When they come to a personal, real, tender, interior, loving knowledge of the Woman who loves them and cares sweetly for the pains of their heart, they have a kind of waking up, a conversion, a healing, and they are then able to laugh with the laughing, cry with the crying, dance with the dancing and become free in the freedom of the children of God.
HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - Ever seen a baby who hasn't been held by their mama?¬† It is actually quite terrifying.
I used to visit an orphanage in Naga City, Philippines, as a seminarian, where there was a whole ward of abandoned babies.¬† One of the things the sisters asked me to do was to pick up the babies and hold them for a while.¬† It was extremely difficult to have to place them back in their cribs.¬† They would let out the most excruciating, blood-curdling scream, that would harken back to perhaps the knowledge these infants had somehow, of being rejected.
Abandoned.¬† Motherless.¬† Alone.
This is why it was so important to hold these children, even for a little while, so that they would get that experience of being held, cherished and loved.¬† When a person grows up without this, they become¬†malcontented.
Jesus describes such persons in the Gospel.¬† "They are like children who sit in the marketplace and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance. We sang a dirge, but you did not weep.'"¬† Malcontents.
You meet them around.¬† No matter what you say, they always want to oppose you.¬† They are sadly not capable of becoming one with you because perhaps that would mean their autonomy would be threatened, their ego would be bruised.¬† Again.¬† So they have their shields up 100% and photon blasters on full, ready to fight anyone who attempts to reach out and touch them.
These are the people of "this generation."¬† Which generation?¬† St Thomas Aquainas points out that generation can mean a progeny of people who are born of parents like the son of a father, or it can be a person who is "generated" by a kind of intention.¬† They are "born" of the "generation" of a specific motivation.¬† They are "this generation" of people who fundamentally experience themselves as rejected and abandoned.
They cannot become one with other persons.¬† They are too broken.¬† They simply will not allow themselves, like St Paul, to, "Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep."¬† This would threaten their already fragile sense of self-worth.¬†
They are the unloved persons who seem to be saying, "My motherlessness makes me malcontent."¬† Ironically these people shun the very thing that can help them, the Church, their mother, which St Paul says in the first reading for today, "is the pillar and foundation of truth."¬†
Do you think that I am speaking of non-Catholics?¬† How horrible that I speak mostly of those persons who are ostensibly practicing their faith, going to mass, praying, and trying to do the best they can, but for some reason, perhaps because of life's wounds, they have not permitted the Church to "mother" them.¬† Yes, I just used that word as a verb.¬†¬† They need to be mothered by the Church.
In last Wednesday's General Audience, Pope Francis, continuing his catechesis for the year of faith on the Church said, "like our Mothers, the Church nourishes us, helps us to grow, teaches us the path to follow, and accompanies us in life, especially in our illnesses and sufferings, through the Sacraments and the Word of God."
Yet there are those Catholics who reject the Motherhood of the Church.¬† They will tell you that they think it is sexist or antiquated to call the Church with a feminine pronoun of "she" or "her," even though St Paul does (Ephesians 5:26) and the Lord himself does as well (Matthew 9:15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34).¬†
They usually do not like to be thought of as little children, dependent, in need of nourishing, caring, nurturing, that the Church provides.
What to do with these folks?
You know, all this malcontent stuff just melts away when they meet their mother: MARY, the Mother of God, and our Mother.¬† When they come to a personal, real, tender, interior, loving knowledge of the Woman who loves them and cares sweetly for the pains of their heart, they have a kind of waking up, a conversion, a healing, and they are then able to laugh with the laughing, cry with the crying, dance with the dancing and become free in the freedom of the children of God.
How to introduce Mary to them?¬† You have to be a child of your Mother.¬† You have to carry her fragrance of being beloved of God, wear her maternal mantle of the Holy Spirit's tender confidence, and reflect the light of a face that smiles especially on the unloved, rejected, abandoned, and malcontent.¬† You have to be, as St Bonaventure called it, an alter Maria, an other Mary.
We hear about being an alter Christus, "an other Christ".¬† This is not just what priests are called to be, but what St Augustine said we are all called to be.¬† We should each be a reflection of Christ, his light and grace in the world.¬† Yet, also we are called to be an alter Maria, an other Mary.¬† We should worship Christ with her undying devotion, lead souls to Him with the same zeal, and, although it may sound strange, especially for men, we must "mother" souls to Christ.
What?!?¬† Yes that is right.¬† Those unloved malcontents need to feel the maternity of the Church through you.¬† Pope Francis referred to this when he said in that same Wednesday Audience mentioned above, t is also our mission to go forth and share in the maternity of the Church by bringing others to a life of faith."
Souls need to feel the maternity of the Church through the way that we love and nurture them.¬† Women do this by nature.¬† But men only do this, especially priests, when they are taught by Our Lady.¬† She teaches men to do this not by being effeminate, but actually by being more masculine, just as Jesus was the most perfect masculine man that ever lived and was totally empathetic, nurturing, caring, and maternal as an expression of his paternity and manhood.
To understand this, practice it.¬† Simply desire to give each soul you meet the care, love, and nurturing of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.¬† Be her presence in the world.¬† May her prayers and love help us all to present to mankind and to each person, the maternal love of the Church of God.
Father Samuel Medley, SOLT, is a priest of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, and is based in Hythe, Kent, United Kingdom.¬† He speaks to groups around the world on Blessed Pope John Paul II's Theology of the Body.¬† Visit his homily blog http://medleyminute.blogspot.com or his blog on the Church's teachings on marriage and family life http://loveandresponsibility.org
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