Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

Mary, the World’s First Love

August 19, 2016

The Blessed Virgin Mary at Prayer    “When Whistler painted the picture of his mother, did he not have the image of her in his mind before he ever gathered his colors on his palette? If you could have preexisted your mother (not artistically, but really), would you not have made her the most perfect woman that ever lived—one so beautiful she would have been the sweet envy of all women, and one so gentle and so merciful that all other mothers would have sought to imitate her virtues? Why, then, should we think that God would do otherwise? When Whistler was complimented on the portrait of his mother, he said, “You know how it is; one tries to make one’s Mummy just as nice as he can.” When God became Man, He too, I believe, would make His Mother as nice as He could—and that would make her a perfect Mother.

She existed in the Divine Mind as an Eternal Thought before there were any mothers. She is the Mother of mothers — she is the world’s first love.”

—Venerable Fulton Sheen (1895–1979 A.D.)
in The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God

An Ascension & Mother’s Day Homily

May 8, 2016

The Belly of a Woman with Child

Today, two great celebrations providentially align: the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ into Heaven and Mother’s Day. After his resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days teaching, instructing, and preparing his disciples for their new life ahead. The number 40 often appears in the Bible in relation to times of preparation.  Noah spent 40 days and nights on the ark as the waters of the flood were renewing the world. Moses and the Hebrews spent 40 years wandering in the desert before God’s people entered the Promised Land. Before beginning his public ministry, Jesus spent 40 days and 40 nights praying and fasting in the desert. And after his death on the cross, Jesus’ body spent (by tradition) 40 hours in the tomb awaiting the resurrection. The number 40 also has a place in your life story as well. Each of you remained 40 weeks, more or less, within your mother’s womb being prepared for a new life. I ask you to reflect on that time.

Attached to your mother’s vine you grew into the mature fruit of her womb. You were nourished and grew within her. You were never far from her heart or mind. You existed within her, connected to her at the center of your being.  (Your belly button marks the spot where you were once attached to her.) She fed you with her very self. She provided for all your needs. Apart from her you could do nothing. You remained in her and you found your rest within her.

In the womb, at those earliest stages of life, our minds did not comprehend very much, but what if you could have understood then everything that your mother was doing for you? Surely you would have directed your thoughts to her often.  And, from time to time, you would have turned to her with the eyes of your heart to bask in her love for you.

What if, imagining further, that you could have spoken with your mom when you were in her womb? Wouldn’t you have taken the opportunity to speak with her every day? Wouldn’t you have thanked her with a deep gratitude and let her know how much you love her? I suppose a baby could ignore its mother in such as situation and continue to live on, at least biologically, but the child would be deprived without this first and special relationship with mom.

As you and your mother would continue to talk throughout the days and months of pregnancy she would eventually present you with a most-frightening prospect. She might put it this way, “My child, soon, in a little while, you are going to begin a new stage of your life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a whole world of people and things you have never known before. Once you are born, you will meet me in a new way.

You might say, “I’m scared! I don’t want to go—not now, not ever!” But she would reassure you, “I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be back again where you are now. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right here with you. So don’t be afraid, it’s going to be O.K.

Our life in our mother’s womb is like our life in Jesus Christ. You are attached to Him as to a vine. You are nourished and grow within Him. You are never far from His heart or mind. You exist within Him; you live and move and have your being in Him, connected to Him at the center of your being. He feeds you with His very self in the Eucharist. He provides for all your needs. Apart from Him, you can do nothing. You remain in Him and can find your rest in Him.

Knowing and believing this, shouldn’t we direct our thoughts to Him often? Shouldn’t we, from time to time, turn to Him with the eyes of our hearts to bask in His love for us. We have the ability to talk with Jesus Christ whenever we want in prayer. We should take the opportunity to speak with Him every day, thanking Him out of deep gratitude and telling Him how much we love Him. A person who ignores Him will still continue to live, at biologically, but they will not be fully alive without this primary and special relationship with Christ. We must to pray every day if we want to remain in Him and bear much fruit.

