An Edifying Love

Eric Fromm says in his book The Art of Loving that maternal love is an unconditional affirmation of the life of the child and the child’s necessities; and he explains that this affirmation of the life of the child introduces two aspects: on one hand, the absolute caring and responsibility necessary for the child’s survival and growth; on the other hand, this goes beyond mere preservation to an attitude that inculcates in the child a love for life and the joy to be alive. This experience, according to Fromm, is expressed in the biblical symbolism of the promised land, described as full of milk and honey. Milk symbolizes the first aspect of love, that of protecting and affirming life. Honey symbolizes the sweetness of life, the love for it and the joy to be alive.

Being a good mother and a happy person requires conditions and the cultivation of attitudes which are communicated with actions more than words. It’s a way of being that is expressed in the active concern for the life and growth of whom we love. Because of this, we affirm that the ideal of motherly love is making sure that the child grows physically and humanly, that the child values the conservation of life (taking care of what is loved and loving what is taken care of), and that the child receives a full meaning of the same (a life animated and oriented by love, compassion, cordiality, and respect).

Along the same lines, the presence of mothers in the family and society is recalled with dedication in the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Mothers, it is affirmed, are the strongest antidote to the spread of egotistical individualism. They are the ones who give witness to life’s beauty, the ones who in the worst moments maintain an attitude of tenderness, self-giving, and moral integrity. Moreover, it is said that mothers transmit the deepest meaning of religious practice and that without them faith might lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth.

The blueprint for cultivating love for life affirms that when the mother protects the child with tenderness and compassion, this awakens confidence in the child, makes the child experience that the world receiving the child is good, and this allows the development of self-esteem which favors the ability for intimacy and empathy. From this springs the forceful affirmation made in the document: “A society without mothers is an inhuman society”; followed immediately by a word of gratitude: “Dearly beloved mothers, thanks for what you are in the family and for what you give to the Church and the world.”

Amoris Laetitia recognizes as legitimate and desirable that mothers study, work, develop their talents, and have personal goals; but without ignoring the need of children for maternal presence as described here: as an affirmation of life and its meaning. The document is aware that the greatness of women involves all the rights emanating from their inalienable human dignity, as well as from their feminine genius, indispensable for society; but we must take into account, as Fromm sustains, that only when mothers teach the full sense of life as well as giving life, do we have an edifying love; and this produces a profound effect on the child’s personality, which enables the child to distinguish between adults who only receive milk and those who receive milk and honey.

Source: Nuestra Parroquia