Fruit of the Mystery Detachment/Poverty of Spirit
God Alone Can Satisfy
by Steph Bartolomeo
It was just another Saturday morning as we were getting ready to get our home enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, until I got a text from my dad that my mom had unexpectedly passed away that morning. My husband held me as I felt the pain of the terrible news hit me like a ton of bricks.
We had just moved halfway across the country several months prior to that in search of a better life for our family in a town that had more job opportunities and better housing prices than we were used to in the suburbs of Washington, DC. That also meant we would be further away from our families. All of which were naturally ordered things in life, but on this unexpected journey we came to find that the Lord had different plans for our family. The loss of a parent was the first event that would be followed by a series of physical losses for our family.
I was about 17 weeks pregnant with our third baby when we got the news about my mom. The following day, we packed up the kids and drove to my hometown to help arrange and attend her funeral mass and burial. My mother was a lovely faith filled woman who taught us how to love and serve the Lord. Her loss was felt deeply by all those whom she shared Christ’s love with during her life.
As much as we grieved her not being with us anymore, we also felt a sense of peace and consolation that only the Lord can provide during this time. After a week of praying for her and laying her to rest, it was time to return home. On our drive back, my husband and I both shared simultaneously how we felt a strong desire to move back home. We thought maybe we would be able to move in a couple years after we put some time in this new job and place. But it didn’t seem possible since we had just moved and bought our first home earlier that year.
The day after we got back from our trip, my husband found out he had lost his job. When things like a job loss happen in our lives that cause us hardships, it is easy to forget that the Lord can turn all things into good. As Genesis 50:20 says, “even though you meant harm to me, God meant it for good.” This was one of those scenarios. As terrible as that news was to hear just after losing my mom a week prior, we were both strangely relieved that it meant we might be able to move back home much sooner than we thought.
After the initial shock, we were in awe at the fact that the Lord had placed that desire in our hearts and that we knew there was a reason for it. We made the decision to sell our home and move back halfway across the country while pregnant and with our two small children. This whole process took several months, but in the end we were able to sell our house, pack up our stuff, and move back home just in time for Christmas.
Our family had made a commitment to pray a family rosary every day when we first moved to that new town after listening to one of our priest’s homilies at our Traditional Latin Mass parish. Whenever we got to the third joyful mystery, the nativity, during our family rosary, it felt intimately real. Not only was I contemplating the nativity while pregnant, but we were getting ready to make a journey into the unknown.
It was December and I was 30 something weeks at this point. We sold our first home, we were moving but we didn’t have a new home or job at the time, we didn’t know where I would be having this baby, and would be staying with my in-laws who graciously offered us their home while we figured things out. For the first time I contemplated what Mary and Joseph may have felt during their journey to Bethlehem.
Christmas came and we clung to the mystery of The Infant Child being born in a humble manger as a reminder that our own baby could not possibly be born and come home to a more humble origin. But also as a reminder to willingly accept what came our way. This theme of detachment started to sink in, the loss of a parent, a job, a home, not only was it spiritual poverty but physical poverty in facing the detachment from our material goods.
Spiritually, we realized how much we truly needed God and took Him for granted with the perception that we are the makers of our own circumstances. While not everyone is called to experience the type of losses we did, this led us to realize how much the Lord continued to provide for us and our need for Him beyond material goods. During the Holy Mass, He satisfied us. When finances started to get tight, He found a way to provide exactly what we needed.
In the months that followed, we welcomed our new baby girl. Almost everything during her birth went as well as we could have imagined. She was such an easygoing baby and brought so much joy to our hearts after months of so much heartache. We felt her presence as a gift from God and we might not have experienced so much joy during her arrival had we not detached from the losses and burdens we were faced with. Things started to fall into place: our baby was here, a new job, and the prospect of a new home where our family could continue to grow.
A full year went by since we initially packed up to move back home. On December 8, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, we closed and moved to our new home which was so providentially picked out for us. Things didn’t happen the way we planned, but in the process we learned to trust in the Lord in ways beyond our imagination. We all have attachments that we probably don’t realize we have that keep us from relying on Him fully. In our case, losing a parent, a job, and a home also led us to realize our own spiritual poverty. In the end, when we openly accept what comes our way, we realize that only God alone can satisfy, and whatever could cause you harm, God uses for good.
About Steph: Stephanie is a cradle Catholic, wife, and mama. She is married to her college sweetheart from Mount St. Mary’s University, where she studied Theology and International Relations. She was born in Lima, Peru but grew up in Northern Virginia with her parents and two older siblings. Stephanie and her husband have three children and are expecting their fourth baby in late February. They settled in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where they homeschool their children.