As Catholic women, regardless of our vocation or state in life, we are all called to motherhood.
Whether we are single, married or a religious, we are still expected to be fruitful and multiply.
Some of us are called to be biological mothers and some of us to be spiritual mothers.
Motherhood is not just limited to biological maternity; it is also spiritual maternity.
Mary provides a great example of motherhood perfected. Not only was she receptive to biological life in her Fiat, she also became a spiritual mother by nurturing and fostering the development of the early church, and she continues her role as spiritual mother through the years to us all today.
To those who are married, but have never had the chance of adopting or birthing our own children, you are and you can still be a mother.
Our religious sisters understand their calling to be spiritual mothers. They live their consecrated life to the fullest through spiritual motherhood. Religious sisters have mothered countless of souls in orphanages, classrooms, shelters and more.
When you look around, you can see lots of people desperate for a mother, for someone to listen, to care, to share motherly advice, love and nurturing. Some people grew up without a mother; some lost their mothers at a young age; some had mothers that were not there, physically or emotionally. Many of them are lost souls, in need of compassion, nurturing, mothering, YOU.
We all have opportunities to be mothers because God brings people into our lives in order for us to fulfil our calling as women to be mothers. He brings these humans into our lives in several different ways, whether through pregnancy or through the people who interact with us at work, college, in the parish or in our local neighbourhood. The important thing is that we are receptive and open to human life.
You see, motherhood, biological or spiritual, is the very essence and core of femininity. Our very feminine nature is innately life-giving and this is such a beautiful gift.
You will find motherhood to be extremely fulfilling because when you give life to others (biologically or spiritually), you will discover that you receive life in return.
If you are unmarried or childless and you feel empty because you do not have your own child, pour out that love, that natural empathy, that natural maternal urge into volunteer work for the vulnerable (orphanages, hospices or old peoples homes) or perhaps serving in some ministry in your local parish.
You may even feel called to marriage, but while still waiting for your Joseph, pray and ask God to send you spiritual children. You will be surprised at the positive impact being a spiritual mother will have on you when your time comes to be a biological mother.
One of the reasons why feminism can be so toxic is because it views softness, feminine beauty, feminine receptivity, and motherhood as both weaknesses and obstacles to being equal with men.
The Core Traits of Biological or Spiritual Motherhood include:
- Nurturing life, by helping another develop into who God wants them to be,
- Being actively receptive to human life and to the human condition,
- Wanting the best for those under our care,
- Offering guidance and affirmation,
- Having empathy, patience and inherent compassion
- Practising sacrifice and service to others
- Bringing peace, joy and beauty into the lives of others
You will see these core traits in both biological motherhood as well as spiritual motherhood.
My own mother, who was named Mary just like Our Lady, had 6 children, of which I am the youngest. By my early teens, most of my siblings had grown and flown the nest, leaving just me with my mother.
Even though my mother was now past the age of being able to biologically reproduce and she was not actively parenting the majority of her biological children, who were now adults having their own families, my mother still cared for and nurtured her spiritual children.
To the single women in the church at the start of their careers and unable to afford accommodation, my mother would offer them a room in our house until they could find their feet.
To the single men in the church and the church pastor who were on a limited food budget or simply had limited cooking skills due to the absence of female presence, my mother would have them all round our house on Sundays and cook up a huge Sunday lunch for them all.
She cared for the poor, fed the hungry, clothed the naked and always had a ready listening ear and an open welcoming door. Our home was always filled with music, laughter, joy and visitors, a lot of them her spiritual children and a lot of them who have remained in contact with me, years later.
My mother had so many spiritual children, that upon her death, hundreds of them attended her funeral and paid their respect.
Perhaps through a combination of genes and the example that my mother set for me, nurturing and receptivity towards others has become second nature to me as I spend a fair amount of my non-working hours in volunteer work, caring for little children as a Brownies Leader and offering an open heart and listening ear to the many women, youngsters and teens who communicate with me on a variety of issues.
Whether it is through the procreation and upbringing of your biological child or adoption as a wife; through the care and nurturing of your spiritual children as a religious sister; through volunteering at an orphanage, old people’s home, hospice etc; spiritually adopting and caring for your priests, seminarians, or singles in the church; helping out in ministries within your church parish, being a godmother to those entering the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation or those going through RCIA as a single or childless woman, may we all follow Mary’s example of active receptivity to human life and the nurturing of souls entrusted to our care.
ad Jesum per Mariam