Mother’s Day is around the corner, so it is a good time to meditate on motherhood…
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF A MOTHER
Francois Mauriac gives us a keen analysis of a phase of maternal psychology:
“So did our mother appear to me: a creature above all creatures . . . It is strange to think that the most mediocre women and even the most wicked have been in the eyes of their little boy this almost divine being.
“. . . The child must grow, withdraw from his mother; it requires separation for him to judge this creature of whom he was born. It is necessary for her to let this man, her son, try his luck, take risks, love a woman and take her to himself. All that seems simple and in keeping with the wish of nature. Yet, it is just that which gives rise to a drama more often than one would think.
“. . . The hen drives away the grown chick who persists in following her but many women do not have that instinct. In their son they never see the child die; and this graying man that they wait on, that they scold, is still a little boy to them.”
Further on he says:
“As we advance in life, we perceive that man in his declining years has as much need of his mother as when he was a child. In truth, the child in us never dies; as soon as sickness attacks us and disarms us, the child is there again, that demanding child, who needs spoiling, confidence, who wants to be consoled and cradled.
“And that is why very often, the wife from instinct becomes a mother again at the bedside of this sick man; she assumes for the man whom weakness has reduced to a child the role of the mother who is no longer there.
“Such is perhaps the greatest marvel of the feminine heart–the intermingling of maternal and conjugal love within it, so fused into one that there remains only this tenderness of the wife bending over her wounded and suffering companion; this tenderness of which poor Verlaine dreamed when he wrote these two lines:
“How I am going to love you, beautiful little hands
Clasped for a moment, you who will close our eyes.”
Coleridge has said it well:
A mother is still the holiest thing alive.
Unhappily, what has contemporary society not done to “kill the mother.”
In how many places, children are said to belong to the State; they do not even have to take the name of their parents; mothers are merely the material producers of the living persons which the country, the factories, and the army need. Their generative organs are considered. Their heart, not at all!
In other places maternity is so ridiculed that to have a family, particularly a large family, instead of being a glory, is an evidence of simple mindedness, old-fashioned ideas, and stupidity.
Again, selfishness has been developed to such a point that while sterility may not be directly advocated, an immoderate limitation of births has been effected. To be tied down with children! No, thank you!
Before the war, Mauriac justly commented:
“Everything takes place in the world as if there existed a leader of gambling, a leader of the ball who feels that to fulfill his designs he must first of all strike at the mother.”
And these last lines have become more timely than ever:
“In the world that it will be necessary to reconstruct, effort will have to bear upon this aim: to restore woman to her true place, to give her back her essential mission.”
Every woman, by the fact that she becomes a mother, is courageous, at least in regard to all that concerns her children.
She does not consider the trouble it is for her to watch at their bedside, to take care of them, to feed them, to help them; and if danger ever threatens them she will brave any peril to save them.
Our Lord’s example of the mother hen gathering her chicks under her wing is touching and at the same time far below the realities of maternal psychology.
Sometimes this courage grows to unbelievable force. It is enough to recall many instances of this during the war. Times of peace are not without their examples. Here is one that is profoundly beautiful:
At a certain high school located by the seashore, several students who had gone out for an afternoon of swimming were drowned despite the vigilance of the instructors.
With which family should the faculty begin to break the bad news? One mother whose son had been killed in the war of 1914-1918, lost two boys in this tragedy. She had a profound faith, a valor without equal. The Father Superior knew her. He would begin with her.
She was admirable. Standing before the two beds, she uttered no complaint, no reproach. The priest wanted to thank her for her delicacy in the face of such grief.
But how was he to inform the other mothers?
I will go,” she said immediately. “They will not be able to say anything to me, for I have lost two.”
When misfortune strikes someone belonging to me, do I manifest the same serenity, the same supernatural spirit?
In the course of a pilgrimage from the North of France to Lourdes, a poor child had to be taken off the train at Poitiers. His mother and he were going to petition Our Lady for the cure of his malady which was in its last stages. Mary doubtless thought it better not to let this poor child on earth any longer. Shortly after the train left Tours, he died.
At the Poitiers station the waiting room was quickly arranged to receive him. The mother remained near the body of her little one while the necessary preparations were made. She was not weeping, she held the child on her knees, she was praying.
“You would think it was Our Lady of Seven Dolors,” whispered a sympathetic onlooker. It was true. She was not upset by the going and coming; she was absorbed in her suffering or rather she was dominating it; there was no outburst, no sobbing; she was praying. It was as if a halo of holiness surrounded her.
In sorrow it is not necessary to parade an impassibility which does not belong to earth. Our Lord wept over Lazarus. But it is essential to rise above the pain, to supernaturalize it; not to let it crush us; to understand through our tears that God is always good, and that if He makes us suffer, it is not to break us but to lift us up, to let us share His Calvary, to give us the means of sharing more richly in the Redemption.
O my God, I offer You my poor heart ravaged, bruised and aching. Crucified Jesus, help me in my crucifixion. I unite my tears with the Blood of Your wounds. May all serve for the good of my dear ones, for souls, for all souls.
Motherhood asks of every mother a character of heroism. Mothers are the most constantly heroic of mankind. ~Fr. Bede Jarrett, O.P., 1958
When we are on our deathbed, it won’t be how much we have accomplished, how clean our house is or how many Christmas cookies we baked…. It will be: Do I go to the door to greet my husband when he comes home? Do I take the time to listen to him? Did I take time out to look and listen when the kids were talking to me? Did I read them a bedtime story? Did I make sure they said their prayers? These are the priorities…
When my children were young I loved to read to them stories, poems and nursery rhymes! They knew those rhymes inside and out and it was such a happy pastime! I did yearn, at times, for little ditties that had more meaning…….So I decided to write a book myself for the generation after me….especially thinking of my grandchildren, but for all Catholic children everywhere!
These books give us some lovely rhymes that can, and should, be committed to heart by your children. Not only will they provide all the benefits of reading and memorizing, but they will supply some simple reflections that will turn those little minds to what is most important in their life….their Catholic Faith…. Available here.
The rosary, scapulars, formal prayers and blessings, holy water, incense, altar candles. . . The sacramentals of the Holy Catholic Church express the supreme beauty and goodness of Almighty God. The words and language of the blessings are beautiful; the form and art of statues and pictures inspire the best in us. The sacramentals of themselves do not save souls, but they are the means for securing heavenly help for those who use them properly. A sacramental is anything set apart or blessed by the Church to excite good thoughts and to help devotion, and thus secure grace and take away venial sin or the temporal punishment due to sin. This beautiful compendium of Catholic sacramentals contains more than 60,000 words and over 50 full color illustrations that make the time-tested sacramental traditions of the Church – many of which have been forgotten since Vatican II – readily available to every believer.
“The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Published 80 years ago, this Catholic classic focuses on the Christian family and uses as its foundation the1929 encyclical “On Christian Education of Youth” coupled with the “sense of Faith.” Addressing family topics and issues that remain as timely now as they were when the guide was first published, “The Christian Home” succinctly offers sound priestly reminders and advice in six major areas…
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.