Mother’s Milk – Pope Pius XII


by Pope Pius XII and Cardinal Mindszenty

To the very noble mission of transmitting life, another equally important, primary, integral and complementary mission is added; that is, the rearing of the offspring.

In fact, whereas by generating one gives life, by educating one gives life in a superior, more complete and more perfect degree, because all the faculties which constitute human nature and dignity are perfected in the children.

The first educators are therefore the parents. And as God willed them to be united in the physical generation, so He has destined them to collaborate in the grandiose work of education.

Thus when the child is born he already finds himself in the best educational environment, entrusted to his best educators, who possess through the marvelous dispositions of Divine Providence irreplaceable abilities to carry out their beneficent work.

The mother possesses sweetness, patience and delicacy; the father, strength, ardor and frankness.

Although this work of education must be carried out harmoniously by both parents, nevertheless each one has certain specific duties… In the words of Pope Pius XII: “To the woman God has reserved the labor of childbirth, the pains of breast-feeding and of the early upbringing of children, for whom the very best of care at the hands of strangers will never mean as much as the affectionate solicitude of maternal love.”

The first physical development of the child takes place during the delicate period of nursing and leaves indelible traces even in the adult man.

Speaking, therefore, of the very delicate question of maternal milk, Pius XII said to the Women of Catholic Action: “Many of the moral characteristics which you see in the youth or the man owe their origin to the manner and circumstances of his first upbringing in infancy: purely organic habits contracted at that time may later prove a serious obstacle to the spiritual life of the soul.

And so you (mother), will make it your special care in the treatment of your child to observe the prescriptions of a perfect hygiene, so that when it comes to the use of reason its bodily organs and faculties will be healthy and robust and free from distorted tendencies.

This is the reason why, except where it is quite impossible, it is most desirable that the mother should feed her child at her own breast.

Who shall say what mysterious influences are exerted upon the growth of that little creature by the mother upon whom it depends entirely for its development! With breast and smile she feeds body and soul of the tiny angel that heaven has sent her!”

Instead of consuming mother’s time, this practice eliminates the need for bottles, sterilizing, and formulas.

In his masterpiece, The Mother, Cardinal Mindszenty writes: “The following proposition is always true and always sound: ‘God Himself has prepared the mother’s milk for the infant. His wisdom has placed in this milk all the nourishing ingredients which are necessary for the child.

Divine Providence fills the mother’s breasts, and she carries this sweet burden and has no relief until she nurses the child. Mother’s milk is truly a masterpiece of the Creator.’ “

Therefore every mother should feed her child at the breast, if this is at all possible. This is also greatly beneficial to her. By feeding the child she regains her health sooner. Nursing the child will calm her nerves and her entire physical condition will be improved.

It is a blessing for the mother to nurse her child. She retains her youthfulness. It ennobles her, gives her a finer and purer disposition.

“Mother’s milk is of great benefit to the child. Not only does it contain nutritive material, but also the best medicine. It builds up resistance against many children’s diseases. It is more valuable than any other food. It is so delicious that the infant sucks its finger, or some other object, expecting the milk to flow from it.

It is particularly helpful to its tiny, frail organs. Moreover, this intimacy of mother and child is a great blessing. Never again will she be so closely united to her child.

Her body, her soul, her desires and longing, her hopes and fears, will never be imparted to the infant so easily and naturally as at the time of feeding.

The suckling child can thrive only on the soil which is the breast of the mother. Be it ever so valuable, no artificial means employed can ever take the place of mother’s milk.

However, in case a mother cannot feed her little one, then artificial feeding becomes necessary.

“The laws of nature, established by God, have a nobility of their own which some supposedly famous people forget. However, Madame Curie, discoverer of radium and twice winner of the Nobel Prize, did not disdain to nurse her children in spite of her work.

The most beautiful example of all is Mary, who fed the infant Jesus at her breast.

“The woman of faith knows that she ‘babysits’ for God. It is a wonderful thing to become a mother. It is far more wonderful and much more difficult to rear and educate one’s children correctly and well. In fact, it is not only a question of feeding the body, but also that of nourishing the soul…”

“Painful trials strengthen our faith and make it purer, more supernatural; the soul believes, not because of the consolation that faith gives it, not because it trusts in its feelings or enthusiasm, not even in the little it does understand of the divine mysteries, but it believes only because God has spoken. When the Lord wishes to lead souls to a more intimate union with Himself, He almost always makes them undergo such trials; then is the moment to give Him testimony of our faith by throwing ourselves, with our eyes closed, into His arms.” – Divine Intimacy

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Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America.

Now with photographs from the original edition.

Most people only know the young Maria from The Sound of Music; few realize that in subsequent years, as a pious wife and a seasoned Catholic mother, Maria gave herself unreservedly to keeping her family Catholic by observing in her home the many feasts of the Church’s liturgical year, with poems and prayers, food and fun, and so much more!

With the help of Maria Von Trapp, you, too, can provide Christian structure and vibrancy to your home. Soon your home will be a warm and loving place, an earthly reflection of our eternal home.

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