Proverbs xxxi: 10-31
shall find a valiant woman? Her value is far beyond pearls. Her
husband, entrusting his heart to her has an unfailing prize. She brings
him good and not evil, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and
flax, and makes cloth with skillful hands. Like merchant ships, she
brings her bread from afar. She rises while it is still night, and
distributes her goods to her household. She picks out a field to
purchase. Out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard. She is girt
about with strength, and sturdy are her arms. She enjoys the success of
her dealings. At night, her lamp is undimmed. She puts her hands to
the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands
to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. She fears not the snow
for her household; all her charges are doubly clothed. She makes her
own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing. Her husband is
prominent at the city gates, as he sits with the elders of the land.
She makes garments and sells them, and stocks the Chanaanite merchants
with belts. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at
the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is
kindly counsel. She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not
her food in idleness. Her children rise up and praise her; her husband,
too, extolls her: “Many are the women of proven worth, but you have
excelled them all.” Charm is deceptive, and beauty fleeting; the woman
who fears the Lord is to be praised. Give her a reward of her labors,
and let her works praise her at the city gates.
Epistle: James i: 22-27
A reading from the epistle of blessed James the Apostle:
Be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if
anyone is a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like a man looking
at his natural face in a mirror: for he looks at himself and goes away,
and presently he forgets what kind of man he is. But he who has looked
carefully into the perfect law of liberty and has remained in it, not
becoming a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, shall be blessed in
his deed. And if anyone thinks himself to be religious, not restraining
his tongue but deceiving his own heart, that man's religion is in vain.
Religion pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to give aid
to orphans and widows in their tribulations, and to keep oneself
unspotted from this world.
Gospel: John xvi: 23-30
+ The continuation of the holy
Gospel according to John:
that time, Jesus said to His disciples: "Amen, amen, I say to you, if
you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it to you. Hitherto
you have not asked anything in My name. Ask and you shall receive, that
your joy may be full. These things I have spoken to you in parables. The
hour is coming that I will no longer speak to you in parables, but will
speak to you plainly of the Father. In that day you shall ask in My
name; and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father for you, for
the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me, and have
believed that I came forth from God. I came forth from the Father and
have come into the world. Again I leave the world and go to the Father."
His disciples said to Him, "Behold, now Thou speakest plainly, and
utterest no parable. Now we know that Thou knowest all things, and dost
not need that anyone should question Thee. For this reason we believe
that Thou comest forth from God."
Fifth Sunday after Easter—13 May A.D. 2012
Feast of Our Lady of Fatima—Mothers’ Day
I hope it doesn’t seem to modern that I included a reading from the Old
Testament before the Epistle and Gospel today. It is taken from the feast
day of Saint Anne, the mother of the blessed Virgin. It is also read in
Masses honoring married holy women—the last chapter of the book of Proverbs.
Today is Mother’s day, so we extend congratulations and express our
appreciation to all of you who are mothers. And, just so there is no
mistake, I feel that it is correct to include all who have been mothers to
our children—that certainly includes adoptive mothers, sisters, and aunts,
and cousins, and neighbors—really all who have stepped in when Mom was
unable to carry out her responsibilities toward her family. That would
include some number of men, and not a few fathers. That is why the second
collects in today’s Mass refer to our deceased mothers and fathers. But,
fathers will get their day in June, so let me refer only to “mothers”—but
still, in the general sense.
I had a chance conversation with a neighbor during this past week, that
caused me to think of some of the attributes of my own mother. Among other
things, she taught me to read, while the public school was utterly unable to
do so. She took me to museums and exhibitions, and nourished my curiosity
about nature and the natural sciences—she would have been a chemist, had
World War II not intervened in her education—I had a pretty nifty chemistry
set as a boy. Mom taught me my first prayers, and heard my catechism
lessons, and we read from the family Bible—a magnificent book that Mom was
able to convince my father to buy at the entrance to the parish church, for
what was in those days the princely sum of thirty dollars.
I was truly blessed, as I am sure many of you were as well. No doubt your
remembrances are not the same as mine, for there are very many qualities
that make a good woman and mother. The reading from Proverbs describes a
mother from a different culture than our own. She knew nothing of chemistry
sets, or how to use the Internet for tonight’s homework—but then, few of our
ladies have planted a vineyard, woven their own cloth, or sold belts to the
Chanaanites. Yet, even though they are separated by thousands of years and
thousands of miles, the good women of today have a great deal in common with
the good woman of Proverbs. A single man today might well want to know if
this woman from the Bible has an unmarried sister or not.
The specific domestic skills are not anywhere as important than this woman’s
recognition of her proper role as wife and mother, and her
willingness—almost a compulsion—to engage the world in such a way that her
family has the things necessary for life, and that they use these things for
good: “She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
She watches the conduct of her household, and eats not her food in
idleness.” Her sons and daughters will grow up to be responsible adults.
I read this excerpt from Proverbs a number of times each year when
celebrating Holy Mass in honor of the saints. I am always drawn to this
holy woman by her abilities and by her devotion to duty. But, perhaps she
is also interesting because she is so unlike the “ideal woman” of 21st
century society. If our media are to be believed, the ideal woman is
measured by her dress size, the number of husbands she has had, the number
of places where she has vacationed in the past eighteen months, and the kind
of car she drives. It is owed to her by civil right, not to have any more
children than she wants, or not to have them at all, even if she becomes
pregnant! It should be obvious to anyone who reads the description in
Proverbs that we have “come a long way” in the wrong direction over those
thousands of years.
It is significant that today is the feast of our Lady of Fatima, the
thirteenth of May. Our Lady’s message to the children of Fatima was one of
warning about the errors of Russia and the modern world—that repentance and
reparation were necessary. Russia has spread her errors—indeed, virtually
all of the attacks on motherhood, and the family, and Christian society that
we have seen in the past half century or two have been in the “politically
correct” methods of cultural Marxism—the effort to overload, pull down, and
destroy Western civilization so that it can be replaced by one or another
form of Socialism.
The glamorization of the modern media’s “ideal woman” is not a form of
liberation for women, but rather a promise of slavery for all men, women,
and children not lucky enough to become part of the ruling elite.
The antidote to that slavery is found in the woman described in Proverbs, in
Saint Anne, and in her blessed daughter the Blessed Virgin Mother of God,
Our Lady of Fatima—Our Lady of the Rosary. Indeed the antidote to modern
slavery is found in all the holy women celebrated by the Church, and even in
the holy women to whom I have been referring as our mothers.
If you are fortunate enough to have your mother among the living, please do
go and see her today—at least call. If not, call on her in prayer—both in
prayer for her and her eternal salvation, but also in prayer to
her, that if she is among the saints in Heaven (or the saints to be, in
Purgatory) she will ask God for our wellbeing and protection. You know that
you always were able to call on Mom when times were tough—understand that
you still can call on her. The Blessed Virgin Mother, Saint Anne, and all
the good mothers of all time.
Happy Mothers’ Day!