Here, we are in the month of May, and fittingly as the weather warms and spring flowers begin to bloom, we celebrate Mother’s Day. Why is it timely that we honor mothers during the height of spring? As nature blossoms into a dressing of a beautiful array of color and life, the landscape begins to reflect the essence of motherhood for in motherhood life flourishes. She is a reflection of God’s creation as in the natural form of a mother, a woman is one who brings forth life mimicking God’s creative essence. A mother likewise in her God-given ability to deliver life displays God’s immense power for she holds the great ability to birth an eternal soul into the world that will outlast the universe itself. When I was in the delivery room witnessing my wife giving birth, I was in total awe of her combined strength and splendor in ushering a human being into this world. Not only in the physical aspect of giving birth, but immediately after showcasing the powerful display of nurturer and comforter to this fragile baby as the baby crouched comfortably on her chest. It’s fascinating to witness how a baby has an innate reflex to instantly gravitate to the one who provided a place for him in the womb, the one who offers protection and nourishment for his own survival – the mother. For me, witnessing how God’s creation communicates a woman’s power and purpose is embedded in the full-flowering of motherhood. As a mother, she serves as a primary channel between her, the child, and God’s creation. In fact, St. Paul announces how motherhood can be a means of sanctification and salvation, provided the woman exemplifies feminine virtue. “Women will be saved through bearing children if she continues in faith, love, and holiness with modesty” (1 Tim. 2:15).
Yet, the month of May gets even better in the Catholic Church as the Church celebrates the supreme mother of all -the Mother of God. For centuries now, the faithful have dedicated to Mary the month of May to commemorate her role in humanity’s redemption. During May, many parishes conduct Marian processions and a May Crowning of Our Blessed Mother.
It is no coincidence that when The Blessed Mother came to the world under the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, she came on a certain day that was not haphazardly picked. The day she came was of central importance for May 13th on the calendar in 1917 was, in fact, Mother’s Day. In Mary, God is eloquently displaying the female virtues – humility, purity, tenderness, obedience, gentleness, and willingness to suffer for her child. God amplifies the height of feminine attributes to Mary for all mothers to see and gravitate towards. When they do, they inherit God’s honor and power for she is queen in her domestic setting.
It should be noted that the prominent warning of Our Lady of Fatima was that the errors of Russia (i.e. socialism) would spread across the world if man did not cease from offending God. Here, Our Lady was sounding the alarm that through socialism Satan would be hijacking spiritual truths just as he attempted to do in the desert with Christ. With the onslaught of socialist ideas, the mother’s natural domain of domestic queen has been ruptured under the guise of being “oppressive.” As the founder of modern socialism, Friedrich Engels stated, “Modern society is grounded on a blatant or concealed domestic enslavement of women, and modern society is a material mass consisting of molecules of numerous individual families.” Engles has for his target the family, most specifically uprooting the woman’s role as domestic nurturer and caretaker. According to Engels, women must liberate themselves from the traditional family constraints of raising children and doing housework. Under the socialist lens, the household must transition their realm over to the state. Here, the state essentially says, you give us your children to educate and raise, and we’ll give you “freedom” in the job-market so you can become a clog in the economic machine of the state. The deal breaks down to a blatant violation of God’s order. While this tradeoff emits a foul odor that is laced with demonic roots, sadly, large swaths of people have fallen for it. Likely being spiritually blind, they deem that women vacating the home front in exchange for a career will allow them to achieve fulfillment. Ironically, a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that as more women leave the home and enter the workforce the happiness level of women has dramatically decreased. It is no wonder their happiness has dropped-off as their motherly persona has become dwarfed and hidden under a career full of spreadsheets, seminars, and presentations. No salary or office can compare to the strength, beauty, and joy that women inherit when they don their natural role as mother – queen of the house.
