Monthly Archives: November 2015

On becoming a mother of God


Me, a mother of God, a mother of Christ the Savior?

The notion seems absurd. And it is absurd, if we only consider the meaning in the bodily sense. I will never carry the Son of God in my womb as did the Virgin.

Yet the Lord Himself told me I can be His mother in an even more important way. And He has said the very same thing to you.

Before I comment further, let us hear how St. Augustine explained these words of Jesus: (if you prefer to read rather than listen, the text is printed in blue below).

Text: from a sermon by St. Augustine, Bishop

Stretching out his hand over his disciples, the Lord Christ declared: Here are my mother and my brothers; anyone who does the will of my Father who sent me is my brother and my sister and my mother. I would urge you to ponder these words. Did the Virgin Mary, who believed by faith and conceived by faith, who was the chosen one from whom our Savior was born among men, who was created by Christ before Christ was created in her –- did she not do the will of the Father? Indeed the blessed Mary certainly did the Father’’s will, and so it was for her a greater thing to have been Christ’’s disciple than to have been his mother, and she was more blessed in her discipleship than in her motherhood. Hers was the happiness of first bearing in her womb him whom she would obey as her master.

Now listen and see if the words of Scripture do not agree with what I have said. The Lord was passing by and crowds were following him. His miracles gave proof of divine power, and a woman cried out: Happy is the womb that bore you, blessed is that womb! But the Lord, not wishing people to seek happiness in a purely physical relationship, replied: More blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it. Mary heard God’’s word and kept it, and so she is blessed. She kept God’’s truth in her mind, a nobler thing than carrying his body in her womb. The truth and the body were both Christ: he was kept in Mary’’s mind insofar as he is truth, he was carried in her womb insofar as he is man; but what is kept in the mind is of a higher order than what is carried in the womb.

The Virgin Mary is both holy and blessed, and yet the Church is greater than she. Mary is a part of the Church, a member of the Church, a holy, an eminent -– the most eminent -– member, but still only a member of the entire body. The body undoubtedly is greater than she, one of its members. This body has the Lord for its head, and head and body together make up the whole Christ. In other words, our head is divine -– our head is God.

Now, beloved, give me your whole attention, for you also are members of Christ; you also are the body of Christ. Consider how you yourselves can be among those of whom the Lord said: Here are my mother and my brothers. Do you wonder how you can be the mother of Christ? He himself said: Whoever hears and fulfills the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and my sister and my mother. As for our being the brothers and sisters of Christ, we can understand this because although there is only one inheritance and Christ is the only Son, his mercy would not allow him to remain alone. It was his wish that we too should be heirs of the Father, and co-heirs with himself.

Now having said that all of you are brothers of Christ, shall I not dare to call you his mother? Much less would I dare to deny his own words. Tell me how Mary became the mother of Christ, if it was not by giving birth to the members of Christ? You, to whom I am speaking, are the members of Christ. Of whom were you born? ““Of Mother Church”,” I hear the reply of your hearts. You became sons of this mother at your baptism, you came to birth then as members of Christ. Now you in your turn must draw to the font of baptism as many as you possibly can. You became sons when you were born there yourselves, and now by bringing others to birth in the same way, you have it in your power to become the mothers of Christ.

These are powerful words indeed.

I’m sure the words of Jesus in St. Augustine’s sermon have been preached about in many different ways throughout the centuries. But what has struck me about them just now is how very flawed my thinking has been.

If you are a regular reader, you may recall that my word for 2015 is “chasten”. Although one might expect, with a word like that, I’d be heaving a sign of relief that the year is almost over.

Actually I’m not.

I’ve rather come to like this little word that chose me. It is a wonderful and refreshing thing to be chastened by our loving God – to have Him point how wrong and stupid has been my thinking so that I can start to work on some genuine repentance and growth.

Anyway, about my current chastening. When I encountered these words of Augustine about being a mother of Christ, I realized that I wasn’t making much effort in this area at all.

Oh, I’ve been working on doing the will of the Father – clearly no small task and certainly not done flawlessly. But the part I really haven’t been doing is bringing as many others to birth as possible.

