Honest Prayers for Mothers
Happy Mother's Day from some friendly neighborhood Catholic feminists. ❤️
This is a free edition of Letters From a Catholic Feminist. If you’re interested in women and the church, feel free to upgrade now and join the full experience: 3 issues just like this in your inbox every month, as well as subscriber-only roundtables, guest posts, podcasts, read-alongs, and more.
Someone asked me to describe motherhood in one word the other day, and the only one I could come up with was sanctifying.
Mothering makes me love God more. It makes me understand the love of God as mother, just a sliver. It points out my own sinfulness and need for repentance. And it gives me perspective, over + over again, when I want to curl up in bed and watch The Crown for 8 hours and cry about the state of the world. Motherhood, in all of its messy magic, is the most beautiful task I’ve been entrusted with.
It’s ironic that we had so many conversations this week about mothering—who has the ability to mother, “forced” motherhood, how we can help mothers mother better. I could probably write some scathing diatribe about it all but to be honest, I don’t feel like it. I want to eat cinnamon rolls and celebrate my own mom, who came to France with me last year and helps me clean out my closets. I want my husband to do all of the Hard Parts for a day (bath time! Sweeping under the baby’s high chair! Solving the fight over the last Pokemon band-aid!) while I sit and read a book.
I also want to pray. So here are some honest prayers for mothers in different mothering seasons + experiences. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing today—I hope you feel loved, appreciated, and known, if not by your children or mother, than by our universal mother Mary and her son.
Help us in the hard parts, when we feel like we’re going to scream if one more person’s knee grazes ours or one more person has big emotions that need serious conversations.
Help us remember the joyful parts—the endless giggles of patty-cake, the way siblings embrace one another after a sweaty game of chase, the way the four year old looks up through her bangs and sleepily says “I love you, Mama” before drifting off.
Help us do it just one more time today—one more story, one more trip to Target, one more appointment scheduled, one more question answered. And help us do it all over again tomorrow.
You’ve showed us the smallest reflection of what your love for us is like, and for that, we sing songs of praise.
For a Mother Who’s Lost Their Mother
Andrea Bear, writer
To our Lord Jesus Christ and Savior,
On this Mother’s Day, I pray for the soul of my mother (insert name) that she has entered into eternal glory with You. I should be happy that You are with her, but today I can’t help but feel sadness and longing, wishing she was here with me. Please comfort me on this day, and all the other days when I don’t understand or question why she is not here. I know You are a merciful God. I may not have wanted her to leave when she did, but I have faith knowing that she is with You and I have faith knowing one day we will be reunited in Your kingdom. Just as You grieved over the death of your friend Lazarus, I too grieve my mother. I may not know Your plan but I know that my sadness today is not in vain that Your plan is greater than mine, and You have a plan for me here on earth until I wait for our reunion.
Even in my sadness Lord, I am thankful, to have known love. My agony is a result of having loved and therefore I give You praise for having received this blessing. For it I didn’t, it wouldn’t hurt this hard. While my earthly mother is no longer with me You have given me a heavenly mother to watch over and guide me. I ask for the Blessed Mother’s intercession as I navigate this Mother’s Day and all days. Please comfort me and those who also feel the sorrow until we are reunited. I pray for Your comfort to know that I am not alone.
For an Entrepreneurial Mother
Erica Tighe, founder of Be a Heart
It’s all a lot. This beautiful gift of motherhood paired with the call and necessity to work outside of our home. My mind feels overwhelmed with middle of the night wake ups and doctors appointments that need to be made, with an ever growing to do list and disappointment that I can’t get it all done.
Each day I reminded that you ask me to begin again. I turn to you who has given me these hands that are so full. I beg of you to shower your grace upon me, I beg of you to give me patience and kindness, compassion and joy in this season of too-much-ness. I hold onto you, O Lord, like my child clutches my leg for both comfort and support.
In my innermost being, I know that this is the road to ever so slowly become the woman you have created me to be. Let me not lose myself here. Let me instead find you. I am certain that I cannot actually handle it all. Teach me the humility to ask for help when I need it.
Let my investment and passion in my work be informed by my love and hope for my children. Send your Spirit to dwell in every fiber of my being and shine your light through me. I am yours.
For a Mother Living With Child Loss
For the mothers
Whose children lay quiet in the grave,
Whose arms burn and ache with emptiness,
Who have to practice their answer to the question, "how many do you have?"
And who will feel the need to apologize when their answers make strangers uncomfortable,
For the mothers
Who will have to step out of Mass this weekend during the homily,
Whose hearts are as raw as their throats from tears and lament,
Who long for relief that will not come (not in this life),
Lord, we pray as mothers who have held the reality of death in our arms. Let us also behold the promise of Resurrection. Let us all hear you speak tenderly to us: "Will I not restore your children to you?"
And sweet Jesus, Risen Lord, let us believe it.
For a Mother Walking Through Infertility
Amanda Teixeira, co-founder of WalletWin
Merciful Jesus, on this Mother’s Day, I lift up your daughters who long for motherhood while carrying the cross of infertility. I ask for an abundance of grace to pour over them, that they would know how tender and present your gaze is upon them. I beg for the peace of Christ that transcends all understanding to guard their hearts and minds in you, Jesus, on a day that can feel like mockery and misery.
