Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Mothers of the Gospels

May 11, 2018

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Mother’s Day is an ideal time to reflect upon mothers in the gospels who are spiritual role models for the mothers of today. The two mothers who receive the most attention are Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, but there are a number of other mothers who are mentioned briefly that deserve consideration.

Peter’s mother-in-law. She was the mother of Peter’s wife, and when Jesus began his Galilean ministry, she lived with Peter and Andrew in their home in Capernaum. She became sick with a terrible fever. Jesus cured her, and she immediately waited on them (Mt 8:14-16; Mk 1:29-31; Lk 4:38-39). Her healing was for a purpose, so she could be of service to others. She imitated Jesus who came “not to be served, but to serve” (Mt 20:28). Christian mothers give generous and selfless service.

The mother of Zebedee’s sons. She was the mother of James and John. Her husband and sons were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. Her efforts to help her sons gain a firm foundation in their Jewish faith may have contributed to the fact that they were the third and fourth disciples called by Jesus. She paid Jesus homage (Mt 20:20) which indicated her faith in him. Then she asked if her sons could sit on the right and left of Jesus in his kingdom (Mt 20:21) which indicated her love and concern for her sons. She followed Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem in order to minister to him (Mt 27:55), and she served in partnership with Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph (Mt 27:56). She was at Golgotha and watched the death of Jesus on the Cross from a distance. Christian mothers have faith in Jesus, give him their utmost respect, want the best for their children, follow Jesus with love and devotion, associate with other Christian women, and go to great lengths to serve Jesus.

Mary, the mother of James and Joseph. She was the mother of the younger James, the son of Alphaeus (Mt 10:3; Lk 6:15; Acts 1:13), one of the twelve apostles, and Joseph who is also called Joses (Mk 15:40,47). She was one of the women who accompanied Jesus from Galilee to Jerusalem to serve him, and she watched the crucifixion from afar (Mt 27:55-56). She and Mary Magdalene watched where Jesus was laid (Mk 15:47). She is also “the other Mary” who kept vigil outside Jesus’ tomb (Mt 27:61). After the Sabbath she and Mary Magdalene (Mt 28:1), Salome (Mk 16:1), and Joanna (Lk 24:10), brought spices to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. She listened to the angel and ran back to the disciples to announce the Resurrection (Mt 28:5-8). The apostles fled out of fear, while Mary faithfully remained with Jesus out of her deep love for him. Christian mothers stay close to Jesus at all times and are steadfast in their love for him, and form partnerships with other good women and do good works together.

The widow of Nain. Her husband had died, and then her only son died (Lk 17:12). His body was being carried to its final resting place and she was weeping. Jesus had taught, “Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Mt 5:4), and Jesus comforted the grief-stricken mother by raising her son from the dead and by returning him to her (Lk 7:14-15). Christian mothers love their children every moment of their child’s life, and if a child should die, the mother grieves over the loss, persists in her love, and provides a respectful burial. Christian mothers also have great compassion on other mothers who have suffered a death in their family and make a conscious effort to offer consolation and assistance.

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Mothers who are Saints

May 11, 2018

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Mothers’ Day is a beautiful occasion to give tribute to mothers, each person’s own mother, for all of the love she has shared, and all mothers, for all they contribute to the wellbeing of the family and society. It is a day set aside to give special praise and thanks to those mothers who are alive and to honor the memory of those who have passed away. Spiritually, it is an opportunity to highlight mothers who are saints, because their good and holy lives can serve as an inspiration to the mothers of today.

Saints Perpetua and Felicity (180-203) are two great mothers of the Early Church. They lived in Carthage, a city in North Africa. Both were catechumens, baptized, and then arrested for their Christian faith. Perpetua gave birth to a son while under house arrest, and Felicity, her servant, gave birth to a daughter in prison. Aware of their impending deaths, they entrusted their children to other Christians so they would be raised in the faith. They were martyred on March 7, 203, both heroic witnesses to their children.

Sts. Constantine and Helena

St. Helena (255-330). She was the mother of Constantine, a Roman general who eventually became the Roman emperor. She converted to Christianity in 318 at the age of 63, and made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land c. 320. She discovered the True Cross, and with the authorization of her son, who by then was a catechumen, had the Temple to Venus over Calvary demolished, and shrines were built to honor Jesus’ death and Resurrection. Churches were also built on the Mount of Olives to honor the Ascension and in Bethlehem to honor the Nativity. As a mother, she had a strong spiritual influence on her son, both in the construction of churches and in his baptism which he accepted shortly before his death.

