The Role of the Mother in the Family
From The Teachings of Pius XII on Marriage and the Family by Sister Paulette Huber, Ad.PP.S.
As Pope Pius XII writes, the mother is the “sun” of the family because her self-sacrificing generosity is ever operative in diffusing love which brings cheer to her husband and children. In this way, she diffuses “light and warmth about herself. The woman, born as she is with the instinct of a mother and the wisdom of the heart, is like the sun that cheers the cloudy morning with its light and gilds the clouds with rays at its settings.”
She is the “sun” of the family because she possesses the superior though delicate power of softening the tumult of passions. Her eyes shed a light and her voice gives forth a melody that have a thousand flashes in a single glance and a thousand affections in a single sound. They are flashes and the sounds that spring from the heart of a mother that create and bring to life the paradise of childhood and always radiate goodness and gentleness even when they admonish or reprove.”
Tremendous, then, is the mother’s power to determine the tenor of the home. This truth is strikingly pointed out by Pius XII. “When, to the bride the Lord in His bounty will have granted the dignity of motherhood to the side of the cradle, the crying of the infant will neither lessen nor destroy the felicity of the home; but rather it will increase and elevate it into that divine circle, where the heavenly angels shine and whence descends a ray of life that conquers nature and regenerates the sons of men into sons of God.”
But a mother’s dignity further arises from her structuring the supernatural fabric of the home and of the society. For, precisely in her maternal mission of childbearing lies the secret to the mother’s salvation and sanctification. Accordingly, with St. Ambrose, Pius XII considers a good mother the foundation of all virtues. A cradle, he asserts “consecrates the mother; and more cradles will sanctify her and glorify her in the eyes of the husband and of the children, in the eyes of the Church and of the country.”
It is at once apparent that such a quality of life shares the sublime consecration of the cross. Down to its deepest roots her life is a life of sacrifice. Yet, though the maternal sacrifices be painful, the powerful graces of the Sacrament temper it, “The love of God, that raises her in her sacrifice beyond herself, opens the heart to all piety and sanctifies her.” Of it are born to the children piety, modesty, purity, and fear of the Lord — all learned immediately from the mother.
Prayer to Be Recited by Catholic Mothers
O Mary, “full of grace and blessed among women,” stretch out the hand of thy motherly protection, we beseech thee, upon us who gather round thy queenly throne as thy handmaidens, obedient to thy command and resolved with thy help to bring to realization in ourselves and our sisters the ideals of truth and Christian perfection.
Our eyes are fixed on thee in admiration, Immaculate Virgin; thou who art loved by the Heavenly Father above all others! O Virgin Spouse of the Holy Ghost! Tender Mother of Jesus! Obtain for us from thy Divine Son the grace to reflect thy sublime virtues in our conduct, according to our age and condition of life. Grant that we may be spotless and pure in our thoughts and in our behavior; gentle, affectionate, and sympathetic companions to our husbands; to our children solicitous, vigilant and wise mothers; prudent administrators of our homes; exemplary citizens of our dear country; faithful daughters of the Church, ever ready to allow ourselves to be guided by her in thought and deed.
Help us, loving Mother, to be truly devoted to the duties of our state of life; help us make our homes true centers of spiritual life and active charity, schools where consciences will be rightly formed, gardens where every virtue will flourish. Give us thy help that in social and political life we may be patterns of deep faith, of consistent and gracious practice, of incorruptible integrity, and of well-balanced judgment based upon the solid principles of religion.
Bless these resolutions which thou hast inspired us to make and the trials thou hast helped us to bear; may we with thine aid come to see their abundant fruits in time and in eternity. Amen.
— Composed by Pope Pius XII, May 26, 1957