Thursday, August 26, 2010

A mother’s powerful love

Today we celebrate the feast of one of my favorite saints, St. Monica. I love St. Monica because she had the tenacity of a faith-filled mother, and without her constant intercession and suffering on behalf of her misguided son, we would not have the great St. Augustine, his skillful defense against the Pelagian heresy, or his beautiful theological works. St. Augustine offered momentous contributions to the Church in a time when people were confused about doctrinal fundamentals. A man with such an important role in the Church would have simply “not been” if not for a mother’s love.

It cannot be repeated enough that mothers have great power, but not in the way society defines power. This power cannot be claimed, bought, or even earned. It is a gift that grows within the recipient, sparked by humility and an awakening of love. It is nourished by the Sacraments and flows out of the recipient. This power comes from Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God.

Some women clamor for what they have been told will give them greater power. They cry about the injustice of not having their contraceptives covered by insurance. They whine about having pressure from the Church to vote with a Catholic conscience on matters of life. They complain about not getting to stand in front of a congregation and “play priest”. In each of these attempts to grab for power is the failure to understand that in denying who they are as women, as mothers, as sisters, they are giving up the only true power that was ever available to them.

St. Monica, though she most likely didn’t have to struggle with such silly notions of a modern feminist agenda, must have struggled with questioning the pain of motherhood. Her son was blatantly living in a sinful manner, not having regard for moral teaching or authority. She must have found the burden of being a wife and a mother difficult. She must have felt completely powerless, but in that powerlessness, she found a strength that did not originate from her own doing. She found the power of a mother’s love that Mary knew, a love that would suffer completely for the love of her Son.

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