At the closing banquet for The Edel Gathering last Saturday night, each woman received an envelope at her place, with the words “You are Beloved” written on the outside.
The envelope contained a letter written to mothers by Sister Elizabeth Ann, O.P.
I’ve never read a letter quite like this one, especially not one written by a nun. It’s a treasure, and I wanted to share it here because every mother should read this letter.
Dear Edel Attendees,
Thank you for the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute gift of self you offer your husbands, children, and all your loved ones.
Thank you especially for the gift of self you give that no one sees, no one appreciates, no one recognizes, and no one seems to care about. Thank you for making the effort. Thank you for trying.
As a consecrated religious woman serving here in the Diocese of Austin, I want to offer a word of encouragement to all Edel attendees.
God sees. God knows. God cares. He does. He really does! This weekend, you have the opportunity to remind yourself of that reality and open yourself to it even more.
I want you to know that our Sisters “see” and care, too. We really do! Daily we come in contact with countless women striving to live their vocation faithfully through our work in Catholic schools and with homeschool groups. Now, we don’t see everything, of course, but we see a lot, perhaps more than you realize. And we are inspired by you.
As consecrated women, we are called to love Christ as our Spouse and to be spiritual mothers. This is a great gift, privilege and joy, but it also brings with it a very real challenge. Precisely because our love and motherhood are lived out on a spiritual level, it can be easier to overlook, neglect, or forget about it. It’s not something we can see, touch, or measure. It’s more abstract. While it’s nearly impossible to ignore a needy spouse who’s standing right in front of you or a screaming toddler who own’t let go of your leg, it’s relatively easy to tell yourself “I’ll make extra time for prayer tomorrow…I’ll try harder to be patient tomorrow…I’ll do such and such…tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow…”
Your faithful living of your vocation helps make ours more tangible. It enables us to see on a physical level the kind of generosity we are called to live out on a spiritual level. When we see you “giving the gift,” it makes us want to be more generous, too. We are so grateful for your example, and we hope we inspire you, too.
For those women bearing the heavy cross of infertility. I want to especially take a moment to recognize and offer encouragement to you. In our Catholic culture that embraces motherhood and big families, you may feel especially isolated and alone in your struggles and fears. Don’t lose hope. I want you to know that God sees and knows and cares about you, too. He really does. While you await the unfolding of God’s unique path for motherhood for you, know that you can embrace and live spiritual motherhood right now, today. It’s real, and it’s open to all of us, whether we are physical mothers or not. I can speak of this most specifically, as a religious sister. Let us help you bear this cross as an example of non-physical motherhood. And don’t let your fears prevent you from seeing the depths and riches of all the different types of motherhood.
Thank you for being here. Thank you for taking time to “refresh, connect and enjoy” so that you can go back to your families and give even more fully and joyfully.
May you find refuge in the arms of our Heavenly Mother, Mary, as you strive to be that refuge for others.
With my gratitude, love, and prayers,
Sr. Elizabeth Ann, O.P.
Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
** Photo credits from the hashtag #edel14, from @mrsmercer, @sarahbaabs, @sarahsansone, @daintycate, and Me.