Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm a Mom not a What Now?

(from St. Herman Press)

I've been reading Fr. Seraphim Rose, and really appreciating the story of this intellectual Berkley professor struggling with the world and gripping towards Orthodoxy.

However, I struggle as a mom knowing how to live my life, fully given to the Lord and live in this world.

Anne Voskamp, who strives to live a liturgical life, though not Orthodox, had a beautiful post about serving God from within the world. I know that Orthodox teaching differs from this (thus, all the desert asethetics), but don't know where I fit in.

From one of Fr. Seraphim's mentors:

The movement of my mind quieted down, died out in concentration interspersed with prayer. A sense of being responsible for each word, thought, and feeling suddenly rose in me: a warning that these can pollute, disfigure, or erase that flowing presence of Divinity

This sounds great to me, but how to replicate it as a mother?

How to quiet my mind?

How to discern which things in the world are okay to enjoy and which can pollute or erase the flow of the Holy Spirit?

How to help my children hone in on God and not get caught up in the world?

Some things are obvious: I'm not going to play vulgar videos for them.

Other things seem fine, spiritually good even, but I wonder at what point they might become distractions: cello lessons, boy scouts, etc.

Well readers - it's time for your input.

How do I live in the heart of Christ as a mom, not a monk?


  1. I always wonder about this too. I have this pocket guide to confession and one of the items on the list is something like has your mind wandered during liturgy? are you not focused upon the Liturgy or something like that. I asked my father confessor because I am always distracted during liturgy. If I were to attempt to follow the service, and completely ignore my children they would probably end up running up and down the aisles of the church screeching! He said this is the stage of life that I am in... to bring my children to the services, to help them to learn to appreciate it (even if we spend the entire time in the family room, they will learn to be comfortable at church). My job right now is to take care of my children and my husband. They are my prayer (when i am cooking, doing laundry, etc... all these things are prayers). Let me say, though, that I do not always put this into practice. i grumble about having to clean up another playdoh mess, etc. But when I do these things with love and with self-sacrifice, that is my prayer. And that is part of my prayer rule. Some father confessors on purpose give moms of young children a not so intense prayer rule because our lives are already intense as it is! Great discussion topic... I hope others comment, too, because I want to see what other moms have to say.

  2. Thank you for these thoughts!
    I often ask myself those same questions, over and over.
    I really haven't found the answer and wonder if the choices I make, thinking I have the right answer, are indeed the right answer. Did that make sense?
    I guess that is where trust comes in. Something that I struggle with constantly. We need to pray, and then trust God will see us through as we make the best decision we can make, all the while asking Him fervently to guide our thoughts and actions.
    Oh, I wish it was as easy as it sounds. For me, it's not.

  3. Your mothering (and mine) is part of our salvation. Hugs.

  4. "24. It was revealed to Abba Anthony in his desert that
    there was one who was his equal in the city. He was a doctor by profession and whatever he had beyond his needs he gave to the poor, and every day he sang the Sanctus with the angels."

    That is, do your job, give alms and pray.

    There is also a quote from Elder Cleopa of Romania in "The Truth of Our Faith" to the effect of: we say our morning and evening prayers, go to church, and we will be saved.

  5. Elder Barsanuphius of Optina states "The Lord calls us to Himself and offers many paths to salvation. Some are saved in the world, while others are saved in monasteries" (vol. 7 of optina series from St. Herman press, pg. 633). A common phrase found in Elder Barsanuphius writing, as well as in our prayer books and in the Gospels is "according to our strength". According to our strength in Christ, we are being saved in the world; while others are being saved in monasteries.