We are offering a series of fifteen posts on living out the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in motherhood.
Today is our eighth in a series of fifteen posts and focuses on the inherent mercy of motherhood, Instruct the Ignorant.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23).
The Corporal Works of Mercy often resonate the most with moms in the trenches with their little ones, as motherhood is a season we give of our bodies constantly. The Spiritual Works of Mercy are a bit more abstract, but we are still exercising them daily as a mother. These ones can be more difficult to live out without resentment; they can also be the most overwhelming. The devil loves to convince us that this is where we are failing, and so again, it is crucial that we understand and embrace the great love and mercy of Christ for each one of us first, so that we can show this mercy and love to our children.
The corporal works can be physically exhausting as they often require giving of our literal bodies or our physical presence and time. The spiritual works require strength of character and an internal peace that can come only from a sustaining relationship with Christ. In order to live out these works of mercy we must live in the truth of the scripture from Lamentations above, drawing daily on his mercies that are new every morning. We cannot live these mercies in and of ourselves. We must be transformed by the renewal of our minds, transformed by his perfect grace and love. We express and live out that love through the seven Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Instruct the Ignorant
You think you can instruct the ignorant and teach children the ways of God. For you are certain that God’s law gives you complete knowledge and truth (Romans 2:20).
What a huge part of our vocation! Our children come to us innocent and knowing nothing. We watch them learn how to nurse or take from a bottle, how to eat solid foods, how to crawl, walk, run. Then we instruct them in loving others, using an “inside voice,” sharing, forgiving, enduring, persevering. The levels of their ignorance change, but for twenty years (or more) we are there to instruct them in their ignorance. Beyond their actual education, teaching them to read and write and master mathematics, we must instruct them in their faith. We make sure they receive the sacraments; we give them opportunities to encounter the Holy Spirit; we bring them to Mass and confession.
Every time they fight us in this crucial part of their formation, we can be strengthened by the truth that this is what Christ called us to do. He called us to love them enough not to leave them in their ignorance. The most important lessons we teach them will be about the profound love of God – a God who does not change regardless of how we feel, regardless of what we suffer or lose. Instructing them in the Gospel dispels the darkness that would otherwise envelope them. Christ came that we might be free: he is the truth that sets us free. Imparting this truth to our children is how we live out God’s mercy.