Mothers' day reflection and the Road to Emmaus

We went to church this morning: This Mothers' Day morning. Their was little subtlety in the homiletic reflection on motherhood, little nuance of the demanding nature that parenthood can have. In fact, the homilist told a story of a mother who raised her 7 children and another woman's 9 children (after the other woman died). The Mother in this story was superhuman.

There is another woman in our tradition who is almost universally presented to us as superhuman: Mary. Show me a picture of Mary who is ragged, or sweating, or pissed off, or unprepared for what she faces. No seriously, if you have pictures that represent a real Mary show them to me.

Interestingly, today's readings about the disciples sorting through events after the crucifixion as they walk (home?) to Emmaus. A stranger joins them they are sorting, they listen to the stranger's understanding of scripture, and after sharing words, the disciples welcome him to join them for a meal and then they realize that this is the ressurected Jesus. In light of Mothers' day I want someone to talk about how confusing it, all of our journeys (parenthood, vocation, career, even boring everyday decisions), can be? I want to hear about how as community we sort things out together. How we gather as women and men of faith we break bread together and then as parents as mothers and fathers (literally or figuratively) we are formed, shaped and molded into the stewards that we are....we are transformed by the breaking of the bread. We see differently. We see our roads (parenthood, vocation, career, other decisions) differently.

I want an image of motherhood that doesn't marginalize my experience of ambivalence. I want my child to know how deeply she is loved...and she is loved enough for me to let my experience of her be complex, because she strikes me at the core of who I am! I want my faith and my reality to come together. It seems that the only voice of women that I can find that says, "Yes sometimes this is hard and sucks and complicated and wonderful and full and rich and hilarous and sloppy..." and all such things are secular feminists.

But where, oh where, are my Christian sisters, proclaiming the truth. Where are the prophets of motherhood in our church! Our image of motherhood and our image Mary does not capture it all, it barely captures is AT ALL. We are disciples as parents. That we are confused and in love. Trying and searching and needing rest and messing our kids up, and forming them deeply to be people who love and live deeply...but that this confusion and ambivalence part of the gospel too.

Happy Mothers' Day.


  1. Last year, Notre Dame built a new Center for Social Concerns building. The chapel inside is the Chapel of Our Lady of Mercy, and behind the altar, there is a three-panel stained glass of various people seeking refuge under Mary's cloak. The people in charge made the stained glass artists make a NEW FACE for Mary, because the first face looked too "worn down / ugly," and they KNEW Mary could only look fresh and young and "fair."

  2. You always have such great insight and thoughts. I appreciate you. <3

  3. Beautiful!

    Interestingly, I am writing a paper on medieval misogyny and the cultural representations of mothers at the moment. If I ever write a version in English, I will send it to you! ;-)



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