Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Sunday Within the Ascension Octave AD 2005
Mothers’ Day

Ordinary of the Mass
Sunday Mass Text - Latin
Sunday Mass Text - English

    On the sixth day of creation, God said, “Let us make man to our image and likeness .... to the image of God he created him:  male and female he created them.”  And after creating them, the very next thing God did was that He “blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it....”[1]  So we see that motherhood constituted a fundamental part of God’s plan for mankind.

    But it is important to note that this part in God’s plan was much more than just the biological reproduction of human beings.  God commanded the lesser creatures to “increase and multiply” as well.  But God’s human creatures were different in that they were made in “God’s image and likeness,” and were given dominion over the creatures of the earth.  Mankind is unique on earth, having been given a spiritual soul capable of reason and free will, after the image of God—unique for being made in the likeness of God, capable of sanctifying grace and a consequent association with God’s very divinity.

    Having to nurture this reason, and free will, and holiness, makes the task of the human mother infinitely more complicated than the task of the lower creatures.  “Human cubs” must be taught to exercise their reason, to discipline their free will, and to embrace God in His holiness.  This is often a process of trial and error that goes on for a great many years.  It is a process in which a mother can use a great deal of help from friends and family and neighbors.

    But if being a human mother is so much more complex, it also has the potential for being so much more rewarding.  For as the mother herself is a creature of reason, discipline, and holiness, it should give her great joy to see these same qualities formed in her own sons and daughters—to which may be added the hope that they will do the same for yet another generation beyond their own.  The Catholic mother will be further fulfilled in knowing that she is playing an important part in God’s plan, by bringing souls into eternal life, to know, love, and serve God in this world, and to be happy with Him in the next.

    The Catholic mother can look to the Blessed Virgin Mother of God as an exemplar.  Here again, God employed human motherhood as part of His plan for salvation.  In consequence of the sin of Adam, God Himself took human nature and human existence in the womb of His Blessed Mother.  The Christian mother can always look to Mary as one who shared many of the same labors and sorrows—as well great joy.

    Yet, in the modern world, we find so much to spoil the satisfaction of being a good mother (or father).  In our May Parish Bulletin, there is a brief piece written by our new Pope, Benedict XVI, a number of years before his recent election.  I would ask you to read the article in its entirety, but, in brief, the evil that he points to is the modern tendency to expect that the only happiness a human being can have is the happiness of this world, without any regard to eternal life.  He notes, particularly with regard to motherhood, that this worldly philosophy makes the quest for happiness into a struggle between mother and child—as though any addition to the child’s happiness can only come through a decrease in the mother’s happiness.  He very correctly denounces the “new world order” that would “cut back” the number of people , in order to share the resources of the world among fewer people—the (quote-unquote) “sustainable development” that is little more than a euphemism for contraception, abortion, and euthanasia.  Above all, then Cardinal Ratzinger condemned the existentialist notion that “my kingdom is of this world,” which seeks to replace the reality that the Kingdom of Christ “is not of this world.”

    Quite by accident, I came across something written about a hundred years ago by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val, born in England, of Spanish descent, who served as the Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X, around the beginning of the twentieth century.  The problem of worldliness, was, of course, centuries old even in his time.  He addressed the International Women’s League, meeting at Rome:

    Your task is a serious one, and full of responsibility.  The exactions of society today are multiple, changing, and often contradictory.  It is not easy to harmonize them with the unchanging principles of our holy faith.  Some times they touch upon what is really wrong;  at other times they arise solely from the unbridled desire for enjoyment, and the shirking of that self denial obligatory in the Christian life, setting up as sufficient objective an entirely earthly and material ideal, taking account of this passing life alone, and caring nothing for God....

    .... It is the sublime mission of woman to defend the family, so intimately connected with society, that if one should perish, the other will inevitably be dragged to ruin with it.  The destruction of union, authority, and morality in family life is to strike a death-blow at the whole of human society, of which the family is the vital and essential source.

    Your task is a long labor; you will not attain immediate results.  Destruction is quick work; reconstruction is only accomplished by long effort, patiently maintained;  you will often have to be content to have sown the seed, while others reap the fruit....[2]

    Cardinal Merry del Val’s words certainly hold true for us as we try to preserve Christian civilization in the twenty-first century.  The “quick work” of destruction has had many more years to unfold, and reconstruction will be accomplished only by an even longer effort.  Today is Mothers’ Day, and of course we celebrate the works of preservation and reconstruction that all of our mothers have accomplished.  In no way do I belittle those works when I remind you that all of us must share in them.  Whether we are mothers or fathers or have no children of our own, we have an obligation to foster Christian family life in our society.

    May God bless and sustain all of you who have raised, or are raising, children in the image and likeness of God;  who have not succumbed to the hopelessness and the selfishness of the world.  May God bless you likewise, those of you who have helped in other capacities: as relatives and foster parents, and guardians, and teachers, and all the others who have at least provided the good example of Christian behavior to the young and impressionable.  God bless all of you.

    Finally, let me ask all of you to observe this Mothers’ Day in a Catholic fashion.  Give thanks to the Virgin Mother of God for the precious gift she has given us in her divine Son.  Ask her to bless and protect your own mother, wherever she might be.  Don’t forget to visit her, or, at least, to give her a call if she is still with us—let her know that you love her, that she is in your thoughts and prayers, and that you are grateful for all she has done.


[1]   Genesis i: 20-31.

[2]   Marie C. Buehrle, Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (Huston: Lumen Christi Press, 1980), p. 230-231.


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