Spiritual motherhood… means nurturing the emotional, moral, cultural, and spiritual life in others.
All women are called to give birth — physically and/or spiritually. All women are called to be Christ bearers, to receive divine life in the womb of their souls and bear Christ to the world. All women are called to see in Mary’s spiritual motherhood a reflection of their own lives.
[Paraphrasing Jesus:] “I did not wipe tears from the face of sorrow to lay sorry by. I did not touch pain with a fierce redeeming beauty to have done with it; I cannot give myself into the arms of death to cast death aside! I made all these things my own that they glory of these things should be yours, that while they remain with you, I shall remain with them.”
He has taken all those things to himself, and has changed them for us. Sorrow has not ceased to be sorrow, but it is no longer simply a punishment, it is something with its power of healing in itself, something that redeems, something that makes joy possible to men.
Christ experienced the bitterness of sorrow, living our life, that we might experience its splendor living his…
…having taken the weakness of our nature, he has made it or strength. Now, if we set out to bear one another’s burdens, we know that however heavy they are, however hard to us, Christ has already borned them, and bears them now.
The soul of woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human beings; it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as not to benumb fragile buds; clear, so that no vermin will settle in dark corners and recesses; self-contained, so that no invasions from without can imperil the inner life; empty of itself, in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, it is mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call.
Jesus is not dead, he has risen, he is alive! He does not simply return to life; rather, he is life itself, because he is the Son of God, the living God (cf. Num 14:21-28; Deut 5:26; Josh 3:10). Jesus no longer belongs to the past, but lives in the present and is projected towards the future; Jesus is the everlasting “today” of God. This is how the newness of God appears to the women, the disciples and all of us: as victory over sin, evil and death, over everything that crushes life and makes it seem less human. And this is a message meant for me and for you dear sister, for you dear brother. How often does Love have to tell us: Why do you look for the living among the dead? Our daily problems and worries can wrap us up in ourselves, in sadness and bitterness… and that is where death is. That is not the place to look for the One who is alive! Let the risen Jesus enter your life, welcome him as a friend, with trust: he is life! If up till now you have kept him at a distance, step forward. He will receive you with open arms. If you have been indifferent, take a risk: you won’t be disappointed. If following him seems difficult, don’t be afraid, trust him, be confident that he is close to you, he is with you and he will give you the peace you are looking for and the strength to live as he would have you do.
-Pope Francis, Easter Vigil, Homily, 2013-
Jesus Christ our Savior, true God and true Man, ought to be the last end of all our devotions, else they are false and delusive. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, of all things. We labor not, as the Apostle says, except to render every man perfect in Jesus Christ; because it is in Him alone that the whole plenitude of the Divinity dwells together with all the other plenitudes of graces, virtues, and perfections.
It is in Him alone that we have been blessed with all spiritual benediction; and He is our only Master, Who has to teach us; our only Lord on Whom we ought to depend; our only Head to Whom we must be united; our only Model to Whom we should conform ourselves; our only Physician Who can heal us; our only Shepherd Who can feed us; our only Way Who can lead us; our only Truth Whom we must believe; our only Life Who can animate us; and our only All in all things Who can satisfy us. There has been no other name given under heaven, except the name of Jesus, by which we can be saved. God has laid no other foundation of our salvation, our perfection, or our glory, than Jesus Christ. Every building which is not built on that firm rock is founded upon the moving sand, and sooner or later infallibly will fall.
By Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ, we can do all things; we can render all honor and glory to the Father in the unity of the Holy [Spirit]; we can become perfect ourselves, and be to our neighbor a good [fragrance] of eternal life.
If, then, we establish solid devotion to our Blessed Lady, it is only to establish more perfectly devotion to Jesus Christ, and to provide an easy and secure means for finding Jesus Christ. Devotion to Our Lady is necessary for us… as a means of finding Jesus perfectly, of loving Him tenderly, of serving Him faithfully.
-St Louis de Montfort-
True Devotion to Mary, (no. 61, 62.)
May the Blessed Virgin help men and women in our time
clearly understand God’s plan for femininity.
