“Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth, vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” Ecclesiastes 1:2
The theme of this week’s readings strikes us loud and clear right out of the starting gate. Woe to us who set our sights upon the things of this world which will pass away. We must put to death the parts of us that are satisfied with earthly delights. We are called to become rich in the eyes of God.
As a mother of young children, I often think that we are at an advantage in this regard. It is impossible to look chic in the middle of publicly-witnessed toddler meltdowns or during a potty training accident in the middle of the mall. And even if one’s house might actually look like an episode of Fixer Upper, there is no way a home that contains children can remain looking fresh and perfect all day long without a cleaning crew on-call 24/7.
But, even if we mothers of young children have easy access to humble pie, how happily do we eat it?
I think of the story of St. Philip Neri who, when invited to a hip party with the upper echelon of Roman society, chose to attend with only half a beard. Certainly, we mothers have been in positions where our best attempt at looking good has been foiled by baby food, spit,or poo; but to actively choose it? St. Philip Neri not only chose to eat humble pie—he relished it. He put to death any desire for earthly glory, acclaim, or esteem in order to focus his attention on what matters to God.
And although we will unlikely choose St. Philip’s way of eschewing the vanity of the world, we can each find a particular way to enthusiastically embrace the humbling vocation of motherhood and to build up, not earthly wealth, but heavenly riches.
Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to accept the low moments of mothering and to take them as an opportunity for building up heavenly riches. Help me to embrace the frustration of life and to offer it up to you for the good of all souls. Help me not to get swept away by the glamour of the world and to remember what is truly important in my vocation as a mother.