In my first post for New Evangelizers, I wrote the Analogy of Fatherhood – how fatherhood has taught me something about God. In Lumen Fidei, the Holy Father wrote that “The Church is a mother…”. There is another analogy!
What can motherhood tell us about the Church?
Mothers teach their children. My wife first taught our son to walk and talk. Now, she’s teaching him to read and write, teaching him the grammars of English and mathematics.
The Church teaches us in a similar way. “The Church is a Mother who teaches us to speak the language of faith,” Pope Francis writes in Lumen Fidei (paragraph 38). The Church teaches us to understand Sacred Scripture, as well. For just as Mom would never give us a book and expect us to understand it, the Church teaches us to read with understanding—and corrects, when necessary.
A mother disciplines, often quite gently, knowing that her children don’t know any better. She may even be chided for being too forgiving or too easy on her little ones. She preaches on the rules, corrects when they’ve been broken, and encourages her children to say they’re sorry (like you mean it!). The Church, too, preaches, corrects, and encourages. She never punishes out of spite but out of love, and often too gently for the tastes of others in the family. She wants her children together, as a family, as they should be.
Mothers establish the rhythm of the day. Mom gets you up for school—gets you washed and dressed and fed. She reminds you of your appointments and makes sure you call Grandma on her birthday. Likewise, the Church establishes rhythms for our lives. She moves us through the year, starting with Advent and Christmas. She carries on our “family traditions” and points out the important names and dates that have made up our family history. She reminds us of our obligations and encourages us to do just a little more this time.
A good mother is our teacher, our encourager, and even our memory, at times. She is there for us from the time of our birth or adoption, and she is always ready to heal or hug or forgive. She wears many hats, because she needs to, to take care of the family she loves. The Church, too, is our mother—from the time we were baptized, whether as an infant or later. She is always there, ready to heal us, to teach us, and to forgive us. She is, as the Holy Father said, our mother.
Copyright © 2013, Joe Wetterling