Certainly no man can fully appreciate what it must be like to carry another person around in the womb for three quarters of a year, dealing with the physical and emotional changes, and finally with the nearly terrifying pains of delivery. But, let me preface my remarks for Mothers’ day by saying that on this day we celebrate all those who have served as mothers—contributing their time, their effort, and their love, even if they were not the biological mothers of those children they mothered. Mothers are not always able, willing, or available to fulfill their duties, so today we must celebrate those women (and even a few men) who have stepped up and filled in.
Today, on the secular calendar, is Mothers’ Day, a tribute to all of those women who have taken part in God’s plan of creation, bringing forth and educating their children to populate God’s world and to rule over its creatures. If we read on a little further in the Book of Genesis, we have a little more detail, for apparently God, on creating Adam, determined that it was not good for Adam to be alone, and that he needed a help-mate—one that would be bone of Adam’s bone and flesh of his flesh—that, indeed, future men and women would leave father and mother and cleave together, “two in one flesh.” So it is by right that we honor all good women, who have been faithful mothers or help-mates to their husbands. Certainly, God’s assignment to subdue the earth involves women in a tremendously greater amount of activity beyond childbirth.
These two accounts from Genesis suggest an important lesson. In creating His rational creatures on the sixth day, God did not create two different creatures; He did not create two opposites or contraries; rather, in creating man male and female, He created a complementary pair intended to work jointly as partners in His mystery of creation. Bone of the same bone, they are made to cleave together as two in one flesh. God’s purpose in this complementary creation is different from so much of what we hear in the modern world, where marriage is often thought of in terms of status, personal gratification, or the accumulation of wealth—often enough to the purposeful exclusion of that primary end of marriage, the procreation and education of children. So, especially to be honored today are those women and mothers who have lived in holy matrimony as it is intended by the Creator.
As Catholics, we understand that there is a truly holy character to marriage and motherhood. For baptized Christians marriage takes on the additional nobility of a Sacrament. The Church provides us with an instruction that is customarily read before the Sacrament is conferred. It says, in part:
In the Holy Trinity, Itself, we see something of the complementarity which takes physical existence in the complementary nature of men and women. In God as in mankind there is a union of intellect and will—of knowledge and love—of reason and tenderness. God the Father knows Himself from all eternity; His knowledge of Himself is the Word, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity. The Father and the Son love each other from all eternity; the outpouring procession of that love is the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost.
God has formed men and women with reason and tenderness similar to His own, so that they too can share in His fruitfulness. When foolish modern people speak of a difference between men and women as great as that between Mars and Venus, they overlook the fact that such a difference was intended by God—And for those who enter marriage according to His plan, that difference is like the poles of a magnet, powerfully drawing North to South. The good and holy women and mothers are those who do not lament, but rather celebrate, this complementary difference.
We know that a terrible thing happened to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Paradise. They did not stop loving one another. But they did lose sight of their appropriate relationship to God. They yielded to the temptation offered to them and ate of the forbidden fruit under the false assumption that it would make them “like gods”—perhaps with an eye toward being independent of the heavenly Father. But even then, God did not abandon them, and even promised to send a Redeemer—He would send a woman, a mother, to crush the head of the serpent who had tempted Adam and Eve to sin and death.
He sent a mother—and her Son—Who was His Son.
Again, we see God employ this complementary nature with which He created men and women. Think about that for a moment. Try to imagine what our Redemption would have been like without our Blessed Mother. Theoretically, it seems that it would be possible. Being all-powerful, God could have entered the world without a mother, directly creating for Himself a human body and soul if He so wished. He could have redeemed the world, even giving Himself up to death on the Cross if that still seemed appropriate. Without His Mother, He would not have been a true son of Adam and Eve, but as God He could have ignored that fact if He had chosen to do so.
But the Redemption was undoubtedly more than the fixing of some mere legal difficulty between God and man—it was undoubtedly intended to restore men and women to their appropriate relationship with God—on a long term and continuing basis. To gain their cooperation, He needed to appeal to them precisely as men and women. The idea of God being crucified is no where near as compelling to us as the idea of the divine Son of His Mother being crucified. It is the complementary nature of Jesus and Mary that makes their lives and their sufferings meaningful to us men and women—that makes us feel sorrow and shame for our sins. If there had been no Mother to meet the Son at the fourth Station of the Cross, our redemption would have been the work of men without women. And, doesn’t it make things easier for us all to approach the Father through our Mother? That is almost instinctive to those of us who had to get parental permission for something as kids—“you never go to Dad, you always ask Mom.” And even in all purity and chastity, many of us males feel a bit strange about loving another man—but Mary is easy to love as a Mother, and then in turn to love Jesus as her Son—so that we can understand all of those things Saint John and Saint Paul had to say about becoming sons of God—which we can do by becoming sons of Mary our Mother.
It is a marvelous reality, then, that God created us as men—male and female He created us. It is marvelous that He gave each of us mothers to bring us into the world, and even more marvelous that He gave us His own Mother to secure the plan of our Redemption.
Today is Mothers’ Day, so be sure that you go and see her if you are fortunate to have her still alive—or at least a call on the telephone if she lives at a very great distance. Be sure to pray for her and thank God for her, whether she be living or dead. And, by the same token, do not forget to honor our Blessed Virgin Mother Mary with a prayer, and do not forget to thank her Son for giving her to us as our Mother.
Holy Mary Mother of God—pray for thy sons and daughters who have recourse to thee.
 Cf. Genesis i: 26-31.
 Cf. Genesis ii: 18-25.
 The Roman Ritual, trans. Philip T. Weller, S.T.D., 1964, Vol. I, pt. VII.
 Genesis iii: 15.
Thou hast commanded us, O Lord, to honor our father and mother. In Thy kindness, have mercy on the souls of my father and my mother, forgive them their sins, and grant that I may see them again in the joy of the eternal life. This we ask ...
Receive, O Lord, we beseech Thee, the sacrifice which I offer up to Thee on behalf of the souls of my father and mother; grant them everlasting joy in the land of the living, and in company with them let me share in the happiness of the saints.
We beseech Thee, O Lord, that this heavenly sacrament of which we have partaken, may win rest and light everlasting for the souls of my father and mother, and by means of it I may be crowned with them by Thy grace for evermore.