Monday, May 13, 2013

on spiritual motherliness and Edith Stein


Image of Mary on side altar
St. James Church, Compiegne, France
Two things on my brain today – 
#1, a disclosure: I’ll be traveling for the next two weeks (will tell you more details on that later!) – so my timing and postings may be a bit unpredictable for a while. Thanks for your understanding!

#2, With Mother’s day just past us, I’ve been pondering the charisma apparently inherent in every woman towards “mothering,” and of course, what exactly does this mean!?  Let me explain by paraphrasing and quoting from my adopted patron saint, Edith Stein,Teresa Benedicta of the Cross:

Every woman is meant to develop what Edith calls a common sense of spiritual mothering, of companion and mother, in order to help others develop to their fullest potential.
The body of woman is fashioned ‘to be one flesh’ with another and to nurse new human life in itself,” Edith emphasized. 
“A well disciplined body is an accommodating instrument for the mind which animates it; at the same time, it is a source of power and a habitat for the mind. Just so, woman’s soul is… also fashioned to be a shelter in which other souls may unfold. Both spiritual companionship and spiritual motherliness are not limited to the physical spouse and mother relationships, but they extend to all people with whom woman comes into contact” (Woman 132).
Seeing motherhood as a universal calling for all women means it is not simply a duty to be exercised with one’s biological children. This has certainly been true to my experience. In Edith’s exposition, a woman’s concern for the good of persons must be universal, extending to all whose lives touch hers in some way (emphasis mine).       
The soul of woman must therefore be expansive and open to all human beings... it must be quiet so that no small weak flame will be extinguished by stormy winds; warm so as not to be numb fragile buds; clear, so that no vermin will settle in dark corners and recesses; self-contained, so that no invasions from without can imperil the inner life; empty of itself, in order that extraneous life may have room in it; finally, mistress of itself and also of its body, so that the entire person is readily at the disposal of every call” (Woman 132-3).
~Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, 
Edith Stein [Link to my biography of Edith Stein] 

in spite of being damaged (or maybe because of it?), I love this simple image of Mary holding her Son. 
According to the church description, she's the "Virgin with a significative swaying hip," called
the "Silver Footed Virgin" or the "Laticca Virgin"
Check out her facial expression! 


Church of St. James, Compiegne, France