Strong faith takes hard work, but Catholics aren’t afraid of a little work

“Give us each day our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3)

One of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of my life is being a mom. My daughter, even at 1 year old, looks up to me and counts on me for so many things every single day. Between the fear of failing her and desire to be the best mom I can be, every hour is a new adventure. You cannot take days off from being a parent. You have a purpose, a dependent, and a motivation to be better, even when your child is not present. 

You cannot take days off being a Catholic, either.  The world is counting on you, like a child depends on a parent. Being a Catholic is challenging and rewarding in indescribable ways. It is challenging because it takes humility, trust and daily commitment. It is rewarding because it is the purest experience of love, sacrifice and truth that this world has to offer. There are times of doubt, fear, shame and complacency but also times of joy, confidence, peace and love.  

Our daily bread

“When a person is conquered by the fire of His gaze, no sacrifice seems too great to follow Him and give Him the best of ourselves,” Pope Benedict XVI one said. I sometimes wonder why it is harder for me than it is for others to live out the faith. Have I not seen Jesus the same way others have? What am I doing wrong and how do I fix it? One thing most of the saints have in common is consistent maintenance. This fire we see lived out in the lives of holy people did not happen overnight. The saints committed themselves daily to growing closer to God, and the results are beautiful.  

Running a home

I do not mind most household chores, but gardening is not my favorite. Gardening requires daily watering, weeding and pruning. I would not have a garden at all except that I enjoy flowers when I walk up to my door or am sitting on the patio. It is not uncommon for me to plan a couple days each year to clear out all the weeds, freshen up the dirt, and give the flowers extra water. Unfortunately, for a garden, a couple days a year is insufficient maintenance for the beauty that is intended to flourish. My faith life is like a garden, something that can be beautiful if maintained the way it is supposed to be. “Nothing great is ever achieved without much enduring,” St. Catherine of Siena said.

My garden is a mess  

My garden is full of weeds, flowers that are dying of thirst, and whole branches eaten off my rosebush. Consistent maintenance of my gardens is something I have not taken the time to implement. There have been times in my life when the same could be said about my faith. Growing closer to God is not a “once and done” choice. “When we Christians behave badly, or fail to behave well, we are making Christianity unbelievable to the outside world,” C.S. Lewis said. In the same way we have to maintain our gardens daily, we must also make a daily effort toward perfect representation of Christ. If you do not know what that looks like for you, ask Him. “But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it” (James 1:5). 

Thou shall not compare 

A nearby neighbor weeds and waters daily, and her plants are always blooming and beautiful. The reality is that I want what she has, but I do not want to put in the work, like she does. That is the difference between a saint and a sinner, someone who tries and someone who does not. God wants to make your life beautiful, and invites you to do your part. “As water reflects the face, so one’s life reflects the heart” (Proverbs 27:19). 

Daily appointment with God  

The choice is simple: if you want to know God like the saints did, then make time to implement Him into your daily routine. When my daughter bonks her head or discovers an ant, my world stops so I can comfort her or share in her joy. God cares about you so much more than a parent cares about their child. There is nothing about your life that is too small for Him to want to experience with you. “Make a plan now to keep a daily appointment with God. The enemy is going to tell you to set it aside, but you must carve out the time. If you’re too busy to meet with the Lord, friend, then you are simply too busy” (Charles Swindoll).

Mary Morasso is a mother and parishioner of SS. Cyril and Methodius Parish in Sterling Heights. She holds a bachelor's degree in pastoral theology from Sacred Heart Major Seminary and has taught theology at the high school level.