Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Motherhood & Prayer: Ora et Labora

In case you missed the memo, Peter Matthias was born on June 2nd - which means I'm currently spending my days resting and cuddling a newborn as much as  I can while getting acquainted with the juggling act that is being a mother to two children under the age of two. Thankfully, some wonderful ladies have agreed to share some of their writings with all of you while I take a mini blogging hiatus during this time of transition. Today it is with great pleasure that I welcome a special sister in Christ from Sacred Sharings For The Soul!

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By: C.C.

The Rule of St. Benedict focuses largely on the disciplined practice of work and prayer. St. Benedict proposed that work and prayer not only complement one another but can be so closely fused to create a harmonious balance in the spiritual life. It takes great discipline to unite the outward workings of our physical lives with the silent contemplative practice of prayer.

Through witnessing the observance of this rule I have come to see how “ora et labora” is something that can also aid in living the vocation of motherhood. This understanding can ease much of the tension that may arise in trying to maintain a balanced prayer life as a mother.

I once read that a monastery is a “school of charity”. It is a place where one must die to self daily, sacrificing ceaselessly in order to persevere. Motherhood demands the same. It is through humble recognition of this selfless vocation that one can begin to surrender to the ‘labora’ of motherhood with great peace and cultivate the fruits of God’s abundant grace. There is the obvious difficulty that arises when faced with the reality of one’s own limitations. From sleep deprivation, feeding, and the essential emotional outpouring of self; a mother can feel defeated.

Many women (myself included) have battled with the practice of consistent prayer while being busy tending to their children. I took this matter into prayer (ironically) in order to gain some much needed clarity. I recognized that ‘consistent prayer’ stems from a committed and unwavering devotion to God. In each state of life one is given the graces they need to persevere and to accomplish what is demanded of them. The prayer language of a mother is spoken through the act of service to her children. A mother's prayer life is defined by daily cultivating a child's life in cooperation with God. It is a balance of “ora et labora”; it is truly work rooted in prayer itself. If this is not so then there will be a perpetual tension and exhausting search for peace.

It is important to find the sacredness in the simplicity of service to one’s family. St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 7:34) provides some clarity in helping to understand the challenge that many women may experience in their spiritual lives as they become wives and mothers.

St. Paul speaks about the dividedness of tending to God when married. I have interpreted this scripture by recognizing it in a way that does not discredit the vocation of married life and motherhood, but rather imbues it with deeper meaning and sanctity when paralleled with the life of an unmarried man and virgin. Though one is ‘divided’ in their attentiveness to the Lord while busy with serving family, perhaps it can be suggested that by viewing one’s family as divinely given and recognizing the living out of service to them as service and sacrifice for love of God, a mother maintains an undivided devotion to God.

Life as a married woman and mother does not reduce devotedness to God but does present challenges if the woman desires for the same routines and practices of prayer that she was once accustomed to. Motherhood invites a woman to allow her prayer life to evolve by accepting a new way of prayer. It is not by clinging to a prayer routine alone that allows our spiritual life to flourish, it is by clinging to God alone and welcoming the moments of prayer in the day to day “labora” of life.

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C.C. records her spiritual reflections based on prayers, quotations from the Saints, and her life as a Catholic woman, newlywed, and now mother at her blog, Sacred Sharings For The Soul. If you enjoy real-life stories that tell of God's mysterious yet powerful ways of making His presence known to us, make sure you check out her sweet baby girl's birth story and show her some love.

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