Living and Serving in Joyful Love:
A Day in the Life of a Catholic Women’s House
By Lisa Weier
I can’t help but think of St. Augustine as I reach up to grab the bar on the bottom of the bunk bed above mine and pull myself into a sitting position, swinging my feet out to hit the floor. In The Confessions, Augustine hilariously and appropriately depicts a morning routine I repeat with each new dawn: the mind knowing it’s time to get up, but the sleepy body begging, “One more minute. Just one more minute.” Nonetheless, out of bed I go, headed to our once-a-week 6:30 a.m. morning prayer and Mass with all the Catholic Women’s House ladies (from three separate houses in the Sisterhood of Our Lady of Good Help) and the Catholic Men’s House men (in the Fraternity of St. Michael). The knowledge that going is good for my soul is enough to propel my anti-morning, groggy body, so I lock the door of our charming, wood-furnished home behind me.
After Mass, my roommates, the other Women’s House ladies and I head our separate ways: to class, to work. While it sometimes doesn’t seem as fun as having a constant social life, these normal commitments remind us of one of the formative pillars of The Sisterhood of Our Lady of Good Help: Scholarship. We all came to college to seek the Truth, and by so doing, give glory to God by seeking Him. It is our main work and calling as students; it’s important.
We express another pillar of formation, Sisterhood, within each of our three individual houses, and between those houses as well: we are sisters in Christ. Like family, we did not choose our housemates, or the ladies in the other houses, but have accepted them as whom Christ desires us to love and serve. We are all quite different: we have varying personalities, majors and preferences, and are discerning different vocations. Contrary to what I would have thought or expected, I am perhaps most thankful that I was unable to choose who I’d live with for myself. Each of my sisters is a beautiful gift: unasked for and presented with her and my good in mind. We all get to see each other for a large sisterhood dinner every other week, as well as getting to see our housemates for a scheduled dinner every week in between. Those evenings are always characterized by a good-smelling kitchen, much laughter, a bounty of delectable food, comfy couch-lounging and sometimes all-out war (don’t let us have rubber bands).
Speaking of gifts, since this is not a sisterhood dinner night, I eat dinner when I get a chance. I am lucky because my housemates, Leann and Michaela, are home this evening too. We talk for a long time, joking as well as seriously considering some questions that came up during the school day. Each house has a leader, a prefect, to offer a source of help within each house, and to communicate amongst all three houses. As prefect of our house, I bring up an event or two that Kristen, the formation leader of the sisterhood, asked to me mention. Inevitably, Leann says something funny and Michaela dashes to write it down in our quotation book (lest she forget). Hannah is studying abroad in Rome this semester, but we’re excited for her to come in the spring.
Blessed Pope John Paul II stressed that the human being is made in the image and likeness of God, made to give him or herself as a gift. A third pillar of the sisterhood is practicing this Gift of Self, serving the others in our house not for a profit or return, but to learn how to love and sacrifice as Christ loves. This is why Leann often sets the table and grocery shops. This is why Michaela often offers to do dishes after dinner, or clean our shower drain (she loves us a lot). Our interactions, while certainly not always perfect or easy, are rooted and re-rooted in charity.
We each chose to be in the houses (and were chosen to be in them) for different reasons, perhaps, but we have all chosen to reinforce our lives by the use of our pillars, including the last critical one, Prayer. Like we did this morning in particular, we pray morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours together once a week. We also make a commitment to pray night prayer and an examen (personally reflecting back on our day’s choices and events, good and bad) each night. We also go to daily Mass, pray a Memorare in the course of each day and have recourse to the sacrament of Reconciliation as needed. Once we’ve added the bookend to our day this evening, praying night prayer together, we head to bed. This is one of my favorite parts of the day, winding down to reflect and recharge, hopefully ready to wake up the next morning and to continue to live and serve in joyful love.
Our Lady of Good Help, Pray for Us.