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Among Women 188: Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood and Ours

Among Women 188: Mary’s Spiritual Motherhood and Ours

This new episode of Among Women discusses Mary’s spiritual maternity, her spiritual motherhood of the Church, and of us! The recent Marian feasts of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Immaculate Conception gives the perfect liturgical setting to call women to go deeper with Mary. Not only that, I give my summarization of spiritual motherhood — an aspect of the feminine genius that all women are called to exercise in imitation of Mary, our mother.

Screen Shot 2014-12-13 at 2.41.32 PMAlso in this show, I enjoy a conversation with Mary Matheus, this year’s Treasurer of the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW). Together we talk about how the NCCW shines the light on the leadership of women in the Church and in the world.

As a special additional feature of today’s show, I’m sharing my keynote address from the NCCW’s 2013 annual conventional — “What the World Needs Now are Spiritual Mothers.” Be sure to listen to that talk after the interview with Mary Matheus.

photoThe theme of spiritual motherhood is very dear to my heart, and I spend a few chapters on this subject in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood. This show features an opportunity to win a free copy of the book in a random drawing I’m having now until Dec 21. Listen for more details on Among Women 188.

Listen the latest show, Among Women 188, or choose a show from our archives. 

Catholic Digest: What the World Needs Now — is Spiritual Mothers like YOU!

Catholic Digest: What the World Needs Now — is Spiritual Mothers like YOU!

So happy to see that Catholic Digest is putting more and more older print articles online! As a longtime lover of periodicals, I have to say, I’m loving the new and improved Catholic Digest! It’s blessing me each month.

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Here’s a little snippet from an article I had in Catholic Digest earlier this fall:

Spiritual motherhood means nurturing the spiritual, moral, emotional, and cultural life in others. Not all women give birth to children, yet all women are called to exercise a spiritual maternity in the world—giving care and nurture to others through their own maternal gift. (And, of course, spiritual mothering should be part of every physical mother’s care!)

To understand spiritual motherhood or spiritual maternity properly, we need to broaden our understanding of the gift of maternity. Growing up I considered maternity limited to nine months of pregnancy. Later in life, I read John Paul II’s 1988 apostolic letter,Mulieris Dignatatem (“On the Dignity and Vocation of Women”) and gained a new perspective.

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way….This entrusting concerns women in a special way—precisely by reason of their femininity—and this in a particular way determines their vocation…. A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting… (par. 30.)

In this section of the document, John Paul describes the universal vocation of all women, not just women who bear children. God entrusts all women, by reason of their femininity—their design—to care for humanity. Maternal care, in a spiritual way, is not limited to childcare, but should be active in all phases of a woman’s life. Spiritual mothering doesn’t smother or infantilize teens or adults but loves and serves them according to the needs of the person one is caring for. It brings a motherly touch to our human relationships, and to our work—especially the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity, is a powerful example. Mother Teresa displayed spiritual mothering in action. Her words, actions, and prayers mothered millions—not biologically, but spiritually.

Spiritual mothers in our midst

You might understand spiritual motherhood by answering the question: Who has spiritually mothered you?

Aunt Pat

My earliest memory of my godmother, whose name I bear, is when she took me into “the big city,” New York. As a child back then, it was a big deal. Aunt Pat made a fuss over me, giving me undivided attention. And I felt…special, doted upon, loved. Today Aunt Pat still remembers my birthdays and other occasions. Though separated by geographical distance, I immediately recognize the cards she sends by mail. Her handwriting on the envelopes is an unmistakably Catholic-schoolgirl-script from a bygone era, full of feminine flourishes. The messages inside are always warm and full of prayers. Her correspondence grounds me, and it reminds where I come from. She teaches me that love stretches over time and distance.

Paula

Paula lived in my church community when I  was growing up. A bit older than me, she befriended me in my teens and remained in my life after I married in my twenties. When I became a mother, I went through a time when I felt like I was drowning in the stress of it all. Paula, a prayerful wife and then mother of three, threw me a lifeline by re-introducing me to the Blessed Mother as a friend and guide. I needed to bring Mary out of the church and into my home. Decades later, I still have the prayer book Paula gave me. It helped me ask Mary to intercede for me, through morning sickness, sleepless nights, and a myriad of new mother woes. Paula taught me that prayer is critical to my vocation as a wife and mother.

Eileen

When our family moved to a new town, I met Eileen, another woman with a devotion to the Blessed Mother. With a quick wit and three boys of her own, Eileen’s door was always open, her coffeepot was always on, and she gave great hugs. I soaked up our many friendly conversations and the Rosaries we prayed aloud around her kitchen table. Like the older women described in the New Testament Letter to Titus (see Titus 2:3–4). Her example deepened my devotion to the Rosary and the desire to be that kind of friend to someone else. Eileen taught me the power of welcome and cheerful service.

Judi

I met Judi in the back of the church in 1996. She stayed after Mass to pray, but accidentally overheard my whispered conversation in a nearby pew. I was newly diagnosed with breast cancer and was expressing shock over it to a friend. Before leaving, Judi introduced herself. She had fought the disease years earlier and simply wanted to show me the face of someone who survived it. That was a holy moment for me. She was a godsend. Judi became hope incarnate to me. We stayed in touch and Judi helped me negotiate cancer treatment and recovery. She was a one-woman support group and mentor rolled into one. In time we shared our love of writing, books, and the Bible. Her favorite Gospel story was the Transfiguration when Jesus’ friends momentarily saw him glorified—a glimpse of heaven on earth! I think of her when I pray that Luminous Mystery of the Rosary. Judi was my friend for ten years until her death. She taught me how to suffer well and live joyously at the same time.

