Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Pope on the Vocation of Motherhood... Whether He Knew It Or Not

A Guest Post by AWOL Mommy (Princeton grad, former military intelligence officer and mom of a 3 year old girl and a 3 month old boy) very much in tune with the theme of this blog, Building Cathedrals, and this month, May, dedicated to Mary.

I just finished reading Peter Seewald's 1996 interview with (then) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and I was struck by the applicability of his words to our vocation as mothers. Specifically, the Pope describes the "theology of littleness" as "a basic category of Christianity."

Littleness seems to work itself into my daily life in many ways: my companions are little, their sandwiches and socks must be correspondingly little, but, more abstractly, I often feel that the tasks I must accomplish are so little. I confuse "little" with unimportant -- which Cardinal Ratzinger does not allow. Mopping floors and folding underwear feel like little tasks - little and insignificant, however, the Pope's words in Salt of the Earth reminded me that they are not. Rather, the love which forms the backbone of my decision to be a dedicated mother who must accomplish these tasks empowers me and my family.

Daddy makes the money. Daddy flies the airplanes. Daddy has the stories... aren't these facts proof of his greater power in our family's life?

The Pope says 'au contrair' ... quite the opposite, in fact: "... the tenor of our faith is that God's distinctive greatness revealed precisely in powerlessness. That, in the long run, the strength of history is precisely in those who love, which is to say, in a strength that, properly speaking, cannot be measured according to categories of power."

love! We love our families so powerfully that we forego countless selfish pleasures in order to accomplish all the little needs of our little people. The Pope says that we - mothers, mothers in the home, form a part of the "strength of history" - now I don't know about you, but that sure sounds great to me -- pass the basket of unmatched socks please!


Right Said Red said...

AWOL mommy,

Great guest post ;-)

I need to remember this when folding laundry, a dreaded task!

Kat said...

AWOL mommy, thanks for this post! I'm so glad that I read it before I was faced with the "little" task of cleaning up a "little" mess in the bathroom this morning :) I was trying my hardest to be friendly and light-hearted about the whole affair :)

What a great reminder this gives us, that to our little people, we are everything. Nothing that we do is overlooked in their eyes - they're always watching us! - and even if we don't always receive the "thank you" that we would hope to receive, we can be sure that in our children's eyes, nothing that we do is "little".