Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!

Fifth Sunday of Easter—9 May A.D. 2010

Mother’s Day

Mother & Child

Ordinary of the Mass
Mass Text - Latin
Mass Text - English
Second Collects

    On the Church calendar, May is the month dedicated to Mary the Immaculate Mother of our Lord—and on the secular calendar, today is Mother’s Day, dedicated to all of those wonderful women who are mothers.  My remarks this morning will generally extend beyond the realm of biological motherhood to include all who have aided or taken the place of birth mothers—to adoptive and foster mothers, to the aunts and the grandparents, and the sisters who have stepped in to aid mother in her role.

    The second collects in this morning’s Mass are offered for all of our deceased mothers and fathers, and for those who stepped into the role.  Please make those prayers your prayers this morning.

    Our Blessed Lady is, of course, the role model for all who would be mothers.  From the very moment of her conception, she was at enmities with the devil, a creature perfect in all of the virtues.  Her maternity began with an act of obedience to the will of God—“Behold the handmaid of the Lord;  be it done to me according to they word.”[1]  For nine months she live in a constant state of Holy Communion with her divine Son—perhaps the only thing adequate to prepare her to offer Him up in the Sacrifice of the Cross, to share His Passion by her com‑passion.

    On some level, all motherhood is sacrificial—a giving of one’s self to provide for others.  We see it even in nature:  the bird who brings forth her hatchlings with the warmth of her body;  the pelican who feeds her chicks with her own blood;  the mother who will face down any wild animal to be sure that her cubs are not harmed.

    We see some of the same in human mothers.  It may not be as dramatic as the duck fighting off the fox, although sometimes it is every be of that.  More often with humans it is the self sacrifice needed to make sure that the children have everything they need:  the best food available from a poor woman’s table;  the extra blanket on a cold night;  the shoes and the clothing that seem to be in need of perpetual replacement;  the night‑long vigils spent with children running a fever.  All of these things come at the cost of substantial sacrifice for many mothers.  Less obvious, perhaps, (particularly to us men) is the burden of carrying her precious baby to term—both the physical efforts and dangers, and the anxiety of protecting such a fragile responsibility.

    But think of the great good that such a mother achieves.  Just the other day I came across a quotation from the writings of Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty, whose mother raised one of the bravest men in Church history.  Mindszenty said:

“The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral-a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body

“The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation.

“What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this: to be a mother?”[2]

    As the Blessed Virgin Mary cooperated with God in bringing forth Jesus Christ, each and every human mother cooperates with God in a way far above all other creatures.  In partnership with God, the woman brings forth an immortal soul, “to know God, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in the next.”[3]

    Of course we would be naive to think that every child born is predestined for heaven.  Here again, a grave responsibility rests upon a mother, for she will be the primary teacher and role model for the formative years of her child’s life.  If she is a good mother, her children will be like her.  If she imitates the virtues of the Blessed Virgin, she will be a source of virtue for her children.  It matters not whether the child is a boy or girl—no father, no teacher, no other person can have this same salutary influence on the child.  Perhaps this is one of the reasons that people who home-school their children are so successful in raising good children who become responsible adults.

    Nonetheless, this is an opportunity for others to step in and help Mom.  What a blessing it is for a good mother to be surrounded by helpful women and men who will confirm her good example.  How much more does a child grow in virtue when all of those close to the family are themselves virtuous?  So much easier it is to teach honesty to a child surrounded by honest people;  to teach chastity among the chaste;  to teach charity among the charitable;  and so on with every virtue you can name!

    And God bless those who do step in where Mom is not a good mom, or when circumstances conspire to make it impossible for her to look after her little ones.  Indeed, this is precisely what Saint James had in mind when he wrote about “Religion pure and undefiled before God the Father”—it is an obligation of our Catholic Faith to see to the physical and spiritual well-being of the widows and the orphans—and not just those who are widowed or orphaned by the death of a spouse or parent.[4]  There are indeed “married widows,” and “orphans with living parents”—they too are the objects of “Religion pure and undefiled before God the Father.”  We must not be “forgetful hearers,” but actual “doers of the work.”[5]

    When we look at the great effort our Mothers expended on our behalf;  when we consider their sacrifices and all that they did for us in our formative years and beyond;  we ought to be conscious of an obligation, a debt not completely payable, but obligatory none-the-less.  If you are fortunate enough to have Mom still alive, be sure you spend some time with her today—at least by phone if a visit in person is just not possible.  And don’t make the mistake of limiting that contact to just one day each year—for the day will come when Mom is no longer around and you would trade most anything for another visit.

    And if Mom is no longer around, be sure to pray for her, as she prayed for you every day when you were her child—again, this should in no way be limited to once a year.  Not just Mother’s day, not just her birthday, and not just the anniversary day of her death, but every day.

    And make your Mom proud of you.  Make sure that she was successful in bringing a “new saint to heaven.”  Make sure that the grace given her by God is fruitful in you and in your children: “The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can.”  Make sure that you don’t mess up all of Moms hard work for you!


NOTES:

[2]   -Joseph Cardinal Mindszenty,  http://thankevann.com/homeschoolgoodies/?p=2862

[3]   Cf. Baltimore Catechism No. 2, Q. 6.

[4]   Epistle: James i: 22-27  http://www.drbo.org/chapter/66001.htm.

[5]   Ibid.

  



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