My essay, 2 places: The Desert Spirituality of Motherhood

This essay was first published on my usual home, The Truth and Charity Forum of HLI. Then the editors at Ethika Politika liked it and requested a few revisions and to republish. Here are links to both.

The Desert Spirituality of Motherhood on the Truth and Charity Forum:

“When St. Anthony of the Desert went out to the Egyptian wilderness to be alone with God, he probably didn’t think that he was setting an example for mothers. But I believe that he did. St. Anthony gave up the comforts of society in order to face himself and let God purify him. Perhaps this is not so different from the path of mothers and families and, by extension, all people striving to live in accord with truth and God.”

The Desert Spirituality of Motherhood on Ethika Politika

“And for what good? To be at the service of life, the greatest earthly good, and also at the service of the Lord, who created life. To bind oneself to a family, to a spouse and to children is really like a religious vow: It gives up a great many goods in order to grow in the good of commitment and formation. To do it well, it will take everything we have, and then some. It will lead us into the desert of our souls and present the furnace of solitude. It is here that we will stare darkness in the face and fall back onto Christ.”

-Finding our true vocation is a lifelong process I think. What has your journey been like?


10 thoughts on “My essay, 2 places: The Desert Spirituality of Motherhood

  1. I can see how dedicated motherhood can be a purifying experience, not without stress and strain, as one goes from a life of relative freedom and general indulgence to a life of dedicated and immediate service to a weak and helpless infant. This can be quite a shock, I can imagine.

    • I suppose it can be more of a shock if it turns out to be much more difficult than one expected. For postulants and novices in an order, they can leave the order if it is too much. I have seen this happen to a young lady who had an unrealistic idea of what she was actually getting into); we do not see much harm in this externally. But we do see harm done when a mother leaves her infant because she feels it is too much of a strain or “not what I expected.” We can not do damage to God when we withdraw our commitment of dedication (at least, we can not sense the damage if it is done). But we can do terrible harm to an infant when we withdraw our love and nurture. The good thing about being a mother, compared to becoming a cloistered religious is that we know that the child will grow and become independent (even rebellious), and a mother’s life can then return to “normal” at some point while she looks forward to seeing the fruit of her womb mature and blossom and return to her with an even greater love than she felt she could give to her child.

      • That’s an interesting point that religious postulants can leave. That is a difference, I suppose. There is help for moms who struggle and also there is a great good to be found in commitment and growing within it. That refers to the religious life too, I suppose even though they have more of a trial period

  2. This is so powerful!!!! I love the comparison of motherhood and St. Anthony in the desert. So true and exactly how I feel most days. Well written. Thank you, Stephanie.

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