The word "dignity" has been badly maligned in the latter part of the 20th century. It has been adopted by the radical homosexual agenda to misrepresent the concept. But that's satan's modus operandi. He will mock what is sacred and holy, and motherhood is not only sacred, but very holy for it is in the cooperation with God at one with her husband, that she is the vehicle by which a new life is conceived and nurtured from womb to graduation. This is a role no mother can take lightly, no father can belittle or diminish. It is a full time responsibility that takes great effort to achieve as God asserted in Genesis 3: 16. It is to the woman that God has bestowed the great gift, the great miracle of childbearing - the miracle of life. Truly that is dignity of the highest degree.
Yet today, that dignity is diminished and disgarded through the terrible sins of artificial contraception, abortion and adultery as we discussed in lesson three. The person lucifer hates the most is the person God chose to be the tabernacle for His Divine Son Jesus: the Blessed Virgin Mary. The devil can deal with losing to God, but to be humiliated by a human is unbearable. To be humiliated by a woman is, to him, the lowest degradation. Remember he is not human, but a fallen spirit possessing the same attributes, strengths and entities of the angels. So many fail to realize this, his extreme and superior power over mankind. Therefore, with such hateful revenge for the Blessed Mother, his prey is naturally those who seek to do the Will of God, something he refused - non serviam. It is only natural then that those women who seek to emulate Blessed Mary as excellent, loving mothers would be his prime target. That is another reason there has been such an upheaval of role reversals imposed by society as we saw in lesson six. But there are weapons that can be used by faithful couples to keep the enemy at bay. Prayer and unified love are the greatest defense. Unless a couple has both, they are fighting a hopeless battle.
The greatest lesson we can give our children as happily married parents is to love our spouse with all our heart, soul and body. Children learn what they see and if they see how their father loves their mother and respects her, they will grow to respect women not for the Playboy image so prevalent today, but as a precious flower to be greatly respected. As we have said so many times, this exaltation of the woman's role is so greatly exemplified in the Blessed Mother of God. There is no greater personification of the dignity of motherhood than the Virgin Mother Mary. Conversely, there is great consolation and help that can be garnered in the role the husband and father should play in studying the quiet, protective and gentle Saint Joseph who guided the Holy Family.
In patterning their lives on the model of the Holy Family, parents exhibit love, selflessness and a deep faith that will genuinely permeate the home. Serving as the "head of the family," the husband and father is fair and merciful, but also exacting as well as sensitive to the tender flower who is his wife and will do anything to protect her by cherishing her. Balancing this authority of love is the mother who serves as the "heart of the family." With the God-given qualities of a nourishing mother, she gives into her heart which is true for she is one with her husband and God. Like a blushing bride or a pregnant mother, she will glow with goodness and this reflects on her husband, on her children and her parish. It will not always be so noticeable, for God works in hidden and mysterious ways. But it isn't important others know the good that she does, God does and her family does. That suffices. Because of this she will be looked upon by her children not as weak, but as a woman of great character molding little characters toward sanctity.
The following article appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune on Saturday, September 2, 2000, and was written by a family psychologisit in North Carolina, John Rosemond for Knight Ridder News Service. There is much wisdom in his piece "Mothers used to know better."
"Today's women are a paradox. They have taken admirable giant strides forward politically, professionally, economically and educationally, and yet, when they become mothers, they indenture themselves to their children in perpetuity.
"Their children often talk to them as if they were lower than slaves, and they do nothing about it. Their children demand things of them, and they comply.
"What's going on here? The problem is that today's mothers are trying to clear what I term the 'mother bar' - a contemporary standard of good mothering. It consists of messages to the effect that the best mother is the busiest mother, the most attentive mother, the mother that provides the most for her children, fixes it whenever they get upset, drops what she's doing at their beckon call, helps them nightly with their homework and makes sure each module of their brains is properly stimulated from the womb on.
Contrast all of this with the typical mother of 50 years ago. That very formidable woman intimidated her children. They did not intimidate her.
She was not their servant, but rather there to teach them to stand on their own two feet. If one of her children talked back, he regretted it.
Yesterday's mom had no problem at all defining her autonomy to her children. She hand no reservations about saying to them things like 'I don't have time for you right now, so run along. If you can't find something to do, I'll find something for you to do; Leave me alone, I'm busy; No, I won't do that for you, because you can do it for yourself.'
Today's mothers don't feel they have permission to say those sorts of things to their children, and if they do, if they slip up and say something as self-esteem damaging as 'I'll give you to the count of five to disappear and stay disappeared for the rest of the afternoon,' they feel guilty. And then to assuage the guilt they start acting like servants again.
