Most of us single ladies aren’t mothers here on Earth, but that doesn’t mean we’re not mothers at all. Christianity has a long tradition of “parents” who become our leaders, protectors, guides, and counselors by spiritual means instead of physical. Do you have spiritual children? Godchildren, adults you sponsored through the RCIA, your close friends’ kids, or students? How do you build relationships with them as a mother? Have you ever spiritually adopted an unborn baby in danger of abortion, or a priest? Are all women called to be mothers?
When I was single, for a long time, I never seriously thought about motherhood–literal or spiritual–except for the idea, that one day, when married, I would happily become one. Late in my twenties I first heard of the concept of “spiritual motherhood.” I immediately took to the beauty of the concept as set forth in the theology of the body.
Women are designed by God as bearers of new life and as receivers. New life can look like nurturing spiritual children. I think of Dorothy Cummings MacLean of the Seraphic Singles blog of yester-Internet and Cindy at The Veil of Chastity whose wisdom and spiritual counsel have guided and inspired young women along the faith journey for years. I don’t know about the rest of their readers, but I certainly feel “new” after their particular form of mothering. We are also receivers–called to be open to life–we are given the gift of persons, and not necessarily children within marriage. In the Gopsels, the children and little ones Jesus speaks of and to are not just literal young ones, but also spiritually young, and we need to follow His example and “adopt” them.
Called to be a godmother to my nephew, I have been entrusted with his spiritual care. Though sometimes it’s difficult at times to “mother” him and his sisters in the faith to the degree I would like, I take my responsibility seriously, praying for him and the other “children” God sends my way and living my life as a witness to Christ, His Church, and His teachings. In some way, I also feel like a spiritual mother when it comes to my writing. For when I write, I think of the girls and boys, and young women and men, who will read my work, and how this book can nurture them, help them understand God’s authentic love, and grow in faith.
But until the prompt, I’d never considered becoming a spiritual mother to babies the world has lost. That act is so beautiful and wonderful, and something the Lord could be calling me (and you!) to. For yes, I believe all women are called to be what we already are: mothers. We are fashioned after Eve, mother of the living, fashioned after Mary, mother of the Church and model for every woman. Though sometimes it’s hard to sense our role and how, in our particular lives as God calls us, as “mother,” I believe it is a wonderful vocation that I pray I can tap into more.