Last week, I was updating my personal facebook and came across an unfortunate entry into my “Favorite Quotes” from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. She and I have long since ceased being on speaking terms (although I still think it’s a good story albeit with horrible morals), but seeing that quote reminded me of the first hint I had while reading the book that Ayn just might not have all her pistons firing.
I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine. (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged)
I remember reading that for the first time in the book and taking a heavy step back to evaluate capitalism and the whole individualism movement. Obviously, it’s bull-hockey and straight up satanic, but even the leftists often embrace this idea. “I’m in charge of me, you’re in charge of you, and we stay out of each other’s business…. Unless I need something.”
Like I said, bull-hockey, whether it’s coming from the queen of the alt-right, or from anyone on the other side of the political spectrum either.
Then while playing a funeral on Friday, I heard once again the parable of the ten virgins from Matthew 25. The wise virgins did not share their oil, which the priest explained as being their good deeds. So Christ isn’t calling us to hold everything in common, there are simply some things that we cannot share and that belong to us alone.
So our call to live the Gospel then lies somewhere between Ayn Rand and Karl Marx. But… where exactly? Clearly, God calls us to charity, to generosity, and to faithful stewardship.
I’ve been working more on practicing a few specific Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. I truly thought I was doing what I was meant to do but noticed I was becoming burnt out. Short tempered. Downright uncharitable. I wasn’t able to give my best to my marriage or my kids.
A while ago, I was writing about universal, primary, and secondary vocations, and how it’s a hierarchy. Everything I do as a mom needs to feed my vocation as a wife. Everything I do as a wife needs to feed my vocation to holiness.
That extends to the Works of Mercy as well. Every act of mercy I do needs to help me be a better wife, mom, and Christian. If performing an act of mercy makes me a worse wife or mom, God is not calling me to that particular act of mercy in that manner at this time.
I can’t tell you how liberating that realization was. I went from feeling like a failure of a Christian to a joy and purpose-filled Christian in an instant.
God will not call you to be everything all at once. He calls us to prudence and discernment as well as to mercy. Our resources are finite, and while we are called to be generous with them, that generosity needs to begin with our own vocations in our own homes. Heaven knows there are hungry, thirsty, sorrowful, doubtful, and frequently naked little people in my own house half the time. That is my primary responsibility.
I did replace that quote on my facebook. I put some Tolkien there instead.
All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
One of my new favorite things is liturgically themed phone wallpapers. I made this one featuring my favorite Lenten chant. It translates, “Hear us, O Lord, and have mercy because we have sinned against Thee.” Feel free to download and set it as yours too!