Maternal Love

Earlier this month, hundreds of women and their children served by our Visitation Mission attended our annual Mother’s Day event. Piling out of buses from Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens and onto the lawn at our Villa Maria Guadalupe retreat house, our guests enjoyed a day of fun, food and fellowship – including Mass, Holy Hour, face painting, animal balloons, crafts and games of soccer and live entertainment – as we celebrated the gift of maternity and the many heroic choices that allowed the little ones a chance to live.

In the afternoon as I watched the young children, hand in hand with novices, cram into the front of the chapel before the sanctuary for Eucharistic Holy Hour – I couldn’t help but enter into the Father’s delight at such a beautiful scene. Much to my surprise (shame on me), many of the children were actually praying – gazing at the Blessed Sacrament and repeating the prayers the priest encouraged them to say.

It seemed fitting that the previous day we celebrated the centenary of the apparitions in Fatima, when Our Blessed Mother appeared to three shepherd children, encouraging them to pray and ushering their prayers before the throne of God for the salvation of the world.

The Father loves these simple and heartfelt prayers that bespeak of the deepest desires of each of our hearts to communicate with God – and He allows this through the intercession of His Mother. For it is precisely the work a mother to do so.

A woman’s capacity to be mother is to hand on life to her child, but her capacity to be spiritual mother is to give spiritual life – to bring souls to their fullness – to love without possessing, to nurture, to encourage, to see the capacity for goodness, life and love in the soul and challenge them to live it out. A spiritual mother engenders others in faith by believing in, hoping for and suffering with those entrusted to her because she is united with her Divine Spouse and His Eternal Love for each soul.

For a Sister of Life, entering into the reality of spiritual maternity, she becomes a channel of grace for those whom she serves… “She becomes a life-bearing handmaid of the Lord” (Constitutions of the Sisters of Life #66).

Cardinal O’Connor, our founder, said that the Sisters of Life are called “to mother the mothers of the unborn, to mother the unborn; to mother all of those who are frail, all of those who are vulnerable, all of those who are ill, all of those who are in danger of being put to death, all those whose lives the world considers useless.”
In this imitation of Our Lady, who as Mother, cooperates with Jesus’ redeeming work, she, as an icon of the Blessed Mother and of the Church, brings souls to the Heart of Jesus.

Though not all women are called to be biological mothers, all women are called to be spiritual mothers. Ask the Lord to show you how He is inviting you to live out this beautiful gift trusting that He will bring to fulfillment the very desires of your heart.

In this month of May, I encourage you to entrust your vocations to the Blessed Mother and allow her, in her tender maternity, to carry your prayers, hopes and dreams to the Heart of God.

Blessed Eastertide.

Sr. Grace Dominic, S.V.