“The Church is Our Mother” by Gina Loehr

In about a week I’ll begin facilitating my third ENDOW class.  ENDOW stands for Educating On The Nature and Dignity of Women.  Women of all ages gather in small groups to study the writings of the Church.  They read, discuss, share, and bring what they learn out into their world.  This year we are studying St John Paul II’s document On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.

Timing is everything.  Also just this week I began reading Gina Loehr’s book called “The Church is My Mother”, only to find the following in her introduction:

“‘The Church is woman, she is mother, and this is beautiful.  You must consider and go deeper into this’.

When Pope Francis spoke these words to me and my companions…I felt a personal tug on my heart.  We were commemorating the twenty-fifth anniversary of Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women), a document that profoundly touched my life….

I had sworn off motherhood, not surprisingly, at the same time that I had sworn off Mother Church.  But Mulieris Dignitatem helped me to return to the embrace of my mother, the Church, and personally to embrace my vocation to marriage and motherhood as well.”

It seems that this St John Paul II’s document was a springboard for Loehr’s conversion, and helped her gain deeper understanding of the great gift of holy motherhood-her own and that of the Catholic Church.

Reciprocally, Loehr’s book seems to have come to me as a gift .  As I prepare to dive into the “dignity and vocation of women”, I’ve been reading through the chapters of Loehr’s book, as she describes seven ways the Church inspires us to love and how she shows that love in much the same way a mom would to the children she has borne.  Moms are given the great privilege to help create, and then to care, teach, accept, sacrifice, heal and celebrate these precious lives.

Loehr reminds us that the title of Mother for Church is not new.  Saints and the early Church Fathers used it often in describing her role in our lives. In a real and tangible way, the Church too gives us life, cares for and teaches us, accepts all and offers sacrifice ( the ultimate one in Christ’ death!), offers healing and celebrates our personhood.

Knowing how much encouragement is needed for moms, young and old, Loehr weaves in personal stories as a way to lift her readers up and offer a feminine heart who’s “been there”.  And a study guide for each chapter makes the book perfect for small group sharing and discussion.  For moms who yearn to integrate their faith into their vocation, the book can be a great way be inspired.

I’ve been…lifted up and inspired….and I feel more ready than ever to open up Momma Church’s pages in Mulieris Dignitatem – and read about her love and her gratitude for all women.

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