The Holy Spirit is Calling Mothers

By Catherine Glaser

“Mom!” That’s not your kids calling. That’s the Holy Spirit calling you to build up His Kingdom!

For such a time as this, the Confraternity of Christian Mothers (CCM) is responding to this call and renewing the Catholic mothers of northern Colorado. Created for the purpose of forming wise and holy educators of their children to the glory of God and for the salvation of souls, the CCM is not another moms’ group or social club in the church. Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila gave his approval for its affiliation in 2019 so that its members could share in prayer, graces and indulgences as they go to battle against a culture intent on erasing God in the family. 

With its origins in post-revolutionary France, whose times are not unlike our own when mothers faced an increasing secularization of social thought and rising political turmoil was enveloping their world, the CCM sprang up from the heartfelt needs of these mothers to meet and talk about their struggles. They were facing forces that had taken a serious toll on the faith of the people. Together they prayed for a solution. They talked about their problems in raising their children and prayed for one another. In mutual concern and prayers, they found the courage to carry out their important vocation when the modern forces undermining family life began to seriously challenge Catholic values.  

Fast forward to today. Amid a pandemic, riots, and political and cultural assaults to our faith and values, the CCM is answering the Holy Spirit’s call in northern Colorado with almost 90 members since its solemn reception into the worldwide organization on September 15, 2019, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. Under her patronage, members are encouraged to joyously and hopefully undertake the important task of training and sanctifying the young souls entrusted to their care. The group is open to any woman, wife or mother who supports the stated aim and purpose of the CCM: the Christian education of children, especially their character formation, by mothers. If a woman is unmarried or is married, but is not Catholic, she can become an associate member. Its members also recite a daily prayer for the children and those graces are shared across the worldwide organization.  

Canonically erected in Pittsburgh, PA in 1881 under Pope Leo XIII, the Archconfraternity of North America began its spiritual work affiliating other confraternities wherever the local Ordinary approved it. Confraternities are associations of the faithful canonically erected by the proper ecclesiastical superior to promote a Christian method of life by special works of piety towards God. Archconfraternities aggregate confraternities; they do not erect them. This special honor by the Pope imparted to its members special privileges and indulgences. Enrollment in the Confraternity endows a woman with all the spiritual benefits of the CCM, which include a share in all the prayers and Masses offered for its members both living and deceased and access to special plenary and partial indulgences available to Christian Mothers. Imagine the size of that fortress for the Lord!  

Already having offered two mini-retreats where mothers have been edified by sharing in the sacraments, praying for each other and their children, and participating in discussions on instructing their children according to Gospel principles, the CCM is currently planning a June visit from Father Joseph Tuscan, OFM Cap., who is the Director of the Archconfraternity in Pennsylvania. Canonically erected there in 1881, it boasts over 3,500 chapters since its inception. There are currently six archconfraternities worldwide.  

Spiritual benefits come to an individual confraternity through affiliation with the archconfraternity. The confraternity is an ecclesial organization under the local bishop’s supervision and is overseen by a parish priest, known as the “Father Director.” Each confraternity is associated with a parish where they are a great aid to the pastor in the spiritual and material needs of its congregation, offering a rich treasure of blessings and grace. The members become schooled in the ideals of Christian womanhood, wifehood, and motherhood to become not only faithful Catholics, but imitators of Mary, the ideal mother. They depend on each other for spiritual support, catechesis and finally, social support.  

There is the possibility of enrollment into the NOCO chapter on June 10 with Father Tuscan. Later, if another chapter is affiliated closer to home, an individual’s membership is easily transferred. All are invited/welcome to participate in Father Tuscan’s June 10-13 visit to Fort Collins. He will share the power of the sacraments at Masses and confession, offer talks to mothers and fathers separately, and at the end, the families of the CCM will enjoy a picnic and field day. For registration and more details, click here.

In the immortal words of Pope Pius IX, “Give me truly Christian mothers, and I will renew the face of the earth!” 

Catherine Glaser is a member of the Confraternity of Christian Mothers and a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Parish in Fort Collins.

