Ordinary of the Mass
Latin Mass Text-3rd Sunday
English Mass Text-3rd Sunday
May is, of course, the month of the
Blessed Virgin Mary, the great Mother of God. And it is not particularly
surprising that one Sunday out of Mary’s month is chosen to honor all those
who share in motherhood. A long time ago it occurred to me that Mothers’
Day ought always to include everyone who can possibly be placed into that
category—from Eve the mother of the human race, to Mary the Mother of the
Redeemer of the human race, and all those who fit somewhere in between.
Certainly, we honor those mothers who gave us life. But we must recognize
that a great number of women (and even a few men) fill in for Mom in
situations where she cannot or will not carry out her responsibilities—they
deserve to be honored as well.
If your Latin is good, you will
recognize that the second collects today are for all of our deceased mothers
and fathers—and that will include anyone else who took a parental role in
our lives. Sisters, aunts, teachers, and neighbors; even uncles and
Nearly a hundred and twenty-five
years ago, the saintly Pope Leo XIII wrote a brief in which he extolled the
virtues of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, and called on all
Christian families to model themselves after the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Pope Leo wrote about Jesus and Joseph, and the ways in which they were to be
imitated, and you will hear more of what he had to say next January, on the
feast of the Holy Family. Today, let us concentrate on what he said that
applies to mothers:
In the most holy Virgin Mother of God, mothers may find an excellent
example of love, modesty, resignation of spirit, and the perfecting
Those who are of noble birth may learn, from this Family of royal
blood, how to live simply in times of prosperity, and how to retain
their dignity in times of distress….
The rich may learn that moral worth is to be more highly esteemed
[Those who] are bitterly grieved by the narrow and slender means of
their families, if they would but consider the sublime holiness of
the members of this domestic fellowship, cannot fail to find some
cause for rejoicing in their lot, rather than for being merely
dissatisfied with it.
Pope Leo addresses the high born as
well as those of low estate, the rich as well as the poor, for all can learn
from Jesus, Mary and Joseph; all can benefit by emulating them. But Pope
Leo singles out the virtues of Mary for emulation by Christian mothers:
“love, modesty, resignation of spirit, and the perfecting of faith.”
It is hard to believe that any other
merely human being had greater “Love” for almighty God than the
Blessed Virgin Mary, and certainly, God loved her in return in more than
equal measure. Such love is active, dynamic, and we might even say
“contagious.” Surely Mary communicated this love to Saint Joseph, and quite
likely to their neighbors. Mothers can likewise communicate the Love of God
to their husbands and children.
“Love” is the “glue” that
holds the family together. Jesus, of course, was easy to love, but Joseph,
like all husbands may have had concerns that interfered with expressing his
love for Mary as often as she might have liked. He had to worry about
bringing home their living, paying the tax collector, keeping their home in
good repair, keeping their animals in good health, and insuring that Jesus
and Mary were protected from the Romans. Like all men, Joseph must have
appreciated the chaste love of Mary and her affections; particularly when
the cares of the world seemed to close in more tightly than normal.
Husbands and children look to mothers for love.
And, let us not forget “Love”
for the poor and for those in difficulties. “They have no wine,” may be one
of the most important lines in Scripture.
It both illustrates the care of the Blessed Virgin for all those in
difficulty, and reminds all Christian mothers of their obligation to
“Modesty” came naturally for
the most chaste Mother of God. This is a twofold virtue. It is
inconceivable that Mary took Joseph’s credit card and splurged on fine
clothing. She did not come home and tell Joseph how much she had saved him
at the Nazareth boutique!
“Modesty” also means that
Mary did not make an exhibition of herself. She was a woman of few words,
not out to impress others, and certainly not out to incite the base
instincts of the few men she encountered outside of the holy house. Modesty
is a motherly essential for the Christian family.
“Resignation of spirit” calls
for an acceptance of the circumstances God sends us in life. No doubt Mary,
like all people, had expectations about what life would bring. We all know
that there will be disappointments, but we all hope for some measure of joy
as well. Hopefully, none of us will ever have to have the “resignation of
spirit” necessary to accept the unjust crucifixion of an only son, as Mary
did. But resignation is a virtue we must all practice—particularly mothers
who are in a position to communicate the equanimity of such resignation to
their husband and children.
The “perfecting of faith,” is
truly essential to the Christian home and family. Together with love, faith
is the virtue of our salvation. Mary had the advantage of perfecting her
faith by daily seeing the fulfillment of Scripture in the life of her Divine
Son. God’s word was made manifest in Jesus the Word of God. The Catholic
mother can see some of this in her own children, for they are part of God’s
plan to “Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it….”
And the wise Catholic mother will regularly read the Scriptures Mary read,
and those that tell of she and her Son. The Christian mother can be a grace
to her husband and family by sharing her “perfecting of faith” and
perfecting it in them.
So today, we honor all the mothers
and all who served as mothers, along that great continuum from Eve to Mary.
If you Mom is alive, feel privileged to go and see her if she is al all
nearby. Call her on the phone if she is not, even if you must call
“collect.” (She is Mom, and she understands such things!) But, if your Mom
is no longer amongst the living, be sure to pray for her—not just today, but
always. (She is Mom, and it is your duty!)
And to all you here today who are
mothers (in any sense of that term), please accept my heartfelt
congratulations and my sincere thanks. For yours is a vocation very much
like that of the very Mother of God Herself!