Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Universal Call to Motherhood

340amutResearching for my thesis has given me all the excuse I need to read various and sundry works about woman and her relationship to creation and the Creator. St. Edith Stein and Pope John Paul II are both agreed that femininity is ultimately about motherhood, and that woman’s nature has been constructed for this particular purpose. Furthermore, they both insist that every woman is called to motherhood.

What a beautiful thought!

With my marriage fast approaching, this call to motherhood has significance to me in a very real and imminent way. By giving myself to the vocation of marriage, I’m necessarily giving myself to the vocation of a mother, and it blows my mind with wonder and joy when I think that in another year I could be doing the countdown until the day when I have my baby in my arms.

Every faithful Catholic who accepts that marriage is ordered towards children realizes that the vocation to be a wife is the vocation to be a mother.

But does everyone realize the truth and beauty of the fact that every woman is called to motherhood, whatever capacity she exercises it in?

So many young women long for romance in their lives. And so many have another deep yearning for motherhood, a yearning that is not merely biological but deeply spiritual. If St. Edith and Pope JPII are correct, as I believe they are, then the woman who gives up on ever married and hence gives up on motherhood has also given up on a precious and essential (perhaps the essential) part of who she is as a woman.

”To cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth is [woman’s] natural, maternal yearning,” says St. Edith Stein. These are characteristics of every woman, and these are things that every woman can practice, no matter what occupation she finds herself in.

The woman called to marriage exercises her motherhood in its most literal sense. But the woman called to the religious life is also asked to be a mother to those around her. For the single woman, there is no reason why she can’t cherish, guard, protect, nourish, and advance growth. The professional woman can do these things as well. Every woman can live out the call to motherhood in the particular life she has been given.

Pope John Paul II says that, “Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman's "part". In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman "discovers herself through a sincere gift of self".”

This sincere gift of self is something that every woman can offer. Every woman can offer the openness that is so essential to motherhood. Because, again in the word of Pope John Paul II, woman from the beginning has been called to love and be loved.


  1. What a fantastic article! I just wanted to add one tidbit--Katrina Zeno mentions in her book about the feminine genius how young women can participate in spiritual motherhood, as well. The things like writing a friend a handwritten letter, having a heart-to-heart over coffee, praying with each other, and giving flowers are also forms of spiritual motherhood, even as a teenager or college student!

  2. More feminine wonderfulness- "The Privilege of Being a Woman" by Alice von Hildebrand. Boss lady. AND she's still alive (really old, but alive), so I really want to meet her.

    That sounds like a great thesis idea! I love it! In a couple years when I need a master's thesis, can I, erm, barrow the idea? ;) But seriously, I love it a lot. Will you post your paper so we can read it? Or at least your sources so we can read them and our minds can be collectively blown by awesomeness?

    1. Sara, the topic of this post isn't what my thesis is concerned with directly. This has more been the result of a few sidetracks that I followed. My thesis statement is: "Woman's true spiritual strength consists in embracing her natural weakness and allowing the grace of God to work in her heart." When it is finished I might share... as for sources, the primary one is Scripture, which is definitely capable of blowing minds with awesomeness. :-)

      And I LOVE Alice von Hildebrand. I've been re-reading that book as part of my defense prep, and it's just so, so good.

      God bless! <3

  3. Ditto comments above! I ♥ your topic! Clare, you are incredible! Had to share some quotes. :)
    "Motherhood is the gift of God to women." ~Bl. Mother Teresa

    "A man's work is affected by doing what he does; a woman's being what she is." ~GK Chesterton

    "A little girl, asked where where her home was, replied, 'Where mother is.'" ~Keith L Brooks

    To Jesus through Mary!

  4. Great post! Hope your thesis goes well! Also just wanted to say that everyone in the pro-life cause can be a sort-of-parent to the children they save, even if they never meet them. Well, that was a great post, again, good job and good luck! :)

  5. Hello, I just happened upon your blog. Congratulations on your engagement! I am a married woman who very much wants to be a mother but has not yet been blessed with a child. It has been a challenge to figure out how to live out my innate call to motherhood, as you describe so well here, when so far physical motherhood has been withheld from me. It is a suffering unique to a married woman, I think, because the desire to be a mother grows so much stronger after one has a husband and a home together! Physical motherhood is possible then, after all, whereas it isn't for the consecrated virgin, for example. Maybe something to explore, that would deepen your post here, is how the wife - whose vocation is ordered toward physical motherhood - can live out her vocation fully even if motherhood never comes. It's not a guarantee, after all. We are called to be open to life and accept children, but sadly enough, they don't always come. (It's ironic, I think, that I read this post of yours because I arrived at your blog by googling "GK & Frances Chesterton childless" - I'm looking for saintly models of childless marriages as a guide to how to live this hopefully temporary stage in our marriage. I enjoyed that post of yours too.) Anyway, please forgive the rambles and blessings on your engagement!

  6. Ibsen once said that not all women are meant to be mothers and I wholeheartedly agree with him. I think the views expressed here may be a bit naive and simplistic. Would any of us ever suggest that men are uniform in desire and calling? I certainly would not! We women are people, not objects, and I feel as though some of the views expressed here reduce us to objects. It is very disappointing to me, as a modern Catholic woman seeking other modern Catholic women to support and admire, to find such conventional, seemingly unquestioned, ideas floating about. If it works for you, God bless you, I am truly happy for you, but please don't presume to speak for all of us. Congratulations on your engagement, I wish you all the best in your marriage.


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