Saturday, February 5, 2011


DISCLAIMER - I have really been struggling with this post. I feel that I have some relevant things to say but have not had the opportunity to write it as well as i would like. Sadly I am at the point of not writing the blog at all so I would rather post something imperfect than not at all. 

Well, Ladies, January has been an interesting month. My son started pre-school. My daughter was teething. My father came home from a care center which is great but we were hoping he would be walking and not remain in a wheelchair. Certainly none of these things are bad but it does entail a certain amount of upheaval. It has been difficult to keep centered.

If you read my last post you know that I reached out to the communion of saints for help. Let me state that this was not a part of my Catholic upbringing so it is a bit new to me. I've written several papers about the theology of the communion of saints but it's easy to hide behind footnotes as it were. So I decided to get to know some of the saints personally. This is not a post about my discovery of the saints but where the study of them has led me.

One thing that I discovered is that God shines through in small but profound ways. Another thing I noticed is that average people were able to accomplish extraordinary things. Many of the saints are from religious orders. I know being in a religious order has its challenges but it got me thinking that it has the advantage of a daily routine. That's the point of many of them; you have a routine based on prayer. 

We moms try to keep a routine. We know this every time we curtail a shopping trip or something enjoyable to make sure that the baby has a nap on time. There is also the disadvantage that motherhood is not necissarely prayer centered. We have all met those mothers who might take care of the physical needs of their children but who treat them as objects. Then when the children get older and have no affection for their mothers the mothers cry: "Oh, I made them food!" or "After all I did for them!" And then they sneer and cry because it was always about them (the mothers). But if you look at it, people who work at soup kitchens for years prepare more meals than the average mother. Mother Theresa cared for more ill people than the average mother. So what is the difference? 

I think it is that many mothers do not having a loving focus. We have difficulty getting to church much less every day. And if a toddler decides he doesn't want to be at church... well, you know the result. So I prayed for something, a focus to get me through the days (and nights) of motherhood. This is what came to me:


The typical English translation of this is "Where there is charity and love there [also]  is God". I take issue with this translation because it does not fully encompass the meaning of the word 'caritas'. Caritas is not just charity. It is the spirit of love which prompts action. Caritas is what keeps mothers (and people who volunteer in soup kitchens) from burning out or resenting their role. Caritas demands action. 

There are a few more things I would like to bring up that might help us moms along. The first is that we must always remember when we deal with our children that they are God's children before they are ours. This means that we are NOT at liberty to do what we like with them. We will be held accountable for our actions.

The second thing is that our role as mothers (and fathers or caregivers) is to make our children fit for the kingdom of heaven. We cannot think that we are terrible parents because we cannot buy all the stuff our kids want. We also cannot think that because there is ample food on the table that we are amazing parents. We must take care of their physical needs. We must get our children to strive for their dreams. But we must also teach them to discern God's call in their lives.

The third thing that we must remember is that we are also God's children. This means that we must maintain healthy boundaries for ourselves. We are not perfect. We are not called to be perfect. But too often we think that we need to have all the answers. We don't. Or when we think "what is the most loving thing to do in this situation" the answer always seems to be giving more of ourselves than we can give. Perhaps a better question would be "what does God wish for me and my family?" The answer will be very different. It will not include "run yourself ragged" (we already do!) or "say 'yes' so much that you get no respect" or "let the man take the money and leave you and the children in a vulnerable situation". After much prayer you may decide it would be best to leave that high-paying job and scale back at home or even to get a job. What is it that God wishes for us? We are also His children.

So, Ladies, when we go about our tasks as mothers, tasks, might I add, that will go unnoticed and unappreciated but are necessary none the less, let us remind ourselves of God's love.


God is with us. He loves us. We do not have to do this alone even if we are in the house alone with sick children all day. 

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