Called to the highest vocation of divine motherhood,
Our Lady is the exemplary woman. . . .
May Mary obtain for women throughout the world
an enlightened and active awareness
of their dignity, gifts, and mission.
- John Paul II -
Angelus Message - June 18, 1995
*These words from Blessed John Paul II, gave me the organizing principle for my new book — on the dignity, gifts, and mission of women — with great zeal for its Marian dimensions. The book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is on sale today at Amazon, or Barnes and Noble. Ask for it at your local Catholic bookseller or order it from Ave Maria Press.
[T]he Bible begins and ends with marriage– the marriage of Adam and Eve is the high point of the creation story in Genesis, and the marriage of the New Adam and the New Eve, Christ and the Church, is the high point of the story in the book of Revelation. Furthermore… the first human words spoken in the Bible, “This as last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh!” (Gen 2:23), are words of the bridegroom’s desire for his bride? And… the final human words spoken in the Bible are… the words of the Bride’s desire for the coming of her Bridegroom: “The Spirit and the bride say ‘Come!’… ‘Come Lord Jesus’” (Rev. 22:17, 20).
The whole story of our salvation… is framed by the desire of the bridegroom for union with the bride, and the desire of the Bride for union with the Bridegroom. Bring those two desires together to meet in the middle of the story and guess where you are… the “sacred love” of the Song of Songs.
The Song of Songs is first… a duet between passionate human lovers. But it is also, as countless saints attest, an image of the passionate love God has for us and we are meant to have for him… We exist because God wants to make a gift of himself to us, and because God wants to share his own infinite goodness and bliss with us. And that bliss is what we desire at our deepest level…
Being a Christian, then, means learning how to direct eros toward that which truly satisfies: the “nuptial union” of Christ and the Church. In short, these heavenly nuptials are what we long for (desire); they’re what we’re created for (design); and they’re what we’re headed for (destiny).
- Christopher West, Fill These Hearts, 2013, Image Books. -
This makes me think… about how Jesus raises our dignity… (A fantastic quote from Fr. Michael Gaitley’s new book)
A question came up about the Incarnation: “So what happens when the eternal God becomes incarnate and enters time as a man?” I answered by saying,”Well, it make the events in the life of such a man utterly unique. They become ‘God events’ that happen in time but transcend all time.” In other words, every action of Jesus during his earthly life had a huge significance. Whatever he did became a divine event, and it sanctified that specific human activity. For instance, when he worked, human work was raised to a divine dignity. When he rested, human rest was raised to a divine dignity. When he lived with Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, family life was raised to a divine dignity. But there was one event that’s the foundation for all of these actions: the very fact of becoming man.
…by taking on a human nature, Jesus raised that nature to a divine dignity. But what exactly does this mean? Well, look at it this way: If God had become an ant, then what would have happened to the dignity of ants? Ants would have been raised to divine dignity, and in every ant, we would see the face of God. But God didn’t become an ant. He became a man. And now we see God in every human face: “Jesus has a unique relationship with every person, which enables us to see in every human face the face of Christ.” (Evangelium Vitae, par 81 ) Indeed, “In every child which is born and in every person who lives or dies we see the image of God’s glory. We celebrate this glory in evey human being, a sign of the living God, an icon of Jesus Christ.” (Evangelium Vitae, par 84) What a beautiful expression! Because of the Incarnation, every human being is a “sign of the living God” and an “icon of Jesus Christ” — now that’s divine dignity.
- Fr. Michael Gaitley MIC, The ‘One Thing’ is Three, 2013, Marian Press -
You can read my review of Fr Michael Gaitley’s new book on Good Reads.
This makes me think… about the genius of Benedict, and the clarity of his teaching…and the meaning of life
Benedict XVI is a biblical scholar and an expert in Augustine’s writing and teaching. This section of his encyclical, Spe Salvi, is simple and profound, much like Augustine himself would teach.
