Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli
In the 19th century, before the age of television, oratory was an extremely popular form of entertainment. During those golden years of public speaking, one of the most noted speakers was American lawyer and political leader Robert Ingersoll. He captivated his audiences, sometimes with speeches lasting three hours as he lectured on almost any subject. But, his most frequent theme was agnosticism.
One day, two college students attended his lecture. At the end of his scathing skepticism about religion, one student said to the other, “Well, I guess he destroyed your Christian faith, right out from under you, didn’t he?” The other student calmly responded, “No, not at all. Until he can explain my mother’s life, I will stand by my mother’s God.” How true! No one on earth teaches us more convincingly about God and life than our own mothers.
Our mother’s untiring devotion and care follow us all the days of our lives. Even before our birth, we hear the reassuring sound of love in our mother’s voice. After we are born, it is from her lips that we learn how beautiful we are coming fresh from the hands of God. And, our self-confidence is born. Our mother’s eyes see our gifts and her finger points us in the right direction to a meaningful life. As Napoleon Bonaparte observed, “the future destiny of a child is always the work of the mother.”
When we are infants, our mother’s hands help us take our first faltering steps. And, she never leaves our side. By her wisdom, she guides us still, even at a distance, throughout all our life’s journey. Those times when we fall and hurt ourselves, she is there to wipe away the tears and heal the wounds. Not only in our childhood, but always.
There is no joy or happiness that touches our hearts that does not make us hasten to share it with our mothers. Our life successes, great and small, are crowned by her smile. With outstretched arms, she is ever ready to welcome us home. And, even as her body fails and her strength wanes, she diminishes not in strength to embrace us with love.
Our mother’s heart is the best schoolroom to learn that life is about loving and that all love comes from God and leads us to him. Our mother puts great faith in us even before we can speak or walk or pass our first test in school. Just like God himself who loves us before we can even respond to his love with a worthy life, our mother loves us not for what we do, but for who we are. We are her child. Into her precious, strong, untiring arms, God places us, the children whom he loves with the very heart of a mother (cf. Is 66:13). And, by her goodness, our mother leads us back to God.
This Mother’s Day, we remember our own mothers with love and great affection for all the sacrifices they made for us. May God bestow on those mothers among us the blessings of our love and gratitude. May he grant to those who have gone before us his loving mercy and the reward of their most noble vocation, happiness in his presence forever. Distance and death may separate us. But, once formed beneath our mother’s heart, we remain ever there within.
We ask God’s blessing on all those who share in the noble vocation of motherhood.
May God reward their love a hundred fold. And, may those who have passed from this life to the next enjoy peace and eternal happiness with God in heaven.