We don’t want to die and that’s perfectly natural. But Jesus says to us, “Soon, in a little while, you are going to begin a new stage of your life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a whole world of people and things you have never known before. Once you die, you will meet me in a new way. I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be back again where you are now. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right there with you. So don’t be afraid, it’s going to be O.K.

Was Jesus afraid when he ascended into heaven? In the Garden of Gethsemane the night before his died Jesus was anxious and distressed at the sufferings before Him. But at the Ascension, as he rose high above the ground, I do not think He was afraid at all. He was beyond all fear and He was going home. The anecdotal evidence of near death experiences indicates that for friends of God the journey beyond this life is peaceful and joyful. A friend of mine once went into cardiac arrest and had a vision like that of going home. When they defibrillated her heart in the Emergency Room and brought her back to into this world she felt quite angry and tore off the wires they had stuck on her skin because she so much wanted to go back to where she had just been.

As our mothers would have told us before we were born from womb into world, and as Jesus tells us before our birth from this life to next, we do not need to be afraid. Instead let us live in gratitude and peace. Today, let us thank God for the life, love, and tender care we have received from our mothers and through Jesus Christ. May God bless our mothers and may Jesus Christ be praised.

The Emmaus Travelers — 3rd Sunday in Easter—Year A

May 7, 2011

Let’s start off with a riddle… Once, a father and his son were driving along in the country together when they got into a terrible car crash. They were both seriously injured and ambulances rushed them to two different hospitals. But when the boy was brought into the Emergency Room, the surgeon on duty saw him and declared, “I can’t operate on him. He’s my son.” How can this be…? The trick of the riddle is that we tend to assume that surgeons will be male. The answer is that the surgeon is the boy’s mother.

There is a similar trick of the mind at work when we hear the story of the two travelers on the road to Emmaus; we always assume that they were two men. It’s not wonder, since virtually every painting of the encounter on the road to Emmaus will show Jesus with two men. For example, look at the relief on the front of our altar. Many people assume that this is a depiction of the Last Supper (but that there are only two apostles shown because we had to crop it down to size.) Actually, this scene is from after His Passion—you can see crosses on the hill in the distance and there are wound marks in Jesus’ hands. What we have here is to two men at the house in Emmaus, shocked to recognize Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

The artistic depictions always show two men [the picture on the right being the only possible exception I could find], however the original Greek does not call them “two men,” or even “two disciples.” It only says there were “two of them” and that one of them was a man named Cleopas. As to the name and gender of the other traveler, the gospel text is silent. Perhaps the second person’s identity is left as a mystery so as to invite any of us to imagine ourselves in their place in this story. This may be the extent of what we can know for certain, but there is an interesting clue from another Gospel that suggests more detail.

In Gospel of John, it says that “standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas….” (John 19:25) So we have a Clopas and Cleopas both associated with Jesus. Perhaps these similar names are merely a coincidence, but perhaps Clopas and Cleopas are variations of the same person’s name. If Clopas and Cleopas are one in the same person, then the other traveler on the road was probably his wife, Mary. This Mary was most likely either Jesus’ aunt and the sister of St. Joseph, or one of the cousins of the Blessed Virgin Mary. What we do know for certain is that this Mary stood with Jesus’ mother at the foot of the cross.

Admittedly, it is speculation to say the other traveler was Cleopas’ wife, but if it was, then this Resurrection episode has a much greater poetry. In the Garden of Eden, a husband and wife ate from a tree. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized that they were naked.” They felt ashamed and afraid. But in the house at Emmaus, a husband and wife ate the Eucharist, the fruit of the tree of the cross. “With that their eyes were opened and they recognized Him.” They felt joyful and unafraid. In Eden, God moved about the garden with the man and the woman. After the resurrection, Jesus walks with us, both men and women, along our road.

But whether that second traveler on the road was a woman or not, it would be a remain mistake to think that only men were important in the early Church. That would be at least as mistaken as thinking that every surgeon is a male. Jesus Christ chose some men to be the Church’s leaders, and much is said about them in the Scriptures, but He chose to spread the good news about Himself through the witness of women as well.

