Marriage and motherhood

“Matrimony is an older word for Marriage — but it remains quite recognizable today. Merriam-Webster [still] defines it as “the joining together of a man and woman as husband and wife.” Looking into the history of the word, we learn that it originated in Middle-English in the 14th century, and the Latin root is matrimonium, from matr-, mater, meaning “mother.” Fancy that — Marriage was ordered towards children. 

Accordingly, Marriage is supposed to provide a stable environment where children can thrive, and that begins with the promises that the mother and father make to each other. Such stability greatly diminishes the normal anxieties of every life, caused by a combination of growing, changing, learning, and losing. Having reliable points of reference in a shifting world is critical to a child’s well-being.

Another element that children count on is honesty — and knowing forthrightly how they fit into the world and who is a part of their family. Certainly, every family is a kaleidoscope of personalities with a wide variety of pursuits, but a child finds great comfort in knowing who he is in relation to those around him. He also needs to know his Spiritual heritage — Who God is and what God asks of him. Unfortunately, we often neglect such truths, and being distracted by worldly pursuits we forget what really satisfies. 

If we were honest with our children, we would give them the stability of God, and the truth about how they are to respond to His grace. We would admit that we are pilgrims beside them — perhaps a few steps further along in the journey — but struggling just like they are to avoid temptation and to choose the good.

Marriage is designed to make mothers of women — Spiritual and physical. If the latter is impossible, the former certainly is not. It’s essential. St. Augustine reminds us that Mary conceived Jesus by faith before she conceived Him in the Flesh — thus He was in her heart before He was in her womb. By the same token, women of faith can embrace many Spiritual children — those who would benefit greatly by their maternal solicitude, beginning quietly with prayer.  

What does a woman do with her Spiritual motherhood? She offers stability and honesty. In her pilgrimage to God, she is called to be a rock of refuge for others — a solid source of comfort, attuned to the anxiety and suffering of those around her. She doesn’t need to know the particulars, but if others do entrust her with the details, she will know that the first crisis described to her often isn’t the real problem. It’s usually a symptom of something else, something deeper. 

Grounded in honesty, using tact, discretion, and patience, a woman who follows God’s lead can mother a soul to the truth — whatever truth is lacking as the cause of the crisis. Peace is the tranquility of order, and truth breeds its own calm. A Spiritual mother knows this.

Finally, she will be a bridge to the Father, because every child needs a father. Women who have been healed — often walking through the flames of their own purification — know that fatherhood is essential to the well-being of children. Many fine men work diligently, collaborating to build those secure homes founded on honesty, but unfortunately, some have lost the thread. Some neglect the fact that they stand as icons of God, but it’s never too late. “I will restore the years the locusts have eaten,” God promised (Jl 2:25). For those who missed out, please God let them find a Spiritual mother with an open heart — and a father ready to help.

 Anchor columnist Mrs. Kineke is the author of “The Authentic Catholic Woman.” She blogs at feminine-genius.typepad.com.

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