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Greetings dear Friends:

Thank you for visiting with me today.

My mother was a rather complex person.

I suspect that we had an awkward introduction. Mom had a difficult pregnancy and had to spend much of it on the couch. My arrival day was early on a cold, stormy December morning. I wanted out, and she wanted me out, the nurses wanted me out, but the protocol 75 years ago was no delivery until the doctor arrived. So they pushed me back in. That was no fun.

During my infancy, I was sick a lot, cried a lot, and didn’t want to sleep.

Later my sister arrived. She was a delight, but together we were a hurricane.

Poor mom had to be a super mom.

Later mom had to become a businesswoman so we could afford my braces.

For years she balanced, wife, super mom, and businesswoman.

Eventually, the empty nest gave yet another challenge on figuring out how to be something else, the woman that she had yet to discover.

Finally, the myth of retirement arrived. Mom was busy with mothering her mother and nursing my father.
Alzheimer’s arrived. Her daughter mothered mom.

She has since died. I wonder what she is like before God.

Blessings,

Abbot

Mary: Mainstay of Home and Church

by Kathleen, Marion Scholar

When considering how the Virgin Mary can help us create a holy home environment, it is helpful to understand how her Jewish culture affected her thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. These affected every aspect of her life and personality. They affected her respect for traditions and her willing obedience to God’s will. In Hebrew, the wife/mother is called “akeret habayit”, the “mainstay” of the home. It is she who largely determines the character and atmosphere of the entire home.

The book of Proverbs contains references showing an appreciation for, and value of, women’s roles. There are admonitions to children to respect their mothers: “…do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Pr.1:8b) “My son, keep your father’s commands and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” (Pr. 6:20) “A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother.” (Pr. 15:20) The book of Proverbs ends with a description of a woman of noble character in Proverbs 31. The first chapter begins with an admonition to the son to listen to his father’s instruction and hold on to his mother’s teaching.

At both the beginning and the end of advice on becoming wise, women’s roles are highlighted. Women’s identities were defined largely by their marital status. However, Jewish women were not required to marry and have children. They were obliged to develop themselves to serve God, which could be accomplished in various ways. Jewish daughters had some power to choose a husband. The daughter remained under her father’s authority until marriage. However, after she was of age, she could not be given away without her own expressed and free consent. A girl up to the age of twelve years and one day could be betrothed or given away by her father, but she had the right later of insisting upon a divorce. After that age, a girl could not be forced to marry. If a woman raised in the city was betrothed to a man from the countryside, she could not be forced to leave the city or vice versa. She had the right to remain where she was most comfortable.

As we see, there are many misconceptions about the way women are viewed by God. Christians and non-Christians alike undervalue the contributions women make when they focus on raising children and caring for the home. As Catholic Christians, we consider Mary to be the epitome of feminine achievement. But what did she do? Did she have a career? Did she create a corporation or attain status through industry? No and no. God had other plans for her. Mary was raised to the highest honor of her race because she humbly accepted her roles of mother and wife, cared for her home, and followed the traditions of her faith. Holiness was not something to which she aspired, but a life which she led. The center of Mary’s life was her faith and traditions. She honored the weekly Sabbath, attended larger religious festivals, adhered to dietary laws, raised her son to know the Torah, and respected the political laws of the time. She did not question or fight roles given her. As Mary lived her life respecting the strengths and limitations of her gender, she honored God who gave them to her. He honored her by making her the mainstay of the Church.

Reflections

From The Joy of Spiritual Freedom p. 16

“We need to learn that prayer is self-abandonment for the purpose of becoming one with God. The goal is to create a relationship with the Creator. When this occurs, the Creator freely gives of Himself, and the created freely receives. What God wants to give are the qualities of His own character; for example, wisdom.”

Prayer is lifting our heart and mind to God. It is self-abandonment, NOT all petitions for ourselves or others. I know a number of people who make lists of things to ask from God and speak that list every day, and they think that is sufficient prayer.

My book Listen with the Ear of Your Heart will give instructions on how to pray. For now, get quiet, say quietly, “Here I am, Lord,” and shut up. Be still.

Reflections

From Memoirs of a Divine Healer p. 13

“I wanted to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to live a Spirit-filled life. I wanted to speak in tongues so badly that I read book after book about the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I knew that tongues were the least important of the gifts. I didn’t care.

Not all of the readings were theologically solid, and I was sometimes misled. I tried to get into an emotional state so the tongues would come out. I prostrated myself before the altar at church. Nothing worked.”

Now, this is where the Church can come in handy. They can educate you into the true faith and not wild emotion misadventures. Proper education and prayer are essential.

I was trying to force God through my emotions to do something. That was foolishness. Eventually, I learned better. It was more helpful for me to submit to God and get out of His way.

Reflections

From Listen with the Ear of Your Heart p. 7

“Your pilgrimage toward trusting in the Lord is a lifelong journey. Your efforts in trusting God are about your pilgrimage toward spiritual and emotional maturity.

Following Scripture and the teachings of the Church Universal, you can clear the trees and get rid of the rocks and other debris. You can pull out the tangled roots deep below the earth. Then you would be ready to lay a foundation and pour the concrete. Having built according to the architect’s plan, you can begin to till the soil”.

Scripture is not that hard to read. Get a translation that is written in modern English. Start with the New Testament. Take your time. The letters that you read after the gospels make perfect sense. If you read slowly and out loud, it will make more sense. If a section does not make sense, it is because someone has told you a lie about that topic area, and you are in conflict. Keep reading slowly. The lies that you believe should die out the more you read and the more you pray.

Abbot Oscar Joseph
Abbot Oscar Joseph

Abbot Oscar Joseph has been a Christian Counselor and Spiritual Director to hundreds over the past thirty-five years. He has also conducted healing services throughout the East Coast of the United States. He is currently a Bishop and serves as the Abbot General of the Cistercian Order of the Holy Cross.

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