Though we sing of the “Faith of Our Fathers,” the faith of our mothers has been just as important, if not more, through time. Today,  it is oftentimes mom who takes the forefront in fostering faith in the family, in leading her children to Christ and His Church; through bedtime prayers and Bible stories, by bringing them to Mass and to CCD, in seeing to it that they receive the graces of the sacraments. If you feel like you’re alone in witnessing to the faith in your family, I commend you, and Jesus is proud of you.

There is another trick of the mind when it comes to celebrating Mother’s Day. On Mother’s Day we remember our mothers, who gave us birth and nurtured us, who raised us and put up with us, but we tend to forget about the greatest gift, the gift of our faith. At the Easter vigil the Exultet asks: “What good would life have been to us, had Christ not come as our redeemer?” Indeed, what good would life be to us if after our births we had not also been brought to Christ through the witness of holy women. Who were these holy women in your life? At this Mother’s Day Mass, let us remember and pray not only for our mothers in the natural order, but for each of our spiritual mothers as well.

The Giving Tree — Tuesday, 8th Week in Ordinary Time—Year I

March 1, 2011

Do you remember The Giving Tree, that very green childrens book by Shel Silverstein? It’s a story about a boy and the tree that loved him. When he is a boy, the tree gives him her leaves to play with and her apples to eat. However, when the boy becomes a young man he comes asking for money, so that he can buy things and have fun. Since money doesn’t grow on trees, she gives him her apples for him to sell. Time passes, and he comes back, this time asking for a house. The tree lets him cut off her branches so that he may build one. Later, much later, the boy returns again, but he is now a much older and sadder man.”I want a boat that will take me far away from here,” he says. “Can you give me a boat?” The tree offers her trunk and he takes it. He fashions a boat, and sails far away. After a long time, the boy returns, now a very tried and very old man. The tree is now just an old stump. He has taken everything, but she still gives. The story closes with these words: “‘Come, Boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.’ And the boy did. And the tree was happy.”

Now if The Giving Tree has always been one of your favorite books, that’s ok. If it has a special place in your heart, don’t let me or anybody take that from you. But, as for me, this book has always bothered the heck out of me. Even when I was a kid, the story filled me with indignation. Do you know what I’m taking about?

It’s the boy! The selfish, ungrateful boy, who never gives anything back. He receives everything the tree has to give and he never says, “Thank you.” He takes everything she has to give, uses all of it up on himself, and he never says, “I’m sorry.” This book would have been so much better if he just said “thank you” at the end. Does this kid’s behavior in the story of The Giving Tree bother you like it bothers me? If so, then you and I should make sure that we’re not doing the same in our own lives.

So who would be the “giving tree” we take for granted in our lives? Our moms and dads come first to mind. They’ve given us life, food, shelter, clothing, and love our entire lives. What have we given back to them? They probably don’t need your material support right now, but they would appreciate signs of your love. (It’s probably no coincidence that Shel Silverstein dedicated The Giving Tree to his own mom.) But there is another “Giving Tree” we can take for granted, who is even greater and more generous than our parents. I speak of God, and of Jesus Christ, “from whom all good things come.” What should we do for our parents and for God? We should honor them with our words. We should obey them in our actions. We should be grateful for everything and show it.

For God, we do this by way of sacrifices. (This Eucharist is a thanksgiving sacrifice. The name itself means thanksgiving in Greek.) Yet our sacrifice is not merely what happens here at church, but the offering of our whole lives. Those who make no sacrifices for God in their daily lives bring nothing to His altar. What do we have to offer Him today? What will we have to offer him tomorrow?

Jesus Christ is The Giving Tree. At this sacrifice, let us say to Him, “I’m sorry, for misusing your gifts.” Let us say, “Thank you, for your generosity to us.” And let us say, “I love you,” because that will make Him happy.

The Eager Provider — Thursday, 27th Week in Ordinary Time—Year II

October 7, 2010

Today we celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary and we hear a parable about a man who would rather not be bothered.  Let us compare this man to Mary.

