Sarah Hanley

In May, Catholics everywhere pay homage to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Church. In fact, May is a Marian month, a tradition that dates to the 13th century. During this time we honor the Blessed Mother by praying the holy rosary, May crownings, and processions in honor of the Mother of God.

In the secular calendar, May is also the month in which we celebrate our earthly mothers. On Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May, we acknowledge the dedication of our mothers. We thank them for their care, safety, guiding hands, wisdom and love. As tradition calls, we honor them with flowers, cards, gifts and of course coveted leisure time.

The secular world does not live so far apart from the spiritual world of our Catholic faith. They are intertwined in miraculous and wonderful ways. Mary is our spiritual mother and her presence in our lives as Catholics is a maternal one. However, she was also the earthly mother of Christ. The strength of her motherly love carried her through the difficult times she knew were ahead of her. But it was the absolute love and faith in God that allowed her to surrender her earthly ties and submit to a higher power.

In his last hours, Jesus ensured our everlasting connection with Mary when he said to John, “Behold your Mother!” In so doing, he lifted her up to us and affirmed her as our spiritual mother. It seems appropriate then that Mother’s Day falls within the Marian month.

With the simple words uttered by Jesus, Mary is forever venerated as the ideal of motherhood. Pope Benedict XVI remarked that “Mary is the image and model of all mothers, of their great mission to be guardians of life, of their mission to be teachers of the art of living and of the art of loving.” Yet, who among us cannot empathize with the earthly mother of Jesus who stood at the foot of his cross to grieve the passing of her child?

This Mother’s Day let us aspire to emulate our Blessed Mother, Mary, who is without sin and surrendered fully to God’s word and will. Let us be patient, humble, charitable and pure of heart. Let us strive to love our neighbor, be honest, strong in mind, calm in body, peaceful in our hearts, and above all to love and trust God. However, we should also remember that we are earthly beings, and while we strive for the ideal our earthly selves may fall short.

At these times when we are feeling lost and confused, we can turn to our Blessed Mother for guidance and comfort. Mary helps us to know Jesus more fully and completely; to accept the love offered to us by herself and her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

We at the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia would like to wish everyone a blessed Mother’s Day. If you are looking for a way to honor the mother in your life consider making a gift of lasting importance in our Catholic faith and donate to one of our charitable Catholic funds. You can learn more about the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia and the work we do by going to our website: thecfgp.org.

May the grace of Mary fill your hearts this Marian month and always.

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Sarah Hanley is the president and CEO of the Catholic Foundation of Greater Philadelphia.