Pope Francis, in his apostolic exhortation “The Joy of Love” (“Amoris Laetitia”), speaks to mothers from his heart as a man who truly honored and revered his mother. It is through the eyes of someone who has experienced the unique love a mother has for each child that oozes out of the pages of the document.
I remember vividly my pregnancy with each one of my children. Each pregnancy was in many ways the same, yet, surprisingly different. As I prayed for each child, a beautiful grace stirred within me, a longing and desire to hold each tender new life. I felt an almost indescribable joy as I contemplated what God had in store for them and how privileged I would be to be part of the unfolding journey ahead.
Pope Francis shares his insights, writing, “A pregnant woman can participate in God’s plan by dreaming of her child. For nine months every mother and father dreams about their child. … For Christian married couples, baptism necessarily appears as a part of that dream. With their prayers, parents prepare for baptism, entrusting their baby to Jesus even before he or she is born” (No. 169).
Those dreams for their future, their happiness, never die. As each child grows, as they experience the ups and downs of life, mothers everywhere ache for each heartache, rejoice in each accomplishment, shed tears for each disappointment, and love unconditionally their precious gift from God. While “only the Father, the Creator, fully knows the child,” a mother shares God’s wisdom “fully to know their children and to accept them as they are” (No. 169).
‘Those who love the most’ Pope Francis, quoting St. Thomas Aquinas, understands the role of a mother: “Mothers, who are those who love the most, seek to love more than to be loved. Consequently, love can transcend and overflow the demands of justice, ‘expecting nothing in return’ (Luke 6:35), and the greatest of loves can lead to ‘laying down one’s life’ for another (cf. John 15:13). Can such generosity, which enables us to give freely and fully, really be possible? Yes, because it is demanded by the Gospel: ‘You received without pay, give without pay’ (Matthew 10:8)” (No. 102).
That is the heart of a mother: seeking only what is best for her child — not for some great reward, but to know her child is safe and loved.
“It is they who testify to the beauty of life. … For mothers are always, even in the worst of times, witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength.
Mothers often communicate the deepest meaning of religious practice in the first prayers and acts of devotion that their children learn” (No. 174).
Our dream and prayer
As the years march on, a mother continues to fulfill the promise she made on her wedding day: to “accept children lovingly from God and educate them according to the law of Christ and his Church.”
It is a mother’s dream that she will succeed in her efforts to teach her children to pray, to pay attention at Mass, to learn to serve others as Jesus did. While we may have taught our young children “to blow a kiss to Jesus or to Our Lady” (No. 287), our dream and prayer is that they teach that same love for Christ and his church to their children.
Mothers, as we celebrate and honor you this Sunday, may God’s grace and everlasting love guide you and bless you all the days of your life.
May our mothers who are resting in God’s loving arms continue to intercede for us and show us the beauty of all of creation.
“Dear mothers: thank you! Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world” (No. 174).
Chris Codden is director of the Office of Marriage and Family of the Diocese of St. Cloud. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.