The Culture of Life is a Culture of Motherhood

Let’s talk about diapers: a newborn baby will need 2,500 diapers in the first year, and many more after that, but state-run programs like WIC and SNAP don’t address even basic needs like diapers. The fight to end abortion grabs headlines, but the press pays little attention to the mundane needs of the single mother who has beaten the odds and carried her crisis pregnancy to term. Saving the life of the child is only the beginning of the story. Being pro-life and pro-marriage also means being pro-mother. After decades of ineffectual welfare programs, there are more single mothers than ever and the state is failing them and their children, but we can do something about it.

Moses in the Bulrushes by Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

Moses in the Bulrushes by Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau

Pro-life groups have limited resources, so we have to start small, but Project Manger in the Diocese of Arlington is an example of how quickly something like this can grow. In 2009 a crisis pregnancy center requested 75 cribs for mothers who could not afford them. Last year, the project provided 225 cribs.  Crisis pregnancy counselors provide more than just cribs and car seats though. They also provide breastfeeding instruction, nutritional education, and many other services for new mothers. Mother’s Day is a celebration of the world’s toughest job, but pro-life volunteers across the nation are doing what they can to make that job just a little bit easier.

When we approach the mother with dignity and compassion, we have an opportunity to rescue a life, not just from the abortionist, but from poverty, abuse, crime, and a host of other social ills. Too many children are left on the streets to fend for themselves because their mothers abandoned them. By providing more than just pregnancy and adoption services, we can intervene in the beginning to help the mothers not only care for their children, but improve their own lives. Urban parishes provide tuition assistance for the children of low-income families. We can also provide day care and education and career development counseling for the mothers.

Pope Francis has spoken on numerous occasions about the importance of mothers:

“Many things can change and have changed in cultural and social evolution, but there remains the fact that it is the woman who conceives, carries and gives birth to the sons and daughters of men. And this is not simply a biological fact, but also gives rise to a wealth of implications both for the woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for the way in which she positions herself with regard to human life and life in general. In calling the woman to the role of maternity, God has in an entirely special way entrusted the human being to her.”

Especially relevant in this month of Mary and of mothers, are the Pope’s remarks from a year ago:

“…the first witnesses of the Resurrection are women. This is beautiful, and this is the mission of women, of mothers and women, to give witness to their children and grandchildren that Christ is Risen! Mothers go forward with this witness! What matters to God is our heart, if we are open to Him, if we are like trusting children. But this also leads us to reflect on how in the Church and in the journey of faith, women have had and still have a special role in opening doors to the Lord, in following him and communicating his face, because the eyes of faith always need the simple and profound look of love.”

The Three Marys at the Tomb by Peter von Cornelius, c. 1820

The Three Marys at the Tomb by Peter von Cornelius, c. 1820

Mother’s Day is more than just a day to have brunch and mimosas. This is a day to contemplate the unique gifts and importance of women as the foundation of society. Without our mothers, we would not be here. This is the supreme power of women, to nurture and to shape the next generation and to decide what kind of world we will live in. Where the welfare state has so clearly and spectacularly failed as a substitute for a mother’s love, we see just how important mothers are in the project of civilization itself. Indeed, for women living in desperate poverty, becoming a mother is sometimes the only way that they can accomplish anything which gives them a sense of self-worth.

When liberal politicians talk about “women’s issues” they invariably are referring to the destruction of this gift through contraception, sterility, and abortion. As conservatives, we know that you do not elevate the dignity of women by destroying them. We also know that marriage—thus ensuring the presence of both the mother and the father—is the best way for children to avoid poverty and learn right from wrong. Despite this fact—or perhaps because of it, the defense for marriage is unfashionable and politically dangerous. It will take time to win this argument and it is one worth making, but in the meanwhile we must address the growing humanitarian disaster of decades of liberal social experimentation which is destroying families like never before.

Sweet Dreams by Firmin Baes

Sweet Dreams by Firmin Baes

Single mothers have long odds at every stage of their children’s development from aborted pregnancies to dismally low high school graduation rates. While we fight for the next generation to enjoy the fullness of the blessings of marriage, we must also fight for the generation being born today to be a culture of life that is open to marriage and fertility so this can be possible. Every life that is saved from abortion, from abuse, from abandonment, and from poverty is another person who will be more likely to grow up to be a mother or a father. This is how we will change our culture—and it all starts with diapers.

  • Maggie McT

    Umm, and if nuns wanted to marry, they could and not be nuns. Women who choose/ are chosen to be nuns CHOOSE, and they are just as free to marry and not be nuns. Why this escapes people I do not know.

  • MGW

    The priesthood is not the “power of man” , or women for that matter, it is the power of Jesus Christ the Eternal Priest. Woman already have the power of Christ in the sacraments and in living a holy life connected to Jesus the eternal High Priest. No matter what vocation God calls them too, they will be holy and powerful in Him. There is nothing more holy and powerful than doing the Will of the Father like Jesus and like Mary His Mother. I look forward to the day when all women will recognize the value and the power of contentment in doing “God’s Will”. Relying and trusting in Divine Providence.

  • justsayin’

    Consider making a diaper donation to a local chapter of the National Diaper Bank Network in your area:
    or to your parish outreach. If on LI, to the Life Center of Long Island:

  • Eric Johnson

    I look forward to the time when the Church recognizes the value and power of women so profoundly that it opens the doors of Priesthood to women and allows Priests and Nuns to marry. Only then can Priests and Nuns truly understand the nature of marriage and parenthood; through the experience of marriage and parenthood.

    • Fr. John


      I am waiting for God to recognize the value and power of men by opening the doors of motherhood to men.

      • Eric Johnson

        My gut feeling is that Pope Francis will move toward allowing women to become Priests., slowly but surely. Perhaps women Priests will be given a different “name” but they will rank equally with male Priests.

    • Sarah

      I respectfully beg to differ. Women don’t need to do everything that men do to be recognized as valuable. In fact, it is actually the opposite. When we recognize the unique gifts of women we are truly acknowledging their value and appreciating them. As a woman, I resent being told that I need to imitate men or do everything that they do in order to be happy or successful.

      I also don’t think that priests or nuns need to marry to truly understand the nature of marriage and parenthood. I have gotten better advice and understanding about marriage from good priests and nuns than I have from MANY married people. Just because one is doing something, doesn’t mean one understands it properly. Divorce is perfect evidence of that . In addition, certainly many a woman who has read anything that St. John Paul II has written on women has secretly (or not so secretly!) wished her husband understood her so well! He sees into our souls, says things that we haven’t been able to articulate ourselves or that we don’t dare say out loud. If you read anything he has written on marriage, family, motherhood, fatherhood, or sexuality, you immediately recognize his amazing wisdom and insight. As Maggie points out above, nuns (and priests) freely choose to be celibate for the Kingdom, something Jesus spoke about and calls those who can to do so.

      On the practical side, I have a Protestant friend who said that we Catholics have it right! Married pastors and their wives/families are the focus of scrutiny, judgment, and gossip. As a woman I would NEVER want to be married to a priest. The priesthood is not a job that he can “leave at the office” or from which he can take a vacation. It is much like being a spouse or a parent. He already has a 24/7 vocation, he doesn’t need another. No one can simultaneously do everything well. Something would suffer – either his ministry or his marriage and family.

      • Eric Johnson

        So less experience is beter than more experience.



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