You can almost hear the holy noise of their children playing in the other room while they upload photos from last night’s Candlemas dinner party. Joy spills onto every homepage like that glass of orange juice the toddler knocked over this morning. Intelligence lies open on every blog post like that big, spine-ripped heap of books the two-year-old threw on the floor—Brideshead Revisited, The Violent Bear It Away, The Wasteland, Dante, Harry Potter, and a Wheelock’s Latin primer. Tears stain the paragraphs. Frustration, too. And heartache.
But these three remain: joy, holy noise, and intelligence. And love. In fact, mostly love.
The bytes and bytes of digital data that swell up from the maternal blogosphere remind us of the first things, the very fountains of life.
“The first things must be the very fountains of life, love and birth and babyhood,” writes G.K. Chesterton, “and these are always covered fountains, flowing in the quiet courts of the home.”
A mother’s kingdom is set in stone. Her nobility courses deep. By blogging, these Catholic mamas invite us to sit at the hearth of Christendom. They bravely lift the lids of their soup pots to share the aroma of holiness with a world that has lost its sense of smell.
Don’t Waste Your Life
What is more counter-cultural than a Catholic mom? A stumbling block to feminists and foolishness to Gentiles, she is a sign of contradiction.
“I didn’t pay for my daughter’s college education so that she could waste her life wiping runny noses!” Innumerable women could have been lawyers, doctors, schoolteachers, Presidents of the United States of America, but instead they are wasting their lives.
What a waste, motherhood. What about money and power and sex? What about martinis and condos and a string of boyfriends who make less than you? What about getting your teaching license and “changing the world”? Nothing is wrong with being a teacher. Gainful employment is a good thing. But something is wrong with a world where people think being a teacher is more noble than being a mother. Chesterton puts it this way:
How can it be a large career to tell other people about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone and narrow to be everything to someone? No, a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.
New York elitism would have us believe that every Catholic mom is holding a silent grudge. But the blogging mom proves otherwise. By speaking up, she reminds us what people are for. She scratches the skin of a professional fundamentalism that, like all fundamentalism, is shallow. Wendell Berry sees it clearly:
Why would any woman who would refuse, properly, to take the marital vow of obedience (on the ground, presumably, that subservience to a mere human being is beneath her dignity) then regard as “liberating” a job that puts her under the authority of a boss (man or woman) whose authority specifically requires and expects obedience?
…Is the life of a corporate underling—even acknowledging that corporate underlings are well paid—an acceptable end to our quest for human dignity and worth?
…How, I am asking, can women improve themselves by submitting to the same specialization, degradation, trivialization, and tyrannization of work that men have submitted to? …How have men improved themselves by submitting to it?
Please don’t misunderstand me. By praising Catholic mamas I mean neither to insult women who are not mothers nor to suggest that “working moms” are less noble than “stay at home moms.” There are some pretty savvy working mama blogs out there in the Catholic blogosphere and they’re nothing less than inspiring. By praising Catholic mamas, I mean only to thank them for reminding us of the first things in a culture that too often puts second things first.
What higher aim could we possibly serve than that of God and family? What is more noble than bringing glory to the Trinity—that uncreated family of Persons—through the created family? Catholic Mom Bloggers remind us that we are made in the image of the divine Family. Apart from the family, our lives don’t make any sense. Our contemporary culture, totally conformed to models of male domination, to borrow JPII’s phrase, is insane; it has lost the mind of Christ. Is it any wonder that when Catholic moms speak with so much sanity this crazy world thinks they belong in the mad house?
Subjected to stereotype and insult, disdained by both direct statement and innuendo, the blogging Catholic mom opens her doors to a huffy and condescending world. She shares the passion of being human, really human. She reminds us we are called to be Mother Church in a world that is desperately homesick.
“Back off,” my wife said recently. “This is women’s work.”
“Um, excuse me,” I said. “Women’s work?!”
Smiling, she shoved me away from the sink. “I’m proud to be a Catholic mom,” she explained. “I am a woman, and I’ve got work to do. This is my path to sanctity.”
I just stood there blinking, my hands dripping soapy water all over the kitchen floor. Where did she get such a wild and progressive idea? She’ll tell you. It all started with the Blessed Virgin Mary, the hard-won data of being a new mother herself, and…all those Catholic Mom Blogs.
It runs deeper than reclaiming the phrase “women’s work.” Much deeper. Sitting on the living room floor, John Updike looks over their three children to his wife and sees “Absolute Geography.” Robert Farror Capon says that a mother is geography incarnate:
To be a Mother is to be the sacrament—the effective symbol—of place. Mothers do not make homes, they are our home: in the simple sense that we begin our days by long sojourn within the body of a woman; in the extended sense that she remains our center of gravity through the years. She is the very diagram of belonging, the where in whose vicinity we are fed and watered. She is geography incarnate, with her breasts and her womb, her relative immobility, and her hands reaching up to us the fruitfulness of the earth.
Motherhood is not just a job. It’s not just to make a home. To be a mother is to be a home. And what should we defend and cherish most if not our own homes?
For the record, I still change diapers, fold laundry, and wash dishes. I am, after all, a member of my own family. But I’m also reading Catholic Mom Blogs. I can honestly say without exaggeration that my wife and I would not yet be Catholic were it not for Catholic Mom Blogs. They showed us where Catholicism meets daily life. Joy in the ordinary. Grace upon grace.
Over the noise of children playing, the laundry machine, and the baby screaming, Catholic moms are shouting the Gospel of Jesus Christ with contagious enthusiasm. They orient their family’s daily life to the liturgical year. They punctuate the mornings and evenings with prayer. They clean and cook and discipline and read and write and cry, and they are not afraid to share that in the midst of such grueling hours they have found grace, “grace and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
God chose to come into this world through a mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Catholic mama of mamas. Is it any wonder that he continues to make his home in a world all too familiar with homelessness through home makers, through those women who have become through motherhood living homes, “geography incarnate”? Catholic Mom Blogs are breathing holy fire into the New Evangelization.
Subversive, valiant, joyful—nothing is so seditious to the status quo than a mom who owns it. And Catholic Mom Bloggers own it. Their homes are platforms for righteousness, beacons of praise to the most adorable Trinity, and weapons against modern disenchantment. And that’s why Catholic Mom Blogs are so awesome.
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