Thoughts About Mothers

Thoughts About Mothers

Today, we celebrate Mother’s Day. Such a special day, dedicated to all Mothers around the globe, brings to my mind and heart the powerful words which the Book of Prophet Isaiah presents to us regarding the Lord’s motherhood: Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have graven you on the palms of my hands (Isa 49:15-16).

Even canonized and non canonized saints spoke at length about the special gift of motherhood. In this reflection we are going to take a sip into their outstanding contributions.

First of all, mothers are the masterpiece of God’s heart. St Thérèse of Lisieux tells us: The loveliest masterpiece of the heart of God is the heart of a mother.

Secondly, mothers are those who carry within their womb their offspring with their utmost loving protection. Mothers help and form their children to Heaven. The great Cardinal József Mindszenty said: 

The Most Important Person on earth is a mother. She cannot claim the honour of having built Notre Dame Cathedral. She need not. She has built something more magnificent than any cathedral—a dwelling for an immortal soul, the tiny perfection of her baby’s body….The angels have not been blessed with such a grace. They cannot share in God’s creative miracle to bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can. Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature; God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation….What on God’s good earth is more glorious than this; to be a mother?

Cardinal Mindszenty, The Most Important Person on Earth

On the same lines Pope St John Paul II showed his immense appreciation for mothers when he wrote to them: 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. St Teresa Benedicta, also known as Edith Stein, echoes the same thought when he said: To be a mother is to nourish and protect true humanity and bring it to development.

Third, besides being God’s smiling protection, motherhood is also envisaged as priesthood inasmuch as a mother is God’s outstanding cooperator. In his fabulous and inspiring observation the Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen notes: Motherhood then becomes a kind of priesthood. 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. 

Fourth, motherhood is the vivid representation of that special love which has the power to bring so much joy into our world, the baby she gives birth to. St Teresa of Calcutta rightly points out: That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift that brings such joy to the whole world, women and men alike!

Fifth, from her very nature a mother is called to be close to God. Let us not forget that a mother is God’s sanctuary, tabernacle, altar, and sacrament of life. That is why it is highly important that a mother becomes one with God in all that she does, says and be. In other words, her entire existence would be a one long prayer. St Zélie Guérin Martin, mother of St Thérèse of Lisieux, says: Above all, during the months immediately preceding the birth of her child, the mother should keep close to God, of whom the infant she bears within her is the image, the handiwork, the gift and the child. She should be for her offspring, as it were, a temple, a sanctuary, an altar, a tabernacle. In short, her life should be, so to speak, the life of a living sacrament, a sacrament in act, burying herself in the bosom of that God who has so truly instituted it and hallowed it, so that there she may draw that energy, that enlightening, that natural and supernatural beauty which He wills, and wills precisely by her means, to impart to the child she bears and to be born of her.

Sixth, motherhood calls the woman to become all things (1 Cor 9:22) for her children. St Gianna Beretta Mollapresents to us the following observation: Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them. They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy, and strong. Mothers can do that not only physically but also, and primarily, spiritually. St Augustine, when speaking about how his mother, St Monica, did everything possible so that he can find Jesus in his life, confessed in his Confessions: And now thou didst ‘stretch forth thy hand from above’ and didst draw up my soul out of that profound darkness [of Manicheism] because my mother, thy faithful one, wept to thee on my behalf more than mothers are accustomed to weep for the bodily deaths of their children….And thou didst hear her, O Lord.

Seventh, every woman is a mother. Alice von Hildebrand reminds us of this reality when she tells us: A woman by her very nature is maternal – for every woman, whether married or unmarried, is called upon to be a biological, psychological, or spiritual mother — she knows intuitively that to give, to nurture, to care for others, to suffer with and for them — for maternity implies suffering — is infinitely more valuable in God’s sight than to conquer nations and fly to the moon. Furthermore, Pope Francis tends to explain more what Hildebrand already showed us when he said: A society without mothers would be a dehumanized society, for mothers are always, even in the worst moments, witnesses of tenderness, dedication and moral strength….Dearest mothers, thank you, thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world.

Finally, the unique gift of motherhood reminds of our Heavenly Mother Mary. She tells, through St Juan Diego, not to be afraid because she is always at our side. Do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?

If Mary is with us we can be assured that God is surely on our side. Let us pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe in the words of Pope Benedict XVI for all our mothers:

Holy Mary, who under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe are invoked as Mother by the men and women of Mexico and of Latin America, encouraged by the love that you inspire in us, we once again place our life in your motherly hands.

May you, who are present in these Vatican Gardens, hold sway in the hearts of all the mothers of the world and in our own heart. With great hope, we turn to you and trust in you.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for us and for our Mothers.

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Written by
Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap