10. A Mother's Blessing
In the Old Law God commanded that a mother must come to the temple for purification after childbirth. In the New Law there is no purification as in the Old (for the birth of a child is something stupendous and pleasing to God), but there is the matter of a special "consecration and blessing" called churching, This ceremony takes place in the church after the mother is able to come to church and consists of prayers of the Church expressing gratitude and joy.
Mary Goes To The Temple
In memory of Mary's visit to the temple, it is customary for the mother to appear in church after childbirth to thank God for a happy delivery, and to receive the special blessing of the Church. Mary brought Him to the temple Who was to be the joy of the world and the delight of the heavenly Father. On this occasion she also brought to the temple a pair of turtle doves, the offering of the poor.
Mother Church expresses her anxiety in addressing the mother: "Christian Mother, God has blessed you with a child and has turned your sorrow to joy. You can now with your child adore and give thanks to the holy name of the great God. Yes, thank God and rejoice in Him. Remember that your joy will be complete only then, when your child grows up for the honor and glory of God. Impress deeply upon your heart the words of Holy Writ: 'Hast thou children? Instruct them and bow down their neck from their childhood.' Teach your child to pronounce the name of Jesus, impress the heart of the child with the beginning of wisdom, teach it great reverence for God. Admonish and instruct, punish if necessary so that the child will avoid the dangers of sin. From early infancy the child should be taught to love God with all its heart, with all its mind, with all its strength, and to love the neighbor as itself. Pray God that He may shower His graces upon it. Pray that the child may grow in wisdom, age, and grace, in true wisdom of heart and real love of God. May the child be to you a joy, comfort and protection. These are the blessings we pray for, through Our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and glory throughout eternity."
As soon as possible the mother should betake herself with her child to church to present it to the Lord, to adore, give thanks and beg blessings and graces for herself and her child. She should adore God, because through Him she has been instrumental in giving life to the child. She should be grateful as we all should be grateful for even a cup of water. After all, the child is truly a divine gift, hence the need for gratitude. Moreover, however great her maternal love may be, it still remains a limited and human love. Sickness and poverty may come upon the family and the mother can do nothing about it. The growth of the child, its future vocation and eternal happiness rest in the hands of God; the mother must pray to God to safeguard her child. And then there is reparation. But for what must a mother make reparation? While carrying the child beneath her heart she had to be careful not to lose her temper and to keep her soul equable and peaceful so as not to influence the body of the child. Was she always faithful to this obligation? Who can say that we are without sin? This is the reason why we all must make reparation, and mothers have this obligation in a special way.
So the mother must renew her resolution to watch over the spiritual and corporal welfare of the child with truly motherly care. It will be but a short time until the child learns to pronounce the holy names of Jesus and Mary. Since it has come to her from God, so the child should belong entirely to God. This visit to church, this "churching," may be a great day, the beginning of great blessings for mother and child.
Pilgrimage To God
There are some mothers who, led by human respect, neglect this first visit to church. But women who have real faith, who realize the greatness and glory of the faith cannot be deterred. They themselves were once carried to the church by their own mothers. Their children will not be poorer by this visit, but rather spiritually enriched.
This visit has a meaning all its own. It reminds the mother of that wise mother. Mother Church, the greatest assistant in the education of the child. It is, after all, rather touching when the priest lays the stole on the mother and leads her to the altar. May she one day, accompanied by her children, enter the gates of heaven amid the pealing of the organ and the alleluias of the angels. An English queen brought her child to the foot of the altar, laid it on the altar step, and consecrated it to God, 1003. This child was later the saintly King Edward (died, 1066).
When St. Elizabeth gave birth, in 1227, to her beloved daughter Gertrude, she had the infant baptized immediately. After regaining her strength she made her visit to the church. Clad in a simple woolen dress, she took the child in her arms, walking barefoot along the stony road from the castle to St. Catherine's church at Eisenach. There she placed the child on the altar, offering a lamb and a large wax candle. Then she prayed: "To Thee, Lord Jesus, and Thy Blessed Mother, I offer this precious and lovely fruit of my womb. I return to Thee, with a happy heart, what Thou hast given me. Thou art Lord and God, Lord of the life of mother and child. I have but one petition: Take this child, bathed in my tears, number her among Thy servants and friends, and bless her." The dress worn on this occasion she gave to the poor.
When Mary, the Blessed Mother, paid her visit to the temple, she was met by the grey-haired Simeon, who said: "Behold, this child is set for the fall and for the resurrection of many in Israel. And thy own soul a sword shall pierce." Who can say what will be the future of a slumbering child when the mother brings it back from the altar to its home, the sanctuary of the family?
This item 1470 digitally provided courtesy of CatholicCulture.org