St. Bridget of Sweden (1303-1373). She was the mother of eight children, four boys and four girls. She dutifully raised her children as Christians, but she suffered bitter disappointments because her oldest daughter married a bad husband and her youngest son died in 1340. She served in the court of King Magnus II and Queen Blanche, and she tried to exert a positive spiritual influence upon them. She founded religious institutes for women and men, called for an end to the Avignon Papacy, and moved to Rome to minister to the sick and poor. She made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1371 and took three of her children with her, her sons Charles and Birger, and her daughter Catherine who was later named a saint. She had many visions and is famous for the way that she challenged sinners to reform their lives.

St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton (1774-1821). She was born in New York City, married at the age of 19, and was the mother of five children. Her husband William became sick with tuberculosis, the she moved the family to Pisa, Italy, for a warmer climate and to get help from his family, but he died six weeks later. Elizabeth was Episcopalian, and she stayed with William’s Catholic family in Italy and prayed with them every day in their family chapel. She decided to convert, and did so upon their return to New York. She attended daily Mass and prayed the Memorare, and she taught her children the importance of prayer. She was also a strong believer in the value of education, and she provided for the education of her own children. She opened a boarding school in New York, and later moved to Maryland with her family in 1808, established a school, and founded a community of religious sisters to teach and serve the poor, and later founded other schools and orphanages in Philadelphia and New York.

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Lesser Known but great mothers of the Old Testament

May 12, 2017

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Zipporah

Zipporah.  Zipporah was the wife of Moses and the mother of Gershom (Ex 2:21-22; 18:3) and Eliezer (Ex 18:4).  When Moses returned to Egypt, she accompanied him (Ex 4:20), but later Moses sent her back to her father Jethro with their two boys (Ex 18:2) where she raised them by herself.  Zipporah serves as an inspiration to single mothers whose husbands have left to pursue their careers.

Deborah.  Deborah was the wife of Lappidoth (Jgs 4:4) and “a mother in Israel” (Jgs 5:5).  It is not known whether she had one or more children, or how she served as a mother.  She was a prophetess, a holy woman who obeyed God and urged others to do likewise.  She was the fifth judge, and she led Israel’s army against Sisera and triumphed.  In addition to her duties as a mother, Deborah shows that mothers can be powerful forces for spiritual good outside the home.

Manoah’s wife.  Manoah’s wife was childless (Jgs 13:2), and an angel appeared and announced that she would have a miraculous birth (Jgs 13:3-7,9), and as foretold, she gave birth to her son Samson (Jgs 13:24).  She teaches mothers that every child is a miracle and a gift from God.

Naomi.  Naomi was the wife of Elimelech and the mother of Mahlon and Chilion (Ru1:2).  In a time of famine her family moved from Bethlehem to Moab.  She was totally committed to caring for her boys.  Her husband died in a foreign land, and after both her sons married, they also died (Ru 1:3-5).  Heartbroken, she is a touching example of a grieving mother who remained faithful to God, never despaired, returned home, and re-engaged in life with her daughter-in-law Ruth.

Ruth.  Ruth was the wife of Boaz (Ru 4:10,13) and the mother of Obed, who “was the father of Jesse, the father of David” (Ru 4:17).  Ruth is one of four mothers named in Jesus’ genealogy (Mt 1:5), along with Tamar, Rahab, and Mary.  Mothers have a key place in Salvation History.

Hannah.  Hannah was the wife of Elkanah (1 Sm 1:2).  She wept copiously because she was without child.  She pleaded with the Lord to give her a male child, and promised that if God would grant her request, she would dedicate him to God (1 Sm 1:11).  God gave her a son that she named Samuel (1 Sm 1:20), and true to her word, she dedicated him to God (1 Sm 1:28).  Hannah teaches that mothers should dedicate their children to God.

The widow of Zarephath.  She lived in Sidon with her son at a time of severe drought.  With only a handful of flour remaining, she told Elijah, “When we have eaten it, we shall die” (1 Kgs 17:12).  She was fiercely dedicated to her son.  They lived together, and if need be, they would die together.  She exemplifies the bond between mother and child and doing whatever is necessary for a child’s welfare.

