The Apostolate of Holy Motherhood (and Fatherhood) in the Order of Saint Charbel
This is a cover letter compiled by
During the Marian Year declared by Pope John Paul II in 1987, the very year in which the initial documentation of the Rule and Constitutions of the Order of St Charbel was begun, when the Motherhouse and the first Communities of the Order were being founded; Our Lord and His Most Holy Mother were revealing to a Chosen Soul, in the USA, an "Apostolate of Holy Motherhood". In this spiritual movement, mothers are called to practice contemplative prayer and fidelity to their duties in an exemplary manner of holiness, to consecrate themselves to Mary, the Mother of God, and to follow Her as their model for the sanctification of their marriage and family life.
The Visionary, known only as "Mariamante" (Latin for "lover of Mary") to safeguard her state in life as a mother of young children, faithfully recorded the Messages from Heaven, specific to the Apostolate of Holy Motherhood, over a period from 8th February to 11th August 1987. These were subsequently published with Imprimatur in June 1991, in a Booklet of the same Title.
The essence of these Messages, is simply this:
Motherhood has been forever exalted by the sublime nurturing that Jesus, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, received in the Womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and in the Bosom of the Holy Family. God wishes for the exaltation of the glorious vocation of Motherhood as exemplified in Mary - for the exaltation of the glorious vocation of Fatherhood as exemplified in Saint Joseph, and for the dignity of each little child as a reflection of the Christ Child, to be everywhere made known, understood and followed.
The Propagation of the Movement
"I wish for the Apostolate of Motherhood to begin soon. This will aid in my Triumph because it will include many mothers who will rise to holiness through this means. They will learn to offer up their daily duty in a most efficacious way and help to atone for much of the sin in the world. They will learn to use their time wisely, and it will be well spent in prayer, not superficial or superfluous prayer, but prayer that will pierce the Heart of my Son because of its genuineness and love.
They will love their children and their husbands and their homes above all else except for God and myself, and they will be shining examples to all those around them. Their interest will be in the home, and they will not seek to aspire to anything except perfection in the most noble way. They will put their children far above themselves and all others, and they will love their husbands deeply in a holy Christian love. (My emphasis)
They will love the church and seek to do all for the salvation of souls and My triumph. They will work for peace by their example and prayer, but not through activism which would detract from their vocation to which I am calling them. They must be self-sacrificing examples and models of love and kindness to all whom they meet." - Blessed Mother to Mariamante: Thurs 5 March 1987 - P33
It would seem that the Order of Saint Charbel is to be a major vehicle for the propagation of the Apostolate of Motherhood, as one of the main goals of the Order is the promotion and fostering of family life. In the General Introduction to the Rule and Constitutions of the Order, the Founder has this to say about the Charism of the Order:
"... It is to be noted that the most prominent part of the Charism of this New Form of Consecrated life is the lifting of family into the realm of a special religious expressed vocation by (the) taking (of) minor vows ... " and further, "... .People living a vowed life bring forth the fruit of a Mystical Union and Spiritual Foundation in the Mystical Body of Christ.. Furthermore, the married state of life is a Community of its very own, and by joining this special love between husband and wife into the bosom of the Community Religious Life, it too brings forth fruit that is desired and expressed in the Mystical Body ..." - R&C 1996 Edition.
Several families in the Order of St Charbel had become aware of this Booklet some years ago, but its full significance to family life in the Order of St Charbel, was not appreciated until, in 1999 and through 2000, some hidden souls received a number of dreams in which Our Holy Mother revealed that the Apostolate of Holy Motherhood (and Fatherhood) would be lived within the Order. Our Blessed Mother in a response through the Little Pebble had the following to say:
"... The Apostolate of Holy Motherhood and Holy Fatherhood in parenting and nurturing the family is truly from Heaven. It can be , and will be, adopted into the way of the family life of the Order ... For many years now My Divine Son and I have been inspiring our ‘Little Abraham’ of the very same points, to develop the nucleus of the family, ingraining it into the larger family life which is the order itself. However ... the development of the order must be guided, loved and supported – even with corrections – to the perfection that God is calling all."
"... In a very short time the Apostolate of Holy Motherhood will take it’s roots within the Order so that the semblance of growth in a virtuous life will spring forth and bring good fruits ..." Blessed Mother through Little Pebble - 3rd February 2000
With these words in mind therefore, and particularly the second sentence, it is perhaps appropriate now to outline the fundamentals of this Apostolate so dear to Our Lord and His Holy Mother, and which is to be the very basis of family life in the Third branch of the Order of St Charbel, and to consider how these might translate into practice within the Order.
Of course such an outline can in no way substitute for the actual words of Our Lord and His Holy Mother to Mariamante, and the reader is encouraged to go to the source in the Booklet itself, for a deeper understanding .
As Our Blessed Mother has already coupled Holy Fatherhood with the Apostolate in Her response above through the Little Pebble, it is surely appropriate for us to also consider, in the light of Heaven’s revelations on Holy Motherhood through Mariamante, just how Holy Fatherhood might fit into the Apostolate, and how this too might translate into practice within the Order.
