Today is Mother’s Day. Today is one of the most beautiful days of the year.
Motherhood is a remarkably high calling. What relationship can ever replace the love of a mother and a grandmother? It is essential for women to realize that the love, guidance and influence they provide to their children are distinct and invaluable.
Pope Francis writes:
“Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism. It is they who testify to the beauty of life.
Certainly, a society without mothers would be dehumanized, for mothers are always, even in the worst of times, witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength. Mothers often communicate the deepest meaning of religious practice in the first prayers and acts of devotion that their children learn… Without mothers, not only would there be no new faithful, but the faith itself would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth.
Dear mothers: thank you! Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world. A mother who watches over her child with tenderness and compassion helps him or her to grow in confidence and to experience that the world is a good and welcoming place. This helps the child to grow in self-esteem and, in turn, to develop a capacity for intimacy and empathy” (Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, 174 – 175).
There is no doubt that motherhood is a remarkably high calling. But to whom can mothers look as the real model of motherhood?
All mothers who wish to be true to their high calling need only look to the woman who became the greatest mother of all. Born into humble surroundings, she was called by God to be the mother of the Son of God. She affirmed her obedience to the call of God and lived out her vocation throughout her entire life. Mary, the mother of Jesus, our Blessed Mother, is the true model of motherhood.
“It can thus be said that women, by looking to Mary, find in her the secret of living their femininity with dignity and of achieving their own true advancement. In the light of Mary, the Church sees in the face of women the reflection of a beauty which mirrors the loftiest sentiments of which the human heart is capable: the self-offering totality of love; the strength that is capable of bearing the greatest sorrows; limitless fidelity and tireless devotion to work; the ability to combine penetrating intuition with words of support and encouragement” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater).
One aspect of Mary’s life that has particular meaning and inspiration for many mothers today is the profound suffering that she endured during the passion of Our Lord: Stabat Mater. Mary stood at the foot of the cross.
Divorce, separation, single moms, widows, mothers forced to work out of necessity, grandmothers raising grandchildren, prodigal children and prodigal grandchildren, are realities that cause deep, daily suffering for many women. Added to all of these sufferings, is the pain endured by many married women who would like to be mothers.
All mothers and grandmothers need to find in Mary, our Blessed Mother, the faith, hope, love and fortitude to stand firm at the foot of the cross. All suffering has power when we unite our suffering to the cross of Jesus. Take your suffering, united to the suffering of Jesus, and offer that suffering for your children and grandchildren.
As we honor our mothers and grandmothers on this yearly celebration of motherhood, we also need to consider the essential duties of husbands and children.
Saint Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 6: 25). Husbands have the solemn duty to sacrifice themselves continually in their total love for their wives and their children. Each day provides numerous opportunities for husbands to live out their family life with many acts of patience, kindness, and service.
Through loving obedience and the living out of the virtue of charity, children become a joy and not a burden to their mothers and grandmothers, and the children in turn learn to emulate these same virtues. Conversely, children who are self-centered will be unable to love the way that they should.
To be a true mother today is certainly particularly challenging indeed. However, our yearly celebration of Mother’s Day should motivate all mothers to understand the importance of their call by God to motherhood.