Featured photo by Benjamin Manley on Unsplash

COMING UP: Motherhood and the sanctuary of the home

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We’ve all been spending more time at home than usual, and, even as we’re all anxious to return to normal life, there have been blessings in our confinement. One of them is discovering the power of the domestic church. The word “church” means assembly or gathering, and the Catholic Church is the gathering that God intends for all people. Families are small groups of the faithful gathered in the home, expressing love in prayer, learning, food, and fun, in the middle of plenty of challenges.

One recent book captures the essence of the home as a sanctuary, Theology of the Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday (TAN, 2019), co-authored by Carrie Gress, Noelle Mering, and Megan Schrieber. It’s not a practical “how to” book, but a contemplative reflection on the beauty of home life. “Catholic daily living — with all its imperfections and struggles, its mercy and its joys, not to mention aesthetic and hospitable beauty, and nourishing food (and hopefully some good red wine) — can be an intoxicating inducement to the reality that is fuller, more secure, more exciting, and more fulfilling when lived in the context of the divine. To step inside this context is a foretaste of heaven, and sometimes, mysteriously, this experience can be even more profound for a stranger than being inside a church. For in the liturgy he may not know the ‘language,’ but the language of the home is universal” (4).

Theology of the Home explores themes such as the experience of entering within, the role of remembering, the importance of light, the nobility of building, the centrality of nourishment, engaging nature, the need for order, the place of comfort, the offer of hospitality, how to balance it all, and even the importance of leaving. It certainly requires hard work, but also creativity, shaped by prayer to make the home a place of Christian encounter: “Marsilio Ficino, a 15th century Florentine thinker, once said, ‘Poets and makers of beautiful things share in the same desire to achieve virtue through their creative powers. And through their love of beauty, they draw themselves closer to God.’ Ultimately, our creativity doesn’t depend solely upon everything around us going exactly as we would like — with floor swept, breakfast dishes done, and dinner in the slow cooker. Order is certainly important. But it depends much more upon our openness to God — the Creator, and beauty’s source” (118).

We know, however, that family life is not always peaceful and easy. It is an adventure! A local author and former youth minister, Allison Auth, describes her own adventure of discovering motherhood in Baby and Beyond: Overcoming Those Post-Childbearing Woes (Sophia, 2019). The heart of the home stems from relationship, and Auth plumbs the beauty and struggles that shape the contours of parenting. As a father of six, I resonated with many of her stories, as the experiences of childbirth (much different for a father, of course!) and the bumps of the postpartum life are full of surprises and unexpected challenges. Auth’s goal is to shed light on the postpartum experience, as she noticed that so many books skip over it, leaving many moms, struggling after birth, feeling “alone, overwhelmed, tired, and guilty.” In response, her book wants to tell those with these feelings that they are not alone: “Whether you have full-blown postpartum depression, or simply a roller coaster of other emotions, there is a place for those feelings here. The experiences in this book are mine, but my hope is that in sharing my story, I can offer you some hope and peace for your journey” (6).

Baby and Beyond addresses helpful details about postpartum depression, physical recovery, natural family planning, the spiritual life, and community. Having a lot of children in quick succession, I can attest, is challenging. Expressing this natural frustration at the challenges that come with it, Auth also points to God’s work in perfecting us through the self-sacrifice that it requires. “When God allows us to go through trials in our marriage, it is because, in His wisdom, He knows it can ultimately bring about good in us, provided we accept His grace” (69). The difficult moments subside, and, after being stretched to the limit, we begin to see interior growth and also fruits in the family. Auth offers much good advice, but, most of all, important encouragement in staying devoted to what is most important. “Postpartum motherhood requires getting back to basics and ordering priorities. I may not be as adventurous as I was before having children, but I am more courageous in other ways and a lot less selfish than I used to be. I am the most influential person in my children’s lives, not only by meeting their basic needs but also forming their characters and introducing them to God. I also know God’s love in a deeper way that I used to. I value community and strive to build authentic relationships. I’m more grateful to the little blessings in life that I was before” (123).

In the midst of our current difficulties, let’s be grateful for our blessings, invest in our family and friends, and trust in God even more.