Eighteen prayerful women gathered on July 21 at the Shrine of the Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, to explore how a mother’s heart can help bring healing to the Church and the world. I had the privilege of moderating the discussions.
Brother John Luth, MIC, planned the day-long event after reading the following from Pope Francis’ January 1 homily: “If our faith is not to be reduced merely to an idea or a doctrine, we must have a mother’s heart, one that knows how to keep the tender love of God, and to feel the heartbeat of all around us.”
Brother John kicked things off with a rousing introduction on the importance of the maternal heart at this moment in history. “We’ve heard it said that behind every great man is a woman. And the same is true for every woman. Behind every great woman there is a woman. For great and small, for men and women, that woman is mother.”
Brother quoted from Pope Benedict’s book In the Beginning: “God created the world…from the least important, first, to the most important, last. God’s last and crowning creation was no less than Woman.”
Here’s a taste of the riches shared by these prayerful women (names changed to protect their privacy):
For many years, I was what you’d call a real sloppy Catholic. And I knew better. Then, I was blessed with a special needs child, which changed everything in my life.
Now, I have given my life, because the Lord has asked, as a spiritual mother to priests and for the sanctification of families. Simply, what I do is just carry out my ordinary duties at home, and spend a lot of time in Eucharistic adoration, which has changed my life—I can’t stress that enough. It’s a powerful gift.
I’m a single mom of two teenagers. I’ve been Catholic all my life, but my conversion really started in the last 10 years, through my divorce. I started praying to God and asking for help. And I got an inner strength that I couldn’t even believe that got me through it. Still a lot of struggles, but I go to daily Mass and adoration because I feel that’s where my strength comes from.
I’m a convert. I pestered a priest at the Shrine to be received here, but he said, no, you must go to a parish! So I went through RCIA and was received in 2001. It’s when all the horrible things were happening in the Church, but it didn’t make any difference to me, I knew I was to be Catholic.
I was told to be Catholic by the Good Lord when I was five—but I didn’t know how to go about it! So it took a long time. I got married, had five children. My husband is now suffering from a form of dementia. I lost my son a year ago and my mother the year before that, when she was 100. I’m here because I need lots of prayers and because I’m grateful that the Lord allowed me to be a mother. The Blessed Mother is mother to me.
We lost our special needs son at age 18. I was a stay-at-home mom because when he was sick, I would move in to his hospital room with him. This was before hospitals allowed parents to sleep in with their children, but I did it anyway, even though the nurses weren’t too happy about it! Later, because of a surgical mistake, he was unable to eat or drink for the last year and a half of his life.
I hadn’t realized how resentful I was of that surgeon. One day, my son looked up at me and said, “I forgive the doctor who did this to me. He didn’t mean to do it. He was doing the best he could.” That’s the moment I learned about forgiveness from my son.
Never give up
Stories like these shared express a theme of the day: that mothers do not give up on their children. The mother’s heart finds a way—to feel their heartbeat and keep the tender love of God for them—no matter what.
For example, one mother mailed holy cards and medals to a son who had left the faith. It turned out years later that he had read and kept everything she sent. Another called a daughter who had moved in with her boyfriend, just to say hello and keep the line of communication open.
And of course, mothers prayed for their children in trouble. One prays the following every day: “Our Lady of Guadalupe, crush the demons that seek to destroy my son.”
Another said, “I share the faith no matter where I am or who I’m with. I don’t care what people think. I don’t stop sharing the faith with my children.”
I hope you’ve been inspired by a taste of what these wise women shared and gained an idea or two for your own family. Stay tuned. I’ll be sharing with you soon more of their stories and practical ideas on bringing the heart of a mother to heal our families, our Church, and our world.