When There Are Faces Only a Mother Could Love…

By: Trish Diewald, Staff Spotlight

In light of the feast of St. Clare this past Monday, we remember that, among other things, she is known for having turned away the Saracens (the medieval term for Muslims), who had invaded Assisi and even her monastery’s cloister, through prayer and the Blessed Sacrament. Through miraculous intervention, both Assisi and the nuns were saved from death.

I’m sure by now you’ve all seen reports of the atrocities committed by ISIL and ISIS against Christians and other non-Muslims. If you’re like me, it breaks your heart and makes you want to do something, but you don’t really know what to do. Well, inspired by St. Clare’s example of prayer, I had an idea and wanted to invite you to join me in doing it.

First, a little explanation: The people I’m praying for the most are the radicals/killers themselves because, in the grand scheme of eternity, they’ll be the greatest losers if they don’t have a conversion of heart. Despite the evils they’re committing, we should still be hoping they can find mercy and forgiveness. Those they kill for being Christian will earn the crown of martyrdom, and I’m sure many people are praying for all of the victims. But how many of us are actually praying for the souls of the radicals? When I first saw their faces on the news, my first reaction was anger, but then I thought: “That’s some woman’s son. And that woman either is heartbroken at her son’s actions and powerless to do anything, or she actually thinks what he’s doing is right.”

Mother maryThe radical Islamic culture (ISIL, Hamas, Boko Haram, etc.) appears to squelch true motherhood and femininity so much with abuse against women and girls, keeping women basically silenced and practically under house arrest, and so on, that their mothers can’t really be mothers. As we know, motherhood plays a major role in the health of a culture, so the fact that things are so bad within this radical Islamic culture suggests that the women’s hands are tied. No, I don’t mean to suggest that these women are bad moms; I’m only saying it seems they aren’t really free to exercise the kind of real motherhood that can change a society for the better.

So, the solution? Whether or not we have kids, we women can all be spiritual mothers, and I think we can help them the most via spiritual motherhood, to make up for the motherhood that’s missing in their culture.  War may end up being necessary, but in the long run, it will really only be treating the symptoms and not the underlying illness. The underlying illness is what I’m hoping we can address through our spiritual motherhood (or fatherhood, as the case may be). We might be horrified by what these radical Islamists are doing, but mothers, in concern for their children, can get beyond anger over the sins and evils their children commit in order to pray for them, à la St. Monica. So here’s what I’ve decided to do, rather than just a generic “Pray for them!” I invite you to join me:

  1. Adopt one of these radical terrorists as a spiritual son and his wife/mother/daughter/sister/etc. as a spiritual daughter. Of course, we can’t know the names of who these people are, but God is smart enough to make sure the effects of your prayers get to the right people, and He knows who’s most in need.
  2. Offer Mass in particular for that spiritual son and daughter today, the Assumption of Our Lady, or another day.
  3. Pray for them daily, that they may in some way be able to come to know Christ, or at least be able to have a change of heart and to begin to change their culture from within.
  4. Pray the rosary for them at least once per week. (Battle of Lepanto, anyone?)
  5. Offer other sacrifices for the sake of their souls in whatever way works best for you – you could fast once per week, offer up something you like, offer up your sufferings, whatever you want.

That’s it. Just two people for each of us. If enough of us do this, though, we could affect a lot of people. Let’s be mothers to them and fight for their souls!

Staff Spotlight is — in an ongoing effort to get a range of content on Encourage & Teach — content from staff members within the Diocese of Arlington from contributors who do not write as a part of their day-to-day job.

Trish Diewald has a B.A. in theology from Catholic Distance University. She is the Chancery receptionist and also assistant to the Special Assistant to the Bishop for Evangelization and Media.



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