In my “coming of age” during the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, I grew up with a radical consciousness of how recklessly Western “Christianity” forced itself on other cultures, stripping them of their dignity and sometimes their lives. In my outrage against such injustices, the Native American people were primary in my awareness.

I developed a mindset that we should not try to push our faith on others. Period.

It was not that I didn’t think that Christianity was worth sharing but, in my mind, I couldn’t separate the notion of evangelization with cultural rape. What had been done to these beautiful peoples of God in the name of Christianity was nothing less.

Along with that, my understanding of evangelization during young adulthood became contaminated with an experience of evangelical Christianity that was limited to being accosted on street corners by insistent youth who had to know if I had been “born again”. It was never enough that I was a Christian.

I include this background by way of explanation rather than excuse. Looking back, I now see how I came to the erroneous view that it is best to simply respect people where they are and make no attempt to bring them to the Christian faith.

There’s nothing erroneous about respecting people where they are, of course. It’s the second clause in that sentence that is the clincher.

Our adversary is very clever. He can make doing the wrong thing seem so much like doing the right thing, just by putting two phrases together like that. And I fell for it. For a very long time.

No more. I want to be a mother of Christ.


I took a break from my writing and now I am back. I realized that there is one very important point that I must clarify.

It is a good thing that the Kingdom of Heaven does not depend on people like me getting it right.

I say this because I am well aware that God in His goodness has very likely made use of me to help bring people to Him. If I am genuinely trying to do the will of the Father, all of my wrong thinking and personal weaknesses are not going to stop the powerful words Jesus gave us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come…”

It will come. It is coming. It is here among us.

But this makes it all the more urgent that I wake myself from the sleep of my spiritual sloth and recognize that, indeed, I must bring as many as I can to the font to be born as members of the Body of Christ.

Not only is it my duty – it is my joy – as it is the joy of a mother to bring children into the world.

It is also not easy. It is not easy in today’s world to know how to do this.

Approaching strangers on street corners is certainly not the place to begin. To bring others does not mean to pressure them. But what is it I am to do then?

Because I do not know and cannot know, it is one of those occasions when it is good to remember that we have been given the Spirit who teaches us all things.

Perhaps the most simple and obvious of His instructions is to pray.

I am not to pray with the attitude of one who thinks herself in a superior position. Remembering that the Church is a hospital for the sick, I must always be mindful of the meaning of my membership. To remember others prayerfully, to ask God to send them the grace to find their way, is to ask that they come to know the healing that I myself am still experiencing.

My friend in heaven, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, gives me great inspiration and encouragement in bringing souls to Christ. While prayer may be the words I say, she also reminds me that every little sacrifice or suffering becomes a prayer when embraced out of love. She brought many to God in this manner, her “little way”, without ever stepping outside of her convent.

In many other wordless ways the Spirit instructs. For much of what we are to do is wordless. It is not that words are of no value but rather that love speaks much more clearly and to the heart.

If I tell someone what brings me joy and peace, it will mean little to them. If I tell them that I have a faith based on love, it will count for nothing. But if they observe me living a deeply peaceful life of joy they will wonder. If they feel loved by me in way that makes no sense to them, they will want to know where this comes from.

They will want more of this experience. They will want to know more about the Body that lives this way. They will want to become part of that Body.

A beloved patient of mine, now deceased, used to say, I want what you have. She struggled mightily over faith – but I believe she now has what I have and more. Much more.

So, if the Lord has allowed me to be His mother even when I was so oblivious and resistant to His call, how much more may He make use of me now that I am coming awake?

It is now the time of preparation, the time we ready ourselves to more deeply understand and celebrate the Birth that changed everything. It is a time of awakening.

But it is more than just another Advent season leading up to another Christmas. It is a time in which the world is so full of darkness that we can only dream of light, so full of hate that we can barely remember peace.

It is a time to sit in the darkness resolutely, with hope, until we see the Light.

It is the time to become a mother of God…

my King

(As the Feast of Christ the King draws to a close…)

Let me tell you a few things about my King.

