Mothers are God's gifts of love to us Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, May. 06, 2010 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes by Fr. Donald Lange

The scheduled Mass server became sick. I quickly recruited a partially trained petite little girl from the pews. As I fumbled around, trying to figure out the microphone and other mysteries, I asked her to light the candles.

She didn't respond. This seemed strange because she was a very obedient person. I thought that she probably didn't hear me. So I asked her again. She replied innocently, "Father, I can't. My mom won't let me light matches.''

Her response made me chuckle and motivated me to light the candles myself. The girl's mother was protecting her daughter whom she loved. That was part of her job description of mother.

Honoring all mothers

We honor our mothers in a special way on Mother's Day on May 9. Anna M. Jarvis (1864-1948) is often credited with being most responsible for establishing the national observance of Mother's Day. She wanted a day on which she and others could honor their mother and all mothers.

Kate Douglas Wiggin wrote, "Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, comrades and friends, but only one mother in the whole world."

Some mothers whom I consulted for this article told me that prayer, patience, love, listening, and forgiveness are virtues needed to be a good mother. A healthy sense of humor also helps mothers and fathers to relieve some of the stresses of raising children.

The Church encourages mothers to pray for the grace of being a good mother. In an essay originally published in Canticle, columnist Kate Wicker wrote, "God doesn't expect me to never fail. But he does expect me to never fail to try (to be a good mother). So try I must. I cannot expect to have limitless patience or feel profound peace simply by glancing at a crucifix. I can and must make time for prayer."

Mothers value prayer

Every night my mother knelt and said her prayers so fervently that it seemed as if she were alone in her inner room of prayer with Jesus and Mary. She was. She taught us, her children, to pray by word and example. Like a hen gathers her chicks, she gathered us for the family Rosary. She encouraged us to pray to discover our Catholic vocation. I believe that the prayers of her and others helped me to persevere in my priestly vocation.

In How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, Dale Carnegie wrote that when he was a boy, life was so difficult that his father considered suicide. The prayers and faith of Dale Carnegie's mother helped to save his dad's life.

Fr. Charles Miller suggested that mothers come closest to giving us their body and blood. She loaned us her body as our first home for nine or fewer months. She nourished us with her milk and bonded with us.

What mothers come closest to doing but cannot do, Christ does. He feeds us with his body and blood. This is why family Communion on Mother's Day is important. Participating in Mass as a family offers graced opportunities for catechesis of children and parents.

Mary, our spiritual mother

On Mother's Day we also honor Mary, our spiritual mother, who gave Jesus a human nature. A mother wrote that when she held her baby for the first time, she experienced what Mary must have felt on that first Christmas Eve when she held the Christ child in her arms. When Jesus carried his cross, Mary was there to support him. When he died, she held Jesus' body in her arms.

Like Mary, our mothers pray and support us when we experience heavy crosses. My penny-wise mother only occasionally called us children long distance when we became adults, unless something happened. However, if she learned that one of us was sick, she called three or four times a day until she was sure we were okay. Once a mother, always a mother.

We associate carnations with Mother's Day. One Christian tradition says that carnations sprang up when Mary shed tears as Jesus hung on the cross. Red or pink carnations symbolize the love we have toward our living mother. White carnations represent the sadness we feel because our mother has died or is absent.

Our mother is God's loving gift of grace. Her love helps us to make our hearts her home. If she is alive, on Mother's Day perhaps we can visit her, give her a carnation, or take her and our dad (if living) to dinner. If she has died, we can pray for her or visit her grave.

We are called to honor her as Christ honored his mother, for along with the Blessed Mother, she is the only mother we will ever have. Wherever you are, Mom, "Happy Mother's Day."

Fr. Don Lange is a pastor emeritus of the Diocese of Madison.