He considers his visitor his friend, but she claims us as her children.

He feels too tired to help, but she never sleeps.

He hesitates to provide, but she is eager to give.

If mothers who are imperfect know how to give good gifts to their children, how much more will our perfect mother in Heaven intercede to give us good things whenever we ask her in the Rosary. It is a prayer which she receives from us as a sweet bouquet of roses.

We’re in a Hurry — 16th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C

July 18, 2010

The other day I was thinking about this homily when I heard the words of some modern poets on my radio. They said:

I’m in a hurry to get things done,
Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun.
All I really gotta do is live and die,
But, I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.

This goes to show that we still have a Martha problem today. The group Alabama said that they didn’t know why we get in a hurry, even though we’re not having fun, but I think I know the answer. The reason is that our loves and good desires are mixed with fears. If we would take that fear away, we would find peace.

Martha loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him well, but she had fears mixed in. She was the one who invited Him to the house and He probably had His apostles and other disciples with Him. She was busy serving them all, perhaps making the biggest meal she had ever made, and she was full of worries. “What if I’m a poor host and Jesus is disappointed with me? What if there’s not enough food for everyone to eat?”

We are often the same way. We fear that our lives are on the edge of disaster if our own plans and efforts should fail. We worry about bad things happening to ourselves and the people we love. We are anxiety about how Jesus feels about us.

Martha had a great desire to do good, but Martha’s fear tempted her to do harm. Her sister, Mary, was sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His words. (The Greek word for disciple actually means “one who sits at the feet of.”) Martha tries to take Jesus’ disciple away from Him.

Similiar thing can happen in our live on account of fear mixed with love. A husband and father can obsess about his work, out of a love for his family and a desire to provide, but his family can be left feeling like they come second in his life. A wife and mother can be so concerned that her loved ones will be safe and happy that she tries to control everything, making her family less happy because of it. Martha’s problem and ours is not that we work–work is a part of life–but in how we go about it.

Jesus says to Martha, and to us, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing.” What is this one thing we need? We need the peace of Christ. What is the peace of Christ? It is several things.

It is the awareness that God is near and guiding us. In the first reading, three heavenly visitors approach outside of Abraham’s tent. Now, the Holy Spirit dwells within our tents, Jesus is at our side, and we have a Father above. We are never left on our own.

With the peace of Christ we recognize that whatever may happen to us or those we love, it is for our good. As St. Paul observes in the second reading, even his sufferings are a cause for rejoicing for they advance the salvation of the whole Church with Christ.

With the peace of Christ we recognize that misery is not just around the corner, nor is happiness out of reach. Happiness is at head, in the knowledge that Jesus loves us, likes us, cares about us, and cares for us. Living in the peace of Christ means there is no reason for us to be unhappy.

Let us continue to do works of love for God, ourselves, and others, but let us do them always in the peace of Christ.

Mother’s Day Homily

May 9, 2010

This Sunday our country celebrates our mothers—and rightly so. For the care and love which our mothers have given us is beyond price or measure. Of course, our earthly parents are not perfect. Sometimes they’re quite far from perfect. But any love we’ve known from them is a likeness of the love God has for us.  A religious icon is made of mere wood and paint, but it can be a window to heavenly realities.  In the same way, we can see through our parents’ love a glimpse to God Himself.

Most of us have more memories about our mothers than we could possibly count, but today I would like to take you back to a time and place about which you have no clear memories—to the time in your mother’s womb.

In the Bible, the number forty denotes times of waiting and preparation: For instance, Noah spent 40 days and nights in the ark. The Hebrews wandered with Moses for 40 years in the desert. Before His ministry, Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness, and after His death, He rested 40 hours in the tomb. Similarly, you remained 40 weeks, more or less, within your mother’s womb, being prepared for a new life.

Attached to your mother’s vine you grew into the mature fruit of her womb. You were nourished and matured within her. You were never far from her heart or mind. You existed in within her, connected to her at the center of your being. She fed you with her very self. She provided for all your needs. Apart from her, you could do nothing. You remained in her and found rest within her.