He is not like the other kings you read about in history or story books. He does not sit on a big throne of gold and command vast armies in war. He does not have huge coffers of riches that he uses to control other people. He doesn’t even demand that everyone bow before him. He does not live in a big castle, high on a mountain where no one ever gets to see him.

He is a King who lives in my heart.

He is a King who comes and knocks on my door and, if I open it, He’ll come in and have supper with me.

(If I don’t open up, He’ll come and knock again. And again. He  doesn’t demand anything but He wants me to know that He is there, waiting to be allowed inside.)

He is very poor, having given me everything. And yet everything is His. I know that doesn’t make sense but I don’t know any other way to explain it.

He never tries to make me bow before Him or worship Him. He always wants to serve me. He asks to wash my feet as He sits on the floor before me. He quenches my thirst with a sort of Life-giving water that never runs dry. And He feeds my deepest hunger with Himself. I don’t quite understand how He does that – but He does.

And He has the most wonderful Father. The love between them is so amazing – I’ve never seen anything like it. My King and His Father are never apart from each other – so they both come in when I open the door. In fact, they have made their home within me. Now His Father is my Father too.

Some people might think that a King like this can’t be very powerful. But that is the strange thing about my King. His power is sweet and gentle but inexorable. He does no violence but there is no evil that can stand up before Him and win. Even death is destroyed by His presence.

That kind of power would seem scary – but in Him, it’s not. He does everything with Love. I never knew that Love could be that powerful but I guess it is.

I must say though, His Love is different than the other kinds of love you might read about or see in the movies. It’s hard to explain. Somehow it goes way deeper. It doesn’t expect anything back.

I don’t mean that He doesn’t want anything back because He does – He wants me and wants my love. But He would give His Love even if He didn’t get mine in return. And He wouldn’t hold anything back or resent it. He would die for love of me, even if I didn’t pay any attention to Him.

In fact, He already has. Another one of those things that’s hard to explain.

I’m so glad He’s my King. He doesn’t try to control me but I want Him to rule all of me. I trust Him to be in charge more than I trust anyone else. In fact, I’d rather have Him in charge than be in charge myself.

I love Him. I’m in Love with Him.

I know as I write this it sounds like I have my own personal King, living in my heart, attending to my every need. And it’s sort of like that. But, at the same time, I know He is everyone’s King and lives in their hearts – or is at least knocking on their doors.

And I’m glad. I’m excited that He is not just my King. Because when I meet someone else who has Him living in their heart, what joy we feel! In fact, there are whole groups of us who get together and sing and share Him and His Kingship in us.

Because I’m in love with Him, I’m in love with them. So the Love keeps growing and getting deeper – and it never stops.

It is just too beautiful for words.

I hope you know what I mean… but if you don’t, listen for the knocking. You’ll hear it.

Don’t be afraid. Just open the door…

A fallen season

I offer you this evening a little painting that bears a Haiku on its back.

This was not what I set out to do, of course, but that is what makes working with alcohol inks so very interesting. They often seem to tell me what needs to be painted rather than the other way around.

The ink on the paper then becomes a sort of Rorschach, bringing forth a tiny poem.

In this case, I had begun thinking that perhaps I should design a Christmas card for this year but my ink reprimanded me, reminding me that we are only now just approaching the end of the liturgical year.

Outside, most of the leaves and petals have dropped, leaving barren branches and stems. Birds peck old flower heads for remaining seeds that failed to escape and hide in nature’s compost.

It is not yet the season for a Birth. It is a fallen season…


(I will also post a few autumnal images at to further celebrate our fallen season.)

In this world of darkness

Is there anyone whom God does not love?

Is there anyone for whom Christ did not die?

I can only respond to these questions in the negative. No, there is no one. I must confess my faith that the Lord Jesus died as much for Hitler, Pol Pot and Idi Amin as He died for me.

And that He died for the members of ISIS, the Islamic terrorist group claiming responsibility for a recent act of bloody terrorism in Paris. And for their victims. And for the French officials who have now sent warplanes to bomb Syria.

