“After the war there will be many thousands of women who will need to live as Our Lady did after the crucifixion. A generation of mothers will need to know, with the heart, that “there is only one boy, Jesus Christ.” The world’s future will depend upon this, upon everyone’s realising that the survival of all that is worth the cost of a man’s blood depends upon how we foster the Christ-life in the souls of the children, and not only in the children, but in all the reborn of any age.”
― The Reed of God
I have heard it said that Catholicism has had no impact on the world, but in the realm of motherhood, I cannot agree. Traditionally, Catholic mothers see Christ in the face of their children. When the child cries, she hears Our Lord crying from his manger-bed; and the story of a rich and nurturing motherhood modeled by Our Lady is repeated as the mother picks up her child, and comforts and feeds. And, in such a manner, with each child that is born, Christ is born again in the world (Houselander): totally dependent on the maternal hands that nurture, and the maternal heart that loves. At the end of time, this mysterious repeat of the life of Christ will be shown, as Our Lord told us in the Gospel; specifically, Matthew 25:
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, 32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.
37 Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?
38 When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’
40 And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.
41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 a stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.
44 Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?
45 He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.’46 And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” (source)
That passage is filled with good tidings for mothers who care for their children who are de facto other Christs (Houselander). In an age which lauds mothers every once in a while; as in, Mother’s Day, but spends the rest of the year promoting every occupation for women but motherhood, it is high time that Catholic mothers begin, again, to know the high dignity of their calling: of knowing the importance of the care they are giving to their families.
The late British writer, G.K. Chesterton (b. 1874- d. 1936), often praised mothers and motherhood. Chesterton saw the creeping of an utilitarian feminism into society; a feminism which denigrated the work of hearth and home, and lauded any work outside of the house as if it were superior simply because it was work outside of the home; and he fought this feminism with his pen. This sort of feminism indoctrinates in this idea: that work in the home harms women, but work in the public sphere is superior. It is a subtle trick, perhaps instigated by demonic and/or Marxist forces, to impel women to leave their families, and abandon their duties at home. And, we have seen how this has worked out for women, and for their families. Chesterton wrote:
“We cannot insist that the first years of infancy are of supreme importance, and that mothers are not of supreme importance; or that motherhood is a topic of sufficient interest for men, but not of sufficient interest for mothers. Every word that is said about the tremendous importance of trivial nursery habits goes to prove that being a nurse is not trivial. All tends to the return of the simple truth that the private work is the great one and the public work the small. The human house is a paradox, for it is larger inside than out.” ~G.K. Chesterton: “Turning Inside Out” (in Fancies Versus Fads)
“The human house is a paradox, for it is larger inside than out.” (Chesterton)
Yes, the work done in the home by mothers has an incalculable effect on society, on families, on each individual child; and on the mother, herself. The world of the home is large: it effects the world. It is not trivial.
The next time you see a mother holding a baby, may it remind you of that Mother and Baby who lived long ago; and may we esteem the mother, and give her a bit of praise. In this Utilitarian world, devoid of imagination and love, she needs it. And, let us remember how Our Lady views each soul:
“From the moment when Christ told Our Lady to see Him, her son, in John, she saw Christ in all Christians. She took her only son to her heart in all men born. She saw now but one Man abiding in mankind.” ― Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God
“She is not wearied with our littleness; her smile comes down to us like a benediction through the sea of flickering candles, and she blesses our wild flowers withering at her feet. For each one of us is “another Christ”; each one, to Mary, is her only child. It is therefore not tedious to her to hear the trifles that we tell her, to look at the bruises that we bring to her, and seeing our wound of sin, to heal it.” ~ Caryll Houselander, The Reed of God