Sister Josefa Menendez, who has not yet been declared a saint, but whose writings have been personally recommended by Pope Pius XII, gives us a great example of the quiet way to sanctity through devotion to daily duty.
Sister Josefa received many visions from Our Lord. She obediently wrote His message of love, now published in the book The Way of Divine Love. During the Lent of 1923, Jesus revealed to her His sufferings, both physical and mental.
No one who reads the writings of Sister Josefa, as she writes of her visions and the words of Jesus Christ, can ever forget them.
The stirring words of Jesus as He relates His Passion and His thoughts for each step during His Passion, have served as a source of meditations for many devoted souls for the past fifty years.
When we look at those who have received visions or other special favors from heaven, we think of their extraordinary holiness. We think of them as being different from us in fundamental ways. We may not think of the fact that these people were like us in many ways.
Focusing on Josefa’s visions, it is easy to forget Josefa’s devotion to doing her duty. None of her fellow sisters suspected her marvelous and miraculous interior life as she went about with her sewing and laundry room activities.
And from this we home schooling mothers can draw strength—strength in the understanding that while our daily duties of homemaking and homeschooling must be attended to, our spiritual life can and must continue.
Reading Josefa’s words, we can learn from her how to improve our own spiritual life and that of our children. She made of her little “sphere of influence one of prayerful industry.” Our little home schooling dining room can be a place where we influence our children to work diligently accompanied by prayer. We need to make our children sensitive to the continual “presence of God.”
As our families begin the duties for each day, we need to unite ourselves to Jesus.
Jesus found, within the loving heart of Josefa, a place where He could find peace and joy, a silent faithfulness to His commandments, a charity and helpfulness toward everyone. Isn’t this really what homeschooling is all about? Isn’t this the meaning of “the domestic church” which the popes call the Catholic home?
When Jesus looks in our homes, does He find the same loving and welcoming spirit that he found within Josefa? Does He find a refuge of peace and joy? Or does He find a spirit of discord and strife?
So often the public school educators—and sometimes even family and friends—believe that we homeschoolers want our children to escape from the real world. In fact, it is because we are concerned about the world, about bringing the message of Jesus Christ to the world, that we are training our children in our domestic church.
Sister Josefa tells us that we must keep “constantly in the minds” of our children the horizon of the salvation of the whole world.
Sister Josefa tells us that she acutely felt her responsibility. Perhaps this is the greatest burden of many home schooling mothers. They feel the responsibility. Sometimes home schooling mothers feel overwhelmed with their responsibility.
But we can and should find real joy in serving our children for God’s glory, to spare no pains and no labor, to adjust the program and the daily duties to what each is fit to do.
What can Josefa teach us? “With patient good nature” and with “sweetness,” she “exacted” from her charges the “interest, care, and perfection” necessary for good work.
Will any of our children remember us in the years to come as patient or sweet? Will they remember our teaching them to be interested in the job at hand? To do the job with care and even “perfection”?
If we say the Morning Offering with our children, we are offering everything we do during the day for His greater honor and glory. If everything is done for Him, in His service, can we ever allow it to be done carelessly?
We often don’t think of ourselves as serving our children, yet we are serving them as we shape them to become the Catholics which we believe Jesus wants them to be.
Perhaps now our children do not appreciate our devotedness to them, but someday, as they look back, they will recognize our love for them, our devotedness to them.
Josefa, even in her meditations, did not stop her work.
That is the hardest thing we home schooling mothers have to give up, that private time behind closed doors to spend with Jesus in recollection. We now have to recollect in the middle of dishes or math class, diaper changing or geography.
We know we can never claim Josefa’s “untiring energy and invariable spirit of sacrifice,” but we know we can aim for an extraordinary spiritual life, one hidden and interior, one specially reserved for our beloved Jesus.
And then we need to ask His Blessed Mother to help us each moment to continue to carry out our daily and very humble duties of home managment and home schooling.