Lord, I beg that your daughters would feel seen and loved by you, even if they don’t understand your will in the present moment. That they would be given the grace to trust you and have faith that you haven’t forgotten them, you desire their good, and you aren’t punishing them. Help them to bring their grief, unmet desires, anger, and sadness to you - the safest place to unite their pain. Give them the hope and confidence that they’ve not been abandoned and that those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. You will not leave them in agony on Good Friday nor will they lay in the endless wait of Holy Saturday. The joy of Easter is theirs and the darkest suffering infertility brings will be transformed by you.
Our Lady, Undoer of Knots, I plead for you to untangle the seeming infinite number of knots infertility brings. The physical knots of adhesions, hormone imbalances, and a myriad of health issues contributing to infertility.. The spiritual knots brought by jealousy, envy, despair, rage, fear, and self-loathing. The financial knots brought on by endless and expensive testing, surgeries, medications, supplements, adoption fees, etc. The emotional knots of complicated friendships, tension in marriage, loss of identity, anxiety/depression, and feeling out of place. One by one, help your daughters work through these knots, entrusting them to your intercession and guidance.
Father, hold your daughters close today. Speak to them tenderly and offer your protective arms to fall into. You gave them the deepest desires of their heart and will fulfill them - they only need to be still and let you fight for them. Help them to surrender to your Divine Providence and to allow this cross to carry them straight to heaven, for as long as they’re called to carry it. May they know they aren’t alone and that in this prayer, a community of women who’ve shared in this suffering here on earth and in heaven, walk with them. Amen.
For a Mother Who’s Child was Placed for Adoption
I come to you full of love and heavy with the weight of loss. I ask you to help me carry this cross as I love the child I carried so tenderly in my womb and whom I now carry in my heart. Comfort me when the longing ache for my child consumes me in waves of grief. Help me know the depths of your mercy and let your grace wash over me. Aid me as I navigate the complexities of adoption relationships and the ever-changing needs of my child. And most of all, Lord, instill in my beautiful child that they are loved and worthy beyond measure, because they were created in your image. Amen.
For Working Mothers
JoAnna Wahlund, writer
We praise you for the miracle of life, and for the child(ren) with whom you have entrusted us.
Be with us today and every day as we build our domestic church and support the spiritual needs of our family.
Be with us today and every day as we work to support the material needs of our family.
Be with us today and every day as we assist our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we encounter in our daily lives..
Be with us today and every day as we discern what You would have us do to best serve our family, our church, and our community.
Help us to find skilled and compassionate caregivers for our child(ren) when we cannot be with them.
Ease our troubled hearts when our desire is to be in the daily, constant company of our child(ren), but the material needs of our family require expending hours in gainful employment.
Give us strength and perseverance as we balance our competing priorities; help us, as you helped your servant St. Gianna, to harmonize the demands of mother, wife, wage-earner, and our passion for life.
Guide us in staying faithful to the professional vocation You have also placed upon our hearts, and help us to be a steadfast example of Christ’s love and mercy to those around us.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us.
St. Zélie Martin, pray for us.
St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, pray for us.
St. Edith Stein/Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
On My Nightstand
Here are some things I’ve been reading lately that have made me think!
Epiphany in the Baby Food Aisle: This essay went semi-viral last week, and for good reason. It’s a stunning take on how motherhood coincide’s with Joseph Campbell’s traditional “hero’s journey”. “The truth is that motherhood is a hero’s journey. For most of us it’s not a journey outward, to the most fantastic and farthest-flung places, but inward, downward, to the deepest parts of your strength, to the innermost buried core of everything you are made of but didn’t know was there. And what I’ve learned is that there’s a reason motherhood as a story is so infrequently told.”
Can We Justify Bringing Children Into This Dark World?: A beautiful essay from my friend Haley—I saw another article floating around quite a bit last week saying that nobody should have more than two kids, and I think this 2019 piece would make a great response. “Trusting that we are not abandoned by God saves us from despair, but it does not let us off the hook in our responsibility to care for our common home, the earth, and our call to participate in God’s work in the world. Although we know that God has promised that the gates of Hell will not prevail over the Church, ignoring the Church’s problems and choosing inaction is not faith, but delusion. Instead, we have to work toward improving the Church and bringing renewal. The same kind of action, born from hope rather than paralyzed by presumption or despair, is required of us in facing environmental disaster.”
I'll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife and Motherhood by Jessi Klein: I actually loved the hero’s journey essay so much that I ordered the writer’s book at the library. I can’t wait to read it! I always forget how much I love books of essays until I find a really great one to curl up with.
A reminder: You can subscribe for the full experience of Letters From a Catholic Feminist any time - I’d be honored to show up in your inbox. I send a twice-monthly email with content like everything above, plus there’s a whole archive already waiting for ya!
Would you consider sharing this newsletter?
Almost 100% of my newsletter growth comes from recommendations from readers. This includes people sharing both the newsletter itself and the individual articles I write. Chances are that if you’ve made it this far, you care about women and the church and know others who would enjoy Letters From a Catholic Feminist. Taking just a few seconds to forward or share on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook can make a huge difference.
In case you missed these Letters:
The Gatekeepers of the Eucharist - for subscribers
From Death Unto Life - for everyone
Faith in the Face of Healthcare Discrimination - for subscribers
That essay by Haley Carrots/Haley Stewart is one I've revisited before! Such a thorough and compelling vision for children as a sign of our hope.