During her lifetime the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary raised a son, but not just any young man – Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior, sent by God. Through all that Mary had witnessed over Jesus’ time spent on earth, she found ways to nurture and love him, she taught and guided him.
There are many disputes as to how and when the first-ever Mother’s Day was celebrated, but it couldn’t be more fitting for it to be in the Marian month of May.
On Mother’s Day, we remember with gratitude and affection our mothers, not only through material gifts, flowers, or cards, but also, and more importantly, by our prayers for them. We thank God for the gift of our mothers who conceived and gave birth to us, who cared for us, protected us, taught us, and loved us. Many passed on the precious gift of faith to us. We remember all our mothers, living and deceased, and thank them for their generosity and selfless love.
Bishop Frank J. Dewane, in his homily for the TV Mass for the Homebound airing on Mother’s Day, May 9, 2021, said the Lord calls us to love one another, with the first example each has in life, is through the love of our mother. (To watch the Mass, please visit, https://dioceseofvenice.org/offices/offices-departments/communications/tvmass/.)
“It is what we see around us daily,” Bishop Dewane said. “Mothers making a sacrifice for their children, being totally selfless – that model, that witness to follow.”
Similar to Mary, mothers today face unique difficult challenges, serving a vital role in creating a healthy balance for their child while ensuring that they grow and develop to their greatest potential.
Pope Francis said that to be a mother is a great treasure, as she “helps her children grow up and wants them to grow strong and does not want them to pursue a frivolous life or to become lazy, sinking into a comfortable lifestyle in which they content themselves with possessions.”
A mother thus takes care that her children grow “capable of accepting responsibilities, of engaging in life, of striving for great ideals,” Pope Francis said.
Sue Macedonio, of Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, strives to raise her three teenage children, Dominic, Bobby, and McKayla Cantrell, conscientiously in the faith with grace and compassion.
Macedonio confirms each child has a solid foundation built on love and faith. “To do that, you have to live and practice your faith at home,” she said, acknowledging it’s the little things we do, respecting each other, being courteous and kind, and always prepared. “This has motivated them into becoming the active teens they are today and sets them up to face the future.”
Each currently attends Cardinal Mooney Catholic High School in Sarasota and all previously went to Epiphany Cathedral Catholic School and are active in the faith, Macedonio said, but that does not make it easier as a mother.
“They are great, but it is a struggle like in any family,” she said. “Having a strong foundation as a family helps us grow in our faith together.”
For Guadalupe Oliva of St. Paul Parish in Arcadia, the love she has for her three children is unconditional and inspired by the Blessed Virgin.
Oliva occupies much of her time ensuring that Maria, Jose and Marta (all younger than 10) are safe and healthy, while at the same time worrying about their future. She frequently prays to Our Lady that they will grow up to be strong and successful.
She frequently worries about outside influences causing her children to stray from the faith, so she works hard to instill a love for Jesus and Mary.
“We pray together every day,” Oliva said about the family pre-meal ritual of praying the Hail Mary and Our Father. “I also pray to the Virgin that I remain worthy of being a mother and that through her support I can help my children grow to find peace and love.”
While Macedonio and Oliva face daily challenges to raising their children, they are both confident that their faith will continue to be the foundation of a bright future for their respective family.”
Pope Francis said we need to learn from mothers that heroism is shown in self-giving, strength in compassion, wisdom in meekness.
“God himself needed a Mother: how much more so do we! Jesus himself gave her to us, from the cross: ‘Behold your mother!’ (Jn 19:27),” the Holy Father continued. “He said this to the beloved disciple and to every disciple. Our Lady is not an optional accessory: she has to be welcomed into our life. She is the Queen of Peace, who triumphs over evil and leads us along paths of goodness, who restores unity to her children, who teaches us compassion.”
The Blessed Virgin is the example for us all.