Week 5: Sustain

Written by Ann Burns

February 25, 2023

When the Villains are Beautiful


As we wrap up our month of February, we will spend a little bit of time focusing on the word sustain. 


What does it mean to sustain the relationships in our lives according to our state in life?







I recently came across some of the work of Mary Stanfordm and thought it was extremely apropos for our reflection. 


She is commenting on St. Edith Stein’s beautiful understanding of the feminine:


“Stein understood our biological design — our bodies — to be revelatory signs of our natures as persons. 


In the tradition of St. Thomas Aquinas, who described the soul as the “form” of the body, Stein saw the female body’s particular shape to be an expression of interior, spiritual powers within her. 


A person is a union of the physical and spiritual; as such, a woman’s physical capacities to accommodate and sustain another person only scratch the surface of her interior abilities to nurture others beyond herself. 


Stein noted that women possess a unique capacity for intuition, empathy, and adaptability; she identified what John Paul II would later refer to as “the feminine genius”: a singular ability to pay attention to another person


Oriented by design to the concrete, living “whole” rather than the abstract “part,” a woman is naturally interested in the multi-faceted details of the persons around her. (Modern neuroscientists have recently confirmed what Stein addressed a century ago: that women have better memories of personal events and are more proficient at multitasking!). 


Symbolized by her womb — a physical “space” — a woman’s spirit was described by Stein as “shelter in which other souls may unfold.” 


She longs to nurture the potential in others, to foster their organic development through her relationships with them; as such, a woman tends to draw satisfaction and a sense of self-worth in and through those very relationships.”


You can read the full article here:


What Are You Doing to Sustain the Relationships in Your Life?


Here are some ideas:


As we wrap up February, and enter into Lent, keep sustaining the relationships in your life by adopting Venerable Teresita’s Code of Amiability.  Amiability grows from the virtues of charity, self-knowledge (which stems from humility), meekness, and fortitude.  


Code of Amiability by Venerable Teresita 


  1. To smile until a kindly smile forms readily on one’s lips.
  2. To repress a sign of impatience at the very start.
  3. To add a word of benevolence when giving orders.
  4. To reply positively when asked to do a favor.
  5. To lend a helping hand to the unfortunate.
  6. To please those toward whom one feels repugnance.
  7. To study and satisfy the tastes of those with whom one lives.
  8. To respect everyone.
  9. To avoid complaining.
  10. To correct, if one must, with kindness.


Another thing we can do is to give up any inclination to being overly defensive.  


If someone has a complaint or criticism, instead of immediately reacting, try listening and being receptive.  Choose to listen so you can discern whether or not what is being said is true, and if so, recognize the critique as a grace.  This can be quite the challenge since no one likes to be called out, but in responding with grace and choosing to discern and listen before reacting, we can better maintain harmony and balance. Granted, the moment between having our hackles raised and reacting is a very tiny moment.  Overcoming this tendency requires us to grow in patience and fortitude.  It might help to come up with a mental script or prayer to say to ourselves when we find ourselves in such situations.


It’s only when we are able to be truly receptive that we can in turn be truly generous. 


Where do you need to be more generous?


With your time?

  • Do you have time management skills?


  •  Are you charitable and truthful in your speech?
  • Do you give people the benefit of the doubt or make rash judgements?


  • How are you fostering the relationships in your life? Are you building them up or tearing them down?

When I think of the word “sustain” I inevitably end up thinking of a kitchen, splattered with flour, eggs, milk, and bread baking in the oven.  I see aprons and eager little hands wishing to help, as well as taste the goodness coming into existence. 


The kitchen is very much the heart of the home; it’s where we are nourished.  It’s where we are sustained.  Likewise, we as women are also the heart — the heart of society and heart of the family.  


We are the ones who sustain and nurture. 


Lately, I’ve been making soups and baking bread.  Two things that have really afforded me time to reflect on the warmth I wish to provide to those around me. 


Here are two soup recipes I’ve recently made:


Carrot Soup


1.5lb Carrots roasted in oil and a pinch of salt in the oven at 425 for 40 minutes or until tender (I would recommend eyeballing how many carrots you think you need depending on how many you’re cooking for.  I pretty much eyeball everything when I cook. More carrots for more people.)

3 cloves of garlic chopped up and added to a pot with vegetable stock and 1 small onion

Blend the stock and carrots until thick and creamy.  

Add in heavy cream (you can use milk or half and half), ginger, turmeric, and pepper to taste. Stir everything together. 

I like to finish it off with some herbs and parmesan cheese. 


Garlic Chickpea Soup


2 cans (15 oz each) chickpeas

1 potato 

Chili flakes (depends on how much spice you like)

3-4 Garlic cloves 

Italian Seasoning 

2 cups Vegetable broth

Dark Chili Pepper 

Salt & black pepper

Olive oil


Blend one can of chickpeas in a blender until smooth. 


In a pot, saute the chopped garlic in oil until it starts to smell delightful.  Add the remaining can of drained chickpeas, the puréed chickpeas, the chopped up potato, broth, chili flakes, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.  Stir it all up — it should smell AMAZING. 


Put a lid over the pot and bring to a boil, stir and then replace the lid and let it simmer on medium-low for about 25 minutes. 


Serve with drizzled oil and fresh bread. 



Novena to Mary, Queen of All Hearts 


O Mary, Queen of All Hearts, Advocate of the most hopeless cases; Mother most pure, most compassionate; Mother of Divine Love, full of divine light, we confide to your care the favors which we ask of you today. Consider our misery, our tears, our interior trials and sufferings! We know that you can help us through the merits of your Divine Son, Jesus. We promise, if our prayers are heard, to spread your glory, by making you known under the title of Mary, Queen of the Universe. Grant, we beseech you, hear our prayers, for every day you give us so many proofs of your love and your power of intercession to heal both body and soul. We hope against all hope: Ask Jesus to cure us, pardon us, and grant us final perseverance. O Mary, Queen of all Hearts, help us, we have confidence in you. (3 times)

Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time;accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.

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