The Redeemer was given to us through a mother, the Mother. It is appropriate that Mother’s Day would be celebrated within the Marian month of May as her fiat orients the fiat of mankind and especially that of woman.
I am blessed to have my own four children that have grown within my womb, but I am the daughter of a woman who hung a plaque on my wall when I was a very young child. The plaque was emblazoned with the words “You grew not under my heart but in it.” I am adopted. I also have many friends, in real life and online, that I have watched suffer through infertility and infant loss. I have mourned beside friends that have buried their children far too young, and I have mourned the loss of my mother just two short years ago.
The fiat of the Blessed Mother echoes throughout the world but especially within woman, and each woman is called to be mother.
If the Blessed Mother is the “Church at the Source,” as Joseph Ratzinger referred to her in his work by the same name, then we must believe that she incarnates, especially for woman, the essence of motherhood. Through her maternity, we find both physical and spiritual as well as both virginal and marital motherhood.
What, then, do we say to the grieving mothers, to the women longing to nurture a child in their wombs, to the women who have buried their mothers? How do we celebrate such a day that may cause so much pain and grief?
St. Benedicta of the Cross said, “The woman’s soul is fashioned as a shelter, in which other souls may unfold.” What does this mean?
I have four children, but I have many more than that. You may have no fleshly children but may have many children that consider you their mother. Spiritual motherhood is not a consolation prize. Spiritual motherhood was given and glorified within the Blessed Mother at the foot of the Cross. For though she was the earthly mother of the Incarnate Son, he willfully gave her over as mother to the world.
And for the grieving mothers and those of us who grieve the loss of our mothers on this holiday, may we join ourselves to the weeping Blessed Mother at the Cross and join Mary Magdalene as she sought out the Son in the garden after the Resurrection.
At the foot of the Cross, we see a mother mourning the suffering of the Son but often depicted with the resoluteness of an awareness of death. Death is elevated through the death of Christ. Our children that have been lost to death have been elevated with Christ and join him in preparing a place for us. Your motherhood is not gone. Your motherhood is not predicated by your womb. Your motherhood is enfleshed in your heart. You are to be celebrated. This does not take away the suffering of loss, but this loss can be joined with the Cross.
And, for those of us who have buried our mothers or never felt the embrace of a mother, may we look into the empty tomb and be startled by the sound of our names upon the lips of Christ. He told Mary Magdalene, “Do not hold me.” It was not because he didn’t desire the embrace of one of his daughters but more so that he desired a greater intimacy with her. This intimacy could not be until Jesus had ascended to his Father, leaving us with the greater intimacy of the Eucharist. Now, he is no longer beside us but within us.
By partaking of the Eucharist we receive Jesus and all that have died in union with him. By receiving him, I am united with those that have gone before me including my mother, including your children, including all of heaven.
So, happy Mother’s Day to the mothers with children, to the mothers who have lost their children, to the mothers wishing for children, and to the mothers in heaven. Your maternity is a gift. After all, through a mother came the redemption of the world.