In search of the good mother. How the good mother softens the pain.
Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, 8 May 2016 (Mother’s Day).
By John Abbate.
Hail Mary, full of grace.
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou amongst women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…
Who was the mother of Jesus? What do we know about the woman, Mary? Four things stand out for Dr Macnab:
- She is depicted as a woman with strong values and spiritual awareness
- She looked beyond her origins to a different and better world
- She knew her motherhood would function as a doorway to a different world
- She was committed to see her child learn the traditions of the past yet be ready for a courageous new engagement with the world
In the Christian reverence of her name, there has been less emphasis on the vital role that Mary played, her identity and purpose. The protestant churches in particular have discounted the importance of the mother of Jesus. They have also tended to discount the roles of women more generally.
As we venerate the figure of Mary in heaven, we might “fail to hear how she can be a healing force in our everyday, human places,” Dr Macnab said.
Five experiences of the mother:
- The mother teaches us to forget; the gift of knowing the power of forgetting. “Forget my dying, but remember how I lived.”
- On Freud’s birthday, it is apt that we remember that Freud was a psychoanalyst of memories, who sought human release from the hurtful experiences and memories of childhood. Regardless of what the real mother does, “[Freud] advocated searching for the ‘good mother,’ and that search goes on.” The good mother shows us the good things in life; she keeps us focused on those good things even as we’re apt to be overcome by the memories of bad things.
- Mothers know they have a purpose. The mother teaches us about having a purpose; discovering our own purpose, and having a “plan-B”.
- The bonding with the good mother represents a good, protective, soothing, strengthening and inspirational presence.
- That strengthening presence of the mother enables us to embrace the goal of being fruitful.