My young son was sitting next to me in Mass. A person of action, he finds it challenging to sit still and focus on the great mystery of the Mass that was unfolding before us. You know: the music seemed drab to someone accustomed to the constant beat from his ear buds, the pastor’s homily was interesting to adults but was long for kids, and all around us stood people with white hair or holding babies. Sometimes, for early teens to young adults, the Church doesn’t seem to engage them.
This day, he started asking to get a drink, to go to the bathroom, to help out with children’s liturgy. I said no, but also noticed my own “passions” being stirred. I felt irritated with him bumping against my boundaries. I offered it up and then noted: God was forming me in motherly love. What a preparation for Advent. We just celebrated Mary’s Immaculate Conception. I could see that I was a long ways from perfection.
I have a particular heavenly friend and mentor that often helps me see the deeper aspects to my life as a mom. She is Ven. Concepción Cabrera (1862-1937), a wife, a mother of eight children, a foundress of the Five Works of the Cross and an avid spiritual writer and mystic. Her cause for beatification is moving swiftly in Rome in the advent of two recent miracles of her intercession. Truly, we can become saints by living our motherhood generously. Our crosses come walking to us or they stand right next to us.
Concepción’s spiritual director, Ven. Archbishop Luis Martinez, encouraged her after a challenging day, “Rejoice because Jesus treats you as a mother for his Church, because he has raised your love to this degree of selflessness and purity. Motherly love is a reflection of the highest model of love. The most intimate and deep secrets of suffering can only be confided to a mother, only she can be asked to forgo the consolations in order to give life. Motherly love is the most unselfish love on earth.”
The presence of a motherly orientation to loving others is an indication that certain capacities to love are being formed in our hearts. Let us remember and give thanks for the spiritual fine tuning that our children offer us. In the space of an ordinary moment, we can take one step closer towards Heaven.
Ms. Mary Gannon Kaufmann, M.A., M.S. is Director of Incarnate Institute and co-founder of Word of the Vine Online. She teaches internationally on vocations, priesthood, the role of the laity, the Theology of the Body and topics of spiritual growth. She has taught at the parish and diocesan levels with Lay Formation, Vocations, Stewardship and Family Life. She has published numerous articles, for laity and ordained alike, in leading pastoral journals. She has written a new book on spiritual motherhood of priests. Mary holds a post-graduate certificate in Spiritual Direction and Retreats from Creighton University in Omaha, NE, a Masters in Theology from Loras College in Dubuque, IA and a Masters in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities. She attends classes with her husband John, who is in formation for the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese of Dubuque. They live in Cedar Rapids, Iowa with their six children. Prior to directing Incarnate Institute, Mary taught nationally on charisms or spiritual gifts with the Catherine of Siena Institute in Colorado Springs, CO.
Copyright 2012 Mary Gannon Kaufmann, M.A., M.S.