The Three Basic Tenets of the Apostolate of Holy Motherhood
Those mothers who would embrace the Apostolate, must follow three basic Tenets:
The Heart of the Movement
Jesus and Mary, in many messages over the succeeding months expounded upon these three Basic Tenets, even illustrating from the daily life and dealings of the Visionary with her children, the way in which the three Tenets were to be lived. An overall summary of the Message and Movement of Holy Motherhood was later composed by Mariamante in obedience to her spiritual director. The text of this summary is reproduced below:-
Each of the above elements may be found to some degree expressed or at least implied in the Rule and Constitutions of the Order of Saint Charbel. However Our Blessed Mother has added new dimensions to our understanding of many of them, particularly in Her explanation of "Devotion to Duty" for Mothers.
The Rule and Constitutions has much to say concerning the Vocation to the Religious Life in the Order and its expression through the Priesthood, the Brothers and Sisters of the First and Second Branches, it has much to say on the Common Life of Prayer and Work , but it is almost silent on the Sublime Vocation of Motherhood, Fatherhood and Family Life in the Third Branch.
This singular omission has allowed a culture to grow in the Order, wherein "devotion to duty" is seen by many in the Third Branch, as putting Community Life before Family Life. Corrections to such expectations have been issued by our Moderator, but they have been more in the nature of band-aids, to help mothers and fathers with family commitments to allay conflicts of conscience. It would seem from the promptings of Heaven that is now time for Family Life in the Order to be thoroughly addressed. By asking for the "... adoption of the Apostolate into the Way of Life of the Order ...", Our Blessed Mother is clearly telling us to reconsider our priorities in the Third Branch, and through the Divine guidance offered in Her Book of Holy Motherhood, the inspirations Heaven is giving to little souls, and our beloved Moderator, the Little Pebble, the Rule and Constitutions of the Order will be redrafted to embrace Family Life in the sublime Vocations of Motherhood and Fatherhood in Holy Matrimony.
The above 18 elements are drawn up in tabular form on the accompanying sheet, [ see Chart ] to illustrate firstly the clear parallels with the life to which families are called in the Third Branch of the Order of St Charbel, secondly, what Holy Motherhood & Fatherhood calls for, and finally, what changes if any might be needed to the Order’s Rule and the Third Branch Constitution, to fully embrace the Apostolate within the Order, in accordance with Our Holy Mothers wishes.
It is Our Holy Mother’s express wish that Family Life in the Order of Saint Charbel be exalted , and that the Apostolate of Holy Motherhood as revealed to Mariamante, be the basis for a new understanding of the priorities to accorded to motherhood, fatherhood and family life in the Order. As an inspirational guide, it would be useful therefore to look carefully at what Our Holy Mother tells us concerning "Devotion to Duty" of Motherhood, as it is within this context that Holy Mother has most to say to us about how family life might be integrated into the Prayer/Work life of the Order.
"... They must seek to fulfil their daily duties, that is, as mothers and wives in an exemplary manner of holiness by pursuing the contemplative life in their homes ..." Third Tenet Message No 40
"... I wish all mothers could know and understand this, the importance and sublimity of their vocation. The children which God has given them must be first in their lives, even at times coming before their husbands, but of course, never before God. The more that you love God, the more you will love your husband and children ..." Message No 19
"... An Apostolate of Motherhood will grow out of these writings, which .will be an apostolate of prayer and duty in the home done in accord with the Will of God and for the love of God ... I will be the model for these mothers in their daily lives, and they will imitate My virtues ..." Message No 19
"... Be kind to your children. This is of utmost importance. They need your undivided attention when they are small ..." Message No 21
"... A mother must be available to her children when they need her and not busy about less important things. Your husband must be made to feel needed and important. Help him to have greater respect for himself and for others. Kindness will accomplish this. Be careful not to let him feel left out ..." Message No 22
"... They will love their children and their husbands and their homes above all else except for God and myself, and they will be shining examples to all those around them. Their interest will be in the home, and they will not seek to aspire to anything except perfection in the most noble way. They will put their children far above themselves and all others, and they will love their husbands deeply in a holy Christian love ..." Message No 27
"... Those of you who are housewives will find that contemplative and mental prayer are well suited to your station in life. Many laymen in the workplace will also find this most compatible with their occupations ..." Message No 31
"... There is a need today for families to seek out time to be together and to do things together, and particularly to pray together ...." "... Many men of today do not understand the importance of the spiritual path and are living too much in the world. Let St Joseph be their guide and patron ..." Message No 38
"... I urge you to pray always. Make your life a prayer, a hymn of love for God that he may be glorified in all you do. Offer Him every moment of the day in love and reparation and atonement for the sins of the world ..." Message No 74
"... Tend to your duties with love and in patience ..." Message No 75
When Mariamante’s writing was interrupted by her children Our Lord had this to say to her: "... Be at peace with your daily duty. This does not distress Me, why should it you ... Be at peace. Do not be angry. This is sometimes a test of the renunciation of your own will in keeping with your daily duty ..." Message No 83
Finally, there is need to consider, how the Apostolate might be integrated into the life of the Fourth Branch, and whether the Order should perhaps also consider promoting the Apostolate as a Way of Life for mothers and Fathers who are not members of the Order, in much the same way as it offers Confraternity membership to the Houses of Prayer. It might well be considered under the heading of "Other Works of the Order"
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