I was impressed by the strength, loving discipline, and leadership of the priests. To me, they exemplified masculinity and fatherhood. I was also struck by the joy, helpfulness, and affection of the nuns. To me, they exemplified femininity and motherhood.
This was most evident when the priests and nuns were with the children, young men, or young women. Seeing them interact, you might have thought that they were biological fathers and mothers because you wondered how they could love these children so much.
Spiritual motherhood and fatherhood isn’t just a quaint phrase; it’s a reality. Many of us aren’t used to seeing this kind of love between our religious and our children because of the fears caused by the scandals. But I was blessed to have seen what true, innocent spiritual fatherhood and motherhood looks like.
Seeing this also had another effect on me: it gave me a vision of what kind of mother I want to be and what kind of man I want as the father of my children.
From time to time we hear about the complimentarily of the married and celibate vocations; again, this is not just another quaint phrase. Both the married and celibate vocations are called to self-gift and to fruitfulness, and we can witness to each other and support each other in self-giving and in fruitful love.
Know any priests or nuns who are examples of spiritual motherhood or fatherhood? Take a moment to thank them and encourage them in living out their vocation.