In the womb, at the earliest stages of our lives, our minds did not comprehend very much, but what if you could have understood everything that your mother was doing for you at the time? Surely you would have directed your thoughts to her often.  And certainly, from time to time, you would have turned to her with the eyes of your heart to bask in her love for you.

What if you could have talked with your mom from the womb? Would you not have taken the opportunity to speak with her every day? Would you not have thanked her daily out of a deep gratitude? Would you not have let her know each day how much you love her? Whoever would refuse or neglect to express such love and thanks would continue to live, at least functionally or biologically, but they would not be fully alive without this relationship with their mother.

As you and your mother would continue to talk, as the days and months of pregnancy passed by, she would eventually present you with a most-frightening prospect: She might put it this way, “My child, soon, in a little while, you are going to begin a new stage of your life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a whole world of people and things you have never known before.”

You might say, “I’m scared! I don’t want to go—not now, not ever!” But she would answer, “I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be again as you are now. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right here with you. Don’t be afraid. It’s going to be O.K.”

This morning we reflect on this time in the womb because our life in our mothers is like our life in Christ. As it was with our mothers, so it is, in our life with Christ. You are attached to Him as to a vine you mature as a child of God. You are nourished and grow within Him. You are never far from His heart or mind. You exist within Him, connected to Him at the center of your being. He feeds you with His very self. He provides for all your needs. Apart from Him, you can do nothing. You remain in Him and find rest in Him.

Knowing and believing this, shouldn’t we direct our thoughts to Him often? Shouldn’t we, from time to time, turn to Him with the eyes of our hearts to bask in His love for us. We have the ability to talk with Jesus Christ, in prayer, whenever we wish. Who would not take the opportunity to speak with Him every day? Who would not thank Him daily out of deepest gratitude? And who would not let Him know each day how much we love Him? Whoever would refuse or neglect to speak with Him, would continue to live, at least functionally or biologically, but they will not be fully alive without this relationship with Christ. We need to pray every day if we want to remain in Him and bear much fruit.

We don’t want to die and that’s perfectly natural. But Jesus says to us, “Soon, in a little while, you are going to begin a new stage of life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a whole world of people and things you have never known before. I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be as you are now again. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right there with you. Don’t be afraid. It’s going to be O.K.”

Today, let us thank God for the life, love, and tender care we have received from our mothers and through Jesus Christ. God bless our mothers and praised be Jesus Christ.

Luke’s Source — January 1 — Mary the Mother of God

January 1, 2010

Have you ever wondered how it is that Luke the Gospel writer knows the stuff he’s telling us? For instance, he wasn’t present at the Annunciation to take down notes.  Only Mary and the Archangel Gabriel were there. And in today’s Gospel, after the shepherds visit, it says, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Now how does Luke know what Mary was thinking? Who could know something like that besides Mary herself?

Now I suppose the Holy Spirit could have directly infused the knowledge of these things into him, but that’s probably not what has happened here. Luke probably learned of these details in the most natural and human way; by being told about them, first or second-hand, by people who knew. Luke begins his Gospel by saying that his narrative of events is composed from what “those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed … down to us.”

But there is only one person who could have been the original source for many of Luke’s details, and that is Mary herself. In fact, some call the beginning chapters of the Gospel of Luke “the Memoirs of Mary.” Perhaps Luke heard of these details from Mary’s very own lips and took them all to heart.  Then later, knowing these things by heart, committed them to writing.

And so we do know something today of what was going on inside of Mary in those early days, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” And some years later, upon finding Jesus in the temple, Luke reports that Mary and Joseph did not understand what their boy when said to them, but “his mother kept all these things in her heart.” In this there is a lesson for us to discover through Mary, a lesson that is particularly applicable for us this New Year’s [Eve/Day].

