apart. So today, begin a practice of listening to the daily Mass and offer your prayers for the world — and know all of Heaven is praying for all of us with you.