May 7, 2024 // Diocese

Celebrating the Gift of Mothers

Before her death in 2022, Holy Cross Sister Margaret Mary Lavonis, who for years wrote “The Cutting Edge” column for Today’s Catholic, penned a beautiful reflection on motherhood for her congregation’s website.

“Like our Blessed Mother Mary, a mother is someone who says ‘yes’ to the call to raise her children in love,” Sister Margie wrote. “The primary role or vocation of a mother is to nurture and protect her children.” For children, she wrote, a mother “helps to form their values and is a major influence on their emotional and spiritual development. … There are also those who are spiritual mothers. These women may not give physical birth to children but serve as important mentors. They may be women who step in when a mother dies or is ill, or they befriend children who lack mothering in their own families.”

Sister Margie concluded, writing: “Often we take our mothers for granted and neglect to show them our gratitude. It is important to show our thanks every day, not just once a year.”

Throughout the ages, the Church has emphasized motherhood – in all its forms – as a virtuous role worth honoring and defending.

In celebration of Mother’s Day, Today’s Catholic has compiled a selection of wisdom from popes, saints, and others meant to serve as a reminder of how the Church values the gift of mothers and motherhood.

‘The Dignity of the Mother’

“Motherhood is woman’s vocation: It was yesterday, it is today, it will be always. It is her eternal vocation. There come to my mind the words of a song of my country. These say that a mother is the one who understands everything and embraces each of us with her heart. And they add that today the world is ‘hungrier and thirstier’ than ever for that motherhood which, physically or spiritually, is woman’s vocation, as it was Mary’s. My prayer is that today, too, the dignity of the mother will be recognized and protected in the family and in society. It will depend, above all, on you, young people, if this happens in the world of tomorrow. Endeavour at once to look at your mothers with the eyes with which Jesus looked at His. Let her, the Virgin Mother, who is our hope, herself help you in this your resolution.”

– Pope St. John Paul II, on January 10, 1979, in an address to young people gathered at St. Peter’s Basilica.

‘The Presence and Virtues of Women’

“Church and society have been – and continue to be – enormously enriched by the presence and virtues of women. … Moreover, a woman’s personal sense of dignity is not primarily the result of juridically defined rights, but rather the direct consequence of the material and spiritual care she receives in the bosom of the family. The presence of a mother within the family is so important for the stability and growth of this fundamental cell of society that it should be recognized, commended, and supported in every possible way.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, on March 23, 2009, during an apostolic visit to the African nation of Angola.

‘Witnesses of Tenderness’

“Every human person owes his or her life to a mother, and almost always owes much of what follows in life, both human and spiritual formation, to her. … A society without mothers would be a dehumanized society, for mothers are always, even in the worst moments, witnesses of tenderness, dedication, and moral strength.”

– Pope Francis, on January 7, 2015, during his general audience catechetical series on the family.

‘Love Their Mother’

“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother”.

– Father Theodore Hesburgh, CSC

‘How Many Sacrifices They Make’

“Look at the mothers who truly love their children: how many sacrifices they make for them. They are ready for everything, even to give their own blood so that their babies grow up good, healthy, and strong.”

– St. Gianna Beretta Molla

‘The Gift of God to Women’

“God has created each one of us, every human being, for greater things – to love and to be loved. But why did God make some of us men and others women? Because a woman’s love is one image of the love of God, and a man’s love is another image of God’s love. Both are created to love, but each in a different way. … That special power of loving that belongs to a woman is seen most clearly when she becomes a mother. Motherhood is the gift of God to women. How grateful we must be to God for this wonderful gift.”

– St. Teresa of Calcutta

‘Made to Be a Mother’

“Every woman in the world was made to be a mother either physically or spiritually. Here we are not talking of physical motherhood, we are speaking of spiritual motherhood. A woman in professional life is happy when she has the occasion to be feminine. The man is the guardian of nature, but the woman is the custodian of life. Therefore, in whatever she does, she must have some occasion to be kind and merciful to others.”

– Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen

‘Run to the Side of Our Mother’

“When we were little, we kept close to our mother in a dark alley or if dogs barked at us. Now, when we feel temptations of the flesh, we should run to the side of Our Mother in heaven, by realizing how close she is to us, and by means of aspirations. She will defend us and lead us to the light.”

– St. Josemaría Escrivá

On ‘Spiritual Motherhood’

I would like to express particular appreciation to those women who are involved in the various areas of education extending well beyond the family. …  Wherever the work of education is called for, we can note that women are ever ready and willing to give themselves generously to others, especially in serving the weakest and most defenseless. In this work they exhibit a kind of affective, cultural, and spiritual motherhood which has inestimable value for the development of individuals and the future of society.”

– Pope St. John Paul II, in his 1995 Letter to Women

‘Eyes Fixed upon Heaven’

“Mothers, your sensibility is greater and your love more tender, and therefore you will keep a vigilant eye upon your babies throughout their infancy, watching over their growth and over the health of their little bodies, for they are flesh of your flesh and the fruit of your womb. Remember that your children are the adopted sons of God and specially beloved of Christ; remember that their angels look forever on the face of the heavenly Father; and so you, too, as you rear them, must be angels in like manner, in all your care and vigilance keeping your eyes fixed upon heaven.”

– Pope Pius XII

Those ‘Who Passed on the Faith’

“We pray for … our grandmothers, who so often play a heroic role in the transmission of the faith in times of persecution. When Mom and Dad weren’t home, or when they had strange ideas, which the politics of the time taught them, it was the grandmothers who passed on the faith.”

– Pope Francis, in a homily for daily Mass on November 19, 2013

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