There is a special day to honor mothers in almost every major tradition, culture, and nation. Why? We all know instinctively the wonder, miracle, and gift of moms. They are our first home as they carry us in their wombs; they gave us life, birthed us; they taught and nurtured us; maybe they offered wisdom and example; they loved us. We all have or had one. There is nobody like a mother. They change us and mold us for the better. Motherhood is a unique gift from the Lord.
This is the second Mother’s Day I have faced without my mom on earth; she died early last year. In about the last decade of her life she struggled with memory issues. My siblings and I had the opportunity to be with her in a new way as she moved into our homes for brief stretches. I cannot tell you how much I learned from my mom in these last ten years. Her life was so different from what she knew when she was younger as that little girl who attended All Saints parish. She was amazing in the transition. She was joyful, grateful, funny, and very loving. I have shared with my siblings, that I am so, so thankful for these last several years since I came to know her in an entirely different way. Grief and love are companions. I often tell others in my ministry that the depth of grief is a sign of the depth of love. Today, I am speaking those words to myself.
You may already know that I appreciate art. It speaks to me and I pray with it. I have a beautiful statue of the Blessed Mother from 1921 that I purposefully put halfway up on the landing of the stairs in the rectory. I must pass it every time I go up to my room and it reminds me that Mary is my mother. In that short journey, I almost always have a conversation with Our Lady. Jesus had Mary as his mother, and on the cross he entrusted her to us. His mom was there at the Incarnation when she gave her Fiat (Latin, let it be done). Her yes to the Angel Gabriel provided a way to “life” for each one of us. Mary was there as the first evangelizer and disciple, as she gave the first Christian testimony to her cousin Elizabeth and won the first convert in-utero in the person of John the Baptist. Mary was there at the birth, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. She was there on the great day of Pentecost, the birthday of the Church, which we will soon celebrate. I know Mary was joyful, grateful, funny, and very loving, like my biological mom. Is it any wonder that the early Christians painted her image in the catacombs during their moments of fear, persecution, and doubt? They found great inspiration from this woman of great faith. They saw in her yes and its repercussions that ordinary people can change human history. They were inspired to add their own yes, their own fiat to hers.
Was my mom perfect? No. Your mom? Probably not perfect either. That does not matter. Whether your mom is still with you or not, you have a chance today to celebrate Mother’s Day in a special way. I recently learned that in areas of Europe, folks celebrate Moms on the Fourth Sunday of Lent. People not only honor their mothers but return to visit their Mother Church that day. It is called Mothering Sunday – indicating the truth that mothering is active and continuing. The Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament is the Mother Church of the Archdiocese of Detroit. We are becoming a pilgrimage site for saints’ relics and we are working to have a piece of art created to honor Mary, Mother of all Saints.
I invite you to celebrate “Mothering Day.” Celebrate your mom. My mom attended All Saints Parish, and I am going to celebrate how she helped me offer my own fiat. But also, I’m going to celebrate Our Lady as my mom, as my example, as the Mother of All Saints. As I stated above, mothering is active and ongoing and can change us. What is the fiat, the yes you are going to offer today? Happy Mother’s Day – Happy Mother-ing day!