During my pregnancy with our daughter, Sarah, I had a vivid dream. In it, I entered what appeared to be a basilica. Gargantuan in both size and wondrous beauty, I noticed it was empty as I crossed the threshold from the outside into the sanctuary. It occurred to me that I was in another realm, certainly not earth.
I didn’t know what I was looking for or why I was there. I patted my round belly and soon noticed an older man dressed in papal vestments descending an elaborate spiral staircase. He was accompanied by another individual whose image was blurred to me.
Not recognizing who this man was, he looked upon me with such tenderness that I knew I must be in heaven and that I was in the presence of a saint who had once been pope. He took both of my hands in his and spoke to me about the love of Christ and cloaking myself in His mercy every day. Then he blessed my womb, and we parted ways.
When I awoke, I realized that motherhood is a form of spiritual warfare. The battle begins at conception. For those of us who are blessed to carry a baby to viability and eventual birth, we instinctively notice that we are fighting for our child and his or her soul.
Pregnancy is such a vulnerable and delicate state of being for both mother and child. We see this in the life of Our Lady as she carried Jesus through dangerous terrain, political strife, and religious persecution. How do we begin to care for the spiritual wellbeing of our children when we can control so little that happens to them?
As a mom of five children ages ten to infancy, I am confident in two aspects of parenting: that God is sovereign over all, including my (His) children and that He has given me authority over evil on my children’s behalf.
This is why infant baptism is so vital. As a Sacrament of Initiation, baptism includes a minor exorcism and imparts upon our children divine grace to aid and inform their consciences. We begin our spiritual formation as mothers when our child is in the womb, and once born, we draw upon the wellspring of grace to mold and shape our child’s understanding of right and wrong, good and bad.
God Is Sovereign Over All
In the creation story, God gave dominion to Adam and Eve, which means dominion originated with God Himself. Synonyms and definitions of the word dominion include sovereignty, reign, and rule.
In Christianity, dominion refers to God’s reign as King. We know that God is the Creator, that He has granted humanity the ability to act on His behalf. Knowing this can be quite an encouragement to a weary mother who is fighting an invisible battle for her children. Just a daily reminder that God is leading us and that we can access His grace through prayer increases our strength.
Mothers Have Spiritual Authority Over Their Children
In a world filled with skeptics and reason-over-faith critics, it might seem outlandish to believe there are actual prayers of deliverance against evil that parents can (and should) pray. One of my favorites is called the binding prayer, which can be found in Father Chad Ripperger’s book of approved deliverance prayers for the laity.
Exorcists, including Father Ripperger, agree that demons are legalistic and only follow the hierarchy of authority ordained by God. This means that husbands can pray on behalf of both his wife and children, and wives can pray on behalf of their (biological or legally adopted) children.
We literally have the weapon of prayer at our disposal to rebuke evil. To be clear, I am not saying that your children will never fall into sin, including mortal sin, nor am I saying that nothing bad will ever happen to them. What I am saying is that it’s important for us to engage in spiritual battle for our children, because have confidence that God grants them an abundance of grace at their disposal. Our hope is that they access it according to their free will.
Start your day with morning prayer, if possible. Pray to your child’s guardian angel. Ask for special protection against evil. Keep your own soul in a state of grace by regularly going to confession and avoiding sin. Teach your children how to make sensible, wise choices in different tough scenarios.
We can do our best with what we have been given, then release the rest to God. As we relinquish control, we remember that God reigns over all and that our children first belonged to Him.
Photo by Mateus Campos Felipe on Unsplash