Eucharistic Motherhood


Dr. Kathryn Rombs // Best of MIHC

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June 2  

This story is the original insight from which this ministry, Mighty Is Her Call, sprang, many years ago…

Having put my children to sleep in their row of toddler beds, my husband encouraged me to take some time to pray. He could see that I was crushed under the weight both of fatigue from an exhausting day as well as from bewilderment at the fresh news of another pregnancy. Nodding at him as a signal of gratitude, and not wanting to wake the babies, I quietly slipped into our car and drove through the rain to the Adoration Chapel at our church.  

Knowing that God’s shoulders are broad and that I can tell him what is really on my heart, I confessed confusion, discouragement, and a tinge of anger. How could he let this happen to me? Did the Lord not know that I was already past my limit? Here I was, giving everything I had to be faithful to him, but it had already cost me dearly. It was not the life I had imagined for myself. I was underwhelmed by my achievements and career. With a houseful of children that often seemed less like toddlers and more like Apache Indians in battle, I was going 100 miles per hour while running on empty—a dangerous scenario. That night, I unloaded my burdens at the feet of Christ.  

When I had completed my hymn of lamentation, I sat with my eyes closed. Partly taking a moment of rest, partly perking my ears to hear his response, I waited upon the Lord. At least, Lord, take care of me right now. Let me repose on your chest and hear the beat of your heart. I reclined in his gentle presence.  

A good while later, an image came to mind. Bread.

I just sat. 

Again, it appeared. Bread.

I continued to sit with an open heart. 

Bread

As it dawned on me, my eyes opened as wide as saucers. I muttered audibly: “Bread!”   

Joy flooded the inner chambers of my soul. I stared in awe at the tabernacle holding the Eucharist, which was in front of me. The Lord reminded me that: 

Though he was in the form of God, not regarding equality with God something to be grasped, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness (Phil 2:6-7).

The Son of God had emptied himself, becoming human. What a radical self-emptying that was. There was more:  

And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil 2:8). 

Christ was emptied in a second way, being obedient to the Father in becoming the Suffering Servant, the Lamb of God who would be slain for the salvation of humankind. 

Like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before his shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. [H]is life [is]an offering for sin. . . He poured out himself to death (Isaiah 53:7-10) 

Then Christ emptied himself in a third way, becoming our Passover meal—how humble to become food for us. He became the lamb, whose blood on the doorposts protected the children of Israel from the angel of death. He became the manna in the desert, who nourished his people while in the desert. He became the blood, by which his people entered a new covenant of salvation with God.  

Paradoxically, Christ’s threefold self-emptying is how he mightily saved us. In his weakness, he became strong. In his humility, he revealed his superiority as the King of Kings, Lord of Lords. In his condemnation, persecution, and death on the cross, he triumphed as our Messiah. In becoming our life-giving, soul-saving food and drink, he revealed himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  

During that dark, rainy night, I saw for the first time that my vocation as a mother was Eucharistic. Having put aside all worldly ambitions to dedicate myself first and foremost to my family, I had initially emptied myself of self-interest. Having had so many children so close together, I was emptied in a second way through physical, mental, and spiritual exhaustion. Now, sitting in the pew with a baby in my womb, I realized that I was nourishing her with my body and blood, a third way of faintly reflecting the self-donation of Christ. I felt the Lord inviting me to see that I, too, can be physical and spiritual nourishment for my children, and that this is a sublime way to participate in the humble, yet powerful, saving work of Christ. 

It was an epiphany. My understanding of motherhood transformed that night. I had previously known that raising a family in the love of God is a good, Christian way to live. But I had had no idea—at all—that the vocation in its essence is patterned in the image of Christ. I had not realized until that night that, like a priest, a nun, and a monk have ways of living in the image of Christ, for example, through poverty, obedience, and chastity, so, too, do mothers, through the Eucharist. Motherhood is a Christ-like calling. God was fulfilling his promise to lead me to him through the Eucharist. 

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