In her life, Mary knew some important aspects of God the Father’s plan, but there was always a great deal about which she did not know. She knew that her Son was messiah, savior, and Lord, but his future, and hers, remained largely a mystery. Perhaps Mary wondered, as we often wonder when faced with evils and obstacles, “How can this be, Lord?  How will your promises be fulfilled despite this?”  Yet through it all, Mary firmly trusted that the Lord was with her, and we should do the same.

What does the new year ahead hold for each of us? Like Mary, we do not know, yet Mary shows us that we do not have to know.  We do not have to fully know our future to be able to do great things for God and to be richly blessed by Him. We do not need to know our future for the Almighty to do great things for us.

In the year ahead, may the Lord bless you and keep you, as He did the Virgin Mary.

May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you, as He did for Mary through Jesus’ infant face.

And may the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace, a peace like that which Mary always kept with her Son, Jesus the Christ.

September 15 – Our Lady of Sorrows

September 16, 2009

Imagine if you had to start a whole new life. I don’t mean just changing schools, or moving away from home, or even entering the federal witness protection program. Imagine if you had to start a whole new life from the very beginning, as a tiny little embryo. And imagine that this reincarnation of yours required you to choose a new mother for yourself, from among all the women in all the world. What qualities would you look for in choosing a new mom?

You would want her to be beautiful, not only on the outside, but on the inside too, for what we desire most of all from our mothers, is a great and beautiful love.

You would want her to be wise and full of goodness, someone who could introduce you to the world and show you how to live in it well.

You would want her to be the perfection of femininity, so you girls could see how to grow into excellent women, and to show you boys what to look for in an excellent wife someday.

You would want a mother with patience, and tenderness, and compassion, who would be at your side if you were sick or in pain, and who would comfort you just by her presence.

As fantastic as this sounds, Jesus faced a scenario a lot like this one. He had to choose from among all the women in all the history of all the world, the one woman who would become His mother. For his incarnation, Jesus chose Mary to be His own mother.

She was beautiful, inside and out. She introduced Him to life in our world. She loved Jesus with a great and beautiful love. And when Jesus looked at Mary, he saw the likeness of His future bride, because Mary is the icon of the Church perfected. She stood at His cross with compassionate strength and her presence helped Him amidst his suffering.

Mary was so great a mother, that Jesus wanted to share her with us. He wanted her to be our mother, too. Jesus looked down from the cross, on her and the beloved disciple, and said, “Woman, behold, your son,” and to the beloved disciple, “Behold, your mother.” You and I are the beloved disciple. Jesus gives us Mary to be a mother for us. He created her perfectly, to be His own mother and our mother, too.

From that hour, at the cross, the beloved disciple took Mary into the heart of his life. From this hour, at this Eucharist, take Mary deeper into the heart of your life; because she loves you more than you know.

August 27 – St. Monica

August 27, 2009

Today I would like to tell you a true story, the story of a Catholic woman in a very difficult marriage to a non-Christian husband. Her husband was a man with a hot temper and hostility towards Christianity. He was unfaithful in their marriage, but she remained faithful to him—not out of weakness, but out of an inner-strength.

She bore his faults with patience and persistently sought after his conversion. The daily example of her gentleness and kindness finally had its victory. Her husband became a Christian one year before his death. However, the year after that, she had to face a new burden alone.

The oldest of her three children joined an anti-Catholic religious cult. It started him down a path of sinful pride and many sensual sins. It broke her heart. Then one night, she had a dream.

She was standing on top of a wooden ruler, and she saw a young man coming towards her, surrounded by a glorious halo. Although she felt sad and full of grief, the young man smiled at her joyfully. He asked her for the reason for her sadness and daily tears. (This wasn’t because he didn’t know, but because he had something to tell her—this is the way things happen in visions.) When she answered that her tears were for the lost soul of her son he told her to take heart for, if she looked carefully, she would see that where she was, there also was he. And when she looked, she saw her son standing beside her on the same ruler. Reassured by this dream she continued, for years to come, praying tearful prayers for his conversion.

