Celebrating Catholic Motherhood

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So You Want to be a Mother?

a Catholic Parenting series by Susan Handle Terbay




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We invite you to visit Susan's wonderful website for additional poetry, stories and reflections - click here.  To contact Susan, e-mail her at [email protected] 

Additional Catholic Mom Columns


Mary is Advent

Mary’s Magnificat presents her as an amazing balance of surrender and responsibility, grace and wondership, holding in one utter powerlessness and total power. She stands, as the archetype of liberated woman and liberating humanity. We all strive and hope for the same integration.
The Wild Man’s Journey; reflections on Male Spirituality

The holy season of Advent always stirs in me the confirmation of the beauty, the strength and simplicity of a woman who said yes when most would have said no.

As mothers we can look at Mary and be profoundly influenced in our own motherhood. God did not tell Mary that she would be given a royal status, or luxurious lifestyle or even a pain free existence if she would conceive and give birth to His Son. He just told her in simple words that He wanted her to be the mother of His Son.

When we decide to have a child, as with Mary, we are given no promises, no ‘rewards’ for saying yes. As with Mary, it is basically our acceptance of the life that God entrusts with our care. After all God gave all of us a free will and yet He still loves us no matter if we say yes or no.

I believe Mary knew deep in her heart as she watched her son grow that He was different from other children – just as we know deep in our hearts that our children are different from other children. Did she know how different? Do we? On that night in a dark stable when she pushed out from her body a wondrous life that she immediately cradled and nursed in her arms, it didn’t matter. Just as when we first held our babies, cradling them and nursing them, it didn’t matter.

So often Mary is put up on such a high pedestal that she seems to be unreachable, or simply out of our realm of our own motherhood. But she isn’t. She is right next to us, understanding, caring, relating to all the ups and downs, the joys and fears, and the happiness and sorrows of motherhood.

On that Good Friday at the cross Mary experienced the most piercing pain any mother could endure. Knowing this, would she have said ‘no’ to God’s messenger? We all will face some sorrow, some pain as mothers, knowing this would we have reconsidered having a child? I don’t think Mary would have said no. And for the most part, I don’t think most of us would have reconsidered either. For children are lives that God has given to us, to love, guide and prepare for their journey back to Him. The joy of such a precious life greatly outweighs the sorrows we may have to face. God has never promised it would be easy – just as He never promised Mary it would be easy. As with Mary, we need to have the faith that God will be with us always.

As we enter the season of Advent, we can sense Mary’s excitement and uncertainty as she prepares for the arrival of the little one whose life will forever change her as well as all humanity – just as our little ones’ lives will forever change us and others they will encounter on their own personal journeys.

To me as a mother, Mary is Advent. Now enjoy the days as Christmas approaches – just as Mary would have done, with gifts, songs and delightful anticipation of life yet to be.

By Susan Handle Terbay



Click on titles for additional information

Susan Handle Terbay is co-author of Gifts: Two Hospice Professionals
Reveal Messages From Those Passing On
.  She is the mother of six and also a grandmother.  Susan serves as administrative assistant to the deputy superintendent of the Catholic Schools Office for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Amazing Grace for Mothers features a story by Susan about the death of her own mother.  She shares, "There is a sisterhood among women who lose their mothers as a child. It is a pivotal moment that leaves a hole in your heart that never gets filled; an emptiness and longing. The title of my story is In Search of my Mother. All my life I have searched for her in other women. That moment in my life changed me forever and has created the path I now journey. Through my work with children's grief groups I was able to reach out and understand their pain and tried to give them hope to continue their paths."

A Mother's Rule of Life:  How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soul
by Holly Pierlot
Read More about this Book Club Selection

Vilya Design Studios - Creators of art that you can wear.  We hand make a variety of jewelry, such wire sculpted pendants, gemstone watches, necklaces, bracelets, rosaries. Our artisans also create beautiful crocheted doll dresses and custom order christening gowns.  (Features the creative artistry of Susan's daughters Jennifer and Jocelyn - I love their work, and know you will too!  Lisa)

Susan shares the following about her writing:

As I look back over my life I have come to some profound conclusions. The most valuable gift both given and received is love. Throughout my life I have been blest with the wisdom of children, the wisdom of the elderly and especially the wisdom of the dying. Not one person on their death bed wished they had made more money or worked more hours. They all wished they would have spent more time with their loved ones, enjoyed the beauty of this world and taken a chance to love someone. I learned so much in my life and have faced some difficult challenges. I hope that maybe something I write touches another and reminds someone they are never alone in this world - someone understands, someone has been down the same path and always God is within each of us. Of all the experiences in my life the greatest gifts I have ever received were six precious lives who came into my life and forever changed me. . From the moment each were placed in my arms at their birth, my children have taught me about life and love. Now the gifts continue with my beautiful grandchildren as I await to listen to their stories yet to be told, and their wisdom yet to be learned. Motherhood is a gift - something to be treasured - always.

Susan Handle Terbay


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