Once her child was capable of using the toilet on his own (24 months) and knew to stay out of the street, yesterday's mom tried, on a daily basis, to have as little to do with him as possible. To the contemporary ear, that may sound dreadful, but check it out with someone of my generation. We will tell you it wasn't bad at all. In fact, it was downright wonderful to have a mom who wasn't bustling about in your life all the time, who supervised you well but didn't want you indoors on nice days. These were moms who left their children alone as well as they wanted their children to leave them alone.
The outcome, mind you, was children who learned at relatively early ages to stand on their own two feet; to fix their own snacks to fight their own battles, to do their own homework, to entertain themselves, to study for tests on their own, to paddle their own canoes, to stew in their own juices, and last but not least, to accept responsibility for their own mistakes and failures.
Mom won, child won, child's teacher won, community won, culture won. Not a bad deal, if you ask me."
The tableau he paints does not bode well for the mothers of tomorrow if they keep on this path of the anti-role of what a mother should be. It won't take a generation to fix, it won't take two generations, it will take many generations to fix but government can't fix it overnight, society can't turn things around overnight, even the Church can't do it, it takes each family unit recommitting and that is where the long-haul comes in because conversion of heart is measured in God's time, not ours. To help expedite this we can turn to prayer, we can turn to our own actions and inaction, as the case may be, and do something about it.
Again, we go back to Matthew 10: 39, "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it." It is virtually impossible to shelter children today from the evil influences of society, but if they are weaned on the cross, if they are instilled with the right values, then they will have built their life on solid rock and when the winds of materialism and other fleeting pleasures of the world assault them, they will be able to cope, able to withstand the onslaught. Too often parents make the mistake of trying to totally shelter their children, digging in with the fortress mentality and this can boomerang for if they are overprotected from the world, then they likely will rebell when they are exposed. Resentment can well up within their fragile feelings, including emotions that convey their parents sheltered them out of fear, because they were afraid to trust themselves or their children. There is a fine balance in bringing up children and, as we stated before, we are not experts in child rearing. For that we recommend Jim Stenson's book, "Upbringing" to help guide you.
How do we reverse the trend of psuedo roles of husband and wife, father and mother? By returning to what Church Doctrine and Sacred Scripture teach, by returning to the cherished traditions that have made the Roman Catholic Church so special over the centuries and especially during the time remembered only by the grandparents of today. For the most part, the parents of today are not in touch with the roots of what Catholicism is truly all about. In fact, we read recently that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome and Notre Dame's radical, left-wing modernist Father Richard McBrien, who has also espoused heresy, have more in common than today's Catholics. As ridiculous as that might sound consider that McBrien, though he would never admit it, can remember the traditions before the Second Vatican Council and the treasures of the liturgy and rubrics of the Tridentine Mass, the values of Church teaching being spelled out clearly in black and white terms as the Baltimore Catechism was so noted for, the rightness of roles for husband and wife, for society. Those times were far less confusing for satan was not roaming as ferociously as he is today, nor was he welcomed so nonchalantly as he is today.
One look at values, society, government, media, the whole selfish attitude of modern commerce and community, and the sad situation our Church is in today because of failure to enforce the Roman Pontiffs' teachings from Pope Paul VI to John Paul II will tell you satan is firmly planted, making his home in so many hardened hearts. It takes a warm heart to thaw cold hearts. Think about it. The warmest hearts are found in holy marriages and the human source is the heart of a good mother. Melded with her husband, those hearts are where we begin to stoke the fires of the Holy Spirit's love. That's how we touch other hearts, through the Advocate, the Sanctifier, and that begins with prayer and living our faith to its fullest, living the God-given roles He has deigned for us and passed down from generation to generation. Only then can we change culture, only then can the culture of death be slowly but surely eradicated and enable a new culture of life through the lasting culture of love between husband and wife to grow rapidly and abundantly.
But it takes the "heart of the family" to set the course. A mother's heart is literally the coronary corridor to Heaven. Her's is a heart that has been broken many times, bruised and battered, yet never stops loving. No matter how much physical and mental pain she experiences in childbirth, heartache, unfulfilled expectations, and various infirmities she might have during her life, she continues undaunted on her quest for guiding her family to the safe harbor of eternity. The real dignity of motherhood is that her heart is big enough to include more than just herself. Many a husband and child has reached Heaven because of a mother's vigilant, persistent prayer. Saint Monica is an excellent example of this perseverance. At Daily Mass, look around you and the vast majority of the faithful in attendance are comprised of mothers: young ones with infants in arms, trying to police her other ones who stray and distract as children will; middle aged mothers whose sons and daughters are now heading out on their own as she gives encouragement to the younger mothers; and kindly and crinkled, and even at times, cranky grandmothers, whose patience and endurance has been tested and, though physically spent, they continue the quest for bringing more souls to Heaven with them by turning their attention to God body and soul. Those are the fruits of true motherhood. Those are the marks of true dignity that God blesses.
NEXT WEEK: Lesson Eight:
Beginning Life as One