The Apostolate of a Young Mother

By: Hollie Adamson

As a mother, my experience of worship has changed. I have found that I cannot be as present in the same way or for as long a time during worship, whether I have to leave to change a diaper or whisper instructions to one of the boys as they wriggle under a pew. As I have learned to relax and accept these changes as part of this season of my life, I have also learned about intentionality and the moment of grace. When I walk into the sanctuary, I purposefully focus during the first few moments of the liturgy and try to find other moments later when I can reconnect and worship. Note that I said moments. Sometimes it might be just for one phrase in a prayer or hymn, and if not, I can always count on the Eucharist. I purposefully trust that the crumb and the drop will sate my hunger and my thirst. At the moment of Communion, I know that the physical and the spiritual intertwine, while saints pray, angels sing, and the Lord triumphs.

As for my apostolate, my main mission field is contained mostly on two acres of land, within a white ranch house, serving two boys under the age of six, a husband, and an eleven-year old collie-retriever mutt. I am a stay-at-home mother and wife and I have answered the call to homeschool the two immortal souls placed under our care. I have chosen to be, as G.K. Chesterton said, “shut up in a house with a human being at the time when he asks all the questions that there are, and some that there aren’t.”

As a homeschooling mother, my apostolate mirrors my renewal as I intentionally go about my work and am surprised by moments of grace. I am privileged to teach the boys about the three R’s (reading, writing, and arithmetic) as well as the 3-in-1; I can teach them about the life cycle of a sparrow while reminding them that His eye is on the sparrow; I teach them about the lights in the heavens (the moon, the sun, and the constellations) and about the Father of Lights. Jon and I plan God moments into our family’s day, creating our own sort of homely litany: Morning Prayer, memorizing Scripture, singing hymns and spiritual songs, reading the Bible, blessing the boys before Jon goes to work and before they sleep. We also, by being faithful church attenders, have emphasized renewal and carved an expectation into the minds of our children, who now cry if we do not go to church, which happened when we got the flu earlier this year.

I don’t only serve my children as spiritual guide and schoolteacher. I serve them literally – binding up wounds, feeding and clothing them, amid the rest of the tasks that a mother and wife needs to accomplish to create a home. As I go about my work, I hope that I show the boys how the smallest tasks can be of great spiritual value depending on how one uplifts it. Something as simple as making bread can fill the house with an aroma that can lighten a weighted heart.

I could not continue to do this without asking for and receiving spiritual sustenance myself. A mother’s apostolate is all-consuming. That is why coming to church, focusing, and asking for spiritual food and drink is so important. I am fed so that I can be a source of nourishment for my children and give them true and good food. It happens moment by moment, with just enough grace to get to the next.

A few ways to exercise your apostolate as a parent:

  • Learn a Bible verse by writing it out on a large piece of paper and hanging it on a wall in a prominent place in your home. Have the children decorate it, either all at once or day-by-day as the family learns it. Make a new one once you’ve mastered the first.
  • Say prayers taken from Scripture such as the Our Father or the Magnificat either in the morning or at bedtime. Repetition is the key to learning. To add some fun, try a call and response method, alternating phrases between you and the children.
  • Bless each other using the blessing found in Numbers 6:24-27 before you leave for school or work for the day. You can create your own blessings. Speak good into the hearts of your family’s members.
  • Be prepared to talk about spiritual matters when you least expect it. For example, you never know when an ordinary conversation about the weather might lead to questions about clouds and why God made rain.

What is Your Apostolate?

By: The Rev. Susan B. Haynes

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)

Everyone likes to talk about the Mission of the church. We all want to be more missional. We are in fact commanded, as in the Scripture above, to find ways to preach the Gospel everywhere we go. Many of us feel ill equipped to do so. Where do we find the wherewithal to become evangelists?

We come to church on Sunday morning and sometimes during the week too, because we desire renewal and strength. Our life of worship at St. Paul's is something we do out of a commitment to stability and a desire to be obedient. In this weekly observance, we are renewed then to go out again into the world to exercise our various ministries.

Our life in the world is not and should not be compartmentalized from our life in the Church. The way we exercise our Baptismal vows in the world is actually an extension of the ministry of St. Paul's Episcopal Church. And so it's a cycle, renewal in the church leading to ministry in the world. This ministry in the world is called our apostolate. Each of us is called to exercise an apostolate and for each of us, that apostolate looks different. For some it is a call to the ministry of companionship through volunteering at places like Hannah's House, St. Margaret's House or Hospice. For others it is working with the homeless or the illiterate.

Sometimes the apostolate looks like this: a young mother staying home to mother a child who will grow in God's love. Or it is the line worker who gives his very best in the factory to build a part or a product on which many will come to depend. Some are teachers, some healers...the list goes on and on. The lines of hope and healing which extend from St. Paul's are as many and varied as the members who gather on Sunday to make up her body.

What is your apostolate? How are you called to express and fulfill the promises you made at your Baptism? During the months of October and November, we will be hearing during worship from various parishioners who express their apostolates or ministries in different ways. All of these disciples of Jesus depend on St. Paul's to be the place where they can come to be fed and renewed so as to venture out again to bring the Word and Hope of God to others. In a way St. Paul's is a haven of renewal. Many depend on it as the source of strength and nurture for their own ministries.

As you think about your own ministry or apostolate, know that I am giving thanks for you and praying for your renewal.