As I write this, I’m on my way home to Pennsylvania for Mother’s Day weekend to visit my parents. In my family we’ve never made a big deal of either Mother’s Day or Father’s Day – too secular and commercial, my Mother always said. Realistically however, their children know that they would love a little something, even just a greeting card, to let them know that we are grateful for the gift of life they gave us.
The other day a friend on social media observed that he was unaware of which holiday he was supposed to be celebrating on that particular day of the week. Secularism has provided us with a wealth of these invented occasions to make up for the emptiness that materialism and the objectification of others has brought to our culture. If you do an online search for holidays, you will find not only the familiar ones, both historic and religious, but ones you have probably never heard of. The “Great American Grump Out” was one of a dozen “holidays” that just so happened to fall upon the date in question.
Fortunately, as a Catholic, I have other days that I can mark, which are the Feasts and Saints’ Days celebrated by the Church for centuries. Sometimes these celebrations have a local flavor, like the floral carpets laid out on sidewalks in Catalonia for Corpus Christi, or they may be more internationally popular, such as eating fatty foods on Mardi Gras, i.e. “Fat Tuesday”. Other opportunities exist to revive or interpret traditions of your own, such as going out for pints on the Feast of St. Arnold, the patron saint of brewers.
While Mother’s Day is really little more than a commercially designed opportunity to make you feel bad and spend money, fortunately it comes during the month of May, which traditionally has been dedicated to Our Lady. It’s a chance during this Easter season to appreciate the words of the ancient prayer known as the “Regina Coeli”, with its emphasis on how indeed she whom the Angel Gabriel called, “full of grace”, was blessed to be able to see God’s promise to His people fulfilled, in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus. “The Son whom you merited to bear, Alleluia, has risen, as He said, Alleluia.”
Perhaps this Mother’s Day Sunday, that is something for all of us to focus on, more than we do on cards, flowers, or taking our mothers to brunch. Our mothers said “Yes” to bearing us, their children, and we should each individually be grateful for that. Yet the “Yes” of this one mother 2,000 years ago in Judea, the one who was made our heavenly mother by her Divine Son even as He was dying on the Cross, led to the hope for eternal life which all Christians share. Let’s be sure to thank her, too, for being such a good mother to all of us in the Church, through her willingness to seek the Will of God, and for setting an example of perseverance in Faith, no matter what happens, which all of us can try to follow.