He died for us all. We are all beloved of God, regardless of what we do or believe. We cannot change the God who is love, no matter how badly we sin.

I am not in the practice of writing political pieces on this blog and this is no exception. Although at one time I was a very political person, participating in demonstrations and writing letters to the editor, I have withdrawn from the political world.

I cannot have faith in politics. It asks the wrongs questions and inevitably chooses solutions that I cannot accept. I can only believe in God.

When I heard the tragic news of the acts of terrorism in Paris, of course my heart was deeply saddened for the victims and those who love them. Death, trauma and terror was imposed on them even though they, as individuals, had done nothing to provoke it.

Now, they or their survivors will be forever changed. What they once thought of as “life” will be never feel the same, will never feel normal or right again. A deep, deep tragedy.

Yet another thought occurred to me: which is more tragic – the injury and loss of life of innocent victims or the state of the souls of those who perpetrated these acts?

This may seem like an odd, even outrageous question. But, as Christians, we are often called upon to view our world from a radically different perspective.

Let us consider the admonition given us by the Lord:

“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10:28)

We are to fear death of the soul far more than we should fear the death of the body. This being the case, should we not mourn even more for those who seem to have lost their souls than for those who have lost only their bodies?

Certainly we should pray for those injured and killed. But should we not be praying even more diligently for those who planned and carried out the killing?

It is not our natural human tendency to think so. Rather our inclination is to want to strike back, viewing such counterattacks as necessary to protect ourselves and perhaps “teach” the perpetrators that such acts will not be tolerated.

Yet Jesus tells us,

“But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5: 44-45)

The call to love our enemies is perhaps one of the most defining features of our Christian faith relative to other creeds, yet it is arguably the one teaching of Christ that we most chronically and publicly fail to obey.

Why is it that we Christians so consistently disobey Christ on this very fundamental issue?

Certainly there are numerous reasons, many of them rooted in our passions and the sins that emerge from them. Yet there is another reason, one that is perhaps even more pernicious.

We know that we who serve the Good cannot be passive and indifferent in the face of evil. We must resist it. And it is through this knowledge we have become seduced by the true enemy into fighting our brothers and sisters.

The world has always had its wars and people have gone off to fight them. Early humans living in caves fought with rocks and spears. Eventually human weaponry graduated to rifles and canons, then napalm and nuclear bombs.

Typically one side justifies hurting the other because of the “evil” done by their opponent. Then the favor is returned because of that “evil” act. And so on…

However, the Lord Jesus is, I believe, trying to teach us that this is the wrong war – and that we are using the wrong weapons.

The true war we are called to fight is the spiritual war and our common enemy is the evil one. Seen in this light, we and ISIS (and all other terrorists and despots throughout time) all have the same enemy, though we may not recognize it.

It is the evil one who shifts our vision away from all other people as God’s beloved children for whom He gave His Son. It is the evil one who seduces us into believing that our fellow human beings deserve to die – and that we should kill them.

If our brother or sister does wrong, we must pray – for we too are sinners who have done wrong. We know what it means to fall from the grace of God and our only desire should be to draw the other from the clutches of the enemy. Especially when we see that he has blindly gone over to the other side.

Yet the true enemy, our adversary, convinces us that our brother or sister is the enemy, not him. And so we are deluded into fighting the wrong wars with the wrong weapons – and these wars never cease.

The weapons of our war, the spiritual war we are meant to fight, are humility, repentance and confession, Eucharist, charity, prayer, fasting and compassion for all of God’s children. And most of all love.

It is love that sends the real enemy running. He cannot countenance it, knowing as he does that love is God and God is love.

Many might read these words of mine and think them naive or idealistic. Perhaps even traitorous.

“Using those weapons will never work with these kind of people,” is the automatic argument of human logic.

Yet if I do not believe that they work, if I do not believe the words of Christ Himself, how can I call myself Christian?

And calling myself Christian is all that matters to me.

In this world of darkness, we who believe must unite ourselves to each other as Church and to the Light who is Christ Jesus our Lord.

For it is by this Light that others shall see…

To Him be glory.