Today, in the beginning part of the month of May which we as Catholics dedicate in a special way to our Blessed Mother Mary, I would like to extend my thanks, prayers, and blessings to all the women of our parish. Please note I didn’t say in that last sentence, “…to all the moms of the parish,” but, “…to all the women of the parish.” That was intentional. As St. Pope John Paul II beautifully taught, every woman has a fundamentally maternal vocation and identity. At every moment of their lives, women are called to this maternal vocation in some form, and the way this maternal vocation is lived out varies greatly depending upon their state in life and even where they are within that state in life.
To all the mothers of our parish, I pray for you as you live out your motherhood in the course of family life, and I thank you for the beautiful witness you bring to us and to the whole world. While both fathers and mothers make great sacrifices in the course of their vocations and their responsibilities in family life, there is something inherently sacrificial about the vocation of motherhood that has no parallel. From the first moment of conception, even before she knows she is carrying a new life within her, a mother’s body is already sacrificing for the sake of the child within. This sacrifice, lived initially as a purely physical phenomenon over the course of those first nine months of life, is then lived out in so many other ways over the course of the many years and decades to follow. Is there any vocation in the world so filled with joy while so linked to the Cross as being a mother? So whether you are a “new mom” celebrating Mother’s Day for the first time, an “empty nester” whose children are long grown and out of the house, or anything in between, I wish you a very happy and blessed Mother’s Day.
But today is not only about the “moms.” I also pray today for women who are unmarried or who are widowed, and share their maternal gifts with the rest of us in the Church through their compassion, service, and prayer on our behalf. For those who are single and yet feel called to the vocation of marriage and motherhood, I pray that the Lord might shower you with the gift of His peace as you await the further unveiling of His calling in your life.
And of course on this Mother’s Day I can’t forgot the nuns and sisters of our Church, who live a unique vocation to consecrated spiritual motherhood that greatly enriches all of us in the Church. You who most perfectly represent the Church as the Bride of Christ, witness to the joy that comes from drawing close to Jesus as the greatest Love the world has ever known.
Finally, I extend perhaps my most powerful promise of prayers to those who find today to be an especially difficult, trying, perhaps even heartbreaking day. I pray for those moms who have lost their babies from miscarriage, abortion, stillbirth, or early infant loss. I pray for those married women longing to be mothers but who have not yet been given the gift of a pregnancy. I pray for those who have recently lost their mother and are grieving that loss. I pray for those who grew up in difficult family situations who never got to know their own mother, or whose memories of their mothers is anything but positive. For those whose hearts are heavy this day for whatever reason, be assured we are aware of your heartache and are praying for you.