Woman, you are a spiritual mother. I hope you embrace this call God has placed on your heart, because your life will become fruitful in ways that you could not have imagined.
Fruitfulness…what do you picture when I use that word? We more easily define success for ourselves, because success can be composed of checklist items. Fruitfulness is something else entirely; it’s the lasting result of your love. Here is how I picture fruitfulness: your heart beautifully given, poured out completely, now with a life of its own in others. We see mothers make this gift with their very bodies. This gift is easier to understand because it is physically visible, but there is another interior way that woman’s heart is made to give this gift. This is the path of spiritual motherhood, a journey uniquely traveled by every woman.
If you seek to understand spiritual motherhood, journey with Mary to the foot of the Cross. Mary, the perfect mother, teaches us what spiritual motherhood looks like there. Through each of the sorrows and uncertainties of her life as the Mother of Jesus, the Holy Spirit was preparing her for this moment. Finally, when the peak moment of her Son’s life played out on the Cross, a sword pierced her heart, as she was united to her Son in His suffering. In this moment, she became the spiritual mother of all the living. Her heart was united to the death and rising of her Son, so now she is the mother of our new rising in Christ. She is the mother who helps us take our first steps into eternal life.
It’s often said that a mother’s heart “walks around” outside her body…beating in her children. Mary’s heart must have walked all around Galilee with Jesus, until that heart was opened wide on the Cross and emptied out. Now we know that she has that experience with you and I; her heart is where we are, and it breaks for all the things that break ours. She is continually seeking to form our souls for the life of Heaven. It’s hard to imagine a motherhood that expansive, tender, and all-encompassing. This is spiritual motherhood, and each woman has a share in it in her own small way.
Woman, if you have given birth, you are a spiritual mother. If you have held another family’s child in your home for a while, your fostering made you a spiritual mother. If you have opened wide your heart to others, and shared the fruit of the graces you have received from God, you have embraced spiritual motherhood. If you have let others experience not just your love, but their own lovability, you have chosen spiritual motherhood. Your heart has become a “shelter in which other souls may unfold,” as St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross described it.
“Every experience of motherhood takes an unimaginable amount of sacrifice. To embrace spiritual motherhood is no different. It involves radical availability to the person in front of you….“
Every experience of motherhood takes an unimaginable amount of sacrifice. To embrace spiritual motherhood is no different. It involves radical availability to the person in front of you, along with vulnerability, commitment, and attentiveness that requires a true gift of yourself. When a person encounters this kind of love, the experience is transformative and life-giving. This is because spiritual motherhood provides a shelter in which another soul can have an experience of God’s love.
Learning spiritual motherhood takes time, as we need to let our hearts be received and transformed by the Divine Bridegroom to love this way. By this I mean, our whole hearts, every desire, love, and brokenness needs to be turned over to Him in the intimacy of prayer. We need to empty ourselves of the pride that seeks to change others, and learn to see them with new eyes of love. We need to stand with Mary below the Cross and let Christ’s love flow through us to others.
Just imagine what the world would look like if a few more women embraced this call to spiritual motherhood! How many more souls would learn to trust God and walk in the way of salvation if they were able to take the first steps holding your hand? How many more people would be willing to receive the gift of salvation if they could first learn to receive unconditional love from you? The people around you need the priceless gift of your spiritual motherhood.
Catherine Suprenant is the Marriage Formation Coordinator with the Marriage and Family Life Office for the Diocese of Columbus. Her passions include matchmaking, hospitality, and helping young adults discover the fullness of their vocations and missions.