From the very beginning of Christianity, women have held a privileged place in the mission of Jesus Christ. The Blessed Mother holds the unique role of being Theotokos, the God-bearer, and carrying the Creator of the universe in her womb. St. Mary Magdalene was the first person to see the resurrected Christ and was then tasked with proclaiming this good news to the disciples. From early martyrs to doctors of the Church, women have been intimately present in the formation and sustaining of the Church.
In particular, the feminine contribution of motherhood has been monumental in the life of the Church. Since we are in the month of Mary (and Mother’s Day was not too long ago), I wanted to focus a bit on how we as followers of Jesus Christ can honor the uniquely feminine formation in our lives.
Honor the Blessed Mother
Mary has an abundance of feast days throughout the year, but the month of May is also dedicated to her. While she is the Mother of God, she also perfectly models what it looks like to follow Christ. The “Yes” she said at the Annunciation was repeated every day of her life as she consented to let God move and work through her. Given to us by her son, Mary is our mother, too. We can imitate Christ by showing her honor for the many ways she offers her maternal support.
- Celebrate a Marian feast day this month
- Our Lady of Fatima ~ May 13
- Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church ~ May 24
- Visitation ~ May 31
- Pray this litany dedicated to Mary
- Green thumb? Plant a Mary garden and learn about the symbolism behind the flowers
Honor Your Mother
The mothers who raised us are also very formative parts of our lives. In Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem, he says:
Motherhood implies from the beginning a special openness to the new person: and this is precisely the woman’s “part”. In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman “discovers herself through a sincere gift of self”.
Pope St. John Paul II goes on to share about the sacrifices made by mothers for their children as well as the physical and spiritual formation they provide. Our earthly mothers are obviously imperfect, but so much of our personal formation is bound up in their unique care for us. As disciples of Christ, we honor our mothers for the role they played in leading us to Jesus or simply in their Yes to our lives.
- Have a Mass offered for your mother
- Write a card to your mother thanking her for her openness to life and for the sacrifices it involved
Honor Your Other Mothers
Mother’s Day weekend Masses often involve a special prayer for the mothers. This past Mother’s Day weekend, the bishop offering Mass prayed beautifully for the various mothers in our lives: godmothers, women who have shaped us, the maternal role of religious sisters, and the list went on. As someone without any biological children, yet have several godchildren and active in the formation of others through school and parish activities, I appreciated the acknowledgement of spiritual motherhood.
Pope St. John Paul II in Mulieris Dignitatem says, “Spiritual motherhood takes on many different forms.” And from my limited experience, that seems to be true. Some are spiritual mothers by being religious sisters or consecrated women. Some are spiritual mothers to their biological children. Some are spiritual mothers through a dedicated intercession for priests or the elderly or the imprisoned. Some are spiritual mothers through youth mentoring or spiritual direction. The variety of the spiritual motherhood is as manifold as the women being referenced.
Who are your “other mothers”? Who has helped form and shape you into the person you are today? Who chose to enter into your life and provide maternal care for a summer? a year? a decade?
- Call, email, or send a card to your godmother and thank her for the prayers, guidance, or support (seen or unseen) she has offered over the years
- Make a list of those “other mothers” and offer a rosary for the various ways these women have formed you
- Have a particular devotion to a female saint? Attracted to a particular saint but haven’t yet formed a relationship with her? Find a novena to her and start praying it!