Catholic Activity: Training: A Mother to Her Son
Excerpt from Christ in the Home by Raoul Plus about the important role of being a mother, raising the souls of her children.
When Léon Bloy was about twenty years old, he fell into one of those crises not uncommon in youth, particularly in youth whose environment brings contact with unbelievers and persons of loose morals, and he drifted from his religion. He was wretchedly unhappy besides, unhappy because of the very direction he was taking; but an involuntary confusion and probably a certain amount of wilful pride prevented him from breaking with doubt to return to the path of light.
The mother read her son's soul clearly. She did not reproach him, nor did she speak to him exclusively nor immediately of his religious problem; she attributed his interior troubles to different causes of an inferior order which more than likely played a part in his wretchedness. She wrote to him:
How is it my dear child that you do not write to us. I feel heavy hearted because of it for I am sure that you do not realize what is taking place in your poor soul; all kinds of things are conflicting within it — it is ardent and lacks the nourishment proper to it; you turn from one side to the other and you cannot tell what really bothers you. Ah! poor child, be calm, reflect. It is not that you feel your future lost or compromised; at your age one cannot have established his future or despaired of it; it is not for most persons your age still uncertain. No, it is not that, Your work, your studies do not show sufficient progress? Why? Perhaps because you want to do too many things at once; you are too impatient. No, not that either? Your mind is willing enough but your heart and your soul are suffering; they have so many yearnings that you are scarcely aware of, and their unease and their suffering react upon your mind sapping from it necessary strength and attention.
You are suffering, you are unhappy. I feel all that you experience and yet I am powerless to console you, to encourage you much as I should love to do so. Ah! that we might have the same convictions! Why have you rejected the faith of your childhood without a profound examination of your reason for and against it? The statements of those whom faith irritates or who have no religion for lack of instruction have made an impression on your young imagination; but just the same your heart needs a center that it will never find on earth. It is God, it is the infinite you need and all your yearnings are driving you there. You belong to that select number of elect to whom God communicates Himself and in whose regard He is prodigal of his love when once they have consented to humble themselves by submitting to the obscurities of faith.
What a frightening duty mothers have! To bring forth the bodies of their children is a beautiful ministry; to rear their souls is an even greater ministry.
What anguish for a mother when a grown child, a son in early manhood or a daughter in early womanhood cuts loose from faith, and considers God lightly! If ever she feels that she has lost her hold over her son or daughter, that they are escaping her, it is when she sees them follow the paths of doubt or fall under the spell of the intoxicating enchantments of flirtation.
A mother must continue to bring forth her children all her life. In this sense they are always her little ones. Not that she makes them feel their bonds of dependence any longer but that she watches over them. And she prays! Except for a brief reminder from time to time, the clear statement of her hopes joined to the definite but loving message of the father, an occasional letter in which true principles are recalled, the chief role of a mother whose adult child has strayed is prayer, patient waiting and sacrifice — the persevering effort to become a saint.
What if she were to die before she sees the return of the Prodigal? What if the Child were to die before she has seen him "return"?
She should not be discouraged. Can we know the mystery of souls? Can we know what takes place in the last moments? Can we know what goes on within when the exterior reveals nothing? Can we know the value of a mother's tears? Monica will continue to the end of time to convert Augustine; but Monica must be a saint.
Activity Source: Christ in the Home by Raoul Plus, S.J., Frederick Pustet Co., Inc., New York and Cincinnati, 1951