Every once in a while it is a good idea to review some of the basic truths that we learned from our Catechisms as children. One of those basic truths, that seems to apply to so much in our spiritual lives, is expressed in the Catechism questions: "Why did God make us?" and "What must I do to gain the happiness of heaven?" (which is really the same as saying, "What must I do to fulfill the purpose for which God has made me?") You will recall the answers: "God made me to show forth His goodness in this world and to be happy with Him in the next world." And "In order to gain the happiness of heaven, I must know, love and serve God in this life." These are, as I say, basic truths, because without knowing "why we are here," and "what we are here for" it is quite possible, and even likely, that many of our earthly pursuits will be directed in the wrong direction. (Indeed, this is the great error of the Modern world, that it views man and the works of mankind as ends in themselves, without reference to God.)
I mention these things today because they are very closely connected to the idea of Motherhood; because today is Mother's Day, and because May is the month of Mary the Mother of God.
Motherhood is a key part in God's plans, for without mothers there would be no one "to show forth His goodness in this world ... to be happy with Him in the next ... to know, love and serve God in this life." God created man in His own image and likeness, "male and female He created them," in the 27th verse of Genesis. And immediately in the 28th verse, "He blessed them and said to them 'be fruitful and multiply.'"
Thus what we refer to as the "procreation and education of children" is the primary purpose of marriage -- indeed, if we might say that it is the primary end of all creation; the means for fulfilling God's plans. It is the first purpose mentioned by the sacred writer of Genesis; before any mention of Adam being alone; before any idea of man needing "a helpmate to earn his daily bread in the sweat of his brow."
In bringing forth children, men and women are cooperating with God; bringing forth an immortal soul to "show forth His glory"; a soul capable of being raised to a level near that of the angels by Baptism; a soul capable of "knowing, loving, and serving Him in this world"; a soul capable of adoring God forever in eternity.
"A woman about to give birth has sorrow, because her hour has come. But when she has brought forth the child, she no longer remembers her anguish for her joy that a man is born into this world"
"Procreation and education," were the words I used. Because, as important as the time in the womb may be, a Mother's contribution to the work of God does not end with the birth of her child. The primary educator, and former of character, and teacher of piety, and instructor in every other manner of basic development is normally a child's Mother. And, of course, it would be terribly wrong to forget about the cooking and the cleaning and the mending and the nursing and the doctoring, and all of those sorts of things.
We have only one birth-mother, but obviously there might be some other people who helped with these things, and whom we should remember today.
And, it is quite appropriate that Mother's Day always falls during Mary's Month; both because she is a faithful and true model for all mothers to emulate; and because more than any other woman she is the one who has cooperated most fully with God's plans for the world. Spouse of God the Holy Ghost, she brought God the Son into the world; and she raised Him and clothed Him, and taught Him, and did all of the things that mother do for their children. But then she did something more; she gave up her Divine Son to be offered in sacrifice on the Cross; she made it possible for us to "show forth His glory"; to be raised to a level near that of the angels in Baptism; for us to be capable of "knowing, loving, and serving Him in this world"; capable of adoring God forever in eternity. In fact, in doing these things, she became our Mother as well as His. Even if He had never given us over to her custody; even if He never said, "son, behold Thy Mother," as He hung on the Cross, she would still be our Mother -- by virtue of all these things that her Divine Motherhood makes possible for us in God's plan.
So, today on this special Sunday in May, our prayers and our affections ought to involve our mothers on earth as well as our Mother in heaven. If you are fortunate enough to have your mother still living, be sure to spend some time with her; at least call her on the phone. Whether she be living or dead, keep her in your prayers; develop the habit of keeping her in your prayers all throughout the year. And likewise, develop the habit of taking your prayers to Mary the Mother of God, and our Mother -- who never tires of raising her adopted sons and daughters of God.
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.