Mottos and Brands as Guides for Spirituality

What's his motto?

What’s his motto?

Caravaggio's "The Calling of St. Matthew"

Caravaggio’s “The Calling of St. Matthew”

Company brands, or slogans, identify their purpose and are used in publicity. They become familiar to us. What fast-food restaurant’s is “I’m lovin’ it”? What insurance company assures us that we are in good hands? What drugstore is on the corner of happy and healthy? Unless you never watch television, you probably know the answers are McDonalds, Allstate, and Walgreens. On being consecrated, bishops choose a coat of arms and a motto. Pope Francis chose as his motto Miserando atque eligendo, which translated is “looking at him mercifully he chose him.” This is taken from a homily that St. Bede gave about Jesus choosing the tax collector Matthew to be his apostle. How typical of Pope Francis to take a motto that reflects his humility and his gratitude to God for his callings as Christian, Jesuit, priest, bishop, cardinal, and now pope.

We don’t have to be a bishop to have a personal motto to express our life or serve as a goal. I entered the convent before the reforms of Vatican Council II were implemented. My novitiate was as grueling as a marine boot camp. Just naturally I adopted as my motto a phrase from Job: “Even though he kill me, I will still love him.” After I made my vows, life was less stressful and I took on a new motto: “My joy lies in being close to God” (Psalm 73:28, Jerusalem Bible). In addition, a motto that drives my writing ministry is “All my words for the Word.” Recently I learned that the Dominicans have the practice of every member creating a personal motto.

Come to think of it, several saints had mottos. St. Ignatius lent his motto to his whole community: “For the greater glory of God.” St. Pius V’s motto was “To restore all things in Christ.” And the Franciscan St. Padre Pio is known for repeating, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.”

As far as I know, Jesus did not have a motto. Some possibilities for him:  “I come to do your will.” “That they might have life.” Can you think of others?  And for Mary, how about, “I do always the things that please him”?

It’s good to have a motto as a lodestar guiding our lives. A personal motto keeps us focused and grounded. Creating one makes an interesting prayer activity, one that will probably not be subject to distractions!

Do you have a motto for your life? What is it? Why? Do you know any other saints who had mottos?


  1. Kathy OFS on January 21, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    My motto is taken from a Franciscan quotes of St. Francis. You are what you are in the eyes of God. To me it says that God loves you as he made you. I am developmentally delayed and dyslexia but God says I am special and it doesn’t matter what the world thinks. St. Francis says preach the gospel at all times and when necessary use words. I believe this means show by your actions. Going to church praying daily helping others in need. And if not enough then preach to others about God verbally. Siochan Agus maithes (peace all good) Kathy OFS

    • Kathleen Glavich, SND on January 21, 2015 at 1:47 pm

      Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your thought-provoking motto. It reminds me of a verse in Isaiah where God says, “You are precious in my sight and I love you.” God, who knows us better than we know ourselves, no doubt thinks more highly of us than we or others do!

  2. Mark Misencik on January 24, 2015 at 3:05 pm

    Hey Sister,

    We met today at St. Joseph’s in Amherst and you gave me a card to look up your blog. So I did what you told me to do and I read you wrote on the 21st. You asked some questions so I’ll give you my opinion.

    When you look at the example of companies that you presented, they are trying to sell you something. to sell. That’s what companies do. How do they try to get the consumer to remember their product? A motto.

    Jesus, on the other hand, wasn’t trying to sell anything. He was giving. He was a teacher. A very good teacher. And, as any marketer will tell you, the best way to get your message out, or in Jesus’ case, teachings, is by word of mouth. Looking at the past two daily gospel readings, the word was getting around to quite a lot of people. No motto needed.



    • Kathleen Glavich, SND on January 24, 2015 at 7:01 pm

      Mark, that was quick. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. Yes, I agree that word of mouth is the best promoter of anything. The motto I’m referring to is not so much one that would affect others but a personal one that expresses our life’s goal in a nutshell and helps us keep it in mind. By the way, thank you for what you are doing to get out Jesus’ teachings.

      • Kathleen Glavich, SND on January 25, 2015 at 8:03 am

        Mark, don’t forget that this coming Wednesday’s post is the one I thought you’d be interested in.

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