She even asked the bishop to intervene in winning over her son. He counseled her to be patient, saying, “God’s time will come.” When she persisted in asking, the bishop (perhaps busy with many other things) famously reassured her: “Go now, I beg you; it is impossible that the son of so many tears should perish.”

That son, as you may have guessed by now, was the great St. Augustine. And his mother is St. Monica. May her story encourage us to pray and strive for the conversion of our loved ones to the Catholic faith. Remember and take hope: God loves us with a human heart and He cares about your loved ones even more than you do.

5th Sunday of Easter—Year B

August 23, 2009

This Sunday our country celebrates our mothers—and rightly so.  For the care and love which our mothers have given us cannot be measured or given a price.  Of course, our earthly parents are not perfect. Sometimes they’re quite far from perfect.  But any love we’ve known from them is a likeness of the love God has for us. A religious icon is made of mere wood and paint, but it can be a window to heavenly realities. In the same way, we can see through our parents’ love a glimpse to God himself.

Most of us have more memories about our mothers than we could possibly count, but today I would like to go with you back to a time and place about which you have no clear memories—to the time in your mother’s womb. Just as the Hebrews were 40 years in the desert; just as Jesus prepared 40 days in the wilderness; and just as Christ rested 40 hours until his resurrection from the tomb; so you remained 40 weeks, more or less, within your mother’s womb, being prepared for a new life.

Through your mother’s vine you grew into the mature fruit of her womb. You were nourished and grew within her. You were never far from her heart or mind. You existed in within her, connected to her at the center of your being.      She fed you with her very self. She provided for all your needs. Apart from her, you could do nothing. You remained in her and found rest in her.

At the early stages of our life in the womb, our minds did not comprehend very much, but what if you could have understood everything that your mom was doing for you at the time? Certainly you would have directed your thoughts to her often.  And certainly, from time to time, you would have turned to her with the eyes of your heart to bask in her love for you.

And imagine further what if you could have talked with your mom from the womb? Would you not have taken the opportunity to speak with her every day? Would you not have thanked her daily out of a deep gratitude? Would you not have let her know each day how much you love her? Whoever would refuse or neglect to do so would continue to live, at least functionally or biologically, but the person would not be fully alive without this relationship .

As you and your mother would continue to talk as the days and months of pregnancy passed, she would eventually present you with a most-frightening prospect: She might say, “My child, soon, in a little while, you are going to begin an new stage of life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a world of people and things you have never known before.” But you would say, “I’m scared, I don’t want to go, not now, not ever!” But she would say, “I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be again as you are now. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right here with you. Do not be afraid.”

This morning we reflect on this time in the womb because our life in our mothers is like our life in Christ. As it was with our mothers, so it is, in this life, with Christ. You are nourished and grow within Him. You are never far from His heart or mind. You exist in within Him, connected to Him at the center of your being. He feeds you with His very self. He provides for all your needs. Apart from Him, you can do nothing. You remain in Him and find rest in Him.

Knowing and believing this, shouldn’t we direct our thoughts to Him often? Shouldn’t we, from time to time, turn to Him with the eyes of our hearts to bask in His love for us.

We have the ability to talk with Jesus Christ. Who would not take the opportunity to speak with Him every day? Who would not thank Him daily out of deepest gratitude? And who would not let Him know each day how much we love Him? Whoever would refuse or neglect to talk with Him, that is to pray, would continue to live, at least functionally or biologically, but the person would not be fully alive without this relationship with Jesus Christ. We need to pray every day if we want to remain in Him and to bear much fruit.

None of us want to die and that’s perfectly natural. But Jesus says to us, “Soon, in a little while, you are going to begin a new stage of life. You will be departing from the life you know, and then you’ll experience a world of people and things you have never known before. I realize this concept is scary for you, but trust me when I say that it is better that you go. In fact, someday soon you’ll look back and think it a silly thought to be as you are now again. This transition is going to hurt a little bit… trust me, I know… but when the appointed time comes, I’ll be right there with you. Be not afraid.”

Today, let us thank God for the gift of our mothers and the gift of Jesus Christ.  God bless our mothers, and praised be Jesus Christ.