Today is the feast day of St. Bartholomew. He was one of the 12 Apostles (also know as Nathanael), of whom Jesus said, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1:47). In response to Jesus’ parting command to his disciples to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel,” Bartholomew took the good news of Christ to India and greater Armenia. He died a gruesome martyr’s death in Armenia, but planted seeds of faith that would grow into a rich legacy and heritage one day. Armenia became the first Christian nation in 301 A.D.
I’m half Armenian; my dad is full. His father was born in America, but his mother came over from Armenia when she was a young girl. When I became Catholic three years ago, I had a newfound love for my Armenian heritage, founded squarely in the country’s historic Catholic faith. My sister and dad got to visit Armenia for 10 days a couple of years ago, and the pictures of some of these old church ruins and still standing chapels are symbols of the legacy that these missionary Apostles left behind. Reflecting on St. Bartholomew’s sacrifice today was sobering for me; suddenly the centuries of time that separates the apostles’ lives from mine seems to have shrunk. This man gave his physical life to bring spiritual life to a country full of my ancestors. His love of Jesus and faith in the Gospel were unshakable.
Sometimes we take for granted the faith that we have received, the faith that has been passed down to us. We in America and much of the western world today live in an age and culture where many view the practice of Christianity as an optional Sunday activity, like brunch or golf. But we don’t realize what we are relegating to the margins of our life and culture. We are throwing away something precious, something that men and women like Bartholomew died preserving. Even though I’m a practicing Catholic, and my faith is precious to me, I know I am constantly in danger of taking it for granted. But today, Bartholomew’s face and story make that less likely to happen. Today, I send thankful prayers to heaven to St. Bartholomew, and I ask for his intercession in return. Pray for us, St. Bartholomew, that the words Christ spoke of you will be true of us too.
I was able to get my hands on a galley copy of The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion in order to review it here, and I am so glad that I did! I have had the privilege of praying with this book of daily reflections for the past month, and it has refreshed my prayer life in wonderful ways. The book, edited by authors Lisa Hendey and Sarah Reinhard, is a compilation of reflections by many different writers. There are many devotionals out there by single authors — great ones. But this book is unique in its multi-vocal quality. You hear the voices of many different women — some like you, some different from you — and I found that really valuable.
As a mom seeking to grow in my prayer life, I am always grateful for a fresh perspective, a different vantage point. As I read through various entries each day, I was struck by the beautiful diversity of Catholic motherhood that is represented in these pages. It reminds me of what St. Therese says about all the different kinds of flowers. The wildflower is not less beautiful than the rose or the lily; they are just different beauties in God’s garden. The diversity is God’s design. Diversity is important for the edification of the body of Christ, and books like this help with that edification — particularly in the flourishing of our prayer lives.
In case you missed last week’s post at CatholicMom.com about making space in our lives for solitude, here it is. Excerpt:
“Because we live in a world of devices that is full of noise, we have to do more than just set aside space for solitude; we have to protect that space as well. We have to be both offensive and defensive. What does that mean? It means asking yourself where you are vulnerable. Where and how does your solitude continually get interrupted? What technologies or uses of technologies allow you space for solitude, and what uses encroach upon it?”
If you have thoughts, comments or insights, feel free to post them here or there.
Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age, by Sherry Turkle, is one of the most important books for right now in both interpersonal relationships and public discourse. The main thesis: Digital technologies have consumed the time and spaces for conversations in our lives, and we are raising generations of young adults and children who don’t know how to have conversations. I found this book recommended in several places, and I am so glad I picked it up. (Actually, I listened to it read by Kirsten Potter — who was great!) I usually only recommend books on this blog that I think a wide range of people should read, and this is one of them. Why? Because the problems with our use of technology that Turkle addresses are problems that touch the daily interactions of 99% of the people I know, including myself! I wasn’t really surprised by anything in the book, but I was extremely surprised by how little I had previously considered the full impact of our devices on our relationships and our culture.
Though I don’t think people would describe me as someone who is “on her phone all the time,” I realized that I had allowed my phone (and the pull of everything on it) to be all too “present” to me at all times. I wasn’t too many pages in before I made some immediate changes to my iPhone notification settings and started to conceptualize an intentional use of digital devices in my life and the rhythms of our family. The book contained so many important critiques of technology, questions regarding normative uses of it, and sobering realities of its impact on us. Here are a few such points that grabbed my attention: Continue reading “#GoodRead: Reclaiming Conversation”→