How is God calling me to be a mother?

“And she pondered all these things…”

This time of year offers us so many beautiful images and virtues to contemplate – many of which, I would say, are easy to miss or take for granted, as they are lost under the glitter and tinsel of ‘the season.’ 

One of my favorite truths to contemplate, especially recently, is the beautiful reality of motherhood. 

Obviously, this time of year tends to get us thinking about it a bit more than usual as for the past few months we've seen the Madonna and Child displayed everywhere before our eyes, so it seems.  And I love this!  

For me, I've also been thinking a lot about one of my sisters, Melanie, who is currently pregnant with her second child.  Mel and her husband Paul were married just over three years ago, close to the the time I entered community, and since then, as we've spent the years growing into and learning about our respective vocations, she has consistently been teaching me about my own vocation.   


Yes, my married sister is teaching me how to be (God-willing) a more faithful religious sister. 

I could go into a whole host of reasons for this, but I will cite only one example that is particularly imprinted on my mind.  A few months after she gave birth to her first child, Dominic (who I maintain, in a completely unbiased way, is the most adorable child to walk the face of the earth), Mel was able to come down to our Motherhouse, where I was living at the time, for a visit.  Besides this being my first time meeting my nephew, this was also the first time I got to observe Mel being a mom.  It was awesome, and moved me deeply in a way that I was not expecting (I was partially just concerned about not making the baby cry when I held him for the first time…first impressions are important!).  

At the end of our visit that evening, I remember walking back to my room, mesmerized by the almost surreal images playing through my mind of watching Mel interact with her son.  And the simple phrase ran through my head: 

“She would give her life for him.  She would die for him.” 

  It was one of those ‘I know this to be true at the depths of my soul’ truths.  And it moved me profoundly. 

This truth did not strike me because of anything she necessarily said or even did.  Just the simple reality of watching her interact with him communicated to me that she had a connection to this new, tiny human being that was unlike her connection to any of the rest of us.  

His life will always be bound to hers in a SINGULAR ANDN PARTICULAR way, and her life will never be the same, because of him.  This tiny person, not because of anything he did, but because of his very existence, had radically changed my sister. 

And so it brought the question to my own mind – am I allowing myself to be radically changed like this?  

Obviously, as a religious sister, I take a vow of celibate chastity, and so offer to the Lord the good of having biological children of my own, for the greater good of undivided devotion to the Lord as my Spouse, and the spiritual children He desires to give me.  And so I was challenged to ask myself: am I open to the new life the Lord desires to give to me – and would I lay down my life for them?  It’s a question I continue to ask myself on a consistent basis. 

This question taps into a truth that is applicable to every woman, regardless of her particular vocation. Each woman,  regardless of where she is now, and whatever vocation she is in, or discerning, or feeling called to at this particular moment, she is always called to be receptive to new life that the Lord desires to give to her, and to nurture it – this is inherent to who she is as a woman.  John Paul II tells us that:

“The moral and spiritual strength of a woman is joined to her awareness that God entrusts the human being to her in a special way. Of course, God entrusts every human being to each and every other human being. But this entrusting concerns women in a special way - precisely by reason of their femininity - and this in a particular way determines their vocation.”  (Mulieris Dignitatem 30)

This encapsulates the challenge I felt the Lord speak to me in the encounter I witnessed between my sister and her son.  I pray that it continues to challenge me and every woman who has ears to hear and eyes to see, as they are opened by the Holy Spirit. 

It is every woman’s vocation to guard and nurture the lives of those around her.  The question of vocation should not be if God is calling me to be a mother, but how God is calling me to be a mother.  Speaking to each of my sisters in Christ, I invite you to remember that each of you has a beautiful call that the Lord has placed on your life, and He’s calling you to live out this dimension of your femininity right now – with the people around you in class, with those at your work, with those you pass on the street and sit next to on public transportation, with those in your family. 

John Paul II goes on to tell us that it’s precisely this awareness of how others are entrusted to us that makes us who we are:

“A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God "entrusts the human being to her", always and in every way…this awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them "strong" and strengthens their vocation.” (Mulieris Dignitatem 30)

We are strong by the very fact that the Lord has deigned to entrust others to us.  This is not often the definition that the world gives us of the word ‘strong,’ and certainly not of a “strong woman.”  But this is how the Lord desires us to be strong: by receiving from Him those He desires to entrust to us, and by making a gift of self to them in return.  This is real empowerment. 

So as we conclude the Christmas Octave and begin this new year, I encourage you to not let the image of the Christ Child with His Mother fall victim to over-sentimentality and to be put away with the rest of the decorations. 

May you live each day with a heightened awareness of your own dignity in the gift the Lord has given you in your femininity. Consider specifically how the Lord has entrusted others to you, and you to others.  We were not made to live in isolation, but in communion with one another.  Like I said earlier, I am consistently challenged by the example of Mel, and her husband Paul, and the self-sacrifice that they live out in their lives.  It’s through the ordinary, mundane ‘dying’ to self that I see the desire to give the fullness of one’s life for the other – the self-gift that we are all called to, regardless of our particular vocation.  

May each of us embrace our call to be that complete gift of self for the other, and to be the mothers that the Lord has called us to be. 
-Sr. Anna Rose Ciarrone, T.O.R.

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  1. Life-giving writing. A blessing.

  2. This brought joy to my heart, and food for thought as there is always room to grown in my walk with the Lord!~~Mom


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