Anna and Edna.  Anna was the wife of Tobit and the mother of Tobiah (Tb 1:9), and she lived in Nineveh; and Edna was the wife of Raguel and the mother of Sarah (Tb 7), and she lived in Ecbatana, Media.  Both mothers were good and faithful Jews who raised their children to be good and faithful Jews, even though they lived far from home in places not supportive of their faith.  They are shining examples of how mothers are to pass on the gift of faith to their children.

The mother of the Maccabees.  She had seven sons (2 Mc 7:1).  During a fierce persecution, Jews who refused to eat pork were tortured and put to death.  The mother had taught her sons to obey God’s laws always and everywhere.  One by one, they were martyred before her, and in the end, she was also put to death (2 Mc 7:41).  She taught her family to love God above all else, and she proved her faith by all she suffered and with her heroic deed.

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“Don’t let the bedbugs bite”

May 10, 2015

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mothersday

By Fr. Paul Jarvis

I think I know how moms – and dads – feel after they tuck in a kid at night:

Heavenly!

Lately, I’ve been trying to take as many opportunities to visit my mom in this the final leg of her journey.

I especially like the ritual of tucking my mom into bed at night.  A ritual I know she enjoyed when I was kid in Hartford City – a good-night ritual I drew out as long as humanly possible.

As lights were turned off.  As sheets and blanket were drawn up under my chin.  As my footy-pajama’ed feet and legs shook in pure joy:

Mom: “Good night”

Kid: “Sleep tight.”

Mom: “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

Kid: “Don’t accept any wooden nickels.”

Then after a kiss, she leaves … only to sneak back later to watch me sleep.  I know this because I watched her watch me through my barely opened eyelids.

Heavenly! This must be what Heaven is like.

Although my mom has Alzheimers, she still knows who her husband and kids are.  And so when we Jarvis kids visit our mom, we don’t really expect there to be much of a dialogue.  We mostly just sit, perhaps watch some TV, patiently answering the same question again and again, and let our mom softly scratch our arms – as she did when we were kids, nestled into her hug in our living room.

Then it’s bed time.  As I now lean over and tuck her in, she says “Ohhhhhh, how I love you, Popo.  I really, really do!”  I love you too, mom, I say.

Me:  “Good night.”

Mom:  “Sleep tight.”

Me: “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

Mom:  “Don’t accept any wooden nickels.”

Then – and this is the best part, something every parent has experienced and treasures – this childless bachelor sits nearby in the dark, beside his sleeping loved one.  Just watching over her.  Watching her breathe.  Watching her listen to the drone of the nearby WCCO radio.  Watching her enter dreamland.

I have no doubt that many of us during the recent May Crowning of Mary imagined the St. Joseph School eighth grade girls crowning not just Mother Mary.  Not just giving our celestial mother flowers.  But imagining our own moms being crowned and gifted with flowers.

This Mother’s Day, I urge you to be a mom (or dad) to your mom.  Of course, remember the flowers.  But make sure you re-enact the ritual you treasure from your childhood.  Perhaps reversing the roles, as I do now.  That ritual, that crowning will be worth more than a gazillion flowers.

Fr. Paul Jarvis, Pastor of St. Joseph Church in Rosemount

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Hannah and Ann: Two good and holy mothers for Mother’s Day

May 11, 2012

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St. Ann with Mary at St. John the Evangelist in Fort Pierre, SD

Hannah and Ann are two great and holy mothers of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  Hannah is the precursor to Ann.  The Hebrew name Hannah means “grace,” and the name “Ann,” another form of the name “Hannah,” also means “grace.”

Hannah lived in Old Testament times, in the Twelfth Century BC, and her story is told in the first two chapters of the First Book of Samuel, while Ann lived in New Testament times, over one thousand years later, during the late First Century BC and early First Century AD, and her story is told in the Protoevangelium of St. James, a book composed around 165 AD that is not in the Bible but a source for the Christian tradition.

