Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005 and before that a regular correspondent for the paper. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in major newspapers. He is the author of Fruits of Fatima — Century of Signs and Wonders. He holds a graduate degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
Every May Mother’s Day gives us a chance to honor our mothers in some special way. But on that day, do we honor our heavenly Mother too? But why only one day a year?
Shouldn’t we make every day a Mother’s Day by honoring our Mother and our mother?
There seems no coincidence Mother’s Day is celebrated in May, which is also the month dedicated to Mary, our Blessed Mother.
Beginning in medieval times, May and devotion to Mary were always connected, according to the University of Dayton’s Marian Library. Earliest traces reach back to 13th century Spain. Once the devotion spread and grew, every day in May had a special devotion honoring our Blessed Mother. The custom originated in Italy in the 1780s, then extended far afield by the 19th century, especially from 1830 on in Europe.
But not until the early 20th century did Mother’s Day get started as a celebration in the United States. Practically no on today realizes that first official celebration in 1908 was a religious one.
Anna Jarvis, the founder and promoter, wanted this official day in memory of her mother. She had taken care of her beloved mother for a number of years. Jarvis requested the celebration to be held in the West Virginia Methodist church where for more than two decades her mother had taught Sunday school. Jarvis then spent years promoting Mother’s Day to honor mothers. One thing did eventually shock her — the growing commercialization of the day which she never intended. But where there’s a celebration, there’s usually a business ready and waiting to cash in.
Mother Mary and Mothers
In the Ten Commandments, right after the first three that detail our relationship with God, the very next, the fourth, concerns our parents.
The Catechism (963) has this to teach us about Mary: “She is ‘clearly the mother of the members of Christ’ …since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head,” quoting from Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church).
“Mary has truly become the Mother of all believers,” said Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est (On Christian Love). “Men and women of every time and place have recourse to her motherly kindness and her virginal purity and grace, in all their needs and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their moments of loneliness and their common endeavors. They constantly experience the gift of her goodness and the unfailing love which she pours out from the depths of her heart.”
What a Mother she is to us.
So how can we narrow honoring a Mother like this to only one day a year? Or only a few days? Or only a month?
Look at the example Jesus gave us for honoring our mother and our Blessed Mother in the way he kept the fourth commandment and ultimately from the Cross giving her to us as our Mother, too, when he did that through St. John.
John Paul II highlighted this truth in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church), when he wrote: “It is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian. The Redeemer entrusts his mother to the disciple, and at the same time he gives her to him as his mother. Mary’s motherhood, which becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual.”
Honor Mary Continuously
If you love somebody you want to spend time with them. Do you spend time with Mary? If you want to honor your Mother you spend some time with her. Often. Daily.
Mary herself told us a really top way to do that and show your love and make her happy. Not just on one day a year. Love and honor her by praying the Rosary.
Sure we’ve heard that before. But how many really follow her simple request — one she made many times and in different apparitions, including every time she appeared at Fatima.
The May anniversary of Fatima is a well-timed reminder. Each time Mary appeared to the shepherd children, she asked them — and all of us — to say the Rosary everyday.
Like any good mother, Mary wants us to be dressed well. In her garment. The brown scapular. So we honor her if we wear the garment she herself picked out and gave to us.
How about starting with these two — the Rosary and the scapular.
Why not offer up a Rosary for your own mother? She is both your mother and a child of our Blessed Mother too. How pleased Mary must be if we pray for and honor our own mother who is also one of her children.
Remember the honor we heap upon her Son Jesus when we pray the Rosary. Jesus honors and treats his mother like the queen she is ceaselessly. He made her Queen of everything, too, right down to the universe.
And what Son can’t help but look with the greatest favor and affection on someone who ceaselessly honors his Mother? That is another reason for keeping Mother’s Day all 365 days of the year.
This article originally appeared in the Register on May 14, 2017