We thank God for our mothers Print
Seeing with Jesus' Eyes
Thursday, May. 03, 2012 -- 12:00 AM

Seeing with Jesus' Eyes, by Fr. Don Lange

Some mothers claim that they would do anything for their children. Stephanie Decker, a 37-year-old Indiana mother, demonstrated this in a heroic way.

On March 2, as a tornado crushed her family home, Stephanie covered her children with her body to protect them. Debris from the tornado caused her to lose part of both legs while saving her children from the deadly 175 mph tornado.

Enduring maternal bond

Someone wrote that a mother carries her child in her womb for nine months and in her heart for the rest of her life. Conceiving, carrying, and giving birth to a human being is as close as any person can come to the act of creation. After birth, motherhood continues through nurturing, sacrificing, loving, and ultimately letting go.

It seems that nothing can break the special bond between mother and child. For example, our penny-wise mother rarely called us, her adult children, long-distance. However, if she learned that we were sick, she called three or four times a day until she was sure that we were okay.

Beginnings of Mother’s Day

We honor our mothers on Mother’s Day. Its American roots began with Julia Ward Howe, who wrote the “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” In 1870 she wrote a “Mother’s Day Proclamation” to protest the bloodshed of the Civil War. In 1872 she led a “Mother’s Day for Peace” observance.

Ann Marie Reeves Jarvis (1832-1905), who also supported recognition of mothers, influenced Howe’s efforts. She also influenced her daughter, Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), who became known as the “mother of Mother’s Day.”

Anna Jarvis was never a mother. But she was so proud of her mother that she worked to establish formal recognition of a day when she and others could honor their mother and all mothers.

On May 10, 1908, Anna Jarvis organized the first official Mother’s Day celebration. It occurred at St. Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, W. Va. Since carnations were her mother’s favorite flower, Anna Jarvis supplied carnations for the first Mother’s Day. Gradually, it became customary to wear white carnations on Mother’s Day to honor deceased mothers and red carnations to honor living mothers.

On May 9, 1914, after approval by Congress, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. This year we celebrate it on May 13.

Role in the domestic Church

In no. 2204 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church it says that the family is a domestic Church.

In our domestic Church, Dad and Mom taught us by word and example. My mother led the Rosary during October and Lent. She covered the walls of our home with holy pictures. When our pastor visited us, he kept studying the pictures. This pleased Mom.

Peace was a major reason for early attempts to establish Mother’s Day. Peace begins in the family. A mother demonstrated this when she told her children that the best Christmas present her children could give her was to stop fighting and give her peace.

Scripture reveals God as Father. But according to no. 239 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, God’s parental goodness can also be expressed by the image of motherhood.

Mary inspires our mother to pray for and support us when we carry heavy crosses. She dries our tears and calms our fears. She affirms, guides, and shares her faith and values.

A Girl Scout group arrived at summer camp. On her first inspection, the Scout mistress found an umbrella neatly rolled within the bedroll of a small Scout. Umbrellas were not listed as necessary items to be brought to camp. Consequently the Scout mistress asked the little girl to explain.

“Ma’am,” answered the girl, “Did you ever have a mother?

Blessed with two mothers

We Catholics have at least two mothers. We have our regular mother. And Mary is our spiritual mother.

On Mother’s Day we honor Mary who gave Jesus a human nature. We honor her during May by praying the Rosary, by May crownings, and other devotions. Jesus made Mary the mother of the Church under the cross. She is the first and greatest disciple.

We honor our mother every day. But Mother’s Day gives us opportunities to honor her in special ways. We can write, call, invite her to dinner, or show our appreciation in other ways.

If our mother has died, we can pray for her or visit her grave. If she is in heaven, we can ask her to hold us in prayer during our personal storms. We can make her proud by trying to be a more Christ-like son or daughter.

Mother’s Day helps to bring families together and make us better children. It is a graced time to receive Communion as a family. If we cannot, we can offer our Communion at Mass for our mother. Wherever she is in time or eternity, let us wish her a happy Mother’s Day.


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