Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mediatrices: A Mothers’ Day Rumination

     Many who disparage the Catholic Church for a wholly imaginary misogyny would do well to study the immense importance of Catholic women to the work of the Church. This is especially so as regards Catholic mothers. Mothers have always been essential to the transmission of Christianity through the generations. Fathers, while important as examples of Christian manhood and upholders of moral and ethical standards, normally have a lesser role in the religious upbringing of their kids.

     Among the supreme idiocies of our time is the contempt so many persons, especially numerous on the political Left, exhibit toward the most important of all womanly occupations: wife, mother, and homemaker. It is the mother who makes the home a Christian dwelling. It is the mother who stands as her children’s first educators and the first barrier between them and moral divergence. Not to be omitted, it is the mother who points toward the father as the moral authority of the family...and indirectly, toward the Father as well.

     Woe to them who shower contempt upon these womanly roles in preference for income-earning labor! Whether or not they do so consciously, they denigrate the work that unites families, communities, and nations. It were better that he/she/it/xe should have a millstone tied around his/her/its/xis neck and be cast into the deeps...regardless of his/her/its/xis chromosomes and genital configuration.

     It is inexpressibly fitting that yesterday, May 13, should have been the hundredth anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s apparition to three shepherd children at Fatima in Portugal. That, too, was a time of troubles: a time when the West, afflicted by the burgeoning of nihilism, embroiled in the most terrible of wars, and shortly to be hagridden by the rise of Communism, was steadily losing confidence in the faith, the convictions, and the standards that had once made Europe – called Christendom for centuries – the powerhouse of the world.

     Mary of Nazareth, the Blessed Virgin Mother to the Son of God, is often called the Mediatrix: she to whom we address our most fervent petitions, in the belief that her Son will not refuse her advocacy in a mortal’s cause. Though Mary is not divine — knock it off with the propaganda, Protestants – she is frequently called Queen of Heaven, in keeping with a vision experienced by Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, a 19th Century nun and mystic of Westphalian Germany. Mary’s indispensability to the Incarnation, her submission to Gabriel’s message at the Annunciation, and her lifelong faithfulness to her divine Son’s mission are why Catholics treat her as the highest of the saints, supreme in grace among mortals.

     Mary is especially honored in the Rosary, the prayer most beloved of Catholics worldwide. Yet too few of us honor Mary’s exhortation to the shepherd children of Fatima that we should pray the Rosary daily as the path to peace.

     Praying five decades of the Rosary:

  • Monday: The Joyful Mysteries;
  • Tuesday: The Sorrowful Mysteries;
  • Wednesday: The Glorious Mysteries;
  • Thursday: The Joyful or the Luminous Mysteries;
  • Friday: The Sorrowful Mysteries;
  • Saturday: The Joyful Mysteries;
  • Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries;

     ...requires about fifteen minutes of one’s time. In return for that investment of a quarter hour, the Rosary bestows an interval of peace whose serenity can last for hours, averting many an occasion of irritation and dampening many an explosion of temper. Mothers are exhorted to pray the Rosary aloud, with their children beside them. Indeed, a mother secure in her Catholic faith will do so as the first event after the end of the school day.

     In composing these rants, I often circle around my ultimate point, in an attempt to draw the reader in with a little mystery. “Where’s that moron going this time?” he might wonder. “Have I deduced it correctly, or is he winding up to throw another of his legendary curve balls?” Not this time, Gentle Reader. The hour is too late and its extremity is too pronounced.

     The world is in crisis. Possibly this will be its final crisis, though no one can know that beforehand. I’ve written about a world in crisis, saved from a peril it didn’t even perceive by the selflessness of a single man. Yet that was a secular crisis: a threat to the body rather than the soul. Today’s crisis is far deeper. It partakes of every malady of the spirit for which the English language has a name. The aggregate of those maladies has a name with which we are all familiar, against which Christians are warned to be particularly vigilant: despair.

     Mary knew her virgin conception would expose her personally to odium from her neighbors. She knew her divine Son would undergo the most terrible of fates. Many a mother would have shied back from the assignment – and don’t doubt for an instant that had Mary done so, God would have honored her decision and looked for another. He would not override a mortal’s free choice. Yet she did not: rather, she embraced her role as the handmaiden of the Lord.

     Women of our time don’t bear the burdens Mary knew. Yet many of them quail at the relatively light burdens of bearing and raising ordinary mortal children in our wealthy, well-upholstered culture. Some abdicate the responsibilities of motherhood even after having chosen to bear children. If anything could make the Mother of God weep, that would be it.

     I propose that much of the world’s temporal grief can be ascribed to the unwillingness of many to honor motherhood even a fraction as highly as did Mary. For a dedicated mother, much like the Mother of God, is the mediatrix of all that is eternally good to her children. Whether or not they admit it, it’s she who furnishes their souls with the values and standards they’ll need for a life well lived under the veil of Time.

The sea is calm tonight.
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straits; on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanched land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth’s shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furled.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

[Matthew Arnold]

     Happy Mothers’ Day. Pray the Rosary daily. Today, devote it to the soul of your mother, whether she’s still among the living or has gone to her reward. And fathers: don’t forget the roses or the chocolate.

     May God bless and keep you all.

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