What you are about to read is a privileged interview with Maria Thompson, author of “See You in Heaven: the life and writings of Rosie Gil,” an inspiring and popularly endorsed book on blessed motherhood. The interview is available on catholic 365
Maria, tell me what prompted you to write this book.
After my mom past away, we found many letters of encouragement that she wrote to her children. My dad shared these letters with several priests. After reading her letters, these priests advised my dad to speak with the Bishop about my mom's life and to share with him my mom's letters. They said, "Rosie is a Saint.” My dad felt very awkward about speaking with the Bishop about this subject, so he did not make an appointment. After some time, these priests became even more adamant until finally, my dad made an appointment and shared my mother's story and writings with the Bishop. The Bishop was so welcoming and receptive and expressed to my dad that he could see why these priests were calling her a saint. He said the first thing that needed to be done was to write a book on her life.
I already had written a little about my mother. Father Angelus Shaughnessy O.F.M cap. had asked me to write about my mom through a daughter's eyes for The Arch Confraternity of Christian Mothers newsletter. So the Bishop instructed my dad to write with his daughter.
When my dad gave me the Bishop’s instructions, I was a bit overwhelmed to say the least. How could I write a book? I have five children and I am homeschooling. How could I ask the Lord to bless this endeavor of writing about "blessed motherhood" while I was putting my own "blessed motherhood" on the back burner? The book was written in the night [with the kids in bed] and with much help from my dad over the phone. This is how the book was born.
Is there a canonization process underway for your mom?
The cause for canonization cannot be opened until the person has been deceased for five years. My mother died on December 26, 2010 (Feast of the Holy Family). So it has not been quite five years yet. However, the Bishop instructed us to begin writing her life because the first step is to make her story known. But we will just have to wait and see what Our Lord has planned for her when the time comes, what doors He will open. It is entirely in His hands.
Your mother was a pioneer in Catholic home schooling in Louisiana. What inspired her? How did she get started on homeschooling?
One of the most exciting events as a mother in my mom's life was homeschooling. In 1981, Dr. Murray Norris, president of a Christian college in California and a father of 12 children, went on a speaking tour. He gave talks in our area on a pro-life and pro-family culture. He stayed at our home and he asked my mom and dad if they were homeschooling their children. My parents had never heard that terminology, "homeschooling", so they asked what that meant. He explained homeschooling and proceeded to tell them that he had helped one of our state legislators to write a bill (that became a law) that allows parents to teach their children at home in Louisiana. My mom had already taught her oldest child how to read at four years old. Teaching her children at home did not intimidate her.
My dad, his brother, and two other families got together and organized the first homeschool organization in Louisiana, with the state representative that wrote this law on their board of directors. They named the school Saint Francis Academy and it is still operating in two states.
I can't begin to tell you how much my mom loved teaching her children at home. My mom wrote in one of her letters to us children many years later these sweet words: "I do believe that teaching you children how to read was one of the most rewarding mothering skills I experienced with you. So thank you my dears! Love to each of you, Mom"
Most women struggle with their moms and see things they don’t want to do that their mothers did. What things would you do exactly the same way your mother did?
Oh, goodness gracious, there are too many to count! But on the very top of my list, it would be the way that she actually passed on "blessed motherhood" to her four daughters. What I mean is, she lived out her motherhood in such a way that as we grew and watched her, we knew that this was the kind of life that we wanted to emulate. We all do it. We see something beautiful and we want it for ourselves. We are attracted to goodness. She passed on to her daughters what was "truly best" for them. She did not allow the world to tell her what was best for her daughters. She taught us what God saw best for us. As the saying goes "Imitation is the best form of flattery".
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, girls wanted to grow up and be like mommy. But we have entered into a very sad time when mothers have been fooled into thinking that they want their daughters to have more than they did. So they sent their daughters off to college. Our pride does not want us to believe that being a wife, mother and homemaker is being a handmaid of the Lord. These are the things that Our Lady did. They were good enough for her. These are the things my mother did; they were good enough for her. May the Lord grant us the grace to see that we are not above His beautiful plan for us, that we may not be tempted by the world.
Let me clarify: I strongly believe in women being very well -educated. They have to be; they teach our future generations everything! This is why it is of utmost importance that we are intentional about the form of education that we receive and that we know that it is for a purpose much higher than merely a source of esteem or income. C.S.Lewis wisely pointed out that "The homemaker has the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose only… to support the ultimate career."
It is my prayer that I can be like my mother in this way to my own daughters, that I can live out my motherhood the way she did, and that my daughters may see with their own eyes the true beauty in the vocation of "blessed motherhood." I pray that they may never be fooled into desiring less then the ultimate career!
Lets talk about the beautiful book cover. Who designed it and can you explain its significance?
The cover was very important to me. I knew from the very start that it needed to be a foretaste to the beauty of which was contained in the words of my mother. As with the words of my mother in these pages, I hoped for the cover to reflect that comfort, joy, femininity, and gentleness. In life, she always brought a presence of comfort to a room. As with this little book, it was my hope that through the pleasant femininity that the roses express, the softness of the ribbon to the touch, and the gentle reminder printed on the bookmark, that these would bring with it a gentle presence to whoever's hands or room this little book found its way into. I expressed all of this to a friend who does graphic designs and together we were very pleased with the outcome. When it came time for publishing the book and printing the cover, we sent it to the publishers. They said that the software was not compatible with theirs so they would try to duplicate it as best as they could in their graphic department. They did a wonderful job and that is how the cover of this book came to be.
You mention that you travelled a lot to pro-life rallies. What kind of impression did that leave on you and how did that impact your advocacy today?
It has left on me a profound understanding that women have been duped and brainwashed about the way they view motherhood. Contraceptives and abortion [are] …practiced by people that do not realize what they are giving up. Abortion would cease if women were taught the greatest kept secret in our day: "blessed motherhood". If they were taught about "blessed motherhood" they would fall deeply and madly in love with it.
As with many failed love stories, it didn't work, because we were looking for love in all the wrong places. It is so sad, but profoundly true in any love story. We humans always think that we know what is better for us than God our Creator. As my mom stated in one of her letters "We are the most educated uneducated people".
If you recall on the movie Mom’s Night Out, the mothers were entranced with the mommy eagle and desired what she had. The eagle was content and at peace… because she was doing exactly what God created her to do. However, what do you think would have happened if something or someone had threatened the mommy eagle? She would have fought to the death!
We have to be bold enough to not only embrace motherhood, but fight to the death for it. If we mothers don't do it, then who will? I am not talking about distracted, cell-phone-in-one-ear-motherhood…I am talking about embracing motherhood with the driven intention of experiencing it and investing in it and ultimately falling in love with it!
Abortion will not end until we reject the way the world views motherhood and embrace what we were created for by God. Until most of our daughters are feeling deep down in their heart of hearts, that their heart’s desire is to be a mother and to one day hold their own precious child in their own womb, arms and heart, abortion will not end. We mothers are the ones who must fight the good fight. We must strengthen and equip ourselves and our daughters with the essential weapons, which is understanding the beauty of who God created us to be and experiencing the fulfillment that is ours when we live it. This is what will give us the strength to resist the disease of empty homes and childless cradles! Along with prayer and fasting, this is what will end abortion. That is why I advocate this little book on my mother's life. This little book could do more to ending abortion then one might ever suspect.
Thank you for the opportunity to interview you, Maria.The outstanding book is available on www.seeyouinheavenbook.com