Sunday, 3 April 2011

In the pink

Shell has a good post on the need for Marriage Education Rather than Sex-Education

It did however leave me feeling slightly uncomfortable. What niggled at me was the quote from Mother Angelica (of EWTN fame) that women who have never had the desire to be mothers would make terrible nuns or religious sisters. As a woman who is neither a religious sister or a mother, I feel a bit affronted that anyone should claim to pass judgment on the fitness for purpose of a woman who has never felt the maternal instinct. Indeed it is something I have only ever felt once; a sharp pang I had in a card shop in Wigan on seeing a card that a son could send his mother on Mothering Sunday, it hit a nerve as I realised I would never receive such a thing. I fleetingly sensed an emptiness and sorrow in my life, that I have not experienced since.

I do however feel the need to unpack Mother Angelica’s truism to see if it reveals anything of depth and value.

A maternal desire for children is biological and normal (and may be spiritual in origin) in women. I’m also staggered at how strong the urge is in some of the teenage girls I teach; it seems so natural yet is so very frowned upon and culturally shocking that anyone under the age of 25 should be desiring motherhood. This is a sad reflection on society rather than a reflection on young women.

However, maternal desire is not a spiritual gift, it can be both good and bad. The desire to have a child to meet ones own ends and needs is very real (and much pandered to in modern society) and also wrong.

Surely the ONLY desire that can drive any of us is the desire to know, love and serve God. All other desires, be they good, subsist within the one desire. Surely then the desire for children is not a necessary desire implicit to fulfillment within the female consecrated life. It is simply one of many that may be fruitful within a vocation. I’d also have to argue it is not a necessary desire for fulfillment within the vocation of marriage; especially those marriages that are childless (for whatever reason).

The workings of the universe as desired by our Creator (and brought about through love), has been given a tag by Fr Barron and the tag is one that I spend a lot of time contemplating; spiritual physics. There really is a spiritual physics being enacted as we try to order our lives to the Gospel. In my case I can testify to a physics of fruitful fruitlessness that is a reality and a blessing. Just perhaps, this is no different to the fruitfulness of the consecrated life. Just perhaps, not all women are meant to have a maternal instinct. Just perhaps, not having a maternal instinct can also be a fruitful gift from God.