By Rosanna Emenusiobi IHM (Ph.D)
This is the continuation of “Why Women are Indispensable in Raising Chaste Teens”
6.2. The Feminine Genius: The Gift of Maternity of All Women
In Mulieris Dignitatem, John Paul II highlighted one aspect of feminine genius, that woman is endowed with a particular capacity for accepting the human being in his concrete form. Even this singular feature which prepares her for motherhood, not only physically but also emotionally and spiritually, is inherent in the plan of God who entrusted the human being to woman in an altogether special way. Thus, motherhood is unique to women. It is an attribute that is womanly and feminine. By virtue of being created feminine, the genius behind God’s design of them, body and soul, inherently equips them for motherhood. All women have the gift of maternity, and it is lived in two ways: physical motherhood and spiritual motherhood. Physical mothers come to mind most obviously. They birth and raise their own biological children, or raise children as adoptive mothers, stepmothers, or foster mothers. Spiritual motherhood means nurturing the spiritual, moral, emotional, and cultural life in others. In fact, all women are called to spiritual motherhood. Not all women give birth to children, yet all women are called to exercise a spiritual maternity in the world—giving care and nurture to others through their own maternal gift. (And, of course, spiritual mothering should be part of every physical mother’s care!) To understand spiritual motherhood or spiritual maternity properly, we need to broaden our understanding of the gift of maternity. 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…. This entrusting concerns women in a special way—precisely by reason of their femininity—and this in a particular way determines their vocation…. A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting…
John Paul II describes the universal vocation of all women, not just women who bear children. God entrusts all women, by reason of their femininity—their design—to care for humanity. Maternal care is not limited to childcare, but should be active in all phases of a woman’s life. It brings a motherly touch to our human relationships, and to our work—especially the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. One cannot, therefore, underestimate the role of women in the lives of teens.
There are other aspects of that genius which Pope Paul VI urged all women to employ in order to “aid humanity in not falling”, to “reconcile men with life”, “to watch carefully over the future of our race”, and to “hold back the hand of man who, in a moment of folly, might attempt to destroy human civilization”. These are receptivity, sensitivity, and generosity. Thus, wives who are “mothers of families”, “protectors of the home”, and “the first educators of the human race in the intimacy of the family circle” are invited to pass on to their sons and their daughters the traditions of their fathers at the same time that they prepare them for an unsearchable future”; women living alone – are encouraged to accomplish a lot for the world through their dedicated vocation; and he appealed passionately to consecrated virgins to “guard purity, unselfishness, and piety.”
6.3 The Moral Force of Women
From age immemorial, societies have relied on the moral force of women. While certainly not the only positive influence at work in society, the moral foundation provided by women has proved uniquely beneficial to the common good. Women bring with them into the world a certain virtue, a divine gift that makes them adept at instilling such qualities as faith, courage, empathy, and refinement in relationships and in cultures.
Consequently, when praising the “unfeigned faith” he found in Timothy, St. Paul noted that this faith “dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice.” By nature, women tend to share qualities with their families and society such as faith, virtue, courage, refinement and sympathy or empathy. The way a woman is able to nurture and care for her family and those around her is of great value. Such strong and admirable qualities are necessary for families and in communities. Through these precious traits, women can bless the world one individual at a time, one community at a time. The world is a better place as women utilise the virtues they have been blessed with for good. A woman’s moral influence is nowhere more powerfully felt or more beneficially employed than in the home. There is no better setting for rearing the rising generation than the traditional family, where a father and a mother work in harmony to provide for, teach, and nurture their children.
Mothers have the greatest influence on their children. When striving to do the best she can to train her children, mothers shape the lives of her children in a positive way. Mothers teach their children the difference between right and wrong, instill important values, lead by example and ultimately have the greatest influence over her children than anyone else. Her teachings will shape her children’s outlook on life, how they treat people and the choices they make. The influence of a mother is matched by none other.
