The Godliness of Motherhood


If only motherhood were valued more in society then bearing a child might be seen as more of a privilage than a burden.

Blessed Virgin Mary with Jesus

According to a Jewish proverb, “God could not be everywhere, so He made mothers.” This is a fine, enduring sentiment. I do think, however, that by reversing the statement we come closer to the truth: “God could be everywhere and proved it by creating mothers.” This image is consistent with the American novelist William Makepeace Thackeray’s remark, in Vanity Fair, that “Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children.”

A mother is not a substitute for God, but acts more like a medium that transmits God’s beneficence to others. One might object, of course, that fathers also do this. This is true enough. But there is something of special privilege about the way a mother reveals the presence of God. It is as if she had had, in some mysterious way, a face-to-face experience of God. This claim may be more plausible if we understand Mary’s role as the spiritual prototype of all mothers.

Pope Benedict XVI has made the following comment about Mary: “She who guarded in her heart the secret of divine maternity was the first to see the face of God made man in the tiny fruit of her womb.” The notion that Mary was the first human being to see the face of God is both startling and illuminating. As the spiritual role model of all mothers, something of this experience enters into both the essence of her motherhood and that of all other women who have ever given birth to a child.

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