Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Randy Sly

5/14/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Sacrifice is the great virtue of motherhood

Nothing speaks more highly to me of this self-sacrifice than the witness of a mother, who daily gives of herself for her own. Often depriving herself, she offers to others; often preferring others, she offers herself.Motherhood is a call to stay firm in the face of uncertainty, despair, sickness, poverty, and even danger, where her children are concerned. One could almost say that as the father is the sword, she is the shield.

Highlights

By Randy Sly

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/14/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: Motherhood, Mother's Day, women, Mary, fiat, sacrifice, love


WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) - Once upon a time there was a young woman who loved her Lord. There was nothing she withheld from Him. Her life was always "yes" to Him, the proverbial "fiat" - "let it be to me as you have said." She fell in love and, hearing the "Divine Yes," married the man whom she loved. They grew in Him as one in the sacramental mystery.

A child was born and she loved the child. The child brought something out of her that had always been a part of her yet never expressed. Like a hidden stream now discovered, rivers of love flowed out of the woman to her child. She knew she would do anything - yes anything - even give up her life for the precious one who lay in her arms. A special bond, which had begun nine months before, now burst forth with such fire and fervency that she knew nothing would ever be the same again.

The chance soon came to test this depth of love, not through her physical death, but through her dying to opportunities. Travel to exciting places, special events, intriguing people, all marched past the edges of her life while she maintained her watchfulness over the child. Her vigil would not succumb to the call of personal wants and affluence.

Soon more children were born into this woman's life. The hidden stream was not divided, however. More love flowed as though her reservoir could not be quenched. Enough love for each where none could want for more.

Yet again, more tests came. Unyielding in her vigil, the woman knew that, whatever the lure, her place as mother must remain unyielding. She gave up herself, as she died to potential memories of what could have been. She chose to live in anticipation of the memories of what would be, for her and her family. She never looked back. She is my wife.

In St. John's Gospel, Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

Shepherds come in many shapes and sizes. They are men and women, and even children.

Some shepherds are mothers. They tend the little flock called the domestic church along with their husbands, who are also shepherds of this field. Mother-shepherds nurture their children out of the goodness, the loveliness, the gentleness, and the winsomeness of womanhood in God's image.

A mother lays down her life by taking it up on behalf of these precious ones entrusted to her care. She knows martyrdom in a way that no man may know it - giving up her life in childbirth and in childcare. No hireling can imitate or come close to matching a mother's love.

Motherhood is a call to stay firm in the face of uncertainty, despair, sickness, poverty, and even danger, where her children are concerned. One could almost say that as the father is the sword, she is the shield.

This I have learned as I have watched my wife all these years. This I have learned from my wife, not hearing her words only, but beholding her actions; not in seeing her live only, but in seeing her die to self.

Jesus also said, "I am the good shepherd; and I know my sheep, and am known by my own."

A mother can describe her children to the minutest detail. Borne out of years of a loving gaze, each line and shape of her child remain fixed and firm as a portrait carried in the heart. She knows them inside and out; where each blemish is located, where each "owie" was bandaged, and how each mood is triggered.

Often the child is surprised by this knowledge, in awe that nothing really escapes a mother's watchfulness. Everything is logged and categorized in a special place in the soul called "a mother's care."

St. Angela Merici was an orphan in the fifteenth century who devoted her life to children. "Mothers of children," she wrote, "even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased."

The mother is also known by her children. The sound of her voice can both soothe and sound the alarm. How often my children and I have heard people say to my wife, "You have such a wonderful and sweet voice on the phone. I couldn't imagine you ever shouting." My offspring would smile sweetly, for their mother's voice was sweet and soothing, yet knowing that there were times when the alarm would sound!

They will also forever remember the "snap" - the perfected art of snapping her fingers for attention. In any public place and particularly at church, the "snap" could be heard - as loud as a thunderclap - calling wandering wills to return to behavior best suited for God's house.

A mother's treasure is her memories and her wealth is found in those ones whom she has nurtured through the years. No wonder Scripture states that Mary the Mother of God - the Blessed Theotokos - "kept all the things about her Son and pondered them in her heart."

At the end of this section, our Lord also said, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again."

St. John was truly impacted by this awesome declaration and wrote in his first epistle, "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers."

Nothing speaks more highly to me of this self-sacrifice than the witness of a mother, who daily gives of herself for her own. Often depriving herself, she offers to others; often preferring others, she offers herself.

An account like this one about mothers must be shared with caution. For some, motherhood was an accident, and not always a welcome one; for some, biological motherhood isn't possible, and this day is a reminder of what may not be; for some, mothers weren't all that nice, and this day carries different memories; for most, motherhood, even under the very best of circumstances, is still less than a bed of roses and the primrose path.