27. [I]t is true that anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life (cf. Eph 2:12). Man’s great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God—God who has loved us and who continues to love us “to the end,” until all “is accomplished” (cf. Jn 13:1 and 19:30). Whoever is moved by love begins to perceive what “life” really is. He begins to perceive the meaning of the word of hope that we encountered in the Baptismal Rite: from faith I await “eternal life”—the true life which, whole and unthreatened, in all its fullness, is simply life. Jesus, who said that he had come so that we might have life and have it in its fullness, in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), has also explained to us what “life” means: “this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). Life in its true sense is not something we have exclusively in or from ourselves: it is a relationship. And life in its totality is a relationship with him who is the source of life. If we are in relation with him who does not die, who is Life itself and Love itself, then we are in life. Then we “live”.
28. Yet now the question arises: are we not in this way falling back once again into an individualistic understanding of salvation, into hope for myself alone, which is not true hope since it forgets and overlooks others? Indeed we are not! Our relationship with God is established through communion with Jesus—we cannot achieve it alone or from our own resources alone. The relationship with Jesus, however, is a relationship with the one who gave himself as a ransom for all (cf. 1 Tim 2:6). Being in communion with Jesus Christ draws us into his “being for all”; it makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with him does it become possible truly to be there for others, for the whole…
Loving God requires an interior freedom from all possessions and all material goods: the love of God is revealed in responsibility for others. This same connection between love of God and responsibility for others can be seen in a striking way in the life of Saint Augustine. After his conversion to the Christian faith, he decided, together with some like-minded friends, to lead a life totally dedicated to the word of God and to things eternal. His intention was to practise a Christian version of the ideal of the contemplative life expressed in the great tradition of Greek philosophy, choosing in this way the “better part” (cf. Lk10:42). Things turned out differently, however. While attending the Sunday liturgy at the port city of Hippo, he was called out from the assembly by the Bishop and constrained to receive ordination for the exercise of the priestly ministry in that city. Looking back on that moment, he writes in his Confessions: “Terrified by my sins and the weight of my misery, I had resolved in my heart, and meditated flight into the wilderness; but you forbade me and gave me strength, by saying: ‘Christ died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died’ (cf. 2 Cor 5:15)”. Christ died for all. To live for him means allowing oneself to be drawn into his being for others.
29. For Augustine this meant a totally new life. He once described his daily life in the following terms: “The turbulent have to be corrected, the faint-hearted cheered up, the weak supported; the Gospel’s opponents need to be refuted, its insidious enemies guarded against; the unlearned need to be taught, the indolent stirred up, the argumentative checked; the proud must be put in their place, the desperate set on their feet, those engaged in quarrels reconciled; the needy have to be helped, the oppressed to be liberated, the good to be encouraged, the bad to be tolerated; all must be loved”. “The Gospel terrifies me”—producing that healthy fear which prevents us from living for ourselves alone and compels us to pass on the hope we hold in common. Amid the serious difficulties facing the Roman Empire—and also posing a serious threat to Roman Africa, which was actually destroyed at the end of Augustine’s life—this was what he set out to do: to transmit hope, the hope which came to him from faith and which, in complete contrast with his introverted temperament, enabled him to take part decisively and with all his strength in the task of building up the city. In the same chapter of the Confessions in which we have just noted the decisive reason for his commitment “for all”, he says that Christ “intercedes for us, otherwise I should despair. My weaknesses are many and grave, many and grave indeed, but more abundant still is your medicine. We might have thought that your word was far distant from union with man, and so we might have despaired of ourselves, if this Word had not become flesh and dwelt among us”. On the strength of his hope, Augustine dedicated himself completely to the ordinary people and to his city—renouncing his spiritual nobility, he preached and acted in a simple way for simple people.
—Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, par 27-29. (Bold emphasis, mine.)
It takes three to make Love in Heaven –
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It takes three for Heaven to make love to earth –
God, Man, and Mary, through whom God became Man.
It takes three to make love in the Holy Family –
Mary, and Joseph, and the consummation of their love, Jesus.
It takes three to make love in hearts –
The Lover, the Beloved, and Love.
– Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, Three to Get Married