Do You Have These 5 Traits of a Spiritual “Heart”?

A Quick Checklist for Wives and Moms
It often amazes me how many lay men and women, priests and religious point to their mother’s faith as an anchor in their own spiritual journey. That’s certainly the case with me and my mom’s unwavering faith, and I so badly want to be that strong spiritual “heart” for my children, too. I’ve noticed in her and in many other strong spiritual hearts some beautiful, feminine aspects of spiritual leadership:

  • A habit of sacrifice. Strong spiritual hearts seize frequent opportunities to give of themselves, to die to their own desires, inclinations, or preferences for the good of others, especially for the good of their husbands and children. They master the art of self-gift, giving everything from their bodies to their time, talent, and energy for those they love, and they find joy in doing so.
  • Quiet trust. Over time and through prayer, strong spiritual hearts inch their way toward an almost unshakable trust in God and in His will for their lives, especially
    within their families. They offer their children to God, recognizing that they are first and foremost His children (read Hannah’s story in 1 Samuel for an awesome example of this), and then they throw themselves into His Divine Mercy, trusting He will care for them and for their families.
  • Reliance on grace. Strong spiritual hearts rely on God’s grace to tackle the colossal responsibility of motherhood. His grace animates their daily lives—carrying them through their household chores and their efforts to provide emotionally, physically, and spiritually for their families—and comforts them when they feel exhausted and worn. They see His grace at work in their family life, and they can’t imagine living without it.
  • Unseen strength. Utilizing the particular gifts, talents, experience, and energy God has given them, spiritual hearts are pillars of physical, emotional, and spiritual
    strength, serving and loving the Lord and their families with all their might (Dt 6:5). The strength of a wife and mother often goes unseen, but its presence is most certainly felt and needed by their families.
  • Friendship with Mary. Strong spiritual hearts take their leadership cues first and foremost from Our Blessed Mother, the immaculate model of spiritual “heartship.” Seeing her as the most exemplary wife and mother that ever walked the earth, they implore her intercession and cultivate an intimate relationship with her to help them become more beautifully virtuous like her. They ask her to wrap the mantle of her love and protection around each precious member of their family.

Do you possess these five traits? Which one could you spend some time and effort working on as the spiritual heart of your own family?

 

10 Lessons from My Mom on How to Be a Great Mother

*This article originally appeared on the IntegratedCatholicLife.org in 2013. I like to re-share it every Mother’s Day!
Just a few short months ago, I became a mother, and now I am just months away from meeting my little one on his birthday in December. The blessings multiply as pregnancy continues—with every little kick and each ultrasound picture of my little boy sucking his thumb or smiling big (just like his mama) in the womb, I thank God for the opportunity to share in new life.

It is amazing how much my pregnancy has given me pause for reflection on my relationship with my own mother, and on the qualities that make her the most remarkable role model in my life. I can honestly say that my mother is the most saintly person I know — an unmatched giving, loving, patient, faithful, prayerful woman who knows her life’s work is to be a wife and mother, and boy does she live out her vocation well.

If I am half as good at being a mother as my mother is, than I think my children will be exceedingly blessed. But I certainly have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, after observing my mother’s graceful living over the past 24 years of my life, I’ve picked up on some of her unsaid but well-lived tips for being a great mom.

  1. Pray always. Literally. Every moment of every day, do everything in a spirit of prayer. The most important thing you will ever do for your children is to pray for them. And prayers change everything. They contribute more to your kids’ growth, health, happiness, and sanctity than anything else. Pray for your children and for your ability to be a good mother.
  2. Be patient. Your children will learn from you either how to explode under pressure and anger or how to be composed, loving, and patient. Even when frustration levels are high, look at your family members as if they were little Christs, little souls whom you are called to love and practice patience with, even in the most trying of circumstances.
  3. Love and respect your husband. Your children will see you do it, and observing your marriage will impact the kind of marriage they desire and have of their own someday. If you disagree with your husband, don’t disagree with him verbally in front of the children. Always have your spouse’s back, and then discuss any disagreements in private. Show your children that you are an unbreakable team.
  4. First be your children’s mother, then and only after, their friend. Too many parents are overly concerned with being liked, and sometimes you won’t be liked. You won’t be liked when you discipline your kids or you challenge them to do the right, but hard, thing. And though you won’t always be liked, if you really do what is best for your children, you will always be loved.
  5. Practice self-sacrifice and unconditional love. Kids are, by their nature, demanding. They require your love, attention, service, wisdom, and so much more in order to develop into holy, mature adults. Raising a virtuous child requires a unique degree of self-sacrificial love. Abandon selfishness, and you will not only raise holier children who see your example, but you will become more Christ-like in the process. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
  6. Become best friends with Our Blessed Mother. Pray the Rosary often to receive strength from the world’s greatest mother: Mary. She will be your ultimate companion in motherhood—your best friend. Fly to her in your times of need, in your moments of rejoicing, and when your heart is aching. She will comfort you and dance with you as a Mother, to give you the grace to be a better mother yourself.
  7. Celebrate life with your kids. Tell your kids what a joy it is to be a mother, and that there is nothing greater than giving life and raising children, so they will always be encouraged to fight for and embrace life. Celebrate life with your daughters and sons as they begin to have their own children. Relive the excitement of your own early motherhood with them as they experience their baby’s first hiccups and kicks in the womb, their births, and the many memories made over years to come.
  8. Talk about and teach about Jesus and your Catholic Faith constantly, but more importantly, live the life of Jesus in your every day actions. Be unmistakable Catholic inside and outside the home, and do it with joy. When your children see how fulfilling it is to live a Christ-centered Catholic life and how it enriches your family, they will want that for themselves and their own families, too.
  9. Be silly. No need to be the world’s most serious mother. Be playful. Make up your
    own lyrics to popular songs and dance like nobody (but your children) is watching. Tickle often. Your children will appreciate your spirited outlook on life and will learn from you that every day is a gift to be cherished and with which to have fun!
  10. Trust. Trust Jesus, trust your husband, trust your children, and let them see you trusting with all your might. In a culture where homes are filled with stress, be a home filled with peace and confidence in God’s will for you and your family.

Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “The woman is at the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved, and through this love become instruments of peace in the world.”

Every one of these lessons my mother has lived out and continues to practice to the utmost extent. Thank you, Mother, for teaching me how to be a great mom, for teaching me how to love and be loved and become an instrument of peace in our broken world. You are going to be an extraordinary grandmother. I hope I do you proud, so my children can hand down these lessons that they learn from me someday.

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