When the example of the world is failing our families, the virtues taught by mothers will remain in the hearts and minds of our children. It is the examples of mothers that will keep families strong and influence society in a more powerful way. However all women can have a positive impact in the world. I was overwhelmed when at a priestly ordination overseas, the ordaining Bishop thanked the mothers of the new priests for their contribution to the vocation of their children. It was amazing. The mothers’ moral influence on their children is immeasurable, and we are grateful to God for this unique presence of women,
Having examined why it is women’s duty to inculcate the virtue of chastity in their children, we shall now proceed to enumerate various ways they can help their teens to embrace chaste living.
7. HOW TO RAISE CHASTE TEENS: A CHALLENGE TO MOTHERS
For winning this cultural war in your own home, here are some strategies you can use. Some may be new ideas to you. Others you may have been doing for years. If you have already been using some of these strategies, we offer them to reinforce you in the times that you may doubt yourself as a parent. You can win the battle for your teen’s purity, regardless of his or her past! And these points below will show you how.
7.1. PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!
You may ask, why starting with prayers immediately? Yes, it is important to remember that this war is not against “flesh and blood”, but against “powers and principalities” as Paul the Apostle rightly observed. St. Paul says,
Put on the whole amour of God that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)
After reminding Christians to open their eyes to this spiritual reality, Paul asks them to pray at all times and to intercede for each other and for him, too. (Eph. 6:18-20). If Paul needed prayers for his work, how much so do teenagers of today need our prayers! The battle for purity is not simply a cultural problem. It is a spiritual war. For the sake of your children, arm yourself as sexual behaviour can have eternal consequences.
7.1.1 Pray for your children and fast for them
There are many ways you can pray for your teens. The most fundamental form is the daily heart-to-heart conversation with God. We have a God who loves your children more than you do. Ask him to bless them and ask for other graces for them such as: (31 Prayers by parents Internet). Beyond the heart-to-heart dialogue with God, the most powerful form of prayer is the Holy Mass. Offer your Masses for the graces your teenager needs most. Attend Mass on Sundays with a specific intention, and if you are able, you can also attend on week days. Book for Masses specifically for your children. You can ask religious Sisters and others to pray for them. Give them your children’s names and your intention and ask their intercession. The Apostle James writes, “the prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.” (James 5:16). Ask the intercession of angels and saints in heaven for your children. Offer Novenas, or take up a special devotion to a particular angel or saint. Look for patron saints for a particular need of your children. For instance, pray to teenage saints like St. Dominic Savio, St. Maria Goretti, St. Lucy, and others. There is no struggle that the saints have not faced themselves, so do not fail to take advantage of their intercessory power as they stand before the throne of God.
Ask Our Lady, the Blessed Virgin Mary to pray for your children. One great way to do this is to pray the Rosary daily. You can pray this anywhere, any time – while driving to work or doing school run or cleaning the house. Not only will it serve to sanctity your day, it will also reap a massive amount of grace for your family. Fasting is a powerful form of Christian prayer. Jesus taught his disciples in the Gospel of Mark that some demons can only be cast out by both prayer and fasting (Mark 9:29). However, make sure you do not fast in a way that is unhealthy or makes you bad-tempered towards your family. If you believe that prayer works, it is a small step to accept that fasting does as well. Think of fasting as praying with your body for your children.
7.1.2 Offer it Up and be a Witness of Prayer
Another powerful form of intercession is to offer up your suffering for your children. In other words, bear pains patiently for the sake of your children. Human suffering has redemptive value, if we take advantage of it. In the words of St. Therese of Lisieux, “sufferings gladly borne for others convert more people than sermons.” As a parent of a teen, you probably have plenty of smaller, daily suffering to cash in – a headache, your work, or your dull job as a teen chauffeur. Turn it all into prayer by saying, “Jesus I offer this up for my children” Or better still, start each day with a prayer offering your whole day as a sacrifice to God for a specific intention, especially your children. Beyond the graces you acquire for your children in prayer, they will also benefit from the witness of your prayer life in general. Mother, you should ask yourself these essential questions?
Does my faith leave such an impression on my children? Do my children see me as person of prayer? Does my faith give me joy? Am I living out the faith in every aspect of my life?
These are essential questions to ask because raising pure teens is not about selling them on one particular issue, but rather on the entire lifestyle of following Christ.
(to be continued)