“I have placed you in the care of my holy Mother, as a deposit in trust, so that she may fashion you according to my pattern.”-Jesus to St. Margaret Mary Alocoque
Yesterday, at our parish, was the May crowning. The little girls, clad in their white gowns and veils they donned on their First Communion Day, led the way showering Our Lady with rose petals as the entire Church prayed the rosary, crowning Mary with not just with physical roses, but also a spiritual crown of roses.
It was a beautiful day honoring Our Lady and her maternal role.
As women, we are called to emulate Mary. We are called to exemplify her receptivity — her Fiat— and her fruitfulness.
But this can strike a place of pain for many women; for most of us, our lives will take us on a challenging road regarding motherhood. From infertility to hyper-fertility and everything else, there are an endless range of challenges and heartaches that women endure. Emotionally, it’s easy to wish it away or say that women need something better: that women are entitled to the motherhood journey they wish.
But when we think in these terms, we risk thinking of babies not as individuals with souls, but as things we are entitled to. Things we can choose at our own leisure and dispose of if not desired.
Popular questions regarding children include, “how many children do you want?” Or “Do you plan on waiting to have kids?” Or even, “Do you want kids?
This manner of thinking subconsciously programs in us the faulty belief that we are entitled to children. We are entitled to the parenthood journey we desire. We get to pick and choose what we want and when we want, as if we were grocery shopping. “I want three avocados and a pineapple.”
In order to facilitate this, modernity has provided a plethora of “solutions”— such as all kinds of birth control (from pills to condoms to vasectomies and tubal ligation), IVF, and even terminating the life of the baby.
But when we live by this creed: that we get to pick and choose how many lives are permitted into this world, we attempt to push God out as Almighty Creator and replace Him with “self.” No longer do we follow God’s will, but we live solely by our own will. We live the antithesis of Mary’s Fiat.
MY will be done.
As a result, we ignore the design God perfectly set before us and claim we know better. We ignore the natural end of sex; we gloss over the magnitude of the male and female design, and we belittle life at its most vulnerable.
And all of these means of reducing humanity, dignity, beauty, and love fly under the guise of “better.” We need to give women something better — The ability to choose which lives are worthy of keeping and which ones are disposable.
The “better” argument exists and convinces many with its pathos because there can be much pain and sacrifice surrounding motherhood.
But instead of trying to erase the pain, we need to understand that suffering is imbued into our earthly pilgrimage. And that is, no matter what we do, outside of our control.
In order to make sense of this pain, recall the story of Eve, the Mother of the Living. A careful reading of Genesis beautifully etches out the feminine design: she is the maternal, the heart, the sustainer. She is the one who co-collaborates with God in bringing forth life. In her receptivity, she is fruitful and this is her glory.
It follows that Satan has a particular hatred for Eve — for women — because she is a life-bearer, and Satan is “a murderer from the beginning.” (John 8:44) Of course, Satan desires to corrupt women because he despises life, and as such, he abhors the feminine design. His demise will come from a woman, who is blessed among women, Our Mother Mary. To augment the depth of this hatred, one only needs to look at a particular story found In The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort. St. Louis relates a story of St. Dominic where he exorcises demons from a man who mocked the rosary. In writhing pain and agony, these demons admit that the saint they fear, tremble, and cannot bear the most is Our Lady, Mother of All.
There is a unique and explicit hatred that the devil holds for motherhood because it is precisely the fruitfulness and goodness of life that he wishes to annihilate. And it’s from the very beginning that we see his eagerness in corrupting women, as he sought out Eve, knowing if he could poison the heart, the head — Adam— would crumble.
When sin enters into the world, Eve’s severe punishment is bound up precisely in her glory, bearing life:
“I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions: in sorrow shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband’s power, and he shall have dominion over thee.” (Genesis 3:16)
Yes. Bringing forth life, post-Fall, is laced with hardship, pain, and profound ache. And what that pain will look like will vary for each woman. Yet, even Our Lady was asked to give up her Son to the Cross.
When we forget that the glory of woman is tethered to her struggle, we set ourselves up for a failed understanding of woman and motherhood. Why? Because we overlook that suffering is and must be linked to our earthly journey as a result of sin.
Things that are hard, scary, and even isolating, can also be good and even glorious. Just remember the Cross of the Christ. (Matt. 16:24) After Good Friday comes Easter Sunday.
Motherhood may pose challenges and heartache, but it is here we find our womanly glory. It is here we discover what we were made to do. And it is here, we bring goodness and beauty into the world.
“Motherhood” has sadly become such a sensitive buzz-word for so many women. So much so, that many oraganizations and individuals celebrate the women who choose to reject motherhood on Mother’s Day.
The term, for many, conjures thoughts of pain, loss, sacrifice, and unwanted suffering. And sadly, we stop here. Fixated on the ache and not greater and more beautiful picture. What we should focus on is that motherhood, even post fall, was the glory of Eve, it is the glory of Our Lady, and it is the glory of every woman.
This doesn’t mean we are entitled to children, but rather that we are called to mimic Mary’s Maternal Fiat. Her yes to God’s will.
We need to say yes to the way God so perfectly and lovingly designed us as women.
And part of that means understanding that children are gifted and entrusted to us by God. They are not objects we are owed or allowed to toss away. Children “are not commodities,” as Fr. Mike Schmitz says.
Our response in embracing the maternal is always rooted first and foremost in receptivity and generosity to the will of God: “be it done unto me.” In this collaborating with the will of God, we become fruitful vessels ready to live out our maternal design physically or spiritually. The maternal calling is the life that we were brilliantly fashioned for emotionally, spiritually, and biologically.
Women are called to be mothers; women are called to be fruitful. Even if we experience a season of ache or emptiness, we can still be spiritually fruitful. We can choose to embrace our maternal design, by always saying yes to God.
Motherhood — even if a fallen world — is still our glory.