Every year on Mother’s Day weekend I offer the special invocation from our Book of Blessings for Mothers. The three petitions include for our Mothers alive, for those who have buried a child, and for those who have died and gone before us. In this time of COVID-19, these petitions take on an additional layer of meaning and sadness.
There’s a reason for the metaphor of “Mama Bear.” Who else so ferociously protects little ones? I think of a family I once knew whose daughter had a rare disorder that her country’s medical system couldn’t treat. She risked everything to bring her daughter and herself (yes, as “undocumented”) to this country. I always ask people who challenge our border security: “What would you be willing to risk for your child’s health and well-being?” Especially for Mothers, we know the answer to that one. Not only would she risk everything, she would risk when most others would not.
Why wear masks? As one frontline responder-Mom put it, “I’m not so worried about getting the corona virus myself, but I couldn’t live with the idea of bringing it home to my kids.” Sadly, the family of a dear friend recently went through this horror, as Dad (a first-responder) brought the virus home, and their 21-year-old son died from the contagion.
This past Tuesday would have been my Mom’s 95th birthday. Instead, it was the 15th anniversary of her death. I was there at her hospital bed; I presided and preached at the funeral Mass, did the graveside, hosted the lunch. The sense of emptiness was so real—as my siblings and I realized, we were now the “adult generation” of the family. This is a terrifying thought! I know many of you know this.
I am convinced this is why devotion to Mary is so powerful and so much embraced, especially by Catholics, but also by the Eastern Orthodox (even more so than us!), and many Protestant denominations, and by the Muslims (did you know Mary is celebrated in the Quran?). We need the knowledge of love from the feminine as well as from the masculine: we need the comforting prayers of the Mother of God as well as the salvation and mercy granted by her Son.
This Mother’s Day weekend, let’s really remember the strength of the “Mama Bears” in our lives, the tenderness of our Mothers cradling us and rocking us in the first days of our lives, and the prayerful intercession of the Blessed Mother. For an “out of season” exercise in all this, let me recommend to you re-reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” by Barbara Robinson. It’ll give us the best description I can imagine of every aspect of what makes a woman a Mom.