Unholy Ire at the Holy Hour of Three O’Clock

“As often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in my mercy”

Theophile Marie Francois Lybaert (1848-1927), “Jesus’ Body is Removed From the Cross”
Theophile Marie Francois Lybaert (1848-1927), “Jesus’ Body is Removed From the Cross” (photo: Public Domain)

As a freelance writer, I spend a bit of time writing political news stories and, occasionally, commentary, for a conservative online publication. My niche there is primarily news coverage related to family, religious and social issues impacting the culture.

And what all of that generally amounts to is that I read a lot of news stories each day, hunting around for relevant things that are perhaps not receiving the coverage they should in the mainstream news cycle. I look all over for stories, in both conservative-leaning and liberal-leaning sources. It’s resulted in an interesting overall picture of what is happening when it comes to things like marriage, or religious freedom.

Suffice it to say that based on what I’ve been seeing and reading, there is a lot of discussion — a lot of discussion — swirling around right now surrounding issues related to feminism, and to women. The recent Justice Kavanaugh hearing certainly turned up the heat, but things were already nearing a boiling point before that. Women’s rights, along with that terrible euphemism of “reproductive rights,” have been getting a lot of air time over the past few years.

But most of the conversation about women lately seems to have taken a rather angry turn. Words like “fury,” “rage,” and “scream” are appearing, with increasing regularity, on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Then recently I read an article by a wildly popular and influential female blogger, who was advocating that women walk out of their homes or places of work on an upcoming Friday afternoon, in order to “demand change.” To what end exactly, I’m not entirely sure, though I imagine it has something to do with what they refer to as the patriarchy. (As for me, I confess I can’t even convince my own precious children to stop piling their shoes outside our back door. So much for being a woman capable of “demanding change.”)

But what struck me most about this particular blogger’s feminist action plan was admittedly a tiny detail, one that probably went largely unnoticed by her multitude of followers. When she suggested women walk away from home and/or work, it wasn’t an open-ended invitation. She specifically set the time for the walkout at 3 p.m. on that Friday.

Yes, Friday, at 3 p.m.

Ironic, no? Three o’clock in the afternoon, particularly on a Friday, signifies when Jesus died on the cross. Many Catholics even maintain a devotion of saying a special prayer known as the Three O’Clock Holy Hour, or conversion prayer, inspired of course by St. Faustina Kowalska.

In St. Faustina’s diary — which is absolutely worth reading in its entirety for its beauty and insights into the very heart of Christ — she recorded that Jesus told her, “as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in my mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment, mercy was opened wide for every soul.” (Diary 1572)

So yes, the image of a woman marching angrily out of her home at 3 o’clock in the afternoon in order to make a point about “toxic masculinity” or, frankly, what in my view most likely amounts to a disdain of motherhood, struck me as particularly backward. A twisting of God’s beautiful plan for women.

I couldn’t help picturing, in contrast, Jesus hanging on his cross at 3 p.m. on that Good Friday, innocent of any possible wrongdoing, having made the ultimate sacrifice for the salvation of the world. For us. His most unworthy of friends. I thought about his Blessed Mother, at the foot of the cross, watching and waiting, no doubt praying and hoping for mercy for her suffering Son. Her sorrows were many. Her sacrifice tremendous. Her strength, unparalleled.

And perhaps just as profound is the delightfully strange truth that even we modern women are invited to enter into this mystery of womanhood, of giving our yes, of bringing beauty from ashes in the form of love, and new life. Far from being a thing to run (or walk out) from, authentic womanhood in all its glory — the self-giving, the ups and downs, the beautiful complementarity of male and female within marriage — is intended to be embraced. Cherished. Lived.

That is not to say that being a woman is particularly easy, or that there is no space for nuance in approach to a woman’s chosen vocation. It is also not to say that there is never a time or place for righteous anger. But it is to say that the present current of angsty rage and fury (and what I can only assume is a desire to set women against men) presently running through our culture falls far short of the vision for womanhood put forth by God. The reality is that we women have Christ, His Church, and His Mother Mary to look to and draw strength from. It may take a lifetime to fully embrace all that comes with our vocation, and our acceptance of it may be imperfect or incomplete this side of Heaven. But we women need not despise, fear, or resent our station in life.

So I’m sure it comes as no surprise that at 3 o’clock that Friday, I wasn’t walking out on my domestic duties in protest, or otherwise demanding change. I sat parked on the street, instead, waiting for my kids to emerge from school. When they climbed into the car there was laughter and chatter about the day, and discussion about upcoming tests, and papers to be written. Then it was home (tripping over the aforementioned shoe piles on the way into the house) and dinner preparation, board games played with siblings, and books read while settling in for the weekend. We capped the night off with prayers and performances of songs on the piano, and recited nursery rhymes by the resident kindergartner.

Nothing was perfect, of course — the child making the baked potatoes for the evening meal managed to accidentally distribute olive oil all over the kitchen, which required no small effort to properly clean. Then the two-year-old dumped a huge bottle of water all over the floor during the aforementioned performances. And at 33 weeks pregnant with child number 10, well, I admit I’m generally always just looking forward to bedtime. But for me it was another evening of life lived, as a woman, with a husband and children.

Messy, silly and beautifully mundane.

It’s something I will strive to embrace with humility and grace, like the Blessed Virgin, as best I can. (Hint: I fall short most days. Sometimes it feels easy and others, like I’m hanging on for dear life. But I’ll keep trying.) It may not be as loud or noteworthy as an organized campaign of hashtags and feminist rage, and it certainly leaves me little time for smashing the patriarchy. But it’s womanhood. It’s my life. It’s marked by all that love both demands, and brings.

I even regularly find myself wondering whether, somehow, this might be God’s humble path for married women like me to impact and change the culture.

If it is, well, I confess this woman wouldn’t have it any other way.