Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Welcome to Week 18 of Disciples Together on the Way. We are now more than a third of the way through our 12-month pilgrimage together as week-by-week we practice the habits of authentic Christian discipleship. This week we continue with the theme of thanksgiving. In fact, this week we have a special challenge focused on giving thanks for our moms as we prepare to celebrate Mother’s Day next Sunday on May the 8th.
The great 20th century evangelist, the Venerable Fulton Sheen, once compared motherhood to priesthood. Of mothers, he wrote: “She brings God to man by preparing the flesh in which the soul will be implanted; she brings man to God in offering the child back again to the Creator…. She is nature’s constant challenge to death, the bearer of cosmic plentitude, the herald of eternal realities, God’s great cooperator.”
Though “Mother’s Day” in the United States did not become an official holiday until President Woodrow Wilson established it in 1914, civilizations around the world have honored and esteemed mothers from time immemorial. And rightly so! In sacred scriptures we see many examples of the importance of mothers. For example, in the first Book of Kings, chapter 2, verse 20 we hear King Solomon say to his mother, Bathsheba, "Make your request, Mother, for I will not refuse you". Of course, just as we see Eve in the Book of Genesis called the “mother of all the living,” we can fast forward to our Blessed Mother Mary, who is the “new Eve.” How amazing is it that God Himself ordained that a mother would play such an important role in our salvation?
Just as Mary plays such an important part in the gift of eternal life offered to each of us through her Son, Jesus, our own mothers too have literally given us the gift of life. My mother is currently suffering from dementia at the age of 92. For a while this was causing me sadness, but over the past months every moment of sadness is now countered with a word of thanks to God for something specific about mom.
So, this brings me to this week’s challenge. I am inviting each of us to write a letter to our mom, living or deceased, and then to say a Hail Mary for our mom every day this week. Got that: Write a letter to our mom and pray a Hail Mary for her every day this week.
For some of us this may be easier than for others. I understand that there are some who may have a challenging relationship with their mothers, or whose mothers may have died. But since this week’s challenge fits within our theme of “thanksgiving,” at the very least we can acknowledge our gratitude for the gift of life itself and offer prayers to our heavenly mother for the needs of our earthly mother.
I’ll leave you with this beautiful quotation on motherhood from Pope St. John Paul II. In his Letter to Women from 1995 he wrote: “Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.”
May God bless you and your mother in the week ahead. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Yours in Christ,
+ Earl Boyea
Bishop of Lansing