The above quoted and often invoked phrase in Latin is in fact a profound understanding, a sublime proclamation, a signal appreciation of what the Church is, viz., what She really is, what She is for and actually does, what is Her role for humanity and what is her relevance in the world. In plain and simple words, the Church is a Mother “Mater” and Teacher “Magistra” to the people, to the world. A mother loves and cares for her children. A teacher makes her children think and learn. So it is that even in the secular world, a mother loves her children while a teacher makes them learn. But having the Church as both a Mother and a Teacher to humanity, caring for people from birth to death and making them learn what is true, right and just – this gives the Church a big composite obligation to people the world over to know the truth, to live in righteousness, to observe justice.
She is a “Mater and Magistra” whereas this is what Her Founder wanted/wants and intended/intends Her to be – until Her same Founder has His Second Coming at the end of time. So it is that whatever the Church does and acts upon, find their ultimate origin from Her Founder. Such a plain yet profound truth, such a simple yet signal reality bring to fore some timely and relevant reminders that are good to know, to keep in mind and heart:
That the Church as a Mother is thus duty-bound to love people, to do what is good for them, to propose what brings about their common good, affirms what promotes their social welfare. Whether those concerned – specially those in leadership positions want to listen or not, that is their call, that is their option. The Church nevertheless as a Mother will continue to love people and to wherefore insist on what will bring about and sustain their common welfare. True mothers do not stop loving and caring for their children.
That the Church as a Teacher is wherefore required to teach people, to tell them what is right or wrong, what is good or evil, what is virtuous or vicious. And again, those concerned – particularly those in tenure of public authority – want to act accordingly or not, that is their responsibility, that is their decision. The Church however as a Teacher will go on teaching people, telling them what should be done or avoided. What should be banned or promoted. Real teachers do not get tired making their students know what is true or false.
That the Church as a Mother and a Teacher is some two thousand years old – and counting. This is a good reminder, a solid reality. Devious and odious individuals, vicious and despicable persons, callous and thus insensitive powerful public officials came to the world and are eventually gone therefrom. The Church however remains and stays as a matter of course. Up to now after more than two thousand years and still counting, the Church is up and about mothering and teaching people from one century to another. Until when? Only God knows!
It is good to remind people not to curse, neither to lambaste nor step down on the Church. No one – this means absolutely no one – can bring the Church down, can make her disappear and be gone. There were those who tried. Yet while to dust they return wherefrom they came, the Church is up and about from the time She came to be as “Mater et Magistra”. This is the truth. This is the fact.