The Padre Pio Prayer Groups have been characterised as “womb communities” (by Fr. Mascone, the Director General of Padre Pio Prayer Groups). “Womb community.” What do you think this expression can mean? Obviously, the womb places us within the meaning of “motherhood.” This image of “womb” and “mother” is rich in symbolism: in Advent we reflect on Mary as the Mother of Our Saviour. When we pray the Rosary we pray to Mary’s with the words, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb…” The other image of Mother is the Church herself, she is our Mother because she gives us spiritual life. The Church is also the Bride of Christ. Now, how does the female imagery of motherhood situate us as a “womb community”? We think of life growing in the womb, and in the case of the Virgin Mary and the Church, this is spiritual life, supernatural life, the life of Grace, the work of the Holy Spirit.
As members of this “womb community” we grow together. And our spiritual life is inter-connected. Even though we may feel disconnected, especially during a time when a pandemic appears to have taken control over our lives by the laws regulating/restricting activities,” nevertheless, we continue to spiritually grow, regardless of laws because the supernatural life is not subjected to any law except the law of God.
This means we grow together spiritually fundamentally through prayer: praying for each other. A community of believers which is called to live in truth and love cannot advance spiritually if there is no forgiveness, if there is no compassion, if there is no correction. A mother who feeds her child knows that not all things are good for the growing child. Nor can the child eat/drink simply whatever is pleasurable. This is also true for adults. We just cannot lead a healthy life based on our capricious self-gratifying whims. Self-restraint, temperance, exercise, healthy eating… We are advised and warned by medical professionals – even packaging contains warnings. This is equally true for the spiritual life.
As individuals we belong to One Church that leads us to Eternal salvation. This is why God sent us His Son: so we may have Eternal life. We are given Mary as Mother, to watch over us. But we each have our part to play in this “womb community.” We also have the responsibility to bring life of Christ to others, and to nurture others through prayer, teaching what is true: Jesus, the Son of God, is our hope and our salvation. Amen.
Fr. David Bellusci, OP
PPPG, Spiritual Director, Vancouver