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Special Roles by Mothers in our Church and Society

May 14

Written by:
5/14/2017 12:00 AM  RssIcon

Throughout the month of May, we celebrate so many things that acknowledge and celebrate that unique and special role that is played by mothers in our Church and society. One of two traditional months where we celebrate Mary, we hold her up for all the beauty and mystique that is included in her role as the Mother of God and hence Mother of the Church. Towards the end of the month of May, we typically celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, the birth of the Church, whom we venerate as mother and guardian of her members. And of course, today we celebrate Mother’s Day in the secular world, which we have adopted to be a part of our liturgical celebration as well.

Motherhood is such a special and unique bond between the mother and her child that no one else can quite understand. A mother knows her child before anyone else does, as she cherishes the gift of life growing in her womb. There is an intimacy that reflects the mystery of how God is intimately involved in our lives as well. And as that child comes to birth, he or she is often placed on his or her mother’s chest so that the familiar heart beat can still be heard and felt; bringing the child to peace after the trauma of being born. There is a peace that comes to that child from being reconnected to Mom.

When I think of the role of mothers in our world today, I think of terms like nurturing, caring, comfort, solace. A mother’s arms are a place of refuge and safety for her children. A mother’s heart is a treasure chest of memories and cares about who her children are and who they will become. A mother’s soul is always connected to her children as she sees the hope of Eternal Life shine in them. And in all of this, the role of motherhood is to be cherished and guarded and protected.

Those same characteristics are expressed in the Church. When Gian Lorenzo Bernini was commissioned to reconstruct the plaza that extends in front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, her purposefully designed the two colonnades to reflect a mother’s arms reaching out to the world, welcoming pilgrims to the site of the great Apostle’s tomb; just as a mother always reaches out to welcome her children. He knew that the Church’s role of Mother was a vital image to portray and show to all the world.

But it does not take long to live as a priest to know that there are many many other types of motherhood that are also vital in the world today, in particular that spiritual motherhood that so many women display with such great affection. In imitating Mary as they keep a treasury in their hearts, these spiritual mothers contribute to prayer and the spiritual formation of their spiritual sons and daughters, whether that be actual God Children, or just those they spiritually adopt and add to an ever growing prayer list. Those same characteristics of tenderness and care are just as much a part of their lives as they are for biological mothers, and the world is better for it!

As we celebrate Mother’s Day, I thank God for my own Mom; and all those who have shown me what it means to call the Church ‘Mother,’ it is joy and blessing to have so many motherly figures in my life.

God Bless
Fr. Kyle Schnippel

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Re: Why do we place a white pall on the casket of the deceased at funeral Masses?
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