I hope you enjoyed last week’s post, Screwtape Letter for a Homeschool Mom. I wanted to write an Angelic letter as well, because as Lewis put it:
Ideally, Screwtape’s advice to Wormwood should have been balanced by archangelical advice to the patient’s guardian angel. Without this the picture of human life is lop-sided. But who could supply the deficiency? Even if a man – and he would have to be a far better man than I – could scale the spiritual heights required, what ‘answerable style’ could he use?
Of course, there is no way I can scale the spiritual heights required, and I have no ‘answerable style’. But since this is just between friends and just for fun and encouragement, I thought I’d give it a try. Here it is:
All praise, glory, and honor to Our Heavenly Father!
I congratulate you on your beautiful work of turning our dear Martha’s heart and mind to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. For years you have faithfully guided and inspired Martha to a greater love for Our Heavenly Father. With great confidence, then, we watch and pray as you and your dear one embark on this new journey of educating her little ones at home. May she guide them on the path to holiness!
I see you have intercepted Screwtape’s letter. Well done, dear Angel! We see, from his letter, that Screwtape is very “solicitous” about the education Martha will endeavor to give her children. Yes, curriculum is very important. But as time passes, she will come to realize that a true education is not one that simply trains the mind, but one that also forms the conscience, builds character, strengthens the will, exercises the body, ennobles the heart, and above all, sanctifies the soul. What matters more than school books and lesson plans are Martha’s day to day examples of virtue: patience, kindness, joy, piety, humility, and trust in God’s mercy. For we know her children will learn much more from her example than from books.
Encourage Martha, then, to entrust all the outcomes of her efforts into the hands of Our Lord. These mothers often begin with lofty ideals and high hopes, many of which are true and beautiful, and with Our Father’s grace, attainable. But often, devout parents think that they and their children must do too much in order to attain the heights of sanctity. They often wear themselves out in the pursuit of doing too much, even much that is good, as if all depended solely on themselves. I encourage you to guard Martha against this trap, which always ends in discouragement. Let her see that what one does is not nearly as important as who one is. And the smaller one is, the humbler and more trusting one is, the more irresistible this soul is to the mercy of Our Loving Father. He cannot help but stoop down and carry such souls directly to His Tender Heart.
As Martha goes about her multitude of tasks, let her contemplate these words:
Be still and know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.
O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and forevermore. (Psalm 131: 2-3)
You see, Martha is a practical woman, hard-working and generous. But she has yet to learn how to maintain an inner stillness, a serenity of heart which only comes from a child-like trust in the providence and mercy of God. With children about her all day long, this stillness may resemble the eye of a hurricane, but it is there nonetheless, a source of strength and peace.
Finally, inspire Martha to grow in devotion to Our Blessed Mother. Let Martha discover in our Celestial Queen the model of motherhood and find recourse to her in all her needs and worries. Help Martha to pray the rosary daily. Even if her prayers should be full of distractions, encourage her to persevere. For, of course, Our Blessed Mother understands how difficult it can be to meditate and pray, especially when one is surrounded by children. That is why faithfulness to dry, distracted prayer is often more meritorious than fervent, ecstatic prayer. Remind Martha this again and again, so she may persevere, and in doing so grow closer and closer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. For there is no greater protection, no stronger armor than the mantle of the Holy Mother of God. Let us place Martha and her family there, under the loving care of Our Blessed Mother and proceed full of confidence and hope.
In the joy and love of Christ our King,