Read the rest. 

Better yet, subscribe to Catholic Digest for just $21.95!

This makes me think… it’s one of the best definitions of spiritual motherhood I’ve read

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.

If all women embraced the call to spiritual motherhood they would ignite a nuclear reaction that would spread the culture of life through the whole world. The feminine genius would set the whole world on fire!

-Katrina Zeno, Discovering the Feminine Genius-

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I explore the theme of spiritual motherhood, and much more, in my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious.

10 Ways You Can Spot a Spiritual Mother! (Read it in Catholic Digest this month!)

10 Ways You Can Spot a Spiritual Mother! (Read it in Catholic Digest this month!)

Scan 132460001I’ve gushed before about my excitement over Catholic Digest’s new layout and renewal under Danielle Bean’s leadership. Let me say, again, I’m pleased as can be not only to pen the Year of Faith column on one of my favorite subjects — The Catechism! — but this month’s issue features my ode to the spiritual mothers in my life, including my Godmother-Auntie, several good girlfriends that God strategically placed in my life at different times, and Mary! Of course none of these gals replaced my own mother’s holy influence. It just goes to show that the feminine genius is not only inherent in women, but it can flourish with encouragement from others!

Here’s a peak from one of the sidebars, from the Catholic Digest feature: “What the World Needs Now is Spiritual Mothers — like YOU!”:

10 Ways You Can Spot a Spiritual Mother…

She nurtures others to become who they are meant to be in God’s eyes.

She recognizes, affirms, and protects human dignity.

She performs spiritual and corporal works of mercy with maternal care.

She helps others by her encouraging words and charitable service.

She prays for and with others as an intercessor for them, especially priests.

She practices the arts of friendship and hospitality.

She passes on what she knows as a mentor when asked.

She is a joy catalyst.

She keeps Christ close in her heart by imitating Mary.

She is a woman of holy influence who helps to give birth to saints

Has someone been a spiritual mother in your life? I’d love to hear about it in the combox.

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Order your annual subscription to Catholic Digest here. You can event get a free trial issue!

This makes me think… that spiritual motherhood is a calling for every woman…

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.

-Katrina Zeno-

Discovering the Feminine Genius: Every Woman’s Journey

An “office Mom’s” maternal gift brings compassion, nurture, mentoring, and dignity to the workplace

In my book, Blessed, Beautiful, and Bodacious,  one area of focus is the maternal gift that women bring to the world  based on their feminine nature. This maternal nature is part of God’s design of womanhood, as Blessed John Paul II taught, in that the human person is entrusted to women in a special way because of this gift of maternity.

The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way – precisely by reason of their femininity – and this in a particular way determines their vocation…

A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting… (John Paul II, Mulieris Dignatatem, 30)

Often, women help to humanize the situations they are in; they are all about “relationships”and how well people mesh together. This is one of the strengths of women, and when exercised in friendly and respectful ways, women become a life-giving resource in our society, especially in the workplace. In this recent piece in the Wall Street Journal, we see this demonstrated, as writer Katherine Rosman asks the question: “Who’s Your Office Mom?”

The office mom is shorthand for a figure in many offices: the colleague who remembers everyone’s birthdays and brings in cupcakes. She has Advil and tissues in her desk drawer. She knows your significant other is all wrong for you—and will say so.

She is often an office manager but can be a senior executive, too. Just as people talk about their “office spouse,” a colleague they spend time with and confide in, the office mom is asserting herself as the matriarch of the office family. This is especially true for more companies as they ditch private offices in favor of open-space desks where senior staff members sit among the junior and every personal phone call is overheard.

The office mom is almost always a woman and often slightly older than other colleagues. She might actually be a mother, but not necessarily. A relationship with her is complex like all family relationships tend to be: A younger employee might want to please her professionally, even as she grits her teeth listening to her personal advice.

Screen Shot 2013-04-07 at 1.41.43 PMHow an office mom might operate? I think it is as individual as a woman herself. Someone might offer to celebrate birthdays and such, but then, another might change the office culture just by being thoughtful, as in this case where a woman serves her co-workers when she sees needs and intentionally  sets out to fill them:

In an economy where companies can grow quickly without the infrastructure of human resources, an office mom is about more than birthday cakes. Pamela Mendoza is the executive assistant and office manager at Udemy, a Silicon Valley online education company. At 38, she is one of the oldest in the office. When new people move to town to join the company, she offers advice on finding apartments and restaurants. She shares her feelings about the importance of a work-life balance. Recently, she ordered a dining room table for the center of the office to encourage people to step away from their computers for long enough to eat lunch. “It’s not the job, it’s my personality,” Ms. Mendoza says.

For Eliza Davidson, a 23-year-old recent college graduate, Ms. Mendoza’s support has been a comfort. Ms. Davidson says: “Pamela has been a great guide for the more quote-unquote ‘adult things’ I need to care about, like health care and taxes.”

Some office moms say they take on the role without thinking—they are moms at home and don’t know how to switch it off. Others become office moms because nurturing younger colleagues gives them an outlet for maternal energy.

The rest of the WSJ article is here.

The mission of women in the world at large is to nurture and care for it… that includes the people in her sphere of influence.

For more on this subject of women and work, especially, faith-filled women at work, you might be interested in this recent Among Women podcast with Mary Wallace, author of the blog The Working Catholic Mom.