I've been thinking about last Saturday's Mass readings for the past few days. From St. Paul to the Thessalonians:
"....we urge you, brothers and sisters, to progress even more, and to aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs,and to work with you own hands, as we instructed you."
I am attracted to these words because they are so straightforward.
First, we need to live a tranquil life. The way I read this is not to dive into activism and belong to a lot of "groups" that take you away from home and make you FEEL "like you are doing something". The habits of a good life really are learned in a tranquil environment. I watched how my mom cooked, did laundry, showed me how to put my babies on a feeding schedule, made our home full of peace by little things - beautiful tables at Easter and Christmas, little shrines to Our Lady and Jesus around the house - nothing elaborate. But they fill my memory. My Dad, who was a very busy M.D. always tried very hard to say a family rosary every night. He didn't always manage to do this perfectly but he always strove to make it a habit. And I tried to go and do likewise in my own home because I knew it was of Christ. We learn peace by watching and dwelling in peace. Tranquil people and environments are so highly attractive - like a magnet. I think that is what St. Paul is saying. And this tranquility isn't some esoteric "floatiness", for lack of a better expression. Peace is hard won. Peace in a home takes effort, both physical and emotional. It takes perseverance and guts and acquired practical skills to make home a priority in this world of ours. But You can radiate Christ's life without saying a word. And you can pass tranquility and "the work of your own hands" down to your children. Activism? I don't think it really accomplishes anything except yelling and squabbles. But the habits of prayer, making a peaceful environment for your children to live in - that's where habits are formed and love for the beautiful is learned. We won't always succeed perfectly. It is the striving that matters.
And, in the end, I would rather be near a contented mom putting dinner together than be at a rally. I really think kids learn more about Christ by watching her. This is how I read St. Paul today.