Sometimes we mothers get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of family life that we forget the Good News, the Gospel of Christ. Oh yes, we keep trudging to Mass, trying to pray, maybe reading a few lines of a spiritual book before we nod off, but we lose sight of the real goal of the Christian life.
I would say the goal of the spiritual life is to cooperate with Grace, and so grow slowly closer to our Beloved through the power of His Holy Spirit. In even simpler terms, God changes us so we can freely receive His love and let it flow through us to others.
This goal—union with God—is not a fairy tale, not only for the saints of old. As Pope Francis has said in Gaudete et Exsultate, holiness is for all, for all states of life, even for harried mothers:
“Each in his or her own way” the Council says. We should not grow discouraged before examples of holiness that appear unattainable. There are some testimonies that may prove helpful and inspiring, but that we are not meant to copy, for that could even lead us astray from the one specific path that the Lord has in mind for us.
The best news of all is that women are called to a unique kind of holiness. Pope Francis adds:
I would stress too that the “genius of woman” is seen in feminine styles of holiness, which are an essential means of reflecting God’s holiness in this world.
God Must Be in Charge
I am not exactly sure what a feminine style of holiness is, but God does. God is the one who forms us if we give our fiat with Mary, “Be it done unto me according to your will.” Those are powerful words of surrender; they give God permission to act in our lives. After we let God have free reign in our lives, we are not always conscious of how He is forming us, purifying us but we trust that He is.
From my experience, being exhausted was the key to my giving up control and surrendering to God because I finally hit a wall and did not have enough time or energy to purify myself. I did not have enough energy to resist God’s work in my life either.
Once I humbly accepted Christ must save me from myself, I experienced moments of joy and intimacy with God and years of dryness and darkness too but I still knew God was working and God was Lord in my life.
It took years but I am finally at peace with this process of God-controlled sanctification. There is no need to strive because the Lord acts first. As Pope Francis once said, God always initiates and we simply respond.
Then, even when we feel like spiritual failures, even when we don’t feel anything, Christ’s loving gaze continually penetrates and touches us at the very ground of our being as He purifies us and moulds us.
The Good News of Jesus Christ is not that complicated. If we truly desire to live in, with and through Him, we will become saintly women with a “feminine style of holiness.”