Tag Archives: Mother’s Day

Lesser Known but great mothers of the Old Testament

May 12, 2017



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.

Continue reading...

“Don’t let the bedbugs bite”

May 10, 2015



By Fr. Paul Jarvis

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


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

Continue reading...

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

May 11, 2012


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.”

Continue reading...

Mother’s Day, Mary and the Bread of Life

May 10, 2012


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.

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.

Continue reading...