The NBER study illuminated that a mother can’t be purchased away from her family. Rather, God elevates women not in a fancy career, but through the vocation of wife and mother. This concept is best seen as God glorified the Virgin Mary and exalted her above every mortal. The Church came to understand her as the Queen of Heaven and Earth and the leader of the whole Church in its human element. The figure of the Virgin Mary more than anything else helped exalt and honor womanhood in every daughter, wife, and mother as a cherished gift of inestimable worth. One cannot overstate the effect on the treatment of women that such a theological innovation made on all women and men. Now every Christian reverenced this woman as “Our Lady.” Christian mothers and virgins alike could look to her as their perfect model. Men would be willing to die for her honor and thus could truly love their wives and honor them.
As Tim Flanders observes, “A boy who grows up honoring the Mother of God truly will not dishonor a woman for being a woman. A girl who grows up honoring the Mother of God truly will love her own femininity as the gift of her nature, the same nature that was the cause of salvation to the human race.”
Jesus could have appeared on earth without a mother. He is God. He does not require a motherly vessel to come to us. Yet, He, as the perfect model of manhood for every Christian man, glorified the woman closest to Him with the highest honor ever bestowed upon any mortal. His dying words on the cross to His disciples speak to us, “Behold your mother” (John 25:27). These utterances act as a pronouncement that to draw near to Him, we need to go through her.
Even the enemies of the Church are forced to admit that the cult of the Virgin Mary raised the dignity of women beyond anything imagined before. William Lecky, who was no friend of the Church candidly acknowledged how Mary heightened the status of women: “For the first time the woman was elevated to her rightful position … no longer the slave or toy of man, no longer associated only with the ideas of degradation and sensuality, woman rose in the person of the Virgin Mother into a new sphere, and became the object of a reverential homage of which antiquity had no conception.” (William Lecky, Rationalism in Europe, vol. I, ch. 3, 213).
Here, we see that far from “oppressing” women, the Church elevates women by venerating Our Lady. While the culture enacts a facade of lies to women by conveying their fulfillment is achieved in the work-place or through sexual freedom, the Church points women to their natural setting of motherhood and adore her role as queen of the household. She is the beating heart of the home. Her service in the house is not one of a selfish power grab to manipulate others, but rather as helpmate to allow her husband to be a servant leader. As Pope Pius XI puts it, “If the man is the head, the woman is the heart, and as he occupies the chief place in ruling, so she may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love” (Pius XI, Casti Connubii , 27, cf: Ephesians 5:21-29).
My own experience shows how much a mother is craved by those in the household. When my wife is absent from the home, things are off-kilter. I try as I can, but as a man, I can’t emulate the caretaker role of my wife. While I can run a tight-ship at home providing for my kids a well-structured environment that nourishes their intellectual and physical longings, I am rather feeble in offering for their emotional needs. However, my wife is easily equipped to afford our emotional sustenance all the while conveying it with a sense of peace and harmony that naturally flow from her. Her persona is such that it puts our home at ease with her soft touch and compassionate demeanor. The more psychologists study the nature of the female, we see that a woman’s entire body and psyche is inward-pointing to provide life, nurture, and comfort for those who are unable to do so on their own.
The mother truly gives to children a foundation of love that fathers are not fully capable of replicating. And it is Mary who gave this foundation to Jesus Christ in His life on earth. The glory of Our Lady is the glory of every woman, because she perfectly manifests the beauty of Christian femininity. The most powerful way in which Mary exalts femininity is in the intimate conversation of every Christian soul. This is manifest in the devout prayers of the faithful that cry to her, praise her, take comfort in her, and rest in her arms.
Today, while life is under attack from the “pro-choice” movement, Mother’s Day is a fitting time to cherish mothers and the gift of life that flows from mothers. This month especially as we hold authentic motherhood in esteem and thank mother’s around the land, let us also bring high admiration to Mary under the title of Mother of God. Mary and moms will play a prominent role in our crisis today and redirect us back to God’s original sacred order.