DON'T YOU LOVE ME ANYMORE? where the mother writes:
"I got home from the grocery store, and he immediately searched through all the bags to see what I had gotten for him. "You didn't buy me any cookies!" he announced, furrowing his brows in consternation. Then he said it. He asked me the big question that revealed all, that explained why he had been such a grumpy, unsupportive young man.
" 'Don't you LOVE me anymore?'
"My jaw dropped as I thought, "Is that what he thinks? I tell him I love him every day and hug him and kiss his cheek and talk with him and wash his clothes when he has been too busy because of work and school, but Cookies = Love?
"Then he smiled and laughed to cover up his wounded heart. I smiled and laughed with him, but the next time I went to the store, I bought him a bag of Chips Ahoy. When I got home he looked through all the bags and found the one labeled, "MY MOM LOVES ME A LOT". His attitude has improved dramatically."
BOYS AND FOOD where the mother writes:
"Food is my boys’ love language and I continue to be amazed at the difference it makes in our home. On those magical days when the boys come home to find the larders full, I can sense the difference.
"Psychologically, I don’t quite understand it. Maybe they feel secure, maybe they feel at peace. Perhaps it all speaks to that innate hunter/gatherer aspect of a male personality, but that wouldn’t totally explain things because with that theory they would be the ones out shopping.
"Ultimately, I only understand that when I buy food, my boys feel loved by me. To them, buying groceries is the most important part of what I do.
"The truth is I am called to do so many things for them. My vocation as mom calls me to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these children in my home. And of all the ways I care for them — working to have a well-ordered home and clean sheets and loving Jesus and my husband and this life God’s given me — well top priority, in this season, seems to be the food.
"Right now, it’s all about food."
(This originally ran in The Southern Cross)
SERVING BROKEN DONUTS in which this mother writes:
"I contemplated the scenario of my own children rejecting a broken donut. I contemplated my own gut reaction at their possible rejection. Would I meet their sinfulness with my own? Or would I swallow the yeast of my pride and, like this nun, offer a smile and keep serving whole donuts in place of broken ones?
"Sadly, too often, I confront my children’s sinful nature with my own. I forget to add the sugar of human kindness to the yeasty growth which allows the bread of life to overflow. Instead I speak harshly about being grateful. 'Be grateful for what you have…' And I proclaim it to be discipline. Yet gratitude is never harsh.
"I doubt I will teach my children anything with a sharp voice and a broken donut. When will I learn that examples teach better than words? When will I learn that smiles are simply frowns turned upside down?
"Whatever my decision, that is my offering to God. Do I offer Him broken donuts? Broken attitudes? Broken souls? Or do I offer good whole ones?"
Whether we romance our faith or not...whether we romance the ideal or the reality...the truth is the Corporal Works of Mercy go hand-in-hand with the Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Coming upon any soul starving for food or for Christ, we must meet one need in order to serve the other need.
Coming upon any civilization in a third-world country, the missionnaries feed the people food before they nourish them spiritually.
Coming upon our own American families during times of forest fires, hurricanes, floods, or tornado damage; we provide food to them before ministering to their soul.
Do not mock the donuts and chocolate milk served after Sunday Mass. They might be the one thing a child remembers when he is grown and has left the church. One day, after years of abstinence, that boy might take his grandmother to church or go to church remembering that grandmother. A donut handed to him after Mass might feed his memory, his spirit, his longing, his desire, his soul for...
...for something with more substance.
Do not scorn the cookie your child's CCD teacher hands him every Wednesday. That cookie and the kind hand that feeds it to him when he comes with growling stomach straight from school might be the only thing he remembers of his religion lesson. And the active lesson of feeding the hungry outways the book lesson every. single. time. The active lesson offers a promise of something with...
...with more substance.
When we feed the stomach we really do feed the soul.
Christ taught us that.