Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Thursday 18 April |
Aleteia logo
separateurCreated with Sketch.

Pope Francis and “The Mother Wound”

A mother holds up her happy child

By Koivth (Own work) [GFDL (, CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or CC BY 2.5 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Fr Dwight Longenecker - published on 07/09/15

The crisis in the family and the Marian cure was at the heart of the pope’s message as he visited Ecuador

One of the great wounds in our society and in our own hearts is “the mother wound.” Put simply, each one of us is created with a need for total, unconditional acceptance and love. From the moment of our conception, a caring and generous mother helps to provide the love we need.

However, due to our human failings, the love of even the best mother is not enough. We long for a greater love—the totally complete and unconditional love of God. Consequently, most of us carry a “mother wound." When the mothering is inadequate, negative, neglectful or violent the child receives an even greater and deeper wound. The child expected unconditional and perfect love from the mother, but received neglect, negativity or even hatred and rejection.

This “mother wound” then affects our own ability to love and be loved. That inability then extends to our relationships, and when it is multiplied throughout society the whole culture becomes dysfunctional. The ability to love, forgive and accept others is broken and wounded. The only way to heal the “mother wound” is to somehow find, recognize and accept the love of a mother who is greater than our earthly mothers.

This is where the traditional simplicity of the Catholic faith provides access to a perfect mother’s love. Through a devotional relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary we find a mother’s love that is complete, and this love fulfills what was lacking in our own family dynamic. This healing is available at both the individual and corporate level, and it comes to us most effectively within the dynamic of the family.

The crisis in the family and the Marian cure was at the heart of the pope’s message as he visited Ecuador this week. Deeply aware of the crisis in the family, Pope Francis called on Catholics to renew their devotion to the Blessed Mother. With great passion the pope reminded the people of Ecuador, “Mary is not a “demanding” mother, a mother-in-law who revels in our lack of experience, our mistakes and the things we forget to do. Mary is simply a Mother! She is there, attentive and concerned. It is beautiful to hear this: Mary is a mother. Would you all be able to say this along with me: Mary is a mother!  Again! Mary is a mother! Once again! Mary is a mother!”

Understanding Mary’s mothering role in the economy of salvation is crucial for the functioning of our families and the whole family of mankind. The pope recalled Mary’s actions, prayer and faith at the wedding feast of Cana in Galilee and explained that it is within the dynamic of the family that we find solutions to our problems. “There in the family we learn how to ask without demanding, to say ‘thank you’ as an expression of genuine gratitude for what we have been given, to control our aggressiveness and greed, and to ask forgiveness when we have caused harm…The family is the nearest hospital, when one is sick, they go to feel better. The first school for the young, the best home for the elderly. The family constitutes the best “social capital." It cannot be replaced by other institutions. It needs to be helped and strengthened…The family is also a small Church, a “domestic Church” which, along with life, also mediates God’s tenderness and mercy. In the family, we imbibe faith with our mother’s milk. When we experience the love of our parents, we feel the closeness of God’s love.”

The popes, the saints and the formal teaching of the church teaches that the holy rosary is a powerful source of healing in the church. Could the world’s problems be solved by this most simple of Catholic devotions? Could a deepened devotion to Mary help resolve the open “mother wound”? Could “the mama ministry” be the cure for our problems?

Pope Francis reminded the faithful that Mary points us to prayer, “She teaches us to put our families in God’s hands, to pray, to kindle the hope which shows us that our concerns are also God’s concerns.

Praying always lifts us out of our worries and concerns. It makes us rise above everything that hurts, upsets or disappoints us, and it puts us in the place of others, in their shoes. The family is a school where prayer also reminds us that we are not isolated individuals; we are one and we have a neighbor close at hand: he or she is living under the same roof, is a part of our life, and is in need.”

While the pope called for a “mama ministry” he also called for a “mama miracle.” The family is severely broken and wounded, but it is out of this wound that the growth and healing can come to mankind. The pope said, “In the family…miracles are performed with what little we have, with what we are, with what is at hand… in our own families and in the greater family to which we all belong, nothing is thrown away, nothing is thrown away.

Finally the pope recognized that the “mama ministry” and “mama miracle” are vital as the church confronts the crisis in the family. “shortly before the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, the Church will celebrate the Ordinary Synod devoted to the family, to deepen a  spiritual discernment and consider concrete solutions to the many difficult and significant challenges facing families in our time. I ask you to pray fervently for this intention, so that God can take even what might seem to us impure, scandalous or frightening, and turn it – by making it part of his “hour” – into a miracle. The family today, needs this miracle. 

Read Fr Longenecker’s blog, browse his books and be in touch at

CatholicismDevotions and FeastsPope Francis
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.