I'm still talking about the "pray for discernment" part of my preparation checklist. Over here I listed some of the details of my praying and processing during the summer.
Some of the things related to prayer on my list
(1) hold a personal spiritual/educational retreat, I usually do most of this alone. But in the past five years, Chari and I have sometimes visited each other to hold a similar retreat but with the advantage of having two heads instead of just one. This is really nice if you can arrange it -- to plan with a friend who shares many of your goals. Especially if you are unable to go to homeschool conferences (I haven't been to any and Chari has only been to one for a short time, I believe) it is very invigorating to share problems, concerns, solutions and ideas with each other.
(2) choose a saint as patron for that particular year. Besides Our Blessed Mother I have chosen St Ignatius, St Thomas Aquinas, St Therese, St John Bosco, and others (I'm forgetting the rest right now).
This year I decided to do things a bit differently. For one thing, after praying about our homeschool calendar, I decided to officially homeschool year round. We used to do this but got away from it while Sean was on the public school schedule.
For another thing, I decided to divide the year into six 2 month blocks. If I do that we can have 2-3 lighter weeks during each block. This will let me be flexible when we are traveling, and we will have more time for a lighter schedule on solemnities and feast days.
While I was planning this, it occurred to me that I could choose a patron saint for each 2-month block!
I love the Saints' Name Generator -- sometimes I go there and pick out a saint just for fun.
So I went there to pick a patron for this summer block of time.
It turned out very providentially to be St Martha!
Providential in that not only is her feast day at the end of July, so it almost marks the passing to a new time frame, but she is perfect to remind me to be "faithful in the little things" without forgetting the One Needful Thing. That is a big concern of mine since I always seem to pray more during the summer and less during the school year when I get busy and preoccupied.
Plus, she is the patron saint of cooks and servants, and I need all the help with cooking and hospitality that I can get this summer. I am determined to upgrade my skills. My daughter wants to spend time in the kitchen too. Perfect!
Martha is also the saint I picked when Aidan was in the hospital very ill after birth, 13 years ago this June and July. One of my questions during this time was how fervently to petition God to spare my son. Hadn't others lost theirs, up to and including Himself? Wouldn't Aidan be bound straight for heaven? Was I being TOO fervent, pleading with God without the proviso "Thy Will, not mine, be done?"
Then I read from the Gospel of John
When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."
Somehow that gave me a way into praying for my infant son. I said over and over again, "Even now, I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." I love that testament of faith and insight -- faith in God's power and understanding of the relationship between the Son and the Father. It reminds me a little of Mary's "Do whatever He tells you."
So St. Martha is an old friend, and it is especially wonderful to me to have her as a sort of spiritual guest and advisor during this summer. When something like this happens when I have been praying a novena, I feel like my prayers are being answered. It feels like the Holy Spirit gave me Saint Martha to think about and ask for intercession.
She sets such a good example for me in many ways, embodying the woman of Titus 2:
The aged women, in like manner, in holy attire, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teaching well: That they may teach the young women to be wise, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, sober, having a care of the house, gentle, obedient to their husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
Saint Martha, pray for us that we might serve Jesus better. Help us to overcome our distractions and worries to listen to his words and be present to him this day. Amen