All posts tagged: motherhood

An Act of Faith: a Parent’s Experience of the Atrium

My first window into Catechesis of the Good Shepherd was actually as a senior in college, through an Atrium at a Montessori school.  I was surrounded by six, seven, and eight year olds busily coloring, arranging flowers, inviting friends into processions and little prayer services, and unrolling the longest ribbon I think I have ever seen to illustrate the History of the Kingdom of God at work (humans don’t come into the scene until about the last foot of the ribbon).  I was delighted by what I saw, and it also seemed a bit foreign—a particular language and culture with which I was not familiar. One of my favorite moments as a rookie to the Atrium that first year was when a small first grader (the son of a theologian, to be fair), came up to me and showed me his Alleluia banner—a montage the children draw during the Easter season.  He had created scenes from the Old Testament and the New Testament: the Burning Bush, the parting of the Red Sea, the Last Supper, …

Mother’s Day Quotations: A Bouquet from Church Life

In honor of this upcoming Mother’s Day, as well as the ongoing month of Mary, we’ve rounded up a list of highlights on motherhood from Church Life Journal’s pages. We offer the list below as a “bouquet” of quotations offering insight from our authors reflecting on the spirituality of motherhood. Click through at each citation for the full article.  No one will know if a mother does the dishes with her heart raised to God in gratitude, or if she patiently reads to her child who wants to hear the same story over and over again, or if she deals gently with the rebellious teenager. No one will know if she responds with sweetness or bitterness to the inevitable disruptions and perturbations of family life that are decided in a split second’s movement of the heart, but she will know, and she makes her choice, and it is upon these innumerable hidden habits and choices that her growth in holiness hangs. —Allison Ciraulo, “Motherhood as a Path to Sainthood” All of us who bear children have …

Motherhood in Perspective

One fall afternoon, I was trying to get my two small children ready to go for a walk around the block, and every little preparatory step (socks, shoes, coats, etc.) was taking what seemed an eternity to accomplish. My well of patience had run dry, my inner dialogue had gone bitter, and I was ready to scream. My three-year-old daughter and I were grating on each other and my 18-month-old son was unhappy and clingy. It felt ridiculous to let these little things get to me so much, but it also seemed futile to deny that they had built up to the point of overriding my composure. “It’s the little things—they are a big deal,” I thought defeatedly. Eventually we made it outside. It was one of the first times my son was walking with us instead of riding in the stroller. He toddled along in an alternate rhythm of almost running, then steadying himself in stumbling, slower steps. As we walked, a strong gust of autumn wind rushed noisily through the trees and pushed at …

Editorial Musings: Motherhood and the Paschal Mystery

On the night my first child was born, when she finally came into the light and they placed her onto my stomach, that moment of first seeing her face, right in front of me, was a beautiful shock: her wide open grey-blue eyes looking straight into mine, her forehead creased with deep wrinkles. There she was. After nine months of trying to imagine and understand the reality of the life that was developing within me, there she was. I thought I had grasped, in the waiting, the fact that there was a little person inside my body. But when placed face-to-face with this brand new human, the distance between what I thought I’d understood and what was really true came to light along with her tiny body. The encounter with that face was a revelation of how much had been unknown, even if so anxiously anticipated and indeed physically felt—from the first flutters of movement to the discomfort of kicked ribs. A human person had grown inside of me, her reality—dimly perceived in a sonogram—now …

Motherhood as a Path to Sainthood

Saints throughout the ages have lived lives of heroic virtue in every imaginable context, as martyrs, missionaries, and mystics; doctors, lawyers, and teachers; workers, cloistered contemplatives, and itinerant beggars. There are also plenty of canonized saints who were married, at least for some part of their life, and many of them were mothers and fathers. One cannot help noticing, however, that the life circumstances of these married saints look rather exceptional in comparison with the mundane reality in which most Christian parents are called to holiness. To become a canonized married saint, it would seem imperative to either found a religious order later in life (St. Elizabeth Anne Seton, St. Bridget of Sweden), die under especially painful or tragic circumstances (St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Bl. Elisabeth Leseur), or be of noble birth and from a family of wealth (Bl. Elizabeth Canori Mora, St. Frances of Rome). The most notable exception to these rules would be Sts. Isidore and Maria of Spain, simple peasant farmers and faithful spouses, but their choice to live a celibate marriage …

Can Catholic women ‘lean in’?

Do the Church’s family policies adequately support family life? A few considerations. When I attended my five-year law school reunion, the first since we’d graduated, my classmates—many of them miserable in high-stress, unglamorous legal jobs—were astounded by what they perceived as my good fortune. “You get to travel, appear on television, speak at high schools and colleges?” they marveled. I was asked more than once, “How do I get a job like YOURS?” Yes, on the surface, my first fresh-out-of-law-school position was a pretty sweet one. The late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin had asked me to direct the Respect Life Office for the Archdiocese of Chicago, meaning I was responsible for issues like abortion and assisted suicide. In the early 1990s, it also meant I was often called upon to defend the Church’s teaching at a time when the Supreme Court had recently handed down the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision and when state legislatures were subsequently considering varying degrees of proposals that would, in light of Casey, allow for some modest protections for women and …

The Folly of “Mine”

“Mine.” It’s a word that parents of young children hear a lot. And it’s a sentiment that parenthood slowly chisels out of you—that false sense of being able to lay claim to things to which we’re attached. Naptime, for example: naptime is “mine”—my oasis of peace while the children both sleep, God willing. Perhaps nothing has taught me more about the potency of expectation than the day-to-day suspense of whether naptime will create an opening in the day’s schedule, or not. As C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters puts it so succinctly, it’s easy to fall prey to feeling cheated: Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. . . . Nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. . . . You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own.’ Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.”[1] …

Review: “The Gift of Birth” by Susan Windley-Daoust

“They were ‘doing birth’ to me rather than helping me ‘give birth,’” writes Susan Windley-Daoust of her first experience of childbirth, which she had hoped to do naturally but that instead resulted in “failure to progress” and a C-section. “That birth experience ended up being spiritually abusive by the ongoing treatment of me as an object (and not just an object; close to an object of ridicule). My experience may have been worse than some, but it was not that unusual” (14). So many women are terrified at the notion or scarred by the past experience of giving birth in the U.S. today. In The Gift of Birth: Discerning God’s Presence During Childbirth, Windley-Daoust speaks to the need for healing and also for truth: for women to recognize and reject the culturally accepted, destructive lie that “childbirth will break you: you can’t do it without the drugs; that’s just life and it needs to be this way” (14). Her first birth gave her the impetus to be “extremely intentional and attentive” to her three subsequent …