Vanessa Gonzalez Kraft tries to balance her traditional Mexican-American cultural heritage and Catholic identity, personified by her grandmother La Lupe, with her roles as a young wife and mother.
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A Life of Significance
We regularly receive the Houston Catholic Worker newspaper and the latest issue contained a big surprise. The couple that founded Casa Juan Diego, the Houston Catholic Worker, is having another book released in November.
If I tried to tell you about the myriad of services that Casa Juan Diego offers there is really no way of doing it justice. It is a house of hospitality for undocumented women, children, and men. They have an ever-growing huge ministry helping the undocumented sick and injured. They have food and clothing distributions several times a week for the community. They have clinics with a variety of doctors and dentists that donate their time. They have a big organic garden that provides food for all these different houses. They print a newspaper. And the list goes on and on. Somehow the couple that runs the place has found time to write another book. It’s truly amazing. These people really work and live as if everything depended on it.
After Brandon and I read through this paper and pre-ordered their new book, we just sat in our living room staring at each other. When you hear about a life like this that is so clearly making a difference in the world, it puts your life perspective. It makes my life of changing diapers and reading Goodnight Moon a gazillion times seem somewhat lame. Brandon said, “I want a life of significance.” Brandon voiced his concern that we have not done any true volunteer work in a couple years. Because our jobs have been ministry related, we’ve slacked and not done more than our jobs in a while. It’s a fair point.
But I’ve been thinking about that statement. A life of significance. I don’t think that people who do amazing things in their lives and change history have super powers while the rest of us don’t. I think they answer God’s call when it comes. Yes, they have to work extremely hard and sacrifice a lot but if they’re willing, God gives them the grace to do so.
The Catholic Worker life is so clearly a life devoted to God. Doing the works of mercy everyday (feeding the hungry, providing shelter for the homeless, caring for the sick, etc). The idea of doing this is so noble and romantic but the actual nitty gritty of it is tough. Being a Catholic Worker is working with those that other people won’t. The dirty, the smelly, the dying, the sick, the suffering. When I worked as a Catholic Worker I was tested and tried in patience and humility constantly and the day to day was nothing like the romantic ideas that an idealist might come with. But I went to bed every night knowing that I had given that day everything I had. I felt fulfilled.
I left the Catholic Worker because I felt my vocation was to marry Brandon and become a mom. One day Brandon and I have the dream to open up a community center where we provide whatever the community needs. Not a Catholic Worker per se but something like it. But that day isn’t today. We knew having kids would put that off for a while.
I believe a life of significance is saying “yes” to God when God comes a-knockin’. At the moment, sure, my life may be pureed food and strollers, but it’s still important work. I can still give the day everything I’ve got and feel fulfilled at the end of the day. If I never make the history books and only have a life of caring for my family I think it would still be a life fully lived. Maybe God will call us to do more tomorrow but at the moment I really believe that God wants me to learn how to take care of my family. And that is pretty darn significant.