Fifty years ago this week, Blessed John XIII issued an encyclical letter entitled Mater et Magistra, or “Mother and Teacher,” on Christianity and social progress. The words “Mother” and “Teacher” were aptly used by the Holy Father to describe the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ.
Certainly the Church is our Teacher, or “Magistra.” The word “Magisterium,” which refers to teaching office of the Church, shares the same Latin root. When we hear the Church, we hear Christ (see Luke 10:16).
Today, however, we especially need to recognize and love the Church as our Mother, as our true home in the family of God. Too often the Church is seen as merely a sinful, impersonal, human institution or as some outside force that imposes arbitrary rules on its members. Yes, “its” members. The Church is considered an “it,” an unlovable bureaucracy ruled by corrupt men.
The deeper truth is that she’s our Mother. She’s a “she,” not an “it.” She is the Bride of Christ, and surely Christ would never forsake, let alone “spiritually divorce,” His beloved. Continue reading