Monday, August 09, 2010

To Be A Woman


What does it mean to be a woman, a mother, a homeschooling mother today?

My son Thomas has been cleaning the kitchen while I have been at the computer, after mass. And he said to me " I think I have a different idea of mums and work to some of my friends."

He discussed how we see things like doing a household job as anyone's responsibility, not necessarily mum's job. Mum is the overall organizer, the one who fits the jigsaw pieces of life and family and work and calendars and respsonsibilities, together.


Mum is the glue - sometimes, sticky, sometimes flaky, but there, helping to hold stuff, family and things, together.

And as I turn the page of my diary and am reminded that today is the feast of St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, I take five minutes myself to reflect on the meaning of motherliness, of Woman. From the Saint's writings ~ the book Woman, on education, on the feminine genius. From the Saint's perspective as a convert, as an educated woman, a Christian woman. Strong in faith and in capabilities. A Christian feminist.

Everywhere the need exists for maternal sympathy and help, and thus we are able to recapitulate in the one word motherliness that which we have developed as the characteristic value of woman. Only, the motherliness must be that which does not remain within the narrow circle of blood relations or of personal friends; but in accordance with the model of the Mother of Mercy, it must have its root in universal divine love for all who are there, belabored and burdened.

There is a sympathy in St Teresa Benedicta's writings, and this is coupled with her ability to write clearly on philosophy and ethics.

The teacher thus needs a basic education in dogma and asceticism. Apologetics is certainly also good, but the former seems more important to me: ready arguments, as right as they may be, often do not have penetrating force. But she whose soul is formed through the truths of faith -- and I call this ascetic formation -- finds words which are proper for this human being and for this moment respectively.

St Teresa Benedicta consecrated herself in full to whatever she undertook, to Our Lady, to our Faith, to her religious order, to education. She used the spoken and written word not only in teaching at school and at teacher's college but also in bringing about educational reform. Her influence was through her work, yes, but also strongly through her personal example.

At school. And at Auschwitz.


The children in school..do not need merely what we have but rather what we are.
The entire educational process must be carried out with love which is perceptible in every disciplinary measure and which does not instill any fear. And the most effective educational method is not the word of instruction but the living example without which all words remain useless.

Who we are as women and as mothers, the way we act, what we do, speaks volumes to our children , and to others.

6 comments:

molly said...

lovely! Great thoughts to ponder:) I really like the glue image, I think I may be the flaky kind of glue:)

julieunplugged said...

I love this quote: "Apologetics is certainly also good, but the former seems more important to me: ready arguments, as right as they may be, often do not have penetrating force. But she whose soul is formed through the truths of faith -- and I call this ascetic formation -- finds words which are proper for this human being and for this moment respectively. "

So utterly true! And I love the idea of mother being an archetype that any of us can embrace and make manifest. Wonderful Leonie!

Leonie said...

Molly, I am often sticky, messy, flaky...:-)

Julie, yes, that struck me. Motherliness regardless of who we are but seen in concern for others; in not necessarily having the ready word but the right word, borne from life and experience and faith, and for the situation here and now.

Julie said...

So funny! I immediately could relate to the glue as well, especially flaky! Thanks Leonie!

Hopewell said...

Great post to start our school year off! Thanks!!

Leonie said...

Thanks Lisa - I love her thoughts on education!