“When a child is given to his parents, a crown is made for that child in Heaven, and woe to the parents who raise a child without consciousness of that eternal crown.” (Venerable Fulton Sheen).
I am the mother of three living children, one little saint, and countless other spiritual children.
Though my vocation of motherhood runs deeply in me, it is only recently – through my conversion, which occurred through Grace and no merit of my own, while I prayed for my little niece who was dreadfully sick – that I have come to realise the wonderful opportunity of this vocation of motherhood.
One may be forgiven for assuming that the vocation of motherhood is somehow a lesser vocation – a smaller one. After all, very many women become mothers! And we mothers – like fathers too – live in the world and interact with the world. We are unlike those with a religious vocation, people who have capacity and willingness – through their vocation – to sit still in the presence of God. I – on the other hand – find myself almost entirely incapable of sitting still!
And yet, the other day I read something that stayed with me…
Venerable Fulton Sheen once said, “When a child is given to his parents, a crown is made for that child in Heaven, and woe to the parents who raise a child without consciousness of that eternal crown.”
And I have been reflecting on that CROWN since reading those words. For it is one thing to assume physical responsibility for my children – when I work to care for them physically and emotionally and intellectually – but it is quite another thing to care for my children’s spiritual formation!
And yet, this is perhaps the most important thing. You see, it is impossible to love what we do not know!
Because I am a mother, I can understand this concept in a very simple and basic way. Just consider food... Most mothers struggle to persuade their children to try new foods. So, how does a mother encourage her child to taste different food? Well, the answer is really quite simple – the mother just exposes her child to that new food over and over again. Now, perhaps the first time and the second time and the third time the child will turn the food away. And then – eventually and with enough persistence – maybe the child will have a little lick, just to taste, and even then they may continue to reject the food. But eventually, with enough persistence, it is quite common for the child to try – and even like – the food that their mother is asking them to try. In this way, their mother can help to broaden her child’s palette…
And it is the same with God. When my children were babies, I would take them to Mass with me. It was sort of like offering them a new food to try. It was a horrible experience. I used to think to myself, “Why do I bother? They are so badly behaved and make me so cranky during Mass that I am sure that God would not want us here like this. Is there really any point attending at all?” But onwards I went – week after week - persevering. With stickers and toys and distractions and children’s mass missals, until eventually my grew up and – just like the child who finally acquires a taste for the new food – are able to sit relatively quietly during Mass.
In this way I can work – continuously – to help my children (as I help myself) to look to God and only God. Saint John of the Cross said, “The soul that is attached to anything, however much good there is in it will not arrive at the Divine Union. For whether it be a strong wire rope or a slender delicate threat that holds the bird, it matters not if it really holds fast; for until the cord can be broken the bird cannot fly.”
Because as I was considering this vocation of mine – this lesser one – I realised something wonderful… I share my vocation with the Queen of Heaven…
And as HER daughter and the daughter of my Lord, I cannot help but straighten my crown – even on the days when I fail miserably…
For I am the daughter of the Prince of Peace… Whatever could I have to fear?
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.