Hannah was married, the faithful wife of Elkanah, and she reached old age without any children, and Ann was married, the faithful wife of Joachim, and she reached old age without any children.  Hannah spent many long hours in prayer, both at home and in the Temple at Shiloh, and Ann spent many long hours in prayer, both at home and in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Both begged God for a special favor, to be blessed with a child.  Hannah miraculously conceived and bore a son, Samuel; and Ann miraculously conceived and bore a daughter, Mary.

Both accepted their child as a gift from God, and in response they consecrated or dedicated their child to God:  Hannah presented her son Samuel to the priest Eli in the temple at Shiloh, and Ann presented her daughter Mary to the priest in the temple in Jerusalem.  It was their belief that God had a special purpose for each of their children, and they pledged to raise their children so they would be prepared to cooperate with God’s will.  Hannah’s son Samuel became the greatest of the Judges while Ann’s daughter Mary became the mother of Jesus the Savior.

Together, these two exceptional mothers offer great example and inspiration to the mothers of today.  Marriage precedes motherhood, so it is the first duty of a mother to be a loving and faithful wife.  All vocations come from God, so wives and mothers are called to be women of faith who pray regularly, both at home and in church.  Christian mothers realize that each of their children is a miracle and a gift from God, and in thanks they consecrate their children to God in the Sacrament of Baptism, and then raise their children to know, love, and serve God, so when the Lord calls their child to their chosen vocation, they will be ready to respond, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,” and then to say, “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

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Mother’s Day, Mary and the Bread of Life

May 10, 2012

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This Mother’s Day marks one year since my mother succumbed to cancer.  I miss her and think of her often. When I think of my mom, my mind usually turns to food or the family gatherings that were surrounded by food.  Once, while in high school,  some friends stopped over to my house. Before they could leave, my mother had emptied the entire refrigerator! She would not let them leave until they ate something! In the world of food pushers, my Mom was the Godfather or should I say the Godmother! I guess mothers and food are forever linked in most of our minds.  But the food we receive from our mothers is much more than food.  Our mothers are our first teachers and the nourishment that they give to us is counted in greater terms than calories.

When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone. Whether we know it or not, none of us is. We bring fathers and mothers and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten. Food is never just food. It’s also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be.
Molly Wizenberg, A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table, 2009

Yes we have a great gift from our mothers as they teach us who we are, who we have been and who we want to be.  May is also the month of Mary and on May 31st we will celebrate the great feast day of the Visitation.  In the same way our mothers taught us – OUR mother Mary teaches us through the food of life that she brought to the table – Jesus Christ. In times of prayer we turn to mother Mary to be taught the same lesson of who we are, who we have been and who we want to be and it is through Christ, the bread of life, that these things are revealed.

When looking through our church cook book I came across one of the most beautiful stories that illustrates this connection between our mothers, food and the bread of life.  The dedication in the cookbook includes a story from Father Kevin Finnegan.  It goes:

My mother, Evie, took delight in having a day off from work so she could dote on her children and bake bread! Several loaves would be gone within minutes of getting home from school. Several months after my mom died on May 22nd,1983, my family came to a deeper appreciation of mom, the bread baker.  My sister was looking in the freezer for something to cook for dinner when she came across a loaf of her bread. She brought it into the kitchen, and one by one she was joined by my father, my brother and me. We placed the bread on a cutting board and practically watched it defrost. Then we shared it among us, recalling with great affection the devotion which our mother loved and served her family.

“They recounted what had taken place on the way and how He was made known to them in the breaking of the Bread.”  Luke 24:35

My own mother was a kolacky maker, but I will include Evie’s batter bread recipe below.

What memories of food are forever connected to your mother?  Share them in the comments section below.

EVIE’S WHITE BATTER BREAD
1 c. milk                   2 pkgs. active dry yeast
3 T. sugar                1 c. warm water
1 T. salt                    4 1/2 c. unsifted flour
2 T. margarine

Scald milk. Stir in sugar, salt and margarine. Cool to lukewarm. Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Add milk to mixture. Stir in flour (batter will be fairly stiff). Beat about 2 minutes.  Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 45 min. It will more than double in size. Stir batter down, beat vigorously for a minute. Turn into a well greased 9x5x4 in. loaf pan.  Bake in preheated oven at 375* for 50 min.  (Reprinted with permission from Divine Mercy Family Cookbook)

Honor your mother this Mother’s Day with food and stories about family, whether your mother is with you in this world or with the heavenly bread of life.

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