Yet, apart from all personal experience, the calling of motherhood remains before the Lord as a noble state of being to be honored and embraced. As one person wrote, "for all its stumbling blocks, pitfalls and broken dreams, for all the soiled diapers, soiled wallpaper and spoiled plans, we're talking about a beautiful ideal, a natural part of God's creative plan to bring love and caring to light (to life)."

-----
 
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Saint Valentine and why we offer roses Watch

Image of Saint Valentine [not pictured] is one of the world's most popular saints.

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Roses are red, violets are blue, I have no idea why we give roses on Valentine's Day - how about you?  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The truth is that Saint Valentine has nothing to do with roses, but he is part of the reason we celebrate love each ... continue reading


Is Valentine's Day...? (Take the quick survey!)

Image of How do you celebrate Valentine's Day?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How do you celebrate Valentine's Day? Catholic Online would like to invite you to take our short Valentine's survey. Sharing your opinion will help us serve you better, and give you influence over the kind of content we produce. Catholic Online is here to serve you. ... continue reading


5 of the best non-traditional ways to celebrate Valentine's Day Watch

Image of Tired of the same old traditions? This year try something different!

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Are you tired of buying roses and chocolate every year? Are images of Cupid and his heart-shaped arrow starting to feel a little cheesy? Try these great non-traditional Valentine's Day activities instead! LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - No more roses, no more ... continue reading


'Did you know how much we love you?': Mother reads heartbreaking letter for 4-year-old daughter who died of cancer Watch

Image of Kate was only 4-year-old when she passed away (Lindsay Rhoades).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Lindsay Rhoades hoped to raise awareness of pediatric cancer by releasing a video in which she reads a letter to her little girl, who succumbed to cancer at only 4-years-old. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The day that she passed, I wrote it that morning - after ... continue reading


Premature baby declared dead wakes minutes before being cremated Watch

Image of An An was declared dead only a few days after he was born - but was discovered very much alive before he was cremated (CEN).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

An An was a premature child born in Jinhua, China on January 8. Sadly, the boy was declared dead less than one month later. He was kept in the morgue, where it remained a frigid 10.4 degrees Fahrenheit. Moments before An An's cremation, staff realized he was alive. LOS ... continue reading


'What We Did When Mummy Got Cancer': Mother's heartbreaking discovery and the emotional way she told her children Watch

Image of Katherine Simpson-Jacobs wrote a children's book to explain what cancer is in a way young minds can understand (Katherine Simpson-Jacobs).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

When Katherine Simpson-Jacobs realized she had breast cancer, she had no idea how to tell her daughters. After several weeks of worry, she realized she wanted to write "What We Did When Mummy Got Cancer," a child's book to explain what cancer is and how to treat the ... continue reading


4 Ways to pray when your spouse struggles Watch

Image of Praying for and with our spouses is the best way to include God into the relationship (iStock).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Perhaps your relationship is struggling because one of you is involved in less than Godly activities, struggles with addiction, is experiencing emotional turmoil or perhaps struggling with their faith. What does the Bible say we should do when our spouse struggles? LOS ... continue reading


'We're family now': Bittersweet moment a mother hears her son's beating heart in a little gir's chest Watch

Image of Little Jordan received Lukas heart and has since been a care-free bundle of energy (Justice for Lukas Scot).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

After losing her 7-month-old son, Lukas, Heather Clark was able to hear his heart beating once again - from the chest of a 4-year-old girl. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In a heartbreaking tale, Clark's son, Lukas, fell prey to his babysitter's abusive boyfriend ... continue reading


Making a Difference - Abortion: out of sight, out of mind Watch

Image of

By Tony Magliano

Due to the blizzard that hit the mid-Atlantic, my bus never made it to the 43rd March for Life in Washington, D.C. But thousands of others were able to brave the snow and wind to witness to the dignity of unborn human life, and to protest the gravely immoral practice ... continue reading


'One of the meanest things I've ever seen in my life': One man's heartbreaking plea goes viral Watch

Image of Alan Beamer suffers the effects of Alzheimer's and begs his friends and family to talk to him normally (Mary Beth Alan Beamer/Facebook).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

In a heartbreaking video that Mary Beth Beamer posted to Facebook, her husband, Alan Beamer, begs for his friends and family to visit like they used to. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The four-minute video was posted on January third and received nearly 10,000 ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 58:1-9
1 Shout for all you are worth, do not hold back, raise your voice like a ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 18-19
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:14-15
14 Then John's disciples came to him and said, 'Why is it that we and the ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 12th, 2016 Image

St. Buonfiglio Monaldo
February 12: He was one of seven Florentines who had joined ... Read More