As I was reading the May 20th office of Readings for today, I was really struck by the concluding prayer:
“Grant, we pray, almighty God. that always pondering spiritual things, we may carry out in both word and deed that which is pleasing to you.”If you have a heart for spiritual things how do you hear the word “mother”? Because when I read that Pope Francis told 800 superiors of women’s orders that they should be spiritual mothers, not spinsters I was excited! When I read the actual quote in the Moynihan Letters, I was over-the-moon!
Chastity for the Kingdom of Heaven shows how affection has its place in mature freedom and becomes a sign of the future world, to make God’s primacy shine forever. But please [ make it] a fertile chastity, which generates spiritual children in the Church. The consecrated are mothers: they must not be ‘old maids’!Unfortunately that article was a bit critical of our Holy Father’s use of the words “mothers” and “old maids”. Moynihan quoted Melinda Henneberger of the Washington Post, a writer who often tries to defend the Church, yet, who felt that the comment was insulting to these women who had given up families to serve the Church. She felt that it perpetuated a negative: Seeing women’s roles in the church as exclusively "maternal".
Really?? And this from a women supposedly knowledgeably enough about our faith to defend the Church in print. Even the author of the article wondered if the phrase was unfortunate because it will be misunderstood and misused.
How else will we fight “careerism” in the Church if we go on allowing a banal culture to narrow spiritual realities to superficial ones? Careerism will be all that is left for individuals to grasp onto in order to form some semblance of identity, inside and outside of the Church, if we allow this to continue. How will we continue to stand and fight the the dictatorship of relativism if we are offended by the ontological realities of our identities as male or female made in the image and likeness of God? We will deserve the transgendered culture that we are getting if we ourselves, as Catholics, give in to the idea that “maternity” or “paternity” are narrow definitions of a material actions or roles and not the core of how we image the Father as male and female; signs of a future world. A world where our masculinity and femininity are fulfilled, not eliminated!
I for one found the Pope’s words to be thrilling! Spiritual words to be pondered, and allowed to gestate! What do the spiritual realities of maternity and paternity suggest to you when you ponder them apart from the narrow confines of our relativistic world? And how do you think we should communicate them?