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After the 9:00 a.m. Saturday Mass, while the Rosary is being recited and as the Confession line slowly grows then shrinks, I’ve noticed that there is always someone carefully going through the entire church, dusting.

It’s not a trivial task.

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It isn’t a small church.

Now, if you are the sort of person that has always existed in a dust-free house, dusting all the corners as often as needed like breathing (i.e. automatically and without fuss), then this might not be that big a deal. You might think, Of course someone dusts all of St. Clements! But to me, dusting is a recent discovery. The realization that it is possible to have a home that does not have a thick layer of dust on all of the infrequently-used surfaces (and some of the frequently-used ones) is new new new.

It was exciting to do it the first few times. Look at me! I’m dusting! Look at my house! It’s dust-free! But the 27th time? The 38th time? It was losing its excitement. (Isn’t that what housekeeping is all about? Excitement? Haha.)

As I watched that anonymous St. Clement parishoner carefully run the duster through the Stations, St. Michael, the Tabernacle, carefully, carefully working through all the nooks and crannies, I was inspired to take up my duster again, even without the initial enthusiasm. I suppose some of the more humble tasks associated with loving those placed in our care get to this point – where there is no more excitement. I am usually surprised that, when it fades, a different sort of fuel takes its place, allowing me to keep on keeping on. I have a sneaky suspicion that it is Grace.

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My daily tasks are such small tasks. Such humble tasks. I find myself wiping drippy noses (among other body parts), changing diapers, tying shoelaces, singing the same songs over and over again, changing wet sheets or emptying the dishwasher in order to fill it up again. Often my mind wanders forward in time, worrying about this and that, or thinking about the next more exciting thing. When that happens, it’s like I’m not really there, not really sorting a pile of socks, not really listening to my daughter explain why she’s created a big pyramid of wet, crumpled balls of paper. When that happens, I have let an opportunity slip away.

A number of wise saints have written about doing small things with great love. Every task at hand I am faced with, no matter how annoyingly tediuos, is a gift from God. When I am grudging, distracted, or complaining, I waste a chance to do them with great love, nudging my soul in the right direction along that long, long rode to sanctity. If I really pay attention, there’s gold in them tasks. (Not that I’m a computer game kind of person, but they really remind me of coins in Super Mario Brothers.)

Life is so very full of things that distract us from the small acts of love that we’re called to do faithfully each day. There are always people who are easier to be with than the people God has placed near us. There’s always something more fun to do than emptying the dishwasher. God, please help me see you in the here and now. Help me bring you to each task I do. Remind me that I can be bringing forth your kingdom, one dirty dish, one drippy nose at a time.

I find it very difficult to say sorry to my kids. Yes, there are those ambiguous times when I’m not quite sure if I’ve crossed the line between appropriate firm parenting and being a Grump Monster Big Meanie. But usually, it’s pretty clear to me when I’ve lost my temper and am taking it out on an unfortunate little person. I have to stop somewhere quiet, take a deep breath, pray to the Holy Spirit to please tell me what to say before I can gather up the courage to go face up to the task. When I do manage to do it, I ask for a cuddle and a kiss after I apologize. I know that it’s good for my children to see that their parents struggle and try again, but this doesn’t make it any easier. Definitely incentive to do better next time.

What is this?

Here a volunteer parishoner at St. Clement shares her personal experiences as her young family tries to keep the Catholic faith alive in their homes, living out the promises of their Baptism. Thank you for stopping in and be sure to share some of your stories as well!

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