Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse • 663 S. Rancho Santa Fe Road Suite 222 San Marcos CA 92078www.jennifer-roback-morse.com • email: firstname.lastname@example.org • 760/295-9278
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yourself. If you have had experiences like these,then you have already experienced spiritual parenthood.Actually, I shouldn’t use the generic, gender-neutral word, “parents.” There is no such thingas a generic parent, any more than there is such athing as a generic person. There are only menand women, mothers and fathers. You are not agender-neutral, generic person and you won’t become a gender-neutral, generic parent either.Male and female are two different andcomplementary ways of being human. Andmothers and fathers are two different andcomplementary ways of caring for the young,and the needy of whatever age. Now you might think this is a little far-fetched,to think that even single people or infertile people or religious people are called to spiritualmotherhood or spiritual fatherhood. Actually, Igot the idea from one of the great celibate menof the twentieth century: Pope John Paul theSecond, and his Theology of the Body. And hecertainly wasn’t a generic parent: he acted asfatherto the whole world. He told us the truth,called us to be the best we could be, anddefended us from error. And we called him HolyFather. How odd it would be to refer to him insome gender-neutral way, like our HolyProgenitor. And think what the world wouldhave missed if an unmarried woman, a nun fromAlbania had not realized her calling to spiritualmotherhood. The poor of Calcutta knew her asMother Teresa, not Parent Teresa.Thinking of physical parenthood allows us to seesome of the differences between spiritualmothers and spiritual fathers. Our mothers giveus life. Our mothers are our first connections tothe rest of the human race. They nurture us, feedus, comfort us, and encourage us. Our motherslet us know that we are loved. When wewomendo this for others, no matter who they may be,we are acting as spiritual mothers.Our fathers protect the life they have plantedwithin our mothers. At times, it may seem as if they are more distant than our mothers. But theyhave stepped back,to allow our growth. They protect us, both physically and spiritually. Our fathers hold us accountable for our behavior and performance. When men do these things for us,no matter how old they are in comparison withus, they are acting as spiritual fathers.We can think of some of the iconic figures of manliness in our culture: the Marines stormingthe beach; the sheriffs in the Old West; thefirefighters running into the crumbling TwinTowers on Nine Eleven. These men are not just performing random acts of aggression andviolence. They are heroes because they arestanding up for what is right, keeping order inthe community and defending the weak. I think every young man, in his heart, wants to be asheriff in this spiritual sense, courageouslystanding up against evil and protecting theinnocent.So this is one thing I know about each one of you: every one of you are called to spiritualmotherhood or spiritual fatherhood.The second thing I know about each of you isthis. In less than one hundred years, each andevery one of us will see God face to face. Thatsounds a lot more appealing than saying “we’reall going to die.” (I have a reputation for tellingit like it is!) But both those statements are true.It is a sign of a mature Christian mind, to be ableto think about death, without becoming either morbid or frightened.