Tag Archives: mothers

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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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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Publishers must think church saints are back in

July 28, 2011

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Saints are cool again. At least book publishers must figure they are.

Here’s a quick look at recent releases that target niche markets — teens and moms — people who might be searching for role models among the heavenly blessed — and one that could be for just about everyone.

Liguori Publications is aiming both at teenage readers and on-the-go mothers who might be looking for a spiritual boost — or at the least empathy.

In “Ablaze: Stories of Daring Teen Saints,” Colleen Swaim (http://www.liguori.org/productdetails.cfm?sku=820298) tells the real-life biographies of eight young people who lived relatively recently, all in an effort to help today’s young people understand that holiness is real and attainable.

Catholics will recognize names like Maria Goretti and Dominic Savio — well-known teens saints, but names new to me like St. Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception, an Indian nun, and St. Kizito, a  Ugandan martyred for his faith.

What makes the this 130-page paperback work is that Swaim knows her audience has short attention spans so she keeps the stories brief and interesting, but she also challenges teens to put themselves in the situations the saints found themselves, asking them to reflect upon questions like:

“Think back to the last time you were in physical pain. How did you react to it?”

And, “Do you remember making your first Holy Communion? How did you feel? How do you approach the Eucharist differently today?”

Even the brief text is broken up with definitions and info boxes scattered throughout along with prayers, quotes, and “Saintly Challenges” like, “With the zeal of a new convert, fearlessly tell one person about your faith.”

 

For Moms-on-the-go

In a similar vein but purse-size and just 79 pages is “Saints on Call: Everyday Devotions for Moms” (http://www.liguori.org/productdetails.cfm?PC=11903. Author Christine Gibson takes common, real-life situations — for example, “When you feel ‘sacrificed-out’ for your family…” — and offers a simple explanation how a saint dealt with a similar issue. Each brief story is followed by a quote from scripture to ponder and a prayer.

For the sacrificed-out mom, Gibson holds up St. Gianna Molla who chose to deliver her baby knowing it would cost her her own life. Gibson’s prayer hits home:

“St. Gianna, you made the ultimate sacrifice for your little one. I ask you to please pray for me that I may rejoice in the sacrifices I can make for my dear children.”

Among the more than four dozen other situations — each tied to a saint — are issues such as “When you feel like life is not going as you planned it…” (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne); “When you can’t stand another house guest…” (St. Lydia Pupuraria); “When you are worried about your wayward child…” (St. Monica).

Every single one is a winner.

 

For scholars, art lovers and, well, everyone

Finally, there’s this book that will appeal to a number of niche groups — and perhaps a general audience, too —  with stories about saints from Agatha to Zachariah.

“The Lives of the Saints through 100 Masterpieces” (http://www.dupress.duq.edu/pubDetails.asp?theISBN=9780820704364) is a Duquesne University Press paperback is going to be loved by those who cherish Christian art, but those interested in saints’ stories, myths, legends and history will find it compelling reading and viewing.

Written by Jacques Duquesne and Francois Lebrette and translated from the French by M. Cristina Borges, this 221-pager is a collection of saints’ biographies — and tales, to be honest — each accompanied by classic paintings that hang is places both well-known — The Louvre, The Prado — and obscure (to me at least), and almost all in Europe.

Even if you think you know the stories of saints you’ll find new information here. I especially appreciated the transparency of the authors who frankly acknowledge when something about one of the saintly heroes may have been passed down as mere legend.

Readers will appreciated learning why a saint is pictured in a certain way — St. Denis carrying his own head! – or typically painted with a certain object — a sword, a palm leaf, a stag, which would be St. Hubert, patron saint of hunters.

There are saints, too, that you may never have heard of — St. Fiacre, for example — that show the European bent of the authors. But those tales are interesting, too, and the paintings that help tell the story are indeed masterpieces. Warning: The retail cost is a bit steep at $29.95, but it isn’t cheap to print all those color paintings, and the print job is superb, even in the smaller format.– bz

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Wisconsin mom finds God everywhere — and so will you

June 19, 2009

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“When’s God Gonna Show Up?”
by Marge Fenelon
Wisconsin mom finds God everywhere -- and so will youMarge Fenelon will tell you she doesn’t know when God is going to pop into every-day life, but she has a knack for finding the divine in just about every aspect of human existence.
Fenelon’s brief, two- and three-page stories come from the things that happen in her home, in the ophthalmologist’s office, as the van starts making a funny noise, you-name-it. They’re often funny, mostly poignant slices of the life of a 21st-century wife and mom, and they’re not unlike the incidents in your home and mine.
What Fenelon does, though, is find God lurking in the corner, creeping into mind, finding a way to influence her thinking and her actions in all those every-day moments.
Great conversation starter
Fenelon suggests you don’t read this book from cover to cover but one scoop at a time — a story a week. There is a lesson in each chapter/story, and each is worth savoring, processing, reflecting on. And those book follows the church year chronologically, with a special back section on feast days.
Each story ends with two elements to help readers get to that reflective end: They are questions — “What does Scripture say?” and “What does my heart say?” — that teach (the Scripture piece) and force readers to internalize the lesson.
I can see how a formal faith-sharing group could use a chapter as an easy way to get a discussion started, especially a moms’ group.
But I also can see spouses sharing this book — “Honey, you’ve got to read this and tell me what you think!” — and finding their communication blossoming.
Fenelon writes a regular column for the Catholic Herald, the Milwaukee archdiocesan newspaper, and thanks go to Liguori for getting this 163-page paperback into circulation.
The best thing about “When’s God Gonna Show Up?” is that reading Marge Fenelon’s wonderful book, you’re going to start finding God in your life, too. — bz
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