Living by a Mother's Rule of Life
Holly Pierlot on Order for the Sake of the Vocation
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MORRELL, Prince Edward Island, OCT. 9, 2005 (Zenit.org).- As a home-schooling mother of five, Holly Pierlot felt like she had three full-time jobs: mother, homemaker and teacher.
She reached her breaking point on New Year's Day 2000, but was brought back from the brink by a new way of ordering her life and answering God's call.
Pierlot, 44, outlines her plan of saving grace in "A Mother's Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul" (Sophia). She shared with ZENIT how others can reprioritize and revitalize their vocations.
Q: Why did you develop "A Mother's Rule of Life"?
Pierlot: Like many moms, I felt like my life was in overload -- I had too much on my plate and not enough time to do it all.
As a home-schooling mom, I felt like I had three full-time jobs: my mothering, my housework and the schooling -- and that there wasn't enough of me to go around. I am sure mothers who work in and out of the home can relate to this too!
Such a situation meant quite a bit of personal frustration with life, as not only were my daily duties all-consuming and often never completed, but I never seemed to have time to myself, nor enough time to pray.
If I did do something just for me, I did it in rebellion, meanwhile watching the housework pile up and my spirits sink simultaneously.
I felt like I was in a maze with no way out, but realized at a certain point that God is a God of order -- and that it probably wasn't in his plan for me to be strung out all the time. I was looking for the illusive "peace" promised in the Gospel, and through grace, realized that perhaps I needed to change the way I approached my life.
Q: How did you create a pattern for living that combines the spiritual wisdom of the monastery with the practical wisdom of motherhood?
Pierlot: One evening I realized that I had to apply myself to my vocation -- that it was a calling from God, a job, and that he wanted me to devote my attention to this job to the best of my abilities with the same attention and care and solicitude that a CEO ran a company.
That understanding led me to adopt a Rule of Life, which is a conscious fulfillment of the responsibilities of one's vocation, worked out in a reasonable fashion.
I based my Mother's Rule on the wise words of a priest who told me about the five "Ps" or priorities of the married vocation -- Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent and Provider -- in this hierarchical order.
I analyzed what these priorities involved and worked them into a basic schedule that would ensure I was doing all my jobs well!
Q: How is your "Rule" more than simply a schedule?
Pierlot: A Rule of Life differs from a schedule in two main ways.
First, it deals with the essential responsibilities of one's vocation, determined by the charism and apostolate of my specific calling. But secondly, the difference lies in the intent.
I can follow a schedule to get things done, or to please myself. But to follow a Rule is to live one's life as a response to the call of God with the intent of saying "Yes" to all God asks of me, just like the Blessed Mother when she said "Behold the handmaid of the Lord."
In my Rule, it is God himself who asks "Will you go put on a load of laundry" and my "Yes" to him thus makes all that I do holy and supernatural, no matter how mundane it appears on the surface.
Q: How can your "Rule" be personalized for other women in their particular circumstances?
Pierlot: I tried to present in "A Mother's Rule of Life" basic questions that each woman can ask herself to tailor-make a Rule suited to her unique personality, family situation and circumstance.
By asking herself simple and essential questions, any woman can work out her own Rule, whether she has many or few children, or works in or outside of the home.
A Rule of Life is applicable to all lay persons, dads and single persons too, as well as religious and priests.
Q: What fruit have you seen from ordering life and home in this manner?
Pierlot: A Rule of Life has so many benefits: Life calms down; my work gets done; my home is in order. The family is more peaceful. I have time for prayer and personal time. My spiritual life takes on a deeper meaning. God comes.
I believe living a Mother's Rule is as God intends motherhood to be lived -- for the fruits of happiness and peace are gifts he wants to give us. A Rule helps us access those gifts.
Q: Do you ever go off your Rule?
Pierlot: Being human, I do fall from time to time, and often without being aware that I have slacked off or gotten off track. But all of a sudden I notice the overwhelmed feelings are back and I think, "Hey! I've slipped!"
Fortunately, with a Rule of Life, getting back on track can begin immediately -- for it's only a decision away -- and I begin to feel the joy and peace of orderly living once again.