Saturday, January 3, 2015

Age Quod Agis

Age quod agis is a Latin saying that means, "Do well what you are doing."

That has been my internal motto for the last week and what we have been doing is enduring influenza.

Three adults (Grampa Neil is visiting) and four children have succumbed at the rate of about one new patient per day. God has been merciful in that only one adult at a time has been incapacitated. I am also appreciative that so far we haven't suffered any of the frightening respiratory complications that make flu so dangerous, our only complication an absolutely interesting one: John seemed to come down with a textbook case of benign acute myositis.

I, for one, like my plans and like my control. For the Christmas octave, I'd been drafting a list of things to do for a month. As the week was around the corner, I sketched out on my wall calendar how each day we would do one festive activity and one chore, those kind of big annual chores aided so much by having Grampa in the house to babysit the children. This was going to be so great. Just think of all the great memories I would be creating for my family? Me, all me!

Then the first child's fever spiked to 104 within an hour and we all succumbed, one by one.

Plans to host our New Year's Eve party? Cancelled.

Plans to attend a Christmas and Epiphany party? Down the tubes.

Hopes to be a wonderful, entertaining hostess for Grampa and have a clean house while he is here? Gone in a puff of smoke.

Intentions to plan curriculum and lesson plans for the upcoming semester and to clean out Chris' home office? Not happening.

As my glorious plans crumbled before my eyes, my anxiety rose and my thoughts raced. And then I succumbed to influenza and was awake for 36 hours straight, due to the pain that ibuprofen wouldn't reduce, but stuck in bed, so weak that rolling over caused me to lie there panting with a racing heart.

That is when I began telling myself over and over again, age quod agis. Age quod agis. Age quod agis.
Katherine, do what you are doing. What you are doing is being sick. Just be sick. God is allowing you to be sick, he's allowing your husband to be well and take care of the house, he's allowing all the children to fall sick. Be sick, offer it up, and lie there. You aren't planning school work right now, you aren't making lemon curd with your daughter like she asked, and you aren't attending a party: you are being sick. So, be sick.
Last week, I read (okay, devoured) "Momnipotent" by Danielle Bean, a book I recommend. Don't be like me and get somehow confused by the title, thinking wrongly that it is another book about how moms can "do it all" (be omnipotent) if only they "do it all right." I couldn't bear to read another book like that and burden my expectations further, but when someone gifted me the book, I bothered to start reading it and this book is entirely different.

Mrs. Bean devotes a chapter to doing what you are doing, a concept I'd heard of some years ago in Catholic circles and which she explains well in modern language.
"If you have trouble just 'doing what you are doing,' ask yourself, in moments where you are tempted to distraction, 'Does my vocation require that I be [fill in the blank here; chopping vegetables, tying a toddler's sneaker, shopping for groceries, feeding a baby, driving a carpool, talking to my teenager] right now?'
No matter how small the task, if the answer to that question is yes, then it is enough. There, in that moment, you are giving 100 percent of yourself to the work God calls you to, and you do not need to be thinking about or doing anything else.
Repeat after me: 'This is enough. I am busy enough. I am doing enough.'"

I don't know about you, but I find it tremendously difficult to ever admit that I am doing enough, no matter how much of a frenetically hard worker I am.

While I could do little else but be sick, a loving Catholic emailed me an additional quotation to help me during this time:

"God has not placed perfection in the multiplicity of acts we perform to please Him,
but only in the way we perform them, which is simply to do the little we do according to our vocation, in love, by love, and for love."

--St. Francis de Sales

In summary: do what you are doing in love, by love, and for love, and that is enough.

Sometimes we have to discern God's will and sometimes God's will for us is very easy to understand (lie in bed with influenza).

School planning will wait and, in fact, any school itself will wait until we are better. There are always more festivities and holy days. There will be time to clean the house for the rest of my life.

Take the temperature with love. Check on each child in the middle of the night with love. Refill their water bottles with love. Throw away trash bins full of facial tissue with love. Walk slowly with one's aching body with love. Change the latest television show while they lie around coughing on the sofas with love. Hold the burning-up-feverish baby for 24 hours straight with love. Lie in bed, oneself incapacitated, with love. Ask for help with love.

And that is enough.


  1. What a beautiful meditation. There's also the (perhaps less "religious") motto "Look on the bright side". So, in looking on the bright side-to my understanding, no one was sick Christmas Day, when there was Mass to attend and presents to open! :) Prayers for quick healing! <3 -Emiliann W.

  2. Words of wisdom. God bless you all. Get well soon.

  3. I'm so sorry you were ill... It's ok to be disappointed while still doing what one must. I hope you are recovered very soon.

  4. So sorry you all got sick!!!!

  5. I can totally relate to this blog post. We got his hard with the flu this season and my husband was a terrific nurse to everyone while I stressed about all the fun parties we were missing and traditions with the kids that I was not following through on! I'm also finishing Danielle's book Momnipotent and have found comfort in her light-hearted view of Catholic Motherhood! I hope that you are all on the track to recovery very soon!

  6. So sorry to hear of the illness in the family. Hope that everyone is on the mend and back in full force soon. :)