The Hilgefort Kitchen

Above our kitchen table we have a plaque with a quote from St. Josemaria Escriva that reads, “When you have finished your work, do your brothers.”  I wish I could report that the Hilgefort family embodies this. Our quote would go something more like, “Not my job.” Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?


Can you imagine what it would be like to live in a home where all are striving to complete their work well and help those around them complete theirs?  I can tell you from my personal experience, there are few things that touch my motherly heart more than when a child seeks to help me without being asked.  I can also tell you from personal experience this happens very infrequently.


This emptying out of oneself is one of the great lessons of the cross.  Christ carried the cross not for Himself, but for everyone else. He is the ultimate example of looking past ourselves.


Looking beyond our own work and struggles, and seeing the work and struggles of those around us is so difficult to instill in our children.  It is so difficult to live ourselves. It is entirely too easy to focus on numero uno.


The older I become, the more I am aware that every person, every family has their struggles.  None of us are above this. However, it also seems to me that we are far too likely to keep these struggles hidden.  Afraid of what others may think, ashamed of our fragile nature, sure that others will not understand, we keep our crosses hidden.  Painful, difficult crosses. We fall under their weight. We isolate ourselves. Of course, this is the work of the devil who always seeks to divide.  Unsure of how to carry our burdens, we take the path of least resistance, and let the world lead us and we stumble along filled with sorrow.


When we struggled with infertility, one of the worst things about it was feeling so alone.  Closing myself off from my family and friends who loved me, I was miserable.


No, we are made by God to be a communion of persons.  Let us not be afraid to seek the help of family and friends and share our struggles.  We will find ourselves surprised that others may be struggling with similar issues. Even if not, we will find ourselves fortified by their prayers and assistance in carrying our crosses.  


Let us also seek friendships with those who truly live their faith with God at the center of their life.  Otherwise, it is like taking a broken watch to a someone who “fixes” it by smashing it with a hammer. Now we are in a worse situation than before.  Advice rooted in the thinking of the world will only make our situation worse and lead us down a darker path. We must seek advice and help from those rooted in the Gospel message.  


A small step for the Hilgefort children would be living St. Jose Marie Escriva’s message in the kitchen.  Ha! It is in the home where our children first learn charity and seeing beyond themselves. This is no small battle!  As I have said, parenting is not for the faint of heart, it is work! However, in teaching our children we reinforce in ourselves this need to walk with our neighbors in their struggles.  We remind ourselves that we too need help carrying our burdens. God intended for us to be a communion of persons, seeking each others sanctification.


Jesus, who carried his cross for the world to see, teach me not to be afraid to share my struggles and seek to help others carry their crosses united to You.  JMJ


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