Mother’s Day weekend in Chicagoland has been beautiful – mild and sunny, with flowers in bloom, lawns lushly green from abundant rainfall, and even little hummingbirds buzzing around the tree in our front yard.
Saturday also marked the hundredth anniversary of the miracle at Fatima, Portugal, when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three young children, two of whom were canonized this past Saturday by Pope Francis.
Whatever one might think about such apparitions at places like Fatima, Lourdes, and Medjugorje, The Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus, holds a very special place in the lives of Catholics. She is considered the mother of all believers, as demonstrated at the foot of the cross when Jesus gestured to his apostle John, “Behold, your mother.”
The cult of Mary has been the source of much confusion and disagreement among Christians. Many Protestants believe that Catholics wrongly worship Mary through their prayers, feast days, and other honors bestowed upon the Mother of God. But Catholic devotion to Mary is not worship. We believe that, through her close relationship with her son, Mary is uniquely poised to intercede for us with Jesus. It is the same reason we pray to the saints: to ask for their continual prayer and intercession on our behalf. So it is natural for Catholics to turn to Mary, the greatest of all saints, for help.
The image of Mary as our mother can be of great comfort to us in our journey in life. Many of us have lost our mothers. Some of us are estranged from family members. All of us have endured pain and sorrow. To lay our cares at the foot of Mary as our spiritual mother is comforting indeed.
This weekend at Mass, we were called upon to bring flowers in honor of Mary, the Mother of God and the mother of us all. Every May, in churches all over the world, statues of Mary are crowned, signifying her place as the Queen of Heaven. This title, too, is steeped in tradition. In ancient Israel, the most powerful and important figure next to the king was the queen mother, as kings had many wives but only one mother. So it is with Mary. As mother of the King, she takes her place of honor next to her beloved son, Jesus.
On this Mother’s Day, I pray for all mothers – pray that they be honored and cared for and valued for their place in our hearts and homes. Happy Mother’s Day!